Anybody interested in a real discussion of race and poverty in America must read John McWhorter’s “Racism!’ They Charged. When don’t they?” in the forthcoming City Journal:

“No one will deny that what we have seen on our television screens points to the tragic realities of racial disparity, in an unusually stark way. The almost all-black crowds sweltering, starving, and dying in the convention center have shown us that in New Orleans, as in so many other places, to be poor is often to be black. There is a debate to be had on whether this reality is the legacy of racism – either past or present – but as we face the prospect of finding many thousands of dead as the waters recede, historical debates of this kind can and should wait.

“To claim that racism is the reason that the rescue effort was so slow is not a matter of debate at all: It’s nothing more than a handy way to get media attention, or to help sell a new CD. It’s self-affirming, too, if playing the victim is the only way you know to make yourself feel like you matter.

“It is also absurd.”