Saturday, November 05, 2005

Project 21 issues statement about racist slurs against Maryland candidate - Important Update

(There's an important update at the end.)

This has been covered excellently by such worthies as Michelle Malkin and Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters so I haven't had much to add. In an update to Michelle's post, however, I am stuck by the evasiveness of the official release from Project 21, a black leadership caucus in Maryland. That release has an overtone I find enlightening:

::::::::In light of the racial indignities being foisted upon Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, a black Republican who recently announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate, members of the black leadership group Project 21 call on all candidates and political parties to shun both the use of such tactics and individuals who employ them.

Steele most recently was portrayed as a white minstrel in blackface on a left-wing blog, but has suffered other racial indignities such as being pelted with Oreo cookies at the historically-black Morgan State University in Baltimore and being called "Uncle Tom," among other epithets.

Project 21 members say all electoral candidates should be open to criticism about their records, credentials and policy positions, but candidates should not be subjected to race-based abuse. The way to end this, says Project 21, is for all political parties and candidates to repudiate and pledge to refrain from engaging in any activity that demeans on the basis of race, gender and/or other birth characteristics in favor of a robust debate on real issues affecting the public.

I do suggest you read the whole thing because there are some members of Project 21 who are quoted and are far more direct in their condemnation of the tactics being used against Lt. Gov. Steele. But this excerpt above is the position of Project 21 as a group. What I find less than stellar about it is the implication that everyone's tossing racial insults back and forth. That the liberals have done so directed at Steele, a conservative, and that the conservatives have done so at the liberals. That's the implication here: that "all candidates and political parties to shun both the use of such tactics and individuals who employ them." But no Democrat or liberal candidate has been attacked by the conservatives in this way. This situation is every bit, 100%, a matter of liberals attacking the man's race as a valid issue in an election solely because he's a conservative. Please, don't take my word for it. Here's more from the release:

::::::::Some, however, seem unoffended -- in one case, even enthusiastic about -- the racial attacks on Steele. According to the Washington Times, white political consultant Joe Trippi said calling Steele an "Uncle Tom" is "pointing out the obvious." Trippi is a spokesman for Mfume and is best known for his leadership of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D), told the Times that party loyalties make racial attacks fair game: "Party trumps race, especially on the national level. It's democracy, perhaps at its worst, but it is democracy."

I'm very pleased that Project 21 has the "racial slurs are unacceptable regardless of the color of the person tossing them" attitude and kudos to them for saying so. But their release should have been directed at the offending party, not watered down by including people who aren't making the offense.

Update: In the comments to this post, Mr Joe Trippi himself provides a quote from the Washington Times on a correction to their story. His site provides the link to the Times' page directly. The correction reads:

Due to an editing error, The Washington Times yesterday incorrectly reported the comments by a spokesman for Maryland senatorial candidate Kweisi Mfume regarding racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. Mfume spokesman Joseph R. Trippi said it was wrong to pelt Mr. Steele with Oreo cookies or to call him an “Uncle Tom.”

First and foremost, let me thank Mr. Trippi for notifying me of that correction. I am pleased to display it here.

Any of you who have read my stuff for any time know that I hold the media in general in no high regard. While the Washington Times is a media outlet I am generally OK with, I would like to know just how much booze an editor has to be drinking to take a comment that it's wrong to toss oreo cookies at a political candidate or call him an Uncle Tom and wind up with a comment that calling that person an Uncle Tom is "pointing out the obvious." Those are 2 diametrically opposed pieces of commentary and you just can't mistake one for the other. What gives? Regardless, the Times owes Mr. Trippi an apology, regardless of what anyone thinks of Mr. Trippi's stance on any issue. The fact is Mr. Trippi didn't say what was reported. When you wrongly accuse someone of doing something, you apologize when you discover your mistake. The correction is all well and good - and was certainly the right move - but it's not an apology.

For my part in spreading the orignal error, I'll certainly offer my apologies to Mr. Trippi now. And again, sir, thanks for pointing out that correction.