Racism or Cynicism?

United States 


Las Vegas Review-Journal ( Nevada)

March 16, 2008


By John Brummett

There are white women who believe they suffer more than black men in America.  

They quote the late Shirley Chisholm, famous black politician, who said she was denied more opportunities on account of the womanness than the blackness.

I do not wish to argue with a departed black female icon about the distribution of her disadvantages.  

But speaking purely for myself as a lucky white American male, I would, if forced to choose between becoming a white woman or a black man, go with becoming a white woman. It would be for purely selfish reasons.

I would stand less statistical chance of getting shot in my own neighborhood. Money would tend to be more accessible to me. Police would be less likely to profile me. More people looking like me would serve in the U.S. Senate.  

I bring this up because of Geraldine Ferraro, a white woman who was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1984. She is now altogether fervent in her backing of Hillary Clinton. Ferraro appears to have a rather serious hang-up about this relative oppression of white women and black men.

Last fall Clinton got teamed up on in a debate by several of the male Democratic presidential candidates. Ferraro went off about that. She said no one would stand for it if everyone had ganged up on the black candidate. It was utter and spectacular nonsense.  

Those who were behind were taking shots at the one who was ahead, a time-honored political practice. Obama is the front-runner now. Look at the slop he’s ducking.

Then Ferraro pronounced the other day that Obama had succeeded in the presidential race only because he is lucky enough to be a black man. Then she stubbornly refused to apologize, saying Obama was criticizing what she said only because she is white. She said it was crazy to call a person a racist merely for citing race factors in political demographics.  

She’s right about that.

But she didn’t merely cite race factors. She diminished Obama because of the color of his skin, and she did it to try to lift another candidate, perhaps merely on account of that other candidate’s gender  

This is a parallel universe in which Ferraro lives, one where blacks hold political advantages and in which Obama would win nary a primary or caucus if he had skin-whitening treatments of the kind apparently performed on Michael Jackson.

Over here in reality, Obama has overcome and transcended, not benefitted from, the color of his skin.  

It took Hillary two days and a couple of tries to repudiate Ferraro’s comments with any feeling or vigor. She initially dismissed them as merely over-zealous and something with which she disagreed. Then Hillary got up in front of black newspaper editors and, needing to do so in the venue, said she was sorry about all of that, and about what her husband said in South Carolina.

Still, all of this Ferraro nonsense may actually help Clinton in Pennsylvania. You will recall that James Carville described this state as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in between. Alabama recently declined to repeal its segregation amendment to its state constitution.  

You might not recall that the blowhard Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, a Hillary supporter, told a Pittsburgh paper a few weeks ago that there are a lot of conservative white people in the state who probably won’t vote for a black man for president.

Ferraro’s comments were almost certainly a matter of her own spontaneous stupidity. But there may prove to be a timely advantage in her clumsy message to Rendell’s racist constituents.  

Fate has certainly moved Hillary far from those days in Arkansas, when 95 percent majorities in black precincts in the East Arkansas Delta were solely responsible for the Clinton’s precious political viability.




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