In place of Glenn Beck, Fox News ran a special by John Stossel on "What's Great About America." When it became clear that the special would include a segment on race relations, we had some fear.
After all, Stossel has called for repeal of the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits hotels and restaurants from discriminating on the basis of race. He has attacked the government for apologizing for widespread discrimination by the Department of Agriculture. He has mocked affirmative action programs by holding an "affirmative action bake sale" in which members of different races are charged different prices for baked goods. He has even suggested that employers should be allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities.
And our fears were not unjustified. After disclaimers about our nation's troubling racial past, Stossel pointed out that we have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow. He also pointed out that race riots have recently occurred in other countries. He then said: "America has done remarkably well. Racial mixing is normal. One poll found that 80 percent of Americans say they have a close friend of another race."
Unmentioned by Stossel was the fact that a poll by the Democratic-leaning company Public Policy Polling found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans think interracial marriage should be illegal, compared to just 40 percent who think it should be legal. Thus, while interracial marriage has been legal across the land for more than 40 years, it is still not acceptable everywhere.
Stossel then aired a clip of Dinesh D'Souza (who has his own issues regarding race) saying that "there such a desire today to bend over backwards not to give offense on the ground of race that people will literally tiptoe and do somersaults and pirouettes in order to avoid giving offense."
D'Souza then suggested that because he and his children and Jesse Jackson and his children can achieve the American dream, there is not widespread racism.
I have a slightly different take from Stossel. It is great that race relations have improved in this country. And this country's promise of equality is also great.
But, while it may fit Stossel's political views to pretend that there are no big racial issues in this country, it is not necessary to downplay the existence of racism in America to prove that America is great.