Discussions about race

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So the ever-brilliant Harry Reid sticks his foot in his mouth and reopens the racial can of worms once again. When the top Senate Democrat made racially inappropriate comments about Barack Obama during the campaign, little did he know that those remarks would resurface.

And now the political shuffle is in full force. Reid has apologized to the president, and the president has accepted the apology. Case closed?

Not so fast.

The truth is we will never have an honest discussion on race in this country for a variety of reasons. But, rest assured, those discussions are taking place daily in coffee shops, barbershops and everywhere anyone gathers.

The Republicans are spending this week pointing to the obvious hypocrisy of giving a pass to a prominent Democrat for racially insensitive remarks while branding similar Republican gaffes as racist.

But why some are trying to make political gains from Reid's misstep is beyond me. Not one single minority member of the Democratic family will abandon the party because of Reid's comment because the stakes are just too high.

Many years ago in this column I said the issue of race was the greatest challenge facing this country. I have not changed positions.

The racial divide in this nation has not narrowed under Obama as many had hoped. Our thoughts on race are not shaped on the federal level. They are shaped every day in our lives.

Prejudices are formed by differences in lifestyles and cultures. We seem to overlook this point. To prejudge anyone is at best a slippery slope. Yet we prejudge people every day. We judge on appearance. We judge on lifestyles -- especially those different from our own. Like it or not, human natures nudges us to prejudge.

I abhor a racist. I view racism as ignorant and repulsive. And evil.

But I can accept a racist before a hypocrite. At least I know the position of a racist, and I can reject that position outright. A hypocrite, however, is much more difficult. A hypocrite will tell you one thing but privately think the opposite.

Harry Reid and his fawning Democratic buddies are hypocrites. They believe they can pick and choose what is acceptable and what is not. Then when they cross some line -- and, more importantly, are caught -- they can apologize their way to racial safety.

You want to know something? I don't blame Reid for his racist comment. I blame those who defend him. They are the true hypocrites. They know better. Yet, for political power, they lie while smiling to the cameras. And their millions of followers fall right in line.

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