Gee, with first Cliven Bundy and now the allegations against Donald Sterling, it is a bit like Rip Van Winkle in reverse: We awoke from a long sleep and found ourselves back in 1950s America.
Or maybe it’s like a racist variation of “The Walking Dead,” with the zombie Jim Crow once again among us.
At least, that’s the grim picture some are painting of the latest eruption of inane, racist sentiment in the good old USA.
But before everyone gets carried away with the racism-is-making-a-comeback-in-America angle, let me just offer this: No, it isn’t.
Bundy’s musings that blacks were better off as slaves, and Sterling’s supposed racist comments (as posted by two websites but not authenticated), were swiftly condemned. That fact alone shows that this isn’t great-grandpa, or even grandpa’s America.
Want more proof? Suffice to say that, in 1950s America, would an African American man who already owns part of a storied baseball franchise — Magic Johnson — be mentioned as a possible successor to the owner of the Clippers?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is who we really are now. That’s how far we’ve come.
It isn’t just that we have a black president. After all, we’ve had black politicians for a long time.
And socially? We celebrate (well, OK, we’re intensely interested in) the impending marriage of a black man, Kanye West, to a white woman, Kim Kardashian. And we fawn over pictures of their baby daughter. Fifty, 60 years ago, in many states they wouldn’t even have been allowed to marry.
And black entertainers thrive; African Americans dominate professional basketball and football.
No, no, I’m not naive. America has racial problems. Most, in fact, are more shadowy and thus harder to deal with than the public musings of these latest racist poster boys. And yes, in everyone’s heart of hearts — white, black, Latino, Asian, etc. — lurk impure thoughts, racist sentiments.
But that’s what separates most of us from the likes of Bundy and, allegedly, Sterling. We know we have those instincts, but we fight against them, fight to be better people.
And that’s why we aren’t going back. The Klan isn’t rising again. Yes, there are blips, and twists and turns and setbacks, but America remains on the path to becoming a better society, not a more racist one.
Bundy and Sterling are old men. They, and their alleged views, are vile — and outdated.
And a new generation of Americans is arising that refuses to accept their nonsense.
So don’t despair. Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling’s days are numbered, but America’s best days are ahead of it.