By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"When I was picketed by [Dallas County Commissioner] John Wiley [Price] and [grassroots activist] Lee Alcorn four years ago, they called me a bitch, a child of Adolf Hitler and a child of Satan, all that stuff. And that's when my kids were quite a bit smaller and were all looking out the window for about an hour watching it." With a small bite of cantaloupe in her mouth and a plastic fork in one hand, she shrugged.
And hey, good point. Once you call somebody a bitch child of Adolf Hitler in front of her kids, what's your other point?
Whatever. It's clearly not working with Miller. Calling her a racist doesn't get traction. She doesn't think it sticks. She's tougher than she used to be.
"Obviously people use the most sensational words because they want to get a rise out of you, and they want to get media coverage," she said.
And we do provide that.
Miller does go out to the neighborhoods, and she does do deals, which does put her in political harm's way, all of which is more than you could say for Kirk. She risks more. She takes more hits. But the people who do battle with her and are mad at her won't call her a racist.
So I asked her the question. Is Laura Miller a racist? I thought she winced a little. Maybe it was that dirty-postcard look. She told me she had known on her way downtown that morning that she was going to meet with me and that I was going to ask that question. She said she had thought about telling me how she had grown up in a diverse neighborhood, but then she decided that sounded sort of smarmy.
And basically she told me that any question you cannot answer without sounding stupid is a stupid question.
So my answer is no. I have to go with the people who actually have dealings with her, especially those who are of color, especially those who are mad at her over deals. They won't call her a racist. I won't.
There are lots of other interesting questions implied in the margins of what people have to say. Is she elitist? Does she have class-bound issues? Is she as good at politics as she is at news conferences? But those are questions for another day.
My own two-bit theory here is that the new black leadership fights with Miller but respects her, precisely because she will come out in the street and do battle at close quarters. But she makes the African-American old guard uncomfortable by breaching the traditional wall of racial separatism--an ancient edifice that was always maintained from both sides in Dallas.
Her infraction is familiarity. When they say she's a racist, they mean she's a liberal. And I'll never get on another national radio show in my life with that.