Tag Archives: racism

Sound and Fury

hail-trump
I’m sure he doesn’t know anything about these guys.

As many of you probably know, I am not a fan of our Dear Leader-to-be, Donald J. Trump. The reasons for my antipathy are many and varied, from his choice of the most anti-LGBTQ governor in America as his vice-president to his relationship with the alt-right, a group of racist trolls whose taint was mostly contained to the internet until the Tangerine Nightmare drew them out from under their bridges. And, of course, there are the temper tantrums he regularly throws on Twitter; all of which would embarrass the brattiest of three year olds.

One of more troubling actions of President-elect Trump’s (I throw up in my mouth a little every time I say that) is his refusal to reject the hateful ideology of the alt-right. Not only has he been silent on the matter, he has appointed their top propagandist, Breitbart’s Steve Bannon, as his chief adviser. And, yes, I realize referring to this as “troubling” is a lot like World War I “a little dust up”.

But, there is a break in these awful black clouds of doom, beloved. Last week, everyone’s favorite “short-fingered vulgarian” finally spoke to the country on this issue. In what only be described as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” Trump “disavowed” the alt-right.

Last Tuesday, during an interview with New York Times staffers, the  PEOTUS was asked about the group and he said “I disavow and condemn them”. Sounds good, right? Well, I wouldn’t get too excited because he also said “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.” It appears our president-elect is the only person in the country who is unaware of how his candidacy and election has breathed new life into what we all hoped was a dying movement. Great, just frickin’ great.

What’s that? You think I shouldn’t criticize Mr. Trump’s remarks out of hand like that? Oh, don’t worry, Sparky, I have given careful consideration to what President-elect BabyHands said. But, the fact that you feel that way makes me think you haven’t. So, let’s take a look at how his statement last week lines up with with what he’s done so far:

  • During his campaign, David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of Ku Klux Klan, was very vocal about his support of Trump. When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if he would repudiate the support of an avowed racist, the future leader of the free world said, “I don’t know anything about David Duke. Okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” (He was lying) But wait, there’s more!
  • After going through campaign operatives like a pothead goes through a bag of tacos, Trump hired Steve Bannon. Yes,beloved, the same Steve Bannon who bragged that Breitbart.com, the website of which he was CEO, was “the platform for the alt-right”. After he won the election and began putting together his cabinet, Trump’s first act was to appoint Bannon as his chief adviser.
  • His pick for Attorney-General, the cabinet official charged with enforcing civil and voting rights is Sen, Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama. This is significant because in 1986, a Republican Senate committee denied Sessions a federal judgeship after former colleagues testified that he “used the n-word and joked about the Ku Klux Klan, saying he thought they were ‘okay, until he learned that they smoked marijuana.’”

So, on one hand we have Trump’s statement that he is not allied with the racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, Neo-Nazi internet trolls who, after his election to the highest office in the land, are now slithering out from under the digital rocks to which they had been relegated. On the other, we have specific actions on his part which indicate that he may have actively courted the support of the alt-right; at the very least, he had no problem with them.Sure, Donald, you “disavow and condemn them” in the same way I “disavow and condemn” my mother’s chocolate cake while shoveling another bite into my mouth.

 

What About The Taco Trucks???

Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.
Will we see one of these on every corner? Probably not. And, that is one of the cruelest blows of this past election.

During the campaign, Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez warned that his culture was a very strong one and, if we didn’t do something about it, we’d have taco trucks on every corner. So, with the election of Donald Trump, who vowed to fix the immigration system, is that wondrous (possible) reality now just a fantasy? Shit. If there’s one thing we don’t need right now, it’s something else to worry about under the regime of the Tiny-handed Terror.

I don’t get it.  Why would anyone vote against the availability of tacos on every corner? Tacos are crunchy, little folders of awesomeness, filled with all kinds of ambrosia-like substances. There is a taco for everyone, from the most hardcore vegan to the dyed-in-the-wool meat eater hell-bent on destroying the environment through livestock-produced methane. And, Americans actually said “no” to that. What the hell, white people?

Understand that when you voted for Trump, you stomped on a dream that everyone could get behind: readily available tacos no further than one city block in any direction. And, for what? Do you honestly think Donald Trump is going to be the champion of the working people like he promised? Right, the guy with a very long, very well-documented history of stiffing people who worked for him has your back. What were you thinking?

I mean, I get it: you’re still out of work, you’re worried that your kids aren’t going to do better than you did. And, let’s be honest: brown people freak you the fuck out. But, wouldn’t a tasty, warm taco take a little of the sting out of that situation? FYI, those “brown people” you’re so worried about? They’re the ones who came up with those tasty bits of heaven in a tortilla.

Hell, even Trump loves tacos. See, here he is enjoying one from the Trump Tower Grill:

trump-taco-bowl

Okay, so it’s not really a taco. It’s a taco bowl (aka “a taco with a big, beautiful wall around it.”). And, being prepared in the grill at Trump Tower, it’s probably about as authentic as something from Taco Bell. But, it’s the sentiment that counts, right. Besides, he loves Hispanics!

We could’ve had taco trucks all over the place; not to mention affordable college, an real healthcare plan, a minimum wage that you actually live on and more. But, no. You had to throw your little temper tantrum. And, what are we getting instead?  A tangerine nightmare, along with warmed-over Republican bullshit like privatizing essential elements of the social safety net, incompetents appointed to key positions, and the legitimization of white supremacy/nationalism. I would say “Bet those taco trucks aren’t sounding so bad right now”, but I know better.

 

Unintentional Irony + Thinly-veiled Racism = Final Thoughts With Tomi Lahren

Illume_Islamophobia_Ridz_002I’ve stayed away from commenting on the shootings that occurred in San Bernardino the other day. I’ve done so for multiple reasons, including that I don’t know what to say and that I’m sick to death of hearing about these mass shooting atrocities. I also didn’t want to add to the cacophony of voices spewing unfounded bullshit. And, let’s be honest, that bullshit came from both sides. The gunsmoke hadn’t even cleared before progressives started their cries for stricter gun control laws even though there is not a law being considered right now that would have prevented this tragic event. And, after we found out that the alleged shooters were Muslims, the right switched over from their pious “thoughts and prayers” rhetoric to thinly veiled racism. But, TheBlaze’s “Final Thoughts With Tomi Lahren” took that racism to a new level in a video titled “God Bless San Bernardino” (there’s no way to embed it here, so click the link).

In a display of breathtaking ignorance, Lahren begins her video with a litany of evidence she considers damning: Stockpiled weapons, explosives, trips to the Middle East, connections to radical clerics. Is it completely circumstantial and really proves nothing? Sure it is, but why bother with trivialities like that? We’ve got to “protect” ourselves. Who cares if some people’s rights get trampled in the process? As long as they’re not hers, of course.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Lahren’s list is that, with the exception of “Middle East travel”, it could apply to more than a few Christians; including Robert Lewis Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter. Of course, Lahren makes no mention of that in any of her videos. The silence of right-wing media types on this subject is telling. It’s the kind of inconvenient and uncomfortable truth they are masters at ignoring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not upset that people are saying that it looks like Farooq and his wife are terrorists; the more we learn about these two, the more that appears to be true. What upsets me is that people have no problem calling them terrorists before all the facts are in, but refuse to acknowledge the same for Dear, even after evidence pointing to that fact is available. I wonder why that might be?

About a minute into her rant, Lahren says, “Folks, if radical Christians start taking over entire countries and radicalizing others on Twitter and YouTube, I will be the first to say something. But, guess what? That’s not happening!” That may be the most unintentionally ironic statement I’ve ever heard. I mean, did a seemingly intelligent adult seriously say, out loud, that Christians aren’t radicalizing people on social media?!? What, are the Planned Parenthood videos, and the attacks on the LGBTQ community and people in poverty figments of my imagination? Hmm, maybe it’s not “radicalization” if it reinforces what you already believe.

Lahren’s cluelessness continues as she hews to the party line about guns, saying that terrorists avoid places like Texas and South Dakota because those places have guns and “Syed Farooq would probably be on the floor with a cap in his butt before he could murder 14 people.” Unfortunately, for Lahren and her Rambo-fantasizing friends, there is ample evidence to show that, most likely, this wouldn’t be the case. Perhaps the most damning is a report from ABC’s 20/20 about this very thing. They ran multiple scenarios which included civilians with varying degrees of experience with firearms (complete novice to gun enthusiast with 100’s of hours at the range). They gave them more training than most states require for a concealed carry permit, armed them with a training weapon and put them in active shooter situations. Not a single one was able to stop the gunman before being hit themselves. In fact, the majority never even got their weapon out and fired; the novice was the only one who did, and she was hit in the head before getting her shot off. So much for that idea.

Ending her “commentary” in a final blaze of ignorance glory, Lahren tells her viewers that “We can’t walk around paranoid, we can’t stay in our homes scared of the next radical”. That’s interesting condsidering that she spent 2 minutes attempting to scare the shit out of people. But, that’s really the raison d’etre of TheBlaze. Well, that and pissing people off. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty good recipe for…, what was that term she used a little earlier? Oh yeah, “radicalization”.

You Stay Classy, Oklahoma!

What a classy way to greet the first African-American president!
What a sensitive way to greet our country’s African-American president!

This has been a rough news week for folks in Oklahoma. In the space of 4 days, residents of the Sooner State have been subjected to a Facebook post from their Republican Party that compared people who receive SNAP benefits to animals and the President of the United States being greeted in their capital city by a group of 10 protestors waving Confederate flags. All I can say is “You stay classy, Oklahoma!”

Let’s tackle these faux pas in chronological order, starting with the GOP’s online “misstep” (which is a nice way of saying “total fuck up”). On Monday, the brilliant soul who manages their social media presence felt the following post was an excellent idea:

“The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest amount of free Meals and Food Stamps ever, to 46 million people. Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us ‘Please Do Not Feed the Animals.’ Their stated reason for the policy is because ‘The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.’ Thus ends today’s lesson in irony #OKGOP.”

No matter what you think about people on food stamps, mentioning them in the same breath as animals probably isn’t the smartest thing you could do. Not only does it open the door for your opponents to make you look callous and uncaring towards people in poverty, it’s punching down, which is not cool. Not to mention that it’s also fucking offensive!

After catching a little heat for their attempt at what I can only assume is humor, state Chairman Randy Brogdon issued an apology…, of sorts. He started out by saying he was sorry if anyone was offended and that such was never the intention of the post. And, that’s where he should’ve stopped. But, of course, he didn’t, going on to “explain” what he was trying to say about the Republican approach to helping the less fortunate. I’m not going into all that right now because I just don’t have the time or the will to discuss such inane ideas. I will, however, point out that any apology that contains an “explanation” usually isn’t much of an apology. Especially when you end with “I apologize for any misconceptions (italics mine) that were created.” I don’t think there were any “misconceptions”, Randy. I believe everyone got your point just fine.

Next, let’s talk about this “greeting” for President Obama. It seems that a group of Oklahoma citizens decided to exercise their 1st Amendment rights and stage a Confederate flag protest in front of the hotel where the president would be staying while in town.That’s right, beloved, people in a state with a long and storied history of racism met our nation’s African-American president with a flag that has come to symbolize racial discrimination and oppression. But wait, there’s more! Why was the president in Oklahoma City in the first place? To visit a federal prison as part of his push to reform a criminal justice system that is incredibly biased against people of color. Why don’t we pause for a second or two and let the irony of all that sink in.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying all the “compassionate conservatism” on display in Oklahoma and elsewhere around the country. Between stories like these and Donald Trump’s comments about immigrants from Mexico, the Republicans are looking really good, aren’t they? Why, it’s just a matter of time before they have the “minority vote” locked up and (insert whack job GOP candidate name here) is residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Of course, by “it’s just a matter of time”, I mean “hell will freeze over”. And, with the current state of the Republican Party, that’s just fine with me.

 

The Man We Thought We Knew

Go Set a Watchman #gsaw #livro #book #harperlee

The long-awaited sequel/prequel/draft/who-the-hell-knows-what-it-is to Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill A Mockingbird” hit the shelves yesterday. Titled “Go Set A Watchman“, the novel has some folks stirred up. Why? Because, in this story, Atticus Finch (aka the greatest literary character ever) turns out to be a racist and a segregationist. That’s a bit awkward, isn’t it?

Now, before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that this a “white people” problem. Seriously, do you think minority folks are worried that some white people have their knickers in a twist because a character in a god-damned book turned out to be kind of assy? Of course not, they’re too busy busting their ass to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads to spend time on something like this. But, that doesn’t mean this is an issue we should ignore.

So, what’s the big deal? Basically, a lot of people can’t seem to reconcile the Atticus of “Watchman” with the one they know and love from “Mockingbird”. In “To Kill A Mockingbird”, Atticus is an infinitely wise man of integrity and a stalwart civil rights warrior. In “Go Set A Watchman”, however, he is a man of his times: a racist and a segregationist. In other words, the exact opposite of who we thought him to be.

In truth, we only thought Atticus was a good man. Why? Because that idea made us feel better, especially us southerners. Growing up in a region populated by men like Bob Jones and George Wallace, we desperately wished for a hero Atticus, one that was everything we wished we were, but weren’t. It’s possible, however, that our idealized version of Atticus set us on the path to becoming that person. “Watchman” is disconcerting because it reveals that our role model has feet of clay and that rocks the foundations of our conviction and faith. I mean, shit, if Atticus is a racist, what does that make me?

The real problem here is that we are applying 21st century values to a character whose entire existence occurred in a time where segregation and overt racism was the norm. Looked at in the context of his time, Atticus Finch was the good man we thought he was. Atticus kept Tom from being lynched and provided the best defense possible in the climate of a Deep South town in the 1930’s. And, he treated Cordelia and the Robinson’s with kindness and a certain level of respect. None of those actions are at odds with the ideas Atticus expresses in “Watchman”. It is possible to do all those things and still believe that people who are black aren’t equal to ones who are white. As you can see, in the context of that time, it didn’t take much to be a “good man”.

In my mind, Atticus’ racism humanizes him in way nothing else could. Someone who came of age in the south of the early 20th century would have no problem doing all the things Atticus does in “Mockingbird” and yet be horrified at the very idea of integration and equal rights. My own grandfather was the same way. I could tell you many stories about how he went out of his way to help black coworkers or neighbors. This same man also told racist jokes and was furious when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record (because “no n*****r should ever break the Babe’s record”). Race is a funny thing in the South and people who aren’t from here don’t really understand it. To be fair, though, most of the people who are from here don’t get it either.

In a conversation about “Watchman”, a friend said that we are “all flawed with, hopefully, moments of greatness.” That describes the Atticus of both novels to a tee. She also said, “I will take joy in sinful people doing amazing things.” And, maybe that’s how we can reconcile these two seemingly disparate images of the man we thought we knew.

Well played, Arkansas. Well played.

This past weekend, the League of the South’s Arkansas chapter  celebrated America’s birthday with a rally in support of “traditional marriage” and, get this, the Confederate flag. I’ll pause here for a minute to the deliciousness of that irony sink in…, is that not awesome? Of course, it’s easy for me to revel in this amazing display of cognitive dissonance since it’s in Arkansas and not North Carolina. I suspect Jena Barber, the friend I must credit for bringing this morsel to my attention, doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

Now that you’ve stopped laughing at the sheer insanity of the event, you may be wondering, “Who the hell is the League of the South?” Oh, I’m so glad you asked (even if you didn’t). The League of the South is a crazy, whacked out group of secessionists who just happen to have their own private army. Oh, and they’ve been designated a Neo-Confederate hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Of course, they don’t describe themselves that way; according to their website, they are “a Southern Nationalist organization whose ultimate goal is a free and independent Southern republic.” Right, because we haven’t lost that war already.

Why am I so happy about something that gives a black eye to the South; a region I love, warts and all? Because it’s not often I get I handed a gift like this. I mean, seriously, an organization designated a hate group by the SPLC has a rally in support of “Traditional Christian Marriage” and the Confederate flag? At the same time?!? Seriously, as a professional smart-ass, how could I not be thrilled by this breathtaking exhibition of cluelessness? If what you’ve read so far isn’t enough, here are 5 more reasons why:

  1. The historical amnesia _ Robert Miller, Arkansas’ Chair of the League of the South, said “the Confederate flag has about as much to do with racism as a Krispy Kreme donut has to do with representing police“. Okay, that’s not really what he said; that quote comes from a blog about Nickelodeon cancelling “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Miller actually made some rambling statement about racism being “irrelevant” and a tool “to silence the enemies of the left”. But, the sentiment is basically the same. Was the flag in question flown by the army of a country who justified owning black folks by counting them as less than human? Sure. And then, 100 years later, was it used as a symbol of defiance against the federal government as they enforced laws granting those black folks equal rights. Absolutely. But, that’s not racism, it’s our heritage.
  2. It’s a Confederate flag rally…, on the 4th of July _  Yes, this was a rally to support the flag of an enemy on the day that celebrates the birth of United States. And, not only that, the rally was staged by a group that wants to leave this country. Why, that  makes perfect sense.
  3. “Traditional Christian Marriage” _ Up until this point, I’ve mostly been talking about the flag, but there’s no way I could let this slide by. “Traditional Christian Marriage”, huh? Right, because marriage hasn’t changed one little bit over the years: marriages are arranged by families, women are basically chattel and are betrothed at ages as young as 12, divorce is the sole province of men, etc. Just so you know, I didn’t go back to the first century for those ideas; that’s the way marriage was in the United States as recently as the 1800’s.
  4. Cultural Genocide _ Yes, removing a symbol that is offensive to 30% of a state’s population from the grounds of a building that’s supposed to represent those people is “cultural genocide”. Just like the recognition that other people have the same rights that you’ve enjoyed for years violates your religious liberty.
  5. Freedom _ “Unless we are removed from them, unless we are free, unless we secede from the Union, we will never see a free south again.” Said by a man who is the state chairman of a group advocating an illegal act, while waving an enemy flag. And, didn’t get arrested for doing so.

I have to admit I’m a little jealous, though. I mean, North Carolina’s entry in this round of the “Race to Crazy” sweepstakes is sending a Klan group to Columbia SC to protest the discussion of another state to remove the flag from their capitol grounds. While that is some Grade A racism, it’s nowhere near as imaginative as a 4th of July rally in support of the Confederate battle flag and “traditional” marriage. Well played, Arkansas. Well played.

You’re Making The Rest Of Us Look Bad

Between the craziness about the flag and the way conservative Christians have lost their fucking minds over the Court’s ruling on marriage, it’s an interesting time to be a progressive blogger with a snarky, sarcastic side. We’ve all seen the crap coming from Tony Perkins, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and a host of others.  But, the most consistent purveyor of bat-crap crazy has got to be Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. In a field of frothing-at-the-mouth nitwits, Fischer manages to rise head and shoulders above all the others with utterances like this:

Bryan Fischer back of the bus
Image courtesy of Dan Arel’s danothropolgy blog on Patheos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, beloved, you can believe your eyes: a white guy just compared the imagined persecution of a bunch of (mostly) white people to the Civil Rights movement. Funny, I haven’t seen the cops turning fire hoses and attack dogs on conservative Christians because they’re protesting the recognition of someone else’s rights. My god, the irony in that statement is almost as palpable as Fischer’s cluelessness.

Sadly, that’s not the only demented thing he has to say on the subject; it was just another post in a Twitter rant that’s still going on. So far, Fischer has called the Supreme Court “rainbow jihadists”; said that Justice Kennedy “killed” the 1st Amendment; compared people who are LGBT+ to Nazi’s (aka “the Gay Gestapo”); claimed that SCOTUS released the ruling when they did in order to “turbo-charge gay pride parades” and said (this may be favorite) that the “Supreme Court makes it harder to go to heaven”. You know, Fischer’s ranting is almost as imaginative as that of Antonin Scalia. Were these two separated at birth or something?

As I said earlier, Fischer isn’t the only one saying this kind of stuff, he’s just the most…, let’s say, “interesting”. Now, most of these assholes have an agenda to push: Huckabee and Santorum are trying to whip their supporters into a frenzy that they hope will result in votes; Perkins and some others are attempting to scare people into sending them more money; a few, like certain people on Fox (I’m looking at you, Bill O’Reilly), are attention whores who desperately hope their comments translate into higher ratings. Almost none of these people actually believe the crap they’re putting out; it’s just a means to an end. Only a few, like Fischer, are “true believers” and are throughly convinced of the rightness (and, righteousness) of their message. But, that doesn’t make what they say any less stupid or damaging.

If the propagators of this bullshit were just sleazy politicians pandering for votes and attention whores trolling for ratings, it would be one thing. But, it’s not; almost all the ugly things being said about same-sex marriage, affordable health care, racism, income inequality and a host of other important issues are coming from people who claim to be followers of Christ. What…the…actual…fuck? Seriously, almost everything these people say is in direct opposition to what Jesus taught. What, you don’t believe me? Well, let’s a take a quick look:

  • Same-sex marriage _  this is a tough one, because Jesus didn’t say much about marriage in general and nothing at all about same-sex marriage. In fact, the only thing he did say on the subject concerned  divorce. While some folks try to say that passage somehow speaks to what Jesus thought about same-sex marriage or sexual orientation (concepts that didn’t even exist when this was said), that’s a stretch, at best. And, disingenuous at worst.
  • Affordable health care _ Again, we’re faced with a dilemma because, like LGBT+ issues, this wasn’t even a thing is the 1st century. And, again, Jesus never said anything about it. But, considering that most of the miracles he performed were healings, I have a sneaking suspicion that he’d be cool with the idea.
  • Income Inequality _ Finally some solid ground! What’s that you say? Jesus would never condone redistribution of wealth? Au contraire, mon frere. He specifically did so in Mark 10 (aka the story of the rich young man). So, yeah.
  • Racism _ Now, the J-man didn’t specifically speak about racism, but he did tell his followers to love each other. Losing your shit when we just talk about removing a flag that symbolizes racism and oppression to a lot of people in this country isn’t exactly what I’d call loving. Come on y’all, it’s not that god-damned hard to figure out.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not saying you can’t agree with Fischer on these and other subjects. Hell, I’m not even saying that you can’t call yourself a Christian if you do. As proponent of free will, I believe you can do and say anything you want. But, if you decide to keep this up, I really wish you’d find another name for yourselves. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

It’s Heritage, Not Hate

satire defOnce again, South Carolina’s display of a Confederate flag on the grounds of their state house is in the news. Which means that, once again, proud southerners like me are called upon to defend our heritage against the ravening hordes of liberal, PC police who want to deny us the right to celebrate our ancestors in the most meaningful way possible: clinging to the symbol of a defeated nation and its ideals. Sure, that flag only flies on South Carolina’s capitol grounds as a way of giving the feds the finger at being forced to treat black folks like something approaching equal human beings, but that doesn’t mean it’s about hate. Does it?

For those of you who live under a rock, last Wednesday, some little nerd walked into a church in Charleston, SC and killed 9 folks. Somehow, that means I should now be ashamed of my heritage. Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. My heritage is not about hate, it’s about honoring men who felt so strongly about the ownership of other people, they were willing to send my ancestors to their deaths to protect it. And, then 100 years later, waging an insurgency to keep black folks subjugated preserve the southern way of life. Where’s the hate in that?

Since then, there has been a plethora of folks signing petitions and calling for the state to remove the flag. I hate to break it to you all , but you probably won’t get the response you’re hoping for. Why? Because southerners are fiercely independent lot and this is the kind of foolishness makes us dig in our heels deeper. What would work? Damned if I know.

Actually, pitching a fit and calling the Confederate flag treasonous and a symbol of white supremacy while still saluting the American flag is just the sort of disingenuous nonsense I expect from this bunch of pinko commie jerks. Don’t they know that slavery existed under the American flag for 89 years before the U. S. finally did the right thing and abolished it completely in 1865. Or, that the flag of the C.S.A. never flew over a single slave ship? Of course, many  northern states abolished slavery in the early 19th century and the international slave trade was outlawed over 50 years before the first state seceded from the Union, but why get bogged down in minutiae?

In answer to all this uproar, I refer you to what a friend of mine (who grew up in SC) said recently, “Taking the Confederate flag down won’t solve our racial problems.” Exactly, so why bother? Oh yeah, he also said some communist sounding stuff about how leaving it up means we don’t really care about addressing those problems, but he’s a Presbyterian, so what does he know?

A certain wag has said, ” Whatever the Confederate flag might mean to me or any other white person, it’s offensive to our neighbors of color. Hospitality (which we southerners claim to be so good at) demands that we respect their wishes and remove it.” Obviously, this ninny has no idea what he’s talking about. Anyone with a brain knows that hospitality is about sipping sweet tea on the veranda with friends, not all that ugly political stuff.

As I said earlier, I am a proud son of the south and my family has lived in this region since the mid-1600’s. My ancestors were both yeoman farmers and well-to-do planters who fought for both the Confederacy and the United States (though not during the War of Northern Aggression. It’s not like they were traitors or something). Because of those things, I know there is more to the flag than just hatred and racism. It’s also about threatening to take our ball and go home every time the federal government does something we don’t like.

So, to all you scalawags who call upon South Carolina to take down the flag, I say you can have that sacred symbol when you pry it from our cold, dead fingers. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go watch FoxNews and see the latest attempt of the Muslim in the White House to incite the thugs and race-baiters into declaring war on God-fearing white people. Courage, y’all!

A Post-Post-Racial Society?

post_racial-name-tagI have a confession to make: I didn’t vote for Barrack Obama in 2008. While I’m not sure if that means I was a racist back then, the fact that I did vote for him in 2012 has to show that I have overcome whatever racist tendencies from my youth might have hung on into my adulthood, right? I mean, seriously, if a white, southern man born in the 60’s voting for a black man for president isn’t proof that he’s not racist, I don’t know what is. Accordingly, the fact that more than 50% of Americans voted for a “black” in the last two presidential elections has to be proof that we now live in a post-racial society. Doesn’t that make you happy? Of course it does.

Oh sure, there are plenty of nay-sayers trying to tell us this is actually a “post-post-racial” society, pointing out things like Cliven Bundy’s comment about “the Negro” or Donald Sterling telling his mixed-race “friend” not to bring black people to his games. But, these critics are wrong. These are isolated incidents of old farts who haven’t gotten with program and joined us in the utopia that is Post-Racial America. That means, of course, they’re outliers (aka “inconvenient facts white people want to ignore”) that can be tossed out.

What’s that you say?  How do I account for Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson, Missouri? Well, people in the know say Darren Wilson should be commended for shooting that thug. And, don’t even start with Eric Garner. That man was breaking the law. While his death was a regrettable occurrence, it was his own fault, as determined by Congressman Peter King, a noted medical expert (if “noted medical expert” means “man who’s been to the doctor”). You people act like these thugs (i.e. black men who make white people uncomfortable) are American citizens and have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” like the rest of us (i.e. white people). Puh-leeze.

What about the recently surfaced video purporting to show members of that fine, southern fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, you ask? Look, you and I both know that was a silly mistake fueled by alcohol and the demonic “music” that is hip-hop/rap.  Why, the very idea that young men with the kind of pedigree it takes to get into such an august institution could ever be overtly racist is ludicrous. Families of quality just don’t do that sort of thing.

Before you start, I don’t want to hear any guff about the new voting laws some states have passed. Why is having to show a photo ID such a big deal? (outside the fact that voter fraud is practically non-existent, of course) I mean, doesn’t everyone have a driver’s license? And, if they don’t, how hard is it to go down to the local DMV and get one?  (I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Eric Kennie) Besides, these laws aren’t racist because they aren’t meant to keep any particular ethnic group from voting, they’re meant to suppress Democratic voter turnout. The fact that minorities vote heavily Democratic is just a coincidence (or,a happy accident. Take your pick).

The fact of the matter is, that yes, ugly things have happened in our past. And, yes, there are rare occasions where they happen in our present. But, that doesn’t mean we should focus on them (because they might get fixed?). Aren’t we past all this “racial” stuff? We have a black president, for God’s sake.

That Could’ve Been Me

There was one of these billboards just across the line in Randolph County when I was a youngster.
There was one of these billboards just across the line in Randolph County when I was a youngster.
           Last week, PBS aired Klansville U.S.A.,  a documentary about Bob Jones and the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolian in the 1960’s. It was one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in quite a while and I highly recommend it. The basics presented weren’t exactly news to me, as I grew in the 60’s and 70’s knowing that the Klan not only existed, but that some of the people in my community were most likely members. Hell, as the caption in the picture above states, there were billboards across the state attesting to that fact. But, I did not know that the North Carolina chapter of the United Klans of America was the largest in the country in its heyday, boasting 10,000 dues-paying members. Coupled with the fact that North Carolina has long been considered the most progressive state in the South((a reputation our “esteemed” legislators seem intent on trashing)), this fact illustrates the weird relationship many southerners have with race relations.
          While I found all that interesting, the characterization of Bob Jones had me absolutely riveted. Jones was a working-class guy from Salisbury, NC who drifted from job to job, was kicked out of the Navy in the 1940’s for refusing to salute a black officer and found his raison d’être as the most influential Klan leader in the country. As I watched a couple of interviews with him, I was struck at the ease with which the word “n***er” rolled off his tongue. And, like many southerners of the time((Hell, like many southerners today)), Jones had no real animosity toward his African-American neighbors…, as long as they knew their place and stayed in it, of course. His father was a Klansman during its early 20th century  resurgence and Jones liked to boast that his mother marched with the local Klavern while she was pregnant with him. Right about now, you’re probably wondering why someone like Bob Jones would capture my attention that way. It’s because I could easily have turned out just like him.
          I also grew up in a working-class family, the descendant of farmers and mill hands. I drifted from job to job until I found my raison d’etre in the fire department. Hell, I was even kicked out the Air Force((not because I wouldn’t salute a black officer, though)). Racism was present in my own family, too. My grandfather never hesitated to drop an “N-bomb” and was incensed at Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s record. My dad loved tell my brother and I racial jokes and broke out a few “N-bombs” himself over the years. And, as I got older, it was rumored that at least one fellow volunteer firefighter was a card-carrying Klansman((A rumor he did nothing to dispel)). Add to that the fact that I was a white kid during the civil rights movement, a time of great upheaval in the South and a racially charged atmosphere was impossible to avoid, and even I question how I didn’t become the next Bob Jones.
          So, what happened? Why didn’t I turn out like Jones or the people I knew growing up with who supported the Klan, either through membership or turning a blind eye to it? My family, that’s what happened. Because, while my father and grandfather could say “n***er” with relative impunity, that was a short cut to getting my mouth washed out with soap (which was really a best-case scenario). Because some members of my family might not have always spoken kindly about African-Americans as as a group, they always treated individual black people with respect and kindness. Because, even though he loved telling those awful jokes, my father taught me that what mattered was a person’s character, not their skin color((he never said so overtly, but that’s the way he lived)). While all of that was important in making me who am I today, I think I turned out this way mostly because my family wasn’t afraid.
         I say that because racism and discrimination exist because of fear. Fear of what, you ask? In a word, change. Poor  white  people fought (and still fight) integration and equal rights for people of color not because they’re bad people, but because they’re afraid that if these folks achieve equality, they could lose what little they have. And, when you don’t have much, you’ll fight tooth and nail to preserve it.
           So, why didn’t my family succumb to this fear? At least part of it can be attributed to our economic situation. My father worked for the U.S. Post Office, which was about as secure as jobs got in those days. My grandfather drove a truck for Southern Railway, which almost as good. But, there was also a strength in my forebears that wouldn’t allow them to blame their misfortunes on others. When hours got cut and money was tight, well, you took your belt up another notch and did whatever was needed to get by. You did not, under any circumstances, waste time finding someone to blame for your bad luck. Were we that different from other families? I don’t think so, but sometimes I wonder.
          I realize this an odd post for Martin Luther King Day, but I believe it’s more honest than anything I could write about Dr. King. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the man and am astounded at what he accomplished. But, as a white man born and raised in the South, my journey is vastly different from King’s and that of my friends and neighbors of color. But, those paths intersect on a regular basis and we have to find a way walk together when they do. That only happens when we see each other as human, not rednecks or n***ers.