Who Is ‘Racist’? By Thomas Sowell – Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Who Is ‘Racist’?.


Whatever the ultimate outcome of the case against George Zimmerman for his shooting of Trayvon Martin, what has happened already is enough to turn the stomach of anyone who believes in either truth or justice.

An amazing proportion of the media has given us a painful demonstration of the thinking — and lack of thinking — that prevailed back in the days of the old Jim Crow South, where complexion counted more than facts in determining how people were treated.

One of the first things presented in the media was a transcript of a conversation between George Zimmerman and a police dispatcher. The last line in most of the transcripts shown on TV was that of the police dispatcher telling Zimmerman not to continue following Trayvon Martin.

That became the basis of many media criticisms of Zimmerman for continuing to follow him. Only later did I see a transcript of that conversation on the Sean Hannity program that included Zimmerman’s reply to the police dispatcher: “O.K.”

That reply removed the only basis for assuming that Zimmerman did in fact continue to follow Trayvon Martin. At this point, neither I nor the people who assumed that he continued to follow the teenager have any basis in fact for believing that he did or didn’t.

Why was that reply edited out by so many in the media? Because too many people in the media see their role as filtering and slanting the news to fit their own vision of the world. The issue is not one of being “fair” to “both sides” but, more fundamentally, of being honest with their audience.

NBC News carried the editing even further, removing one of the police dispatcher’s questions, to which Zimmerman was responding, in order to feed the vision of Zimmerman as a racist.

In the same vein were the repeated references to Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic.” Zimmerman is half-white. So is Barack Obama. But does anyone refer to Obama as a “white African”?

All these verbal games grow out of the notion that complexion tells you who is to be blamed and who is not. It is a dangerous game because race is no game. If the tragic history of the old Jim Crow South in this country is not enough to show that, the history of racial and ethnic tragedies is written in blood in countries around the world. Millions have lost their lives because they looked different, talked differently or belonged to a different religion.

In the midst of the Florida tragedy, there was a book published with the unwieldy title, “No Matter What … They’ll Call This Book Racist.” Obviously it was written well before the shooting in Florida, but its message — that there is rampant hypocrisy and irrationality in public discussions of race — could not have been better timed.

Author Harry Stein, a self-described “reformed white liberal,” raised by parents who were even further left, exposes the illogic and outright fraudulence that lies behind so much of what is said about race in the media, in politics and in our educational institutions.

He asks a very fundamental question: “Why, even after the Duke University rape fiasco, does the media continue to give credence to every charge of racism?”

Harry Stein credits Shelby Steele’s book “White Guilt” with opening his eyes to one of the sources of many counterproductive things said and done about race today — namely, guilt about what was done to blacks and other minorities in the past.

Let us talk sense, like adults. Nothing that is done to George Zimmerman — justly or unjustly — will unlynch a single black man who was tortured and killed in the Jim Crow South for a crime he didn’t commit.

Letting hoodlums get away with hoodlumism today does not undo a single injustice of the past. It is not even a favor to the hoodlums, for many of whom hoodlumism is just the first step on a path that leads to the penitentiary, and maybe to the execution chamber.

Winston Churchill said, “If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost.” He wasn’t talking about racial issues, but what he said applies especially where race is involved.



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6 Responses to “Who Is ‘Racist’?”

  1. Thank you, Mr. Sowell, for pointing out a disturbing and everlasting “fact” about our history, and our present times.
    It seems that, increasingly, those of non-white genetics — mostly African Americans, are being held less accountable for their actions, and those with caucasian genes are being accused, more and more of the dastardly crime of racism. It upsets me to no end: to blame anything on an African American is seen as racist, regardless of their responsiblity. I firmly believe it is a big percentage of why the Big O got elected to our highest office, and why he continues to get away with so many crimes against the Constituition, and the American people. To accuse him of anything would be sold, by the media, as a purely racist act, and would be shot down, regardless of the truth of those accusations. Yes. I am a white woman. But, I have had many very close friends, in my life, who were not white. I have dated “non-white” males and enjoyed every moment of our relationships. I do not see myself as a racist, only as someone who seeks equality among all of us– our brothers and sisters on this planet, whose skin color may or may not match my own. I care only for their sense of humanity. The 60′s and 70′s taught us all to be more loving and accepting of each other, and the revered Dr. Martin Luther King struck a cord in the hearts of millions. His “I Have A Dream” speech, every time I hear it, brings chills to my body and tears to my eyes. Thank you for your candor.

  2. Gill O’Teen says:

    Anyone who uses skin color or ethnic origin as a criterion for judgement is a racist. Everybody who voted against o’bummer because he has a dark complexion or Irish ancestors is a racist. So is everybody who voted for him for the same reasons.

    I confess to being a racist. One of the best races every year is the Kentucky Derby. This year it falls on May 5. It looks to be a competitive event on paper. But that’s not how it will play out. Two things are for certain: I will be sitting in front of my tee vee with a bowl of popcorn and an American lager cheering on my bet, and the winner will be the horse that puts a nostril on the finish line first. That’s how all ‘race’ issues should be resolved.

  3. topeka says:

    Thank you Dr. Sowell…

    … should be a sermon.

  4. texas wolfie says:

    Thanks for a timely message. If you have the time I recommend reading “Bonfire of the Vanities” by Wolfe. It is spot on about racial tampering of emotions.

  5. Hugh Roberts says:

    Intentionally or not, every commentator on racism ignores or evades the fact that racism is collectivism–and collectivism is the wider category of belief. Every racist is a collectivist, but not every collectivist is a racist. The WW II Axis countries were all collectivist, but not all were racist. Germany and Japan were, but Italy was not. Today, both Germany and Japan are widely denounced for their racism but Italy is never mentioned. This suggests that commentators today approve of collectivism but not of racism. They do not know that the kernel of racism lurks within collectivism, just below their sight, waiting to appear in full bloom. Everyone who opposes racism must begin to denounce collectivism.

  6. PitBull says:

    ‘Evil is easy and has infinite forms.’ Pascal’s words some 350 years ago apply in this bitter and sad series of events. To beat this drum of ‘racism’ has evil written all over it. The frenzy surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death only fuels and foments; it doesn’t resolve or solve or soothe passions. The mainstreammedia and its minions display the face of ‘evil’ all over this tragedy. And the MSM does it with ease from their privileged perch in today’s culture of corruption.

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