WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- In New York City, race matters. In a column after the Nov. 7 mayoral election, columnist DeWayne Hickham argued that racial politics are a rot eating away at the Big Apple and that it poses a greater threat to the city's well-being than the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Republican Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg won 59 percent of the white vote and a surprisingly large share of the non-white vote. He got the support of 22 percent of blacks and an astounding 48 percent of the Hispanic vote. Some people are disturbed by this.
You cannot name a major city in America where race doesn't matter. It is a driving force in urban politics.
Yet those like Hickham who decry it, fail to say why it is bad that a Republican in the nation's largest city won a modern day record share of black and Hispanic votes, not to mention a majority of the Jewish vote in a race where both major party candidates were Jewish.
If racial politics is a rot that is eating the Big Apple, then rot has set in at every level of American politics: in the Congress, in every state capital, and in every local council chamber. The race card has been played in American politics for a long time yet despite the tragedy of 9/11, we are a stronger country today than we have ever been. New York City is more united that it has ever been.
The interest question is not if the race card exists but who first played it in the New York City mayoral election.
The modern urban racial politics grow from seeds sown long ago by leftwing demagogues who figured they could galvanize the black community into becoming a reliable Democrat voter bloc by portraying all Republicans as racists. It proved to be a successful strategy.
Bill Clinton, who on several occasions referred to himself as "America's first black president" and his minions elevated it to art form during the 1990s as anyone who has listened to black radio at election time knows.
In 2000, groups allied with Al Gore's presidential campaign -- principally the NAACP -- adroitly used the story of whites dragging a black man behind a pick-up truck in Texas to portray George W. Bush as an overt racist.
Racial politics in New York? Of course. But it was not the Republican Party that put the pot on the fire. It was the left.
Sharpton is one of the most prominent anti-Semitic bigots of our time, a shameless demagogue and disgraceful fanatic who makes Louis Farrahkan sound reasonable.
He falsely accused law enforcement officials in Duchess County, N.Y. of abducting and raping Taw Anna Brawley, a young black girl who made up a story of sexual assault after staying out all night. One of those officials, a local prosecutor, eventually won a judgment against him in court for his statements.
Sharpton has been found guilty of income tax evasion and he incited an anti-Jewish riot in Harlem that resulted in the burning of a Jewish owned business and the death of innocent people.
During the height of the Brawley fracas, Sharpton openly bragged to fellow conspirators that he'd make himself the most significant black leader in New York. He has, arguably at least, achieved his goal.
Once it became apparent to others that Sharpton could deliver the votes to any wanting politician, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, former Vice President Al Gore and current New York Sen. Hillary Clinton all made pilgrimages to his Harlem headquarters and bid for his support.
In so doing they bestowed respect upon a disreputable character. In doing so they ceded to Sharpton the power to throw a citywide election. In doing so they cost Mark Green an election he should have won with ease. The left spawned the serpents in this swamp. Let them swim in it.
The race card will not disappear from American politics until the left refuses to play the game.
Perhaps they will when it becomes apparent that it is destroying their party, but don't hold your breath.
Republicans ran David Duke out of their party long ago despite the best efforts of the left and some in the national media to pretend he is still there. It's time Democrats were held to the same standard and forced to expunge their party of the hate preachers, the bigots, and the non-white racists. Its not just a good for the goose, good for the gander issue - if they refuse they might find that goose ends up cooked.
-- Jay Townsend is a Republican political consultant in New York.