Project 21 New Visions

 

Bigotry from the Left


by Kimberley Jane Wilson

Bigotry can be found in the places one would least expect it to thrive.

Author Shirley Jackson, remembered most for horror tales such as The Lottery, understood this when she wrote the slyly brilliant story "After You My Dear Alphonse." The story's unnamed narrator is a middle-class, white housewife who considers herself an upstanding liberal in both actions and thoughts. She is delighted when her young son comes home with his new best friend - a black child named Boyd.

She immediately assumes Boyd must be poor and his family is in the neighborhood due to some government program or charity. She offers him a bundle of her son's old clothes to take home.

The child politely declines. It turns out he's not poor and his comfortably middle-class parents are perfectly capable of buying him everything he needs. Embarrassed, the narrator snaps at Boyd and angrily leaves the kitchen. The story ends with her son, who sees right through his mother, apologizing for her behavior as the two boys head back outside to play.

Some of the most left-leaning people are - in their hearts - no better than Shirley Jackson's character. They mean well by black people, but they see us as creatures to be pitied and protected rather than respected as equals. When a black person challenges that assumption, they snap and turn nasty.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice makes a lot of people snap.

Earlier this year, Universal Press Syndicate cartoonist Ted Rall penned a piece in which Dr. Rice was sent to a re-education camp so she cold be retrained to be a real black person. More recently, cartoonist Jeff Danzinger of the New York Times Syndicate tried to top Rall. Parodying the half-witted slave character played by Butterfly McQueen in the movie "Gone With theWind," the cartoon shows a barefoot and scowling Rice tending to aluminum tubes (representing her past assertions of WMD development in Iraq) made to look like infants. Like the character in the movie, Rice says "I don't know nuthin' about birthin' no babies."

Things got worse after Dr. Rice was nominated to become Secretary of State. A radio talk show host even went as far as to call her "Aunt Jemima." The cartoonists began yet another assault on her.

It's shameful.

The civil rights industry is fond of frantically warning that, at any moment, the clock is in danger of being turned back to the era of segregation. Well, guess what? This activity is as close to a peek into a time machine as most would care to get.

The ironic thing is that if Condoleezza Rice was a liberal she'd be among the high holy untouchables. Were Jocelyn Elders (even at the height of her embarrassing stint as surgeon general), Alexis Herman or Hazel O'Leary ever portrayed by a political cartoonist in such a crude fashion? Of course not! Anyone who drew a cartoon such as this of a black liberal would be fired and promptly forgotten.

Dr. Rice's intellectual achievements and political acumen are unquestionable. She's reached a career pinnacle that no other woman - and certainly no other black woman - has even gotten close to in any other presidential administration. But none of that matters because she's conservative. Because she's conservative, she's fair game for some of the most distasteful racial insults outside of the Jim Crow era.

There was a small uproar over Danzinger's cartoon and it is no longer located among his other works on his web site, but no apology was issued and it is doubtful one is coming.

But it is also doubtful Dr. Rice actually cares about this cartoon. Like the little boy in Shirley Jackson's story, she's not a walking tale of woe and doesn't need any help. Jackson published "After You My Dear Alphonse" in 1943. Sixty years later, some of the so-called best, brightest and most politically correct people are still snapping when they come across a black person who doesn't fit into their worldview.

Perhaps it's time for our "friends" to do what the woman in Jackson's story wouldn't do - examine the racial stereotypes that they're still carrying around before criticizing anyone else.

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Kimberley Jane Wilson is a member of the National Advisory Council of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and a freelance writer in Northern Virginia. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.


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