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Our Opinion: Eagerness provides hope

Despite comments by Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden this week, racism is not an “institutional” aspect of life in the United States.

But it does exist — and that simply is unacceptable. We as a people need to do more to stamp it out.

No form of bigotry, including the anti-Semitic comments made by a few members of Congress, should be tolerated by Americans of all races, colors, creeds, faiths and national origins.

During an interview with reporters on Tuesday, former Vice President Biden described racism as a “white man’s problem visited on people of color.” He added that “White folks are the reason we have institutional racism.”

It was another unfortunate slip of the tongue by Biden. His use of the word “institutional” implies that racism is something widespread, accepted by most people, legal and even codified.

Discrimination by race is illegal everywhere in the United States. The overwhelming majority of Americans have nothing but contempt for racists.

Biden told reporters Wednesday that if he is elected president, racism will “not be tolerated.”

But bigots of all types have existed in our nation for generations. They have persisted even when the machinery of law enforcement — even the military — was mobilized in attempts to prevent violence grounded in prejudice. Racists seek approval only from the tiny minority of their neighbors who share their sickness.

Local, state and federal governments have tried in vain to stamp out racism and other forms of bigotry. They should continue to do so, of course.

Only we as a society — and that means we Americans as individuals — can be effective in battling racism. The very “white folks” cited by Biden are the only answer.

How do we accomplish this? What, exactly, should white Americans do about bigotry? That is an excellent question — and we do not make that observation flippantly.

Clearly, we need to think more realistically about specific actions we as a people can take to rid our nation of racism.

The very fact that so many of us seem eager to do just that is a hopeful sign, but it is just a start. Clearly, we need to do more to ensure that no one among us is ever discriminated against in any way because of skin color — or for any attribute other than his or her character.

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