- - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

There is something decidedly odd about the use of racially loaded terms in America today.

Black personalities use these terms on occasion, and no controversy whatsoever is attached to the event. Even when the terms are enunciated in public for all to see and to hear. When whites — often old and over the hill — use these terms and ideas — often behind closed doors — all hell breaks loose.

The latest occasion of this occurred when Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA team, was taped uttering racially divisive words and ignorant ideas to his obviously disgruntled lover. She handed over a tape of the conversation, apparently surreptitiously made, to the online scandal sheet TMZ, and ka-boom. Suddenly, Mr. Sterling became one of the most notorious men in America and, of course, a modern American bigot. All of a sudden, the columnists and talking heads commenced a new round of chatter about how racism is still with us. After all, an 80-year-old billionaire is spouting racist swill in the comfort of his own home.

Truth be known, racism is not still with us. By every index I know of, racial prejudice is way down, especially among white people. The vast majority of Americans want to put our racially charged history behind us.

Yet Mr. Sterling was apparently taped by an angry lover in a private setting saying, among other invidious things, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” He also used profanity and sexually explicit terms. The tape was despicable and troglodytic. Now, Mr. Sterling is being lumped in with another curiosity, Cliven Bundy, the Western rancher who is grazing his cattle on government land. Mr. Bundy’s rant was in public and more an example of innocent old-fashioned bigotry than of anything more serious. Still, it was wrong, and when combined with Mr. Sterling’s tirade, it lent credence to claims of white racism.

Yet what about blacks? Do they ever speak crudely about race? As a matter of fact, some do, and they go on and are given cable-television shows on the mainstream media. An example is the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been given a show on MSNBC. He also has recently had the president of the United States and his attorney general appear at his meeting of the National Action Network. Mr. Sharpton should never have gotten beyond his racial encounters with Tawana Brawley and Jewish shopkeepers in New York City 25 years ago, but he has. Now he is admired, at least by the American left, our president, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder.

He has been caught on tape using racially charged words over and again, most recently by columnist Jeffrey Lord. Just the other day, Mr. Lord revived his 2012 column wherein Mr. Sharpton, speaking of former New York Mayor David Dinkins, said, “David Dinkins You wanna be the only [n-word] on television, the only [n-word] in the newspaper, the only [n-word] to talk . Don’t cover them, don’t talk to them, cause you got the only [n-word] problem .”

Mr. Lord is The American Spectator’s Keeper of the Quotes. He cites numerous instances of prominent blacks using racially charged language that is barely distinguishable from the language used in private by Mr. Sterling and in public by Mr. Bundy. For instance, he quotes President Obama’s friend and major donor Jay Z singing: “Yeah, I done told you [n-word], nine or 10 times stop [expletive deleted] with me, I done told you [n-word] .” Then, too, there is Jesse Jackson using the n-word back in 2013.

But enough — you get the picture. Mr. Sharpton and Jay Z and all these other black orators use pretty vile language, and they are honored. Mr. Sterling uses vile language and is excoriated.

I have a better idea. Why not banish all racially bigoted language from public life?

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).