By Lawrence Harris (The Examiner)
Accusations of “racism” can be the death kneel for professional advancement these days. Its currency comes from the weight given to an accumulation of policies and proclivities that acquiesce in the re-assessment of race relations that has been underway since the 1960’s. This effect of being called “racist” is based on the socially constructed idea known as “white guilt”. This social phenomenon has been articulated by Shelby Steele, an African American professor, who has documented this social malady and how it has adversely affected affected American conduct in the Iraq War and the projection of American power nternationally.
Now it is once again rearing its ugly head on the US domestic scene in the recent statements of “racism“ being blamed for the populist and acerbic disagreement with the President and in the statement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the US is a “nation of cowards”.
What bothers those who oppose this kind of grievance mongering and political correctness is that “dealing with the issue of race” has been underway for generations. Why hasn’t it been acknowledged? Perhaps because in contemporary America, history is little understood and victimhood exalted.
Does the revising of history improve our understanding of our past? Not necessarily. We’ve seen it before where revisionism has led to extreme rejectionism e.g., Columbus Day – accusations that the “discovery” represented only genocide and imperialism and therefore negated Columbus’ achievement.
Haven’t subsequent actions by America amounted to a redress of grievances? The following is a list of actions taken by American society that could be taken as a redress of grievances.
The sacrifice of 600,000 Americans during the Civil War which ended slavery.
In 1862 the state of West Virginia broke away from Virginia and outlawed slavery, even before the Federal government did.
The Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.
The passage of the 13th and 14th amendments in the 1860’s, and provision for “40 acres and a mule” during Reconstruction.
The establishment of dozens of “Historically Black Colleges”.
Desegregation of the military in 1951.
Enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.
The elimination of discrimination in the law.
Passage of Affirmative Action in principle and practice in the 1960’s
Special government procurement procedures and quotas for African American businesses.
Elections of African-American Governors, Mayors, city Councilmen, Congressmen, and Senators
Appointments to Cabinet positions, and now even President and Attorney General.
Establishment of the Black Congressional Caucus.
Success in sports for many African Americans.
Success in the entertainment industry for many African Americans.
African American CEO’s of businesses.
The rise of Black middle class – US Blacks have higher per capita income than African nations
The de-legitimization of discrimination.
Percentage of African-Americans in Fed. Bureaucracy is 17% (but comprise 12% of US pop.).
Percentage of African-Americans in the US military is 20% (but comprise 12% of US pop.).
It has been said that when injustice is done the steps that need to be taken to begin the healing process are, an admission of the wrong, an apology for the pain, and a redress of the damage done. One could say that these things have already been done as the above list demonstrates. These conditions have all been put into place and institutionalized.
Yes, there were discriminatory practices still in society after the Civil War, but they have been dealt with through our history and through the political process. Proof that we as a nation have come a long way can be seen in a recent survey conducted by the WNBC/Marist Poll (2/15/2007) which showed that of all the possible liabilities that a political candidate might have in running for President, being African-American is the least detrimental with only 4% of respondents saying being African-American is a deal breaker, compared to being Jewish 7%; a woman 11%; Hispanic 12%; and Mormon 24%.
Does this not seem to be a kind of redress? Were we not supposed to enter a post racial era with the election of Obama? Can we not put an end to the bogeyman of the charge of “racism” and “white guilt“?