The attack on my column "Baa baa black sheep" by a black Republican named C.D. Ellison shows how diverse the Republican tent really is. When was the last time anyone saw a black Democrat attack other black Democrats in such uncompromising terms? Ellison's attack on Larry Elder, Ward Connerly, Armstrong Williams, Alan Keyes and what he calls "CON-servatives" is so vicious that it amounts to an attack on diversity itself. After all, who wants to be in the company of con-men? Since the named figures are all recognizable political leaders and nobody ever heard of C.D. Ellison, his attack serves to de-legitimize black conservatives and black Republicans as such.
Ellison begins his response by accusing me of patronizing black people. He then goes on to describe blacks who disagree with him as shoe-shining Uncle Tommish Sambos. I wonder just what Ellison means by "patronizing." The viciousness of Ellison's attack on black conservatives reflects a distinct and depressing pathology in the black political community. For a long time now, it has been illegitimate for blacks to have a view that differs from the liberal party line. Ellison establishes his bona fides with the liberal party liners by delegitimizing four prominent blacks who refuse to toe this line.
In his zeal to take them down, Ellison doesn't even notice that the four black figures he has smeared have views that are diametrically opposed to each other. Although Ellison accuses me of relying on them as my "chief sources of wisdom about the party," I actually only cited one, Larry Elder. Elder, however, is not a conservative and not even a Republican. In fact, at a Reason Foundation dinner I attended in Santa Monica, Calif., last Thursday, Elder began his speech something like this. "I have here a list of the names I've been called. Tom. Uncle Tom. Bootlicker, Coconut, Oreo, etc. And that's OK with me. Just don't call me a Republican."
Larry Elder is a libertarian, as I made clear in my column. He has virtually nothing in common with Alan Keyes, who (along with Armstrong Williams) is a zealot of the Christian right, except that they are black and ritually attacked by the left. I myself have little in common with Williams and Keyes, who are pro-life purists (which I am not) and militant anti-homosexuals (while I am not anti-homosexual at all). The fourth figure Ellison invokes, Ward Connerly, is a Republican with views pretty close to those I share, although I do not consult him or refer to what he has said in the past to locate a party line of black conservatism, since no such line exists.
Personally, I hope the day arrives soon when black people in America will be allowed by white liberals and black political leaders to feel free to express the same divergence of views that all other ethnic groups in America are allowed to express. Why must the black community have a one-party system, while members of all other ethnic communities can vote liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican, without being labeled con-men, race-traitors or Uncle Toms? Obviously this state of affairs is as unhealthy for American democracy as it is for the black community itself.