Playing the Race Card

Published February 29, 2008

During the recent presidential debate in Ohio, under attack by Sen. Hillary Clinton for not “rejecting” any support from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, Sen. Barack Obama “rejected” and “denounced” the controversial black leader’s support. It was a shameful display of pandering for the Jewish vote.

White women have historically been used as the ultimate weapon against the black male, when whistling at a white woman was a lynching offense in the South under Jim Crow and more recently when affirmative action programs, started to benefit blacks, instead became a career ladder for white women. It’s bitterly ironic to see Sen. Clinton now playing that role, cast as the likely first woman president if not for the unwelcome entry of a young black man.

No doubt there are some whites — perhaps many — in the Democratic Party who support Sen. Clinton over Sen. Obama for racist reasons. Has Sen. Clinton “rejected” as well as “denounced” their support? I haven’t heard her do that. Yet she lectures Sen. Obama on the need to reject the support of a black man who is widely respected in black communities, despite his past statements about Jews.

The issue isn’t Farrakhan. It’s about Sen. Clinton playing the race card. Her decision gave us some insight into their shortcomings as presidential contenders.

Lee Walker ([email protected]) is senior fellow for urban policy at The Heartland Institute and president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change.