Between Martin Luther King Jr.'s real birthday and
the"birthday observed," it's important to celebrate his extraordinary
leadership. We should be past having to think about his race.
Race was the issue on which he led, which took almost unimaginable
courage at that time in our history. But now it's important to remember
him for his dream - that "persons will not be judged by the color of
their skin, but by the content of their character."
Let's honor him as a great man, not a great black man - while
acknowledging that it's good for our country's unique image to honor
greatness in its many colors, creeds and diverse cultures.
We shouldn't intrude on the celebration by accusing Hillary Clinton of
disrespect for King's role simply because she noted that the civil
rights law passed thanks to Lyndon Johnson. Clearly she meant that
dreams are important, but to make them law, you need the president and
And naturally she was implying that opponent Barack Obama's stirring
rhetoric isn't enough, that the ability of competent legislators like
her is essential. Without agreeing that she is a competent legislator
(and if she isn't, that's fine with me on so many issues), this seems a
Meanwhile, some commentators are actually saying that the New Hampshire
primary vote reflects racist attitudes on the part of those pathfinder
voters. Say what?!
Chip Ford says he's glad he's not a Democrat: If they vote for Hillary,
they're racist; if they vote for Obama, they're sexist; if they vote for
one of the white guys, they're both. Not that Democrats, who have let
their party pander on race, don't deserve this.
I know race has been a big issue within our lifetime. But most of the
country really has moved on, thanks to King, the politicians who voted
for the civil rights law, the creators of "Roots," and the other
cultural events that opened white eyes to injustice.
I often think of something I saw in a TV docudrama about U.S. Supreme
Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, which I hope I recall correctly.
Marshall was invited to observe a study of poor Southern children, in
which each girl was allowed to choose a doll to be their very own. Both
the white and the black girls chose white dolls. I thought this was
heartbreaking. Marshall was moved to support efforts to build the
self-esteem of minority children.
Now we have black baby dolls, Barbie dolls and Bratz, which I hope are
enjoyed by girls of all races.
I became attached at an early age to black dolls. I still have my
AmoSandra baby doll, which I may give to my granddaughter when I'm sure
she will love it as much as I do. My parents ordered it from the Amos &
Andy radio show in the '40s: they also used pancake box-tops to order a
pattern for an Aunt Jemima doll - which I also still have, though the
stuffing is almost gone.
I no longer have Paul, who was unusual, since except for Raggedy Andy,
boy dolls were rare during my childhood. Paul was black, with a china
head, and I still remember the trauma of dropping him and breaking it
With these memories, I know I have never been racist. Therefore I was
surprised this week when I received an e-mail from someone who'd read my
reference to "Deval Obama" in a previous column.
"Barbara. Your epithet 'Deval Obama' reveals more than I think you know
or want to know. Seems to me the names of other hyphenated Americans who
have been the political power base in this country and this state -
Irish, Italian, Anglo-Saxon for example - have not faced this latent
intolerance and not so subtle prejudice for more than a century. You are
better than this!"
When I picked myself up off the floor, I responded: "Good grief, this
never occurred to me. I, like most libertarians, don't even THINK about
race when I think about people. I combined the names because both
candidates used and are using the same campaign message, hope, change
etc. without having an apparent clue about what they are going to do
when they get into office. We call it rope-a-dope campaigning."
I may have misused that expression. I thought it referred to cowboys and
calves, in this case two Democrat politicians roping in dumb voters with
meaningless rhetoric. Chip tells me it's a boxing reference to a winning
tactic of Mohammed Ali - and has nothing to do with his being black, by
the way. Anyhow, I told the e-mailer that "People who refuse to
criticize candidates just because they are black are thinking like
racists, who treat others differently because of their skin color."
Which brings me to my criticism of the week: Deval Patrick's threat to
bypass the Legislature and allow taxpayer-funded tuition for illegal
immigrants. Although most of these illegals are Caucasian, those of us
opposed to illegal immigration are also called racist. Once upon a time,
that word was a genuine insult - now it's often an anachronism.
Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens
for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and
Eagle Tribune, and often in the Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, and
Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the
Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.