In 2009 Eric Holder dismissed America as a “nation of cowards” because we wouldn’t, he argued, have a “national conversation” about race. It’s a slander wrapped in a farce. We talk of race unremittingly. That’s the farce. The slander is hydra-headed.
No honest conversation about race is possible when accusations of racism replace reasoned arguments. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who mentioned high rates of crime among black males, was rewarded with the label of “racist” within minutes by some (The Atlantic, Slate) who presumably agree with Holder that we are too timid when discussing race.
Many American liberals are achingly nostalgic for old-fashioned racism. It offered them a helium high of moral superiority that was deserved . . . in 1967, but by perpetuating the fiction that modern America has not changed, they’ve become more than ridiculous, more even than grossly unjust; they’ve become dangerous. Look around you. The violence and bitterness that have followed the Zimmerman verdict were virtually ordered up by convicted slanderer Al Sharpton and his many imitators.
The Zimmerman case was complicated. Any fair-minded person could see that it was difficult to conclude that Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense (however unwise his initial actions may have been). But the racial-grievance industrial complex (RGI) doesn’t permit complexity. Racial enmity is its living. Stirring feelings of victimization and injustice among blacks and, to a lesser extent, among other designated minorities is its delight.
When you consider the steady stream of agitprop churned out by the RGI, it’s amazing that race relations aren’t worse. The RGI has circulated falsehoods about black-voter “disenfranchisement” in the 2000 presidential election, about a spate of “racially motivated” arsons at black churches, about George W. Bush’s “indifference” to the lynching of a black man in Texas, about voter-ID laws being a conspiracy to suppress the black vote, about Republicans’ opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (MSNBC recently ran a picture of George Wallace that ID’d him as a Republican), about “racial profiling” by New Jersey state troopers, and about “racist” killings of black immigrants by New York cops. Each of these is an outright falsehood. There was zero voter disenfranchisement in 2000, George W. Bush signed the death warrant of the killer in Texas, Republicans were more in favor of the Voting Rights Act than Democrats, the tragic shootings of two black men in New York were mistakes, and on and on.
This is not to suggest that racism has been expunged from the heart of every American. But while the RGI bravely fights the battles of 1954, African Americans (and not only they) face new challenges that require serious attention, free of the cant and destructive incitement that characterize the grievance-mongers.
The RGI propounds the myth that the criminal-justice system is indelibly racist. Young black males, we are told, are far more likely than whites to be arrested and to serve time in prison. When it is observed that a disproportionate share of offenders are black, that significant numbers of most city police forces are black, and that most victims are also black, we are invited to consider the ultimate proof — the glaring disparity in the penalties for powder and crack cocaine.
The federal criminal penalties for crack, passed in the 1980s, were a response to the devastation crack was causing in black neighborhoods. The huge spike in crime during the 1980s — and the vast victimization of inner-city blacks — was primarily attributable to crack addiction. If it was racist to impose these penalties, why were members of the Congressional Black Caucus the first to champion the legislation? Heather Mac Donald noted in City Journal that the laws on crystal meth have a similarly “disparate impact” . . . on whites. “In 2006, the 5,391 sentenced federal meth defendants (nearly as many as the crack defendants) were 54 percent white, 39 percent Hispanic, and 2 percent black.”
From 1976 to 2004, 65 percent of executions involved whites, though whites committed only 47 percent of murders. Evidence of anti-white bias in the system? You could make such a case, and it would have as much validity as the manufactured panic about anti-black bias in America.
America continues to muddle along. Sixteen percent of blacks who wed in 2008 married someone outside their race. Black married-couple families had an average income of $63,566 in 2010. Barack Obama was reelected in 2012 — which is evidence of poor judgment, but clearly not of the kind of racist cauldron the grievance industry eternally conjures.
— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2013 Creators Syndicate, Inc.