Black Conservatives Aren't Really Black?

The ugly identity politics of the Democratic Party.

As far as left-wing Democrats are concerned, black conservatives aren’t really black. To Democrats, black is a state-of-mind, not a color, and the only acceptable state-of-mind for an African American is that of a perpetually embittered, aggrieved victim of white racism. California Representative Karen Bass, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, articulated this sick and demented perspective in the immediate wake of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s recent death, when she suggested that Scalia’s replacement should be black, so as to finally give the Court the “African-American voice” that it allegedly lacks. “I think many people would like to see an African American on the Supreme Court,” Bass declared in spite of the fact that Clarence Thomas has held a seat on that Court for the past quarter-century. “I think to have an African-American voice that has definitely not been there since Thurgood Marshall would really be an incredible contribution to our country,” she added.

Karen Bass is just the latest in a long line of black leftists who derive obvious pleasure from smearing black conservatives as race traitors, and Clarence Thomas has been among the most frequent targets of the left’s ugly and vile rhetoric for many years. You may remember, for instance, when Jesse Jackson, objecting to Thomas’s vote to place certain limits on affirmative action programs, characterized Thomas as an “enem[y] of civil rights” and likened the latter’s black judicial robe to the white sheet of a Klansman. Or when former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown depicted Thomas as a man whose views are “legitimizing of the Ku Klux Klan.” Or when the late columnist Carl Rowan sarcastically suggested that “if you give Thomas a little flour on his face, you’d think you had [former KKK Grand Wizard] David Duke.”

The front cover of the periodical Emerge, which billed itself as “Black America’s News Magazine,” once featured a cartoon depiction of Thomas alongside the caption: “UNCLE THOMAS: Lawn Jockey for the Far Right.” Movie director Spike Lee claims that Malcolm X, if he were alive today, would view Thomas as “a handkerchief-head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.” The late author June Jordan characterized Thomas as a “virulent Oreo phenomenon” and an “Uncle Tom calamity.” And Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) has disparaged Thomas as an “Uncle Tom” who “doesn’t like being black” and “doesn’t even like black people.”

The theme of racial treachery was likewise articulated by the late political scientist Manning Marable, who once asserted that Thomas had “ethnically ceased being an African American.” Author and columnist Barbara Reynolds, for her part, derides Thomas for having married a white woman: “Here’s a man who’s going to decide crucial issues for the country and he has already said no to blacks; he has already said if he can’t paint himself white he’ll think white and marry a white woman.” And the Reverend Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says he is “ashamed” of Justice Thomas because he “has become to many in the African-American community what Benedict Arnold was to the United States, a deserter; what Judas was to Jesus, a traitor, and what Brutus was to Caesar, an assassin.”

Occasionally the left’s contempt for Thomas is so strong, that death is openly wished upon him. As columnist Julianne Malveaux once told a television audience: “I hope [Thomas’s] wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter, and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease…. He’s an absolutely reprehensible person.”

Responding to this type of filthy rhetoric, Justice Thomas laments: “Long gone is the time when we [blacks] opposed the notion that we all looked alike and talked alike. Somehow we have come to exalt the new black stereotype above all and demand conformity to that norm.” By the same token, Thomas stalwartly affirms what he calls “my right to think for myself [and] to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me as though I was an intellectual slave because I’m black”—a statement that represents the precise, polar opposite of the Democratic Party’s shameful perspective on race.

Pathetically, the party of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Klan has never been able to shed its racial obsession—nor its contemptible belief that blacks are intellectually inferior to everyone else. It has merely learned to frame that obsession and that belief in a more politically palatable way—for its own political expediency. How else could one possibly explain, for example, the core Democratic article of faith which says that African Americans can’t even be expected to figure out something as simple as how to obtain a free voter-identification document that they can present at the polls on election day? If that isn’t racism, then what on earth is?