It Might Just Be Me

Does anyone get the distinct impression that we’re taking steps in the wrong direction when it comes to race relations in the United States?

Or is it just that in an over-politicized, information-saturated culture, the Mel Gibson Jew hating incident and Kramer latter-day KKK moment along with the Crazy Guy on C-SPAN who advocates exterminating all white people news is amplified by an echo-chamber of indignation, magnifying the infrequent idiocies of just a handful of people until the problems seem insurmountable? Does the focus on those outbursts steal so much attention from the far more numerous wins that we still manage to feel like we’re losing?

Because, I have to tell you, in my private life and in the lives around me, I don’t see that kind of bigotry and haven’t since I was a kid. But when I surf the Internet and turn on the TV, I’m presented with a view of my country that doesn’t match my experience.

I don’t advocate sweeping these things under the cliched rug; we should be outraged by behavior that is outrageous. We should scold and shun because these are powerful tools for building a society that reflects our common values. Silence only encourages bad behavior. But I wonder how healthy it is to imagine that these varied instances of true racism are anything other than the exception to the rule. Regardless of voting records, thoughts on reparations, or beliefs about affirmative action, I don’t imagine that any sizable portion of black America truly wants to kill all white people, for example. This is why I feel no urge to scurry to my own defense, trying to justify my place on the planet. I’m not overly worried that the next black person I meet on the street will be involved in some pogrom to rid the planet of the white pestilence.

Political and cultural successes are often quiet things and the failures get far more media coverage. But, regardless of the problems that we do have, we shouldn’t let our outrage blind us to the very real steps that American society has taken toward equality.

Either that or I am terribly naive.