Walter Williams: Being a racist is easy today | TribLIVE.com
Featured Commentary

Walter Williams: Being a racist is easy today

Walter Williams
1478523_web1_gtr-cmns-Williams-080319

Years ago, it was hard to be a racist. You had to be fitted for and spend money on a white gown and don a pointy hat. You celebrated racism by getting some burlap, wrapping it around a cross, setting it ablaze and dancing around it carrying torches. Sometimes, as did Lester Maddox, you had to buy axe handles for yourself and your supporters to wield to forcibly turn away black customers from your restaurant. Or, as in the case of Theophilus “Bull” Connor, you had to learn to direct fire hoses and vicious police attack dogs against civil rights demonstrators.

Younger racists, along with their parents, had to memorize poems for whenever a black student showed up for admission to their high school or college. For example, “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate!” Of course, there were a host of racial slurs and epithets that could be hurled, with impunity, at any black person in your presence. In earlier times, you didn’t have to be sophisticated, but it took a bit of work, to be a racist.

Today, all that has changed. To be a racist today takes little effort. For example, one can sit back in his easy chair and declare that he’s for across-the-board tax cuts. That makes you a racist. If you don’t believe me, think back to 1994 when the Republican-led Congress pushed for a tax-cut measure. Former U.S. House of Representatives member Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., denouncing the Republicans’ plan before a Manhattan audience as a form of modern-day racism said: “It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘n——-’ anymore. (Instead,) they say, ‘Let’s cut taxes.’ ” A few months later, he compared the GOP’s “Contract with America” to measures in Nazi Germany saying, “Hitler wasn’t even talking about doing these things.”

Perhaps the easiest way to be labeled a racist is to suggest that a wall be built on our border with Mexico to keep people from Mexico and points south from entering our nation illegally. Also, a slam-dunk charge of racism is to say that the standard practice of separating children from parents is Nazi-like. But imagine you are stopped with your child in the car and charged with a DUI in any of our 50 states. You’re going to be arrested and your child taken to protective child services. The identical practice on our southern border becomes racism.

As veteran journalist Brit Hume said about the uproar over President Trump’s latest bomb-throwing: “Trump’s ‘go back’ comments were nativist, xenophobic, counterfactual and politically stupid. But they simply do not meet the standard definition of racist, a word so recklessly flung around these days that its actual meaning is being lost.”

The president cleaned up his remarks a few days later saying: “These are people that hate our country. If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave.” By the way, leaving isn’t Trump’s idea. Many leftists pledged to flee America altogether if Trump were elected president.

The bottom line is that when leftists have no other winning argument, they falsely accuse others of racism. Republicans cower at the charge and often give the leftists what they want. Black Americans who are octogenarians, or nearly so, need to explain what true racism is, not to correct white liberals but to inform young black people.

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.