Thomas Sowell is one of our National Treasures and today he addresses a popular meme, 'Driving While Black', that has done a great deal of damage to relations between Black and White in this country. He is not convinced that we live in an irredeemably racist society and that the police are by nature and institutionally racist; at the same time he notes the prevalence of the feeling in the Black community:
Recently a well-known black journalist told me of a very different experience. He happened to be riding along in a police car driven by a white policeman. Ahead of them was a car driving at night with no headlights on and, in the dark, it was impossible to see who was driving it.
When the policeman pulled the car over, a black driver got out and, when the policeman told him that he was driving without his lights on, the driver said, "You only pulled me over because I am black!"
This was said even though he saw the black man who was with the policeman. The driver got a ticket.
Later, when the journalist asked the cop how often he got such responses from black drivers, the reply was "About 80 percent of the time."
When the same journalist asked the same question of black cops, the answer was about 30 percent of the time -- lower, but still an amazing percentage under the circumstances.
Sowell wonders whether there is a relatively prosaic explanation for the attitude:
In a world where young blacks, especially, are bombarded with claims that they are being unfairly targeted by police, and where a general attitude of belligerence is being promoted literally in word and song, it is hard not to wonder whether some people's responses to policemen do not have something to do with the policemen's responses to them.
Neither the police nor people in any other occupation always do what is right but automatic belligerence is not the answer.
The intersection of Black victimhood and Black paranoia is dangerous and crippling.