Can anyone tell me why suddenly race is the hot topic of national discourse?
According to Gallup polling of last week, the issues most on the minds of Americans are the economy and jobs followed by dissatisfaction with all aspects of government.
I didn’t notice racism on the list anywhere.
The NAACP says it was “snookered” by Fox News on the Shirley Sherrod story.
I say we’ve all been snookered by the NAACP.
The NAACP has shown that those who have written this organization off as irrelevant are wrong. It demonstrated this past week that if it so chooses it can dominate the national discussion with its racial agenda, regardless of what the real pressing issues of national concern may be.
The accusation about tea-party racism is ridiculous. But even if you don’t think it’s ridiculous, is this the discussion we need to be having when national unemployment hovers at 10 percent, and when black unemployment is closer to 15 percent, double that of whites?
Now, of course, we should be talking about racism if this is what is driving black unemployment. But is it?
I don’t think so. Nor do most blacks.
In January of this year, well into our recession, and well into the emergence of the tea-party movement, the Pew Research Center surveyed black attitudes.
In answer to the question, “When blacks don’t make progress, who or what is to blame?” 52 percent of blacks responded that “blacks” themselves are “mostly responsible,” and 34 percent said “racism.” This is the reverse of how blacks responded to this question just 15 years ago, when 56 percent said that racism was the impediment to black progress.
In the same survey, blacks responded almost identically as whites to the question of whether success in life is “determined by forces beyond one’s control” or whether “everyone has the power to succeed.”
Seventy-seven percent of blacks and 82 percent of whites said that “everyone has the power to succeed,” and 16 percent of blacks and 12 percent of whites said success is “determined by forces beyond one’s control.”
And when blacks were asked in this same survey about the main problems facing black families, the response was overwhelmingly exactly the same as the general result of the Gallup poll of last week: jobs.
So, Americans of all colors today generally feel responsible for their own lives, and the main concern of most is the sick state of our economy.
So let’s have that discussion.
Clearly, there are differences of opinion about how to light a fire under this economy and the role of government. Some think government is the answer. Some think it’s the problem.
But this is a difference of opinion about how the world works. Why are we talking about racism?
Racism is about people being persecuted and endangered because of their color. It’s about not being treated equally under the law or denied access to public facilities or work because of one’s color.
Fortunately, those ugly days are behind us. And aside from the political and legal truths that verify this, black attitudes themselves, as the Pew data bear out, support it. And, if we need further verification, sitting in the White House is a black man who is there with the help of 43 percent of the votes of white Americans.
Talk about racism may help employment for those in the race business, but it has little relevance to getting the American economy working again, which is what we should be single-mindedly focused on.
And allowing race to become the focus of public discourse shuts out the very message blacks need to hear. That they are disproportionately hurt by a recession being prolonged by excessive government growth and interference.