Photo taken from American Digest
The expression that a picture is worth a thousand words just does not do justice to the above photo of a black woman in Chicago at a rally to have George Zimmerman lynched. The photo neatly sums up the state of race in America today. It puts into perspective not merely the history of the last half century of the civil rights movement, but also its state today, its success and failures, and the focus of the racial grievance industry on George Zimmerman at the complete expense of focusing on all of the real problems in the black community.
The woman in the photo is holding up a sign decrying racism. We have been seeing pictures like that since the 1950's and 60's, when the movement for black civil rights was finally gaining unstoppable momentum. The movement was one of moral clarity and purity - nothing less than a demand that America finally and fully live up to its premise, that "all men are created equal," and its promise, that each person have a level playing field on which to pursue "life, liberty and happiness." Many of the blacks of that era felt themselves, as a group, victimized and denied that promise. Rightly so.
In many areas of 1950's America, racism, often violent, still held sway, and nowhere more so than in the Democrat controlled South. Lynching and violence were hardly rare. It was Mississippi of the era that gave America the brutal murders and subsequent justice denied in the cases of Emmett Till and Medger Evers. It was Alabama of the era where the name of Democrat Bull Connor became infamous. Martin Luther King Jr. shamed America with his brave, non-violent demand for full civil rights for blacks. MLK's goal for the movement was a colorblind society where each person would be "judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin." Amen.
Republicans and Northern Democrats both were deeply involved in pushing forward the civil rights movement in the 20th century. It was three white Republicans who gathered together to start the NAACP. The NAACP would later argue Brown v. Board of Education before a Republican dominated Supreme Court, resulting in the landmark legal decision that spelled the end of segregation. It was Democrat President Truman in 1948 who fully integrated the military. Republican President Eisenhower oversaw the passage of two major civil rights laws and faced down Alabama Democrats in the Little Rock Nine incident.
But then four critical things happened in the 1960's. One, Barry Goldwater, figurehead of the Republican conservative movement, decided to contest the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he believed it was beyond the bounds of federal commerce clause authority. He was right on the law but utterly on the wrong side of history. Republicans gave massive support to both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but it didn't matter. Because of Goldwater's opposition, he, and ultimately all Republicans, were painted as the vile racists that Southern Democrats actually were.
The second critical event was the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. With him died the purpose of the Civil Rights Movement as one for equality.
The third critical event was the rise of 1960's radicals. Steeped in neo-Marxist philosophy, they are the far left that now controls the Democrat Party. After the death of MLK, it was the far left that commandeered the civil rights movement, fundamentally altering its nature. They imprinted the movement with identity politics, grossly distorting the movement's goal of a level playing field for all Americans and creating in its stead a Marxist world of permanent victimized classes entitled to special treatment. It has had profound implications for blacks and our nation.
And the last critical event, following Goldwater's highly impolitic stand, was the creation of the single greatest monolithic voting block in our nation's history. Blacks, who had never before been monolithic with their votes, became and have since remained one for the Democrat Party. Indeed, that monolithic vote is utterly essential to the left - they would be politically massacred were it to stop today.
The woman in the picture decries racism that apparently even she admits does not seem to exist. She explains that away by claiming that racism today is just in hiding.
What happened over the half century since the 60's has been nothing short of revolutionary. The efforts undertaken by both right and left to combat racism bore fruit. For the right, racism became an object of utter scorn, not to be tolerated. For Democrats, the party of slavery, Jim Crow, separate but equal, the KKK and lynchings, the transformation from the font of racism to, ostensibly, champions of blacks was overnight once they saw the political and monetary benefits of such a change. But it was not a complete break with their racist past. What many on the left did was merely submerge their hard racism, substituting for it the soft racism of low expectation.
The success of the civil rights movement has been a problem for the far left - the group that controls the Democrat Party today. Keeping blacks as a monolithic voting block has required a lot of effort along three parallel lines. One, convince blacks that all non-lib whites are irredeemably racist. Two, meet any effort to contest a left wing policy or criticism of a black politician with charges of racism. Indeed, the use of that charge since 1965 has been so ubiquitous and successful that "playing the race card" has become the single most fundamental tactic of the left. And lastly, brutally punish any black who refuses to tow the line. Nothing will get you lynched in the square of public opinion by the left quicker than the crime of being black and questioning far left / race grievance industry dogma.
Keeping blacks convinced that our nation is, fifty years on, still Mississippi circa 1965, is increasingly hard. The "black community" receives a constant stream of messages that they are still, today, living in Biloxi of 1965 writ large. They are kept divided from society and taught to nurse their grievances. Major colleges have embraced this with Black studies programs - nothing more than intellectual training grounds for the race grievance industry. Those programs have given us such gems as Critical Race Theory and the theory of White Privilege while Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates makes ludicrous calls for all non-whites to pay reparations to all blacks for the original sin of slavery.
Yet as blacks have taken part in an ever more integrated society, they are ever more seeing the absence of racism in white middle class America. That is a real problem for the left's narrative. It is why the woman in the photo above claims that whites today "just be concealing" their racism. And it is why you have Prof. Gates pushing the utterly ludicrous and despicable theory of "color blind racism." When in 1960 the narrative expressed the reality of racism in America, the gap between the narrative and reality has steadily grown until today it is separated by yawning canyon. Almost as important, white guilt at past racism has receded with racism's ever shrinking presence in our society.
The Far Left / Racial Grievance Industry's Attempted Lynching Of George Zimmerman
Which brings us to Zimmerman. The racial grievance industry has locked onto the Zimmerman like a drowning man grabs onto a life preserver. That was understandable at the start since the optics initially promoted by the media seemed perfect for them. An innocent black child is profiled, stalked and murdered by a racist white. A racist judicial system then refused to even arrest or charge the killer. This was Emmett Till and Medger Evers. This was a God send, a chance for the race hustlers to reassert their narrative based on an anecdotal - but real - case.
But it has all gone bad. None of the narrative holds up in the light of day. Many of the facts have come out in a fair, televised trial. Others have made there way into the media.
To begin with, George Zimmerman was neither racist nor white. He was predominantly Hispanic with some white and black DNA tossed in - thus leading to the first canard of the Zimmerman narrative, the creation of a wholly new racial category - that of White Hispanic.
As to Zimmerman's racial attitudes, he was Mother Theresa. There was no hint of racial animus in his background. To the contrary, all indications were that he was color-blind. He tutored black children, he dated black girls, he befriended all in his community irrespective of race, and he launched a one man crusade in support of a homeless black man who had been beaten up by the white son of the local Chief of Police. An FBI investigation into his background searching for racial animus turned up, after more than 40 interviews, nothing.
As to racial profiling, when Zimmerman called the police on Trayvon Martin, he sited activities that were suspicious as the basis. He only identified Martin as possibly black when prompted by the 911 operator. And any inference of racial profiling goes out the window when you look at Zimmerman's other calls to police over a three year period. Two were to alert police to the presence of a black man wanted for burglary. One was to alert police to a black seven year old child wandering unsupervised in the road because of concern for the child's safety. Zimmerman placed three calls about black men acting suspiciously, one of which was Trayvon. He had previously made five calls about whites and hispanics acting suspiciously in the neighborhood. Listen to the calls and the descriptions of why Zimmerman was suspicious, and the inference is that Zimmerman acted reasonably and did not profile on the basis of race.
Evidence at trial suggests that Trayvon Martin could have, during a three to four minute interlude, simply gone to his home a stone's throw away. Instead, he ended up assaulting Zimmerman, battering him and leaving Zimmerman in extreme panic. The jurors found that Zimmerman acted in self defense, which means that Zimmerman acted in reasonable belief that he was in imminent danger of great bodily harm.
The racial grievance industry, outrageously supported in all of their assertions by President Obama, utterly refuses to acknowledge any of the facts that have been broadcast to the world. Just as the grievance industry is founded on the canard of rampant racism in society, so is their Zimmerman narrative founded on a complete ignoring of the facts. Indeed, to hold onto their narrative, the race baiters are agitating that Zimmerman be charged under federal law because he was motivated by race to kill Martin. They want a lynching - a sacrifice on the alter of race - in order to justify their narrative.
But there is some hope. Rev. Al Sharpton, the nation's most prominent race baiter, arranged for demonstrations in 100 cities last week to forward the narrative. It speaks volumes that the crowds were small indeed, with most being in the hundreds or lower, in double digits. I am hopeful that this is a sign that blacks are waking up to the fact that the left and their leaders in the race grievance industry are taking them for a ride, with the only winners being Al Sharpton and the Democrats.
Detroit, The Blue Social Model & Failed Education Systems
Detroit is a city intimately caught up in politics of the left into which racial politics are fully integrated. And today, Detroit has utterly failed, it is a city in ruins. It is a city that that has been run wholly by the left since the 60's, from whence its decline began. Today, it is bloated public sector union pensions and health care costs that have eventually caught up to the city's treasury.
Michael Barone grew up in Detroit and was a friend of Mayor Cavanaugh in the 1960's. He writes today:
[Detroit Mayor] Cavanagh was bright, young, liberal, and charming. He had been elected in 1961 at age 33 with virtually unanimous support from blacks and with substantial support from white homeowners—then the majority of Detroit voters—and he was reelected by a wide margin in 1965. He and Martin Luther King, Jr., led a civil rights march of 100,000 down Woodward Avenue in June 1963. He was one of the first mayors to set up an antipoverty program and believed that city governments could do more than provide routine services; they could lift people, especially black people, out of poverty and into productive lives. Liberal policies promised to produce something like heaven. Instead they produced something more closely resembling hell. You can get an idea of what happened to Detroit by looking at some numbers. The Census counted 1,849,568 people in Detroit in 1950, including me. It counted 713,777 in 2010.”
There are a thousand things to write about on Detroit, but the one that stands out for the purpose of this essay is the unholy alliance between public sector unions, local government and the education available to blacks.
Education is penultimately the key to giving black children a route out of poverty and into the mainstream of American life. Yet, in every city run by the left, public sector unions have a lock on public education. And inevitably, it is the education of students that suffer. Detroit is the poster child for this. Detroit's public education system has produced a population that is near 50% functionally illiterate. Those are third world numbers. And the people so afflicted, largely black, will never be able to fully compete in the American marketplace.
Blacks as a whole have not yet figured out that in the pantheon of the left, public sector unions are valued above the education and well being of black children. Unions hold the trump card - they are valued for the money that they pump into the Democrat Party while the left already has the monolithic vote of blacks in their pocket.
The clearest example of this pecking order comes from President Obama. When he first took office, Washington D.C., with the worst public schools in the nation, was running a voucher program to allow poor black D.C. students to attend the same private schools where Obama had enrolled his daughters. At the urging of the teachers unions, Obama ordered that program terminated.
The bottom line is that the Blue social model is failing. One important aspect of that model, the one that directly implicates blacks, is that the left embraces public sector unions at the expense of blacks. This is one of the reason the left keeps blacks firmly fixed on imaginary white racism.
The Black Community Today
In the photo at the top, the woman's sign reads "Racisms still alive. They just be concealing it." This really says it all about the lack of racism in society, the fact that many in the black community still wish to blame racism for their problems, and a demonstration of the failed education system to which many blacks have no other recourse.
The civil rights movement has had its great successes and its stunning failures. Chief among its successes has been in driving racism totally from acceptability in the public square. Racism has receded from the mainstream to the very fringes of society. That this has been accomplished in but a few decades is truly amazing. But it also speaks to the moral imperative of the civil rights movement for blacks. It is a reason for all people in our nation to take pride.
The most glaring failure of the civil rights movement is that the black community has been, and ever more continues to be, ill served by the left and its ally, the racial grievance community. While many blacks have been able to use the decades since the 60's to work themselves into the mainstream, it is a fair argument that such has been in spite of, not because of, left wing policies that have contributed to a horrible breakdown in the black family and left in its wake intractable problems of poverty, joblessness, poor education and criminality running rampant through a large strata of the black population.
The true disconnect here comes from the left and a racial grievance industry that lays these problems in the black community at the feet of imaginary racism. These intractable problems of the black community are inexcusable and obscene in the 21st century. Yet blacks in the grievance industry simply will not face these problems on their merits, nor will they tolerate any on the right raising these issues. That will bring out the race card at the speed of light. To do so threatens their power base.
Nothing has thrown this into such a harsh light as the Zimmerman case and its aftermath. Will it make any difference?
Update: O'Reilly gets it. Kudos to him for his Talking Points Memo tonight