Emmett Tyrrell

WASHINGTON -- There is something decidedly odd about the use of racially loaded terms in America today.

Black personalities use these terms on occasion, and no controversy whatsoever is attached to the event. Even when the terms are enunciated in public for all to see and to hear. When whites -- often old and over the hill -- use these terms and ideas -- often behind closed doors -- all hell breaks loose.

The latest occasion of this occurred when Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a basketball team, was taped uttering racially divisive words and ignorant ideas to his obviously disgruntled lover. She handed over a tape of the conversation, apparently surreptitiously made, to online scandal sheet TMZ and kaboom. Suddenly, Sterling became one of the most notorious men in America and, of course, a modern American bigot. Of a sudden, the columnists and talking heads commenced a new round of chatter about how racism is still with us. After all, an 80-year-old billionaire is spouting racist swill in the comfort of his own home.

Truth be known, racism is not still with us. By every index I know of racial prejudice is way down, especially among white people. The vast majority of Americans want to put our racially charged history behind us.

Yet Sterling was apparently taped by an angry lover in a private setting saying, among other invidious things, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people." He also used profanity and sexually explicit terms. The tape was despicable and troglodytic. Now Sterling is being lumped in with another curiosity, Cliven Bundy, the western rancher who is grazing his cattle on government land. Bundy's rant was in public and more an example of innocent old-fashioned bigotry than of anything more serious. Still, it was wrong, and when combined with Sterling's tirade it lent credence to claims of white racism.

Yet what about blacks? Do they ever speak crudely about race? As a matter of fact, some do, and they are given cable television shows on the mainstream media. For instance, the Rev. Al Sharpton has been given a show on MSNBC. He recently had the president of the United States and his attorney general appear at his meeting of the National Action Network. Al should never have gotten beyond his racial encounters with Tawana Brawley and Jewish shopkeepers in New York City 25 years ago, but he has. Now he is admired, at least, by the American left, our president and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
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