Commentary: Perdue's dismissal of ABC chairman over e-mail sets good standard

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

It's hard to believe that at a time when much of America was celebrating the election of a new president – and its first of African American descent – a ranking state government official would send e-mail ridiculing the president-elect and his family with a patently racist image.

But Douglas A. Fox, a Wilmington lawyer and the $110,000 a year chairman of the N.C. state ABC board, apparently did just that a few days after President Obama's election last November. An e-mail depicting a large watermelon patch growing on the South Lawn of the White House, under the caption "There goes the neighborhood…" was sent from Fox's e-mail account at his law firm. It arrived there after being forwarded to his e-mail address by others. From there it was sent to at least one liquor lobbyist.

It's hard to know whether to worry more about Fox's views on race or his judgment.

The image is reflective of bigoted humor more common to the late 19th century, when a number of American institutions including the press, as well as mean-spirited citizens, used pictures and words to degrade the reputation of black people. But in the modern era, most citizens have learned not to use racist language or take racist actions, whether in public office or in their private dealings. In a diverse society, there is no room for that kind of narrow-minded discrimination.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.

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