Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.And this is a bunch of Democrats they're talking about, not a bunch of wackos from the American Independent (read: KKK) Party. You know, Democrats? The party that's supposed to be about inclusion despite the color of your skin?
Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.
But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."
"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.
"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."
Apparently, the Maryland Democratic Party hasn't gotten the memo. Instead, they and their supporters are pretty much doing what Jeff Goldstein is inferring (read: flat-out stating):
Given the opportunity to howl about such a fairly straightforward assessment, many progressives I’m sure would proudly showcase their indignation by obdurately justifying the righteousness of their tactics: because conservatives are anti- (pick your aggrieved identity politics group), forcefully pointing such out is almost a moral or ethical imperative—or, at the very least, is necessary and proper insofar as it demonizes them as a way to warn others in the “identity group” who might think about engaging in nonsanctioned, heterodoxical thinking.I may not be a progressive (Indeed, maybe because I'm a declared moderate rather than a progressive!), but I consider this to be just as horrifying as if it was a bunch of white folks treating a black candidate like this.
And really, that's my test for when something crosses the line beyond all hope. When you would condemn something that a plain ol' Caucasian would do as being racist, yet turn around and forgive/condone your own ethnicity saying and doing the exact same things, that is simple hypocracy in action and should be universally condemned as such. Instead, we have the spokesman for Kweisi Mfume saying there's nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious" and a large number of prominent Maryland Democrats joining in on the race-baiting as if it's nothing but harmless fun. Or worse, just the darker side of politics. And I didn't even include some examples of what they're saying about and/or doing to Steele that made me wince in sympathy.
You know, I seem to recall stories about some "good ol' boys" down in the deep South saying something about it just being harmless fun after being interrupted by a policeman or deputy in the middle of a lynching. Yet the target of that "harmess fun" sure wasn't having any fun, would they? Or think it harmess, for that matter?
Perhaps this is why they're so afraid of the Steele candidacy? Via a "by-the-way"-style link from In The Agora comes Paul Cella's excellent insight:
There is not much more that can be said here. We should denounce this cruel vitriol in no uncertain terms. We should wish Mr. Steele well, admire his perseverance, and hope that his example might inspire more like him: that this dreary, depressing episode might one day be a thing of the past, like so many of the other episodes where race threatened to break America. (emphasis mine)They are afraid that a successful African-American (Ye gods, do I hate these qualifiers that have been drummed into my speech patterns since childhood. Why can't we all be Americans and allow all the racial thinking to simply disappear? But no, we have to insert the damn hyphenated words at every opportunity to foster the sense of Us Versus Them, apparently.) who also happens to be strongly conservative might encourage the up-and-coming generation to break ranks with their fellows and become Republicans instead of loyal Democrats like their insert-number-and-signifier-of-generations-here before them.
I don't think encouraging the hypocritical thinking shown by those in Maryland does much to prevent that. Instead, it might backfire and end up encouraging any random free-thinkers of whatever race out there, those that the system haven't forcefully dragged back into the fold yet, to go their own political path (if only in the privacy of the voting booth) simply to spite those who condemn with one hand and encourage with the other.
While normally I would cringe in horror at the mere thought of praying for the resounding defeat of a Democratic candidate anywhere, this time, and for this specific reason, I'm hoping for it.
This type of thinking needs to be firmly stomped on. Preferably with a few metric tons of concrete travelling at relativistic velocities. Otherwise, it will simply encourage more of the same.
Which is probably the last thing the Democratic Party needs. More ammunition for the Limbaugh-esque wingnuts to pelt us with all across the country.