Baiting 'The Beast'
In that twisted, idiotic world where Clarence Thomas is the Antichrist, Jesse Jackson must be God. And in that same nasty irreality, where Thomas is known as Hitler, I guess Al Sharpton is FDR. Sounds like a board game, doesn't it? The puerile, thwarted liberal's game of LIFEthough to call such people liberals is to insult the very word. But that, in fact, is the inverted world within world wherein the Hawaii chapter of the ACLU is laboring for the cause of civil liberty. Preposterous invectivesome of which is unprintablespewed from the unashamed mouths of three members of that local chapter's board, all of them African American (as if that somehow acquitted them). Daphne Barbee-Wooten, Eric Ferrer, and Faye Kennedyclearly, judicious thinkers all.
According to the Honolulu Weekly, Justice Thomas had been invited to Hawaii to debate ACLU national president Nadine Strossen at the annual Davis Levin First Amendment Conference. The invitation was rescinded, however, when Ferrer called Thomas "an anti-Christ," and "a Hitler," and said that having Thomas speak was "like having a serial murderer debate the value of life." Barbee-Wooten was quoted as saying: "Bringing Clarence Thomas sends a message that the Hawaii ACLU promotes and honors black Uncle Toms who turn their back on civil rights."
I wonder. Can this be the same mentality that objected so roundly to David Horowitz's recent advertisement against reparations for slaverya well-considered, point-by-point refutation that he placed this spring in the few college newspapers that would print it? Several of the papers that did print the ad had their entire print runs stolen by rancorous protesters. Others caved under pressure and apologized for having fostered racial bigotry.
Could the ACLU's recent outburst be the foul sound of this same contingent speaking from the other side of its mouth? Might it be the demon voice of that same incumbent talented tenth, the ones who claimed that mere disagreements on race mattersnot, mind you, name-calling (for there was none in Horowitz's ad)created a "hostile atmosphere" for blacks on campus?
Alas, it would seem so. The orthocrats have spoken. And perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing, since it effectively hoists the liberal hegemony with its own petard, and does so far more completely than could any bomb thrower on the other side. Indeed, irksome as they are, we'd be fools to try and cork these mindless outbursts, for a true libertarian should never stand between a person and his First Amendment right to make a jackass of himself. Speak, by all means, and let the world hear what you're made of, because such sticks and stones do no lasting damage to the hearer. They do, however, banish the speaker, and everything he says thereafter, from all serious consideration by anyone with even a spark of critical intelligence.
Meanwhile, the mainstream black caucus's beloved totems remain unscathed by scandal. The revered reverends exchange mad insults and tactful disavowals from their separate exiles. Slippery Jesse in disgrace; hungry Al in jail. One an alleged swindler, the other a convicted defamer, yet somehow still the saving grace of black folk because they support affirmative action in college admissions and everywhere else. And thus their virtue miraculously prevails, through all the storms of bad character to which such puffed-up demagogues are prone.
Thomas, though, is not ordained unimpeachable by the clergy of liberal opinion. He's not considered black, but is seen as performing in blackface. The minstrel of white conceit, an enemy thus vilified, and named so rudelycan it be?after a cookie.
University of California regent Ward Connerly has suffered the same fate. He has endured the gross epithets of his foregone detractors and all for the grave sin of thinking for himself, for opposing a system of racial preferences in American higher education that, if it weren't so conveniently self-serving, all minority advocates would likewise be against. But as it stands now, the University of California has reneged on its pledge to end affirmative action in admissions. I guess they were getting the Hitler treatment, too.
And so the game goes on. There is no debate. There is no exchange. There is only conformity and heresy, impunity and name-calling, and both are polar absolutes. The retrograde dichotomy of black and white perseverates in the name of liberalism, but at its expense.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.