A trip to Washington, D.C., over Presidents Day weekend and tours of the various museums of the Smithsonian reminded me in no uncertain terms that it was Black History Month. To be sure, there are countless examples of accomplished, heroic and talented black Americans who have contributed greatly to our nation, just as have Americans of all colors, creeds and sexual orientations.
All of us Americans have our particular identity characteristics. Mine happen to include Jewish heritage and gay orientation. I can always be found celebrating July 4 but don’t feel compelled to participate in pride or Israel parades, as “American” seems to represent me just fine. Others may feel differently and they are entitled to.
As I processed my visit on my journey back to Manhattan from D.C., two things, in particular, struck me: First, that, to those who insist America observe these celebrations, commemorating the diverse identities of the groups is far more important than the individual accomplishments of those being celebrated. Additionally, these identity celebrations almost always seem to neglect arguably the most deserving of admiration in favor or those who appeal to narratives of the left of victimhood and struggle.
I just did a Google search of “Black History people.” Who came up? Oprah. The Obamas. Kobe Bryant. Michael Jordan. Serena Williams. To be sure, all of these are accomplished individuals. However, I find who did not come up in the search to be all the more revealing.
The bias was even more pronounced when I visited the U.S. government website for Black History Month. Certainly, one would expect to see (and one does) Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, etc. However, I searched high and low and found no mention of Justice Clarence Thomas, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Dr. Ben Carson, the great economist Thomas Sowell or business leader Herman Cain. Shockingly, the “Government and Politics” section contains only Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and Barack Obama.
This glaring hypocrisy is not relegated to archives of African-American history. The Library of Congress website covering LGBT Pride Month, lists Walt Whitman, activist Frank Kameny, and the cast of “Queer Eye” as significant figures in gay history. No mention at all of President Trump’s high profile openly gay Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.
Likewise, on the government’s Hispanic Heritage Month website are exhibits celebrating Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso (who weren’t even American) as well as Justice Sonia Sotomayor. But no exhibit featuring the first Latina elected to Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who just happened to be a Republican.
This is the same hypocrisy and double standard used by Hillary Clinton when she neglected to include Margaret Thatcher, arguably the most powerful female head of government, ever and first female U.K. prime minister in her book “Gutsy Women.” When asked about the omission in a BBC interview, the failed presidential candidate ludicrously claimed to have left Thatcher out because “she doesn’t fit the other part of the definition, in our opinion, which really is knocking down barriers for others and trying to make a positive difference. I think the record is mixed with her.” Laughable logic like that certainly justifies America’s rejection of Mrs. Clinton.
One would be hard-pressed to evoke those on the right of the political divide who wallow in identity politics and therefore, it is clear that the conceivers and facilitators of events such as LGBT, black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. heritage months are overwhelmingly leftists. Sadly, this misguided group with their own bias against conservatives, reveal themselves to be bigots.
They champion the cause of “diversity” for its own sake over the great deeds of individuals, some of whom just happen to be black, Hispanic, gay, etc. Moreover, they do a great disservice to accomplished role models of society by distilling their achievements down to their racial characteristics rather than to their God-given personal talents. Furthermore and most dangerous, they divide American groups against each other.
So much is made of the current winds of polarization of society. Tragically, trafficking in identity politics such as the efforts of the woke to organize “X Pride Month” fuel these divisions and prevent the more harmonious elements of social cohesion that draw us together as Americans. President Trump is a great antidote to these divisions because he vocally celebrates and deliberately improves the lives of all Americans. Making and keeping America great is universal for all of our citizens and is colorblind.
• Lee Cohen, a writer, commenator and research fellow of the Danube Institute, was adviser on Europe to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.
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