Jewish World Review March 30, 2006/ 1 Nissan,
Shrinking black conservatives
"I could never vote for a Republican. It would be like voting for the Klan."
A prominent, incredibly successful black businessman told me that a few years ago. This attitude perhaps explains the unbridled joy with which some black pundits greeted "the fall" of Claude Allen, President George W. Bush's top domestic policy adviser from January 2005 until his abrupt resignation on Feb. 9, 2006. Now we know why.
On March 9, 2006, Montgomery County police arrested Allen on charges of felony theft and felony theft scheme. Authorities say he entered stores like Target, purchased merchandise and took the items out to his car. He then re-entered the store, receipt in hand, and picked up the same item from a shelf to "return" it for a refund. Allegedly, over the past year, Allen used the scheme to steal more than $5,000 worth of merchandise. Talk about a crash. Allen goes from a $161,000-a-year job with serious presidential face time, to a disgraced defendant facing up to 15 years in prison. Some pundits could scarcely withhold their glee. Not just because a former Bush aide finds himself in the news for the wrong reasons, but because Allen is a conservative black who's fallen from grace.
So what, you ask? Good question.
A black columnist wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times called, "Claude Allen's Life Sentence," subtitled, "Did the pressures of being a black conservative take a toll on the former Bush aide?"
Erin Aubry Kaplan writes, "I don't support conservatism in its current iteration, and I support black conservatives even less . . . " She then provides this helpful psychoanalysis of Allen, "Here is a man who, like most black conservatives, has had to do an awful lot of personal and political rationalizing to pay dues. . . . It's hard to imagine that such compromises and cognitive dissonance don't exact a psychological toll at some point, and Allen's alleged dabbling in crime might have been that point for him. . . . After a career of always conducting himself appropriately, as his mentor Clarence Thomas reportedly advised, did he finally crack under the pressure?"
The Wave newspaper serves the predominately minority community of South Central Los Angeles. In an editorial, the Wave writes, "Wrongly and sadly, Allen's life took a bad turn from the moment he signed up as one of a disgraceful generation of African-American conservatives [emphasis added], led by his mentor Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who have been all too eager to put black faces on retrograde ideologies on issues of racial justice, economics and civil rights in exchange for a proximity to Republican power. . . . Given all of this, perhaps being known to the ages as a petty criminal is preferable to how Allen would have likely been regarded by history had his career in politics not come to such an anticlimactic and ignominious — but nonetheless welcome — conclusion."
Apparently saying cruel, mean-spirited, hideous things about black Republicans has no consequences — especially if the critic is black.
Black illustrator Aaron McGruder of "The Boondocks," for example, gave a speech at Emory University in which he said — one presumes facetiously — about Condoleezza Rice, "She can kill me and my whole family." On television's "America's Black Forum," McGruder elaborated, "I don't like Condoleezza Rice because of her politics. I don't like Condoleezza Rice because she's part of this oil cabal that's now in the White House. I don't like her cause she's a murderer. You know, I'm not bound by the rules of a politician or a journalist. So, you know, when I say, 'She's a murderer,' it's because I believe she's a murderer, and that's all that's necessary for me to make those statements."
What about the "psychological toll" of being a liberal minority? Black former secretary of agriculture under Bill Clinton, Mike Espy, faced an investigation over allegedly accepting bribes from lobbyists. (A jury later acquitted him.) And what about former Clinton Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, investigated by the independent counsel for alleged influence peddling? (She was cleared of any wrongdoing.) What about the late former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, whose death ended an independent counsel investigation on corruption? What about Clinton's former Hispanic Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, indicted on 18 counts of conspiracy, giving false statements and obstruction of justice about payments he made to a former mistress? (He ultimately plea bargained down and pled guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI, and was fined $10,000 with no jail time.)
Writers like Kaplan make the following statement about black conservatives. You cannot really support: low taxes; fewer regulations and licensing requirements; competition in schools; an end to the war on drugs; ending state-sponsored race-based preferences; privatization of Social Security; greater competition and less government influence in health care; immigration enforcement and reform; and the War on Terror as conducted under President Bush. A black person who thinks and reasons differently from others? Clearly, such a person suffers from "cognitive dissonance" due to a "psychological toll."
It's hard out there for a black conservative.
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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America."
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