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Jewish World Review Feb. 23, 2001 / 29 Shevat, 5761

Joseph Perkins

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Liberal racists and the blacks that protect them -- NARY a discouraging word from Maxine Waters. No yelps of outrage from Barbara Lee. No righteous indignation from Juanita Millender-McDonald.

Not one of California's black congressional representatives has seen fit to respond to a recent speech by the state's second highest ranking official, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, in which he referred to blacks' using the "n-word."

What made his use of the racial slur especially egregious is that it occurred during his appearance at a Black History Month event sponsored by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

The lieutenant governor apologized and said that his use of the word was a "slip." But that hardly assuaged the 400 black folks who attended the awards dinner and scholarship fund-raiser. "You don't make a slip like that," said Gwendalyn Bello, who heard Bustamante's racial epithet loud and clear, "unless it is something you say normally."

Which brings us back to Reps. Waters, Lee and Millender-McDonald. There is no doubt that they would have screamed bloody murder had Bustamante been a Republican.

But Bustamante is a Democrat, just like Reps. Waters, Lee and Millender-McDonald. So he gets license to denigrate blacks.

This is the kind of selective outrage for which the traditional liberal black leadership has become all too familiar. The leaders are far more motivated -- or unmotivated, as in Bustamante's case -- by partisan politics than by moral principle.

Indeed, consider how easily the black leadership dismissed the recent "slip" of the tongue by Terry McAuliffe, the newly anointed chairman of the Democratic National Committee. During a speech to DNC delegates, McAuliffe used the term "colored people," which most blacks consider offensive. The DNC chair insisted that he misspoke. He later claimed that he really meant to say "people of color." Wink, wink. Nod, nod.

And the black DNC delegates who heard him refer to them as "colored" were only too willing to accept his explanation.

But just imagine if Jim Gilmore, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, had been guilty of a similar slip of the tongue. You can bet your bottom dollar that the NAACP's Julian Bond or Kweisi Mfume or some other black leader would have portrayed the Republican's use of the racial pejorative as proof that the party is insensitive to black folks.

And the most glaring example of selective outrage on the part of the traditional black leadership involved -- who else? -- former president Bill Clinton, who recently teed it up at a whites-only country club in South Florida.

It was actually the second time in the past year-and-a-half that Clinton played golf at Indian Creek Country Club, located on a wealthy and exclusive island boasting 34 homes. The country club has roughly 300 members, which lets it take advantage of a Florida law that allows a club with fewer than 400 members to exclude whomever it chooses.

So the country club has never had a black member (and only a handful of Jewish members). Because that's the way its preponderantly anti-black, anti-Semitic membership wants it.

And it matters not whether a black or Jewish person actually owns one of the island's 34 homes. That in no way guarantees them membership in the restrictive country club that Clinton played.

Timothy May, head of Indian Creek's legal committee, explained the club's rationale to the New York Post. "We won't let people into the club merely because they buy a home on the island," he sniffed. "The next thing you know, we'll have a drug dealer in the club."

But, of course. First you let in your blacks. Then you get your drug dealers.

Now just imagine if, say, former President Bush had played golf at Indian Creek Country Club, with members expressing such unenlightened views.

Jesse Jackson would be down in South Florida right now -- that is, if he weren't too busy changing diapers -- likening the struggle to open up whites-only country clubs like Indian Creek to the Selma march during the civil rights movement.

But, again, because it was a former Democratic president teeing it up with bigots, neither Jesse nor any other liberal black leader uttered one word of condemnation.

Cruz Bustamante, Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton are all deserving of rebuke by the black leadership, particularly California's lieutenant governor and the former president. That black leaders have given these Democrats a free pass reveals their hypocrisy.

JWR contributor Joseph Perkins is a San Diego Union-Tribune columnist and television commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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© 2001, NEA