03/20/2008 04:12 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Black Elephant in the Room

There's a great scene in John Waters' Hairspray where a frightened white mother goes to look for her daughter in a black neighborhood, pleading with the natives to leave her alone while they sit there and laugh at her idiocy. That reminds me of how conservatives are reacting to the Obama's Crazy Reverend nonsense--white people get scared when blacks act black.

The bloom is at last off the rose, and the anti-Obama forces have their Swift Boat: Rev. Jeremiah Wright. All they needed was for the golden boy Barack to be linked to some crazy black person, and they got it. Even Hillary has jumped on the bandwagon. The New York Times stated, "Mrs. Clinton's advisers said they had spent recent days making the case to wavering superdelegates that Mr. Obama's association with Mr. Wright would doom their party in the general election." You go, girl.

FOX News has charged full speed ahead, mentioning the story every 15 minutes, bringing on Republican strategists and Botoxed bimbos to keep the story alive and pontificate about how Obama didn't go far enough to distance himself from the reverend. What more does he need to do, stand up and channel Richard Pryor and exclaim, "My bad, folks--that nigger's crazy!"?

Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have been salivating like Cincinnati businessmen during a lap dance, leading with the Wright story for the past three nights, hosting "experts" like the ever-grating Laura Ingraham to bloviate endlessly about how Now We Really Know why this uppity half-breed whose name sounds Muslim is really unfit to lead America. Look who he associates with. My God, it's like a bunch of crazy jungle bunnies. The man is screaming at the congregation, and they are screaming back. He's wearing dashiki. It's a race riot! Aaaaaah! Helllllllllp!

The not so subtle message to all the scared white folks in the sticks: See what will happen when you let the blacks be in charge? See? See? Remember the Rodney King riots? They could come to your neighborhood! Do you really want your first lady to have dreadlocks? Do you want the Supreme Court to look like the Supremes?

It doesn't matter that Obama really has the talent to forge a consensus, if people would just let him. It doesn't matter that his speech on race was one of the best speeches ever made by a candidate. The speech actually assumed the intelligence of the American people, always a dicey proposition. Maybe if he had spoken to us like Bush speaks to us --that is, like we're all third-graders--it would have worked better.

No one wants to talk about race, and whenever they do, they do it sotto voce, so no one will hear. Before I moved to New York, my grandmother said, "You better be careful moving to New York, because there's (whispering) black people there." She was whispering to me in our living room, like she was afraid every black person within 300 miles would burst through the window screaming, "Up against the wall, crackers!"

At least Obama was trying, in his speech, to start a dialogue about the black elephant in the room. That's more than any white politician has done. White politicians want the blacks to just behave, vote for them, and then go away.

Rev. Wright, crazy though he may seem, said many things that some black people think. Some of them do indeed believe that AIDS was created by the government to keep black people down. Some do believe that 9/11 was an inside job. Centuries of racism have lead them to this point. You can scream and holler all night about the ridiculousness of it, and you will, but there it is. Many blacks just think differently about racial issues than whites. And remember a little guy named O.J. Simpson, and how blacks cheered at his acquittal while whites looked on in horror?

As far as Wright's making the heretical statement that 9/11 was the result of bad U.S. international policies--well, incredible as it may seem, many blacks AND whites believe that some of it was. Not that it was justified, but simply that U.S. policies added fuel to the fire. Simply saying "They hate us for our freedom" is convenient, but simplistic. If you're about accuse me of hating America, cool it. I love America--I just love it like a mother loves her daughter who charges Eliot Spitzer $4,300.

And as long as we're playing guilt by association here, where is the outcry about all those who are closely associated with any number of crazy white people, like Tom Delay? Or Ann Coulter? Or Pat Robertson? Or Bill O'Reilly, who routinely compares anyone who calls him on his crap to the Nazis? They have repeatedly said and done things that make Rev. Wright seem like a keynote speaker at Disney World.

Prediction: the Swift Boaters are going to play this story for more performances than The Wiz.