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Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2000/ 2 Teves, 5761

Suzanne Fields

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Consumer Reports

Black power with a Republican face -- WE BECOME CAPTIVE of points of view we don't often hear as visitors arrive from all parts of the country to join us for the holidays. When a motley crew of old friends and family return to celebrate the New Year, we grit our teeth and bite our tongues, and grant them the mellow cheerfulness to speak their mind without confronting them with argument. Tradition, love, friendship and the blood that's thicker than wine trumps partisanship. So do good manners (sometimes).

At one feast a disgruntled Democrat, for example, raised a glass with "Hail to the thief.'' Nary a Bushite rises to the bait. A Republican merely counters with a smug appeal to "All's well that end's well.'' A Democrat treats it as an observation for the year's end rather than a post-election sentiment.

Those more nostalgic cheer the lost causes of Bill Bradley, John McCain and Ralph Nader. They get a pass with a glass, too.

But one political leader rankles all but the most militant blacks in our midst. Everyone agrees that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had a right to protest on behalf of blacks whom he felt were unfairly treated in the voting in Florida, but most everyone agrees that his rhetoric is out of sync with the offense he challenged. He said -- and continues to say-- that the only way George W. could win was by using "Nazi tactics.''

There's an honorable tradition of hyperbole in political rhetoric, but George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels only inflames further divisiveness between black and white. Jesse Jackson becomes increasingly irrational and even dangerous as a spokesman for blacks.

When he could focus on authentic successes as Colin Powell, the first black Secretary of State, and Candoleezza Rice, the first black woman to be national security adviser, he appeals instead to the lowest instincts of the people he leads. He takes as his own role model a Klansman of a discredited era. Words have consequences. His ugly language excites vicious passions.

It's easy these days to criticize the likes of Louis Farrakhan, whose rhetoric is widely condemned for its blatant anti-Semitism and attacks on whites as subhuman, but Jesse Jackson continues to be a leader coddled by those who know better no matter how outrageous his rhetoric.

By charging the Republicans with Nazi tactics, he suggests images of storm troopers. Such intemperance in an educated man does not flow from ignorance, which makes the offense even worse. His rhetoric lacks ameliorating appeals to real black heroes who are succeeding not only in sports and show biz, but in the arts, education, law and medicine.

Debra Dickerson, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, expresses concern over the single-minded thinking of blacks in America who refuse to accept the intellectual challenges raised by black Republicans. Instead these blacks create their own stereotypes.

"Black Republicans are, oh, dear, Uncle Toms,'' she writes in The Washington Post, "a schoolyard taunt we refuse to outgrow that's meant to coerce conformity.'' That's meant to coerce conformity is the crucial phrase here. It used to be that whites wouldn't let blacks off the plantation. Now it's blacks who oversee the intellectual plantation that limits constructive debate and the competition of ideas.

Debra Dickerson suggests that blacks treat Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice like rebel children in a family where parents take no pride in their accomplishment because they don't use their power and influence precisely as parents think they should. This is a familiar lament found in immigrant families whose children have moved into wider circles outside their smaller ethnic group.

Blacks, of course, have a unique history in America and power has been harder to achieve. But like other immigrants, they are now succeeding far beyond a narrow group-think. Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice are the future, says Miss Dickerson, "blacks who believe that Americans marched and died to free them to follow their desires and talents wherever they lead.''

This is the lesson Jesse Jackson must learn --and teach -- in the New Year if he wants to remain relevant to anyone. But don't hold your breath.


12/21/00: First impressions of two First Ladies
12/18/00: Challenge for the 'better angels of our nature'
12/14/00: What we've lost sight of
12/13/00: Hillary in the lion's den
12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
11/30/00: Winner vs. whiner
11/27/00: Measuring against history
11/23/00: Memories of Thanksgiving past
11/17/00: In defense of the Electoral College
11/16/00: More than one way to win an election
11/13/00: Sexual politics squared
11/09/00: A Middle East legacy
11/06/00: Filling in the dots at campaign's end
11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
10/23/00: There'll always be an England. Maybe.
10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
08/10/00: Bursting with pride, but caution too
08/07/00: Brains, beauty and beastly politics
08/03/00: A candidate with a superego
07/31/00: The sizzling Lynne Cheney
07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
07/20/00 Conservatives gone fishin'
07/17/00: Snoop Doggy Dogg was a founding father, wasn't he?
07/13/00: When a teenager doesn't need a prime minister
07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
05/15/00: There's nothing like a (military) dame
05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
03/06/00: The Amphetamine of the People
03/02/00: Elegy for Amadou
02/29/00: With only a million, what's a poor girl to do?
02/24/00: The changing politics of change
02/16/00: Tip from Hillary: 'Let 'em eat eggs'
02/10/00: No seances with Eleanor
02/07/00: Campaigning like our founding fathers
02/03/00: When neo-Nazis have short memories
01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
01/10/00: Reaching for the Big Golden Apple
01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
12/30/99: 'Dream catchers' for the millennium
12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
10/19/99: The male mystique -- he shops
10/13/99:The campaign of the Teletubbies
10/08/99: Money is in the eye of the art dealer
10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
09/29/99: Introducing Bill and Hillary Bickerson
09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
09/24/99: Miss America meets Miss'd America
09/21/99: Princeton's 'professor death'
09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
08/30/99: Blocking the schoolhouse door
08/27/99: No kick from cocaine
08/23/99: Movies don't kill people
08/19/99: A rude awakening
08/16/99: Dubyah and that 'language' thing
08/09/99: Chauvinist sows -- oink oink

©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate