Opinion: Columnists

No, it's not always about race and racist Republicans

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Gregory Kane,Columnists,Analysis,Martin Luther King,Civil Rights,Race and Diversity

Whew! That was a close one. For a while there, I was really worried. I was agreeing way too much with the things USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham was writing.

That ended Oct. 8, with Wickham's piece titled “GOP plays politics with race.”

More details about Wickham before I proceed: He’s African-American, liberal and one of the finest columnists in the journalism profession.

And, in the interest of full disclosure, he has, on occasion, been my boss. I've written a column for blackamericaweb.com for 10 years. Wickham got me that job, when he was the site's senior editor.

Wickham is no longer the senior editor there, but he does run the Institute for Advanced Journalism Studies, which is located on the campus of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Wickham’s hometown.

I’ve written several pieces for IFAJS projects, for which Wickham has paid me. And if he offers me a chance to write for another project, he’ll be my boss again.

Wickham is not doctrinaire liberal. Most liberals — especially the black ones — steer clear of the topic of black-on-black crime. Wickham has tackled that subject often, giving us cogent commentary that needs to be read and heard.

And, even though he’s a liberal and I’m a conservative, we both had similar takes on that character named George Zimmerman down in Florida.

But, as a conservative and a Republican, Wickham and I will have to agreeably disagree on the charge that the “GOP plays politics with race.”

Even if that’s true, the appropriate response from Republicans and conservatives should be, “So what? So do Democrats, and, frankly, they’re better at it.”

Wickham began his column by telling readers of a panel discussion at Morgan State. One of the panelists was author Taylor Branch, who’s written a superb trilogy about America during the years that Martin Luther King Jr. ascended to a leadership role in the civil rights movement.

“Shortly before it [the panel discussion] ended, a man from the audience rose to ask a question that cut to the heart of the racial conflict that plagues this nation today,” Wickham wrote.

That question was this: “Did it get lost somewhere that this whole discussion about health care is about race, as well?”

Translation: those mean old Republicans opposed to Obamacare are a bunch of snarling, red-necked racists.

When those on the left say something is “about race,” that’s exactly what they mean. There are a lot of things in this country that are “about race.”

The brown-on-black violence in Los Angeles of recent years — violence fueled by, among other things, illegal immigration — is very much about race. But you can bet that panel at Morgan State didn’t broach the subject.

Neither did Wickham in his column. But he did offer readers this quote, the better to prove how racist Republicans are:

“And neither is it by chance that so many Republican lawmakers oppose passage of an immigration reform bill and support voter suppression laws. Objecting to anything that increases the ranks of black and Hispanic voters is in the DNA of most Republicans.”

But it wasn’t those Republicans with that bad DNA that murdered 14-year-old Cheryl Green, an African American, in Los Angeles back in 2006. It was two of those Hispanics Wickham and other black liberals fret so much about.

“[Green's murder] cast light on long-standing violence by Latino street gangs against blacks in many neighborhoods of the city,” latimesblogs.com reported.

“The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations said Latino street gangs were the most violent perpetrators of hate crimes in the region, mostly against blacks.”

I know Wickham won’t agree, but that revelation kind of gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling about those Republican lawmakers that oppose passage of an immigration reform bill.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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