Are blacks the dumbest people in America, wallowing in "bitch, bitch, bitch, moan and moan, whine and whine," going down with a modern Titanic renamed Mondale while all other ethnic groups are embracing and kissing the knee joints of Ronald Reagan? I know many whites believe this.
But I sat up, startled, over breakfast last Thursday morning and pondered that question as I read a Washington Post article in which Clarence Thomas, the black chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accused black leaders of "sitting there watching the destruction of our race while arguing about Ronald Reagan." He leveled the "bitch-moan-whine" charge.
Thomas, who now says he agrees with Reagan in opposition to busing to achieve school integration and "quotas" to erase the debilitating effects of decades of job discrimination, says that blacks are going to lose access to the White House because they are so overwhelmingly in support of Walter Mondale, and so hostile to Reagan.
"It's a damn shame that the only group almost unanimously in Mondale's corner is blacks. Hispanics aren't, women aren't, Jews aren't, not even Democrats," the 36-year-old agency head said.
Is it a shame? Is it that black people are so dumb, or that they simply know who their enemy is? Thomas can find the answer within the statistics kept in his office.
When President Reagan asks if Americans are better off now than they were four years ago, blacks are one group that can say, resoundingly, "No!"
All blacks but a few fawning sycophants know that during the Reagan years the unemployment rate has fallen for whites and risen for blacks; that Reagan has halted the great surge to middle-class status for blacks, with the disposable annual income of the average black middle-class family dropping $2,000; that the number of blacks living in poverty has risen, with disadvantaged and impoverished black children getting less in the way of nutritional, health, educational and other help from the federal government.
Thomas expresses irritation that during his 31/2 years as EEOC chairman, black leaders have not contacted him. He says that "when I hear them say that the president has a bad civil rights record I think that's me and my agency, and we have a very good record."
Has Thomas ever asked himself why, if his EEOC has had such a good record, unemployment under Reagan has dropped from 6.7 to 6.4 percent for whites, but has risen from 12.9 to 15.1 percent for blacks? Why joblessness is now only 5.6 percent for white males, but has risen from 11.5 to 13.5 percent for black males? Why unemployment for white teens has declined slightly under Reagan to 16.6 percent, but has risen from 36.5 to 41.7 percent for black teens? Some success!
Blacks have been the victims of official bigotry so often and for so long in America that they can smell automatically the stench of racism when a new crowd arrives in this town. Blacks know why the civil rights movement is dead in the water; why the doors of colleges and universities are closing in the faces of young blacks, and why the courts are listening to a Justice Department and White House that are hostile to almost every movement for racial justice.
I can understand that Thomas is frustrated because he "gets no respect" from his fellow black Americans. He just has to face the reality that his immediate predecessors at EEOC, Clifford Alexander Jr. and Eleanor Holmes Norton, were and are held in the highest esteem by almost all blacks, and most whites. Thomas' black Republican predecessors were regarded as insulting jokes, as Thomas now seems to insist should be his fate.
Most blacks know they face four years of punishment for backing Mondale. Some know the ranks of black Republicans are so thin that there might be a lot of money and even a little glory out there for one of some genuine reputation who embraces this Republican team. But Thomas ought to note that even black Republicans of accomplishment and self- respect aren't endorsing Reagan.
Thomas thinks that refusal to support Reagan means the "destruction of our race." Which proves that he knows little about either history or black people.
Destruction? Blacks have survived the White Citizens Councils, the Southern Gentlemen of Louisiana, the Minutemen, and so many other hate groups. So why surrender now?
If black voters fail to defeat Reagan, they won't cry for mercy. A people who have survived slavery, official Jim Crow, several revivals of the Ku Klux Klan and a hundred "white backlashes" will endure four more years of Reagan. And Clarence Thomas as well. Whatever other groups cozy up to Reagan, don't expect blacks to do it. Copyright (c) 84 News Group Chicago, Inc.