A Reflection on Race, Politics and Privilege
by Playthell Benjamin
The boisterous kerfuffle around Valarie Rosen’s observation that Ann Romney is not a reliable source in assessing the aspirations of the majority of American women because she has never held a job, serves notice that Miss Ann is off limits for critical comments even though her husband says she’s his consultant on women’s affairs.
The extent to which people of all political persuasions have been willing to participate in a charade to obscure the real issue that Ms. Rosen was addressing is instructive. Ms. Rosen observed that a woman who has never worked a job is not a reliable source on the aspirations of millions of women who earn their living in a Darwinian workplace, where they still face discrimination in pay when they compete with men!
As I write a report is being released showing that women still only make 77 cents for every dollar paid to men for comparable work, but Romney won’t say whether he would veto a bill to repeal the Lilly Ledbetter Act if a Republican Congress that opposed it sent a bill to his desk. Hence it is reasonable to ask what his wife is telling him.
If Ms. Ann is telling Mitt that position is cool, we need no further evidence that Valarie Rosen was spot on! The response to Rosen’s factually correct observation serves notice that there are aspects of the Romney’s life and values that are not to be examined.
The problem is that many of those who are crying loudest – i.e. Republicans – consider these same questions fair game when the target of their inquiries and attacks is the Obamas. This is just the latest manifestation of a double standard regarding Barack and his white opponents that we first saw during his campaign against John McCain. A powerful case in point is that President Obama’s church became a major issue, with legions of white simpleton’s in the punditocracy offering the most virulent criticism.
Pretentious sophist like Bill O’Reily prattled on as if he had diarrhea of the mouth attacking Reverend Wright, Mr. Obama’s pastor. Yet he and millions of pious Catholics would have gone bonkers if I pointed out that he belonged to a church where the priests routinely rape the kids in their trust and their Bishops cover it up! And what’s a sexual predator who had to settle a harassment case out of court doing dispensing moral critiques?
At the same time Obama’s Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright – an elegant man who is a theologian, great preacher and former United States Marine – was under sustained attack, Senator McCain was thick as thieves with two far right Evangelical preachers that were warmongering bigots: John Hagee and Rod Parsley. No one made a big issue of it, and nobody dare make an issue of Mitt’s Mormonism. Yet for years now, Minister Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam has been largely barred from the public debate for expressing quite similar views.
The teachings of the Church of the Latter Day Saints and the Nation of Islam are both unique theologies born in the USA – one is an improvisation on Christianity the other on Islam – and their beliefs about race mirror each other. The Mormons say black people are cursed, and the Nation of Islam says whites are devils!
Mr. Farrakhan has been silenced for his views, but Mitt is running for President. Yet no one dare mention, let alone criticize, his religious beliefs. Hence it’s fair to ask: Is the Mittster getting the white boy pass?
Benjamin is a veteran political journalist out of Harlem NY. His essays can be read on his blog site Commentaries on the Times.