Ezra Klein claims that the Cone of Silence has dropped over any discussion of race:
...it's a tremendous indictment of our media that, given an opportunity, to push forward on that discussion, they made an affirmative decision to focus back in on the campaign. You wonder if Wolf Blitzer and Candy Crowley and all the rest got into journalism believing that, one day, they would decide to suppress a potentially historic and important conversation on race in order to talk about polling.
Well, then, it is a tremendous indictment of the Obama campaign as well - they made it clear on Wednesday that they had had their fill of this race talk; here is the NY Times:
Obama Works to Shift Campaign Back to Domestic Issues
By JEFF ZELENY
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Senator Barack Obama on Wednesday tried to steer his campaign from a focus on race that had threatened to envelop his candidacy and back to the economy, war and a host of other concerns.
One day after delivering a major address about the racial divide, Mr. Obama barely mentioned the topic on his first campaign visit to North Carolina. From a foreign policy address in Fayetteville to a public forum here, Mr. Obama made just a passing reference to race, after a voter broached the subject.
Dare we say it? We are in or on the verge of a recession, folks are worried about keeping their jobs and their homes, and we are at war in Iraq. Maybe voters who are not intent on a conversation about race do not have misplaced priorities:
In interviews, North Carolina voters and party officials across the country said they hoped that race would not stay at the forefront of the nominating contest with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. But they also said they were wary that the issue remained potent.
...By design, advisers said, Mr. Obama had no immediate plans to revisit the themes of the speech, which bluntly confronted divisions between black and white and urged both races to understand each other’s anger, resentment and division.
Party officials in states with coming primaries said Wednesday that race was not what most Democratic voters wanted to discuss.
“People in our state are worried about their jobs and their health care and their mortgage,” said Dan Parker, the Indiana Democratic chairman, who is preparing for the most competitive primary since 1968. “Race? We don’t really want to talk about that.”
Let's hold off on indicting the media for a moment. Mr. Klein links to more laughs with this:
But read EJ Dionne today for some of the commentary that we should be hearing. He recalls that Martin Luther King Jr.'s preaching was also laced with anger towards White America, and towards much of American policy, but that these elements of his philosophy came out in black churches, not the public square.
Oh for heaven's sake - here is the inflammatory rhetoric presented by Mr. Dionne:
Listen to what King said about the Vietnam War at his own Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1968: "God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place." King then predicted this response from the Almighty: "And if you don't stop your reckless course, I'll rise up and break the backbone of your power."
Martin Luther King was opposed to the Vietnam war, and thought the United States was engaging in war crimes and would lose. My goodness, is that a race-based viewpoint? Is it a viewpoint well out of the political mainstream? Two years later Senator, Fool for Life and former Presidential nominee John Kerry would launch his political career on just such rhetoric.
For the sort of race-based hostility so over the top that it can only be found as a guest piece at the NY Times, try this, from the summer of 1967 - it is by Floyd McKissick, then head of the Congress of Racial Equality, one of the groups that organized the King "I Have A Dream" March on Washington. The title is a giveaway - "Why The Negro Must Rebel". McKissick calls for black rebellion and denounces the black leaders who speak out against rioting blacks:
Some so-called Negro leaders even have the audacity to join the man - by calling a liberation struggle a riot - his brothers hoodlums and criminals - and damning his brothers who seek to overthrow the yoke of oppression.
By comparison and in context, Martin Luther King sounds like a mainstream voice of moderation. If McKissick was being given a platform in the Times, folks other than Messrs. Klein and Dionne may be left wondering what was being said in more polarized venues.
MORE: The AIDS conspiracy theory has real, negative consequences, per these researchers and activists. Trinity United Church is fortunate to have a United States Senator sitting in their pews (intermittently) and listening to the sermons (when they are not incendiary).
What are the prospects for racial reconciliation when thirty percent of blacks think the US government is trying to kill them? So when does Barack take the lead on dispelling this myth? That is a story Mr. Klein could report on as part of the conversation.