If America ever did anything totally counterproductive, if not totally crazy, it has involved racism. The most destructive war in our history involved racism to a major degree. Much of our poverty problem today revolves around racism. Much of our crime problem involves racism.

Racism is involved in our budgetary problems. Racism fills prisons and robs industry of productive workers. Racism increases taxes and reduces wealth. Racism increases social tension, hostility, violence, and rioting. Racism makes everybody unsafe. I can't think of a single benefit that racism has ever provided unless you consider an opportunity to feel superior to someone else to be a benefit. In these uncertain times, we need a chain of unity.

Racial conflict is a many-headed monster, and you never know where it will strike next. It is also surprisingly fickle. I can remember back when the U.S. was engaged in World War II in the early 1940s. I was in grade school then, and everybody absolutely hated the German and Japanese races. We strutted around doing the goose-step and pulling our eyes into slanted shapes while we made rude comments and laughed. You can't imagine everybody's contempt at the time.

Well, the war finally ended, and what do you know? Here came our boys home with all these beautiful Japanese and German brides, and school children were preparing care packages containing toothpaste, toothbrushes, combs, soap and stuff to send to the German and Japanese people.

Skip forward a few years, and I was a stenographer in the Army. One day, our office was busy with all sorts of administrative work when the door opened and in walked a stunningly beautiful Japanese woman, serene and confident. Every man in the office stopped dead in his tracks and stared as she walked over to the sergeant major's desk, exchanged a few words, and left. Sgt. Maj. Camp looked around and saw the effect she had on everybody, smiled, and said, "That was my wife."

I always found it interesting that people of different nationalities seemed to come to America in waves instead of a few from here or there in a steady stream. As each new nationality arrived, they were met with hate, contempt, and deprecation. When the Irish came, they frequently saw signs in the windows of stores saying, "No dogs or Irish allowed." Next thing you know, we had an Irish president who was Catholic, as well.

In their times, Greeks and Italians came, only to face their own racial problems. Since few spoke English, earlier Americans often thought communication could be improved if they just spoke very slowly and shouted their message. "DO...YOU...SPEAK...ENGLISH?" There seemed to be a lot more respect when the Mafia arrived.

Still, racial conflict is no laughing matter. Man's inhumanity to man has made countless millions mourn. No doubt, it all traces back to mankind's primitive past when wandering groups of hunters had to fight to protect the best hunting grounds or cave accommodations from groups that didn't look like them. Whatever the case may be, there is absolutely no excuse for the inhuman abuse that has befallen so many without cause. In trying times, we need everybody's support.

What blind insanity could ever explain the cruel, brutal, murderous treatment of the Jews during the Holocaust and at other points in history? And who could view the enslavement of millions of Africans with anything but horror? Some still believe they can enhance their own worth by depreciating the value of others. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Fred Gibson, of Tahlequah, is a retired educator with an ongoing interest in U.S. and world politics.

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