Sunday, April 15, 2012

Left Side of the Aisle #52 - Part 7

Why do we resist recognizing racism?

Updated On April 6, five apparently randomly-chosen black men were shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Three are dead. Police arrested two white suspects on Sunday and say are investigating whether the shootings were a hate crime.

Um, excuse me? They are "considering the possibility" this was racially-motivated? Now, all props to the police: They acted quickly to follow up on tips to arrest the two suspects. But, come on: "considering the possibility?" Now one guy, assuming these guys are guilty, may have snapped: His father was killed two years ago and a few months ago his girlfriend killed herself right in front of him, leaving him with their 6-month child to care for. So he may have snapped. But it's also true he described the man who killed his father as a "fucking nigger"* - and police are "considering the possibility" of a racial motive?

Again, props to the cops for their investigative work - but why is it so hard for us to face the reality of bigotry?

It stares us in the face all the time, everywhere we look. It stares at us from the poverty figures. It stares at us from the unemployment figures. It stares at us from repeated psychological studies revealing discrimination in everything from job applications to everyday encounters.

We can even see it in hacked highway signs.

And we can see it in open view: John Derbyshire is a right-wing writer formerly with the righty rag National Review. He recently wrote a truly noxious piece about "the talk" he would have with his children about dealing with black people. Among his bits of advice, beyond saying that the average black person is much less intelligent than the average white person, were these:

- Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
- Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
- Do not attend events likely to draw a lot of blacks.
- If you are a public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
- Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
- Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress.
- If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.

This was too much even for National Review; he was fired. But even more revealing than Derbyshire's words are the supportive reactions they got from a number of quarters. I'll be talking about that next week. In the meantime, we need to keep thinking about that question: Why do we resist recognizing racism?

Update: The men were charged with a hate crime, but hadn't been at the time of taping.

*Cleaned up as "an effing n-word" for airing.


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