Date: July 31, 2009
From: Geoffrey Smith
Subject: A tax on ignorance
The lively debate generated by Margaret Wente's column Guilty Of Unconscious Racism (July 28) is important in a country where immigrants and racial minorities occupy an increasingly central place in daily life. Would that we could depend on popular intelligence and goodwill to ease their acceptance.
But we cannot, as continuing examples of racism emerge daily. Sticks and stones, the old saw goes, may break bones, but words of hate can kill. This is why a provincial human-rights tribunal exists, as a bulwark against possible hate crimes.
And, yes, a president of the United States might invite a white police officer and a black history professor to the White House for a beer and to talk things over. And the officer and the professor will come. The same cannot be said for situations that lack Barack Obama's uncommon position of power and empathy.