As a general rule, the nicer the guy, the poorer the polemicist. And Alan Colmes is a real sweetheart.
That’s why there isn’t much sting in this post on his “Liberaland” blog about the dearth of black faces in our symposium on race and the recession:
National Review conducted an online symposium called “Really a racial recession?” The purpose was to answer whether “blacks in America [are] suffering a Great Depression, suffering worse than other Americans because of undeniable employment discrimination?” (h/t Think Progress) Oliver Willis has a question of his own, while acknowledging you don’t have to be black to talk about black issues:
But considering the way the conservative movement insists that it is diverse, they couldn’t find one black person for their symposium? Not one?
Daniel Foster of National Review tweeted to Willis that they do have a black guy who writes for them named Thomas Sowell. Good that they could find one.
Willis and I did indeed have a bit of a back and forth on one of the left’s favorite pastimes — counting minorities — and were joined in it by the American Prospect’s Adam Serwer and past NR contributor Robert A. George. Here is the my original tweet to Willis:
“We don’t do quotas. But there’s this Thomas Sowell guy who writes for us a lot. Pretty sure he’s an economist.”
Admittedly, nobody wins when conservatives feel the need to start name-dropping minorities to prove their diversity bona fides; and trying to convey sarcasm via social media is a rookie mistake. So I’ll take ownerhsip of all that. But c’mon, if you’re reading this post, you either know who (National Humanities Medal-winning economist and NRO immortal) Thomas Sowell is, or you’re Alan Colmes.
My point was that one of the preeminent economists and public intellectuals of our age — a man whose thought effortlessly transcends his color — is a philosophical anchor for NRO, and Willis is fretting that we don’t have an African-American perspective to interpret some unemployment data.
The fact that nobody — not my Twitter sparring partners, not Think Progress, not Colmes — got the joke about Sowell is telling in its own right. What is worse is that Colmes’ ignorance is compounded by his apparent belief that Sowell is the lone non-white voice on the Corner. Anybody who’s spent any time around here knows that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, I’d take National Review’s lineup to bat against any liberal blog in terms of its “diversity.”