News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Reverse racism, a sick joke

Public accusations of racism surfaced recently during the furor over Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comment. From Rush Limbaugh to Tom Tancredo (who compared the National Council of La Raza with the KKK), many in the far right were quick to brand the Supreme Court nominee as a racist. These men took special glee in trying to turn the tables on a woman who at times had shown the nerve to say (gasp) there is systemic prejudice against minorities in U.S. society. According to Limbaugh and Tancredo, racial prejudice against minorities is a fiction created by oversensitive, anti-American whiners.

The latest accusations of reverse racism have come in the public furor over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on the front porch of his home. This incident has become a racial litmus test. Most African Americans feel Dr. Gates was a victim of racism, harassed by Sgt. Crowley and unjustly arrested for having the temerity to complain. Most mainstream Americans think the officer acted prudently and Dr. Gates was way out of line. Again, the charges of racism have surfaced against Professor Gates.

Judge Sotomayor and Professor Gates refute the accusations of racism. Yet many on the right insist affirmative action programs and “political correctness” in speech are forms of reverse racism. Is that the best these minds can conjure as “racism”? Let’s look at the real racism, the violence-laced hatred openly voiced against minorities in the U.S. today.

The Ku Klux Klan, the Aryan Nation and countless other white supremacist groups don’t deny being racist. They revel in it. These groups openly profess their supremacy and make no secret of their hatred for Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews. Go to one of their websites and you'll find these men posing in combat fatigues with their automatic rifles, ready for action. And their numbers are growing. Fox News, that bastion of liberal bias, recently reported: “The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement agencies that recent news is helping ‘right-wing extremist groups’ recruit new members and could lead to violence.”

Lest anyone think this is hyperbole, let’s not forget the most heinous act of homegrown U.S. terrorism was carried out by white extremists in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 men, women and children.

So when I hear charges of racism being leveled against a judge who served 17 years in federal court or an internationally-renowned professor, it’s difficult for me to think of these accusations as little more than a sick joke.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez