Tag Archives: race relations

This is what one could call a ‘toxic’ relationship

So … just how toxic is the relationship between Donald Trump and the nation’s civil rights leadership?

Get a load of this: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., arguably the greatest living leader of the civil rights movement, plans to boycott the opening of a civil rights museum in Mississippi because the president of the United States will be there.

The ceremony will occur Saturday.

I am torn on this one. Lewis’s statement talks about the inflammatory rhetoric the president has uttered since taking office. He has taken extreme offense at Trump’s statements about race relations, not to mention his terrible initial response to the Charlottesville, Va., riot spawned by the presence of white supremacists, Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen.

The president’s participation in the museum dedication, though, is noteworthy. If only he hadn’t built up a disgraceful record of clumsy statements that many have interpreted as being overtly racist.

That’s the kind of history, according to Rep. Lewis, that the president cannot erase with a simple public appearance.

Protesters ‘hate white people’?


Robert Pettinger must have the most astonishing mind-reading skills imaginable.

The Republican congressman from North Carolina has asserted — rather stupidly, I suggest — that Charlotte residents who are protesting against the police “hate white people.”

Hmmm. Is that so?

I won’t go too far with this idiotic statement. Pettinger is commenting on those who are protesting an incident in Charlotte that resulted in the shooting death of an African-American man.


Of course, Pettinger said later he regrets making the statement. He said he was responding to what he thought he had heard from protesters.

This kind of utter thoughtlessness, though, cannot be allowed to stand.

The congressman’s initial statement also included a negative opinion of welfare and of those who receive government benefits. “I mean, yes, it is a welfare state. We have spent trillions on welfare — we have put people in bondage, so that they can’t be all that they’re capable of being,” he said.

Goodness. May we begin to engage our brains before we let loose with our mouths?

Race mattered in ’64, but LBJ and Goldwater kept it on ice

lbj and goldwater

Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton are engaging in a most extraordinary political fire fight.

Republican presidential nominee Trump and Democratic nominee Clinton are accusing each other of racial bigotry.

Race is an issue in this campaign? It must be so.

It also was an issue back in 1964. The major-party candidates then, though, took a different course.

President Lyndon Johnson and his Republican Party challenger, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, decided to keep race out of the campaign.


The two men met at the White House in July 1964 and agreed that they wouldn’t interject the highly charged issue of race relations into their quest for the White House.

Sen. Goldwater was never known to curb his own tongue. He was a fiery conservative who was prone to making provocative statements. He opposed the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

President Johnson, the Texan known for his excesses and his occasional crudeness, had taken office amid profound national tragedy the previous November. He decided it was time to move his party away from its segregationist past, a decision that would cost the party dearly throughout the South.

As Politico reports:

“In 2016, many observers have suggested similarities between Trump and Senator Goldwater. In some ways, they are analogous: Both were outsiders who won the nomination of a deeply divided Republican Party after defeating the preferred, more moderate candidates of the GOP establishment. And Goldwater, like Trump, had a habit of impolitic comments, as in his clarion call that ‘extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.’ It was a central part of Goldwater’s appeal: He tells it like it is, political correctness be damned—’In your heart, you know he’s right,’ just like his campaign slogan said.

“But there’s a big difference between the quixotic campaign of Goldwater and the spectacularly flawed campaign of Trump: Goldwater abhorred racist rhetoric, whereas Trump may have sealed his fate with it in two major turning points. First came Trump’s assertion that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel could not fairly rule in the Trump University case because the Indiana-born Curiel is of Mexican ancestry while Trump has pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border. Then, Trump’s attack on Ghazala and Khizr Khan, the Muslim-American Gold Star parents who appeared at the Democratic National Convention. Trump insinuated that Ghazala Khan, who stood silently by as her husband spoke, was ‘not allowed’ to speak due to their Islamic religion.”

It’s not that we should sweep the race issue away, pretend it doesn’t exist. My concern in 2016 is that the invective has poisoned reasonable, rational and responsible discussion.

President Johnson and Sen. Goldwater perhaps had the same fear 52 years ago when they decided to keep their hands off a live political grenade.

Campaign becomes ‘race war of attrition’


Donald Trump calls Hillary Clinton a “bigot.”

Clinton says Trump’s campaign is being fueled by white supremacists.

Back and forth they are going. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, says his Democratic opponent, Clinton, is the enemy of black Americans.


Is this what we — the voters — are going to get from now until Election Day?

I do hope the campaign can evolve into something a bit more edifying and educational.

I remain befuddled by Trump’s immigration policy … his softening and then re-hardening of his plan to deport undocumented immigrants.

What’s more, I also am equally befuddled as to how Clinton is going to explain whether foreign governments have sought favors from her by their huge donations to the Clinton Foundation and/or the Clinton Global Initiative.

This week, though, the candidates are exchanging rhetorical artillery fire over who between them is more of a bigot.

Is there any reason to doubt just why public opinion surveys indicate such a low opinion of these two major-party candidates for president?

‘Outreach’ to African-Americans lies beyond Trump’s grasp

Donald J. Trump is trying to pander, er, reach out to African-American voters.

The Republican Party’s presidential nominee is plotting a curious course in that direction.

He’s held a couple of rallies in recent days. One was in suburban Milwaukee, Wisc., the other was in suburban Detroit, Mich.

I emphasize the “suburban” aspect for a specific reason.

He was standing in front of virtually all-white audiences telling them, apparently, about how terrible life has become for black residents of inner-city neighborhoods. “What the hell do you have to lose?” Trump asked, supposedly speaking over the heads of those who were standing in front of him. He was asking the larger audience that wasn’t there, the African-American voting bloc that — as of this moment — is giving the GOP nominee about 1 percent of its support.

It’s been reported that an avowed segregationist — the late Alabama Gov. George Corley Wallace — polled 3 percent of the black vote when he ran as an independent candidate for president in 1968.

A better, more sincere way to reach out to Americans is to speak to them directly. Venture into their neighborhoods. Look them in the eye, tell them you care about them and offer them demonstrative evidence that you have cared for them before.

Other politicians have employed that strategy while campaigning for African-American votes. I think specifically of the late Robert F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

Sure, President Clinton has had his hiccups regarding race relations, such as his occasionally frosty relationship with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and with Barack Obama and the time he scolded the rap singer Sister Souljah for spouting lyrics that promoted violence.

As for RFK, well, those of who are around at that time remember vividly his venturing into an Indianapolis neighborhood the night of April 4, 1968 to tell the black audience before him that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had just been assassinated in Memphis, Tenn. Many of America’s cities erupted in violence that night. Indy, though, remained calm.

These days, such “outreach” by a leading politician consists of screeds shouted from podiums in affluent neighborhoods.

I’m trying to imagine Donald Trump following RFK’s example.

Nope. I can’t picture it.

More tragedy, more violence


There must have been a reason my sleep pattern last night was so fitful.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, I discovered the horrible truth about what was unfolding overnight in Dallas: five law enforcement officers shot to death by snipers.

Millions of Americans are dumbstruck, shocked beyond belief at what transpired.

A demonstration turned into a riot last night after crowds gathered to protest the shooting deaths of two African-American men by police officers in Baton Rouge, La., and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. ; and yes, the officers are white.

Our knowledge of those tragedies is pretty compelling, too, and at one level I share the anger of African-Americans in those communities over the alleged conduct of the officers involved. It’s a fair question to ask: Would these men have died had they been white?

But then … to react in this fashion in Dallas?

Authorities have suspects in custody and they apparently have acknowledged that the shooters were targeting white police officers, that the shootings were acts of revenge over what happened in Baton Rouge and near St. Paul.

Hmmm. Do the Dallas shootings qualify, then, as hate crimes?

What in the name of all that is holy justifies this hideous violence?

The demonstrations in Dallas reportedly were peaceful, quiet and the demonstrators were interacting with police officers. I heard reports last night of officers posing for “selfies” with some of those who were protesting the violence elsewhere.

And then this.

It’s hard to come up with words of wisdom so soon after such senselessness.

I won’t try.

Perhaps it’s best at this point to rely on our first option — which is to pray for the victims, their families, for the community that’s in shock and for the nation that has been stricken once again by violence.

Hatred won’t end just because we demand it


Leona Allen has written a terrific blog post for the Dallas Morning News.

Sadly, though, it won’t accomplish what she has demanded: an end to the racist epithets aimed at the family of Barack and Michelle Obama.


Allen has taken appropriate note of the hateful reaction from those who commented on Malia Obama — the older of the Obamas’ two daughters — deciding to take a year off before entering Harvard University. She writes: “Instead of celebrating the kid’s hard work, anonymous trolls took it upon themselves to disparage her with racist epithets.”

Fox News took down the comments after its website was filled with comments from the racist haters who took time to disparage Malia’s accomplishment.

The president’s policies are open to criticism, as are the policies of all presidents. It goes with the territory. They all know their public policy record is fair game.

What is not fair game, though, is the hate that is thrown at public officials — and their families.

We’ve seen far more than enough of it for the past nearly eight years. As Allen notes, the Obamas have done an admirable job of maintaining their dignity in public in the face of the comments that have been hurled at them.

If only the blogger’s demand to cease and desist the hatred would be met.

Of course, the Obamas are the only targets of the hatred. The blog notes that others have taken aim at interracial couples. Allen noted that U.S. Sen. John McCain’s son, Jack, is married to an African-American woman and has lashed out at the haters simply by posting pictures of himself and his wife on social media.

We’ve all heard about the “toxic” political atmosphere in Washington.

Many of us salute the progress we’ve made in the realm of race relations.

This latest spasm of hatred aimed at an accomplished young woman who happens to be the daughter of the president of the United States only shows us how far we have to go.


So what if Cam Newton likes to dance in end zone?


I need to get out more . . . I guess.

All this discussion about a professional football quarterback and whether criticism of him is based on his race has gone way over my head.

The QB in question is Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. He’s going to play in a big football game Sunday. The Super Bowl. He’ll be facing another pretty good quarterback, Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos.

So what’s the big deal?

I keep hearing about Newton’s end zone antics after he takes part in a touchdown for the Panthers. He’s a bit of a show off, or so I’m led to believe.

So what? The National Football League is full of guys who like to dance, strut and carry on.

Personally, I prefer that they not do such things. Remember when Earl Campbell or Bo Jackson would score touchdowns? They’d hand the ball to the official and go back to the sideline and accept salutes from their teammates. Someone once said — maybe it was Vince Lombardi — that football players should act “as if they’ve done this before” when they score touchdowns.

As for whether Cam Newton, a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn University, should do it . . . well, it doesn’t matter one damn bit to me whether a black guy does it or white guy does it.

It must have something to do with the position he plays. Are quarterbacks not supposed to be, oh, emotional? Is there some unwritten code of conduct for these guys that prohibits them from carrying on? I’m unaware of any such behavioral mandate.

I suppose all this discussion about a particular athlete’s on-field conduct betrays a sad truth, which is that we haven’t come as far along as we had hoped regarding issues involving race.

All that said . . .

I am not a particular fan of Newton, but it has nothing at all to do with his behavior on the field. It has everything to do with the fact that he led Auburn to a national college championship victory over the Oregon Ducks.

But if he dances and prances after scoring a touchdown on Sunday, that’s fine. I wish he wouldn’t do it, but it’s not the kind of thing that’s going to make me angry.


It’s the lying, Rachel, that causes problems

Rachel Dolezal’s secret is out.

She’s not black. She’s white. Yet she heads the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The question of her race/ethnicity has prompted a tempest in the Pacific Northwest.


My view? It’s not that she’s white that ought to be so troublesome. It’s the lying.

She’s contended she’s black. Both of her parents are white. Her childhood pictures show her, as described in the link, as a “pasty blonde” girl. Her appearance today looks much different.

This story might even be weirder than, say, the Dennis Hastert alleged cover-up about hush money.

One question keeps gnawing at me: Do the NAACP membership requirements stipulate someone has to be a “colored person”?

The very title of the organization doesn’t say categorically that NAACP members must be African-American. It says it works toward “the advancement” of “colored people.” White people can do that, too, correct?

The saddest part of the story perhaps is that Dolezal’s parents are revealing the lies as well. The NAACP stands behind her — so far.

As for the question posed to her recently about whether she’s African-American, she offered a sly answer, which is that all humans hail from Africa.

My head is spinning over this one.

Is race still a part of the Freddie Gray story?

Allow me this brief observation about the case involving the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and the riots that have ensued since that tragedy.

Baltimore authorities have charged six Baltimore police officers with homicide in Gray’s death, which occurred when he suffered a severed spine while in police custody. Gray was black and his death touched off another storm of protests by African-Americans about the treatment they receive from the police.

Then the charges came forward.

It’s fair to point out something about the events that have developed since Gray’s death.

Three of the six officers charged with a felony are African-American; the other three are Anglo. The prosecutor is African-American.

This case should turn, as President Obama noted, on whether “justice” will be delivered. By my way of looking at the arrests of the officers and the charges they face, the officers’ racial composition suggests that race doesn’t have quite the sting in this case that it once did.

Yes, let’s allow justice to be done. Let’s also dial back the race-baiting.