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The Conservative Curmudgeon
August 10, 2009

Celebrating a Black Conservative Who Has Always Put Country above Color
by Allan C. Brownfeld

ALEXANDRIA, VA — The arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., for disorderly conduct after a 911 call reported an apparent break-in at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, home has led many observers to tell us that the idea of a “post-racial” society is a myth and that racism is alive and well.

The charges have been dropped, and Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, have visited with President Obama, who, while admitting he did not know the facts of the case, nevertheless charged that the police acted “stupidly.” These facts aside, the reaction is instructive.

Most observers, reviewing the facts calmly, find that, while both Gates and Crowley may have overreacted, no racism was involved. Crowley, who has taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy, was described by his director as a good role model and was hand-picked by a black police commissioner. When Crowley entered the house, he made no reference to race. From everything we know, Gates introduced the subject.

Many prominent black Americans have used this case to tell us that, the election of President Obama aside, racism is alive and well in our society.  Using a highly ambiguous case in which race seems to have played no part, they have made light of the tremendous progress we have made in race relations.

Lawrence Bobo, a professor of the social sciences at Harvard, declared: “Ain’t nothing post-racial about the United States of America.... If Skip (Gates) can be arrested on his front porch, there but for the grace of God goes every other black man in America.... [I]]t should be enough to end all this post-racial hogwash.”

Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, who is black, described Gates’ experience as “Every black man’s nightmare.” Christopher Edley, Jr., the dean of the University of California at Berkeley Law School, who is also black, said the Gates incident should dispel “the rosy hopefulness” of Mr. Obama's election “in case anybody needed evidence that we’re not beyond race.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson declared that the Gates incident “is a stark example that racial profiling knows no boundaries of class, status, neighborhood, or reputation.... There can be no ‘post-racial’ America when such glaring racial disparities and incidents of race profiling continue to permeate all facets of society.”

It appears that many of those who refuse to recognize the dramatic progress we have made in race relations will use the flimsiest excuse — such as the Gates case — to declare that America is a “racist” society.

Fortunately, the facts of racial progress speak for themselves. Not only do we now have a black president, attorney general, and ambassador to the United Nations — among other cabinet-level posts — but this is nothing new. In the Bush administration, we had two black secretaries of state.  This is not to say that residual racism does not exist and that there is no progress yet to be made.  It is to say that it is unseemly to promote the ideas that ours is a hate-filled society. Some people, it seems, cannot take “yes” for an answer.

Comedian and actor Bill Cosby said he is worried about the direction of the conversation and urged people “who don’t know” the facts in a particular case to step back and refrain from commenting — and extrapolating an isolated and ambiguous incident into an example of continuing racism.

Fortunately, many black Americans refuse to engage in this racial game that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and others have been playing for many years. One of the outstanding black spokesmen for a color-blind society, in which an individual would be judged on the basis of merit rather than race, is J.A. (Jay) Parker.

Parker has had a distinguished career. He has been a radio talk show host, a leader in Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), an active opponent of the spread of Marxism in Africa as a leader in the American African Affairs Association, and the founder and President of the Lincoln Institute for Research and Education. The Lincoln Institute has for many years urged the creation of a genuinely color-blind society and argued that our free enterprise system is the best path for racial progress.

In l980, Parker was named to head President Ronald Reagan’s transition team at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (this writer was a member of that team and has been a close associate of Jay Parker for many years). Its final report declared: “The goal of all Americans of good will should be the creation of a society which is both color-blind and committed to economic growth and advancement. A system of racial quotas and classifications in a declining economy is the prescription for inter-group tensions and social dislocation. It violates our basic principles of individual freedom and our hope for continuing progress.”

During the Reagan years, Parker worked with the U.S. Information Agency to help project a more accurate view of America. He also worked with Attorney General Edwin Meese III on a special committee on the problem of missing and exploited children, as well as with the U. S. Defense Department as a member of the Army Science Board.

One of Jay’s most important contributions has been his dedication to such important charities as the Salvation Army, the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind, and Goodwill Industries; he served each in a leadership role. He was president of the Washington, D.C., Kiwanis Club. He believes in putting his belief in individualism into action because “problems in America can only truly be fixed by individuals convincing individuals, one at a time, how to behave properly.”

When this writer spoke at a dinner honoring Jay on his 70th birthday, I quoted a line of Whoopie Goldberg’s. When Goldberg expressed her interest in a Hollywood career, one of her friends tried to discourage her, telling her that, “You know you’re black.” Goldberg responded, “I won't mention it.” This was a clear expression of Jay’s philosophy.

A new book, Courage To Put Country above Color, about the life of Jay Parker has been written by David W. Tyson and is available free to readers. (Those who would like to receive a copy should write to The Lincoln Review Letter, P.O. Box 254, l03l5 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA 22066-24l5).

In the foreword, former Attorney General Meese writes that, “Jay Parker was an influential leader who joined with President Reagan and me to help ensure the enactment of the Reagan Revolution... As a result of Jay’s efforts, America began to step away from the Carter administration’s reliance on racial quotas and move toward President Reagan's vision of a truly color-blind society.”

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has stated: “Jay is the most principled person I have met in Washington.... I know that I wouldn’t be on the court if I had not met Jay Parker.”

When we discuss the state of race relations in America, it is important to remember that the voices of those who promote the idea that racism is alive and well and widespread — as in the reaction to the Henry Louis Gates case — are not the only black voices to be heard. Others, such as Jay Parker, have devoted their lives to making our country a genuinely free, open, and inclusive society. In great measure, it is they who have succeeded. 

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The Conservative Curmudgeon is copyright © 2009 by Allan C. Brownfeld and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved. Editors may use this column if this copyright information is included.

Allan C. Brownfeld is the author of five books, the latest of which is The Revolution Lobby (Council for Inter-American Security). He has been a staff aide to a U.S. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the U.S. Senate Internal Subcommittee.

He is associate editor of The Lincoln Reveiw and a contributing editor to such publications as Human Events, The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

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