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The lame assessing the “blind”

Eugene Robinson, an embarrassment even by the standards of the Washington Post’s op-ed page, has looked into the soul of Condoleezza Rice and concluded that, as an African-American, she just won’t do.

Robinson traveled to Rice’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama with the Secretary to determine how she, as an African-American, could “work so loyally for George W. Bush” (perhaps Rice could have maintained her racial authenticity in Robinson’s eyes by working for Bush but being less loyal). Keeping an open mind, Robinson adjudicated among three theories: “Is she blind, is she in denial, is she confused?”

Robinson appears to favor blindness. The problem, don’t you know, is that because her Birmingham neighborhood was a “bubble” during the 1960s, it was difficult for the sheltered Rice to understand the harsh reality black people face (I’m not making this up; Robinson is). It is true that Rice’s father guarded his neighborhood with a rifle to protect it against the KKK. But Robinson concludes that Rice must not have appreciated what was happening, being too busy playing the piano. It’s also true that Rice’s friend was killed in a church bombing. But Rice doesn’t speak of this with enough emotion to satisfy Robinson.

Despite the gun-toting dad and the slain friend, Robinson is quite certain that Rice’s parents successfully sheltered her from the reality of racism. His evidence? She shows no bitterness. To Robinson that can’t be a sign of a superior spirit; it must be lack of vision

Robinson has another beef with Rice — she only brought one black professional with her from the National Security Council to the State Department. Robinson apparently didn’t ask how many total employees she brought with her, how many blacks were at the NSC, how many of them wanted to make the move, what their qualifications were, etc. Or maybe he asked but didn’t like the answer. He dismisses out of hand Rice’s statement that the pool of black foreign policy experts available to the administration is small. Yet the premise of Robinson’s piece is that no right-thinking black would want to serve President Bush.

Robinson sizes Rice up as having “somehow missed” the “guiding principle” that blacks are obliged as they climb to reach back and bring others along. Robinson, by contrast, has grasped the universal principle that, when someone climbs ahead of you, you are obliged to attempt, however lamely, pull her back or tear her down.

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