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Ignoring Hatred

by David Gura
Oct 23, 2007

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David Gura

In a commentary for NPR's All Things Considered, which aired last week, and in his column for The New York Sun, John McWhorter, of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, made a "modest proposal," which generated a huge response: "The next time somebody plants a noose, let's just ignore it. Perhaps paying less attention to these acts will take away their racist power."

The modesty of his proposal is debatable, to say the least, as more and more nooses are found, hanging on trees, at high schools and the Coast Guard Academy, and in the ivory tower. Can we really ignore something so malicious, with such a painful and haunting history?

No, it seems. Since protesters converged on Jena, La., last month, many media outlets, including NPR, have filled pages and programs with reports on, and conversations about, race and racism. DiversityInc magazine has chronicled each incident on a web page, called "Noose Watch." And the Rev. Al Sharpton has called for a march on Washington, D.C., to demand that the government prosecute hate crimes with more zeal. What do you think of McWhorter's suggestion? Is the noose's symbolism indelible?

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