Cal Thomas – America’s reckoning with racism

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, June 4th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. The book of James has some excellent advice: let’s all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. 

Commentator Cal Thomas has some thoughts on that.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: This week conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh appeared on The Breakfast Club. It’s a nationally syndicated radio program that features discussions on progressive politics and black culture.

The fascinating conversation went on for almost half an hour. While it appeared that the hosts and Limbaugh were occasionally talking over each other, the conservative had to earn at least some respect with his forceful denunciation of the killing of George Floyd. Limbaugh said the police officer who killed Floyd should be charged with first, not third-degree murder.

The Breakfast Club hosts D.J. Envy, Angela Yee, and Lenard Larry McKelvey, focused mainly on what they called “white privilege” as the source of misery in much of the African American community. Limbaugh countered that the three hosts were examples of how one can overcome obstacles, including discrimination.

We will always debate solutions, but it’s hard to deny we have a major problem. And it’s not only racism. It is that we don’t know each other. 

I grew up in a virtually all-white Washington, D.C., suburb—a city that practiced segregation well into the 1960s. So I didn’t know anyone of a different race, other than a family maid, until I began playing college basketball. Showering and eating meals with people who were “different” from me bridged a gap that no legislation could span. I came to see them as teammates, friends, equals, and better players than me.

White people have enjoyed privilege from the beginning of the country in almost every category. This includes professional sports, which are now dominated by African Americans, but for many years were not. 

I recently re-watched the Ken Burns series “Baseball” on PBS and was reminded of how that sport banned black players from fields simply because of their skin color. It is important for white people to acknowledge white privilege and our history of white supremacy before helpful and healing conversations can begin.

Those who think we’re completely beyond the past should think again. It was only in 2009 that Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who is African American, was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge after a neighbor reported a black man trying to break into a house. It was Gates’ own home.

I asked Gates about our current upheaval, and he said—quoting now—“Those of us who love freedom and justice and believe in an America that stands for racial equality and community across the color line must join arms and fight white supremacy wherever and however it rears its heinous head.” End quote. 

I’ll close with another observation from Rush Limbaugh’s conversation on The Breakfast Club. After Limbaugh played the segment on his show, a caller offered her definition of white privilege. She said it came from how the country was founded, reserving economic and political power for white, land-owning men.

Somewhat surprisingly, Limbaugh seemed to agree with her. He called her summation “brilliant.” 

More of us need to have these conversations and not be so eager to get in our talking points. We should speak less and listen more.

I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File) In this Jan. 1, 2010 file photo, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh speaks during a news conference at The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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2 comments on Cal Thomas – America’s reckoning with racism

  1. Angelina Wilkerson says:

    With the encouragement to be slow to speak and slow to anger, all I have heard is swift judgement that the incident was a racist act (white against black). There has been no evidence of racism, nor has there been a trial to prove racism. Moreover, all the officers involved weren’t all white. We must be biblically minded in all aspects of this tragedy which includes righteous judgment.

    What’s abundantly clear and not being declared by mainstream evangelicals, is that this is a heart problem of sinful man and that the only hope is in Christ alone. We are all different shades of melanin and all fall so far short of the glory of God. And in case you’re wondering, I’m on the darker end of that spectrum.

  2. Gary Gussel says:

    Dear Mr. Thomas,

    I have two concerns with your otherwise sensible piece on America’s Reckoning with Racism. The first is factual. Mr. Limbaugh invited the members of the Breakfast Club to appear with him – not the other way around as you say. He reached out to them. He recorded the discussion and played it on his show. Mr. Limbaugh initiated this very important first step in a very important conversation. In your first sentence you incorrectly state that Mr. Limbaugh “appeared on the Breakfast Club.” He invited the Breakfast Club members to appear on his show. This fact, and its correct reporting is very important in this discussion.
    My second concern is your seeming surprise that Mr. Limbaugh supported a 1st degree murder charge – why should such a statement surprise anyone? Just because one is conservative and white and sees the need for appropriate justice shouldn’t be surprising.
    Lastly, you actually used the words, “somewhat surprisingly” regarding Rush’s agreement with a caller to his show about the origins of white privilege being from our founding and the power in that day of land owning white men. Again, I need to ask, why would Rush’s, or any conservatives agreement with this statement, surprise you? It appears you are less than trusting and display the soft bigotry of low expectations for your fellow conservatives. I have enjoyed your columns and learned much from you over the last several decades. I have many times defended you from liberal “holier than though” accusations. Now I wonder, just a bit.

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