Archive for the ‘race’ tag
In December 2006, Christopher Hitchens wrote a column with the above headline in quotes, which included a sub-headline reading, “The pernicious effects of banning words.” He went on to describe a short-lived interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, in which he explained the evolution of the word “stupid” as it relates to politics, noting that John Stuart Mill once referred to the Tories as “generally stupid.” I couldn’t locate a reference to a quote from Mill that actually used these three words in this sequence — ”the stupid party” — so I’m not sure if Hitchens was paraphrasing or referring to an actual quote in some dusty volume.
In any case, the moniker apparently stuck, since eventually, the Tories actually began referring to their party in this way. The late Hitchens has proven himself prophetic beyond his years in this regard since in November 2012, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal challenged the prevailing anti-intellectualism that had run amok in his own party:
“… Stop being the stupid party. … It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that. It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.
Near the end of his explanation on MSNBC, Hitchens sucked the air right out of the room when he dared suggest that the word “stupid” may have taken a similar evolutionary journey as other words like “nigger” and “queer,” “and I might have added faggot,” Hitchens informs us in parenthesis. For this insult to the sensibilities of the MSNBC staff, he was quickly hurried off camera and told that the interview was “extremely over.” Taking the case of the former word, he said that while white people have not been afforded the ability to use the word, “nigger,” in any context whatever, however benign, and must always defer to the cowardly N-word, black folks have turned the discriminatory and racist undertones of the word on its head:
If white people call black people niggers, they are doing their very best to hurt and insult them, as well as to remind them that their ancestors used to be property. If black people use the word, they are either uttering an obscenity or trying to detoxify a word and rob it of its power to wound them. Not quite the same thing.
Note the distinction that Hitchens makes in this essay between white people calling blacks derogatory names with the intent to harm versus using “nigger,” “queer” or “faggot” in an explanatory or historical context that I am doing right now.
This brings me to more recent news in which the Associated Press has announced that it will no longer use the words “illegal immigrant” to describe — clears throat — illegal immigrants, and it has for years advised journalists to avoid the borderline derogatory labels “illegals” and “aliens.” This step by the AP is one of numerous ways that it suggests people shy away from labels and focus more on behavior. Presumably, we must now refer to undocumented immigrants by the laborious “people who are living in a country illegally.”
Howard Kurtz today on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” called the change “a bit too politically correct.” I have to agree. While I have and do avoid “illegals” or “aliens” because of their derogatory connotations, banning “illegal immigrant” seems like splitting hairs to me, and while words that journalists use to describe immigrants carry nowhere near the malignant baggage of “spik,” “gook, or “nigger” or any other words racists have embraced to disparage our fellow human beings, AP’s change represents the latest example — add censorship on radio and TV to the mix — of language’s power over us rather than the other way around.
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If you don’t know by now, ESPN analysis Rob Parker was suspended this past week — and rightly so — because of the comments he made about Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Here is a video of Parker’s odious remarks:
Now, watching this, several questions immediately surface. First, as one of the other announcers wondered: Why was Parker even asking the question about whether RG3 was a “brother” or a “cornball brother.” What difference does it make? Would Parker be less of a fan if it was, in fact, the case that Griffin was a “cornball brother” — I understand that to mean a black guy who is not authentically black, whatever that means.
Examples here would be Tiger Woods or TV‘s Carlton Banks from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Parker raised this particular concern based only on these two assumptions: that Griffin might be a Republican and that he has a white girlfriend. Parker also said that the braids in Griffin’s hair were a plus in his book toward authenticating his blackness. Braids. Really? Parker does realize that white guys are perfectly able to don braids themselves. Does this make white people who have braids black poseurs? What about Adam Duritz (pictured at right)? I’m pretty sure Duritz would scoff at being called a black poseur.
Second, what the hell is “the cause? And is it asking too much of a 22-year-old freshman quarterback to even have a “cause?” In any case, I agree with Stephen A. Smith, another black analyst on the show who, after Parker’s nonsensical and borderline racist comments, said he was uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation:
First of all, let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went. RG3, the ethnicity or the color of his fiancee is none of our business, it’s irrelevant, he can live his life in whatever way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life, he can live his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kinds of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.
In fact, Griffin’s actual comments on race, to which Parker was referring, actually sound more intelligent and grown up than Parker’s. Here is Griffin:
For me, you don’t ever want to be defined by the color of your skin. You want to be defined by your work ethic, the person that you are, your character, your personality. That’s what I strive to go out and do. I am an African-American in America. That will never change. But I don’t have to be defined by that.
After the U.S. Census Bureau reported earlier this year that white newborn babies were now in the minority camp, the agency is now indicating that whites as a whole in America will be a minority by 2043, a reality that, while it certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, will no doubt raise anxieties among some white folks, especially in the South.
Witness some of these odious responses on the News-Sentinel website:
TOLDYOUSO: Oh goodie, then we can race bait like jesse and al.
GOJO: Then whites will get preferential treatment as a minority.
transplantedhillbilly: There goes the neighborhood! Now they will be burning crosses on OUR lawns!
activehollow: white history month…finally!
ragebucket: When whites are no longer the majority, can we have white pride month?
As Matthew Yglesias pointed out in May after the report on newborns, the actual figures related to demographics in America aren’t as black and white as we might believe. People technically of Hispanic origin but have lived in the United States since infanthood may be just as well feel comfortable checking the “white” box if other branches of their family tree find their roots in say, Eastern Europe, like Yglesias. What about people with Hispanic origins whose families have lived in the United States for multiple generations, and they have no immediate connection to Mexico, Cuba or elsewhere.
Here is Yglesias:
As books like How The Irish Became White and How Jews Became White Folks: And What That Says About Race in America make clear, whiteness in America has always been a somewhat elastic concept.
It’s conceivable that 40 years from now nobody will care about race at all. But if they do still care, it will still be the case that—by definition—whiteness is the racial definition of the sociocultural majority. If the only way for that to happen is to recruit large swathes of the Hispanic and fractionally Asian population into whiteness, then surely it will happen.
… The future of American whiteness will likely evolve to include a larger share of ancestry from Asia and Latin America, just as in the past it’s expanded to include people from eastern and southern Europe. The idea that every single person with a single non-white ancestor counts as non-white will look as ridiculous as Elizabeth Warren’s past claim of Cherokee identity.
So, while I visit Free Thought Blogs on occasion, I’m not a daily reader. Thus, I wasn’t familiar with the whole squabble that took place this summer between P.Z. Myers and the blogger who calls himself Thunderf00t. Here is Myers’ side of the story, and here is Thunderf00t’s. Apparently when things really got nasty between the parties involved, Thunderf00t allegedly disseminated confidential information about other bloggers on FTB. I have no idea whether that’s true or not neither do I care.
The crux of the problem, as I understand it, was that Thunderf00t went too far in his criticism of Myers — the one atheist on the Internet you don’t dare criticize — regarding a discussion on feminism and even criticized the site itself by saying that FTB is headed toward becoming “more of a fringe group that is intolerant of non-conformity …”
Here’s an explanation for those interested:
Of course, all this is way too much drama for me, and while I did approach FTB at one time about possibly having my blog included in the line up, mostly because I saw it as a way to increase readership, I’m glad that this site has maintained its independence. The takeaway lesson: any forum, even one run by “freethinkers” usually has a filter. I still think it’s stunning that a writer on a relatively obscure blogging community such as FTB can get the boot for criticizing the person Sam Harris has called that “shepherd of Internet trolls.” Some people take themselves way too seriously. Seriously.
Here is a post about FTB’s new “policies” after the dispute with Thunderf00t.
Speaking of Harris, Myers agreed with a list that named the neuroscientist one of the five most “awful” atheists, whatever “awful” means. Along with Harris on the list are Bill Maher, Penn Jillette, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and S.E. Cupp.
Harris made the list for his supposed view of racial profiling, which is a misunderstanding at best. Harris, in this response, addresses both his critics and, perhaps, the very political correctness that got Thunderf00t booted from FTB:
I suspect that it will surprise neither my fans nor my critics that I view the furor over this article to be symptomatic of the very political correctness that I decry in it. However, it seems that when one speaks candidly about the problem of Islam misunderstandings easily multiply. So I’d like to clarify a couple of points here:
1. When I speak of profiling “Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,” I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice). To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest. It is the charm of political correctness that it blends these sins against reasonableness so seamlessly. We are paying a very high price for this obscurantism—and the price could grow much higher in an instant. We have limited resources, and every moment spent searching a woman like the one pictured above, or the children seen in the linked videos, is a moment in which someone or something else goes unobserved.
2. There is no conflict between what I have written here and “behavioral profiling” or other forms of threat detection. And if we can catch terrorists before they reach the airport, I am all for it. But the methods we use to do this tend to be even more focused and invasive (and, therefore, offensive) than profiling done by the TSA. Many readers who were horrified by my article seem to believe that there is nothing wrong with “gathering intelligence.” One wonders just how they think that is done.
And on Myers directly, Harris had this to say:
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on profiling at airport security checkpoints. Given that I suggested (twice) that white men like myself also fit the profile of a possible terrorist, I would have thought that charges of “racism” would be off the table. Not so. In fact, people like PZ Myers continue to malign me as an advocate of “racial profiling.” I have written to Myers personally about this and answered his charges publicly. His only response has been to attack me further and to endorse the false charges of others.
I have read three of Harris’ books now and have watched many of his debates. To suggest that Harris is attempting to do anything other than move humanity toward a better society is deeply, devilishly misguided, so much so that I sometimes think that folks like Myers criticize him just to have something to write about or to stir the trolls.
Yes, black people are still second-class citizens in some pockets of the nation: Black wedding banned by Baptist church
Here’s an excerpt:
CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (WLBT) – It was to be their big day, but a Jackson couple says the church where they were planning to wed turned them away because of their race.
Now, the couple wants answers, and the church’s pastor is questioning the mindset of some of members of his congregation who caused the problem in the first place.
They had set the date and printed and mailed out all the invitations, but the day before wedding bells were to ring for Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson, they say they got some bad news from the pastor.
“The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church,” said Charles Wilson.
The Wilsons were trying to get married at the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs – a church they attend regularly, but are not members of.
“He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple,” said Te’Andrea Wilson. ”I didn’t like it at all, because I wasn’t brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody.”
The church’s pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, says he was taken by surprise by what he calls a small minority against the black marriage at the church.
“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.
Weatherford went on and performed the wedding at a nearby church. …
Kudos to the pastor for performing the ceremony elsewhere, I guess, but how do you go back to your hateful congregation members after that ugly episode?
Greta Christina has a post up about her experiences from a recent Secular Student Alliance conference. During a portion of the event, participants sat at different tables, at which they discussed various topics as they related to the atheist/freethinker community.
The topic at her table was “Diversity — Minorities,” and Christina related some of the take-away points from the brainstorming session about how the community could be more welcoming to black people and other non-white ethnicities (As it happens, she used the term “people of color” throughout the post, with which I am not terribly comfortable because although it’s apparently no longer offensive to black people and others, it does seem to be, as NAACP spokeswoman Carla Sims has said, to be “outdated and antiquated.”).
Here is a truncated list of what members of the atheist/freethinker community could do to be more inclusive at conferences and meetings of like minds:
- Invite more people of color as speakers, at conferences and for individual speaking events.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about race.
- Do joint events with groups/ organizations of people of color.
- Support appropriate events hosted by groups of people of color, such as service projects.
- Don’t glom onto people of color when they show up at your group or event. (People of color sometimes say that, when they show up at all- or mostly-white atheist groups or events, they’re swarmed by overly friendly people who are SO DELIGHTED that a non-white person has shown up, in a way that’s overwhelming, and that’s clearly directed at their race. Don’t do this.)
- Don’t expect individual people of color to speak for their entire race.
- Listen to people of color — actively. …
- Don’t assume people of color are religious.
- Co-protesting – show up at protests about racism, and about issues that are strongly affected by race, such as economic justice or the drug war.
She then included this addendum outlining a different comment policy for that particular post to which readers should adhere (italics mine):
This conversation is for people who already agree that increasing racial diversity is important to the atheist community and the atheist movement, and who think positive action should be taken to improve the situation, and who want to discuss how to go about that. If you want to debate this core proposition — if, for instance, you think the atheist movement should be entirely race-blind, and that paying any attention at all to race and racism is itself racist — this comment thread is not the place.
I don’t know that I agree with that entire statement, thus the reason I am posting on my own site and not commenting on her blog.
While I think it is highly commendable and admirable to be proactive in welcoming blacks, Hispanics, etc., into the community of nonbelievers, as well as discussing topics of race in an open and respectful manner — if that’s a goal the community wants to pursue — I don’t necessarily think that racism can die — as well it should — until we move past race itself, just like BET or Black History Month, both of which, to me, insult black people by giving them their own special television station and their own special month of the year, as if black history and culture can’t be celebrated and remembered all year and on all television stations. It can, and it should be.
So, while some of the goals in racial inclusiveness are certainly admirable, I think we are approaching a time where the notion of “race” needs to go the way of the dodo and be replaced, simply, with “culture.” For, if we want to learn about how different groups of people live their lives and interact with the rest of the world, we can do that through learning about their culture and about what makes their particular culture unique, and by that token, worthy to be celebrated in its own right. I think when we frame the discussion, admirable as it might be, in racial terms, we may be in danger of taking one step forward and two tentative steps back.
My reading bug continues.
While almost done with Sam Harris’ Letter to a Christian Nation, I am now 30 pages into “John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights” by David S. Reynolds, which tracks the life of the deeply Puritan John Brown.
Brown, it goes without saying, was, not just years, but centuries ahead of his time. He was unequivocally for the meritorious cause of equal rights for all people in America, white and black, way back in the mid-19th century. The book recounts the moments before and after Brown and his cohorts’ ill-fated 21-man raid on Harpers Ferry. Reynolds, makes the case that Brown had misread a couple elements in his efforts to smash the engine of slavery. In particular, Brown
misread the slaves and sympathetic white among the locals, whom he expected to rally in masses to his side as soon as his raid on Harpers Ferry began. The blacks he liberated misread him, since, by most reports, few of them voluntarily joined him in the battle against the Virginia troops—a fact that may have contributed to the fatal delay on the part of Brown, who had expected ‘the bees to hive’ as soon as his liberation plan became known among the slaves.
This, of course, was unfortunate since Brown was just about the best and most anti-racist advocate black folks had at the time. Enslaved blacks probably had no way of knowing this, however, since darn near every white person they had encountered up to that point was either an outright racist or unwilling to advocate or unable to envision any kind of emancipation.
While some earlier biographers have painted Brown as a nut or fanatic, Reynolds seems to present a more even-handed view and culturally biographical look at the man who, singlehandedly was responsible for setting this trifecta in motion: killing slavery, igniting the American Civil War and planting the early seeds of civil rights.
It is a sad commentary on where we stand as a nation 130 years after slavery, thirty years beyond Jim Crow, and twenty-five years since Nixon played his piano at the Gridiron Club that our current chief executive, arguably the least prejudiced of the forty-one men who preceded him, sees fit to include racial calculus in politics and policy. — Kenneth O’Reilly, “Nixon’s Piano,” 1995, on former President Bill Clinton((1))
The story of race and the American Presidency is one in which, almost without exception, the 42 white men who led the United States prior to Obama’s election courted the white vote at the expense of minority interests and civil rights, so much so that not only did the early Southern economy stand on the shoulders of black folks, the highest office in the land did as well.
Kenneth O’Reilly in “Nixon’s Piano: Presidents and Racial Politics from Washington to Clinton,” doesn’t quite make it to that far-reaching conclusion, but this is the impression I got after giving some thought to this studiously researched and chilling look at how our American presidents dealt with issues of race while in office.
From the outset, readers find out how the early presidents, many of them slaveholders, recognized that the peculiar institution would eventually have to fall or that blacks would have to be colonized elsewhere (a ludicrous notion) — vanquish the thought that the two races could ever co-exist as free people — but they largely had neither the courage or the will to set the process of emancipation or civil rights in motion.
John Adams, the second president and one of the more pragmatic and close-reasoning Founders (He was the British’s defense lawyer following the Boston Massacre when no one else would take up the cause because he adamantly believed every [white] man deserved a fair trial) was probably ahead of his time when he said,
I shudder when I think of the calamities which slavery is likely to produce in this country. You would think me mad if I were to describe my anticipations. If the gangrene is not stopped I can see nothing but insurrection of the blacks against the whites.((2))
As it turns out, he had it precisely the other way around, with a white man, John Brown, pulling the grenade pin that would eventually explode into war and white slaveholders seceding to protect their precious institution. Regardless, Adams, unlike many of his co-Founders, held no slaves, but nonetheless, the thought of freeing black people chaffed him with the thought of widespread chaos. He was for the preservation of his beloved nation if he was for anything. As O’Reilly quotes Adams about a state proposal in Massachusetts:
The Bill for freeing the Negroes, I hope will sleep for a Time. We have Causes enough of Jealousy Discord Division, and this Bill will certainly add to the Number.
Abigail Adams, the rock-steady engine that fueled John’s heart, was probably even more progressive than her husband, calling slavery a “most iniquitous Scheme” which caused the “daily robbing and plundering from those who have as good a right to freedom as we have.” Again, another Adams ahead of her time.
John’s personal views aside, the president was silent on the issue in public, and like his predecessors and many successors, was hamstrung on how to proceed.
The only complaint I have of O’Reilly’s book at this point is that it seems to spend too little time on the early presidents, devoting only one chapter to a cursory look at the record of the first 24 presidents, then vaunting readers all the way to the start of the 20th century by page 63. This is understandable in one sense given the fact that, aside from Lincoln and John Adams, the early presidents were mostly indistinguishable in regard to their views or actions on race while in office. Still, although more discussion on the early presidents would have taken this 400-page book closer to 1,000 pages, I think it would have given more credence to the book’s subtitle.
In the 20th century, readers see the rise of the progressive movement, first as represented by the Republican Party, still under the banner of Lincoln, and later, by the Democratic Party and Lyndon Johnson in his attempts to loose the nation from its Jim Crow and Black Code shackles. And even then, Johnson’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 seemed to be motivated as much by political pressures as any moral yearnings to finally award blacks their hard-won political and social freedom. For O’Reilly, Lincoln and Johnson’s civil rights records were tainted by other considerations:
Of the forty-two presidents of the United States only Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson stand out for what they ultimately did on the matter of civil rights for all. But even they brought baggage to their great accomplishments: Lincoln with his white supremacist caveats, closet dreams of sending the slaves he freed back to Africa, and faint Reconstruction notion of building a decent Republican party home for the South’s poor white trash at the expense of any freedman he could not ship to Liberia; and Johnson with his surveillance state (that gave the FBI et al. free run at an entire race by ranking blacks alongside Communists and criminals) and Vietnam draft boards (that always came first for the people at the bottom he otherwise seemed so intent on helping).
On the latter, Johnson once said that young blacks were best served in the armed services rather than by the social programs and civil rights acts he had created.
Johnson once told Roy Wilkins (a civil rights activist), while still vice-president, that all mothers want the same thing for their children. But he never quite understood that no mother, black or white, wanted her son to fight and die in a Southeast Asia jungle (Vietnam) for a reason that the president himself could not articulate. “I’ve seen these kids all my life,” he (Johnson) told his cabinet two months before (the) Tet (Offensive). “I’ve been with these poor children everywhere. I know that you can do better by them than the NYA (National Youth Administration) or the Job Corps. Defense Department can do the job best. Go to it.”
So the two best civil rights presidents we ever had were only marginally courageous in their deeds. In total, I thought O’Reilly presented a devastating critique of the more conservative presidents on the issue of race (Most of their records on the matter are utterly disgraceful, after all), but of the more progressive presidents, O’Reilly showed how they either tempered how far they were willing to go on the question of race or scaled back their civil rights efforts once elected.
Bill Clinton would be an example of the latter. As O’Reilly noted, Clinton the teenager once told his mother that segregation was a sin and that he admired Martin Luther King. He even memorized King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, helped himself to a seat at the “black” table in 1971 at Yale Law School and performed volunteer work for a New Haven, Conn., lawyer working on civil rights cases. As president, however, he played a different tune, but not the one that vaulted him to presidential coolness as the sunglass-wearing sax player on “The Arsenio Hall Show.”
Other than appearances in black churches, where he was at home, like Jimmy Carter … Clinton emphasized race as a nonissue from the primaries forward. He kept black advisers in the background, made no promises, accepted the nomination at a Democratic National Convention that had two hundred fewer black delegated than in 1988, and timed his rare appearances at black events so that they would be too late for the evening news or overshadowed by other events.
If only O’Reilly would or could have written an updated version of his book to include the administration that led for eight years after Clinton. If he had, O’Reilly’s modern edition would have surely mentioned George W. Bush and FEMA’s woeful 2005 response to the hurricane in New Orleans. Like Reagan before him, Bush was labeled a racist. For Reagan, because of his general policies (For instance, poor folks need not concern themselves with capital gains tax cuts, as O’Reilly notes), and for Bush, because of the response to Katrina. I’m sure there were other accusers, but most notably, rapper Kanye West made the charge in the wake of FEMA’s response and Bush’s delayed trip to New Orleans, which has a black population of about 70 percent. Later, Bush described that moment (West labeling him as a racist) as the worst part of his time in Washington. Here’s a brief exchange from the “Today” show:
MATT LAUER: You remember what he (Kanye West) said?
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I do. He called me a racist.
MATT LAUER: Well, what he said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s — “he’s a racist.” And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.” It’s another thing to say, “This man’s a racist.” I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency.
Later still, Kanye, in not so few words, said he was sorry in November 2010 on the “Today” show:
I would tell George Bush in my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist.
And Bush back across the bow on another episode of “Today”:
Asked if he forgives West, Bush said “absolutely.”
“I’m not a hater. I don’t hate Kanye West,” he said. “But I was talking about an environment in which people were willing to say things that hurt. Nobody wants to be called a racist, if in your heart you believe in the equality of race.”
There’s much more to be said, of course, and O’Reilly says most of it in the eras in which he was dealing. Ronald Reagan had one of the worst records on race and so did Richard Nixon, hence the piano symbolism, which stems from a racially mocking song Nixon performed at a Gridiron Club event while president. The analogy was later — consciously or not — turned on its head by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory.”
If O’Reilly had the chance to cover the election of the first African American to the presidency, his ultimate conclusions might have taken a slightly different tone, for, the more progressive among us would like to think that we as a nation are finally turning the corner on race. But, like the Reagan appointment of Republican lackey Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, we today can see some of the same conservative tactics astir of putting black people in high places only for political gain. Current Republican National Committee head Michael Steele immediately came to mind as I read the portion on Thomas. Of course, black folks are free to lean whichever political way they choose, but we know which party, since the 1960s has, implicitly or explicitly, done the most for civil rights and black communities, even though affluent black leaders may overlook that fact and politically betray their historically subdued brethren. Modern Republicans leaders, in turn, betray themselves when they refer to their party as the party of Lincoln, for it is such in word only.
In all, “Nixon’s Piano” was an intriguing, but challenging read, given the many politicians, aides and activists of which one must keep track. The book moves quickly, with clearly written but tightly packed text, providing a near fly-on-the-wall look at each president’s approach to race from Roosevelt to Clinton, with private conversations, leaked and even wire-tapped exchanges, all of which culminate in the numbing conclusion that a scant few, if any, of our presidents felt that civil rights or racial, social and political equality for all was an outright moral imperative.