It sure is a good thing we have the Wall Street Journal
editorial board to tell us how to feel about things. Take the shooting deaths of nine people at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a man who told police he wanted to start a race war
. Sure, the WSJ editors admit
, it might remind us of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. But everything is different now:
Back then and before, the institutions of government—police, courts, organized segregation—often worked to protect perpetrators of racially motivated violence, rather than their victims.
The universal condemnation of the murders at the Emanuel AME Church and Dylann Roof’s quick capture by the combined efforts of local, state and federal police is a world away from what President Obama recalled as “a dark part of our history.” Today the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists.
The government condemns the murder of nine black people at a Bible study, therefore institutionalized racism no longer exists. Problem solved! Racism is in the past, at least as anything other than some weird individual thing.
Never mind the Confederate flag flying at the South Carolina Capitol. Never mind that young black men are at 21 times greater risk of being killed by police than young white men. Never mind housing discrimination that may be a little more subtle than in the past, but still leaves non-white homeseekers with fewer options.
Yes, the guy who kills nine people in hope of starting a race war is an unusual kind of racist, but the Wall Street Journal's smug insistence that "the system and philosophy of institutionalized racism identified by Dr. King no longer exists" is ludicrous. Seriously, one of the ways we originally learned about the racism of this one disturbed individual who in no way was a part of a system of institutionalized racism, per the WSJ, was a picture of him showing Confederate flag plates on his car. You know, the same flag that flies at the South Carolina Capitol. But we're to believe there's nothing institutionalized here, and the evidence is that the government condemns murder. That this is an argument one of the largest newspapers in the United States is making in 2015 is itself more evidence of institutionalized racism (and how willfully stupid it makes us).