CNN should study the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., after characterizing Colorado’s successful Democratic governor as just another “white guy.” The network should learn King’s vision for this country before continuing a media narrative that pits white men against “people of color.”

Dr. King would not care about the color of John Hickenlooper’s skin.

In his history making 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, King imagined a future culture that did not judge race. People would treasure freedom for all from “the heightening Alleghenies” in Hickenlooper’s native Pennsylvania, to “the snowcapped Rookies of Colorado” — where Hickenlooper rose to prominence.

Key components of King’s dream speech include:

• “My four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

• “Little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

• “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

• “When we allow freedom to ring — when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.’ ”

Free, that is, from this country’s irrational obsession with race. He wanted racial equality, not today’s racially divisive identity politics or a shifting of bigotry from one demographic to another.

Though King’s crusade led to progress, much of the 21st century’s political climate dismisses the vision of judging character instead of race. All day every day — on social media, in mass media, in political rhetoric, and in casual conversation — we hear about “people of color” and “white men.” This is not good for white men, people of color, or the future of our country. It only foments hostility and fractionalization.

We saw it on full display during a CNN interview Monday, as “New Day” anchor Alisyn Camerota spoke with Hickenlooper about his plans to run for president in 2020. Hickenlooper talked about his childhood as a skinny kid with thick glasses and the bully-bait surname “Hickenlooper.”

“I grew up dealing with bullies on the playground,” Hickenlooper explained, in a dialogue about the crass antics of President Donald Trump.

Camerota seemed more interested in Hickenlooper’s gender and looks.

“Is it time to have somebody of color, and a woman, and somebody younger... ?” Camerota asked.

Hickenlooper said Democrats throughout the country would determine that.

“But as a white guy, are you trying to calculate whether or not this is the right time for you?” Camerota asked, doubling down on the race issue.

The anchor’s unseemly “white guy” question works only in a culture accustomed to openly pitting one racial group against others, confusing this eyesore as a step toward racial unity. It works only if we try to naively resolve prejudice by directing it from this group to that group.

This was never The Rev. King’s vision. He prayed God’s children — of all colors — would join hands in defense of dignified treatment for all. We don’t need “black guy” questions or “white guy” questions at the center of political discourse. We need questions of substance about accomplishments, ideas, and visions for the future.

If and when we achieve King’s vision, Americans will lose the phrases “white men,” “black men,” “gay candidate,” “people of color,” and other labels of superficial judgement. We should become free at last from bigotry toward immutable traits that matter far less than values and behavior. Let’s assess character, and treat all people as part of only one human race.

The Gazette editorial board


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.