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State, national columnists

We must never grow complacent about intolerance

By From page A11 | May 08, 2014

The biggest attention-grabbing racial story of the day has not been a recent Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. It is not a concern that some states could be making it harder for minorities to vote. It is about an 80-year-old married guy thinking he was talking to his early 30s girlfriend while actually talking to the world.

That’s the way things work in a new America in which there are recording devices in every nook, cranny and pocket. If the speaker happens to a be a billionaire who owns a professional basketball team and what he says is a racist slur, you can bet he is going to end up on a website spreading celebrity gossip. By the time the digital world, TV and radio had spent next to no time on this, Donald Sterling was a household name, his reputation was dirt and his continued ownership of the team questionable.

Good. He had slogged away on his racism for years, and it was time his despicable  diligence caught up with him. But while this one-person incident points to how this kind of vile bigotry continues to slither through our society, there’s a bigger question. Is the incident illustrative of a widespread regress despite the historic election of a black president and an array of other positives? I think the positives are winning.

Even the reaction  to Sterling is one of those positives. Look at the  immediate, loud, unhesitating protest of advertisers, NBA players and owners, media commentators and a slew of others and then  tell me we are still a people who abide this sort of thing.

Consider as another convincing positive that the racial habits of some of the old are far from being adopted by many of the young. I was recently at a conference concerning the millennial generation born between 1980 and 2000. A millennial virtue, it was said, is that racial prejudice is out the window.

But wait. What about that Supreme Court ruling that Michigan voters had the right to disallow affirmative action in public institutions?  A lawyer on the losing side characterized it as racist, a major step backward.

An answer to him is that affirmative action itself is a system of racial preferences that can give advantages to the privileged over the  disadvantaged. At the least it endorses a skin-color test once viciously used against blacks and hardly rendered just when employed  in a different direction. Nothing in the ruling, in the meanwhile, would prohibit any university from offering special opportunities to disadvantaged minorities and others in  tough circumstances as long as there is no racial discrimination.

It’s supposedly racism again when states act to prevent voter fraud with ID rules that apply equally to everyone and are a snap to comply with. It is true that we do not know the full extent of voter fraud today, in part because too few laws enable close scrutiny, but we do know that something like 1.8 million dead people are registered to vote on top of 2.75  million live people registered in more than one state.

As much is reported by Robert Popper, a former U.S. civil rights official who argues in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that the reasons for caution are legitimate and the reasons to worry about vote-squashing state responses aren’t. He notes minority voting has gone up or stayed roughly the same in states that have passed ID laws.

We have much to despise in our racial history, from the slavery none of us witnessed to the segregation many of us saw up close. Racism is still with us and evinces itself in ways more deeply painful than remarks by Sterling. We must never grow complacent. But I believe we continue to be headed in a better direction.

Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may email him at [email protected]

Jay Ambrose


Discussion | 6 comments

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  • JBMay 08, 2014 - 5:17 am

    Michael Jordan in a new book says he hated white people when he was younger. No backlash from this. If we as a society are going to move forward the playing field must be equal not pick and choose who we persecute in the media. Another example Jesse Jackson calling New York himeytown when he ran for president, no outrage. There is a double standard in this country yet no one wants to address it. Seeing how blacks have been mistreated in the past and still are in some cases one would think that they would be more sensitive towards others. I bet the Clippers players have no problems collecting their pay checks from their owner.

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  • CD BrooksMay 08, 2014 - 7:00 am

    Mr. Ambrose, really? The GOP is still practicing discrimination on many levels. With their approval, several states attempted to legalize it. Let's start there shall we?

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  • The MisterMay 08, 2014 - 8:02 am

    Racism is big business for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the same way that crime is big business for Sheriff Ferrara and DA du Bain. The more the problem is fixed, the less power these people have. Fear mongering and scare tactics is good for their business.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 08, 2014 - 8:05 am

    Jesse Jackson spits in white people's food and calls New York ''Hymie town''. Jackson once said he was relieved when he was walking down a Washington DC Street late one night to see it was just a white guy walking behind him. Director Spike Lee has openly talked about his desire to murder white people. The news media won't print or air stories about blacks murdering whites for clearly and admitted racist reasons. Al Sharpton promoted the lies Tawana Brawley spewed and lost in court over his slander, libel and defamation against Steve Pagones. Meanwhile, the government of traitors and it's political arm, the Democratic Rat Political Party can't win a war or produce jobs for minorities with a growing economy. Instead, they decietfully and hypocritically bellow ''racism'' everyday in the newspapers and government media TV stations and DUMMIES believe it to further justify more of the failed same.

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  • Rich GiddensMay 08, 2014 - 8:22 am

    New Yuck Dem Rat Cries Racism After CORRUPTION Charge---- New York City Democratic City Councilman Ruben Wills was charged with misusing over $30,000 in taxpayer money today. The charges contain allegations he used $19,000 of a $33,000 grant for personal items, including a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slammed Wills for effectively stealing money from children in need. “This is essentially taking taxpayer money that was supposed to be helping children in need,” he said. “That’s about as low as you can get.” Outside the courtroom Wills was defiant, refusing calls to step down and alleging he was being unfairly judged because he is an African-American.

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  • JagMay 08, 2014 - 10:20 am

    I know you are going to disagree with me but I feel racial tensions have gotten higher over the past 5 years.

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