Linda Chavez

She would have been better off at the time making the point that race is irrelevant -- or should be -- to both figures. And it is clearly irrelevant to the Ft. Hood shooting. Conservatives have to be especially careful in this regard.

I don't know what was going through Kelly's mind when she decided to raise the ethnicity issue -- but if she'd thought it through, I doubt the words would have come out of her mouth, which is one of the great dangers with live television.

One of the best ways I know to stop from uttering something that is likely to sound prejudiced is to imagine the words coming from someone who doesn't share your ethnicity -- even better, someone whose views you usually don't agree with -- and substituting your own ethnic or racial group for the one being talked about.

If Al Sharpton had said he wasn't going to name the shooter but the name sounded white, you can bet Kelly would have jumped all over the comment.

The Ft. Hood shooting was tragic. It does not appear from early reports that the shooter, Ivan Lopez, was motivated by anything other than mental illness. He served a short tour in Iraq and returned home depressed, anxious and possibly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he was prescribed several medications. His superiors regarded him as an exemplary soldier; he was married and a father of four.

Because he took his own life (as well as cruelly killing three others and wounding another 16), we'll probably never know why he turned from a good soldier into a murderer. But one thing we can say for sure: The fact that he was Puerto Rican had nothing to do with it.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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