By MARC McDONALD
For incoming White House press secretary Tony Snow, racism may well be no "big deal" in America today.
If, like Snow, you're an affluent, middle-aged white male from a cushy, comfortable upper middle class background and you live in a luxury gated community, it's indeed likely that the ugly specter of racism rarely intrudes into your life.
But here's a news flash for Snow: racism will ALWAYS be a big deal in the U.S., a nation where millions of African people died in hideous conditions during the four centuries of the slave trade.
Indeed, the closer one looks at Snow's idiotic comments about race, the more offensive and troubling they are.
"Racism is not that big of a deal anymore. No sensible person supports it."
Is Snow suggesting that "sensible" people supported racism in the past?
The fact is, pampered, affluent, white people like Snow have never understood the impact and history of racism in this country. Countless times, during debates, I've heard conservatives claim that "slavery ended a long time ago" and that blacks have been more than compensated since then.
Here's a news flash for all conservatives out there: African-Americans were in fact never compensated in any way for the four centuries of slavery. And what's more, bigotry and racism in America hardly ended with slavery. Repressive, racist Jim Crow laws were, in fact, the law of the land for a century after slavery ended. Thousands of African-Americans were tortured and murdered by cheering lynch mobs for many decades after slavery for no other reason than they had black skin.
It's highly ironic than Snow and other conservative commentators routinely downplay the impact of racism in America.
In Snow's comments, he said his view that "racism isn't that big a deal anymore" is an "unmentionable secret."
Here's the real unmentionable secret in America today. It's the fact that the Republican Party has cynically used race to divide and manipulate the American people. Most Republicans I know privately harbor simmering hostility toward blacks (even if they shy away from using the "N" word in polite company). Many would never vote Democrat, simply because it's a party that backs affirmative action.
Here's a news flash for all you African-American-hating, anti-affirmative action Republicans. Your hero, George W. Bush is never going to end affirmative action. Do you seriously think that the GOP is going to give up its best wedge issue; an issue that it has cynically used countless times to rally the troops? If you believe this, you're naive enough to believe that Bush gives a damn about anyone who isn't among his wealthy, powerful supporters.
Here's another news flash for all you "angry white males" who feel frustrated and oppressed these days. You don't know know the meaning of the word oppression.