Commentary Magazine


Is Criticizing Colin Powell Racist?

Apparently, USA Today founder Al Neuharth thinks so. In his latest column, Neuharth writes:

Cheney was frequently at odds with Powell and Rice, so it’s no surprise that he’s scapegoating them now. But the fact that both are African Americans raises other questions. Cheney was a kid in Nebraska and grew up as a teenager in Wyoming. Both of those states had overwhelmingly white populations. Some individuals never outgrow the suspicions about people of color that develop in that environment, and Cheney may be one of them.

Both Powell and Rice thrived in Republican administrations because people took them at their merits, and debated them as equals. Sometimes Powell won debates; sometimes he lost. Sometimes he was right, but more often he was not. Rice was extremely articulate, but thrived as a barometer with a finger up to sense the political winds; she was never a woman who had strong opinions and stuck to them. For Neuharth and his fellow travelers to interpret everything through a racial prism reflects an unfortunate soft, condescending racism.

The irony here is if there is one thing Rice, Powell, and Cheney can agree on, it is that snide attacks like Neuharth’s reflect a poisoned attitude which has no place in serious debate.