Central View: Racism and the perils of prediction
July 24, 2013
In 2008, when Barack H. Obama was elected president, people of all political persuasions hoped and some pundits even predicted that the presidential election of 2008 marked the end of racism in America. But, looking back over the last five-plus years, it seems that racism is on the increase. The physical violence and the verbal vitriol that attends the verdict in the Zimmerman-Martin Case is just one example of racism among way too many.
Donald Rumsfeld in his new book: “Rumsfeld’s Rules” quotes Dr. Linton Wells, one of Rumsfeld’s strategic planners, who told Rumsfeld: “If you had been a security policy maker in the world’s greatest power in 1900, you would have been a Brit looking warily at your age-old enemy, France. By 1910, you would be allied with France and your enemy would be Germany.
“By 1920, World War I would have been fought and won, and you’d be engaged in a naval arms race with your erstwhile allies, the U.S.,and Japan. By 1930, naval arms limitation treaties were in effect, the Great Depression was underway, and the defense-planning standard was ‘no war for 10 years.’ Nine years later, World War II had begun.
“By 1950, Great Britain was no longer the world’s greatest power, the Atomic Age had dawned, and a ‘police action’ was under way in Korea.
“Ten years later, the political focus was on the ‘missile gap,’ the strategic paradigm was shifting from massive retaliation to flexible response, and few people had heard of Vietnam. By 1970, the peak of our involvement in Vietnam had come and gone, we were beginning détente with the Soviets, and we were anointing the Shah as our protégé in the Gulf Region.
“By 1980, the Soviets were in Afghanistan, Iran was in the throes of revolution, there was talk of our ‘hollow forces,’ and a ‘window of vulnerability,’ and the U.S. was the greatest creditor nation the world had ever seen.
“By 1990, the Soviet Union was within a year of dissolution. American forces in the desert were on the verge of showing they were anything but hollow, the U.S. had become the greatest debtor nation the world had ever known, and almost no one had heard of the Internet.
“Ten years later, Warsaw was the capital of a NATO nation, asymmetric threats transcended geography, and the parallel revolutions of information, biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology, and high-density energy sources foreshadowed changes almost beyond understanding.”
So, as we look at the aftermath of the Zimmerman-Martin Case, maybe we should cut those who predicted the end of racism back in 2008 some slack. The problem with the Zimmerman-Martin Case — according to a recent poll — is that 48-percent are of the opinion that Zimmerman’s self-defense story is correct and 48-percent are of the opinion that the late Trayvon Martin was an innocent victim.
As the late, great Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” The jury decided the facts favor Zimmerman. In a post-racial America, that should have settled the matter. Apparently, the pundits of 2008 were wrong.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University