Even the young hoodlums who launch these mass attacks on strangers would be better off to be stopped now, rather than continue on a path of escalating violence that can lead to a lifetime behind bars or to the execution chamber.
The dangers to the nation as a whole are an even bigger problem. The truth has a way of eventually coming out, in spite of media silence and politicians' spin. If the truth becomes widely known, and a white backlash follows, turning one-way race riots into two-way race riots, then a cycle of revenge and counter-revenge can spiral out of control, as has already happened in too many other countries around the world.
Most blacks and most whites in the United States today get along with each other. But what is chilling is how often in history racial or ethnic groups that co-existed peacefully for generations -- often as neighbors -- have suddenly turned on each other with lethal violence.
In the middle of the 20th century, Sri Lanka had a level of mutual respect and even friendship between its majority and minority communities that was rightly held up to the world as a model. Yet this situation degenerated over the years into polarization and violence that escalated into a civil war that lasted for decades, with unspeakable atrocities on both sides.
All it took were clever demagogues and gullible followers. We already have both. What it will take to nip in the bud the small but widely spreading race riots will be some serious leadership in many quarters and that rarest of all things in politics, honesty.
Race hustlers and mob inciters like Al Sharpton represent such polarizing forces in America today. Yet Sharpton has become a White House adviser, and Attorney General Eric Holder has been photographed literally embracing him.