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Why I must defend Barbara Boxer

By Selwyn Duke
web posted August 3, 2009

We've all heard about the little dust-up between Black Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Harry Alford and Democrat senator Barbara Boxer during an Environment & Public Works (EPW) hearing on "green" jobs. Boxer, the chairman of the EPW committee, was trying to refute a report commissioned by Alford's organization stating that the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act — which I'll call "cap-and-sap" — would actually cause a net reduction in jobs. So, marshalling her arguments, she cited many sources that support cap-and-sap — among them the NAACP and the leader of 100 Black Men of America.

This didn't sit too well with Mr. Alford. He responded, "Madam Chair, that is condescending to me. I'm the National Black Chamber of Commerce, and you're trying to put up some other black group to pit against me . . . . All that's condescending, and I don't like it. It's racial."

In a later interview, Alford was even more pointed in his criticism, saying that his Boxer match was "like being in Mississippi in 1945" and "vile Jim Crow." He described the essence of the senator's comments thus, "Colored boy, what are you doing with this sophisticated report?"

Well, Mr. Alford, tell us how you really feel.

Now, although I had never heard of Alford before this brouhaha, I like what I see; he seems a stand-up fellow, down-to-earth, commonsensical, sincere and spirited. In other words, the antithesis of a liberal. I also could not agree with him more on cap-and-sap. I go even further in fact: it is part of a destructive agenda often animated by diabolical motivations. Nevertheless, I must do something that is a first for this scribe: defend Barbara Boxer.

At least, that is, a little bit.

Lest I be misunderstood, I think Boxer is the worst politics has to offer — this makes her the worst of the worst. And I can certainly see why she would have irked Alford, as she was not only condescending, she was her usual imperious, supercilious, paternalistic self. And this is par for the course. Remember when Boxer chided Brigadier General Michael Walsh simply because he abided by military protocol concerning the addressing of those of higher rank and called her "ma'am"? It was a pathetic display. But, then again, the general did err. It takes a bit of detachment from reality to view Boxer as any kind of superior. There are better things to call her.

Yet, having said all this, a good man can be wrong and, well, you know what they say about a broken clock. So, I ask, was her approach during the hearing truly reflective of bigotry?

It was certainly racial. Boxer never would have cited the NAACP had a white man been locking horns with her. But everyone seems to be missing the pink elephant in the middle of the room: Alford isn't the president of the Chamber of Commerce.

He is the president of the Black Chamber of Commerce.

I'll illustrate this fairly obvious point further. Let's say I'm head of an organization called the Catholic Chamber of Commerce and I appear before the right honourable Senator Boxer. Now, would it be surprising if, in an effort to sway me, she cited opinion rendered by the Catholic League and Opus Dei? Or should I accuse Boxer, a Jewish woman, of anti-Catholic bias? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the woman is anti-lots of things; regardless, it wouldn't be just to accuse her of bigotry simply because she inferred my passions from my associations and built her argument around them. After all, if you're going to define your organization based on a characteristic, you cannot blame people for viewing you through its prism.

I'll also point out that during Alford's opening statement he said the following, "that [the projected disparate impact of cap-and-sap] worries me and my members because the black community suffers mightily when the economy goes south." Of course, Alford's emphasis on the black community reflects a special concern for it; given this, however, is it surprising that Boxer would counter by citing entities that lay claim to having the same special concern?

The answer is obvious. Despite this, however, many of my ideological brethren are now using the EPW incident to paint Boxer as a bigot. And, insofar as this goes, I regret to say that they're guilty of intellectual dishonesty. Oh, I do understand the overwhelming temptation. The senator and her leftist ilk wrote the book on playing the race card and using Stalinist tactics to destroy opponents — and they do it for the most specious of reasons. There are the examples of Bill O'Reilly and golf commentator Kelly Tilghman, who innocently used a variation on the word "lynch" during commentary about blacks; there was university student Keith John Sampson, who was persecuted simply for reading an anti-Ku Klux Klan book; and then there was the pillorying of Rush Limbaugh over his analysis of black quarterback Donovan McNabb's boosters. These are just a sampling of numerous instances where the left sent lynching parties after those they hated for only one reason: because they could.

Thus, just as when Hillary and Bill Clinton were accused of bigotry while campaigning against Barack Obama, the Boxer controversy is an example of liberals being mauled by a hoary and horrible monster of their own design. And many conservatives relish the chance to give the left a taste of its own medicine because, well, now they can.

Yet it takes a good dose of rationalization to convince oneself that something only racial is "racist." This may be easy for the left, but for those on the right it probably takes a bit more effort. After all, many liberals are so detached from reality, so solipsistic and relativistic, that they mistake their feelings for Truth. They have the lie on retainer. Conservatives, on the other hand, embrace it only occasionally, as a consultant.

Another difference between the right and left is that we traditionalists know we're called to be better than that. We know that the Truth will not only set us free and carry the day when the last chapter is written, but that it's all we have. The lie will never serve us like it does the liars. That is, unless, as they have done, we make it our master.

And the Truth is the point. Whenever we peddle that lie called the race card, we contribute to the mass delusion and lessen the chances that the Truth will be known, all for some momentary political gain. We trade something beautiful for thirty pieces of silver. Liberals make this a practice, and it's why they're contemptible. But, remember, silver is all they have.

As for my friends on the right, for the moment, I could be even madder at you. After all, your trespass is the greater. You forced me to defend Barbara Boxer. ESR

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