Usually, I disregard political comments made by members of the entertainment community. But this one, voiced by actor and long-time leftward activist, Jeff Daniels on Monday’s Today Show, deserves attention:
“Great art is timeless. And what Harper did in the early ’60s, based on 1934 Alabama, it still resonates today. Racism has been in this country since the Mayflower saw land. You know? It’s just been a part of this country. And it hasn’t gone away, by any stretch. And this reminds us of what we are and who we are and maybe who we can become, if we work at it.”: Actor Jeff Daniels, Monday, on The Today Show.
Interesting comment. But is Daniels correct?
The answer is both yes and no: yes to the generic premise, no to the context.
Yes, Mr. Daniels, racism has always existed in the United States and it is still here today – sometimes practiced overtly by people who have no problem exhibiting their racism, and sometimes by people without overtly racist intentions who don’t even realize they’re engaging in it.
But you left out several facts that provide necessary context to the points you are making:
-Racism is not a United States phenomenon, it exists throughout the world.
-In relative terms, there is less overt racism in the United States than most other countries.
-And, most importantly, there is more legal redress for victims of racism in the United States than just about any other country on earth – which means that, as a country, we recognize the existence of racism and have put measures in place to combat it.
So yes, Mr. Daniels, your point that racism still exists in the United States is well taken…as far as it goes. But omitting the facts that we are significantly further along the road to racial equality than most other countries and that our victims of racism can do something about it in a court of law, significantly – maybe irreparably – compromises its honesty.
You might want to think about that the next time you discuss this issue.