Brown v. horde

BY ALLISON WHITE

I’m often shocked by the extent to which liberals will go to demonize black conservatives.

Lately, so are liberals.

The caricature of Janice Rogers Brown, a California Supreme Court Justice nominated to the D.C. Circuit, was a harsh wake-up call. But before Senate Democrats injure themselves fighting to prove who can most vigorously deplore the bigotry directed at Justice Brown, they and those of like mind should pause to consider a harsh reality: the racist barb put into print by one hateful cartoonist is too apt a depiction of the esteem in which too many liberals hold black conservatives.

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The cartoon (available here, published with an essay entitled “A Female Clarence Thomas for the DC Federal Court?”) repeats a dangerous conventional wisdom that the black community maintains a monolithic identity in the political sphere. The caption reads, “News Item: Bush Nominates Clarence-Like Conservative To The Bench.” Its caricatures of Brown alongside Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice embody a stark indictment of a woman guilty of the most heinous offense.

She is a black woman caught in the wrong neighborhood: conservatism.

At Brown’s Oct. 22 confirmation hearing, Sen. Orrin Hatch displayed this cartoon to remind those in attendance exactly what sort of bigoted adversity Justice Brown has had to overcome. Immediately, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee cried foul.

“I think everyone agrees on the offensiveness of the cartoon,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). “I’m wondering if we’re doing a disservice by leaving that up ….”

“[T]hat cartoon is despicable. It is outrageous. I’m sorry that we’re even displaying it in this room. It doesn’t deserve that kind of attention beyond our condemnation,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL).

“[A]ll of us deplore the kind of cartoon that is displayed here and all that it suggests,” said Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). “And I must say in the more recent times, some of these kinds of suggestions have been raised but it has no place, any place, in our society, particularly not associated with you.”

As fast as Democrats ran from the cartoon, however, they trumpeted the Congressional Black Caucus’s rejection of Justice Brown. Both Sens. Leahy and Durbin pointed to the CBC’s criticism of Justice Brown mere breaths after distancing themselves from the cartoon. They did so despite the fact that the CBC denunciation wrapped itself in precisely the same message as the “deplorable” cartoon.

“This Bush nominee has such an atrocious civil rights record she makes Clarence Thomas look like Thurgood Marshall,” said Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), according to the Associated Press. “She’s cut from the same cloth as Clarence Thomas,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “She is an activist judge who has a record of opposing the civil and constitutional rights of women, African Americans and other people of color. We have seen such a pattern before in the person of Justice Clarence Thomas,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

News Item: Bush Nominates Clarence-Like Conservative To The Bench.

Kennedy and the others may claim to deplore this cartoon and “all it suggests,” but their chagrin is suspect when the only thing separating the “deplorable” cartoon and the praiseworthy CBC commentary is the lack of a visual aid.

News Item: Bush Nominates Clarence-Like Conservative To The Bench.

The racism espoused by the cartoon is hardly novel. For far too long the black community has been treated as a political monolith, its members incapable of developing their own views on political affairs. Of course, while those views were once the province of most racist corners of the nation (including Democrats eager to filibuster to enforce their agenda), they are now worth tenure to a professor eager to point to “black voters’ politically cohesive and self-identified interests.” Those are not just the words of Lani Guinier; they are the conventional wisdom of a Democrat Party whose leaders long ago decreed that the GOP did not, could not further the interests of black Americans. No matter what the issue – affirmative action, criminal law, welfare – Democrats have colored the debate with this rhetoric.

Given all of that, can we blame Senate Democrats for failing to see that the cartoon they “deplored” bore the same racist rallying cry as the CBC judgment that they championed?

News Item: Bush Nominates Clarence-Like Conservative To The Bench.

Yes, we can blame them, and we should. How deplorable.

Adam White is the Editorial Page Editor of The Record. He posts commentary regularly here.

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