The Fall of Charlie Rangel


The New Republic's John McWhorter weighs in with an interesting take on the corruption scandal that's threatening to destroy the career of Democratic New York congressman and admitted rent control crook Charlie Rangel:

Why, then, would Rangel be so, as he himself put it, "sloppy" in policing the line between serving larger interests and serving himself, or at least the appearances thereof? Here, after all is the man who came into office watching his predecessor—Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.—dragged down for ethical lapses hardly unknown among white peers.

Racism is, I suspect, part of the story here—but not in the way we're supposed to think. Is there a part of Rangel that has supposed that the ethics are fundamentally different for him since his nonprofit is devoted to battling the legacies of institutional racism? The [Congressional Black Caucus] traditionally calls itself "the conscience of Congress," and in its public statements and activities often functions as a kind of alternate NAACP rather than as a generator of legislation. Under this frame of mind, there would be little difference between serving "myself" and serving "my people." Surely to combat racism is a greater good than any other. My nonprofit is the fight against racism. The fight against racism is me. Me is the fight against racism. Why not improvise a little, especially if no one is looking?