There is not much left in to say in America's "honest conversation about race" which has not already been said. It has become apparent that the inauguration of our first black President eight years ago did not herald the country's ascension into a new egalitarian consensus, as liberals, moderates, and the youth believed back in 2008. Rather, the election of a President based solely on the historical novelty of the color of his skin punctuated the long and precipitous fall of the American polity back into a pathological race consciousness. There are many separate but overlapping patterns and problems which have hindered a coherent approach to what many are content to label a real "sticky wicket" and abandon. This op-ed is obviously written in response to the Milwaukee riot. There is no shortage of opinion pieces on this incident in particular and the facts of this case in particular; but because this is obviously no isolated case, the only sensible way to approach the latest episode of misguided black rage is to address the ongoing race crisis in general; and I will attempt to diagnose its one cause.
People are quick to point fingers at a variety of "root causes" from Bill Clinton's crime bill to Richard Nixon's war on drugs to Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty, and on and on ad infinitum. It is very easy for politicos and pundits to put the sole onus of a nationwide epidemic on the other team's leader as we gear up for the big game in November. But before anything else can be considered, it must be firmly established that only individuals are responsible for their own actions. There is nothing more racist than the presupposition that one race of people is so helpless or stupid that they do not bear the same responsibility for their actions as any other race. When anybody riots, let's call it what it is: primitive barbarism that has no place in a free and civil society. While liberal Democratic mayors, political correctness, a pandering media, and the progressive welfare state have all lent a hand in instigating racial tension, black looters and rioters must be held fully accountable.
In this country, violence is only in very dire circumstances an appropriate form of political expression - this is not one of those circumstances. As Americans, we should all be ashamed that a group of our compatriots must be coddled like children lest they be so consumed with passion for the failed vision of Martin Luther King that they smash the windows of a Best Buy and snag a few TV's.
After every video is published and after every race riot, from Ferguson to Milwaukee, we hear the common refrain from cowardly news media "We must have an honest conversation on race." This is a great way to say something without saying anything. To say anything of substance has become risky; because a small band of shrill, whiny anarchists on Twitter and phony progressive Utopians on NBC will brand any dissenters to the politically correct narrative as bigots. And of course we all know this. Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro have made their entire careers traveling the country to say this and finding new angles and different words to write this. But although much progress has been made in announcing the very uncontroversial sentiment that the media is biased, there has been very little success in following up by speaking the controversial truth. Well I am about to wade knee deep into these murky waters. I will be a pioneer in this uncharted territory for the adoration and praise of my loyal readership.
The rotten core at the heart of all of the ridiculous race politics of the last 20 years is slavery; and really, this is the only logical conclusion. There has been discrimination against Irish, Italians, Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics in general, Puerto Ricans in particular, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Atheists, adulterers, homosexuals, women, smart people (see Adlai Stevenson), disabled people, communists, fascists, rich people, and poor people. And yet, there is only one group of people which continues to bear this cross of social stigma as the overriding excuse for cultural stagnation. This group also happens to be the only one which came here involuntarily as slaves by the millions (excluding Irish).
It has been 151 years since the end of slavery in America and yet it is all Kanye West and Michelle Obama can talk about. The black rage of Spike Lee, Michael Brown, and Larry Wilmore is not "nuanced" or "righteous" as guilty white liberals have it. In the year 2016 America is the most tolerant, pluralistic, progressive, and egalitarian country on planet earth and everybody alive in this country today has a fair shake. Accusations of "institutional racism" fall flat when no racist institutions can be found. We live in a country where the most pressing civil rights issue of the year was the lack of black Oscar nominees. We live in a country which chose its leader, in large measure, to prove it wasn't racist anymore. An entire sector of the economy is invested in promoting diversity. There are more people enrolled at my high school than there are members of the Ku Klux Klan.
If we respect our equals, we tell them the truth. And the brutal truth for black America is this: get over it. Life isn't fair, history was bad, and slavery was very cruel; it is beyond time to move on. Slavery was a crime perpetrated by no one currently alive or the parents of anyone currently alive or the grandparents of 99.9% of people currently alive. Conversely, nobody has been a slave since the year 1865. This is common knowledge. And I will not hedge this argument with a detailed preface pandering to sensitive minds about the cruelty of slavery, because every sensible American alive today knows without my prompting that slavery was an evil institution.
All too often blacks and whites see each other, or more accurately are portrayed as seeing each other, as two camps divided by race: there is white America descending from the slave owners and black America descending from the slaves. But this picture is wholly misleading. Whites and blacks today have more in common with each other than either race with their ancestors of the 19th century. The real division is not between #BlackLivesMatter and the nonexistent #BlackLivesDontMatter but rather between the whites and blacks of the past, still obsessed with race, and the whites and blacks of the present, who are truly apathetic about skin color.
Every group of people has had hardship at some point in time. If there is only one human race, then surely both blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, ought to be able to recognize that the few constants in our cosmically brief time on this hostile planet are war, death, and tyranny. No race is privileged when examined with a scope unconstrained by the necessities of a political narrative. It so happens that slavery came about only with the collusion of African despots. Only 4% of Americans owned slaves. There were thousands of black slaveowners and millions of white slaves sold by the Barbary pirates. Irish slaves in America were treated worse than black slaves; and white serfs in Europe treated worse than slaves in the Ottoman Empire which reigned in the Maghreb. Every country in the world had slavery, every country in the world had racism. These facts are served only to illustrate that the contrived dichotomy of the oppressed blacks versus the privileged whites is only honest within a narrow lens.
Moving forward, we must acknowledge that for a time the American government stole much from the slaves it imported. But by the same token, it must be reaffirmed that only individuals can act, institutions such as government are merely instruments. The government today is not the government of 1860, the whites of today are not the whites of 1860, the blacks of today are not the blacks of 1860, and the America of today is not the America of 1860. There is no legitimate beef anymore; but if blacks or anybody else still have trouble reconciling the evils of the past, if America is still a "racist" country, then they ought to find a more enlightened place. It just so happens that Africa is the only continent in which legal slavery still exists.
We will not resolve race relations in this country until we reconcile the original sin of slavery. Tragically, there will not be true equality between blacks and white until this happens. We had a real shot at something like this with 2004 Barack Obama the uniter but lost it in an instant when that demagogic Senator became the fraudulent President. Senator Barack Obama talked about an end to white and black America, about a return to a United States of America. Barack Obama said his son would look like Trayvon Martin. The country desperately needs a healer to bridge the gulf between us not with handouts or hashtags but with a genuine commitment to the spirit of our founding principles.