There is a sad tendency among some to think every problem requires a government-funded entity to “fix” it. That attitude was on display at the final meeting of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.
The Legislature voted to end the commission and charge the state attorney general with civil rights enforcement. However, the commission's chairman believes the group's other “important responsibilities” will be ignored, such as educating about civil rights, promoting better relations between racial groups and helping defuse racial tensions. Since the vast majority of Oklahomans have never heard of the Human Rights Commission, we're skeptical the group's education efforts were that effective. And we can't recall a racially charged situation where the commission was brought in to save the day.
Undoubtedly, race relations have improved during the 50 years of the commission's existence. But that change came from the acts of private citizens, not the Human Rights Commission. The Pew Research Center reported that interracial marriage reached an all-time national high in 2010. In Oklahoma, Pew found 26.3 percent of marriages were interracial, second highest in the country.
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