Make no mistake. There is a race war in America, and it’s only getting worse.
As with any problem, there are solutions. But leaders on both sides lack the courage to embrace them. So while the nation burns, the rhetoric continues to spew — some inflammatory (kill cops), and some politically correct fluff ("heal the wounds" and "begin the process of reconciliation") — while no actions, or the wrong ones, are taken.
It is truly amazing how we can so often hit the bull’s-eye on the wrong target.
The biggest obstacle to improving race relations is the absence of colorblind leadership. Instead of bold leaders willing to state the truth, no matter how much flak they receive, we have race-baiters obsessed with self-promotion and enrichment, placaters who think appeasement is the answer, and social-engineering politicians who want racial double-standards codified into law.
The result is chaos and violence, with the gulf widening by the day. Consider these developments, and how they were handled, in just the last week:
1.) ESPN sports commentator Stephen Smith (who is black) all but suggested a racial motivation on the part of Philadelphia Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly (who is white) because he traded some black players. "Chip Kelly makes decisions over the last couple of years that, dare I say, leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable … Gone: LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson. Staying: Riley Cooper. Really?"
Smith conveniently doesn’t mention that Kelly brought a number of black and Latino players to the team, and jettisoned a number of white starters, among them quarterback Nick Foles and veterans Todd Herremans and James Casey. And keeping Cooper, who caught heat because he used a racial slur at a concert, doesn’t remotely mean Kelly is bigoted.
Does Chip Kelly make decisions based on color? Absolutely. Eagles green and championship gold. Period. Smith was widely rebuked for the comments, and rightly so, but he stayed on the air on ESPN.
2.) The racially charged song chanted by a fraternity at the University of Oklahoma was disgraceful, and two students have been expelled. But doing so raises questions: Is it a violation of free speech to expel students for racial language, especially when off-campus? Will the same sanction apply to black students who sing rap songs laden with explicit racial lyrics, including those with the N-word, as well as those about killing white people and cops? Where do we draw the line?
We can’t have double-standards yet expect relations to be "normal." They won’t be. Ever. Resentment builds, tensions flare, and things eventually explode. There should definitely be consequences for the offending fraternity members. But the "piling-on" approach by people living in glass houses will be counter-productive, heightening, not lessening, the problem.
3.) And then we have the biggies, the ones that are reshaping America for the worse: the shootings, and aftermaths, in Ferguson, Mo., and Madison, Wis.
Ferguson: The town was torched, scores were injured, and chaos ruled in the wake of a black 18-year old shot to death by a white police officer. The fact that he committed a felony, then attacked the officer, was drowned out by chants that the shooting was "racially motivated." In other words, Officer Darren Wilson decided to "execute" Michael Brown simply for being black. That was, and remains, patently preposterous.
Yet many leaders ran with it, encouraging black communities nationwide to take up protests and fight against the "injustice." And many did, leading to violence and the death of two New York City police officers. Most recently, two police officers in Ferguson were shot and seriously wounded while guarding the police station in the wake of yet more protesters.
Here are the facts: Intense investigations by the grand jury, law enforcement authorities, and finally, the U.S. Department of Justice, determined that the shooting was justified. And let’s be honest. If Attorney General Eric Holder had even a scintilla of evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the officer, there would have been an indictment. There should have been leaders willing to state these facts to the people, helping to diffuse the situation. Instead, the silence was deafening.
Madison: Protests are growing, with some calling for the white officer who shot a black teen to be tried for "murder," and others asking how another black man could be killed "for no reason."
But there was a reason.
Tony Robinson, 19, was reportedly assaulting people and jumping in front of cars, and later attacked police Officer Matt Kenny, who allegedly acted in self-defense. The investigation is not complete, but common sense tells us several things.
First, numerous officers responded to a 911 call, so it was not a case of "seeking" out a black man. Second, Robinson had an armed robbery conviction last year; that doesn’t mean he was automatically wrong, but clearly he wasn’t a model citizen. (And why the hell wasn’t he in jail, instead of out on probation?) Third, after watching the unadulterated hell that is Darren Wilson’s life, would any police officer in his right mind proactively "look" for that kind of situation?
Above all, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval should be fired. His pathetic and entirely premature apology totally undermined his officer.
"Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating, ‘I am sorry,’ and I don’t think I can say this enough … I hope that, with time, Tony’s family and friends can search their hearts to render some measure of forgiveness."
Why is he sorry? Forgiveness for what?
If it turns out that the officer acted improperly, then Koval could make that speech. But to run the bus over his own officer, whose back he should have had, in the name of political correctness, makes him unfit.
When are we going to awaken and realize that appeasement doesn’t work? That double standards are wrong? And that attempts to solve discontent with solutions rooted in race will continue to backfire?
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday, and ocasionallly on Friday. He can be reached at [email protected]