Yesterday a liberal white woman said to me, "Oh, B.B. King died. He was one of my favorites!"
I asked her to name two of his songs besides "The Thrill is Gone." She was unable to name even one. I suggested that if he were really one of her favorites -- which would imply that she must have listened to him fairly frequently -- she ought to be able to name at least one song beside the one he was most famous for.
Why did she feel obliged to point out that King was one of her favorites if she almost never listened to his music? Did she think that this demonstrated how she was not racist? How sophisticated her musical tastes were?
There's something intrinsically dishonest going on here. This woman would never have seized upon the death of an old white musician to somehow prove her bona fides.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard this same woman -- who has no black friends -- volunteer that the black mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was "beautiful."
Again, this woman would never have felt obliged to point out that Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann were beautiful.
I'm not suggesting that B. B. King was not great, or that Rawlings-Blake does not have even features. I'm merely pointing out that there's something about using black people to prove your own virtue that is quintessentially liberal, and completely dishonest.