I am intrigued by the falderol over whether the Sykes-Holt "stand in the school house door" spot on school choice, now being run on stations other than TMJ by school choice advocates, illegitimately plays the race card. Driving down to class this afternoon, I heard that view from some (but not all) of Eric Von's callers and the same claim is made by liberal bloggers Jay Bullock and Bill Christofferson and, I suspect, a few others.
I suppose the argument goes like this: School choice advocates are proposing a policy that they claim will benefit African American school children. Jim Doyle opposes that policy, but it is unfair to suggest, by invoking racially charged images, that he does so because he "doesn't care" about black kids. To do so, the argument might continue, is racially inflammatory and, quite frankly, stings. In our society, being wrongfully accused of racial animus or indifference hurts. Can't we, the spot's critics might conclude, just rationally and calmly debate a policy difference?
I don't know that is a fair characterization of the spot. It certainly argues that Doyle is blocking opportunity for black kids (choice advocates believe that he is), but I'm not sure that it implies improper motive on his part. In fact, I have never heard choice proponents claim that Doyle is biased against African-Americans. Rather, they say he is in WEAC's pocket. He is not racist, he is kept. But let's put that aside. I see a bigger development here.
Rather than bicker, I want to congratulate my liberal friends on their new found civility. In 2000, the NAACP ran one of the most despicable campaign ads in history, invoking the brutal lynching of a black man in Texas and suggesting that when then Governor George W. Bush opposed hate crime legislation that had absolutely nothing to do with the crime in question, it was as if the lynching had "happened again." In 2004, a 527 group called Media Watch ran an ad on black radio stations (including, if I remember correctly, stations in Milwaukee) telling black audiences that "you are not part of" President Bush's America and that the President was sending blacks off to die in Iraq for oil. (I guess I missed the military"s "black only" recruiting policy). Don't even get me started on the shameful exploitation of Hurricane Katrina.
I am so glad that the left has grown a conscience and we won't have to put up with that kind of race baiting next time around. It is so good to know that conservatives who suggest market and culturally based solutions to problems of poverty and urban crime won't be called racist and be accused of "blaming the victim." It is gratifying to know that blacks who opt out of a politics based on grievance (for more, see here ) will no longer be called Uncle Toms or be told they are not "black enough."
That is what this means, isn't it?