In the Washington Post this morning, columnist David Ignatius makes a few jaw-dropping racial generalizations in a piece comparing Muslim outrage over the Muhammad cartoons to African-American reaction to the word "nigger":

I think the Muslim world could learn something about tolerance from African Americans. The United States still abounds with racist images, but blacks are no longer rioting in the streets or burning down buildings. ...

We haven't abolished racism, but by working honestly at the problem, we've made real progress. Along the way, we experienced rage and violence. ...

We're in the rage phase -- the part of the story where black folks are torching cities, white governors are sending in the National Guard and the problems seem insoluble.

I admire writers for discussing race, because the volatile subject's so likely to provoke people, but Ignatius blunders into it thoughtlessly here. The claim that "blacks are no longer rioting in the streets or burning down buildings" is offensively broad, and he repeats it twice. Would he write that white people are no longer lynching blacks, or qualify the statement by putting the crime on "white racists" rather than an entire group?

Additionally, his assertion that the U.S. has solved its racial problems and become a "place where black folks and white folks pretty much get along" comes only five months after Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, a disaster that exposed deep racial divisions that still exist in this country. A past Workbench entry on the Gretna Bridge blockade continues to draw responses like this:

You people have no idea how life in New Orleans is. Blacks feel they are owed everything, and the black government makes sure the working white man supports them. How else would lazy blacks survive. Work or leave. They refuse to work, have kids so the government pays them more, I have clients from all over the country and world, who all say the same thing, "I wasn't rascist until I came here". You people should shut the fuck up unless you know the entire story, not saw cnn or heard the poor black guy tell his sad story on tv. I personally know Gretna Police Chief Arthur Lawson, he has more balls than most people in the spotlight, and is a GOD in my eyes. I love this man. What higher ground is there than the bridge? Where were they going to go? In the white mans nieghborhood, where he has worked hard all his life for what he has. Stop being cowards and see the fact that blacks in New Orleans are different from blacks in other parts of the country. Thats the way it is.

Before Ignatius proclaims racial harmony in this country, he should go to Gretna and see how many people view the Katrina disaster in terms of black and white.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Comments

All generalizations are false, including this one.

But you are right -- the "rage phase" is far from over in this country. Judging from history, the resentments and bigotry aren't likely to die off completely for centuries.


 

So he said it. it can be taken many ways. why does your article have to be about his mistakes???? why dont you write about something good like global warming and climate change.

pointless,
job


 

I don't understand racism, but I severly dislike stupid people, no matter what their ancestry. There is the old saying "Can't we all just get along?", I wish to revise that. From now on it shall be "Can't we all just leave eachother alone?" because it just seems to fit. Nobody in this country seems in too much of a hurry to befriend everyone, so lets just tolerate the fact that other people exist and let them continue to do so. Although I guess that would just equate to "Live and let live" so infact I have said nothing revolutionary... damn.


 

First off, The Muslim riots over cartoons has little in common with dissaffected blacks in America. The blacks were rioting because they believed in America, in Democracy, in the American dream...and they were angry because they were being left out of the America they wanted to be part of.

The Muslims have no desire to be a part of any other community or nation. They are rioting because they are trying to bully and strongarm the existing social structure to suit Islamic law.

That's an entirely Different thing.

Sadly, in the US now, most of the racist images about blacks comes from other blacks.

So I guess they have no choice now but to "riot" on the inside...because whitey has long ago put away the noose and the firehose.

It's painful to say this during "Black history Month" but it seems like the overwhelming black culture that is presented to America by the mainstream media, MTV, etc is a materialistic "minstrel" culture that puts greater emphasis on money, fame, and objects then education, family, and responsibility to God, country, community and oneself.

It is tragic...and one that is not only limited to race...as young people of all races embrace the superficiality, instant gratification and emptiness that comes from living only to satisfy every carnal urge.

It seems like there is a huge societal problem looming on the horizon over this but what the natur of that problem will be is anybodys guess.


 

The sad conclusion I have come to is that "us vs. them" will always exist. People seem to choose the most significant difference between themselves and other people in a group to determine who to label as "us" and who as "them". Sometimes the most significant difference is race. Sometimes it is gender. Sometimes it is religion. Sometimes it is the preferred sports team.

Finding someone who has murdered because of any of the reasons above is unfortunately easy.

My hippy friends would suggest a war on hunger instead of on each other. But you know how those damn hippies are. ;)


 

Go to maps.google.com and type in "Gretna, LA". The I-90 bridge to Gretna doesn't lead out of the city, it only leads to Gretna. It doesn't look to me like those people (I don't see anywhere where it even says they were mostly black) were evacuating New Orleans. Someone linked to Gretna census statistics to show that they were mostly white. Well, Gretna is less white than Louisiana in general. Gretna is 56% white, LA is 63.9% white. It still doesn't look to me like the police were being very neighborly. However, maybe most of the people in Gretna were smart and evacuated early. I wouldn't want a starving mob around my house when I was away either. I think the correct course of action would be to get what citizens were left in Gretna to give what they could to the refugees. I don't see a reason to let them into Gretna though if the buses that would truly take them out of the city would be going to the superdome.

If no one was in Gretna to help, the only possible thing that could happen would be for those people to loot. Think about it, what else are they going to do? There weren't buses there waiting to take them out of the disaster area. There weren't shelters for them to stay at. If you are saying that the disaster was so bad that the police should have thrown up their hands and just letten anarchy take over, then go ahead and say that. I have a hard time seeing what good could have been done letting the people into Gretna, they might have missed the evacuation buses since they wouldn't be looking for them there.


 

Go to maps.google.com and type in "Gretna, LA". The I-90 bridge to Gretna doesn't lead out of the city, it only leads to Gretna.

Many people evacuated New Orleans over the bridge to Gretna -- on foot before the blockade began, and in cars afterwards. They went down 90, then west, and over to Harahan.

The far side of the bridge away from New Orleans isn't even Gretna. Here's a map of the city -- look at Highway 90 there and on Google Maps, and you'll what I mean.

There's a nicely ironic moment coming up in October, when Gretna's going to be holding a Heritage Festival and will market to New Orleans, hoping to get thousands of people to cross the bridge and spend money there.


 

Hmmmm,

Ignatius' entire point is incorrect. The basis of his argument is that African Americans no longer riot.

capmag.com

And so the entire argument fails on the facts.


 

i say, that's about the glossiest assessment of the king trial and riots i've ever seen...
www.law.umkc.edu

ignatious is a tool, but i'm not sure it's for the reasons suggested by your article.