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Strangers on a plane

Recently, we have seen reports that John Kerry is not doing nearly as well among African-American voters as Al Gore did. At first, the conventional explanation centered on Kerry’s aloof patrician personality. Later, the focus shifted to Kerry’s social liberalism and its effect on a segment of black church-goers.
Yesterday, on the plane to New York, the man seated next to me was a black, Christian Republican who is attempting to rally support for the president among socially conservative African-Americans. He calls himself Michael the Black Man. Michael is based in Florida, where black support of Kerry seems clearly to be lagging by 2000 standards. However, Michael writes for African-American newspapers in other parts of the country too, and he placed an ad in Thursday’s Washington Times.
Michael’s message, as he conveyed it to me, is two-fold. First, he wants to undermine the reflex to vote Democratic by reminding African-Americans that the Democratic Party bears far more responsibility for their past mistreatment than the Republicans do (this was the point of the Washington Times ad). Second, he wants to emphasize John Kerry’s position on moral issues such as gay marriage.
Michael also believes that anti-Americanism among Muslims world-wide can be attributed to declining morality in this country. This struck me as an interesting variation on the neo-conservative view that the Islamofascists hate us because we are free.

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