June 29, 2015

“LEADING ON RACE: COMMUNITIES, NOT ELITES,” Salena Zito writes at the Pittsburgh Tribune:

In a week that began with a white woman masquerading as black, the ensuing silliness of talk about being “transracial,” and the president unnecessarily invoking the mother of all racial epithets, it was the American people who showed how to lead on race.

In a show of profound unity and forgiveness, Charleston residents responded not with the lowest common denominator of social-media commentary or violent anger, but with promise.

More than 15,000 of them, of every size and color, put Southern solidarity into perspective by gathering on both sides of the city’s Ravenel Bridge. They met in the middle; they wept, smiled, laughed, hugged, turned strangers into friends. Homemade signs with messages of outreach, love and solidarity flapped in the wind, as prayers and hymns filled the air.

There wasn’t a major network or cable news channel, only local TV crews, rolling cameras to record America doing what it does best — opening its heart; the networks always seem to be on hand for looting or rioting. Yet, for the most part, Charleston’s participants didn’t care about being largely ignored, because that moment on the bridge was about them, about their community and, above all, about how to lead.

Their response, their unity, showed leadership. The president, dropping the “N-word” to an entertainment podcast, reeked of showmanship and his signature divisiveness.

What will linger in most minds, long after the history books are closed, is how a community impacted by the deaths of nine innocent people reacted — not a politician.

That sounds awfully selfish to me — if communities act calmly and humane, and refuse to self-detonate, what will CNN and MSNBC do for their nightly riot porn? How will Obama and Hillary gin up the voters?

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