- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Listening to the rhetoric of Democrats recently, one might draw the conclusion that the abolition of slavery itself is on the ballot this year. Such allusions to slavery and bigotry in general have helped ignite the sort of racial tensions from which Democrats expect to profit Nov. 7.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson turned a recent appearance on "Meet the Press" into a forum on Republicans as the party of racial hatred. Mr. Jackson condemned Mr. Bush's preference for nonactivist judges (such as Justice Clarence Thomas) saying, "Strict constructionist courts … never ruled slavery illegal. They never determined a woman had the right to vote." According to Mr. Jackson's strained syllogism, since Mr. Bush champions the view that judges should interpret existing laws rather than making up new ones and since such an outlook generates rules that Mr. Jackson considers racist, then Mr. Bush must be a racist too.

Mr. Jackson was no less inflammatory with respect to abortion. When William Bennett dared to argue that federal lawmakers should defer to states on an issue which tends to evoke such diverse and impassioned views, Mr. Jackson said only, "States' rights and the Confederate flag have not served America well." So respect for federalism is an apology for slavery.

Host Tim Russert subsequently quoted President Clinton's remarks to The Advocate magazine in which he compared "the investigation he went through and his impeachment to the struggle of black Americans." Asked if this was a fair comparison, Mr. Jackson concurred. It is unfortunate that Messrs. Clinton and Jackson would choose to exploit blacks' struggles against slavery and inequality simply to lend weight to the president's claims of victimization.

Hillary Clinton, refusing to be outdone, is playing the race card to incite minorities in New York City. Campaign stops have recently led to black churches in Harlem where the first lady fires up congregations with red meat speeches that evoke cries of "Amen." At a recent service, Mrs. Clinton quoted Harriet Tubman's advice to slaves escaping to the North: "If you hear gunshots, keep going. If you hear footsteps and shouts behind you, keep going. If you hear the barking of dogs that are trying to hunt you down, keep going."

Now perhaps she didn't really mean to suggest that Republicans were in league with a lynch mob or that a vote for her opponent, Rick Lazio, was a signal to release the dogs. But she and Mr. Jackson were careful not to argue otherwise, which serves only to diminish the horror of the real thing. Such smear tactics do no one good, least of all the minorities in whose interest they purport to act.

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