- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 1, 2001

For more than 20 years in Washington, Mary Frances Berry has been so obsessed with perceived racism at every turn that the facts never get in her way. First appointed in 1980 as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights by President Carter and named chairman by Bill Clinton in 1993, Miss Berry is one of the nation's premier race baiters which is saying a lot considering the antics of the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, her two most important allies. No perceived grievance has been spared her appetite for racial demagoguery. Perhaps Stuart Taylor Jr., the former Justice Department correspondent for the New York Times and now the legal affairs columnist for the National Journal, has said it best. Under Miss Berry's direction, Mr. Taylor recently observed, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has become nothing more than "a propaganda mill for the victimology wing of the Democratic Party."
Even by her low standards, Miss Berry has outdone herself in her commission's "investigation" of Florida's electoral procedures during last year's presidential election. Condemning Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Gov. Jeb Bush for being "grossly derelict" in conducting a statewide election pervaded by "a pattern and practice of injustice, ineptitude and injustice," the report endorsed by Miss Berry and the other five Democratic-appointed commissioners charges "widespread voter disenfranchisement" of black voters.
But there's one glaring problem. It obviously isn't the fact that black voters, who comprise 13 percent of Florida's registered voters, managed to cast a disproportionately large share 15 percent of statewide votes. Nor, clearly, is it the fact that black voter participation in the 2000 election was 65 percent higher than it was in 1996. So, what, then, is the problem? Well, the commission's report fails to provide any evidence proving a single incident of discrimination deliberately denying the right to vote of any eligible minority voter. Zero.
Judging from Miss Berry's history, one could hardly be surprised. After all, despite the fact that Miss Berry holds a law degree and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan and has been the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania since 1987, she has a record of making colossally foolish judgments.
With grateful acknowledgment to John J. Millier of National Review, who uncovered the gem, consider the hilarious observations that appeared in "Long Memory: The Black Experience in America," a book Miss Berry co-wrote with John Blassingame in 1982, the year, as it happens, that former KGB chief Yuri Andropov replaced longtime party boss Leonid Brezhnev as top dog of the Soviet Union's Communist Party. "Blacks shared so many of the economic goals of the communists that many of them might be described as fellow travelers," Miss Berry wrote. Yet, "lacks remained cool to the communists," she admitted, ignorantly explaining, "Subjected to a massive barrage of propaganda from the American news media, few knew about Russia's constitutional safeguard for minorities, the extent of the equality of opportunity, or the equal provision of social services to its citizens." Now, that statement is simply breathtaking in its ignorance, which probably was willful, making the view all the more abominable. Indeed, it explains how Miss Berry has self-gratifyingly turned her commission into an instrument of agitprop that Josef Stalin would have appreciated.
Consider also Miss Berry's observation about the condition of black Americans in the 1960s, the decade during which her formerly august commission played such a vital role through its scholarship in the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In "Long Memory," she observes, "The threat of genocide was real. It was roughly comparable to the threat faced by the Jews in the 1930s." Not only was Miss Berry content to allow her hateful revisionism to reveal herself to be a demagogue of the highest caliber, but she evidently had no problem revealing her utter ignorance of the evil of Hitler's Third Reich, a stunning self-indictment for a supposedly renowned historian.
Indeed, Miss Berry has never let the facts get in her way. She poured gas on the racial flames of the great hoax of mass burnings of black churches in the South. She interjected herself into the riot conducted by black students at a Decatur, Ill., high school football game, only to be made to look like a fool when the videotape showed the suspended hooligans in action. Miss Berry has been so busy race-baiting that she has exercised virtually no managerial control over the commission she chairs. In 1997, four years after she became chairman, the General Accounting Office (GAO), an investigative arm of Congress, issued a scathing report declaring her commission to be in "disarray" and unable to accomplish its mission. The GAO described an agency that lacked even the most basic management oversight and often took years to produce obsolete reports, and was unable to account for its spending. Predictably, Miss Berry blamed her predecessors.
Miss Berry's incompetent reign is technically scheduled to terminate Dec. 5, 2004. That means President Bush will have the power to replace her before the end of her first term. Miss Berry, imitating the old Soviet politburo machinations that so obviously intrigue her, has attempted to finagle an expiration date of Jan. 21, 2005, which would put her out of Mr. Bush's reach in the event a Democrat succeeds him in 2005. One of the best things Mr. Bush could do to improve long-term race relations is to let the race-baiting Miss Berry know that her attempted subterfuge will not stand. The sooner he lets her know to have her bags packed by Dec. 5, 2004, the sooner she can begin her inevitable cries of racism.

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