Posts Tagged ‘racism’
Ah, the Obama rodeo clown controversy. At the Missouri State Fair a rodeo clown donned an Obama mask, helpfully imaged above, and mocked President Obama. The full video, such as it is, can be viewed here. Reaction was swift, the clown in question was banned for life from performing at the Missouri State Fair. It went downhill from there. Conservatives defended the clown’s shtick as freedom of speech and art. The NAACP called the clown’s antics a hate crime. Will it bring down the republic? Unlikely. Can we learn anything from it? Possibly. Can we be amused or at least face palmed about it? One can only hope.
OK, a few points here. Some people have claimed this was just satire and poking fun and it wasn’t racist. There’s a word for people like this. The word is racist. I know, difficult to understand, but one can be a racist and not think they are a racist. OK, it’s racist (and the whole crowd’s reaction was racist) for several reasons. First of all. look at the mask. the lips and teeth are wildly exaggerated. Does Obama have large lips and teeth? No. Why would the lips and teeth be exaggerated? Because those are nigger characteristics.
Moving right along, he made a joke where he didn’t out and out say that Obama was a nigger in the president’s clothes, but he implied it. And the crowd got the “joke.” (For my non racist readers, that’s a classic racists joke. “That’s not a cop, that’s a nigger in a cop suit.” etc.) He also made fun of Obama’s “nigger lips.” Of course Obama doesn’t have prominent lips, in any event nigger lip jokes are also a common trope among racists. The “clown” also references running trampling Obama with a bull, I’m not sure why that was funny, but the crowd laughed.
Lastly, satire is funny. poking fun at people is funny. There was nothing funny or humorous or good matured about the clown’s act, it was just some lowbrow and racist insults. There are plenty of ways the clown could have spoofed Obama and been good-natured about it, he chose the low road. And people complained, because a State Fair is a publicly funded celebration of America and American values, and they didn’t this it was an appropriate venue to crudely mock the president. And it wasn’t, there are plenty of times and places where insulting the president is acceptable, a publicly funded celebration of American values isn’t one of them.
Then there’s people screaming “freedom of speech” and “artistic impression.” I am really tired of those types of people because they invariably don’t have a clue what rights are. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you please wherever you please without consequence. Try telling your boss he’s an asshat and see how well freedom of speech protects your job. The clown chose to publicly mock and insult the president while he was on the state’s payroll, if it didn’t occur to him that might not be wise, he’s an idiot. There are all sorts of things a rodeo clown could say that would get him or her fired, how could he not know that?
That all being said, yes, some of the reaction on the part of the State Fair officials and the left as well was over the top. I don’t think the guy should have been fired for one thing, that’s just stupid. A suspension and a warning would have been fine, no need to make a martyr out of the guy. And both clowns in the act should have been corrected, though the one that was fired was certainly the major protagonist. Some have even called for the Secret Service and the DOJ to investigate the act as a “hate crime.” Oh please, spare me. We already have a huge problem in this country with authorities insanely over-reacting to threats, people just make their own cause look silly when they over-react. Oh well, political theatre has always been a tradition in the country, it’s just moved into theatre of the absurd these days.
Lastly, and the only real point to this post, tens of millions of Americans don’t really understand what racism is. Worse, they hold racist attitudes but are in complete denial about them. Like the Americans who don’t think there was anything racist about this clown’s act. Or the tens of millions of Americans who think whites are now a discriminated against minority in the USA. Anyone who thinks that doesn’t even begin to understand the barriers faced by non-whites in this country. It’s as absurd as the “War on Christianity.” Right. In Egypt mobs are burning Christian churches and homes and businesses as I type, when was the last time a mob burned a church in the US? Fortunately at least the USA is doing something about the war on Christianity in Egypt. They are calling for the people waging this war to be put back in power! As my Egyptian friend puts it, now even the Christians in Egypt hate America.
That’s a topic for another post. I hope everyone had a great weekend.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. it’s not being used for profit and is arguably an historical image. I have no clue as to who the image copyright belongs to. And yes, sometimes now one of the links in my posts are fun weird links not really related to the post. Enjoy!)
The Trayvon Martin shooting. And the George Zimmerman trial. I’m at an impasse on racism and oppression and injustice. Some people see it, some people don’t. Some people were outraged by this shooting, some by the verdict. It was a case that revealed where people stood on issues such as racism and class, a case that really highlighted how people perceive the world. Anyone who was using confirmation bias to reinforce their world view … had their world view reinforced by this case. That’s pretty much most of us. This is why is was such a media and cultural sensation, it spoke to everyone. It was a mirror. A mirror into our souls. Our dark souls.
It would be easy to write a post that spoke to those outraged by both the shooting and the verdict. So I won’t go there. I could try to reach those who are overtly prejudiced, and think of Zimmerman as a hero. No point, people have to find their own way out of that conundrum. If anything, I am speaking to those who call themselves progressive, and think that justice was done as it was a fair trial. The liberal sheep as I refer to them as. Privately of course, I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. To me this was one of the saddest aspects of this case, that a lot of people who think of themselves as just and progressive buy into the layers of PC crap that conceals the horrid racist nature of this case. With this in mind, and in no particular order, a few impressions.
Of course this is about race. That is one of the more absurd claims made about this case, that it’s not about race. Of course it’s about race, because it is about how blacks are perceived in public. Blacks already live in a world where the police are not their friends, things like stand your ground laws mean they also live in a world where any white man with a gun is a potential threat. (Don’t even try to tell me that Zimmerman wasn’t “white.” He was a rootin-tootin gun-toting self appointed armed vigilante “defending” a white community against black intruders. Hell, the NRA gave Zimmerman their endorsement, how white is that?) Or look at it this way, almost every black person in America knows a teenager who goes to the store and buys junk food. Even if it wasn’t about race, it was when the media got into it. People who think this wasn’t about race are probably the same people in the habit of saying “I’m not a racist, but … “
It was not about the trial. A lot of liberals are talking about how, well, they really didn’t prove their case. Well, duh. They weren’t trying to prove their case, they were putting on a show trial in the face of enormous public pressure. If the local authorities had had their way, Trayvon would just be another statistic. From the very beginning the local police and authorities didn’t pursue due diligence in this case, Zimmerman wasn’t even tested for drugs for god’s sake. When the defense and the prosecution want an acquittal, it isn’t a fair trial. White people regularly claim self-defense and get away with shooting someone, black people almost never do. The same fellow who prosecuted Zimmerman got a black woman 20 years for firing a warning shot at her husband.
We’re not living in a post racial society. More blacks are in prison now than were enslaved in 1850. And largely imprisoned by draconian drug laws that send people to prison for possession, laws carefully written to punish blacks far more harshly for the types of drugs they use than the punishments for whites using the same drug in a different form. And the Supreme Court dutifully ruled that such laws aren’t racist, because they don’t single out race on an individual level. Right. And stand your ground laws are far more likely to benefit a white shooter than a black one. Nope, no racism there. Trayvon was followed by a vigilante because he was a black male wearing a hoodie, if Zimmerman had followed and killed a white girl in the same circumstances, he’d be on Florida’s death row now.
If one understands that there are still oppressed peoples in the world, even in America, the Trayvon Martin case is an example of same. If for whatever reason someone doesn’t understand that, they’ve got the white thing down pat. White isn’t a race by the way, but that’s for another day. RIP Trayvon.
(The above image was used with permission of the author.)
I travelled around Australia and New Zealand with my wife at the time a few decades back, and one of our observations was that people we spent time with sooner or later said “I’m not a racist, but … ” And then they followed with some really racist observation about Aborigines or Maoris. It was kind of sad. And then there was the time we were at a dinner party and the conversation got onto the subject of children raised by wild animals, then, without missing a beat, they segued into a conversation about whites raised by Aborigines. And I’m quite sure all of these people would have been quite insulted if it was suggested they were at all racist.
In any event this post was inspired about a poll that was recently taken in America. Basically non-whites think the racism situation has improved in recent decades, though not as much as whites think it has improved. No surprises there, the situation regarding racism in the USA has certainly gotten better since the fifties and overt segregation. What surprised me though as that a significant number of whites report that they now feel discriminated against. I mean, I knew there were some whites who felt discriminated against, it’s not that hard to find whites whining about how minorities have all the advantages now and they are the discriminated against minority now.
People like this make me angry. Anyone who thinks whites face discrimination in the USA simply doesn’t understand the pervasive and all encompassing racism permeating American society. This is still very much a country where whites rule and in almost every facet of society being white, especially white male, is a huge advantage. And while whites might certainly come across instances where a non-white is hostile and prejudiced towards them, it simply isn’t the same as the subtle miasma of racism non-whites deal with on a daily basis.
Some examples. I read an interview with an American Air Force general. They asked him if he encountered any racism during his career, since he wasn’t white. He had two interesting examples. He said that of course he met many people in the course of his life. And often the first question that comes up when getting to know someone is “So, where are you from?” And our Air Force general would answer … Ohio. And sometimes people would get annoyed at him for answering that, because of course they were really asking him about his ethnicity. Tell me, will a white person ever encounter this kind of reaction if they tell a fellow American they are from Ohio? Not in the USA they won’t. Another example, same source. This general was at an official function in Washington. He was wearing his US Air Force uniform, which had a US flag on it and says “US Air Force” as well. The American wife of a diplomat came up to him and said “Oh, you must be a general in the Chinese Air Force!” Would that ever happen to a white US Air Force general? Would a white US Air Force general even be asked if racism was a factor in their career?
See how subtle this is? For example, I was walking through Berkeley with a friend a few weeks back. A woman getting out of her car shouted out at him the breaking news of the day … the verdict in the Oscar Grant trial. Tell me gentle white reader, has any stranger ever shouted out to you some news of the day because they thought that as a white person, you would want to know? My friend of course is black. He even commented, Gee, I guess she told me that because I was black? Yerp. This is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln once met with a black political leader of his day. Afterwards, someone asked him what he though of Mr. Lincoln. He said: “That was the first time in my life where I spent an hour talking with a white man, and he didn’t once mention that I was a black man.” And this is what I mean by pervasive underlying racism. Whites in America can go through their entire life without someone pointing out that they are white. Non-whites are reminded constantly that they aren’t white.
My point is that we are still a long ways from being some sort of post racial society in America. In fact in many ways we have a veneer of being post racial, but racism is simmering quite nicely under the surface. Just becasue it’s no longer politically correct in most circles to espouse racist views, doesn’t actually mean that racism went away. In my next post I will expand on the unpleasant topic of how liberals can be both simultaneously racist, and yet declare and apparently believe that they aren’t. Then of course there’s the whole nasty business of just how brutal and overt racism was in the USA. The lynching of Laura Nelson and her 15 year old son in 1911 illustrated above is a good example. Pictures like this were commonly reproduced and sent as post cards! Times have changed for the better for sure, but we still have a long ways to go.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is Public Domain under US Copyright Law. It’s a photograph of the lynching of Laura Nelson and her son. And to end on more pleasant note, in New Zealand we hitched a ride that took us nearly 800 miles. Our driver was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, he paid for our meals, wouldn’t accept gas money, and was just in general a prince of a man. Yet at one point in the drive, he said “I’m not a racist, but … ” My wife and I braced ourselves for some horribly racist remark. ” … it really bugs me how Maoris drive on the freeway in big cars with their long hair waving out the window.” We didn’t see that one coming.)