Our View: The truth

Posted: July 18, 2013

Readers of The Washington Post on Tuesday had to navigate to the bottom of commentary penned by playwright Janet Langhart Cohen (author of “Anne and Emmett”) to ascertain her message. To wit:

“I hope President Obama will speak not just to black people or just to white people but to the good people in America. We can never have racial reconciliation without discussing the truth.”

OK, “the truth.” Fair enough. But, to swipe — or, more precisely, channel — a line from a noteworthy ’90s-era movie (not so ironically, a courtroom drama), can we “handle the truth”?

Assorted leftists, race-hustlers, and just plain ignorati, sounding off in the wake of Saturday’s verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, suggest we can’t. They intimate that America, for all the talk of its alleged evolution into a “post-racial” society, remains in many ways as intolerant and repressive as ever. Perhaps that’s why, in the past 72 hours, we’ve seen Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin mentioned in the same sentence, as if to say Mississippi is still burning (albeit in Florida), and we’ve not advanced that far from the ’50s.

Really? That’s “the truth” these folks think we can’t handle? Well, if we can’t, it’s because said “truth” does not boast veracity’s tell-tale ring. The “real” truth can be witnessed in myriad polls that indicate America has made great strides — metrically as well as in attitude — in the 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

But then, we — Americans of all hues — hardly need polls to verify what we instinctively know, believe, and feel in our bones. The truth? We don’t need President Obama to tell us about it. We are living it.

Or as Washington Times scribe Charlie Hurt, who grew up near Danville, in one of the deeper recesses of the Old South, has written, “The vast, vast, vast majority of Americans who have moved on and effortlessly integrate with others of different races in school, at work, and on the street can be forgiven if we have a hard time keeping up with all this fixation on race that remains in some quarters.”

Precisely, because deep inside we — Americans — know better. We know enough to reject the divisive bombast of an Al Sharpton and to subject the more nuanced declarations of, say, Attorney General Eric Holder to the unforgiving light of genuine perspective.

Earlier this week, Mr. Holder, still intending to launch (at the very least) a civil-rights probe of the acquitted Mr. Zimmerman, had this to say:

“I want to assure you that the Department will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We are committed to standing with the people of Sanford, with the individuals and families affected by this incident, and with our state and local partners in order to alleviate tensions, address community concerns, and promote healing. We are determined to meet division and confusion with understanding and compassion — and also with truth . . . We will never stop working to ensure that — in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community — justice must be done.”

Hmmm. Sincere sentiment, or rhetoric intended to deflect public attention further away from Benghazi, the IRS, the NSA, and Mr. Holder’s own Justice Department? We sincerely question how much more “truth” might be obtained in the Zimmerman case, particularly given that the FBI months ago concluded that young Mr. Martin’s civil rights had not been violated that rainy evening early in 2012.

We mentioned perspective a few paragraphs ago. If Mr. Holder truly wants to “alleviate tensions, address community concerns, and promote healing,” he may wish to ponder a comprehensive study compiled by Justice in 2005, years before he arrived, that revealed this startling comparative statistic: Blacks comprised but 13 percent of the U.S. population that year, yet accounted for 49 percent of all U.S. murder victims. And 93 percent of these black victims were killed by other blacks.

Yes. That’s 93 percent. While the number of violent crimes across America may have subsequently decreased, we maintain the proportions have not changed significantly, as recent Fourth of July blood-letting in Chicago suggests.

Thus, it may behoove Mr. Holder and other “top cops” not to obsess on a solitary case already decided by a jury and, instead, direct their energies toward fighting crime where these wars still rage. That would indicate truth recognized — and “handled.” About race as well as about crime.