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The Northerner

In my opinion: Some use race as a political tool

Joe Szydlowski

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Coretta Scott King, widow of the civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr., spent her life campaigning against bigotry in all its forms. A giant among men (and women), she continued the crusade for equality that her husband began until she passed away. With her death, America lost one of its greatest heroines. At least some comfort can be garnered from the knowledge that she died peacefully and that the same violence and hatred that claimed her husband’s life did not extinguish her life, nor his cause. Her death was a tragedy.

However, another tragedy has befallen America in the campaign of civil rights. This misfortune also centers on the leaders on the frontlines of the battle for equality, but it dishonors the memory of the Kings and their work.

Instead of promoting the healing and cooperation that both Kings called for, black leaders, such as Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev Damon Lynch III and Rev Al Sharpton, use race and allegations of racism as a weapon, or as a money-maker.

Sometimes, the accusations of racism that they level don’t make any sense at all, making one wonder if the people, who so often play the race card, are playing with a full deck.

More than likely, however, they’re simply bluffing.

A Toyota ad campaign, featuring a black man with a gold car in place of a tooth, spurred Jackson to launch his own campaign against Toyota, with him calling for a boycott because of the racism inherent in the advertisement.

Bond compared the Republican Party to Nazis, saying that they would have “the American flag and the swastika flying side by side.”

While it is certainly true that the GOP is B-A-D concerning race and gender issues, comparing them to a fascist monster who slaughtered millions of Jews, Gypsies, gays and many others as well as starting the bloodiest war in history to a party that simply opposes affirmative action doesn’t fit.

After the 2001 riots in Cincinnati, Lynch practically glued himself to the spotlight, criticizing the police for the “murder” of Timothy Thomas and calling for a boycott of the Queen City. Allegations of racism flew in from all corners of the country from various individuals and groups as they called for the heads, or at least resignations, of Police Chief Tom Streicher, then-mayor Charlie Luken and other administrators.

Letters flooded The Enquirer and Post about how racist the police force was, speciously using statistics to justify their claims.

Sharpton and Jackson soon stepped in, supporting the boycott and calling for better police-community relations.

While an admirable goal, the means neither justified nor arrived at the desired end. Instead, businesses which had never practiced prejudice suffered as Lynch demanded more from the police department. Some of his demands included charges of excessive force for officers who fired bean bags at rioters and punishment for several officers who had killed black suspects, even though they had already been acquitted of excessive force.

Black leaders also called for an investigation into the racism of the police force. But the results from the Rand Corp. study declared that Cincinnati’s officers showed no signs of discrimination against African-Americans.

Lynch and his higher-profile allies had screamed racism at Cincinnati’s cops for years when the only stereotyping was committed by Lynch and his cohorts.

Racism still spoils our great melting pot of a country. No one can doubt that bigots still exist and still discriminate. 40 years of rights and equality can hardly undo 400 years of racism and bigotry.

But charlatans like Jackson, Sharpton, Bond and Lynch only hurt the healing. While Cincinnati may simply be putting band-aids on the wounds left by slavery and segregation, Jackson and the others are pouring salt into it.

They hurt the cause they supposedly advocate, diminishing the credibility of real victims of prejudice and discrimination.

Racism will continue to haunt America for all its days. But Americans can individually fight back without ever throwing a punch. Simply befriending amicable people who are different will shatter even the most entrenched stereotypes.

That is what the Kings wanted. White and black children, singing, playing and working together, not self-proclaimed civil rights ‘leaders’ who jump into action any time there’s a possibility of racism or profit.

Perhaps one day, Americans will be blessed with another King or Rosa Parks. But until then, try making a new friend and then play a nice game of checkers. And leave the jokers who always play the race card and their wild claims alone. Sooner or later, they’ll all fall apart, just like a house of cards.

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In my opinion: Some use race as a political tool