"First Black Senator Since Reconstruction from the South…"


According to someone who watches a lot of CNN and writes to Jonah Goldberg at National Review's Corner, CNN has been making much of the fact that if Harold Ford manages to overcome accusations of datin' white women, he will be "the first black senator for the South since Reconstruction" (and other media have as well). (Jonah tried to make some tired "media is unfair to the GOP" hay of this by complaining that they aren't emphasizing the same about Maryland's black GOP senatorial hopeful Michael Steele–and feel free to join the debate about whether Maryland is southern or not, but please write straight to Jonah.)

Just as I can use varied aspects of my own heritage (Catholic father, Jewish mother, confirmed in the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church) for my own rhetorical advantage depending on context, I can play fightin' Yank (born in New York City), ragin' Rebel (spent ages 3-22 in the faux-South of Florida), and Western pioneer (blissful resident of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles sobre El Rio Porciuncula–that Los Angeles to you, pardner–for the past 12 years) alternately depending on rhetorical benefit and how offended I care to pretend to be.

So I'm privileging the reputation of no part of the country when I point out that such emphasis on the South's failure to elect black senators seems to be playing a bit unfairly on old fashioned notions of the South as the uniquely villainous home of untranquil race relations continuing to this day–as I don't see it so often specifically noted that, for example, the West-of-the-Rockies lands I currently call home have never, ever, never elected a black senator–and that the North has done so only once (Edward Brooke from Massachusetts, 1967-79), and the Midwest only twice–including our only currently seated black senator, the next president of the United States, Barack Obama–the one before him was Carole Moseley-Braun, also from Illinois–the only state to ever elect two black senators…since Reconstruction, even! It should also be noted that Sen. Obama, if he runs and wins the presidency, will be the first black president elected in America since Reconstruction.