President Bill Clinton’s initiative on race is already running into the classic problem of American ventures in brotherhood and sisterhood: We can be nice or we can be honest, but we rarely manage both.
This is not a cynical statement. Nice means we try to get along, respect each other, and not pick fights. Honest means we’re upfront about our differences, not only between blacks and whites, but also among blacks, whites, Asians,...
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E. J. Dionne Jr. is a syndicated columnist, professor of government at Georgetown University, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. His most recent book is Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent (Bloomsbury Press).