We found a recent college professor's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer laughable -- but one of the first honest pieces we've seen about the Congressional Black Caucus.
Terry Smith, of the DePaul University College of Law, opined that the caucus shouldn't allow conservative blacks to be members because -- and he really said this -- that would make the caucus about race.
You can't make this stuff up.
Well, at least it was honest: The Congressional Black Caucus isn't about race so much as ideology. It's a liberal Democratic organization that is hostile to conservative values.
That's always been the case, but the truth has come to the fore with the election of two black conservative Republicans -- Tim Scott in South Carolina and Allen West in Florida.
Interestingly, the two are taking opposite approaches to the black caucus:
West told a newspaper in Florida that he'll join the black caucus because, "There's a voice out there that needs to be heard. This monolithic hold that they have needs to be challenged -- but challenged in this intellectual manner."
Scott says his ideals don't match up with the Congressional Black Caucus, and he sees no need to join: "I have always been a guy who has lived in an integrated world."
We think there's merit in both approaches: staying away out of principle, or joining and trying to make a difference from within. The two men made very different and highly personal choices, and we respect both.
We do hope, however, that Scott's approach ultimately prevails -- and that someday soon our leaders will see that dividing us by race has a deleterious effect on the country. It pits races against each other, each doing its best to press for advantage.
Of course, many observers believe we're not there yet, and that minorities still need to caucus and press their agendas in a unified manner. But if so, we would hope such groups would at least be open to diverse thinking. Should conservative blacks not have a seat at the lunch counter with liberal blacks?
They might find that conservative principles -- family, marriage, self-reliance, the freedom that comes with limited government -- have as much of a place in black America as in other sectors of society -- and are also keenly felt by their absence. Couldn't it just be that, maybe, the liberal policies of the past 40 or 50 years that the Congressional Black Caucus has been promoting in lockstep either aren't effective or, worse, are holding back black America?
What't the harm in asking?
If Terry Smith is right -- and this is really the Liberal Black Caucus -- then change the name. If not, why not let other views in?