Monday, May 14, 2001

Director Spike Lee calls racism Americas “No. 1 problem.” So he makes a film called “Bamboozled,” which argues that white network executives intentionally put on the worst images of blacks. Yet, when Mr. Lee asked to use seldom-seen “racially insensitive” Bugs Bunny cartoons made 50 years ago, Warner Brothers refused. Why? The company found the cartoons, well, racially insensitive.

I´m confused. Many call for the abolition of the “racially biased” Scholastic Aptitude Test, including the president of the University of California Regents, Richard C. Atkinson. “It´s a mystery what the SAT measures,” said Mr. Atkinson, “and why kids don´t do as well as other kids.” Yet Patrick Swygert, president of the historically black Howard University, opposes “any abandonment of standardized tests that would carry with it the implication that we just can´t meet the mark.”

I´m confused about black anti-Semitism. According to the Anti-Defamation League, while anti-Semitism in America stands at an all-time low, the black rate is 3 times that of the general population. Yet on CNN, a network with a Jewish CEO, we see Jesse Jackson who once called Jews “Hymies,” and New York “Hymie-town” hosting a television program. Johnnie Cochran drew howls after likening LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler. But click on Court TV, a cable network founded by a Jew, and there´s Mr. Cochran hosting a television show. Many ´60s white “freedom fighters” were Jewish, and Jews helped to found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Booker T. Washington´s Tuskegee Institute.

I´m confused. During a recent Los Angeles City Council race, pitting two black opponents, one criticized the other for marrying a white man, even worse, a Jew. Incredibly, the political consultant of the candidate who made the attack said his opponent brought this on herself. Why? She failed to include family photos in her campaign literature. “She caused the situation,” said the consultant, “because she tried to disguise who she is.” Hey, if a black candidate marries a white Jew, better ´fess up, right?

I´m confused. The Black Congressional Caucus criticizes George W. Bush´s tax budget with usual blather about “tax cuts for the rich.” But only a few years ago, black liberal Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.´s non-voting congressional delegate, argued for the abolition of city taxes in D.C., in order to jump-start that city´s economy. And recently, a coalition of black businesspeople took out a full-page ad urging the repeal of the estate tax, noting that the law forces the sale of black businesses that face this onerous estate tax.

I´m confused about the silly attack on television for its “lack of diversity,” led by the likes of NAACP President Kweisi Mfume. Studies show black households watch twice as much TV as do white households, with black children watching substantially more television than white kids. If television is so devoid of positive images, why do blacks watch so darn much of it?

I´m confused that 93 percent of black voters voted for Al Gore. Maya Angelou calls President Clinton America´s “first black president.” Yet out of Mr. Clinton´s top 30 “power” positions, not a single black occupied a seat. Meanwhile, President George W. Bush appointed the first black secretary of state, the first black national security adviser, the first Hispanic House Council, and the first black vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Yet feminist lawyer Gloria Allred calls such appointees “Uncle Tom types.”

I´m confused. The privatization of Social Security barely registers a blip on the “black leadership” radar, even though, according to the Cato Institute, “Returns for blacks are 0.5 percent to 1 percent lower than for whites, translating into a lifetime transfer of wealth from blacks to whites of nearly $10,000 per person.”

I´m confused about the “plight” of black America. Most blacks are solidly in the middle-class, with black businesses starting at a faster rate with faster-growing revenues than white businesses. The income of “black America” would make it the 16th-richest country in the world. As former Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson put it back in 1954, “Negro progress under segregation has been spectacular and, tested by the pace of history, his rise is one of the swiftest and most dramatic advances in the annals of man.”

Martin Luther King Jr. longed for a day when we evaluate people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. In California, 1 in 10 marries interracially. Nationwide, the figure is approximately 1 in 25. Yet groups like La Raza and the NAACP fought against the census category for mixed races. “I can see a whole host of light-skinned black Americans,” said a black member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, “running for the door the minute they have another choice… . All of a sudden they have a way of saying, ‘In this discriminatory culture of ours … I am something other than black.´ “

I´m confused.

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