On Thursday, John Kerry gave one of his more racially inflammatory speeches to date, at the annual National Baptist Convention, the country’s largest predominately black denomination.
I’m not going to talk about the parts of Kerry’s speech that are wrongheaded but nonracial, like his call for a national health-insurance plan. Nor will I pick on him for lines like “African-American unemployment is nearly 10 percent–double the rate for whites.” I don’t like this sort of race-oriented politicking, but Bush is frequently little better (see, for instance, his proclamation earlier this month of “Minority Enterprise Development Week.” ).
[Incidentally, I was amazed--and exhilarated--to read in WFB's Miles Gone By about his refusal to participate in the Pulaski Day Parade, Steuben Day Parade, or Columbus Day Parade when he was running for mayor because "he [had] pledged himself make no specifically ethnic or nationalist appeals.”]
But I do want to say a few words about Kerry’s scare tactics, which are unfortunately now routine for Democratic politicians, who insist on suggesting–when they do not declare–that Republicans are hostile to African Americans and favor racist policies, and that we are just one more stolen election away from the return of Jim Crow. Do I exaggerate? Consider these passages from the speech:
* “But that dream–our dream [that is, the Civil Rights Era's "dream of one America"]–is dim and denied in the Washington of today.”
* Bush’s policies “are taking us back to two Americas–separate and unequal. Our cities and our communities are being torn apart by forces just as divisive and destructive as Jim Crow–crumbling schools robbing our children of their potential … rising poverty … rising crime, drugs and violence.” Bush is responsible for all that?
* “The promise of a better America is not being met, when, fifty years after Brown, in too many parts of our country we still have two school systems–separate and unequal.”
* “Fifty years after the Brown decision, we are also reminded now, more than ever, we need a Supreme Court that will protect our hard won victories.” Kerry cannot seriously suggest that any “hard one victories” from the Brown era are in jeopardy.
* “John Edwards and I know that the whole future of civil rights and affirmative action may hinge on a single Supreme Court vote.” Well, affirmative action maybe–but civil rights? Come on.
* “[President Bush] scorns economic justice and affirmative action … [and] traffics in the politics of division.” Is Kerry suggesting that the failure to embrace racial preferences is divisive? Funny, I would have thought that the preferences themselves are what’s divisive.
It is ironic that Kerry concludes by claiming, “I want to unite us as one America–red, white, and blue.” By endorsing racial preferences and making racial appeals like this speech?