Some clarifying back-and-forth
I jumped in with “Can you say corpseman?” regarding a thrice-repeated faux pas by Bobama, who is regarded as a “brilliant intellectual” by his acolytes, but apparently can’t read a teleprompter, or as Commander in Chief, doesn’t know how to pronounce “Marine Corps.” I ended with the following:
“Bobama has almost undone almost 50 years of anti-racist thinking that was counter-intuitive to my upbringing. When a casual conversation with a near-stranger the other day erupted into an amazing outpouring of invective about ‘this is what happens when you let niggers run something!’ all I could do was nod numbly. Al Gore said ‘we won that conversation,’ but watching a geezer older than me explode with rage left me speechless.
“Incompetence is not a racial attribute, and I ain’t playing that card, but hearing that diatribe in the moment left me unable to even shake my head in denial. Shortly thereafter, I realized that my reaction to those remarks about Bobama was a result of unraveling principles that I thought were ironclad. I couldn’t formulate a moderate response, because there is no middle ground left.
“Like a kid telling a dirty joke, I take some amusement away from somebody else’s observation that after Bobama leaves the White House, the only black people who will be allowed inside for the next hundred years will be the janitorial staff.”
I speak and write very cryptically at times, in the mistaken assumption that people are reading my mind, reading between the lines, and somehow mystically know what’s in my heart.
This time, I was out of my element. I was called a racist, and told that “generations need to die before racism becomes a thing of the past.” This was my reply:
“I can't deny who I am, or my upbringing during the worst days of the 1950s & '60s South. I can't deny my grandmother slapping my face for drinking out of the "colored" water fountain in City Hall and setting me to wondering about the status quo, any more than I can deny the black teammate who saved my life in Nam. I can't deny the War I veteran named Dozier who was a sharecropper on my grandparents' farm and taught me about horses and agriculture, nor can I deny hearing the grown-ups quietly saying "Dojah's a good nigger." I can't deny asking the only black girl in the Cherokee High School marching band to the homecoming sock hop, nor can I deny the vandalism to my car that we discovered when we left the dance. I can't deny the explosive hallway fight that erupted the following Monday when a redneck bully came on with taunts of "nigger lover!"
“If you're not old enough to have lived through these times, take my word for it; they tore people apart internally. Children knew there was something inherently wrong, but the adults behaved as though everything was perfectly normal; Ozzie & Harriet as it should be.
“I was raised to be a racist, hence my use of the words ‘counter-intuitive’ in the initial comment above. That defining slap at the water fountain at age 8 was the beginning of my judgment of right and wrong, and I knew the ‘colored’ sign was wrong for reasons I couldn't define as a child. ‘Rosie’ hauling me away from a regiment of NVA 14 years later was the apotheosis of that gut instinct. We called him ‘Rosie’ because he was a dead-ringer for Roosevelt Greer, who you might recall cradled a dying Bobby Kennedy's head that awful day.
“I've been called everything from ‘redneck’ to ‘white trash’ to ‘Grand Dragon,’ and as we say down here, it don't make no nevermind. I've also been called ‘nigger lover’ and ‘race traitor.’ That don't make no nevermind, neither. My three college degrees don't hang on walls in my house, but my membership certificate in Sons of Confederate Veterans does. My family never owned slaves, and were pioneers in instituting the sharecropper system in antebellum South Carolina, which was a dangerous stance to take at the time. I am a product of my upbringing, but no amount of familial or cultural indoctrination has ever affected my ability to think rationally.
“My family has fought in every war from the Revolution—with Francis Marion—through the Civil War with John S. Mosby—through the world wars and every ‘police action’ in between. My war wasn't much, but it was all we had; a nasty piece of work initiated by corrupt politicians for inscrutable ends. [Sound familiar?]
“When that geezer unloaded on Bobama recently, I flinched inwardly. I tried to rationalize that what he was spouting was just another way of expressing disgust with incompetence, idiocy, and hidebound ideology. Normally, I try to chill folks like that out, and change the subject. This time, I just nodded, and realized in the aftermath that my own principles of equality were becoming unraveled because of my personal loathing for the failure of leadership that this—coincidentally—black man has brought to the highest office of the country that generations of my ancestors fought and died for.
“As a Georgia native who refuses to be uprooted, I'll carry both the pride and ‘shame’ of my heritage. I refuse all guilt others may assign for either, and I think my ambivalence on racial issues has earned me the right to make a racial comment once in a while. As a culturally-indoctrinated racist, I saw some smirking humor in the comment about Bobama and the White House janitorial staff; as a rationally functioning human being, I also saw a wider truth in it. Whatever institutional racism still exists in America is going to blow back on every future black candidate who might present for the presidency, regardless of party affiliation or intellectual orientation. Failure is its own reward.”
The individual who called me “a racist” indicated he “liked” that remark. I take that to mean I made myself adequately understood about the fear and loathing I harbor for the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Racial politics aren’t in play here, but the worst failure of leadership in American history certainly is.
And, the social network is simply marvelous!