Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Using race to divide us

newsobserver.com :

Does Clinton really think that Obama is unpatriotic or racist or divisive? If so, she should say that directly and let him defend himself against the charge. But we all know that is not her personal belief; Wright is just another loaded code word or phrase, like 'welfare queen.' Clinton is using him to divide; to gain political advantage among white Democrats, even at the expense of offending or turning off many African-Americans, one of the Democratic Party's most loyal blocs of voters.

Clinton's husband did the same thing in 1993, when he unceremoniously dumped Lani Guinier after nominating her to be assistant attorney general for civil rights. Guinier was attacked by right-wing Republicans as a 'quota queen' because of some things she had written about voting rights that were intended to move us beyond racial politics and force coalition-building among voters based on shared interests, not race....

More important, however, nothing that Wright has said has anything to do with whether Obama should be president. The fact that Clinton has so aggressively exploited Wright in her campaign is only a reflection of her unfitness to be a president who unites us.

Even if she were nominated by the Democrats and elected president, her personal triumph would have been at the cost of four more years of political and likely racial divisiveness. That seems too high a price to pay, for the Democrats or the country.

(James E. Coleman Jr. is a professor at Duke University's law school.)

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