- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 12, 2005

Taking a break from the battle against racism, former Democratic presidential candidate and “civil rights activist” Rev. Al Sharpton recently announced a new mission — fighting chicken-ism. In collaboration with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Mr. Sharpton intends to lobby KFC to treat chickens more humanely. If Rev. Al chooses to pursue social justice for chickens, just how bad is racism in America?

In their 39th annual report, University of California-Los Angeles disclosed a nationwide survey college freshmen were asked if “helping to promote racial understanding” remains an important goal. The survey found only 29.7 percent of freshmen — a low since UCLA began the survey — consider “helping to promote racial understanding” an essential or very important personal goal. Seven years ago, a TIME/CNN survey of black teens found that, when asked if racism constitutes little or no problem in their lives, 89 percent agreed. In fact, the study found white teenagers more likely to call racism a major problem than black teens.

So give credit to Rev. Sharpton for, say, expanding his portfolio in the wake of a stagnant market for his principal product — fighting racism. Remember Mr. Sharpton’s stab at reality TV with the Spike TV program, “I Hate My Job”? Well, apparently, people found it quite a job to watch. So, on to chickens.

For years, Hollywood withstood attacks of racial insensitivity, exclusion, etc. This year’s Academy Awards will be hosted by black comedian Chris Rock. “Diversity” seems to be everywhere. Black actor/comedian Jamie Foxx received nominations in the Best Actor category for “Ray,” and as Best Supporting Actor for “Collateral.” Don Cheadle, from “Hotel Rwanda,” squares off against Mr. Foxx for Best Actor. In the same film, Sophie Okonedo received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Morgan Freeman received his fourth Oscar nomination, for “Million Dollar Baby.” “Tupac: Resurrection” was nominated as Best Feature Length Documentary.

How bad are things for blacks? T-Mobile now uses the once-angry, anti-establishment rapper Snoop Dogg to push its services. Recently, Ice Cube’s “Are We There Yet?” came in at No. 1 in box office sales, followed by “Coach Carter,” starring prolific black actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg swore in former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as the nation’s first black female secretary of state. She follows Colin Powell, America’s first black secretary of state.

Yet, despite the continued progress of blacks, the media and “black leadership’s” obsession with racism and racial insensitivity creates a mindset that seems blind to progress and evidence. For example, nearly 50 percent of black Americans, a Rand study found, consider the HIV virus man-made. More than 50 percent also believe a cure exists but the government intentionally withholds it from the poor. About 16 percent say the government created AIDS to control the black population, and 15 percent call it a form of genocide against blacks. Nearly 27 percent claim the government concocted the AIDS virus in a laboratory, and 12 percent believe the CIA created it, and now spreads it. Why such paranoia?

Credit people like Mr. Sharpton, who accused the media of racism for not paying more attention to his presidential campaign. This, of course, is the same Mr. Sharpton who called Jews “diamond merchants” and white business owners in Harlem “interlopers.” He falsely accused a white prosecutor of rape in the Tawana Brawley case. Although he was 14 when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Mr. Sharpton claims he “came out of the King movement.” Mr. Sharpton once explained, “I was on some show this week, and people said, ‘Why don’t you just let it go? Why don’t y’all just get over it?’ Get over what? Get over Dr. King dying? Get over Medgar Evers dying? Get over Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner dying? Get over those four girls in Birmingham dying? We are never gonna get over it, and we are never gonna let you forget it.” Oh.

So never mind about the inner-city 50 percent high-school dropout rate. Or that nearly 1 in 3 young black males has a criminal record. Or that nearly 70 percent of today’s black children are born out of wedlock.

Blaming racism for everything and anything solves nothing. Since Rev. Sharpton seems on a mission to find new things to do, here are a few suggestions: Push for an end to the so-called war on drugs; support vouchers for inner-city parents; stop knee-jerk accusations against the local police who remain the community’s defense against neighborhood thugs; support Social Security reform with private savings accounts (disproportionately benefiting blacks because of shorter life expectancy); and emphasize hard work, responsibility and accountability.

Not quite as fun as protecting chickens, or dancing on “Saturday Night Live,” but someone’s gotta do it.

Larry Elder is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of “Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies, and the Special Interests That Divide America” (St. Martin’s Press, 2002).

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