Walter E. Williams

At one time in our nation's history, blacks feeling sorry for whites was verboten. That was portrayed in Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." This is a novel published in 1960 -- and later made into a movie -- about Depression-era racial relations in the Deep South. The novel's character Tom Robinson, a black man, portrayed in the movie by Brock Peters, is on trial, falsely accused of raping a white woman. The prosecuting attorney, while grilling Robinson, asks him why he spent so much time doing chores for the alleged rape victim when he had so much of his own work to do. After persistent prosecutorial haranguing, Robinson timidly admits that he felt sorry for her. That response elicits shock and dismay from the prosecutor and the courtroom: How dare a black man feel sorry for a white woman?!

As a result of the achievements of the civil rights movement, which gave black Americans full constitutional guarantees, I am free to feel sorry for guilty or timid white people. But there may be less of a need because of white people's response to former NBA player Dennis Rodman's bizarre interview from North Korea in which he claimed that North Korea's evil tyrant, Kim Jong Un, is his best friend. Rodman has since apologized for some of his remarks. But he's been a bit of catharsis. White liberals, both in and out of the media, made criticizing him nearly a national pastime. Even Sen. John McCain, who couldn't summon up the courage -- nor would he allow his presidential campaign staff -- to speak ill of Barack Obama's minister, Jeremiah Wright, told CNN's Piers Morgan in reference to Rodman: "I think he's an idiot. I think he's a person of not great intellect who doesn't understand that he really does provide propaganda for this very brutal, ruthless young man."

The widespread and open criticism of Rodman shows that there's been considerable progress and that I don't have to feel as sorry for white people. But what about the weak media response to Rep. Henry C. Johnson, D-Ga., who, during a 2010 House Armed Services Committee hearing concerning U.S. military buildup on Guam, told Adm. Robert F. Willard, the then commander of U.S. Pacific Command, "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize"? Adm. Willard replied, with all sincerity, "We don't anticipate that." I'd pay serious money to know what the admiral and his white staff said about Johnson after they left the hearing room.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Walter Williams' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.