I went to the movies this weekend and watched Hidden Figures. For those than don’t know the movie I highly recommend it. It is the true story of African American women who worked at NASA during the initial space program. Their jobs were to check the calculations of engineers. The movie highlights the discrimination of that era both toward African Americans and women. It also demonstrates how some of the men in charge began to realize the talent of these women and the slow acceptance of their value to the space program.
Watching this movie made me think about the state of race relations in the United States fifty years after these women made their mark. We have made some remarkable strides but we still have some deep-rooted problems. Anyone that pretends that racism does not exist in this country has their minds closed and their eyes shut. It manifests itself in different ways but it is still in existence.
In the movie Virginia schools were still segregated. It was not until the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that Virginia schools were finally desegregated. My wife was at the movie with me and was shocked to realize this fact. Today there is no official segregation but it exists all the same in all to many districts. If one were to look at the public schools in our urban areas we would find an overwhelming number of minority students, most of them African American, and the vast majority of these schools are failing these kids in preparing them for both higher education and life.
We just finished eight years of having our first African American President in Barrack Obama. You would think that during that time racial tensions in this country would have improved but I believe the opposite has occurred. Instead of uniting the nation and healing old racial divides they seemed to have deepened and become more acute. I also believe that President Obama should shoulder part of the blame. Two of the highest profile cases with race involved in recent years were the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida and the Ferguson Missouri shooting of Michael Brown. The media pounced on these events and before any of the facts were really known they became highly dramatized as shooting of unarmed and innocent black men.
In the case of Trayvon Martin it was a tragic case that should never have occurred if George Zimmerman had simply followed the instructions of the police department and not continued to trail this young man. Nobody really knows what happened that night since Mr. Martin was fatally shot and we only had the testimony of Mr. Zimmerman. But the media showed photos of a 13 year old Martin, not the 17 year old that he was at the time of the encounter. This played into their narrative of a young unarmed black child being shot by a vigilante on neighborhood patrol. Anyone that has raised teenage boys knows the difference between 13 years old and 17 years old. But those photos created a firestorm around the nation and President Obama only threw gasoline on the fire when he stated that Trayvon Martin could be his son if he had one.
The case in Ferguson was much more egregious by the media. Michael Brown was by all account a criminal and a very large man. He was 18 years old but was 6’4 and weighed close to 300 pounds. The media again looked for a narrative that would tell the story they wanted it to be and thus was born the slogan, “Hands up, don’t shoot.” This was reported as what Michael Brown had said as he approached officer Darren Wilson, a man significantly smaller in size. The activists like Al Sharpton immediately used this slogan to rile up those that were looking for racial injustice. In Congress members of the Black Caucus repeated the phrase on the floor of the House of Representatives. President Obama capitalized on it as well and when the facts came out he was fairly silent on the matter. The facts, after a Department of Justice investigation, concluded the following:
Contradicting widely reported assertions that Brown held up his hands in surrender, the Department of Justice found that such claims were either:
- “inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence,”
- “significantly inconsistent with the witness’s own prior statements,” or
- recanted when people in the neighborhood admitted “that they did not witness the shooting,” in contradiction to what they had told the media.
The Department of Justice also found that:
- Brown attacked Wilson in his police car, as proven by the fact that Brown’s DNA was found on Wilson’s shirt collar and on the inside and outside of the driver’s door of Wilson’s car.
Brown was advancing towards Wilson when he was shot, as evidenced by the pattern of blood stains in the street.
And yet the polls conducted later showed that 63% of voters, and 81% of Democrat voters, did not know the truth about the incident and believed that myth about the “hands up, don’t shoot” claim.
Out of all this came the Black Lives Matter movement and this only served to heighten racial tensions. The march in New York City was seen on the news nationwide with the marchers chanting “What Do We Want, Dead Cops, When Do We Want Them, Now.” And nothing was said from the White House to condemn this type of call to violence. Across the nation we had a series of attacks on police, which only served to further the racial divide in the nation.
I grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood. The only common denominator among my friends was we were all poor. I worked side by side with black men and white men in the steel mills of Pittsburgh every summer I was home from college. At the Clairton Coke works there was no racial divide because after an hour into your shift everyone was black.
So what does all of this mean today? In my opinion the racial tensions are at their highest in many years and this has overflowed into the political campaign and now the Presidency of Donald Trump. The liberals in this country keep repeating the mantra that Trump is a racist. Their evidence is based on the fact that some racists in this country backed him in his run for the Presidency and he did not fully denounce them. They claim that his immigration policy is racist basically because the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants are Hispanic and cross the southern border. They claim his travel ban is racist because it singles out seven nations that are majority Muslim (they ignore that President Obama also singled these same nations out as problematic) but don’t factor in that there are 40 other nations that are majority Muslim that are not on the ban.
We would need to examine these three claims individually to fully understand them. I have stated very clearly that racism still exists in this country. It exists on both sides of the aisle even though Democrats ignore any racism in their base and claim that minorities cannot be racist. Perhaps Trump should have spoken out against some of the White Supremacy groups that said they were supportive of his candidacy. He should have made it clear that there was no place for their beliefs in the America he sought to lead. But similarly Hillary Clinton (and Democrats) should have spoken out against the Black Lives Matter groups. But they would not because African Americans vote 90% for Democrats and they cannot do anything that would endanger that support. Where Trump basically ignored the White Supremacists Hillary Clinton embraced the Black Lives Movement. But I have not seen Trump do anything that suggests that he is personally racist. When he went to Florida and purchased Mar-a Lago he opened up membership to both African Americans and Jews, something no other club in Palm Beach would allow.
On immigration he is called a racist for enforcing the law. Thousands come out and protest his immigration policies but where were these liberals when Barrack Obama was deporting thousands of illegal immigrants. They were at home because the media did not make it a nightly new story to rile the base to action. As a nation we need to institute an immigration law that addresses the overall problem. We need to look at the 12 million people here illegally and decide how to handle them. We are not going to deport all of them so the issue should be addressed and any new law going forward be strictly enforced. It makes no sense to develop and pass an immigration law if we then ignore it and activists later say we have to accommodate those that broke the law. I put forward my suggestion in this blog last November. If you are interested you can read it and share your opinions. But nobody should be called a racist for enforcing the law. We are a nation of laws and when we stop being a nation of laws anarchy will step in to replace Democracy
The travel ban is the final issue that liberals call Trump a racist. I have stated that the Executive Order was handled clumsily and should have been worded differently. The holders of Green Cards and current visas should have been exempt from the order. Anyone in travel at the time of the order should have been permitted to finish that travel since they had already been vetted. But it was not racist. The seven nations that were named are countries that have either no effective government or a government that is unable to provide information on people wanting to travel to the United States. I do think the Court played politics in their decision since they cited no real legal reason just their belief that the order was not constitutional. They accepted the states argument that they were harmed because students and faculty could not freely travel to and from these nations. Under that logic the United States government could not stop travel from any nation no matter how bad the situation got or what the threat of travelers from a nation posed to the United States.
In summary, racism still does exists in the United States and the world. Do I think we have improved over the years, yes. But to lay the blame on Donald Trump for the racism in the United States is both unfair and unwarranted. We all have to share in it and that means people of every color and ethnicity.