Two recent news stories dealing with racial spoils and polarization prompt this post.
It has been widely reported that the search for the new head basketball coach at the University of Illinois is not going well. The Illinois athletic director, Mike Thomas, has been looking for a black head coach to replace the dismissed Bruce Weber. This discriminatory search may have been triggered because two of the university’s trustees were upset that the new football coach is white. The prime candidate, Shaka Smart, of Virginia Commonwealth University, an outstanding young coach, turned down Illinois’s very lucrative offer. This reminds us of the celebrated racial incident involving our former economics teacher, Frank Pierson, and one of our intellectual heroes, Thomas Sowell. When Sowell was a young economist progressing through the faculty ranks, he received a letter from Prof. Pierson stating that “Swarthmore College is actively looking for a black economist…” Sowell’s indignant response is related on page 97 of his memoir, A Man of Letters. Dr. Sowell and probably coach Smart had no interest in being labelled affirmative action babies. It is of course a very sad situation when active discrimination on one side is so common it is hardly even noticed, while possible (i.e., imaginary) discrimination on the other is given front page headlines.
The second issue is that of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. The full facts surrounding the very sad incident leading to the young man’s shooting death have yet to come out. There are reports that Mr. Martin attacked Mr. Zimmerman, not the other way around. Nonetheless the media and the usual race hustlers, Sharpton and Jackson, immediately pounced on the story, screaming that here we have a case of racist white on black violence and demanding “justice.” The New Black Panthers put out a bounty on Mr. Zimmerman. Spike Lee twittered his address (an incorrect one, as it turned out.) Even the President got into the act and in his best Professor Gates tone proclaimed that had he a son, he would have “looked like” Trayvon. To “look like” is a left-wing code phrase for race and ginned up racial polarization. So much for Obama rising above racial division.
We agree with those commentators who have remarked that here we have the analogue to the lynch mobs of a hundred years ago, except that this time they are after white men. Surely it is decades past time to get beyond racial favoritism and political correctness and regard people as individuals, not as members of a favored or disfavored group. It is worth echoing Glenn Reynolds’ question why the wretched demagogue Al Sharpton with his sordid history is still employed by MSNBC.