I came to the United States in 1952. At that time, this was a segregated country. Discrimination based on race was something I could not understand nor had ever experienced. I lived, once adopted, in a quiet quasi-Southern town where I saw firsthand the invidious nature of rank bigotry and racism.
My father managed two movie theatres, one in the white part of town and one in the black. One time, he took me to his office at the white theatre and then to the one in the black theatre. I asked my father why the makeups of the audiences were so starkly different, and he replied, "That is just the way it is." Not satisfied with his answer, I asked why the dark-skinned people live on one side of the river and the white on the other. He said, "That's the way it is in this country -- people prefer to live with their own races and not mix, besides it's the law." I replied to him that I thought it was wrong. I had never viewed or perceived the nature of a person by his or her skin color.
While still in Europe after the War and living on the streets of a completely destroyed city, I was often given food and treated more kindly by the black American soldiers than their white counterparts. I did not view them as being different because of their skin color, nor did they view me differently because of mine.
But race relations within the United States were something I could never accept. The issue of civil rights remained at the forefront of my consciousness, and on a mild summer day in August of 1963, while attending college in Washington, D.C., I was one of 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial to hear Martin Luther King deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech. For the next five years I participated in voter registration drives, demonstrations, marches, and political campaigns to once and for all put an end to the ultimate stain on the American character.
I have watched with some degree of pride and a sense of accomplishment as doors were opened, barriers torn down, attitudes changed, and equality become reality and not a dream. I have no doubt that if Martin Luther King could see the transformation of our society that has taken place over these past 46 years, there would be many things he would be proud of -- not the least of which is the election of a biracial man as president.
With the successes, as with all human endeavors, have come failures and exploitation. Among the mistakes made was the passage of massive government spending programs, which had the unintended consequence of making a large segment of the black population dependent on the government's largess, consequently destroying the foundation of the family and diminishing the ambition to succeed by one's own effort.
However, the most insidious aspect of all is the exploitation of the racial past by those both black and white who do so only to further their political aims or to amass greater wealth. These purveyors of dissension have deliberately and ceaselessly set out to keep open the wounds of past discrimination and not allow them to heal.
For decades now, unscrupulous black leaders have been able to extort money and political power through the tactic of yelling racism whenever an incident involves white and black citizens. Whether there is racism at play is immaterial. As the charge of "racist" has been the greatest societal pejorative since the 1960s, most people have simply cowered, paid up, and tacitly admitted guilt. Meanwhile, the black population has been repeatedly told by their elected officials that the reason for the poverty and despair in the inner cities is due solely to white racism.
Further, this hopelessness could be mitigated only by reparations, more government spending, and by citizens continuing to vote for these same left-wing Democrats who had helped create these conditions in the first place. This has been a deliberate effort to keep resentment alive instead of solving the real problems of these communities, mainly education, economic development, and job creation.
However, the most egregious and disgusting actions of all have been by the white liberal Democratic politicians who have used the race card to achieve power and advance their political agenda. They do not care if racial strife is perpetuated, nor are they concerned for the well-being of the black population, except to use them as a pawn in their incessant drive to control the levers of government.
With the election of a far-left president and Congress determined to remake the country, these white race-hustlers have now shown their true character by asserting that any criticism of President Obama's radical agenda is racist in nature. In order to stifle criticism, induce guilt, and pass their socialist agenda, they claim this is still a racist country.
President Obama was presented with a unique and historical opportunity to stop this ongoing effort to keep racial tensions alive. Instead, he allowed his Justice Department to decide policy based on racial factors, such as the New Black Panther case in Philadelphia, and to exploit the illegal immigration issue as a racial wedge issue for potential political gain. It appears that the president views much of the world and the history of the United States through racially tinted glasses and has no interest in acknowledging the enormous progress made in this nation.
Are there still racists in the country? Yes. In a country of 307 million, there are a significant number of people who believe in all sort of strange and perverted philosophies. There will always be prejudice and discrimination in the hearts of men; these exist even within ethnic groups. Yet one of the favorite tactics of the left is to find a few examples of individual racism and intolerance and project that on society as a whole, allowing these purveyors of "white guilt" to claim that this is still a racist nation.
However, what we fought so hard to end was institutional racism, knowing that in time, the attitudes of the people would change. This for the most part has been accomplished within less than forty years -- a truly remarkable accomplishment in such a short time as compared to the history of other nations.
In the 1960s, those of us of all races, some of whom gave their lives, were determined to rid this great country of its grievous original sin. It was not to give us today the opportunity to exploit race as a means to their devious ends, either monetary or political. In the famous Army-McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, Joseph N. Walsh once asked Senator McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency?" I ask all of you, black and white -- and, in particular, Barack Obama, who choose to sow the seeds of racial disharmony -- the same question.
This, as compared to the nation I saw in the 1950s, is not a racist country. The time has come to stop being intimidated by racial rhetoric and guilt for the past. The generations upon whose shoulders the guilt rests have since passed into the mists of history. Those alive today, black and white, are the ones who made the enormous advances in civil rights possible. It is a matter of immense pride and accomplishment. Do not allow others to take it away from you.
Racial relations are no longer an overarching issue for our times. Rather, the challenges facing the United States today affect all, regardless of skin color. The policies put forth by President Obama and his radical cohorts in Congress will have a devastating impact on the ability of this nation to survive as a great economic and military power. The American people cannot be distracted by racial exploitation; the future of this great nations truly does hang in the balance.