- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2005

Let me get this straight. Trent Lott, a southern Republican, says something racially derogatory and he’s taken to the woodshed. Howard Dean, a Democrat from New England, says something racially derogatory ” and factually inaccurate ” and apologists of all stripes come to his defense. What a world we live in.

To refresh your memory, Mr. Lott, an unapologetic Mississippian, said this at a 2002 birthday celebration for a sitting senator who, decades earlier, was a staunch segregationist: “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

Now, here’s what Mr. Dean, the liberal man’s liberal, said Feb. 11 while caucusing with black Democrats. “You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room,” Mr. Dean said amid laughter. “Only if they had the hotel staff in here.”

Clearly, Mr. Dean thinks the same way that a lot of other Dean apologists think. That is, that what Mr. Dean said is not racially sensitive because blacks, Hispanics and other non-whites disproportionately represent hotel jobs.

Well, Mr. Dean and those who think like him are wrong.

The majority of U.S. hotel workers are white. And Mr. Dean need look no further than the AFL-CIO, a longtime financial backer of the Democratic Party, to get the facts.

According to a study by the AFL-CIO’s Working for America Institute:

Whites in the hotel industry held 77.7 percent of the managerial positions between 1996-2000, while Hispanics held 6.7 percent and blacks held only 6.5 percent. Whites also held the majority of positions as bartenders (75.3 percent), clerks (71.1 percent), personal-service workers (67.3 percent) and waiters and waitresses. In fact, even the hotel jobs that leave calluses on one’s hands and call for cleaning up someone else’s filthy bed linens were in the hands of whites, not “people of color.”

Some folk with strong spines are demanding an apology from Mr. Dean, just as some folk with strong backbones demanded an apology from Mr. Lott. Those folk were right then; and they are right now. In a joint statement, Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Rep. J. C. Watts, two blacks who are neither bellboys nor Republican lapdogs, said: “We are simply outraged over recent racially insensitive remarks by Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. In his comments to the Democratic Black Caucus, Dean equates African-Americans who support Republicans to hired help.”

Indeed, now that you have the facts about the hired help in the hotel industry, not only does Mr. Dean come off as racially insensitive, but his inaccurate portrayal proves his ignorance. This is the politician, remember, who was governor of a state (Vermont) whose black population is .05 percent. This is the politician who wanted to be president. This is the politician whose job is now to try to get a white man elected to the White House in 2008.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking Mr. Dean’s remarks were merely a gaffe or a bad joke or that because blacks are in the room the New Old Boy Network (Mr. Dean’s era of the Democratic Party) is different from the Old Boy Network (Mr. Thurmond’s era of the Democratic Party).

Mr. Dean doesn’t have to cloak himself in a white sheet or a red shirt to prove he’s a bigot. Indeed, I don’t think Mr. Dean is a bigot.

I do think that the Democrats are so desperate to recapture the White House ” perhaps even try to restore the glory days of the “first black president,” Bill Clinton ” that they will say, do and put up with anything to grasp the brass ring.

It’s disappointing, as well, watching other conservatives. Jewish groups aren’t saying anything, Hispanics are awfully quiet and there is deafening silence from conservatives. Their condoning of Mr. Dean’s offense is as offensive as Mr. Lott’s and Mr. Dean’s spoken words.

Mr. Dean can apologize or explain himself if and when he chooses. But as my dad used to say: “Soap and water clean everything but sin.”

I just hope that in the months to come, and that in 2008, we all remember what Mr. Dean said and who he said it to. Because whether Mr. Dean still runs the party or not in 2008, and whether Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton are in the race for a man’s job or not in 2008, Mr. Dean must eat his words. Unless, of course, you think he said nothing offensive and that he has his facts straight.


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