I am a fairly old guy by now, and very little that I see on the news startles me. But a few days ago, I was jolted down to my socks by the story of a horrifying racist chant by drunken fraternity boys of the SAE chapter at the U. of Oklahoma at Norman, Oklahoma. It was repulsive and it was incredibly stupid. The boys who were singing that song—on camera—should be in rehab, not at a university.
I know Oklahoma, and I have spoken there many times, and Oklahomans are wonderful, fair-minded people, and Norman’s campus is a fine bunch of men and women. Those nut cases on the bus don’t belong there and now they’re gone.
But when I was watching coverage of the event on some news networks, I was just as startled by the way the networks handled it. They arranged for black people to come on the shows to say that this incident showed that no progress had been made in racial justice since the police beatings in Selma, Alabama, fifty years ago.
That is just nonsense, and while we expect idiocy from drunken frat boys, we expect more from national networks.
The truth is that the racial progress in this nation since the mid-1960s has been nothing short of miraculous. In the mid-1960s, blacks were beaten, attacked by dogs, smashed with firehouse spray for demonstrating for equal rights. In Mississippi, just months before Selma, three civil rights workers, two white men and a black man, were brutally murdered by the Klan for seeking to help blacks register to vote. In Birmingham at about the same time, racist murderers bombed a house of worship and killed four little black children practicing for choir.
Please don’t even try to tell me that current times are at all like those days. Blacks now vote in greater percentages than whites in many parts of the South. Blacks run the city government and the police department in Selma. Blacks are a major power bloc in Congress. Obviously, we have black men and women at the highest levels of government, to put it mildly. Blacks dominate sports and are immense players in media.
To say that the insane antics of a few frat boys equate to the institutionalized and often violent anti-black racism of fifty years ago is nonsense. This country is a showcase for racial progress and to say otherwise is deeply insulting to this great nation and to history and mocks the blood shed for this progress. The people who say we have not changed in fifty years should be ashamed. We are a great people committed to human dignity and while a few drunk frat boys cannot affect that, the journalists and commentators whose job is to lie into the camera can set us back by encouraging disunity and hate. Again, they should be ashamed.
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