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Black, White Views

October 07, 1994

"One Picture, Two Perspectives," by Karen Grigsby Bates (Commentary, Sept. 28), asked the right questions, but failed to provide any answers in spite of the explanations, which were apparently supposed to be self-evident. Perhaps this unwittingly illustrates the problem. Bates perceptively identified an issue that confuses many white Americans who desire harmonious relations and equal opportunities for all races. Namely, that while there is much progress to be made, why not fight the good fight, instead of flailing about at perceived slights and injustices that have nothing to do with reality?

We've heard the many theories about how O.J. Simpson was the victim of a racist conspiracy by the white Establishment, as was Marion Barry. We've wrestled with the tortuous rationale that made heroes and martyrs of opportunistic thugs during the L.A. riots, and that euphemizes riots, looting, arson and racist assaults as an "uprising." We've heard far too many rationalizations by black community leaders in L.A. that absolve drug addicts, murderers and rapists from any responsibility for their deeds, preferring to blame a manipulative white Establishment. (Presumably non-black criminals exercise far greater self-determination.)

With the many substantive, but far more subtle and complex racial grievances that need to be addressed, it seems like this misdirected persecution complex dilutes the important efforts of those leaders with the courage to address the real issues, wherever they might lie and with whatever self-examination they might require.

DENVER SMITH

Palmdale

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