Man Without Qualities

Friday, January 10, 2003

The Man From Hate

President Bush has renominated Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This action reminds us that the day of any putative Man from Hope is over - it's remains even now being decanted in anonymous glass and steel over a sluggish Arkansas river. Now the country must instead endure days of the Man from Hate.

The Man from Hate is, of course not Charles Pickering or President Bush - but Senator "Chuck" Schumer of New York, who is sliming Mr. Pickering in grand style. Charges of "racism" and threats to filibuster drop trippingly from the Senator's toungue. Yes, Senator Schumer is a true believer in the strategy of telling the big lie.

The relevant facts about Mr. Pickering are:

In the 1960s, [Charles Pickering] sent his children to the newly integrated Mississippi public schools even though there was an all-white private school nearby. As county attorney from 1964-68 he helped the FBI prosecute Ku Klux Klansmen, including testifying against the Imperial Wizard, and was defeated for re-election because of it. In 1971, he ran for the state Senate and won with the support of two-thirds of the black voters in his district.

He also has a long record of helping advance civil rights causes in Mississippi, getting white banks to lend money to black businesses and helping get federal funds directed to programs that helped African-Americans. Former Democratic Governor William Winter says Judge Pickering has been "one of this state's most dedicated and effective voices for breaking down racial barriers." African-American leaders in his hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, overwhelmingly support him.

From these facts one can pretty well deduce the dimensions of Senator Schumer's prevarications.

Senator Schumer's filibuster threat is particularly revealing. At one time it was Southern racists who abused the filibuster tradition of the Senate to block racially progressive actions, but now it is Democratic race manipulators such as Senator Schumer.

It seems likely that Senator Schumer's attempt will fail on multiple fronts. Because his cause is false, the more exposure it receives the more his support in the Senate is likely to fade. A filibuster ties up the Senate - and it is unlikely that enough Democrats will want to do that indefinitely to uphold such an outrageous position.

But, more importantly, if Senator Schumer follows through on his threat and receives enough Democratic support to make it stick, he and they will provide African Americans with a clear, ongoing example of how Democratic "leaders" increasingly manipulate this central constituency with false charges of racism. The more such ersatz leaders do to expose that manipulation, the more they will lose the trust of the African-American community. That would be a good thing, since no such trust has been warranted for a very long time.

Senator Schumer, go ahead. Make yourself the Man from Hate.

It's often said that the best antiseptic is sunshine. Senator Schumer should prepare himself and his party to be well fumigated.

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