Ivy-Covered Adolescents of Racism

When President Obama took office, he promised to be a “uniter,” rather than a “divider” for the American people. Nearly four years later, America is much more divided than it was, and skin color has become almost synonymous with political party—to the point that support for Mitt Romney among blacks is said to be non-existent (or so say the reliably unreliable polls).

Ann Coulter’s new book, Mugged: Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama, is doing precisely what Ann wanted it to do: throwing a match on this already heated and volatile issue of race relations. Ann has a knack for stirring up controversy and is not one to shy away from such topics; in fact, she seems to be drawn to them. While I am not a huge supporter of how Coulter says certain things, I am (generally) a supporter of what she says. If nothing else, she is willing to take the heat and the vitriol dished out by the Left (and give it back sevenfold) in order to bring polarizing topics to the discussion table. For this, she is to be commended.

Two recent editorials by black writers highlight that Obama’s divided America and Coulter’s labeling it as such is having an effect. The first, written for CNN by Sherrilyn Ifill, a University of Maryland law professor, is the standard (spoiler alert) liberal line on race. Ifill spends the better part of her article assuming that every decision an American makes is informed and motivated primarily by race, especially if that decision has something to do with politics. Her indictment of Joe Wilson (the “you lie” Representative from South Carolina) and John Sununu (who dared to say that Obama was “lazy” in his debate preparation) as racists and their words as attacks on President Obama’s “dignity,” are the height of political propaganda. If Ifill is to be taken seriously—and I am by no means suggesting that she should be—every word of disagreement with President Obama should be construed as some form of racism, or as Ifill puts it:

“When the Harvard-educated, eloquent, high-minded first black president of the United States is heckled in front of his wife by a member of Congress during a nationally televised speech, it is a game-changing moment for millions of blacks.”

Was it? Why was it not also a “game-changing moment” for millions of whites as well, since President Obama is just as much white as he is black? And what does the presence of Michelle Obama at the “nationally televised speech” have to do with anything? It has nothing to do with the facts, but it has everything to do with the emotional and sentimental spin Ifill is trying to smuggle into her tenuous argument.

The second article, written by the prolific Thomas Sowell, is the antidote to the racist poison of Ifill’s hit piece. While Ifill never mentions Coulter’s book, it is definitely implied. Sowell, on the other hand, heaps high praise on Mugged, even recommending that people actually buy it and read it (gasp!). Sowell writes: “Few things are as rare as an honest book about race. This is one of the very few, and one of the very best.” Never one to beat around the proverbial bush (is that racist?), Sowell puts it all on the table with his opening paragraph:

“If you are sick and tired of seeing politicians and others playing the race card, or if you are just disgusted with the grossly dishonest way racial issues in general are portrayed, then you should get a copy of Ann Coulter’s new book.”

As a black conservative in academia, Sowell has experienced both racism and bigotry. He has written his share of books and has received his share of intellectual prejudice. He has not caved to the liberal bullies in the academy; he has met them straight on, for more than 50 years. As an educator himself, Sowell well understands that “education” is a two-edged sword:

“Too often what are called ‘educated’ people are simply people who have been sheltered from reality for years in ivy-covered buildings. Those whose whole careers have been spent in ivy-covered buildings, insulated by tenure, can remain adolescents on into their golden retirement years.”

And, it could be added, those whose whole interpretation of life and politics depends on the color of one’s skin. The real “racists” are those who seek to make race the motivating factor behind everything. Individuals like Sherrilyn Ifill, for example.