Read Charles Blow's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "50 Years Later" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/opinion/blow-50-years-later.html?_r=0). As we near the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, marked by Dr. King's world-shaking "I have a dream" speech, Mr. Blow would have us know:
"I’m absolutely convinced that enormous steps have been made in race relations. That’s not debatable. Most laws that explicitly codified discrimination have been stricken from the books. Overt, articulated racial animus has become more socially unacceptable. And diversity has become a cause to be championed in many quarters, even if efforts to achieve it have taken some hits of late.
But my worry is that we have hit a ceiling of sorts. As we get closer to a society where explicit bias is virtually eradicated, we no longer have the stomach to deal with the more sinister issues of implicit biases and of structural and systematic racial inequality.
I worry that centuries of majority privilege and minority disenfranchisement are being overlooked in puddle-deep discussions about race and inequality, personal responsibility and societal inhibitors."
Okay, what's missing from this opinion piece?
First, there's not even a single mention of the fact that America today has a second-term African American president. Insignificant? I don't think so. This is huge.
But there's more . . .
Just over a month ago, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Whole System Failed" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/opinion/the-whole-system-failed.html?_r=0), Mr. Blow wrote concerning the George Zimmerman acquittal:
"This case is not about an extraordinary death of an extraordinary person. Unfortunately, in America, people are lost to gun violence every day. Many of them look like Martin and have parents who presumably grieve for them. This case is about extraordinary inequality in the presumption of innocence and the application of justice: why was Martin deemed suspicious and why was his killer allowed to go home?"
Well, in the US there is a presumption of innocence, and "beyond reasonable doubt" remains the standard of evidence required for a criminal conviction. Zimmerman claimed that he was pinned on his back. His nose was broken, and the back of his head was lacerated. Was he acting out of fear, or, was he capable of the "intention" needed for conviction? Was there reasonable doubt?
Again, there is racism in America, and perhaps Zimmerman should never have stopped Martin, but did an "imperfect" American jury system reach the wrong verdict, or did the prosecution fail to meet its immensely difficult burden of proof? Did the prosecution "overreach" when deciding which charges to bring against Zimmerman?
Now have a look at Kathleen Parker's Washington Post opinion piece of today's date entitled "Obama’s race remarks exacerbate tensions" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-obamas-race-remarks-exacerbate-tensions/2013/08/23/7491bb2e-0c1f-11e3-9941-6711ed662e71_story.html?hpid=z2). Ms. Parker writes:
"If I had a son, he would look like Christopher Lane, the 22-year-old Australian baseball player shot dead while jogging in Oklahoma.
If I had a father, he’d look like Delbert Belton, the 88-year-old World War II veteran beaten to death in Spokane, Wash.
. . . .
These are all true statements if we identify ourselves and each other only by the color of our skin, which increasingly seems to be the case. Even our president has done so.
Barack Obama helped lead the way when he identified himself with the parents of Trayvon Martin, shot by George Zimmerman in the neighborhood-watch catastrophe with which all are familiar. Stepping out from his usual duties of drawing meaningless red lines in the Syrian sand, the president splashed red paint across the American landscape:
'If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.'
In so saying, he essentially gave permission for all to identify themselves by race with the victim or the accused. How sad, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the march Martin Luther King Jr. led on Washington, that even the president resorts to judging not by the content of one’s character but by the color of his skin — the antithesis of the great dream King articulated."
Query: Where is there any reference to the deaths of Lane and Belton in Mr. Blow's op-ed? Answer: There is none.
"Puddle-deep discussions about race and inequality"? Mr. Blow's op-ed regrettably is little more than this.