Guilt by association?

Or guilt trip by association?

Either way, blaming someone for something someone else did is rarely fair.

So the S.C. General Assembly shouldn't approve its fair share of funding for the International African American Museum as penance for white guilt over the enslavement and subsequent Jim Crow injustice inflicted upon black people.

The Legislature should do so for far-more-valid reasons.

More on that later.

Back to guilt by association:

Fast-breaking furor now ludicrously links white Americans in general to the recent offensive utterances of two white Americans in particular.

Donald Sterling, the 81-year-old real estate magnate who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, evidently told his 23-year-old girlfriend (seriously?) V. Stifiano: "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling then asked Stifiano "not to bring [black people] to our games."

On Friday night, TMZ released that recording of what Sterling thought would remain a private conversation.

Earlier last week, 67-year-old Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, while musing about "the Negro," told a New York Times reporter: "And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy?"

Those rancid remarks from a couple of aged relics are being widely heralded as a twin-killing rebuttal of the fallacy that America has elevated to "post-racial" status.

OK, so we are not, and likely never will be, "post-racial." And some few white Americans retain ugly, us-against-them notions on race.

Then again, so do some black Americans.

Running for cover

Yes, some conservative commentators and Republican politicians had rashly rushed to praise Bundy after he took up arms to defend his dubiously perceived right for his cattle to graze for free on federal land. But once Bundy dropped his verbal "better off as slaves" stink bomb, Sean Hannity, Rand Paul and the rest dropped him like a bad habit.

Unfortunately though, Bundy and Sterling fed the lingering suspicion that lots of white Americans agree with them on race, but just know better than to say so.

Yet many Americans of all races have friends of assorted races - and have to an encouraging degree left ethnicity fixation behind. Or at least they're trying to get past it while being deluged by the latest media-hyped uproar over racial "insensitivity," "injustice" or "divisions."

Not counting this fair and balanced column, of course.

Sure, there's a huge gap in political views between black folks and white folks: According to the Roper Center, Obama won the black vote by 93-6 percent in 2012 but lost the white vote to Mitt Romney by 59-39 percent.

Still, Obama, a black man raised by a white mother and white grandparents, is our president.

Meanwhile, the news broke Monday that a black woman who served as U.S. Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice) will campaign in Greenville next month for South Carolina's white senior U.S. senator (Lindsey Graham). Our junior U.S. senator (Tim Scott) is black. Though Scott was appointed to that job by our governor (Nikki Haley), who is neither white nor a man, S.C. voters will keep him in that office in November. And our 6th District congressional representative, the No. 3 Democrat in the U.S. House, is black (Jim Clyburn).

Location, location ...

No, the breakup of the white monopoly on elective power doesn't mean South Carolina - or America - has entered a "post-racial" phase. But it is another sure sign that racism is in ragged retreat in both our state and nation.

And there's no place like home for the International African American Museum near Gadsden's Wharf by the S.C. Aquarium. After all, Charleston was the No. 1 port of entry for Africans brought here in human bondage.

So state lawmakers need to step up and fund their fair share of that project.

Don't think of it as white folks paying to avert guilt by association with a couple of old creeps - or as a guilt trip over old times not forgotten.

Think of it as a wise investment in an enlightening, uniting, educational asset and outstanding tourist attraction.

Because regardless of our past, we are all in the onrushing future together.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.