President Trump could have condemned by name the white groups whose presence in Charlottesville, Virginia, drew counterprotestors and violence and a police response that ended with three deaths Saturday.
It would have been fine with me for Mr. Trump to have said aloud the words “Nazi,” “Ku Klux Klan” and “white nationalists” in trashing the violence that broke out. But it would have obligated him to rip into, by name, every black group and leader that, at the appearance of a microphone and camera, declaims against “white privilege” and “racial appropriation” (defined as “a white person’s having the cultural insensitivity to admire aloud anything or anyone not of the white race”).
Yes, reverse racism is absurd but also dangerous in the extreme. And no, it was not to bring about this blithering idiocy that I co-founded the first Congress of Racial Equality chapter in Pittsburgh in the 1960s.
To condemn white supremacists by name, the president would have had to do what none of the Republicans and neoconservatives who’ve belittled him since would. He would’ve had to name Black Lives Matter and other groups whose rhetoric has triggered or justified the rioting, arson, looting and physical attacks on law enforcement in U.S. cities from Baton Rouge and Dallas to Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri. He would’ve had to call to the fascist suppression of others’ speech on America’s campuses by college progressives — white, black and otherwise.
Can you begin to imagine the virulence of hateful accusations that America’s left-wing press, ever-posturing Democrats and professional black leaders would have spewed at Mr. Trump for daring to mention them and their ilk?
Would you have recommended he invite that hateful language if you were tasked with advising him in the White House?
Vituperation the likes of which the world has rarely seen, to borrow from the hyper-hyperbolist himself, would have swarmed like evil insects from the mouths of America’s liberal TV news anchors and reporters, from the race card-playing black leaders and from the self-immolating white liberals.
This triumvirate of evil in American culture has made it possible to see some members of a race of Americans complain, agitate, march and, in a few cases, riot, burn and destroy property and other human beings — and for too many black American youths and adults to believe they have not only a right but an obligation to resist arrest and to make the chancy lives of cops even more dangerous.
For what? America ended slavery in the 1860s at the cost of hundreds of thousands of mostly white lives. America ended de jure segregation in schools, jobs, home-buying, renting — all in the 1960s — without another civil war.
Black Americans demanded more and got it — affirmative action in job and college applications.
Most of us cheered that on. Then more demands. Affirmative action, which originally meant the assurance of truly equal opportunity, turned into quotas based on race, not merit. Whites occasionally found themselves disadvantaged —Asians more so.
Yet rioting and violence continued as if no progress had been made since the 1950s. A black chairman of the American military’s joint chiefs of staff, two black attorneys general, two black secretaries of state, a two-term black president. Yet this truth-insulting claim of white privilege?
Suppose the president condemns them by name. The complainers — especially the holier-than-thou Republicans — may then rue the one-sided anti-Trump criticisms and accusations they keep bringing up like undigested food.
For now, the zippered lips about reverse racism and its practitioners speak volumes about the coverup by white accessories.
Yes, there is still some racism in American society. It is an imperfection in that unwilled condition of human nature. Some of us fought the bigotry back when it characterized too much of American culture. We fought it because we couldn’t live in a society that treated some human beings so rottenly.
It is a different America today. To be blind to how much it has improved is to suggest an agenda other than the achievement of a colorblind meritocracy.