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“THE PURVEYORS OF GUILT”
by Don Fredrick, The Complete Obama Timeline, ©2020
(Aug. 1, 2020) — In the September 2020 issue of Motor Trend, columnist Martin Rechtin lectures readers in an article titled, Equal protection under the law. He might just as well have called it, Shame on you, racist white people! Anticipating the reaction the magazine will most certainly get from his commentary, Rechtin writes, “Some of you will read this and say, ‘Stay out of politics. Stick to cars.’” Yes, readers of automotive magazines want to read about cars, not the Jim Crow era, just as people who watch sports want to be entertained, rather than infuriated by anthem kneelers wearing socks that portray police officers as pigs, and most of us don’t really care one iota about Taylor Swift’s simplistic political ideology. Nevertheless, Motor Trend chose to use its September issue “to educate and raise awareness of a social stain on the American fabric”— as if no reader knows anything about the nation’s past. The reality is that most of us most certainly do know about that past, and are quite fed up with being reminded of it every 30 seconds by the purveyors of guilt in the mainstream media, and politicians using racism to encourage anger and drum up votes every election cycle.
Rechtin feels obligated to tell us that black drivers “know ‘the look’ as they drive through an unfamiliar neighborhood.” I am white and grew up on the west side of Chicago. While attending college during the day I had a night-shift job in a black neighborhood. I can assure Rechtin that I got “a look” from street-crossing pedestrians whenever I stopped for a red light. My wife once got lost driving through Indiana and stopped at a fast food restaurant in a not-so-great area to seek assistance. She asked, “Where am I?” The girl behind the counter responded, “Burger King.” “No, what town am I in?” clarified my wife. “I don’t know,” said the girl. “I just work here.” My Brazilian-born wife got “looks” there as well.
Most blacks, writes Rechtin, “clearly recall ‘the talk’ they heard from their parents the day they got their driver’s license.” Did Rechtin, who is white, not get “the talk”? Almost every teen-ager, regardless of race, should get “the talk.” That “talk” should include this advice: “Don’t drink and drive.” “Don’t use drugs.” “Follow all traffic laws.” “Come to a complete stop at every stop sign.” “Use your turn signals.” “Make sure the car is in working order, with a functioning muffler and no burned-out lights.” Most importantly, the “talk” should include this guidance: “Be polite to police officers. Do not talk back to them. Follow their instructions. Refer to them as “officer.” (That should probably be followed by, “If you do get arrested for your actions, don’t expect mom and dad to bail you out.”)
From the looks of the photograph accompanying the article, Rechtin appears relatively young. He refers to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but was probably born after that date. He did not live through the “Jim Crow” era. What he knows of racism is probably mostly limited to what he has heard from leftist college professors stoking animosity and talking heads on television who have chips on their shoulders the size of Gibraltar. (You know who they are. They see racism in everything.)
According to Rechtin, “institutional racism toward Black drivers persists in more insidious ways even today.” Although there is no denying that some people in America are racist, there is no institutional racism. There are no officials ordering police officers to intentionally persecute black drivers. (The officer who follows a car with no taillights does not know the race of the driver until he is pulled over for the violation.) There are no official federal, state, or local policies that order law enforcement officers to target black drivers. Are there some racist police officers who give black drivers more grief than white drivers? Yes. But that is not an institutional problem. It is an individual problem.
Rechtin insists institutional racism against black drivers was proven by the killing of George Floyd. He is apparently unaware that Floyd was arrested for trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. He was not stopped for “driving while black.” Yes, the killing of Floyd could have been avoided. But his death was not the result of any “institution.” It was the result of an overzealous cop dealing with an uncooperative criminal who was high on drugs. (I hope black—and white—parents who have “the talk” with the teen-aged drivers in their family include a warning not to pass counterfeit money while high on meth-amphetamines.)
Rechtin refers to Gretchen Sorin, author of Driving While Black, whose white husband “had been driving their Lexus with winter tires about a month after snowmelt in upstate New York. [He] Never drew a second glance [from the police]. The first time Gretchen [who is black] borrowed the car, the police pulled her over because of the tires.” This incident is also supposed to “prove” the existence of “institutional racism.” Yet Sorin herself states that she was pulled over “because of the tires”—not because of her race. (One might ask why we even have laws regarding the kinds of tires we must use. It is the driver who will suffer by driving too long on winter tires, because they wear out more quickly on warm pavement. On the other hand, if Sorin and her husband were driving studded tires too late in the season they were contributing to pavement wear, and being warned by the police would not be inappropriate. But the result would merely have been a warning or a ticket from the police officer. Being polite to the police officer and accepting the ticket would not lead to an angry confrontation, the use of force, or an arrest.)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same can often be said of racism. I will readily admit that if I see five or six black youths coming toward me on the sidewalk, I might cautiously cross the street, turn around, or duck into a store. Does that make me a racist? The black youths might think so. But the reality is that I would react the same way to five or six white youths coming toward me. The issue is not one of race. The issue is that young males in a group can mean trouble. I would never be concerned if five or six black women approached me, or if five or six older people approached me. A male teen-ager can be defined as “someone with an instinctive urge to push anything that is leaning.” If I were a cop in Pisa, Italy, I would keep a close eye on a large group of teen-agers yelling and strutting toward the Leaning Tower. But I would be nowhere near as worried if the crowd consisted of old American men with cameras, shorts, sandals, and knee-high black socks.
A black person driving a $75,000 car in a lily-white neighborhood might arouse the suspicion of a police officer. (Is the vehicle stolen?) But so might a white person driving slowly around a black neighborhood. (Is the driver selling drugs?) Rechtin may have been taught to see racism where it does not exist. If that is the case, he has my sympathies. Although it is wrong to see, without evidence, the worst in all black people, it is also wrong to see, without evidence, racism in all white people.
Laughably, Rechtin attempts to hide his disdain for what he apparently believes is an epidemic of racist cops by writing, “More than a few of us at Motor Trend have relatives and close friends on the job [in police departments].” (“Some of my best friends are cops” may be the new phrase used immediately before, “but…”) Later in the magazine’s pages, readers learn from Sorin that blacks “purchased Cadillacs in the same proportion as white Americans—3 percent,” and are shown a photograph of entertainer Chuck Berry with his “beloved Cadillac.” (“Don’t fall for stereotypes… but here’s a great stereotype!”)
Whether Rechtin or Motor Trend received anything for pushing Sorin’s book is not clear. What is clear is that few at the magazine seem to realize that America in 2020 is not the America of 1940—or even 1970. Yes, Motor Trend, stick to cars.