On Sunday during a segment of Meet the Press, Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker had the "temerity" to call the Obama administration's attacks on private equity firm Bain Capital "nauseating." That was bad enough. He then had the "unmitigated gall" to suggest that private equity firms can be helpful in creating jobs and protecting public pension investments.
In other words, Mr. Booker did the one thing a black Democrat can never do: take even the smallest step off the Democrat plantation of progressive orthodoxy. And though he has bought himself a world of trouble as a result, he has done the nation an enormous favor. He has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Democrat party is a racist snakepit of intolerance and oppression.
Since he was "re-educated" by the Obama campaign, Mr. Booker has attempted to "clarify" his remarks. Such clarification is reminiscent of the "confessions" of Soviet dissidents, or American POWs held by the North Vietnamese. It reveals the bankruptcy of an ideology whose adherents must resort to coercion to keep "deviant thinkers" in line.
By Monday night, Mr. Booker had gotten his "mind right" and was once again fit for Democrat consumption. "They have never pressured me to do anything," said Booker to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. "I certainly did talk with campaign officials but they didn't force me to do anything," said Booker. "Especially after hearing the president's remarks on this issue, where he was not condemning all of private equity, he was not condemning any particular firms, he was focusing in on a guy who's bragging about his job creation record -- all of those things made me say, you know what, I need to go on and clarify."
You have indeed clarified the issue, Mr. Booker. So did Obama political strategist David Axlerod, who pronounced you "wrong." Not entitled to your own opinion, but wrong. MSNBC host Chris Matthews was a bit more direct. He called your opinion "an act of sabotage" and "betrayal" of President Obama. "It was astounding that they have listed this guy as a surrogate when he has intending to go on television and trash everything Obama is making the case for... I've never seen anything like this, what we saw on 'Meet The Press yesterday,'" hyperventilated Matthews.
And what, exactly, is the Obama administration making the case for? Note that Booker didn't say criticizing Mitt Romney was nauseating. He made the case that criticizing private equity firms was nauseating. Thus, the swift rebuke he received from his progressive masters reveals that, all the clarification notwithstanding, bashing capitalism itself is an integral part of the president's re-election strategy. The same president who trolls for campaign donations from the same capitalists he denigrates every chance he gets.
And while such a reality is both Orwellian and odious, it is largely beside the point. By treating Mr. Booker in the fashion they have, Democrats and their media apparatchiks have put all of black America officially on notice: either embrace progressive orthodoxy in its totality -- and that includes black ministers embracing the president's latest "evolvement" regarding gay marriage -- or endure social ostracism.
All in, or all out.
What does all out look like? Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a clue. In 1996, an Emerge Magazine cover showed Thomas dressed as a lawn jockey with the caption, "Uncle Thomas Lawn Jockey For The Far Right." An August 8, 2002 column in the Free Press referred to Thomas as the "first Bush administration's most prominent 'race traitor.'" A June 9, 2004 column at AfricanAmerica.org referred to Thomas as a "house nigger." And in 1994, syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux said of Thomas, "I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease."
The common thread here? These were black Americans, completely ostracizing a fellow black American whose cardinal sin was defying liberal orthodoxy. Liberals first, black Americans second? No doubt these are exactly the kind of stay-on-the-message "non-saboteurs" and "surrogates" that appeal to people like Chris Matthews and other white liberals, none of whom rose to defend Thomas from such overt outbursts of racism.
All in, or all out.
So what makes the Democrat plantation any different than one of those good, old fashioned slave plantations from the pre-Civil War South? Well for one thing, black servitude on the slave plantation was involuntary. For another, most slaves knew they were being abused. The great success of today's Democrat party has been two-fold: they have convinced an overwhelming majority of black Americans that they are perpetual victims of an intrinsically racist America where nothing bad that happens is their own fault; and they have also convinced them the best remedy for that reality is to accept the soft bigotry of low expectations that informs every progressive program designed to produce equality of results, irrespective of ability or ambition. Thoughtful black Americans who might question part of all of an ideology that, by Democrats' own contentions, has done little or nothing to improve the lot of black America in the fifty years since it was implemented in the 1960s?
All in, or all out.
Everything I've read about Cory Booker, including the heroic rescue of a neighbor during a fire, and his dogged determination to bring Newark up from the urban decay that has afflicted it for decades, makes him seem like kind of man most Americans should be proud to call a fellow American -- irrespective of political differences. I am old enough to remember (dimly) when political differences were openly debated on an intellectual level, and those whose opinions differed from yours were opponents, not enemies. I remember a time opinions only mattered when they could be backed up with verifiable facts, not lies-repeated-often-enough-they-become-the-truth propaganda. I remember a time when any American could say what they thought out loud, without having to first cast a wary glance to see who was listening.
But that was long before progressives hijacked, not just the Democrat party, but a public school system that used to teach people how to think, not what to think. It was long before progressives, so fearful of the intellectual bankruptcy of their arguments, substituted invective and name-calling for cogent rebuttal. It was long before someone like Cory Booker had to be brow-beaten back onto the progressive plantation, for daring to challenge an orthodoxy that brooks no challenges, even as those who champion it tell themselves how tolerant and open-minded they are.
Cory Booker has learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, it's terrible one. He has learned what it really means to part of the collective, where every gear must work in perfect harmony with every other, lest the entire machine come crashing to the ground. That is precisely how fragile progressivism, and every other ideology of individual oppression truly is. For the briefest of moments, Mr. Booker knew what it was like to be unshackled from comrades who will welcome him back with open arms -- even as they never completely trust him again. He knew what it was like to speak his mind reflexively, without having to measure every word. He was Cory Booker, American individual. Now he is Cory Booker, Democrat party surrogate. And he has learned that party's over-arching lesson.
All in -- or all out.
I wish Mr. Booker nothing but the best. Hopefully, someday in the not too distant future, he -- along with the millions of black Americans the Democrat party takes for granted -- will learn an even more valuable lesson: the Democrat party needs them far more than they need the Democrat party.