By W. James Antle III
As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination grew bitter, Bill Bradley tagged Al Gore for race-baiting. The professional basketball player turned sensible senator turned leftist presidential candidate reminded the American people that it was Gore, during his floundering 1988 presidential campaign who first brought up Willie Horton.
Of course, Gore protests, he never ever alluded to Horton's race when criticizing Michael Dukakis' weekend furlough program for murderers and other criminal folk. In fact, he did not even mention Horton by name. Nobody denies that Gore's campaign effectively directed the media to Horton as an example of the furlough program gone awry, but mentioning that Horton is black- why, heavens no. The nasty (George H.W.) Bush campaign brought that unpleasant fact to light, since vile Republicans routinely resort to the race-baiting noble Democrats eschew.
Rubbish. First of all, as Bradley seems to have forgotten when his career focus shifted from dribble to drivel, a program which frees convicted murderers of any race to prey on the innocent once again is certainly a legitimate campaign issue. For those of you who slept through the 1988 campaign as it deserved to be slept through, Horton was doing time for castrating a man, stuffing his genitals in his mouth and then murdering him when he took advantage of Gov. Dukakis' weekend furlough to rape a woman as her tied-up husband watched. This was so awful that even the Massachusetts legislature was shaken out of its social worker-like moral lethargy.
Secondly, and why this dead and buried campaign issue is being resurrected here, is that Democrats of the liberal persuasion engage in race-baiting tactics on a routine basis. Gore, with Donna Brazille in tow, seems inclined to make genuine racial antagonism a campaign trademark.
In 1994, Oklahoma Democrat Richard Perryman ran ads showing pictures of his black conservative opponent JC Watts (now House Republican Conference chairman) with an Afro and beads as if it were something ominous. In 1998, the Missouri Democratic Party ran ads targetted at the black community which explicitly warned that Republican victories would lead to lynchings and black church burnings (as it rallied to reelect Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan, who once participated in minstrel shows wearing black face paint). Clintonites compared supporters of impeachment to the Ku Klux Klan, one of Bill Clinton's own lawyers argued during the Senate trial that the real motive behind impeachment was opposition to civil rights and author Toni Morrison was trotted out to babble nonsensically about Clinton's blackness (a defense which oddly seemed to perpetuate racial stereotypes).
This shameless attempt to extort votes through racial tensions continues unabated with Gore at the helm. Brazille, in her capacity as Gore's campaign manager and black mouthpiece, denigrated black Republicans such as Watts and Colin Powell. She contended that only the Democrats had policies which benefit blacks (actually, that only Democrats have joy and love) and of course, the vice president agreed.
In fact, when Ronald Reagan was president black unemployment fell faster than white unemployment. The number of blacks earning above $25,000 annually increased by 55 percent and the number earning above $50,000 annually increased by 86 percent. As employment increased by one-fifth, 23 percent of the new jobs went to black workers compared to the 12 percent of the population that is black. The expansion which continues to bring black unemployment and poverty to its record lows actually traces its roots to the Reagan administration, not the Clinton-Gore administration.
Far from only wanting to have their pictures taken with African-American children many conservatives have invested heavily in inner-city schools, notably conservative financier Theodore Forstmann. Minority schools that have been successful and the policies which led to their success are most relentlessly researched, profiled and publicized by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Gore is also a demagogue on the issue of the Confederate flag, peddling a false version of history to profit from division rather than promoting healing with the truth. The United States flag once flew over slave ships, yet Gore doesn't dare call it a racist symbol. There were more slave states in the Union than in the Confederacy. The Civil War was not really a war over whether or not to free the slaves. Jefferson Davis believed the end of slavery was inevitable; Abraham Lincoln favored a constitutional amendment sending the blacks back to Africa. Ulysses S. Grant owned slaves; Robert E. Lee opposed slavery and emancipated the slaves he inherited from his father-in-law. Seventy-five percent of all Southern residents and 90 percent of Confederate troops owned no slaves.
No facts can be allowed to intrude upon Gore's assault on our national
unity, however. Democratic votes are too dependent on continuing the fragility
of black-white relations for racial reconciliation to be a real priority.
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