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  • October 29th, 2012

We Haven’t Come a Long Way, Baby

        By Joel M. Vance       

              Every so often I am reminded that no matter how far we think we’ve come we haven’t done much more than baby steps.  Right after the 2008 election when the nation elected its first black president, the blogosphere and the chat groups seethed with racist feelings, coming to the top like methane bubbles in a septic tank.

                It’s worth quoting in full what one fellow I know said on a chat group site.  This man is a college professor,  a highly educated and literate person who not only reads but collects and deals in books.  He also is from the state that fired the first shot in the civil war and that, to this day, spawns some of the most Neanderthal politicians since Fort Sumpter (think Jim Demint).

                Here, in full, is what he said:

We are rapidly approaching a tipping point in this country, one where there will be more than 50 percent of the population with “you owe me” expectations of one sort or another, and when that point of no return is passed we are in deep trouble as a nation.

 

As for old-time blacks, one of the true joys of my life was a woman universally known as Aunt Mag, and today another woman who is well into her 80s does various types of work for my 99-year-old dad.  She’s almost an institution in a county with less than a hundred blacks, universally loved, and quite possibly the hardest working person I’ve ever known.

 

I heard a fellow here in South Carolina put the whole matter pretty well a few years back.  He said words to the effect that he remembered, before welfare and all the government “help,” that all the blacks were immensely happy.  Then, when they were “uplifted,” they quit working, got deeply involved with drugs and alcohol, forgot the church and any semblance of morals, and are always angry about something.  He pretty well pegged it, in my view.

 If the foregoing makes me a racist, then that’s a burden I’ll just have to bear.

            Well, the foregoing does make him a racist.  His comments are so overtly racist in the  context of today that they should be obvious to all….especially to him.  But this guy is not alone—a recent Associated Press poll indicates that 51 percent of the American people are racially biased.  More than half the population harbors racist beliefs.  And you wonder why the 2012 race is so close. Race should never be an issue, any more than JFK’s Catholic religion or Mitt Romney’s  Mormonism should be issues, but apparently to more than half the population it race is a factor.   I found exactly the same attitude in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1957 when I worked at the Alabama Journal as I saw in the Carolina professor’s mean critique“We don’t hate the nigras,” the paper’s society editor told me.  “It’s those Northern agitators stirrin’ up trouble.” 

                Well, of course we know that Yankees are the root of all evil.  The sports editor stoutly maintained that it was “those goddam Yankees” who got Auburn put on football probation, nevermind what the evidence showed.   These were people who worked at the local daily newspaper, educated and a long way from stalwarts of the Ku Klux Klan.  But they shared the views of the bed-sheeted bullies, albeit not quite as violently.

                I thought that the days of George Wallace and his ilk were fading, but then my educated buddy pops up with language right out of Gone With the Wind.  He even has his own Aunt Jemima to laud, the faithful Mammy who ruled the kitchen and kept the slaves in line (and would never dream of being uppity).  How sad it is that upscale folks like that still have their 1950s racist underpinning, once you peel away the thin veneer of hypocrisy.

            It seems more and more that the 2008 election was an aberration fueled by the nation’s weariness with the despicable Little Georgie regime which spawned two bloody wars and took a whopping surplus to a crushing deficit.  Possibly anyone could have beaten the fading John McCain (who in retrospect looks like a paragon of cooperation, compared to today’s snarling idealogues on the right). 

            But Obama came in with expectations almost beyond what anyone unable to walk on water (and remember the lynch mob that did in Jesus) could have done.  Granted he was tentative his first months when he had an agreeable Congress and when he finally stiffened up and realized that he was never going to get anything from the smirking Mitch McConnell and his Tea Party nutcases, it was too late.

            Obama promised a change and said “Yes, we can,” and he probably could have had not a Republican Congress vowed to thwart him at every turn.  Obama has had to fight an almost impossible battle to get anything done and it’s a miracle we’ve seen as much accomplishment as we have. 

           We’re out of Iraq, getting out of Afghanistan, have a health care bill that covers millions previously left in the cold and, whether it seems like it or not, the economy has turned around.  Remember—the Great Depression was nine years along when World War Two began and jump started the economy.

                    If it takes a war to solve a fiscal crisis, Romney with his chest-thumping rhetoric about Iran and Syria, probably is the guy.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see us spilling kids’ blood in another Middle East quagmire within a year of a Romney administration.

                    But the right wing, with its relentless racist attack and its unlimited big money spending, has so conditioned voters to Obama’s supposed incompetence, nevermind the facts, that the country may well return to its old plantation mentality.  We are in danger of electing a racist President in Mitt Romney.

                Make no mistake—the guy is a racist.  He lets his spokespeople do his dirty work, but he stands behind them.  His hands are dirty by association.  Historically the Mormon Church has labeled people of color as being tainted by the mark of Cain—in other words, spawn of evil.  That attitude still is widespread in the Mormon Church and Mitt Romney is quick to profess his Mormon devotion.

            He’s clever about his white man feelings.  He lets folks like Rush Limbaugh and the loathsome John Sununu speak for him.  Notice that no matter how disgusting their comments, Romney does not disavow them.  Sununu, the Jabba the Hutt of politics, in fact is Romney’s senior advisor.  Romney still supports the Indiana Senate candidate who piously says that if a rape victim gets pregnant as a result of criminal assault “it is God’s will.” 

            It was that fat toad Sununu who called Obama lazy and other thinly-disguised racist characterizations.  It was him who, when the universally-respected Gen. Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Obama, said it was because both are black.  That alone should have been enough to force Romney to disavow what his right hand guy said, dismiss him, and further make a strong statement that he does not believe in such patently racist rhetoric.

            Didn’t hear anything from Romney.  Gee, maybe he isn’t aware of what Sununu said….  Mitt has a remarkable ability to pretend that unpleasant things which make him look bad never happened.  He literally adopts the Scarlett O’Hara philosophy of “Oh, well, I’ll think about it tomorrow” when he says he has a plan to solve all problems—just elect him and he’ll tell you what it is.

            In a few days we decide whether we continue with the Obama measured approach to solving the economic problems one that has worked despite concerted right wing opposition, or buy the racist pig in a poke that Romney is offering.  It’s a clear choice for anyone concerned enough to get behind the name calling and decide who is the more trustworthy and savvy of the two.

            Or you can just vote against the nigger…..

-30-

 

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