IS JEFF DANIELS CORRECT?

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.

2 Comments

  • I like to watch reruns of Swamp Loggers. A recent episode had them cutting wood far from home, too far to commute, so the company had the workers stay in a motel. The blacks roomed with other blacks, the Hispanics roomed with other Hispanics, and the whites roomed with other whites. People are more comfortable with their own kind. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT

    • I’m pretty much in sympathy with your position in this case. I distinguish between people who prefer to stay with others who for whatever the reasons, be they racial or otherwise, they are more comfortable with, and people who want actual restrictions in place which force such preferences on everybody. Obviously, equal access to public places is an entirely different situation, and must be available to everyone.

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