If there was any flash of humor to relieve the excruciating tedium of the Democratic National Convention last week, it probably came from the lips of the Rev. Al Sharpton, who was allowed his several minutes at the podium at a time when the grand masters of the convention hoped nobody was paying attention. Unfortunately, some people were.
The Rev. Al, as he now seems to call himself, is probably the nation's foremost racial demagogue, having moved up from perpetrating the Tawana Brawley fraud some years ago to his presidential candidacy of the last few months. The Rev. is a failed demagogue, since his showing in the primaries was miserable. What do you do with a fellow who devotes his life to advancing himself by the most brazen chicanery and finishes last?
In the Democratic Party, you put him in the national spotlight, tell him what a great man he is and allow him to explain why American blacks vote for the Democrats. [Full Text of Speech]
"Mr. President," the Rev. Al bellowed in his apostrophe to George W. Bush, "the reason we are fighting so hard, the reason we took Florida so seriously, is our right to vote wasn't gained because of our age, our vote was soaked in the blood of martyrs. ... This vote is sacred to us."
Mr. Sharpton, you see, thinks that the right to vote that whites enjoy was somehow not gained by "the blood of martyrs" at places like Valley Forge and Bunker Hill. In the Rev. Al's world, all that counts is what his own race did.
Well, what also counts is what his own race supposedly was promised by whites.
"You [President Bush again] said the Republican Party was the party of [Abraham] Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. It is true that Mr. Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, after which there was a commitment to give 40 acres and a mule. ... We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres. We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us."
The Washington Times reports that the Rev. Al's comments were greeted with "thunderous laughter and applause." I told you it was funny.
But Mr. Sharpton is angry because he and his race didn't get their fair share of the swag the Republicans supposedly promised, and that's why they keep supporting the Democrats.
His logic is that of explicit racial communism. The 40 acres he is buzzed about would have come from the land of white Southern landowners, and the idea was to confiscate it and hand it over to the emancipated slaves.
That's essentially is what is being done today in Zimbabwe and may yet happen here if the Rev. Al's progress to political prominence and respectability continues. Once the donkey no longer carries him and his race to the rewards to which they consider themselves entitled, they presumably will mount yet another beast willing to put up with them.
To be fair, the Rev. Al was by no means the only black celebrity to be showcased on what might be called "Negro Night" at the convention. There was also the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose own command of the art of racial demagoguery the Rev. Al has long since eclipsed, and a newcomer in the person of the Hero of the Week, the personable Barack Obama of Illinois.
Due to the inability of his Republican opponent to keep himself free of sexual peccadilloes, Mr. Obama is on the way to becoming the next U.S. senator from Illinois and, as the media that have created him the last few days keep telling us, the "only African American in the U.S. Senate."
He also enjoys the advantage of being half white and half black, though he readily identifies himself as black. It's an advantage because it means that, like Tiger Woods, he can play on the mythology of "color blindness" while simultaneously wallowing in a thinly masked racial identity.
The use of such a dual role is that it allows Mr. Obama to reject racial identity for whites while at the same time legitimizing it for non-whites. That, after all, is what the "multiracialism" of which he is supposed to be the latest and best symbol really means.
My guess is that while the Rev. Al may provide the funnies, Mr. Obama represents the real future of the Democratic Party and perhaps the nation. Already people at the convention were blabbering about "Hillary and Obama in 2008" (a slogan that more or less seems to concede that it will be "George and Dick in 2004"). But I would also venture the guess that when you rip Mr. Obama's thin mask away, what you'll see is a face that strongly resembles the Rev. Al's.
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Sam Francis [email him] is a nationally syndicated columnist. A selection of his columns, America Extinguished: Mass Immigration And The Disintegration Of American Culture, is now available from Americans For Immigration Control. Click here for Sam Francis' website. Click here to order his monograph, Ethnopolitics: Immigration, Race, and the American Political Future. His review essay on Who Are We appears in the current issue of Chronicles Magazine.