After L.A.—Causes, Root Causes, and Cures

National Review, June 8, 1992.


The Rodney King verdict seemed as outrageous to me as it did to most Americans. But if it was outrageous, it was also laden with meaning. It opens a new and explosively dangerous period in American race relations. There is every reason to be pessimistic about the outcome. And what we see in response, by white and black leaders alike, is posturing. So let me open by summarizing my interpretation of events as bluntly as possible.

1) The Rodney King verdict was an expression of white fear about black crime, and this fear is grounded in reality.

2) The white reaction to the riots will be profoundly different from the reaction in the 1960s, because a consensus of whites no longer accepts that whites are to blame for black problems. This shift in opinion is also grounded in reality.