One of the more interesting aspects of the Trent Lott debacle is that it has reopened, at least slightly, the national dialogue on racial matters. In recent years, what we've heard has been mostly a monologue: endless iterations of the same old codswallop about how I, one-quarter Latino and one-quarter Levantine yet somehow "white", have benefited personally from the blood, toil, tears and sweat of those who are determined to be "black", and that I, in my capacity as a representative "white" person, am solely responsible for all of the ills which have befallen the African-American community since, oh, the French and Indian War.

Bloggers have done as much as anyone to jumpstart the other half of this dialogue. In case you somehow missed them, I'm pointing to a few samples I've seen this week.

What must be done by the GOP, from John Rosenberg (Discriminations):

"The new Republican leader in the Senate must do more now than merely disavow Senator Lott's words," [Senator Thomas] Daschle said. "He or she must confront the Republican Party's record on race, and embrace policies that promote genuine healing and greater opportunity for all Americans."

I completely agree with Daschle. The Republicans must bring their committment to equality out of the closet and aggressively promote policies based on the popular, and morally compelling, principle that every person has a right to be treated without regard to race, creed, or color. The Republicans, in short, must affirmatively make a persuasive case that that is the best way to "promote genuine healing and greater opportunity for all Americans."

If they fail to do that out of fear of being called "insensitive," or worse, they will confirm the widespread but mistaken assumption that equates civil rights with race-conscious preferences.

The Republicans' record on race is a lot closer to color-blind than anything coming from the Democrats, points out Dodd Harris (Ipse Dixit):

America in 2002 is not a seething cauldron of barely suppressed racism. The overwhelming majority are entirely satisfied that, after Brown v. Board of Education, the promise of true equality before the law for all citizens, regardless of race, began to [be] realized. In fact, to the extent that there is a significant undertow of racially-motivated tension and resentment in this country, it can be laid squarely at the feet of those lefties who have fostered the very racial spoils system they accuse Republicans of racism for questioning.

And is there true equality in our personal relationships across ostensible racial borders? Not quite, says Susanna Cornett (Cut on the Bias):

I asked a black co-worker of mine once what she would think if one of her two sons dated a white woman. She said, and this is a direct quote, "I'd ask him, what's wrong with all the black girls?" Does that make you angry? Try it this way — what if I had a son dating a black woman, and I asked him, "What's wrong with all the white girls?" Would that do it for you? Until both of those are equally distressing, we're not where we need to be.

When I was growing up in South Carolina in the Sixties, the lights were slowly coming on and the sheets were starting to come off. I'm not going to claim for even a moment that it was simple or easy: the historical record clearly shows otherwise. But it did happen. Schools were integrated, duplicate facilities eliminated, old prejudices shoved into a corner. The bloggers quoted above (two from Kentucky, one from Alabama) will likely have similar stories to tell. In short: the battle for civil rights was won, and it was won by the good guys. For one brief shining moment, to borrow a phrase, America was on the road to becoming colorblind. We obviously haven't gotten there yet, and we'll never get there if we keep having absurd little contretemps fostered by the More-Diverse-Than-Thou crowd. It would be a tragedy of the highest order were we to change direction and head back into a racially-divisive past; and it would be a farce of the lowest kind were we to call ourselves "ethnically multicultural" while doing so.

The Vent

#322
22 December 2002

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