12/07/2014 07:01 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2015

Why Don't Conservatives See Racism?

You can build an extensive library on the books detailing the long and sordid history of racial discrimination in the United States. You can find volumes of books on the attempts by activist liberals to convince the country to live up to its promise of equality for all.

Conservatives have a strong presence in both collections -- as perpetrators of racial discrimination in one and obstructionists of racial equality in the other.

This historical narrative shows no signs of changing, given the reactions of the far right to recent events, including restricting voter registration, blocking immigration reform, and the grand jury decisions in Staten Island, N.Y., and in Ferguson, Missouri.

N.Y. congressman Peter King said race did not contribute to the death of Eric Garner, a black man, who died after being put in a chokehold by a white police officer while being arrested in Staten Island. King also said race did not affect the grand jury's decision not to indict the officer.

Fox News commentator Ben Stein said that racism didn't play a part in the death of Michael Brown this summer in Ferguson. Stein says there is no racism among white people. He says that racism is a black thing.

History, too, must be a black thing. It was a black thing when black men were lynched a century ago, or nowadays when a white police officer shoots an unarmed black man, or in the recent case in Cleveland, an unarmed 12-year-old boy.

It also is a black thing when blacks are racially profiled; considered guilty until proven otherwise; sentenced to jail with dubious evidence; or denied jobs or admission to predominantly white schools -- unless they are talented athletes.

We hear ad nauseam from conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jonah Goldberg, Charles Krauthammer, and Ann Coulter, that racism doesn't exist anymore or, if does, that liberals perpetuate it for political purposes..

If you think racism doesn't exist anymore, ask someone who regularly faces racial discrimination.

History praises those who saw racism and tried to end it rather that those who either perpetuated racism or denied its existence. We admire Abraham Lincoln, not Nathan Bedford Forrest; Rosa Parks, not George Wallace; Martin Luther King Jr., not "Bull" Connor; and John Lewis, not Jesse Helms.

Why are there so few conservatives in the past who saw racism and tried to end it? Perhaps more importantly, why are there so few conservatives in the present who see racism?