Because white people lack empathy, black people continue to die

I believe racism, bigotry and religious intolerance are a virus that infects humanity. It is deadly and there is no cure. It can only be contained.

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Protesters in New York on Saturday demonstrate in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, while in custody of the Minneapolis Police, on Memorial Day.

Bryan R. Smith/Getty

Why can’t “they” just protest peacefully for racial justice?

Hey, does anyone remember Colin Kaepernick? He was the NFL quarterback who simply knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality. He was denounced by the president of the United States, blackballed by the NFL and ignored by influential white people.

Would things have changed if Kaepernick’s warnings and those of peaceful Black Lives Matter leaders had been heeded?

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In 1968, after seven months of investigation following civil unrest in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Newark, the Kerner Commission released a report on the causes and possible solutions.

“Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white, separate and unequal,” warned the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, headed by Otto Kerner, governor of Illinois.

Its conclusions suggested that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion. The solution: More jobs, better affordable housing, an end to de facto segregation in America’s cities, “more diverse and sensitive police forces.”

President Lyndon B. Johnson largely ignored the report and one month later the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, resulting in riots throughout the nation.

There were great leaders back in the 1960s. Giants.

Go to YouTube and listen to Robert Kennedy’s speech announcing the assassination of King to a crowd gather in Indianapolis where he was campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

“In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in a great polarization — black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

“Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace, that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”

Only months later, Bobby Kennedy would be killed by an assassin’s bullet.

Barack Obama was elected president. Harold Washington and Lori Lightfoot were elected mayors of Chicago. Yet, not enough has changed in America.

We also have Donald Trump, who instead of understanding and embracing the cause of Colin Kaepernick, used his bully pulpit to denounce a peaceful protest and turn the country against him and that cause. This is the same man who said there were some good people among the neo-Nazis and Klan members in this country, but now uses his position to blame Democrats for rioting and violence.

I believe racism, bigotry and religious intolerance are a virus that infects humanity. It is deadly and there is no cure. It can only be contained.

“Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future,” said Dr. King in his Nobel Prize speech. “He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. He has produced machines that think and instruments that peer into unfathomable ranges of interstellar space.

“Yes, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technologic abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually.

“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

Because our white leaders lack compassion and empathy black people continue to die. The virus of racism and hatred continues to spread. It eats away at the guts of our country.

Email: philkadner@gmail.com

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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