NAACP honcho Hazel Dukes wagged her sharp tongue at a leader of New York City's charter-school movement this week, declaring that the Harvard-educated reformer never would have gotten into that university had it not been for, well, Hazel Dukes.
She called African-American charter-school activist Clifford Thomas a "dumbass" and said: "You went to Harvard on my back, not because you're smart, not because you worked hard."
That's ahistorical nonsense, of course. Harvard has been educating African-Americans without help from Dukes for a very long time indeed: Not to put too fine a point on it, W.E.B. DuBois -- a chieffounderof the NAACP -- earned a PhD from the university in 1896, decades before Dukes was even born.
But itisa revealingly candid snapshot of Dukes' view of affirmative action: Smarts and hard work didn't matter for Thomas, who grew up in New York City public housing.
Only the color of his skin counted.
All of this matters because Dukes and her increasingly irrelevant organization have been giving cover to the United Federation of Teachers' effort to hamstring charter schools in New York.
Thomas, a founder of Invictus Preparatory Charter School, had dared to ask for a civil debate during a public hearing -- provoking Dukes' uncivil outburst, and chants of "Abolish slavery" from her claque of supporters.
But that was just race-baiting theater.
The truly damaging anti-reform work is being done in the courts, with nitpicking UFT/NAACP lawsuits meant to block essential public-school reforms and to choke off charter-school growth.
There are two tactical objectives:
* To keep open 22 utterly failed traditional public schools.
* And to block 16 new charter schools, which generally perform so well that they embarrass traditional-school teachers and administrators. (Acourt rulingon one new charter, proposed for the Upper West Side, could come today.)
The UFT is clearly trying to protect union jobs.
The NAACP's motive is only slightly less obvious: Having already received more than $100,000 in UFT cash, it wants to keep the gravy train rolling.
But while the organization's participation may mislead outsiders, minority parents who want charter seats for their kids are having none of it. Many actually picketed UFT headquarters Monday -- the second such rally in recent weeks.
Dukes' response to that?
Round after round of race-baiting invective.
It's shameless -- but so is she.