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Editorial: Racism is still lurking

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Disturbingly, a nationwide Associated Press poll found that racial bigotry still lingers in most white Americans.

A dismaying 79 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats openly expressed negativity toward blacks in answers to questions. A follow-up test for subconscious racism found a similar gap, but narrower.

Immediately after last week's election, a flood of vulgar, crude, racist "tweets" about President Obama swept the Internet, The Atlantic reports. It says West Virginia ranked among the top 10 states where the bigoted sneers originated.

At the University of Mississippi, some white students staged a late-night "riot" yelling racial slurs and burning Obama campaign posters as election returns favored the first black president.

Analysts point out that most white voters supported Republican Mitt Romney -- but human rights crusader Eric Ward noted that "no Democratic candidate for the White House has won a majority of the white vote since the 1964 Civil Rights Act" was passed by Democrats.

The Southern Poverty Law Center says America's number of race-hate fringe groups soared after Obama's election in 2008. Ever since, their publications and Web sites have spewed contemptuous slurs about Obama, as well as all U.S. minorities.

This is sad. We had hoped that old-style discrimination was disappearing, especially among tolerant young Americans. Apparently more time will be required.

One thing is clear: All Americans must learn to accept racial diversity, because the nation's lily-white majority is shrinking, destined to become a minority within the next generation.

Repeatedly, projections by the U.S. Census Bureau have shown that traditional European whites will be less than half of America's populace before 2040. Hispanics, Asians, blacks, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and other subgroups will add up to more than 50 percent by then. Already, a historic landmark occurred this year when the number of white babies fell below half.

A hodgepodge society with no clear majority is inescapable. Everyone, whether bigoted or not, must adapt to reality.

Some scholars worry that white supremacy will remain in a different form -- that affluent whites will continue wielding most wealth and power in America, even after they shrink below half of the population. That's an ugly picture, somewhat akin to South Africa.

Incidentally, U.S. politics undoubtedly will change, because minorities generally vote Democratic. The GOP is chiefly a party of white males. That formula soon will become unsustainable.

The future is creeping up. Regardless of anyone's wishes or attitudes, a different U.S. culture is growing. Many varied types of people will be fellow Americans. All must coexist harmoniously, because the alternative would be dreadful.


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