Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder said Trayvon Martin's death was "tragic and unnecessary." The continuing American tragedy is the lingering racial chasm in American society. The U.S. has a black president and a black attorney general. But Paula Deen uses racial slurs, the Supreme Court guts the Voting Rights Act and an innocent 17-year-old black youth dies because he was black and wears a hoodie.
Tuesday, Hillary Clinton and conservative blogger Erick Erickson weighed in on the Zimmermann case.
Erickson wrote, "Bad choices were made by George Zimmerman and by Trayvon Martin." It's easy to pick out the bad choices that George Zimmerman made. He decided not to leave the scene after the Sanford police department dispatcher warned him to get out way and let police officers handle the situation. Zimmerman's biggest mistake, of course, was his choice to shoot an unarmed boy.
It's much harder for me to identify the mistakes that Erickson thinks Trayvon Martin made. Was it a mistake for him to decide to buy Skittles? Did he set himself up for death by choosing to wear a hoodie? Or was it his choice to be black? Sorry, being black isn't a choice, is it?
Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that "no mother, no father, should ever have to fear for their child walking down a street in the United States of America." Fortunately neither the Clintons nor I had to worry that our teenage kids might be gunned down by a vigilante. Chelsea Clinton and my kids aren't black.
The debate over immigration underscores the persistence of racial hostility in American society. The racial bias in the fight against immigration reform is palatable. Last year, during a Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, one of the candidates said the word "Mexico" and the crowd booed.
Republicans and their tea party supporters are fighting a rear guard action to keep the United States white. The Census Bureau estimates that white people will be in the minority in the U.S. by 2040. Demographers believe that the biggest state, California, became a minority white state earlier this year.
Some people just can't stand the idea that white people in the United States are on their way to becoming a racial minority. Republicans worry, with good cause, that the rapid growth of Democratic demographic groups like Latinos and Asians will consign the GOP to political oblivion.
States with 102 electoral votes have voted for the GOP presidential nominee in each of the last six elections. The comparable Democratic base is 240. 38 of the 102 electoral votes in the Republican base are from Texas and demography threatens the Republican destiny there.
A majority (55 percent) of residents of the Lone State are either Hispanic or black but the GOP still dominates there because Latino political participation is so low. Mitt Romney won Texas by 1.2 million votes in 2012, but at least three million Latino residents eligible to vote didn't turn out on Election Day. The Texas Democratic Party and a progressive group, Battleground Texas, have just started an effort to mobilize these Latino voters. If that work is successful, the GOP will lose a big part of its already small national electoral college base.
Demography is destiny, so Republicans and conservatives should spend less time and energy fighting the inevitable than figuring out how to attract supporters among the new American majority.
- Susan Milligan: Rolling Stone's Boston Bomber Tsarnaev Cover Pushes Limits of Good Taste
- Read Leslie Marshall: Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, Rush Limbaugh and Race in America
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad