In an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s radio program on Tuesday, Hoover Institution senior fellow Shelby Steele elaborated on a Monday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday arguing that the so-called civil rights establishment is in decline, as seen when the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial failed to create a significant reaction.
“I think probably, you know, the attempts to have big supportive rallies for Trayvon Martin and for the idea of him as a victim of white racism, has come to different cities around the country to put together these marchers and so forth — they have not been very successful,” Steele, the author of “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era,” said. “In all honesty, I don’t think there will be much of anything — good or bad — that will follow from this. It seems to me it’s one of those events that will — it’s exciting when it happens but they won’t, by definition there just simply won’t be much follow up.”
But Steele had some other observations about the reactions to the verdict, particularly President Barack Obama’s, which he said reinforced the belief that racial profiling was a component of the tragedy.
“I didn’t like the speech at all,” he said. “I think he spent a good part of it sort of rehashing this idea of racial profiling and trying to turn the event, the tragedy of this young man’s death, into another instance of black victimization via racial profiling. And the idea that 35 years ago he would have been profiled: Well, that’s interesting and possibly true. But what does that have to do with Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman? There’s not a shred of evidence to indicate that he was racially profiled at all. So I thought the president was again being irresponsible there. Why he is involved in the issue at all, I’m not altogether sure. But certainly to come out on the side of racial profiling and black victimization once again was disappointing to me.”
Steele said that instead, Obama should came out and denounced the claims peddled out by these civil rights leaders.
“To keep beating this drum, to keep on with this — what it’s like to be a black man in America it just is frustrating because it keeps the lies, this sort of false sense that America still woefully mistreats black people and that the large part of their problem in American life, the reason there is so much inequality is because they’re in a thousand little ways victimized,” Steele said. “And so I don’t think you can do a worse thing — how about the opposite message? How about come on and say, ‘This might be misinterpreted as racial profiling but it’s not. And don’t think for a minute you were victimized the way black Americans once were. There are opportunities everywhere. There are chances to succeed in this society in ways that were never there before. And here are your possibilities and this is what ought to motivate you and let’s not get mired in the past. Let’s not stamp the present with the past. How about that kind of message that I think would probably do a whole lot more good in the black community and elsewhere?”
Later, Steele went on to point out that Obama has been a beneficiary of opportunity in America.
“It’s backward-looking,” Steele added. “This president ought to be leading us at this point. He was showered with opportunity in American life — showered with it. Obama was showered with opportunity — walked right into the White House. My God, what’s he complaining about?”