Wingnuts of a Different Color

Last week, I was involved in a conversation about the “Jena 6” and what’s going on “Down There” in the Void we call the “South.”

Several “Liberals” attempted to convince me that the response to what happened in Jena, specifically the hanging of the Nooses from a tree in the School’s Courtyard, was nothing more than the result of “Political Correctness.”

I must admit I was astonished by this reaction. After all, I thought “Liberals” were the ones who fought for the Underdog. (Insert Sarcasm).

According to them the hanging of the Nooses was nothing more than a “Prank.”

Yes, it was offensive, and cruel, but it was just a “Prank.”

It was just a Prank?

Suspend reality for a moment and forget what a Noose represents in the minds of Blacks, especially in the South.

Those kids were just messing around, and they didn’t mean anything threatening.

Really?

If they were not trying to “Threaten” why hang a Noose? Why not hang a sign or Heaven Forbid talk to the other students and ask if they’d mind sitting elsewhere?

Instead-

They chose to hang a Noose. A symbol of Lynching. A symbol of Oppression, and a Reminder of what can happen if the “Niggers” get too uppity.

Whether Southerners will admit it or not, for many the Civil War never ended, and the Civil Rights Act never passed.

I don’t condone what those boys did at all. Violence, for the most part, is unnecessary.

But.

I must admit I’m surprised events like this don’t occur far more often.

When I worked in Florida for several years in the 1990’s, I witnessed the “South Will Rise Again” ideology firsthand.

The Supervisor of the Camp (Randy) where I worked was, among many things, a Racist Fucker.

I remember a story related to me by my immediate Supervisor (Fred) about how he ran into Randy and his son at a Beach in Clearwater.

Randy’s son was a Son of a Bitch to say the least.

He loved to chase the Peacocks we had on the property because, as his Father said, “He just wants to play with them.”

No.

He was trying to catch one so he could kill it.

Anyway.

Fred runs into Randy and “Damien” at the Beach one afternoon, and being polite he walks over to say hello.

When he asks Damien if he’s having fun, Damien tells him, “I was until all the Moolies started showing up.”

(Fred is Black)

After hearing the story, I asked Fred if Randy said anything to the Little Bastard.

“No, Randy’s the one who taught him that word. He’s used it here in the Office in front of me.”

“He’s called you a Moolie?”

“No, he doesn’t call me that, he calls other people that as though it has no Effect on me because I’m ‘One of the Good Ones.’ He expects me to know the Difference.”

“You mean the, ‘I don’t hate blacks, I just hate Niggers’ routine?”

“Well, not exactly. He thinks we’re all Niggers, but he Tolerates me because he needs me. He doesn’t want to Run this place. He can barely deal with his son.” (Damien, ironically, ended up being placed in one of our camps several years later. Fucking Sociopath).

At this point, I had only worked there a couple of months, and my contact with Randy was minimal. I had no idea what a Dumbass Cracker he was, but over time he’d “Learn” me.

One of my first conversations with Randy took place in the Lobby of our Office. He was asking me (As he would over and over again for the next 20 months) about being a Vegetarian.

“Ya know. Muh dad told me Real Men Eat Meat.”

“Really, then why don’t you Eat Me you Fat Fuck.” I did not say.

Randy weighed at least 300 pounds, and had recently gone through Heart Bypass Surgery. (A “Real Man” indeed).

“It’s a lot healthier Randy. You might be surprised if you gave it a chance.”

“Nah, I like muh meat. Ya don’t think it’s kinda queer? Eh, I guess ya Yankees live in a different world. Down here that don’t make no sense.”

Yankee?

Later I asked Fred about Randy calling me a “Yankee.” (I’m impervious to Meatavores asking me about being a Vegetarian. Meatheads are obsessed with Vegetarians. I wonder if it’s because somewhere in their Tiny Heads they think about eating us. After all, cows are Vegetarians).

“Fred, he knows I’m from Louisville. How in the Fuck does that make me a Yankee? People from the North think everyone from KY is a Hillbilly.”

“Kentucky didn’t join the Confederacy.”

“What?”

“Kentucky refused to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.”

“So?”

“So, to people like Randy that makes you a Yankee, and it also makes those from your state, Traitors.”

“Traitors? What in the Fuck is Wrong with that Yokel? The Civil War is over, and the South lost. They are aware of this rather important fact?”

“Oh yes, they’ve never forgotten it. (Fred grew up in Mississippi) In their minds, the time will come when they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves.”

“You’re Fucking Kidding me?”

“No, I’m not kidding. Why do you think Reagan made a point to bring up ‘State’s Rights’ in one of his speeches? What do you think he was talking about?”

“It’s a euphemism. A politically correct way to ‘wink, wink, nod, nod’ at those who still believe the South had the right to own Slaves.”

“Exactly. And do you think Reagan, and the many Republicans who’ve followed would address that issue if there were only a handful of people who still believed? I’m sure you’ve heard of the Southern Strategy.”

“Holy shit. So you’re telling me there are people in the South waiting for the day when it will ‘Rise Again’?”

“Yep. A lot more of them than you think. Many places in the South are straight of out of the 1950’s. Nothing has changed. It’s just not so overt, and it doesn’t get much publicity since the Civil Rights Movement is over. Besides, they don’t want any attention. They didn’t like having the Spotlight on them the way it was in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement.”

A decade later my friend’s words proved Prophetic.

It began in New Orleans, a city with a majority Black population. To this day, two years later, New Orleans has yet to be rebuilt.

Do you really think that would be the case if it was St. Petersburg or Tampa or any of the Coastal cities where the majority of the Population is White?

Do you really?

Maybe New Orleans is too vast, too abstract. We’re talking about an Entire City left underwater while our “Decider” finished his vacation.

Surely Racism isn’t that Profound.

But Jena provides a more intimate look into race relations in the United States. We have names, and faces to go along with what went on there. And the response has been Visceral on all sides.

At one point in our discussion, a “Liberal” said my calling this a Hate Crime was “Fucking Stupid.”

Really?

Let’s turn back a moment to 1970 when Republican Strategist Kevin Phillips said this;

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

Many Republicans deny this was an actual “Strategy” or they claim Racial Disharmony is no longer one of their goals.

They also have a Sweet Bridge in Alaska they’re willing to sell you on the cheap, if you’re interested.

Republicans continue their “Southern Strategy,” and it has paid off Big Time for them. The South is considered a Lock for Republicans, and until the “Southern Strategy” this was simply not the case.

Some who make the claim the “Southern Strategy” is a “Myth” point to voting Registration in the South.

It’s true that in many Red States registered Democrats outnumber Registered Republicans. But, as we’ve seen, many Democrats are only Democrats in name, and in national elections they cast their votes Decidedly for the Wingnuts.

In local elections, which is why many remain registered Democrats, the difference between the two Parties is Nuanced to say the least.

Jolly Roger has a great post about the Governor’s Race in Mississippi where the “Democrat” Candidate is attempting to out Wingnut the sitting Wingnut.

A lot of Wingnutting going on in the South.

Okay, we know the Wingnuts Race Bait. We all remember former Senator George “Macaca” Allen from Virginia who narrowly lost to Jim Webb in 2006.


The man on the left is former Virginia Gov. George Allen. The man in the middle is Gordon Lee Baum the CEO of CCC (Council of Conservative Citizens). The CCC is the successor of the White Citizen’s Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the CCC a Hate Group. When asked about Allen’s presence in the photo Baum said, “It helped him as much as it did us. We got our bona fides.”

We all know Wingnuts attack Affirmative Action (Including the Toms in their Party who personally benefited from Affirmative Action, but now that they sit in Massa’s House it’s no longer necessary. Hey Clarence, if you’re ashamed of your Degree from Yale, give it back. Of course if you do, you’ll have to step down from your Position on the Supreme Court, but I completely respect your decision).

The Supreme Court recently struck down Busing laws, and they continue to uphold the Death Penalty, although there’s absolutely no doubt it is unfairly applied to Minorities and the Poor.

And how can we forget the new Wingnut Obsession, Immigration.

But, as I said, we already know these things. The Wingnuts make little attempt to conceal the Rampant Racism in their Party. Sure they dress it up with Euphemisms like, “Tax Cuts,” “Personal Responsibility,” “States Rights,” “Law and Order” etc, but we’re not Fools.

What many may not realize or maybe they don’t want to, is that the Wingnuts have not quite Cornered the Market just yet.

Using Voter Registration as “Proof” that the Wingnuts are not following a “Southern Strategy” is an illogical argument. For starters, to buy this argument a person has to believe that Racists only vote for Wingnuts, and that the Democratic Party is devoid of Racism, and Racist Supporters.

Hopefully we’re not that Foolish.

I must admit, I was torn about writing this post, as I am whenever I criticize “Liberals,” because at this point “Liberals” are “My People.”

I know I’ve lost “friends” in the Blogosphere due to my Big Mouth, and my “Fearlessness,” but I do my best to try and be consistent with my beliefs and values. I don’t want to be one of those people who’s “Outraged,” as long my Targets are only those with whom I disagree Ideologically. If I’m going to do that I may as well join up with the Wingnuts who “Despise Immorality” unless it says “Republican Senator/Congressman or Reverend” in front of the person’s name.

I cannot be 100%, but I have no desire to be Perfect. I completely embrace the fact that I’m a Human, and I feel comfortable with who I am.

And I don’t like Mother Fuckers calling me “Stupid.” I may be a lot of things (Smart Ass, Arrogant, Acerbic, Assholish), but “Stupid” is not one of them.

Onward Christian Soldiers we go.

One of the ways the Wingnuts are able to Successfully Press their Racist/Classist Agenda is they’ve convinced Idiot Americans that we are all on “Equal Ground.” When Minorities or the Poor struggle or are Eaten Alive by the Machine, they decry “Personal Responsibility,” and thereby absolve themselves, and all of us to some extent, from any Responsibility as a Society.

“Hell, he/she has Opportunity. This is America for God’s Sake. We can be anything we want if we Work Hard. They’re just ______ (Insert whatever Bullshit you choose. “Lazy” is a common choice).

But anyone with Half a Brain knows Today’s America is not the “Land of Opportunity,” if it ever was.

However, many Americans view their fellow Citizens through this Distorted Lens, and it leads to some seriously Moronic Conclusions, and Theories.

As I stated at the beginning, the gist of these “Liberal’s” argument was what happened in Jena is nothing more than “Political Correctness.”

In their opinion, it had nothing to do with Racism, and this Incident was being Exploited by the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the World.

That very well be true, but there are those who Exploit Everyfuckingthing for their own benefit. Wingnuts exploit the Fuck out of 9/11. Does that mean it wasn’t a Horrific Tragedy or that it didn’t Happen?

To leap from “Al Sharpton is an Asshole,” to “This is nothing but Political Correctness, and Sharpton is Racist,” is a leap even Evel Knievel wouldn’t attempt.

The word “Racism,” I fear, is losing its Meaning. In Sociology, the word “Racism” has a very Specific Definition, and it is not tossed around so Lightly and Irresponsibly.

Al Sharpton might be a Bigot (Although I’ve never heard him say he Hates White People. In fact, I’ve heard him call several Whites “Brother”), but the Difference between a Bigot and a Racist is Monumental.

Think about what happened in Jena as an Example. What does a Noose mean in the South? Is the Noose a Symbol of Unity? Does Hanging a Noose from a Tree mean “Watch out or we’ll Tie you up?” (I can’t even think of anything).

A Noose is a very Powerful Symbol in the South. The Noose evokes memories of Lynch Mobs, Torches, Institutionalized Racism, and Death.

What could a Black Person hang from a Tree that even remotely comes close? A Sweater Vest? An Effigy of Dale Earnhardt?

When the FBI Investigated the Noose Hanging in Jena, they determined it fit the Profile of a Hate Crime. One of the important aspects, and something that has become somewhat of a Controversy, is the Number of Nooses.

Those who claim this is “No Big Deal” and nothing but a “Prank,” say there were only Two Nooses. But all credible accounts put the Number at Three.

Why does it matter?

Well, one reason is that the Number Three is very important among certain White Supremacists.

Three=KKK.

Yet, the DA couldn’t “Find” any laws under which to charge the Juveniles who were Responsible for Hanging the Nooses. (The FBI didn’t Charge them based on being unable to Certify the Offenders as Adults).

I have a suggestion for the DA, how about Terroristic Threatening?

Terroristic Threatening is a Felony. It matters little if those Boys intended on actually Lynching anyone. You cannot go around Threatening People, especially in such a Public Way. What if someone else used the Nooses as an Impetus to Act?

What if it started a Race Riot?

The other Criticism Leveled by these “Liberals,” was Evoking Martin Luther King Jr. “What would Martin do?”

See, many Southerners, even certain “Liberals,” don’t like “Uppity Niggers.” Yes, Martin was a Profound Influence on Society, and I consider him one of the Greatest Men (People) in American History. But there was something Tame about Martin. He wasn’t so Overtly Angry. (I also consider Malcolm X a Great Man. And he is Incredibly unpopular among Many Whites. His Anger was too Close for Comfort).

Al Sharpton is an “Uppity Nigger.” He has a Big Mouth, he looks “Ghetto,” and he’s One Arrogant Son of a Bitch.

The Funny Thing is I’ve never met one Black Person who considers Al Sharpton the “Official Spokesman” for the Black Race. But many Whites do, and I find this Strange.

Has anyone ever considered the Reason behind Sharpton’s Anointment, at least in part, may be due to the Fact he is So Divisive?

A lot of People Despise Sharpton, and when his name is Attached to something they Dismiss it as “Bullshit.”

“If Sharpton’s involved, then you know his Racist Ass is up to no good.”

Again, I’ve never heard Sharpton say he Hates White People, and I’m not Aware of him Belonging to any Organization which makes such claims. But even if he did, Who Gives a Shit?

If Sharpton went on Television tomorrow and said, “I Hate Mother Fucking Crackers.”

What do I care?

I wouldn’t lose sleep or feel the need to go out and purchase a Gun.

Would you?

I’m sure Wingnuts might be Afraid, but they’re Afraid of Their Own Genitalia.

Sharpton has no Power to make his Best Wishes Reality much less His Worst.

Now imagine if Bush went on television and said, “I hate Mother Fucking Niggers!”

You think Blacks might be just a little Afraid?

(I’m not condoning either behavior, as both are wrong, but hopefully you can see there is an important Difference).

One of the problems with associating almost exclusively with others who have the same Ideology, is that it’s easy to forget we don’t always agree on Everything, and some of our disagreements are Important. The other problem is when someone is wrong, who steps up and speaks out?

If you want to believe what happened in Jena is just a “Prank” or if you think the reaction is Political Correctness that’s your prerogative, but as Fletcher said in The Outlaw Josie Wales, “Don’t Piss Down My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.”

I agree the reaction is in part due to Political Correctness. The idea has been turned completely on its head. Wingnuts use Political Correctness to stifle Dissent by Declaring themselves “Christians,” and then accusing anyone who Criticizes them of being “Anti-Christian.”

But Political Correctness is also used to dismiss Criticism by claiming that People are just being Overly Sensitive. What Imus said wasn’t “Racist,” it was just a “Joke.” When Coulter talks about Bombing the New York Times two weeks before the anniversary of 9/11, she’s just “Kidding.” And when some White Kids hang Nooses from a Tree, it’s just a “Prank.”

People who get angry or upset are Politically Correct Nazis.

I despise “Political Correctness,” but all Outrage is not a result of Political Correctness.

Racism is real, and hasn’t gone anywhere. Whites don’t even have Equality among themselves, and the Stratification between Minorities and Whites is even greater.

I think that’s from where some of this Resentment Stems. “No one is fighting my fight or helping me. Why are they helping Blacks?”

I guess that’s a legitimate question if you live in a Vacuum. But the fact is what happens to “Them” affects all of us. How can you live in a “Free Society” when millions of citizens continue to be Discriminated against simply because of their Skin Color or country of Origin?

And

How can a person claim to support Equality when they Oppose Equality if it interferes with their Little Personal Agenda and Bias?

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~ by fairlane on October 12, 2007.

27 Responses to “Wingnuts of a Different Color”

  1. I just read this Fairlane and I know I will need to read it again. However, I must say-

    Great Fucking Post. Wow. My skin feels seared off, but in a good way. You are on fire.

    Your “Clearwater Cracker” guy sounds like an amalgam of many people I know from that area. I have spent more time there than I care to admit for various reasons.

    That said, the South is more at ease with its overt racism. Up north here, where so-called liberals argue over political correctness or pranks, we have more subtle, and even more dangerous forms of racism.

    You know a noose was found hanging on a professor’s door at Columbia University. Read about that here if you have not already.

    Anyway its all bad and its all ugly. And it is all over the place I am afraid.

    More to digest before I write anything else… I will be back.

    (ps love the Sharpton photo. can’t wait for Kelso to see this one)

  2. One of my students gave a speech last week about how racism is still alive and well (she’s black), and she talked about Jena 6. One of the best parts of her speech was when she talked about the awful symbolism of the noose to African Americans.

    I’m with you in not condoning the violence but also being surprised there isn’t more of it.

    I have a liberal friend who moved to Mississippi and now explains their racism to me by pointing out how they (white and black Southerners) have suffered because of that war. F*cking annoys me.

  3. It’s been some time since I last saw that photograph but it still sends chills through me. I first saw it when I was around 18 (52 years ago?) and discovered Billie Holiday and Strange Fruit.

    So they think a noose is just a noose and Strange Fruit is just a song?

    I don’t know how anyone can plead ignorance of what the noose stands for.

  4. Fairlane-

    This is a long, arduous and well thought out post. Thank you for blogging on this and speaking up and out.

    My problem with race is with the labels themselves. You may know this about me, maybe not, but I grew up in a lower-class neighborhood in NYC where race was not an issue. While I recall not so fondly times when I was called a “white boy” by blacks and fellow Puerto Ricans who saw the only the color of my skin and not the person I was, the fact is that most of my happiest memories recall those times with people — friends — for whom the “label” of race was a not an issue. I don’t recall us ever using these types of labels, even joking. It just wasn’t relevant. It wasn’t until I moved out of Manhattan to the borough of Queens, and to a more middle-class existence, that race became an issue and I recall my dismay at the ignorance of it all. As I grew older, I came to realize that race was the divisive factor and in this country was being used to divide and conquer poor whites and blacks. Recall that Malcom X was killed by his own folks after returning from his pilgrimage to Mecca and discovering that the Muslim pilgrims came in all shapes, sizes and colors. This was at odds with the American Muslim heirarchy as it is with the Al Sharpton’s of the world. After all, if whites and blacks ended a recognition of their skin pigmentation, guys like Sharpton would be out of a job.

    But I am not black and selling this notion to that community would be as futile as trying to fly to the sun with wax wings. I agree with you on the symbolism of the noose, and that there should be charges brought up against those white a-holes who did it. This was not a prank as it was not a prank when some idiot put a noose in the locker of the Town of Hempstead (Nassau County, NY) Police Chief’s locker. Unlike Jena, however, the FBI is looking into this matter quite closely, as is the Nassau County DA. I guess is all depends on who you are and where you live.

    But I digress. All I have is this idea and a desire to practice it — at the least on a very personal level. I think that if you want to destroy racism you need to abolish the labels that define race in the first place. Does this mean I lose my cultural roots? No. But I refuse to allow myself to be called a Hispanic-American or a Latino or anything that would modify what I feel I am at the core — a feeling, thinking, loving, caring, rational human being.

    Again, thanks for this thought provoking post and I apologize for being so long winded.

  5. This is a keeper, buddy. You are preaching to the choir with me. We’ve already discussed the Martin Luther King, Jr./Malcolm X issue and we agree on that to be sure. Maybe we’re the only ones! I’ve written it here before but what I’ll always hate about that awful Spike Lee movie is that he took the time to put a 20-minute dance number in the middle of it (boy, you don’t need Freud to figure that part out!) yet had no time to even hint at the evolution in Malcolm X’s thinking. I mean how he had begun to question ALL his articles of faith about race, went back to some of the seminal White European left-wing texts, e.g., Marx and Marcuse, and came to a broader, more nuanced, class-and-race-based philosophy of rights, liberties and power, while losing none of his characteristic bite.

    Sharpton is too complicated a person to comment on here. Someday I’ll devote a post to him. Short version is that just like everyone else, he’s a human being. He’s done some rotten things and some great things. I’ve yet to weigh them up and make a call. I did, however, vote for him in the Democratic primary for Mayor over Messinger because I thought she had been too deferential to Giuliani.

    Spartacus and I had similar upbringings. We’re about the same age; we both grew up in mixed neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, him on East Side in Loisaida, me on the West Side in pre-gentrified Chelsea. I’ve never met him but I feel like I’ve known him my whole life. He said he was the Whitest PR around and I told him I was the PR-est Jew around. We both took our share of shit outside the neighborhoods. He’s just lucky that he’s big and can fight. For him, Queens was where he learned that it wasn’t just one big neighborhood with people hanging out. For me, it took a scholarship to a fancy prep school on the Upper East Side to figure it out. And, there, I was supposedly among my own “kind” but not at all, really. It was a social-class thing and it was a hell of an adjustment.

    I did get the last laugh, though. Here I am in Panama, and having hung out with 10 or 12 Spartacuses as a little kid I speak unaccented (well, borinqueno when I speak fast) Spanish. It’s a foreign thing but I much prefer to be called “judio” than “gringo” because the former is a term of respect and the latter is an insult. But I agree. In the States, my name works better than “Jew”! Down here, talking about skin color and ethnicity is essential BECAUSE it’s a such a diverse plance and BECAUSE there’s no DEFAULT color. The difference is that it’s descriptive, not normative. I’ve never heard a single ethnic joke or remark that wasn’t among friends, especially between Jews and Muslims because here we think the whole thing that has the rest of the world in a tizzy is kind of stupid. What would be considered “politically incorrect” in the US is essential here. Skin
    color: “mono”, “blanco”, “moreno”, “trigueno”, “negro”. Ethnicity: “judio”, “arabe”, “chino”…you get the point. None of these labels carry any meaning beyond appearance or what second language you speak. I don’t know what the nasty words are for any color or ethnicity, if any even exist here. I do know them ALL in AMERICAN ENGLISH, however.

    Which finally brings me around to the essence of your post. I can hardly believe and self-identified “liberal” wouldn’t understand the significance of a noose in Jena. For real? It’s identical to a swastika for me. Of course, I’m going to get scared and angry and lose my shit. And neither do we have any equivalent things to hang on trees to scare Wingnuts.

    And finally, what the fuck is this:

    “Racism is real, and hasn’t gone anywhere. Whites don’t even have Equality among themselves, and the Stratification between Minorities and Whites is even greater.

    I think that’s from where some of this Resentment Stems. ‘No one is fighting my fight or helping me. Why are they helping Blacks?'”

    Back in a more LIBERAL time in the US, EVERYBODY tried to help the White Wingnuts. It was called “collective bargaining” but not only did they not want it, they fought like the devil to keep it away. I’m glad they got what they wanted. A solid block of “right-to-work” states in a corporatist economy. What’s up with that? They thought the bosses loved them because they were white. They’re finding out real fast how much the bosses love them, yet they still don’t blame the bosses. They blame the immigrants. “Right-To-Work,” baby. Same rules apply. I own a business that makes furniture in South Carolina, why the fuck should I pay some fucking Cracker $15/hr when I can pay a Nicaraguan $8?

    Wingnuts made their own fucking stew. Let em eat it.

  6. First, this was very well written, and Thanks for a good read. I’m too wordy and never complete my thoughts, hence my “less is more” take on things.

    But, racism has never left this country, but, and I firmly believe with bush playing his games, it’s all coming back in our faces, along with more guns and violence, than ever before. Perhaps it’s all been seething below the surface, but Katrina seemed to give the OK to neglect people of color, and the war gave the OK to carry guns and kill people (although this has always been here, it certainly has escalated) and for that, bush is responsible for his lack of attitude and any sort of ethics.

    Damn this is all getting wearisome! ; (

    Funny about your apartment story, out here where we are, people from blocks around know all about you, and most have never met you. Totally weird!

    Cheers!

  7. That was a great read. I was riveted. I wish I could communicate like you. I agree that racism is alive and well. You can pretend if you want but it’s everywhere. I see it expressed very boldly at times. And you don’t have to be down south.

  8. I have been attending ‘unlearning racism seminars ‘ at ywca for two years now. I am regularly invited to provide a balanced well articulated version of the black experience.
    Police Firemen are regular attendants to these eight hour sessions. There are also people from social services that are required to attend. It is a safe environment; ignorance is allowed, in fact it is encouraged.
    I live in a city in upstate New York. The racism here is rampant and blatant. It is a microcosm of many other homogonized areas of America. At least i feel safe making that assumption.
    I am regularly shocked when some older white person talks about the ‘good ol days’ when things were simpler “Hell we had black neighbors..my dad never had them to dinner but we all got along” They always pinned the change on the sixties. “Evryone got crazy all of a sudden”. I had enough one day I had to explain to this woman the importance of the right to vote and other guarantees under the constitution that black folks had been sytematically denied. That is where the distinction lies between racism and bigotry. Our governement is not bigotted it is racist.

    Racism: the unfair or unequal distribution of property , money and privilege benefitting one particular group of people at the expense of all others.
    I’m sorry to say it but we live in a racist world. I am sure someone out in the blogosphere will find some small smidgen of evidence to refute my previous claim; knock yourself out. If it makes you feel better, good for you. I can only stand on this mountain of eveidence and hope that one day it will get better. Hope that we as Americans never descend into the barbaric existence that defined this country.
    I hope we never turn back the clock like we did in reconstruction and allow the whole sale slaughter spawned by films like Birth of a Nation.
    I know it is bad all over; just don’t blame black folks.

  9. fairlane

    great post and terrificly written
    i dont know what i could add or say since i agree with so much of what you say…

    i truly believe racism of all kinds (skin, religious, sexism, ethnic, etc.) is alive in this country it is pathetic. it is so woven into society often we dont even see it when it is right in front of our faces. the fact that in 2007 we still hear from the media that hillary is the first “serious” woman and Obama is the first “serious” black candidate (like or hate them) drives me crazy. how about just calling them candidates. do they call mcinsane the first “serious” POW candidate or kucinich a “short” candidate – no. it is inherent sexism and racism and spread like a virus through the TV….

    even on the subways of NYC you often see people of certain ilk either sitting away or moving to other cars. it is not blatant — but it is noticeable

    i could go on and on about this but the whole topic is so complex….

  10. *applause*

    If I could write with 1/10th of the talent you display, I would be a happy puppy.

  11. Nicely done!

    I won’t weigh in on the issue other than to say that, to me, it’s ridiculous that we’re still experiencing this kind of behavior today. I can’t say I’m surprised, but it surely doesn’t make any sense.

    This world needs a lot of help, still.

  12. It is really great to see the level of discussion here Fairlane. That is what this blogging is all about.

    So well done- and the commenters too. Excellent!

  13. I keep re-reading this post, and struggling with something cogent to say – but you said it all, already.

    I, too, take my licks from the left for saying what I think (especially about the politicians on the left), so I understand what you mean.

    Lastly, I want to say this: those kids knew exactly what they were doing when they put up the nooses. This was no innocents-gotten-in-over-their-heads moment. Racism starts early (all the -isms, actually), and only the means to express it changes over time. The shock to me was not that they did it, the shock was (and continues to be) that the victims of this episode are the ones being charged. That’s institutional racism.

    Anyway, thanks for the excellent, thought provoking post, Fairlane.

    Regards,

    Tengrain

  14. Well done, Fairlane. There is no way a noose could be dismissed as a prank–it’s as offensive as a swastika. And I agree with Tengrain, those kids knew what they were doing and they got the reaction they wanted. NYC might not be nirvana, but it sure as hell isn’t Jena, LA…thank goodness.

  15. I look around at my neighbors here in Georgia. I listen to them talk at the soccer games, the baseball field. They assume because my skin is white that I feel as they do. Superior. Somehow superior.

    Racism may have gone underground some, but it’s pushing back up again all around us like a field of poison wildflowers.

    Those kids who hung the noose learned their sorry beliefs one place. Home.

  16. Fran- I totally agree with the idea that “Liberal Racism” is worse because it’s disguised.

    If you ever feel the desire check out “The Field Negro” on my blogroll. He’s written about that very issue before, and he didn’t have a lot of good things to say.

    Scarlet- That “war” never ended for many people. We (Humans) don’t easily let things go.

    Ann- You know, I couldn’t believe it either. When they dismissed the noose, I was really taken aback. A noose is such a powerful symbol, and for someone to say it’s just a “Prank or joke” is mind boggling.

    Spartacus- I don’t think it’s so much ending “recognition of our piment,” as much as it is becoming aware of our biases based on another’s pigment. Black people are black, white people are white etc etc, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging that per se. The problem arises when we associate certain behaviors and traits to skin color.

    Racism exists, and to pretend like the world is “colorblind” is not only ignorant, but it’s a slap in the face to people who deal with racism on a daily basis.

    On a side note, I kind of like Sharpton. We need people like him. He’s done some positive things in his life, and I really respect the way he stood up to Christopher Hitchens on “Hardball.” I always thought Hitchens was an arrogant bastard, and not much different than the Fundies he supposedly hates.

    Sharpton didn’t fall into Hitchens’ trap of insults, and came across as very sincere in his beliefs.

    K- I agree wholeheartedly. Understanding Wingnut psychology is tough. You have to know more about the individuals before you can understand their Collective.

    As for the “Liberals,” I’m not really surprised. I’ve witnessed “Liberal Racism” countless times.

    Coffee- The Wingnuts definitely play on the fear of the “Other,” whether it’s immigrants, gays, secularists, muslims etc. Their platform is so fucking negative, and I’ve argued with my Wingnut friend over and over about this fact.

    He either can’t see it or refuses to see it, but the Wingnuts have zero hope. It does serve them well,however. Their constituents always have something or someone to distract them from the truth. Instead of getting pissed at the greedy Capitalists, they get pissed about “Some Mexican” stealing a make believe job.

    I’m famous in Hoosierville huh? Interesting.

    Mary- I’m not sure why I’m “interested” in racism. I’m a white dude, so it’s not like I deal with personally. Maybe it’s because I identify with the “Underdog,” but I’m not sure. All I know is when I was a kid, I always wanted the Indians to win.

    And you’re right, racism is everywhere, not just in the South. This particular issue occurred in the South, but you can find numerous examples in the “Liberal North.”

    Dave- All I can say is, I’m with you.

    Historically, it rarely turns out well for Empires.

    DCNY- It’s extremely complex, but it’s also simple. Humans began as tribes, and our desire to survive outweighs our desire to be fair.

    Of course we no longer have to live that way, but old habits die hard, as they say.

    Phy- I appreciate that buddy.

    You’re a pretty damn fine writer yourself.

    Ripley- “This world needs a lot of help, still.”

    It’s sad isn’t it? We are for sure a slow learning species.

    When I look at my own life, I often think, “Did I really have to go through all that just to learn this?”

    Inevitably the answer is always, “Yeah, I guess I did.”

    Fran- I concur.

    Ten- The thing that galls me is if someone intervened at the beginning, maybe the beating never happens. I think those responsible for beating that little fucker should be punished, but their punishment (At least at the beginning) was bullshit. Attempted murder?

    Adults had so many chances to step in, and potentially stop this, but they chose not to do so. Instead Wingnuts role out the “Personal Responsibility” blather once again to chastise teenagers.

    Shit, I wouldn’t trust a teenager to fill up my gas tank without fucking something up. I don’t think race relations should be their responsibility.

    Pissed- There’s no doubt they knew what kind of reaction a noose would get. That’s why I got so pissed off during the conversation. Four or five people defended this indefensible position. “It’s just a prank.” “It’s just a joke.” “They get away with way more than whites.” etc etc.

    One told me I wasn’t doing my cause any good by parroting “Jesse Jackson.” She used the word “negro” like five times in her comment. (The last time she wrote it in all capital letters). I’m assuming she thought I was black. I guess in her mind only a “NEGRO” would defend the “negroes.”

    Asshole.

    D-Cup- That’s something I’ve experienced a lot here in good old Kentuck.

    I’m sure you’ve heard some version of, “Well, you know how ‘they’ are. ‘They’re’ just not like us.”

  17. Jesus. You’ve sure given me a lot to respond to. So here goes…

    First of all, I come from that little section of Virginia that sits under West Virginia and juts over to North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Secondly, I’m not a white man. My relatives were mostly Cherokees. I had one white grandparent out of 4.

    When I was a kid, the polite people were racists, and they were quite open about it. Since everything was race-based, I’m something of a “tweenie.” I didn’t know then why a lot of kids weren’t allowed to play with me; I know now. I have to agree that the open bigot is far preferable to the one who smiles in your face and calls you (insert racial epithet) behind your back. I knew Bubba, I understood Bubba, and I steered clear of Bubba.

    A lot of my relatives also happened to be married to Black folks. Anny number of my cousins are what we consider to be African-American, although the component they got from me gives that title a hint of a taint 😉 I’m not sure I even understood that Black was considered different from me until I came to Ohio, where the lines were drawn pretty sharply.

    My dad wanted us here because he didn’t want us mingling with our Black/Injun cousins, a great many of whom were drunks, thieves, welfare recipients, wife beaters, etc. It wasn’t racism on his part, it was a fear of what we’d grow up to be. My uncle was in Ohio, and Dad thought we’d do better here. Given what I know happened to a lot of my relatives, I have to agree with the logic of his decision, although I disagree with the location. There’s misery aplenty in these parts too.

    I was taught to regard the battle flag of the Confederacy in the same way that I was taught to view the swastika. My dad flatly stated that the “heritage” argument was bullshit, and if heritage was what they were all about they could use an actual Confederate flag (which most people appear to not know even exists.) Dad also had that one right, no question about it.

    I vaguely remember some teachings about the “war of northern aggression” as well. I remember distinctly that in the South, you’re taught that it had nothing to do with slavery, and everything to do with “States’ Rights.” This, too, is bullshit.

    To this very day, the South is still a society that draws lines based on race and income. While a rich Black man will get a lot of the respect traditionally afforded money, he’s still a tick down from the rich white man. Way too many people raised in the South continue to harbor the racist philosophies that started a bloody war. While the polite people may not be joining the Klan anymore, they are joining things like the Family Research Council, which happens to own the mailing list of the former national Ku Klux Klan. This is verifiable for any who want to take the time to look it up.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. My Cherokee relatives enjoy the revenues from fleecing white people down at Bally’s, but they’re still Injuns. And Blacks are still Blacks, which means the noose incident was at the very least aggravated menacing, as I understand that charge. The polite white folks of Jena know this to be the truth, whatever their protestations may be. And anyone anywhere who makes any other argument is a racist, or stupid, or both. I’m sorry to put it that bluntly, but-there ya go.

  18. Sorry bro. But I have no pretensions about the existence of racism, nor do I have a problem acknowledging one’s skin color when the need arises.

    Maybe it’s just a question of locality. Since I grew up in racially mixed neighborhoods and live in one now that is becoming racially mixed, I see the many ways in which people deal with the issue of race — both bad and good. The bad ones (and they are people of all colors) look at anyone that’s not like them with disdain. Their reasons are quite different: whites because they think they’re superior; and people of color because they hate the superior attitudes and actions of whites. But the good ones move on and deal directly with the issues that affect them, because whether the need is employment or financing or help with a household project, there are too many people in this world willing to help out, making the ones that don’t irrelevant.

    Thanks for responding to my comment. FYI. This post inspired me to write about the issue over the weekend. Check it out if you have the time. I will not link to it here, because mentioning it is embarrassingly self-serving enough.

  19. Jolly- I’m with you about being direct. If you believe a certain way, have the balls to put it out there for everyone to see. It reminds me of the way people take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet. People talk shit here, but in the real world have nothing to say.

    There’s no doubt those symbols (The flag, a noose etc) are racist. Anyone who denies it is a fucking liar, or as you said a potential racist.

    What I’ve never understood is how these people get away with it. When someone says, “State’s rights,” I’ve never seen a member of the “Liberal Media” press them on exactly what they mean by that phrase.

    “What do you mean ‘State’s Rights’? Do you mean the State’s right to keep slavery legal?”

    But they never do it. They simply let that phrase lie as though it actually means something.

    “Liberal Media” my ass.

    Spartacus- I wasn’t addressing you with my “colorblind” statement. I guess I should have made that clearer.

    That’s the attitude I’ve experienced with many “Liberals.” The world is “colorblind” because their “friend” in High School was black.

    I’m sorry about not commenting on your blog, but my Google account is used for business, and until recently I didn’t know I could simply start a blogspot account to comment.

    Don’t worry about mentioning your post. Next time leave a link.

  20. Fairlane –

    Here’s are some links to my blog that were written in direct response to this post. Thanks for letting me place them here:

    http://mysaturdayeveningpost.blogspot.com/2007/10/pardon-me-while-i-burn.html

    http://mysaturdayeveningpost.blogspot.com/2007/10/stale-gum.html

    Also, thanks for clarifying what you meant in your comments. I agree with you on the “I have black friends” thing. Just because you don’t make race an issue does not mean that you can ignore that someone is of a particular race or socio-economic class. That’s just plain stupid and patronizing.

  21. I’ve told you before that your writing can make me laugh until I cry. But there is more than that. I come here and I learn so damned much from you. While I read your writing I can see the world through your eyes and that makes me know who you are and see things as you see them. We cannot agree on everything but when I read your writing I understand where you are coming from and why you feel the way that you do. Thank you for educating me on something that I could never see as well without you.

  22. Racism – whatever colour’s against whatever colour – is ALWAYS REVOLTING.

  23. Great post and very well written. You did not leave much for anyone to bring up, as you seemed to cover almost all that can be said.

  24. our powerful and sophisticated nation is built on the premise of racism and discrimination. to me, the noose was not a surprise and i’m sure most non-colored americans minimized the situation as trivial. such “nooses” are so prevalent in our daily interactions, politics, media, etc. that it’s of no surprise. great post, fairlane.

  25. PoP- I just haven’t felt like being funny lately.

    I’m tired.

    Gled- Yep.

    Larry- Actually, I had to stop myself. Once I passed 3000 words, I figured that was long enough.

    raffi- I guess in a way we all do have a noose hanging over our heads.

  26. Impressive blog, where did you get the theme?

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