- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 12, 2000

Noble: Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, for fighting the most compassionate battle of all, the battle to reduce government.

One of Ronald Reagan's enduring legacies is the Republican belief that the biggest obstacle most Americans face is their government. As Mr. Reagan so deftly proved, cutting back the size and scope of the government therefore requires compassion. It requires concern for those in need and the courage to take the difficult road that leads America to a brighter future.

George W. Bush recognizes this, which is why "compassionate conservatism" became one of his campaign slogans. But Mr. Bush is not alone. One of the clearest articulators of this Reaganism is The Washington Times' noble of the week, James Gilmore. Mr. Gilmore is a Republican and the governor of Virginia. He recently spoke at the Republican convention in Philadelphia, and next week he will set up camp outside of the Democrats' convention in Los Angeles.

In California, Mr. Gilmore will help organize the "truth squad," a group of bold Republicans heading to Los Angeles. Their mission is to take the message that compassion requires freeing people from the government to the media, who are in town to watch the Democrats. If not for the efforts of Mr. Gilmore and several other Republicans out there, the Democrats would be free to claim they had a monopoly on compassion even though their brand of compassion requires shackling Americans to a heavy tax rate and an entangling tax code.

In front of roaring Republicans in Philadelphia, Mr. Gilmore made clear the tax and compassion differences between the two political parties. "Benjamin Franklin wrote, 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.' Of course Ben never thought his words would become the slogan of the modern Democratic Party," Mr. Gilmore said.

"People dream every night for a chance at a better quality of life," he said. Many are forced to put off those dreams, while they spend one-third of their day working just to pay taxes. "[W]hen has government had to scramble to make a mortgage payment?" It hasn't it simply spends all the money it takes in and like a greedy beast, wants more. Standing up to that beast in its natural lair, the Democrats' convention, requires courage and conviction for that Mr. Gilmore deserves to be commended.

• Knave: Lee Alcorn, president of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP, for not being able to see Joe Lieberman as an individual

One of the most common ways to dehumanize people is to see those people as a group, not as individuals. In most cases this is the start of racism the belief that people should be judged on their racial category instead of their individual qualities.

The results are unambiguously bad. Once a group of people is dehumanized in someone's mind, it becomes easier to mistreat that group in ways that a person would never be treated, if seen as an individual. Rosa Parks understood this; her lawsuit to sit in the front of the bus was not over bus segregation. Rather, she sued to be seen as an individual and not be classified in a group forced to take second seating. She won and her victory to be seen as an individual helped kill segregation.

Too bad all of this is lost on Lee Alcorn, president of the NAACP's Dallas chapter. Mr. Alcorn sees Joe Lieberman as a member of a group, in this case as a Jew, and not as an individual. Mr. Lieberman is, of course, Al Gore's choice for vice president and the first Jewish vice presidential candidate for a major political party.

Mr. Alcorn was not happy with the selection of Mr. Lieberman, and he said so in a very harsh way that smacked of anti-Semitism. Blacks should be concerned with "Jews at that kind of level because we know their interest primarily has to do with money," he said. Mr. Alcorn has since said it was a mistake to have made those comments. But on Thursday's "The Factor," a commentary news program on Fox, Mr. Alcorn said the selection of Mr. Lieberman was an affront to blacks. Mr. Gore should have filled the ticket with someone to please blacks because they have been loyal Democratic Party constituents.

As a politician, Mr. Lieberman is clearly not immune to criticism. His recent backpedaling on issues such as school choice in order to conform to Mr. Gore's positions like the good vice president he wants to become is clearly grounds to evaluate his character and worthiness to hold high elected office. But, it is equally wrong to simply judge him as a member of a group and not see him as an individual. That's dehumanizing and wrong. For not knowing better as a member of the NAACP, Mr. Alcorn is certainly a knave.

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