EDITORIAL: Playing the ugly race card

The color of a D.C. Council candidate is irrelevant

Martin Luther King dreamed of the day his children would live in a nation “where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It remains a noble goal. It’s a shame Dr. King’s goal has been abandoned by certain members of the District of Columbia city council.

In a radio debate last week, two of the six candidates for an at-large seat, including the incumbent, insisted that race should be a factor in choosing members of the D.C. Council. Anita Bonds, a Democrat, was appointed in December to fill Phil Mendelson’s seat after Mr. Mendelson became council chairman. WAMU radio host Kojo Nnamdi asked her whether having a black or white majority on the D.C. Council matters. Seven of 13 council members are white.

“People want to have their leadership reflect who they are,” said Ms. Bonds, who first worked in D.C. politics on the campaigns of Marion Barry. “And the majority of the District of Columbia is still African-American. Fifty percent is African-American, so there’s a natural tendency to want your own.” The remark was reminiscent of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s post-Hurricane Katrina vow in 2006 that a rebuilt Big Easy would again be a majority-black “chocolate city.” Mr. Nagin is gone, but the sentiment is not.

Statehood-Green Party candidate Perry Redd raised the rhetoric. “The fact of the matter is that what we’ve learned from history and not just Washington’s history, but America’s history is that whites, when Europeans are in control of any elected body, do not care for the most vulnerable, who happen to be people of color.”

A firestorm of criticism would have descended on a white candidate in the April 23 special election had he urged keeping the white majority. A half-century after passage of the Civil Rights Act, the notion that only blacks can adequately represent blacks, or only whites represent whites, is as offensive as it ever was. It was offensive in 1950s Mississippi, and it’s offensive in Washington now.

Democrats promised the election of Barack Obama would create a post-racial society. It has had the opposite effect; the nation is more race conscious than ever. Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009 that the United States is “a nation of cowards” because it won’t talk about race. (Does Mr. Holder live on Mars?) Vice President Joe Biden, who once apologized to a Virginia audience for Delaware’s not coming to Virginia’s help in 1861, affecting what he imagined was a Southern accent, more recently told a mostly black audience that Republicans were “gonna put y’all back in chains.”

As long as the race card wins elections, cynical liberals and Democrats will continue to play it. D.C. voters should remember Martin Luther King’s dream and look to a candidate’s character and position on the real issues the crushing tax burden, poor schools and the D.C. government’s frantic race to rob us of whatever the feds leave us.

The Washington Times

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