by Burt Prelutsky | Los Angeles
When it comes to liberals, a question that bedevils me is what it is about them that annoys me the most. I can’t decide if it’s their hypocrisy or their self-righteousness.
For instance, when George W. Bush was in office, leftists called him every dirty name in the book and then claimed they were merely carrying out their patriotic duty. However, once Obama was in the White House, they denounced anyone who even questioned the wisdom of quadrupling the national debt or transforming America in his own radical image as a fascist, a racist or a member of a drooling, knuckle-dragging mob.
Liberals campaign to turn Easter Vacation into Spring Break, Christmas into Winter Break and Columbus Day into something called Fall Day, as if we’re all pagans who hold the seasons sacred and prostate ourselves to the weather gods. At the same time, at least here in California, they’ve managed to make March 31st, Cesar Chavez’s birthday, into a state holiday and just recently turned May 22nd into Harvey Milk Day. So, while George Washington and Abe Lincoln have to share President’s Day, a labor leader and a homosexual councilman each gets his own holiday.
Inasmuch as I am one of the few people who have written honestly about race in America, you’d think that nobody would have to misquote me in order to prove I don’t subscribe to political correctness. But, alas, liberals don’t believe in leaving anything to chance. So it is that some time ago, in response to a black reader’s email in which he denounced white America as racist, I wrote that if this were truly a racist nation, such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington, Danny Glover, Kobe Bryant, Will Smith, Michael Jordan, Ryan Howard, Donovan McNabb, Beyonce, Colin Powell, Condi Rice and Barack Obama, wouldn’t be rich and famous. Instead, they’d be slaves, exiled to a gulag or dead. I pointed out that’s how things worked in a racist society.
I felt I had stated the case clearly and honestly. The next thing I knew, someone had changed the wording around in order to make it sound as if that was the way I wished things were! After the big lie went out on the Internet, I began receiving obscene messages from scores of black people who had never read me before. Of course they still hadn’t, but they had no way of knowing that. Furthermore, most of them seemed reluctant to believe me when I tried to set the record straight.
In another case, where I had written that I did not regard Mrs. Obama as the epitome of glamour, fashion and beauty, I was quoted as having stated that the First Lady was ugly because she was black! I guess the next step is be accused of being the Grand Kleagle of the KKK or at least David Duke’s campaign manager.
Recently, I received an email from a black man who identified himself as a 42-year-old living in a Chicago suburb. In response to an article I wrote attacking affirmative action, he wrote: “In the article you leveled the challenge as to why Asians don’t require an equalizing of the playing field. I think it has something to do with an unwritten pecking order. Let a white woman bring home an Asian man versus a black man and let’s see what the difference in reaction will be. Asians have always been more accepted because of that pecking order. Rightly or wrongly, that’s reality!!”
I replied: “Whose reality? The Chinese were treated terribly when they were brought here to lay railroad tracks. They were treated like untouchables and forced to live in slums that were worse than anything you can imagine. During World War II, Japanese people, including American citizens, were sent off to concentration camps after having their farms and homes confiscated. It appears that liberals have been treating blacks like victims for so many years that many of you have lost sight of the fact that a great many people have far worse lives and far fewer options.”
His response: “I’ve contended that I’d be ready to scrap affirmative action when sexual harassment laws are scrapped, speed limits for driving are suggestive, and paying one’s taxes is done on the honor system. Until then, reality tells me that such measures are needed so that the state can coerce the majority to do the right thing.”
“The problem with your argument,” I wrote, “is that sexual harassment laws, speed limits and paying taxes, apply to every American. Affirmative action simply benefits blacks, allowing them to leapfrog over more qualified students who, as a rule, happen to be Asian. Furthermore, I’d say that the state has done everything in its power to redress past mistakes for over 45 years now, with no end in sight. And what are the results of those good intentions? A 70% illegitimacy rate, a major presence in the world of illegal drugs and, in spite of affirmative action, more young males going to jail than to college. So, just how long are white people supposed to feel guilty for stuff they didn’t even do? Most white people, for instance, didn’t have ancestors who owned slaves, but a great many of them had ancestors who died fighting in the war that ended slavery. Perhaps I missed it, but I’m not aware that black Americans have ever acknowledged their enormous debt to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Roughly a hundred years ago, the black Renaissance man, Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute, observed: “There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs.”
Imagine, that remarkable man said those words without ever having had the opportunity to meet Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee or John Conyers.
This brings us to the Hollywood Blacklist, a minor event which has received more attention and aroused far more passion in left-wing circles than the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact; Stalin and Mao’s 50 years of butchery; and Julius Rosenberg’s traitorous activities on behalf of the Soviet Union, put together.
I find it ironic, not to mention typically hypocritical, that a great many Hollywood lefties regarded “On the Waterfront” as a pathetic attempt by director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg to justify their naming names to HUAC by making their protagonist, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando), a squealer. However, six years prior to “Waterfront,” Abe Polonsky, who, at the age of 89, picketed the 1999 Academy Awards because 90-year-old Kazan was being given an honorary Oscar, wrote and directed a movie, “Force of Evil,” in which his protagonist, Joe Morse (John Garfield), winds up squealing to the cops. Oddly enough, in each case, the motivation is the murder of the hero’s brother — portrayed by Rod Steiger in one, by Thomas Gomez in the other.
Apparently, squealing is okay if the bad guys are doing something truly reprehensible, such as running the numbers racket in New York City, but totally immoral if the villains are merely lending aid and comfort to — not to mention tithing — the Soviet Union.
Polonsky, who died an unrepentant Communist, once said, in reference to the HUAC hearings: “If you said you were sorry you were a radical and had seen the error of your ways, you were let off. That’s the kind of thing they do in Communist countries, but we’re supposed to be a free country.”
For the record, Polonksy was also the fellow who said, “Because we can’t be Joseph Stalin, we become movie directors.”
Do these idiots ever stop and actually listen to the things they say? CRO
copyright 2009 Burt Prelutsky
Television scriptwriter, former humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine.