When President Obama was asked what he thought of the Sterling affair while traveling in Malaysia two days ago, he responded:
"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk…We constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength….The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination."
Leaving aside the appropriateness of the President commenting on an illegally-recorded private conversation between a cantankerous 80-year-old sugar daddy and his gold-digging ex-mistress, Obama's take is revealing.
Note the way Obama relates Sterling's ill-chosen words to slavery and segregation. Whenever liberals argue about racial matters, they never miss a chance to air those grievances. But as is becoming increasingly clear, l'affaire Sterling has precious little to do with either slavery or Jim Crow.
This whole sordid episode is about Sterling's age, his jealousy, and the young black studs his mistress was hanging out with. He just didn't want to be cuckolded quite so publicly. It's also about how she wanted to hang on to the Bentley, the Ferrari, and the apartment. End of story.
Even the two quotes Wikipedia attributed to Sterling on the subject of race, that Hispanics "smoke, drink and just hang around the building," and that "black tenants smell and attract vermin," have no connection to slavery or Jim Crow. It seems more likely that they came from his experiences as a landlord. (As such, he's had far more firsthand experience with minorities than most whites will ever have.)
Yet, somehow Obama chose to make this lovers' quarrel about slavery and Jim Crow.
As Obama himself said, "When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk…"