Wednesdays are known as hump days, halfway toward the end of the work week or, stated more optimistically, halfway to the weekend.
But incidents on opposite sides of the country this Wednesday remind us of another stage in a journey, and we are troubled by what it seems to tell us.
On Wednesday morning, thousands of students disembarked from school buses at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Something entered the building with them: A noose.
According to news reports, at some point in the afternoon, someone left the noose in the part of the museum telling the story of segregation in our nation. There was no mistaking what that noose represented — the lynching of hundreds of black Americans that terrorized our nation for the better part of 150 years.
That same day, on the opposite end of the country, a call came into the Los Angeles Police Department. Someone spray-painted the N-word on the gate of a home owned by NBA star LeBron James.
If Wednesday is, indeed, a hump day, when it comes to the subject of race, we ain’t over that hump. Not by a long shot.
These incidents, given their circumstances, are high profile examples of what now appears to be a increasing trend. Just last month, a Mississippi legislator from Winona created a firestorm when he said those removing Conference monuments in New Orleans should be lynched.
Similar examples seem to occur with increasing frequency and harshness. While we’re not sure what to attribute this ugly phenomenon, it seems rooted in the election cycle just past. The tenor of our public discourse has taken a harsh, disdainful tone.
The only remedy is that decent Americans must speak with one clear, unified unmistakable voice. These sort of racist acts will not be tolerated and will be bear the full weight of our scorn. The First Amendment may protect your right to express these sentiments, but in the court of pubic opinion, you will be dealt with mercilessly.
When Karl Oliver can issue a simple apology and expect to resume his duties as if nothing ever happened, he has yet to pay the just penalty for his offense.
If we are to put an end to this disturbing trend, the collective condemnation of the American conscience must crush those who feel emboldened to speak and act in such a repulsive manner.
Wednesday was a hump day.
It’s time to get over that hump.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.