News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 22, 2012

FLASHPOINT: Be careful when making accusations of ‘racism’


Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Perhaps, in a way that he doesn’t understand, Attorney General Eric Holder is correct in accusing America of being cowardly about discussing issues of race.  

Flashpoint has now, on two consecutive Sundays, featured opinions suggesting that the shooting of Trayvon Martin is either the result of racism or of the inability of sectors of society to coexist. There were, oddly enough, very few comments to either piece online. Incidents such as this shooting indicate the need for critical thinking, not criticizing, placing blame and grandstanding for political gain or media ratings. That said, let us allow the authorities to proceed with the investigation and let them decide upon the proper course of legal action to be taken.

There was a conspicuous irony in the opinion piece by Mrs. Hart-Craig. While she rightfully excoriated racists and their behavior, she quickly assumed “facts” to fit her narrative of a racist white man “murdering” an innocent black teen. The “racist white man” was in fact a gentleman of mixed ethnicity as are many of us in this post Civil Rights Era. None of us at the time of Mrs. Hart-Craig’s piece had any real knowledge of the sequence of events as they unfolded. All that we had was information parsed out by the news media, which, as we saw in the last week, is often manipulated and edited to portray events to fit their need for ratings.

Mrs. Hart-Craig, as president of the Terre Haute branch of the NAACP, should have been the first to urge a calm, thorough investigation of the Sanford, Fla., incident. Instead, she chose the route of clamoring for “justice” when we did not know at the time a crime had been committed. This was the behavior one would have expected from the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons and skinheads of the world, not a “leader” of any organization. To call Mr. Zimmerman a murderer before he had been arrested was a despicable characterization of events that we do not yet understand.

It is true, as Mrs. Hart-Craig wrote, young black and brown men don’t have to be drug dealers or thugs when they are gunned down. However, a casual review of FBI statistics shows that the vast majority of crimes committed upon blacks is by blacks and the majority of that is drug- or gang-related. Many of the truly innocent who are killed in urban areas are done so in drive-by shootings related to drug or turf wars. Even suggesting that white racism is responsible for a statistically relevant number of deaths in the United States of America is appalling. It just is not so. Her emotional statement, “Thousands of young black and brown men are gunned down, run over, beat down, and hanged simply because of someone’s irrational fear of men of color,” deserves an apology to everyone in the Wabash Valley. Such accusations belong in the mouths of the Black Muslims, New Black Panthers and other such groups.

No parents of any color want their child to die needlessly. No good parent of any ethnicity would willingly allow their children to put themselves purposefully into an environment which elevates the risk of being exposed to a culture of drugs, alcohol and violence and misogyny. This may require saying “no” to little Johnny or Janie. Styles of dress and behavior and verbal skills speak volumes to the character of the person. As parents, we are charged to teach attitudes of hard work, desire for learning, honesty and respect to those entrusted to us by God. Simply blaming outcomes of child rearing on racism and not considering the parenting or lack thereof, serves only to perpetuate a culture of dependency and the soft bigotry of low expectations.  

Sadly, the real tragedy here may be that so many people believe this incident is a national tragedy to the black community while ignoring the number of children who die everyday from abuse, neglect and abortion in the same communities.

— Edward Kesler

West Terre Haute