Surely I didn't hear him right. Surely the mayor of New Orleans didn't say that he intended to create a "chocolate" city. In the words of Lewis Grizzard and about ten million Southerners before him, "Dang, brother! I don't believe I'd told that!"
What a week it has been! First Hillary Clinton, who has tried her very best to imitate a middle-of-the-road moderate - the better to be elected president, my dear - showed her true colors and informed a predominantly black Martin Luther King Day gathering that the U.S. House of Representatives was being run like a plantation. And then, to make sure they all understood that she was race-baiting she added, "and you all know exactly what I am talking about."
I wonder when, exactly, "plantation" became a code word for racial discrimination? And I wonder when that old double standard became commonplace in the national media. Let's face it, y'all. Lots of politicians have been buried by the media for a lot less, and yet Madame Hillary gets a pass. No outrage. No indignation. No calls for censure - and yet her comments were as racially divisive and as absurd as - well, Trent Lott telling a 100-year-old man that it's too bad he wasn't elected president 50 years earlier.
Let's face it. What Hillary Clinton was saying to the black folks is that Congress is controlled by the "white massahs" and all the black congressmen are merely slaves - and she can spin it any way she wants but everyone knows that was the implication she was making - and it's just not so. In fact, the very notion is ludicrous and insulting to whites and blacks alike. And since it's not so, the only reason for saying it is to create division.
It's funny, to me, that Hillary would have chosen the weekend honoring Martin Luther King Jr. to make her ludicrous and inflammatory comments because Dr. King was about union and equality, not divisiveness and separation.
Which brings us to Mayor Nagin. In case you missed it, Ray Nagin - the guy who showed such exemplary leadership during the horrific natural disaster that hit New Orleans last summer - declared that once the city was rebuilt that it would be a "chocolate" city.
A chocolate city? What in the world is that all about?
I thought Hershey, Pa., was the chocolate city. I don't think Nagin was talking about candy, though. If it had been Hillary talking, in fact, she would have emphasized the declaration by saying "and you know exactly what that means."
Well, Nagin didn't say that, but we all know exactly what he meant anyway. And if you need more clarification, let me give you an example. I wonder, for instance, what would have happened if, after Sept.11, say, New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani had announced to the world that he was going to resurrect Gotham as a vanilla city. They would have crucified him.
Didn't happen though, did it? Not with Hillary and not with Nagin. The incidents were reported and then blew right on over. At least Nagin had the decency to apologize for the remarks and admit that he was out of line. No such apology was forthcoming from the senator from New York. In fact, she was on the offensive the very next day, lashing out at President Bush and making all sorts of false accusations about his administration.
What Nagin proposed is favoring one ethnic group over another. That's racism. That's discrimination. That's wrong - period.
It is wrong when white folks do it to black folks, and it's wrong when black folks do it to white folks. It would be wrong if green folks did it to purple folks, for that matter.
What Clinton did was plain old race baiting. She was, again, trying to create divisiveness between the races. From where I sit, we already have plenty of that.
Our leaders need to work to bring folks together, not pull them apart. But that might not win the votes of people who prefer divisiveness.
I once read of a man with a dream - a dream of an America where people are judged "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I don't think that man ever compared the House of Representatives - or any other institution - to a plantation. Such analogies were far beneath him.
And I know he never called for any city to become chocolate. Nagin and Clinton should be ashamed of themselves. They are both old enough to know better.
Darrell Huckaby is a Newton County native and the author of six books. He lives in Rockdale County, where he teaches high school history. Visit his Web site at www.darrellhuckaby.net.