- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

Accusations that Duke University lacrosse players forcibly raped a stripper hired for a party has escalated into a national scandal and plunged the nation into division.

The latest to try to exploit the incident for their own benefit have been the New Black Panthers, who recently held a rally outside the college. Leaders of the race grievance industry circle like hungry sharks. Because the accusers are black and the alleged perpetrators white, the nation again is put through the race-and-class wringer. And all the usual actors replay their roles in this cruel morality play where all the worst parts are reserved for the unnamed thousands of women and children who have no such champions.

But focusing attention on the race of the individuals in a few isolated incidents — inciting the public ire and dominating media attention — comes at the expense of addressing more deeply seated problems. It communicates the message that the only incidents that are important are those in which the victim is black and the perpetrators are white.

But even as the nation is riveted on this one case, there are thousands of black women and children literally assaulted every day, and their condition and their plight is unnoticed and ignored — because their assailants are of their own same race.

The question seldom raised in such cases is why do we first have to know the race of the victim and that of the victimizer before we are outraged? The assumption is that evil must have a white face before it is confronted. Every day, in different parts of the country, similar rapes and sexual abuses take place against women in our nations’ prisons as documented in a two-hour gripping television documentary by Geraldo Rivera. But there was no public outcry because the male guards charged with protecting them were the same color as the prisoners being abused. There was no continuing national story, no demands for justice, no resignations of peripheral authorities.

Another group that fails to qualify for public attention and outrage are the hundreds of young black children forced into prostitution in many of our cities by ruthless black pimps. In Atlanta, Ga., black girls as young as 13 are pressed into prostitution and dance in strip clubs. Until arrested recently, the girls were treated more harshly than their male handlers. These pimps have a convention each year to showcase their successful manipulation of these innocent young minds and bodies.

It is sad and ironic that the organizations and individuals once regarded as the guardians of social justice are creating a situation that could cause a reversion to conditions of the pre-civil rights South. During that era, one of the principle complaints was that the application of the law was unfair and unequal. When the offender was black and the victim white, retribution was swift and certain. But when a black committed a crime against another black, the system looked the other way.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. united us against the evil of racism and injustice. He did not say racism was bad because white people practiced it; he said it was bad because it was evil. He recognized the only security a minority has is a moral consistency — that laws be applied equally. Our goal in the civil rights movement was for justice to be blind — to be equal. But the race grievance merchants are pushing the nation to the point that if a crime is committed, the first question asked is about the race of the villain and victim.

Their tactics are polarizing the nation as people begin feeling they must side with one or the other. This is very dangerous. Polarization allows for no middle ground, and truth becomes the first casualty

Reasonable people on both sides must speak out against the hatemongers who pretend to be champions of justice and see that truth prevails without regard to color. And they must speak out for all those — abused women prisoners, prostituted children — whose plight has gone unaddressed just because they lack the sensational factor of race.

Robert L. Woodson Sr. is founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

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