If you had hope that the election of a black president might improve black-white relations in America, reading the column by Charles M. Blow in Saturday's New York Times will effectively crush it.
Mr. Blow, who is black, wrote of his despair that the election of Barack Obama will achieve anything positive for blacks or for black-white relations.
In fact, according to Mr. Blow, and one suspects the great majority of black and white liberals, things have not only not gotten better for blacks, racism — meaning, of course, white racism against blacks since no other form of racism is discussed in the New York Times — has actually increased.
His proof for this charge?
"We are now inundated with examples of overt racism on a scale to which we are unaccustomed."
And what are his examples of "overt racism on a scale to which we are unaccustomed"? He provided two.
The first and presumably most important is that "Racially offensive images of the first couple are so prolific online that Google now runs an apologetic ad with the results of image searches of them."
Having never seen a racially offensive image of the first couple, I was curious about what Mr. Blow was referring to. Though I spend hours a day researching on the Web, I had somehow overlooked how "inundated" the Web is with racist images. Luckily, Mr. Blow provides a URL — an Internet link — to make his case.
I clicked on the link, and sure enough, there is a statement by Google titled "An explanation of our search results," in which Google notes that "Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google."
The statement continues along those lines, but there is not a word about racism, blacks, the first couple, or anything related. It is a generic apology, one that I had never in fact encountered.
So not having had any luck corroborating Mr. Blow's accusation of "overt racism on a scale to which we are unaccustomed" on the Internet, I searched "first couple," clicked on "images," even making sure that the Google filter was turned off, and all I saw were hundreds of beautiful images of the beautiful-looking first couple.
I then searched on "Michelle and Barack Obama pictures" and got similar results.
One must conclude that Mr. Blow wildly exaggerated, if not made it up, when he wrote that America is "inundated" with "overt racism" on the Internet (or anywhere else).
His second argument for an increasingly racist America is: "And it's not all words and images (again, none of which I saw); it's actions as well. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2008 hate crimes data released last week, anti-black hate crimes rose 4 percent from 2007..."
Wow. A 4 percent increase in anti-black hate crime.
Is that an indication of a major increase in anti-black racism in America? You decide.
According to the FBI Hate Crime statistics, in 2007, 3,434 blacks were victims of a hate crime, and in 2008, the number increased to 3,596 — an increase of 162. Given that there are about 40 million blacks in America and about 260 million non-blacks, to charge America with increasing racism based on an increase of 162 incidents of racism is absurd and morally indefensible. To put it statistically, the increase, as a proportion of the black population, was .0004 percent.
Moreover, the number itself, 3,434, is incredibly small for such a large population. And bear in mind two additional factors: One has no way of knowing how many of those 3,434 incidents were committed by non-whites, such as Hispanics; and of those 3,434 hate crimes, a total of one was murder, not one was a rape, a tiny 386 were aggravated assaults, and 1,257 were "acts of intimidation," not acts of violence.
Only to black and white liberals, including most New York Times readers, who e-mailed Mr. Blow's column more than almost any article in the Times, do these statistics describe a racist, or increasingly racist, society.
The column is a fine example of liberal attitudes toward blacks and whites — the latter are largely racist, the former are largely victims. It is a picture that exists only in the liberal mind, but as long as so many blacks believe it, there is little hope for large-scale black progress at this time. There is no chance that black America's economic or social problems will be solved until black America rejects the liberal narrative of endemic white racism and black victimization. That is why, though Mr. Blow's column is a calumny against America, it mainly damages his fellow African-Americans.