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November 9, 2005

The Appalling Silence

Kevin E. Dayhoff

We're waiting. The time is now. Responsible leaders of the Democratic Party must denounce the blatant racism being used in reference to the United States senatorial candidacy of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele.

Perhaps there is no better time in contemporary history for everyone to take a deep breath, step back and take stock of where we find ourselves in the current viciousness and bile that unfortunately passes for today's political discourse.

We may be witnessing history in the making as the Maryland Democratic Party continues to unravel and implode at the seams. Michelle Malkin said it best; they have come unhinged in "liberal hatred and bigotry against minority Republicans.” One can only hope that the rest of Maryland's African-American community is watching and taking notes.

For decades responsible Republicans have felt strongly about issues of race, equal opportunity and righting the wrongs of the past. It's just that the party of President Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party, has a different approach.

Conservatives believe in personal responsibility, individual rights, empowerment and facilitating self-actualization. The strength of our nation lies with the individual. It lies in honoring each person’s dignity, freedom, and abilities.

Democrats take the black vote for granted. They believe the demeaning politics of handouts, posturing, and pandering will placate hard working African-Americans. Conservatives have no interest in placating, but are pre-occupied with self-determination and empowering folks to excel.

In the words of Nikhil Verma, a member of the University of Maryland College Republicans: "After all, [Michael Steele's] candidacy means that Democrat candidates will actually have to defend and explain their policies, instead of simply calling their Republican opponents racist."

As this column is being written, a week has passed since October 26, when a liberal Web log run by Steve Gilliard, had an offensive caricature of Michael Steele as black-faced minstrel with a caption that read "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House."

For the past week, the silence of the Maryland Democratic Party was deafening. Where is the mainstream media?

The steady stream of references to Michael Steele's color is no longer tolerable. It is no longer a petty annoyance or a triviality trumping substance in a partisan dialogue. It is an outrage.

The lieutenant governor is the first African-American elected to statewide office in Maryland history. Maryland is making additional history by having our elected leadership and mainstream media calling Mr. Steele everything from a "token" to an "Uncle Tom." So much for the politics of tolerance and inclusiveness.

Some of the low-lights of the last several years include:

"[Michael Steele] is the personification of an Uncle Tom." Senate President Thomas V. "Mike" Miller (D., Calvert), October 5, 2001, The Gazette Newspapers (Mr. Miller did apologize later.)

"The truth is that the Republican Party needed an African-American poster boy." U.S. Rep. Al Wynn referring to Lt. Governor Michael Steele, Tuesday, August 31, 2004, The Washington Post

"The problem with token candidates like Mr. Steele is that the voters see them for what they are." U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, Friday, July 5, 2002, The Gazette Newspapers

"[Michael Steele] brings little to the team but the color of his skin." Editorial Board, November 4, 2002, Baltimore’s Sun

In the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s April 16, 1963, "Letter From Birmingham Jail," he observed: "We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Finally, after being chided by The Washington Times in a November 2 article entitled, "Party trumps race for Steele foes,” folks started to scramble to get on the record.

The Washington Times reports that: "Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican."

The Times article continued: State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore City Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele: "Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."

This is "democracy?" Oh Pa-leeese! Since when has race baiting become an appropriate definition of democracy? Perhaps only when liberals do it.

As if it could get any worse, The Times says that Del. Salima Siler Marriott, another black Baltimore City Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black. "Because he is a conservative, he is different than most public blacks, and he is different than most people in our community," she said. "His politics are not in the best interest of the masses of black people."

Excuse me? "Because… he is different."

Since The Washington Times broke open the story for the mainstream media on November 2, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Doug Duncan, Montgomery County executive, and former Congressmen Kweisi Mfume and Ben Cardin, who are seeking the Democrats’ nomination to oppose Mr. Steele next November, have managed to find their voice. Better late than never.

Where's Baltimore’s Sun? In a Sun story on October 28, David Nitkin, seemed more interested in repeating as many unpleasant things about the lieutenant governor as possible.

Where is the special section in The Sun on the issue of Democrats working for Sen. Charles Schumer (D., NY) at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee illegally obtaining Lieutenant Governor Steele's credit report?

As we rightfully praise Rosa Park and her courageous stand against racism on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus in 1955, many Americans have urged that we work hard to continue her legacy.

The political opponents of Mr. Steele want to continue a legacy all right, but apparently they did not get the memo about continuing a legacy of fighting against racial intolerance.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at:

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