There are so many disturbing aspects of the Cliven Bundy story, it's hard to decide which is worst. But for me what takes the cake is Mr. Bundy's self-perception as a man who is not, despite all of his racist beliefs, a racist. Here is what he said:
"Maybe I sinned, and maybe I need to ask forgiveness, and maybe I don't know what I actually said, but when you talk about prejudice, we're talking about not being able to exercise what we think. ... If I say Negro or black boy or slave, if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be (offended), then Martin Luther King hasn't got his job done yet," he told anchor Chris Cuomo on Friday, adding, "We need to get over this prejudice stuff."
The risk of huge news stories like the Bundy report or the comments and subsequent punishment of the Clippers' owner, Donald Sterling, is that we outsource all of our racism on a few caricatures of prejudice.
As a New York Times "Upfront" piece shows today, Mr. Sterling and Mr. Bundy may only be the ugliest and most notorious extremities of racism in the United States. The real tragedy is the pervasiveness of racism in the general population. Here is some of the data:
- 40 percent of white Americans say whites are harder working than blacks.
- 45 percent of white Americans say blacks often lack the willpower to pull themselves out of poverty.
See the entire post here.
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