Unequal rights for haters

White hate groups and their friends get a free pass from the media, while black haters are routinely savaged.

By Ishmael Reed
January 24, 1999 1:00AM (UTC)
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Blacks get shafted, even in the billion-dollar hate business. Black haters -- the media would include Louis Farrakhan and Khalid Muhammad -- should organize and demand as much respect as the media accords to white haters.

Just watch the talk shows. Every time someone -- usually Alan Dershowitz -- brings up Rep. Bob Barr and Sen. Trent Lott's ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist, neo-Confederate group, the hosts become nervous and change the subject. And when Barr himself appears on one of their shows -- he's on MSNBC as often as John Gibson is -- there's never a peep about his role as a keynote speaker to the CCC. He's a mainstream political figure and accorded the proper respect.


Yet even as they dismiss Republican ties to such groups, commentators and journalists routinely blast blacks for even a hint of race-baiting. MSNBC's Brian Williams and others have come down hard on Clinton lawyer Cheryl Mills for using what they described as "the race card" in her Senate presentation Wednesday. Williams even compared her to Johnnie Cochran, whom much of the media puts in the same category as Farrakhan these days.

MSNBC has become Hate Central lately. On its "Imus in the Morning" show, Vernon Jordan is referred to as "Kingfish," from the old "Amos 'n' Andy" show. Recently, during an appearance by Imus' MSNBC sister in nastiness, Laura Ingraham, one of their companions made a joke about Clarence Thomas' penis size (Ingraham used to clerk for Thomas). Imus admitted to a "60 Minutes" interviewer that he set aside a segment of his show for "nigger jokes."

Yet Imus recently was the subject of a puff piece in the New York Times, which spends a lot of column inches excoriating black haters, while Newsweek put Imus on the cover. Among Imus' followers are "the cognoscenti," we are told. One of them, New Yorker editor David Remnick, shamelessly contacted Imus when he learned that he was nominated for something called the Imus American Book Award (not to be confused with the American Book Awards of the Before Columbus foundation). As a result of his fawning, Remnick was ridiculed mercilessly by Imus on Jan. 7.


When the Rev. Pat Robertson appeared on "Meet the Press" recently, host Tim Russert was deferential, a little groveling, even though Michael Lind, writing in the New York Review of Books, did a good job tracing the antisemitic links of some of Robertson's opinions. Yet Russert didn't raise that issue, as he certainly would have had a black hater appeared on his show. When such blacks appear -- very rarely -- he furrows his brow like Chucky in "Child's Play" and scolds them about every dumb, fatuous, hateful remark they've ever made.

Laura Ingraham may be the queen of white media hate. While at Dartmouth College, she worked for the Dartmouth Review, edited by Dinesh D'Souza, who presided over a regular column written in Ebonics, which used to split his readers' sides. In January 1991, Richard Glovsky of the Anti-Defamation League cited the newspaper for a "malicious pattern of antisemitic acts." While at Dartmouth she secretly taped meetings of the campus Gay Students Association, and sent copies to participants' parents. (No wonder she loves Kenneth Starr.) In the Dartmouth Review she denounced the GSA as "cheerleaders for latent campus sodomites." Why doesn't MSNBC, her sponsor, give Khalid Muhammad a show?

It's not just MSNBC. Fox's Catherine Crier gave David Duke -- probably the next congressman from suburban New Orleans, replacing the retiring Republican adulterer Bob Livingston -- a respectful hearing on her show recently. To be fair, MSNBC's John Hockenberry raked Duke over the hot coals of his racist, antisemitic past and present on his show just a few weeks ago.


And just let a black caller on one of these talk shows suggest that the hate ties of Barr, Lott and other Republicans is relevant to the current debate. When a caller touched upon the topic of the CCC on MSNBC, the host asked what it had to do with the subject of Clinton's impeachment. Well, it might help those who criticize African-Americans' bloc-voting for Democrats to understand why blacks believe Clinton's critics have racist motives for opposing him. Couldn't be just sex, because some of them have more sex than he. And probably in more variety.

Bob Herbert of the New York Times is right. White racism is suddenly high fashion in this era of neo-Confederate chic and the high-tech lynching of a president considered too cozy with the brothers and sisters. That's the real reason the House managers want to call Jordan and Betty Currie: to show that blacks are Clinton's running buddies. Black men everywhere got chills when a drawling Rep. Asa Hutchinson said he wanted to look into Jordan's eyes and study his tone of voice. We've heard that before.


Obviously, the black hatemongers don't have it together. They don't receive foundation support. They have to peddle their evil wares on street corners where they are subject to police retaliation, while the white hatemongers do their business inside comfortable air-conditioned studios. Instead of receiving friendly puff pieces in places like the Times and Newsweek, the mass magazines and "news shows" condemn them. A Congress that includes closeted Klan members passes resolutions against them from time to time.

Suppose a black hater had said that the antichrist is a Jew, a remark blurted out by Clinton tormentor Rev. Jerry Falwell. Do you think that the remark would have been dismissed with a wink and a chuckle, the way Falwell's was?

It's really springtime for white haters in America.

Ishmael Reed

Oakland, Calif., author Ishmael Reed is the publisher of Konch, an online magazine.

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