Politics

‘BlacKkKlansman’ holds a mirror to America’s deepest problem. Will we look? | Leonard Pitts Jr. | Columns

Editor’s note: Mary Sanchez is filling while Mr. Pitts is away.

The credits were rolling, Spike Lee’s latest offering to cinema, the Cannes Film Festival sensation “BlacKkKlansman,” was concluding in a Midwestern premiere.

A man seated next to him leaned over to Lee’s co-writer Kevin Willmott with a confession, followed by a denial.

“I voted for Donald Trump,” he said.

There was a pause, as others within earshot at the small private screening waited to hear what the man might say next.

“I’m not like that,” he began to insist.

Willmott, in recalling the moment in an interview, said he held back from making a soothing comment to release the man from the tension of that moment. He wanted him to continue reflecting.

It should be noted that nobody in the screening room called the man a “deplorable” or any other epithet commonly slapped onto Trump voters.

That doesn’t mean he gets a pass. And America can’t take one either right now.

Under Trump’s presidency we are losing our moral compass, our respect for democracy and each other in a number of extremely harmful ways. The problem is bigger than Trump. We didn’t land in this place of hyper-division, of caustic political discourse, of nonchalance toward racial hatred, in one election cycle.

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