Black Republicans should be able to live without fear.
The Wall Street Journal
Monday, January 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST
American blacks who are affiliated with the Republican Party are vigorously vilified by Democrats, especially black Democrats. Uncle Tom, sell-out, Oreo--the list of slurs is long.
But it is not only insults. I am the founder and director of a unique, progressive homeless facility in downtown Los Angeles, known as the Dome Village. Yet the 35 men, women and children and their pets who call the Dome Village home are being "evicted" from privately owned property after 12 1/2 years--apparently on account of my political beliefs and activities. You see, though I am a leading homeless activist, I am also a conservative Republican and a strong supporter of President Bush.
Here's how the situation played out. Recently, I was invited to address a local Republican Women's Club; my landlord read an article in the local paper reporting on the event. Soon after, I received a notice raising the Dome Village rent from $2,500 a month to $18,330. Shocked, I inquired as to the seriousness of the change, and the property owner blurted out that the cause of our "eviction" was "because you are Republican." He said that as a Democrat, he was tired of helping me and the Dome Village. In other words, let the homeless be damned.
And people think the Democrats are the party of compassion and tolerance.
Private property should be protected, of course, and I have no intention of causing any trouble for this property owner as we part ways. Whatever he does with his valuable land--it is only a few blocks from the Staples Center--is no concern of mine, and I will not go to court.
Still, I cannot help but be saddened by the whole business. When I founded the Dome Village 12 years ago, we had an understanding that he could ask for his property back at any time for any reason, and I would say "absolutely" without hesitation. Still, his reason was prejudice against Republicans.
We see this across the country. Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland and a Republican candidate for the Senate, has been crudely disparaged on racial grounds. A prominent leftist Web site, for instance, depicted him as "Sambo," among other aspersions. When Condoleezza Rice was nominated as secretary of state, she faced similar treatment: editorial cartoons depicting her as a racial caricature, personalities calling her "Aunt Jemima" on liberal talk radio, and so forth. Clarence Thomas, Ward Connerly, Colin Powell, Thomas Sowell and other black conservatives regularly face similar smears.
These conservatives are attacked not because of the validity or judicious consideration of their views but because those views are supposedly heterodox for American blacks. Yet it is my opinion that many black people in the U.S. are politically and philosophically conservative--and many are in fact actually closeted Republicans, fearful of persecution by friends, business associates, society clubs, schoolmates and even churches.
It is time for American blacks to have a conversation about the phenomenon of Democrats persecuting black Republicans. Why is this happening? What is it that the Democrats don't want black folks to understand about Republicans? What is it that the Democrats don't want black folks to know about Democrats? And how is it that we have come to this point--after having endured so much--where we have ourselves curtailed the freedom of political expression through the threat of retaliatory consequences?
Mr. Hayes is a homeless activist in Los Angeles.