White people have largely made their peace with the changes that were initiated with the Civil Rights Act that Lyndon B. Johnson signed in 1964 in the wake of the Kennedy assassination. The Jim Crow era that included segregated schools and other indignities is long gone, but it took a hundred years past the Civil War to reach that point.
Race has always been a factor in American life dating back to the importation of the first slaves to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. One of America’s leading historians, Thomas Fleming recently had a new book published, “A Disease in the Public Mind: Why We Fought the Civil War”, that recounts the problems the Founding Father’s encountered as they sought to fashion the Constitution in 1787. The issue of slavery was an obstacle and, as the Founders feared, it led to the Civil War.
In the years immediately preceding the war, the calls for the abolition of slavery increased at the same time white southerners had spent decades gripped with growing fears of being killed by the slaves who vastly outnumbered them. There were approximately 4,000,000 slaves, mostly in the south, and some 500,000 free blacks, generally in the north. They were a substantial part of the population, but it is little known that only six percent of the southern white population, approximately 316,632, owned slaves. It is even less known that some free blacks owned slaves as well.
Fleming asked “Why did they (the southerners) sacrifice over 300,000 of their sons to preserve an institution in which they apparently had no personal stake?” The answer, generally stated, was that, by 1861 the northern states passionately hated the southern states and vice versa. That was the disease in the public mind.
I cite this bit of history because I keep hearing the question “If Zimmerman is acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin, will there be race riots?” Like the southerners of old, whites, Hispanics and others today are concerned about black violence.
Taking 1964 as a starting point, there were seven race riots that year, three of them in my home state, with others in Philadelphia, Rochester, New York, and Chicago. The famed Watts riot occurred in 1965. Riots continued in 1966, 1967, and most actively in 125 cities in 1968 following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They tapered off in the 1970s and 80s. There were five riots in the 1990s and, as the new millennium began there were riots in Cincinnati (2001), Toledo (2005), Los Angeles (2006), and in Oakland (2009).
In the week preceding July 4th, there were reports of black on white violence in Greensboro, Portland, Chicago and other cities around the nation.
In 2011 I reviewed a book by Colin Flaherty, “’White Girl Bleed A Lot’—The Return of Race Riots to America.” Flaherty stated that “Race riots are back along with widespread racial crime and violence.” He documented these episodes, noting in particular that “local media and public officials are silent…this denies the obvious: America is the most race conscious society in the world. Few know about it (the violence). Fewer still are talking about it.”
In October the sixth edition of his book will be published by WND Books. When I asked him whether the fear of racial riots after the verdict in the Zimmerman trial is rendered were justified, Flaherty replied that “I have not noticed anyone saying if Zimmerman is acquitted there will NOT be a riot. It seems to be a given, especially since I documented at least a dozen examples of black mob violence following the Trayvon Martin episode.”
“So I cannot predict the future, but I know that cops all over the country will be ready for violence. There is so much black mob violence happening now without any specific precipitating event, it does not seem like a stretch to make sure the cops are ready for more.”
A visit to Flaherty’s website confirms his observations regarding violent attacks. Even the media is beginning to give them more coverage, but blacks are frequently referred to as “urban youths” and other euphemisms.
In a post on his site, “Trayvon, Jeantel and Critical Race Theory”, Flaherty examines the theory, initiated by Derrick Bell. “Critical Race Theory says racism is everywhere,” within the black community, says Flaherty, “And it is permanent. As for any gains made in the courts or in public or private life”, the theory holds that “they are an illusion. And serve White Supremacists who lead a life of White Privilege.”
Given that voters have twice elected a black President, the theory seems absurd, but it is useful to keep in mind that President Obama sat through twenty years of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s racist sermons, the most famous, following 9/11, in which he said “God damn America.”
Following the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Obama said, he “would have looked like my son.” The trial is not going well for the prosecution at this writing and whites are wondering whether the President will say something to warn blacks against any rioting when the verdict comes in.
© Alan Caruba, 2013.