Memo To: Stanley Crouch, NYDailyNews columnist
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Trent Lott's racism
Your January 13 column, "Praise for Lott Is Hollow, Given His Seamy Past," identifies the Senate Majority Leader as a likely racist because of his association with the Council of Conservative Citizens. You correctly note that political columnists like yourself have been giving this story a ride, but that reporters are staying mum because, as your Daily News colleague Sidney Zion has suggested, "if they confront him with questions he doesn't like, he can refuse to appear on their shows again." You offer your opinion that "Lott knows he is in serious danger of losing power if attention stays on him through a long and difficult trial. A sheet might slip from under his jacket, get caught in a media gust of wind and sail him to political doom."
While I can appreciate your outrage, Mr. Crouch, I'd like you to know that I have known Trent Lott for almost 20 years and believe there are few white men in America who are less racist than he is. By that I mean most white men in America, especially those who are middle-aged or older, genuinely believe in the fraudulent thesis of The Bell Curve. That is, most white men believe that to at least a slight degree, there is a genetic advantage to white people at the point of conception. I can assure you, Mr. Crouch, my own record on this issue is rock solid. When The Bell Curve was published three years ago, I roundly denounced it as a racist tract, and made a great many of my white journalist friends angry at me because I criticized their endorsements of the book, calling them benevolent racists. By that I meant they think white people are only a little bit superior when it comes to the gene pool on which they draw for propagation.
This is part of the bond I had with Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, who came to see in our earliest meeting in December 1996, at a five-hour dinner at his home, that I absolutely and totally rejected the idea of a separate genetic pool for whites and blacks. If you recall the message to white Americans at the Million Man March, it was Farrakhan's challenge to them that they come to terms with the continuance of white supremacy in America today. As a black man, Mr. Crouch, surely that message resonated with you. The Council of Conservative Citizens stands for many things that white Southern men hold near and dear. It is not established as a lobby for a white agenda, as is the KKK, but there is a racist assumption woven through many of their political objectives.
That is, it seems clear that the group believes in the genetic superiority of the white race. Trent Lott, as a Mississippi politician, has had contact with this group, partly because they have supported him in his election campaigns, partly because he believes in their fundamental values, partly because his uncle and cousin are members, and mostly because politicians in the South of both parties are entwined with myriad groups like this CCC, which have racist overtones that are more pronounced in the South than in the North. Most politicians in the South who belong to the CCC and who have regular contact with it are not Republican, but Democratic. The Democratic Party until very recently was the embodiment of racism in the South, yet Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman met with every one of the white gatherings which formed the Solid South core of the New Deal. It will take a long time for that residual racism to be squelched in the South, but it is here in the North as well, except you tend not to notice it.
Trent Lott a racist? If we go by the correct definition, Do you believe skin pigmentation plays any role in intelligence at the time of conception? Trent Lott is not a racist. He believes as do I that IQ measures which show black scores lagging white scores are the result of social burdens black Americans have carried and cultural barriers they face. And he believes these can be overcome by political change and the continued determination of black Americans to elevate themselves to social and cultural equality. The black people of Mississippi are the people who know best about Trent's position on that. There is no white n Republican in the United States who has gotten a higher percentage of the black vote in a statewide race than Trent, excepting Tom Kean in his last successful race for the governorship of New Jersey. Kean got more than 60% while Trent got more than 50%. Otherwise, in statewide races, you have nobody who got more than half the black vote. This is the reason, Mr. Crouch, that journalists who are reporters are not picking up on this slur. They know that Trent Lott is not a racist and that the slurs against him are being orchestrated by the White House — to keep him in line. The Democratic machine cannot make any headway with reporters, but they can call upon their friends in the press corps who write opinion columns to trash Trent Lott, knowing they will do so out of blind loyalty and obedience. Don't take my word for it, Mr. Crouch. Check it out. Do a little reporting. You will be surprised at how little you know about what you wrote about in your Wednesday column. The realization, I believe, will make you a more effective columnist in the future.