Speaking of Race
In the aftermath of the O.J. Simpson verdict and the mass rally of black men in Washington, D.C.—the so-called Million Man March—many Americans have voiced fears that we have entered a crisis-level breakdown in race relations. In a speech delivered in Austin, Texas the same day as the march, President Clinton spoke of a racial gulf that is “tearing at the heart of America.” On the day following the rally, Congressman Charles Schumer, a Brooklyn Democrat, expressed “fear for the future of the country,” and joined a bipartisan group calling for a presidential commission similar to the Kerner Commission established in response to the urban riots of the 1960′s.
Nor is worry limited to liberal Democrats. Charles Krauthammer, a writer who has been pointedly critical of race-based social policy, was sufficiently upset by the deterioration in the racial atmosphere to propose that conservatives consider supporting a presidential bid by General Colin Powell, even if this meant putting off goals like welfare reform and the rollback of affirmative action—on the grounds that Powell is the one potential candidate capable of healing America’s racial wounds.
About the Author
Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.