By Alan Caruba
I doubt there was ever a time in America, pre-Revolution and since, that race was not an issue. It was for the framers of the Constitution who, in order to get the southern colonies to accept it, included in Article Two that, for the purpose of taxation, slaves were to be identified as only “three-fifths” of being a person. In Section 9, it was agreed that the issue of slavery was not to be addressed until 1808, but “a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.”
Protesting something, anything, is as American as the flag. After fighting a Revolution for six years to rid themselves of a British monarch and his control of the colonies, Americans embraced the right to protest as part of their definition of liberty and freedom. By 1861 the protests against slavery had so divided the nation a Civil War had to be fought. In 1870, the 15th Amendment enfranchised former slaves with the right to vote, but Congress would wait until 1920 to extend the same right to women!
Having lived through the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, the assassinations of President Kennedy, his brother Robert who was the Attorney General, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I concluded that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had “solved” the issues that had afflicted blacks in America. I was wrong.
The protests that occurred in the wake of grand jury decisions not to indict a police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, or another group of police officers whose arrest of Eric Garner led to his death in Staten Island, New York are different only because they swiftly went from local to national. The initial Ferguson protests immediately descended into looting and arson. The Garner protests attracted large crowds that disrupted traffic and interfered with consumers in some shopping outlets. It seems to have gone unnoticed that large numbers of those in the latter protests were white.
The protests were magnified by the involvement of the President and the Attorney General who, while urging that violence be avoided, told the protesters to “stay the course.” Had either Michael Brown or Eric Garner obeyed the law, they would be alive. Brown had committed a robbery just prior to his attack on Officer Darren Wilson and Garner had a long history of arrests and was engaged in a minor offense of selling cigarettes.
With the exception of those who joined the protests, white America is deeply at odds with black America. There are serious differences that include issues involving crime rates, school dropout rates, numbers of illegitimate or aborted children, single parent families, and other comparable social differences between the two racial groups.
As the protests continued, Rasmussen Reports noted that “Many had high hopes that the election of the nation’s first black President would help heal our racial wounds, but just eight percent (8%) think race relations in America are better since Barack Obama become President in 2009. That’s something that blacks, whites, and other minority Americans agree on.” Put another way, ninety-two (92%) agree there has been no improvement in race relations.
The division between the way white and black Americans view the nation is quite dramatic. Rasmussen found that “while 54% of whites think the U.S. justice system is fair to blacks, 84% of black voters consider the justice system unfair to them.” The protests are no doubt rooted in the finding that “eighty-two percent (82%) of black voters think most black Americans receive unfair treatment from the police. White voters by a 56% to 30% margin don’t believe that’s true.”
Need it be said that Rasmussen found that “Black voters also continue to overwhelmingly approve of the job Obama is doing as President, while most whites disapprove.” The irony of this is reflected in the numbers of blacks who are school dropouts, unemployed or in our nation’s prisons. Obama’s six years in office have not demonstrated much improvement in the lives of many black Americans.
The results of the midterm elections are testimony that voters want “change” that is very different from Obama’s promised “transformation” of America. They have run out of the “hope” he promised when elected.
Rasmussen reports that “Nearly half of voters want Congress to stop the President’s new plan to protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation. Americans rate their citizenship highly and aren’t keen on putting many of those here illegally on the path to citizenship” and “many voters expect the new Republican Congress to repeal Obamacare.”
I don’t expect race relations in America to improve much so long as black Americans who comprise 13% of the population continue to demand something different from “equal justice” when decisions are rendered with which they disagree. Marching for “justice” ignores the fact that we have a very good justice and law enforcement system in America.
I worry that too many Americans fail to respect the police who put their lives on the line to protect them. They are not the enemy. The criminals are.
Being black or a member of any minority comes with the option to regard oneself as a victim, but those who stay in school, get a job, work hard, get married, and raise a family are not victims. They are proof that the American dream is real and can be achieved.
© Alan Caruba, 2014