read more: Boston Herald

[password] Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., signs of King’s legacy are everywhere – in government, business, sports, the arts. The president and his attorney general are black. We have had two highly respected African-American secretaries of State.

In Massachusetts, our governor and chief justice are black. Blacks lead some of this country’s most powerful business institutions, including American Express, Merrill Lynch, Xerox and Aetna. And in the fields of sports and entertainment, many of our nation’s most identifiable cultural icons are black.

Gone are the days when successful black politicians, business leaders and celebrities were considered novelties or tokens. That black Americans have achieved so much since the 1963 March on Washington is cause for celebration indeed.

Yet in 2011, many liberals regard black conservatives – indeed any African-American who questions the liberal establishment – not only as novelties, but as ignorant or traitors to their race.

The classic example, of course, is Justice Clarence Thomas. After almost two decades on the U.S. Supreme Court, the left still regards Thomas as an intellectually weak “Uncle Tom” – never mind that most of Thomas’s critics have read not a word of his scholarly opinions.

Then there is Bill Cosby. Cosby is certainly no conservative, but he has spoken out (with characteristic sarcasm and wit) against modern ghetto culture and the decline of the black family. The response? Many on the left have lashed out at Cosby, dismissing his statements as the rantings of a crazy man.

More recently, there was NPR’s hasty firing of liberal analyst Juan Williams. NPR claims to have terminated Williams for comments he made on FOXNews about his fear of flying with Muslims after 9/11. But the subtext of the termination was race – in particular, liberal discomfort with an independent-minded black man.

It is no secret that NPR executives were embarrassed by Williams’ collegial relationships with FOXNews conservatives. And they probably found it curious, if not downright troubling, that Williams’s son worked for former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and ran (unsuccessfully) as a Republican for the D.C. City Council. But NPR execs were perhaps most peeved by Williams’s occasional willingness to criticize the Obamas and by the publication of his most recent book, “ENOUGH: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America.”

For blacks, there are two cardinal sins: fraternizing with “the enemy” and questioning conventional wisdom on race. Williams committed them both. And so the overseers of NPR’s liberal plantation needed not only to get rid of him but to discredit him.

Thus NPR CEO Vivian Schiller publicly questioned Williams’ sanity by suggesting that he sees a psychiatrist. (He does not.) For this inappropriate comment, Schiller lost her bonus. And, Ellen Weiss, who fired Williams over the phone, was forced to resign over her handling of the event – although Weiss remains unrepentant on the underlying decision to terminate.

It is, of course, ironic that those who champion dissent when it suits their own interests are the first to call in the shrinks to delegitimize alternative African-American voices. Apparently, not all dissent is patriotic – some it would seem is pathological.

Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans in all areas. But let us also look forward to a time when blacks (and all minorities) are free to deviate from the liberal script without being dismissed as ignorant, traitors or crazy.[/password]

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