Wanting blacks to think alike

By Walter Williams

When asked to comment about Secretary of State Colin Powell’s position on the possible use of military force against Iraq, singer-activist Harry Belafonte said: “There were those slaves who lived on the plantation, and there were those slaves that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master exactly the way the master intended to have you serve him. Colin Powell’s committed to come into the house of the master.”

Powell’s master, according to Belafonte, is President Bush. In a statement later issued through his publicist, Belafonte said, “This was not a personal attack on Colin Powell; however, speaking on behalf of so many African-American citizens, I have found Colin Powell to be a tragic failure.”

I can’t help but wonder what prompted such a vicious attack on a man who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Reagan administration and now serves as secretary of state in the Bush administration. These are the two most important government positions ever held by blacks, and it was conservative Republican presidents who made these appointments. Plus, Condoleezza Rice, a black woman – but more importantly a person of impeccable credentials – is President Bush’s national security adviser, his go-to person in matters of foreign affairs.

Previous presidents bought and paid for the black vote by appointing blacks to high positions like secretaries of: housing and urban development, labor, health and human services, and education. Winning less than 8 percent of the black vote, not to mention political attack ads funded by civil-rights groups portraying him as a racist, Bush didn’t have to buy or pay off the black vote, yet he appointed blacks to the most important federal positions ever – a secretary of state is the first political appointee in the order of presidential succession.

Bush’s appointments demonstrate a respect conservatives have for blacks that’s often absent among liberals. Powell and Rice have their jobs in the administration not as tokens, but because Bush sees them as among the best Americans for the jobs. Regardless of whether black people agree or disagree with President Bush’s policies (a New York Times/CBS News poll reports a 68 percent job approval rating by blacks), we should take pride in his appointments of Powell and Rice.

Belafonte-type liberals always accuse others of what they’ve made an art of doing. Take their “serving the master” accusation. There’s little question that the education delivered to blacks by the public education establishment is a disgraceful fraud. Many black students graduate with diplomas that attest they’ve achieved 12th-grade proficiency, when in fact they might not have achieved the eighth- or ninth-grade levels.

According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank, over 60 percent of black parents support school vouchers so that their children can attend better and safer schools. Civil-rights organizations and 69 percent of black elected officials oppose vouchers. In the “service to their masters,” namely the National Education Association, civil-rights groups and black politicians fight tooth and nail against vouchers. Their payment for helping to protect the monopolistic stranglehold on education is political and charitable contributions.

Belafonte’s criticism has all the marks of a racist claim that blacks should think alike. There’s uniqueness to that vision in today’s America. Bush has Jews and Irish in his administration, yet we haven’t heard Jewish and Irish people labeling them as sellouts and servers of the master. For liberals like Belafonte, black people think alike and any deviation makes one a sellout. That’s stupid, despicable and something black people ought to condemn.