by Bob Parks
Those of you who’ve read my work over the years know I don’t trust what we loosely refer to as the "mainstream media." As we’re talking about human beings, we’re talking about people who have opinions on various issues. The problem is that those in that media have the power to shape an issue to suit an agenda based on those personal opinions. The discipline should be that personal opinions have no place in traditional news reporting.
Then again, reality is another thing.
A few years ago, USA Today came out with a piece that posed an interesting hypothetical: When is it okay to lie? Surely it would be okay to lie to avoid hurting people’s feelings. Tell your woman her outfit looks okay when you’d rather the outfit revealed more. Tell your kid the scribble that’s supposed to be your portrait looks great, and so on. It seemed like a genuine thought piece.
However, being the overly suspicious person I am, the events of the following weeks threw up some red flags.
The Clinton—Lewinsky scandal broke and people then said they understood why Bill lied under oath. He was sparing his wife the embarrassment. He was sparing the nation the embarrassment. The only fallacy with the reasoning was that Bill was supposedly thinking of someone other than himself.
The point is, it would seem, the nation was being softened up to forgive Bill Clinton and his lie. So I hope you can understand my recent suspicions when it comes to Diane Sawyer’s recent concern about race in America, and now with Paula Zahn’s CNN special.
Welcome, everyone. And thanks for joining us for a very special edition of PAULA ZAHN NOW: "Out in the Open: Racism in America." We're coming to you from the restored Jefferson Theater in Beaumont, Texas, a theater that used to restrict black people to only the balcony — not uncommon in theaters all across the South. Tonight, we have brought together a racially diverse audience of people from East Texas and from all across the country. The very fact that all of us are here says an awful lot about how far our country has come in dealing with issues of race. Yet, as we have been doing for the past few weeks, if you take an impartial look, just below the surface, you find that racism lingers in every corner of our country. In a recent poll we commissioned, 84 percent of blacks and 66 percent of whites call racism a serious problem. We are in Beaumont tonight, because just up the road is a town that didn't want us to broadcast tonight from there. Vidor, Texas has a history of racism.
We recently sent our correspondent Keith Oppenheim to see how that legacy affects the town today. He found conflicting perceptions. Some people say Vidor still has significant problems with racism. But others say, Vidor is fine, and blame outsiders for not letting go of outdated stereotypes.
Commissioned polls are a funny thing. Sometimes a person being polled may be perfectly honest in responding. However, if I were to ask if you thought beating a child was a good idea, the very question would invoke a preferred response to justify a program such as "Out in the Open: Child Beating in America."
Of course racism is a problem. It’s a problem because the very Democrats who created the Klan are now keeping racism alive so they can remain in power and… maybe put a president in the White House.
Barrack Hussein Obama is clearly a media darling, and if not for his being married, he’d probably be stalked by Maureen Dowd. He’s recently commented that his only fear in a presidential campaign is having people make fun of his ears and being shot. Maybe the America people need to be given the Massachusetts treatment. Liberal white guilt got the Bay State governor Deval Patrick elected. Why not Obama…?
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This small city of 11,000 people is struggling to overcome its history. In the 1950s and '60s, Vidor, Texas, was one of hundreds of American communities that were called sundown towns, places where blacks were warned not to be caught after dark.
Vidor was also a haven for the Ku Klux Klan. In 1993, the federal government tried to integrate Vidor by bringing a few African-American families into public housing. The Klan marched. Within months, the black families moved away. The city is still mostly white, despite a large African-American community nearby in Beaumont. Numerous black residents in the area told us, they avoid Vidor to this day.
Now I’m not surprised that places like Vidor exist in America today. But as a trained media watchdog, I look for what’s not said.
If Vidor was made up of mostly white, racist, let’s say… Republicans, we’d know it. But maybe, in order for Obama to win, liberal racists need to get their minds right.
And let us not forget who created the Klan. For some of you out there, this is review. During 1872 congressional investigations, Democrats admitted beginning the Ku Klux Klan as an effort to stop the spread of the Republican Party and to re-establish Democratic control in Southern states. You know, southern states like Texas, where blacks founded the Texas Republican Party.
Blacks, who were all Republican at that time, were the primary targets of Klan violence. Funny how CNN knows where to find racists….
OPPENHEIM: Our first story on Vidor was broadcast a week ago and described a place that had changed, but still hadn't escaped its racist image. Some residents thought our coverage was unfair.
JOANN FOSTER, RESIDENT OF ORANGE COUNTY, TEXAS: Because you are reporting on something you know absolutely nothing about.
OPPENHEIM: In particular, some people were angry about this interview, in which a local woman told me she would welcome blacks to Vidor, then added this:
PEGGY FRUGE, RESIDENT OF VIDOR, TEXAS: But, as far as mingling and eating with them and all that kind of stuff, I mean, that's where I draw the line.
If people don’t like me because of the color of my skin, I identify and avoid them. I would never force myself on them. Bigots are bigots, and I’d prefer knowing who they are in advance, instead of attempting to hang out with someone who hates my guts and wants to issue an ass-whuppin’ or worse.
OPPENHEIM: In Vidor, I was widely criticized for perpetuating a stereotype.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they did the interview here, they chose the wrong people to say the wrong things. And it looked like it was just for good TV.
I can find racists in every major city in this country. But this unidentified female has a point.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: What really happens is that, if you go across the tracks — and there are tracks in most towns in East Texas that separate the towns racially — and you actually speak to black people, you will find that they have an entirely different view of reality than the whites who live across town.
Almost every group in this country gravitates toward their own. That’s natural. Liberals would force mix us just so they can feel good about themselves. However, some of those very liberals are hypocrites.
For example, according to published reports, liberal icon Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of America, "has made a comfortable living over the years trumpeting his economic idea ‘that there should be no disproportions in the world,’" and that everyone should basically have the same amount of money. He regularly uses words like "perpetual racism" and "racist segregation" in American society, yet Zinn owns two homes in expensive (what some call lily-white) Wellfleet, Massachusetts and a third in multicultural Auburndale, Florida (minority population 3.3 percent).
Now it wouldn’t be CNN if they didn’t go by the liberal playbook. I’m sure they believe, since we all look alike, we all think alike. So Zahn later interviewed the Reverend Al Sharpton. Apparently not invited to participate was Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elder, Star Parker, Walter Williams, Ward Connerly, or myself for that matter. CNN perpetuated the myth that all blacks are liberal and think that racism is the number one issue holding us back in America.
And white racism is the only thing between Barrack Obama and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: You know, I think that you have got to be very careful that, when you are protective of your image, saying it's new, that you don't give the signal that you are really in denial and really trying to hide that it's gone. Give you the best example. In New York City, not the Deep South, 20 years ago, a young black man was killed in a — a section of Brooklyn called Howard Beach. I led the marches through there. They threw watermelons at us and all. This year, a young man was beat in that city, in that part of the city. We went back to Howard Beach, and the people came out and welcomed us and said: We don't want to be known for that anymore. And the story became the progress they made. My recommendation to people of Vidor, if you really felt it was about change and you are no longer that, don't act like it didn't happen. Say: It did happen, but that's not who we are. And bring the blacks out, and let the mayor come forward. As long as you hide, people feel you have something to hide. The only way reconciliation worked in South Africa is, they say: Yes…
Good point. Maybe Democrats need acknowledge their history, and stop hiding from it with their knee-jerk tendency to call Republicans the racists. Please indulge me as I again throw out some facts ignored by those who lecture us about racism….
The Democrat Party's slavery-era slogan was "The White Man's Party."
Pissed off by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act that overturned the Missouri Compromise and allowed for the importation of slaves into the territories, free-soilers and anti-slavery members of the Whig and Democrat parties founded the Republican Party, not just to stop the spread of slavery, but to abolish it.
In 1850 Democrats passed the Fugitive Slave Law.
Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves, during the Civil War.
In 1865, the 13th Amendment emancipating the slaves was passed with 100 percent of Republicans voting for it and only 23 percent of Democrats voting for it.
The 14th Amendment was passed giving the newly emancipated blacks full civil rights and federal guarantee of those rights, superseding any state laws. THAT was the real Civil Rights Act. Every voting Republican voted for the Amendment, and no Democrat voted for it.
Congress passed the 15th Amendment in 1870, guaranteeing blacks the right to vote. THAT was the real Voting Rights Act. Every single Republican voted for it; every Democrat voted against it.
Between 1870 and 1875, the Republican Congress passed many pro-black civil rights laws, but in 1876, Democrats took control of the House, and no further race-based civil rights laws passed until 1957. In 1892, Democrats gained control of the House, the Senate and the White House, and repealed all the Republican-passed civil rights laws. That empowered Southern Democrats to pass the Jim Crow laws, poll taxes, literacy tests, and so on in their individual states.
And don’t come back with the Dixiecrat argument. It’s lame.
As Reverend Sharpton said, "If you really felt it was about change and you are no longer that, don't act like it didn't happen."
The Democrat Party is still the party of racism in America. Now to expunge their horrific history, they continue to point their finger everywhere but inwards, and will use a black Obama and a blanket accusation of national racism to obtain power.
Paula Zahn concluded….
And I very much want to thank the residents of Beaumont and Vidor and surrounding communities for their honesty tonight and their willingness to talk about the nation's legacy of racism.
The Democrat legacy of racism. The soft bigotry of low expectations, the intentionally created dependence on poverty programs. The tolerance of inferior public schools and the glorification on urban "expression" and athletics. This is a progressive disease, and until they acknowledge their past while excusing themselves with "We’ve grown", there will continue to be the very institutionalized racism Democrats created centuries ago.
In the weeks ahead on this show, we are going to broaden our discussion to look at discrimination and intolerance against other groups of people in America, against Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, gays and women
Sure. Let’s not be too obvious. CNN will cover their tracks by looking at racism globally, but let’s not be naïve here. This is all about Obama. This is all about carving a path to a possible Obama victory. We all know, if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re probably a racist.
And we would welcome any input you might have into that debate. People e-mail your suggestions and comments to us at CNN.com. And ultimately, a fair and impartial dialogue helps us all better understand each other. Again, thank you for your honesty tonight. Thank you all for being here and thank you for joining us. Have a good night.
Here’s my input, Paula. My suggestion is to tell the truth about racism in America. Tell the nation why we still have it today. Tell the truth, for once.
This dialogue was neither fair of impartial. Because of the deliberate omission of black conservative input, CNN has created the impression they desired.
Obama in 2008, you racist pig.
Bob Parks is a member/writer for the National Advisory Council of Project 21, and VP of Marketing and Media Relations/Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc.