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Jewish World Review Feb. 16, 2006/ 18 Shevat, 5766

Larry Elder

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Showtime at Coretta Scott King's funeral | The "funeral" of Coretta Scott King turned into an ugly, disrespectful political rally.

Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder — along with Martin Luther King Jr. — of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, castigated President George W. Bush for insufficient disaster relief, failing to provide health care and failing to cure poverty. "We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there," said Lowery. "But Coretta knew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor."

Listening to speaker after speaker complain about the poor conditions under which minorities live, one wonders whether Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished anything at all.

There stood Oprah Winfrey, the most powerful woman in television, with her net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.3 billion. And she recently signed a $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. There stood poet Maya Angelou, who, in one recent year, grossed $3.3 million according to Forbes, and lives in a mansion while employing several people full time. There stood Shirley Franklin, the black female mayor of the city of Atlanta. There stood former presidential candidate Rev. Al Sharpton, a man who once called Jews "diamond merchants" and denounced a white Harlem storeowner as a "white interloper." A man whom many still take seriously despite falsely accusing a man of rape, and despite the existence of a 1983 FBI surveillance tape showing Sharpton discussing, with an undercover agent, a deal to traffic cocaine. And, of course, Jesse Jackson spoke — a multimillionaire with two sons who own an Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship, and another son who serves as a U.S. congressman from the Chicago area.

Bernice King, one of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King's daughters, gave the eulogy. Did she really complain about "materialism"? For the King family members — if the sale at Sotheby's goes through — may net $30 million for their father's papers. The family also owns copyrights on many of MLK's speeches, including the "I Have a Dream" speech. The Kings sued CBS for airing part of the "I Have a Dream" speech and sued "USA Today" for reprinting the speech's text. CBS ultimately settled the lawsuit by making a donation to the King Center, and "USA Today" had to issue an apology along with their settlement.

Most blacks are middle class and do not live in the inner city. If black America were a separate country, its GDP would place it at No. 16 in the world. Corporations like Time Warner, American Express and Merrill Lynch all have black CEOs.

Is Tiger Woods not the world's No. 1 golfer? And say it ain't so, but didn't Snoop Dogg cut a Chrysler commercial? And sociologist Nathan Glazer says studies show three out of four blacks, with SAT scores between 1250 and 1299, receive admissions into the nation's most elite colleges, yet only one in four whites with comparable SAT scores receive admission.

And isn't this 2006, with black candidates like Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, now running for the U.S. Senate? And isn't Ken Blackwell, Ohio's black secretary of state, running for governor? And what about Lynn Swann, the former Pittsburgh Steelers great, who just got the Republican nod for Pennsylvania's gubernatorial race? What about back-to-back black secretaries of State, one of whom, Condoleezza Rice, many hope and wish would run for president? Polls show over 90 percent of whites would vote for a qualified black presidential candidate, versus one-third in 1958.

America, while not perfect, certainly has come a long, long way since the day King led the Montgomery bus boycott. But the funeral speakers confuse equal rights with equal results — two very different things. UCLA public policy professor emeritus James Q. Wilson once said, "You need only do three things to avoid poverty in this country: finish high school, marry before having a child, and produce the child after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor." Yet today's "black leaders" demand reparations, set-asides, race-based preferences, and still more welfare.

In 1911, Booker T. Washington seemed to address some of those who spoke at the funeral when he said, "There is [a] class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. . . . There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public."

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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." (Proceeds from sales help fund JWR) Let him know what you think of his column by clicking here.

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