Racism all boils down to this.

It seems like it’s everywhere lately.  People are getting bolder and more outspoken.  Stepping on or over the lines of decency with their toes instead of staying well back behind.  Is this a backlash against the age of political correctness?  The pendulum returning from its last extreme?  Or is something more foul afoot?

We have South Carolina state senator Jake Knotts who called Nikki Haley a F@#ing raghead! (when asked about it later, he retracted saying he shouldn’t have used the F-word) His use of obscenity notwithstanding, he was relying on the fact that he could make political hay by being visibly racist.

Not so long ago, you had to hide your racism in clouds of innuendo and “code” words.  Bill O’Reilly had to walk a thin line when he talked of keeping Mexican Americans from moving into white neighborhoods:

“most Americans … don’t want to hurt any poor Mexican people. … [T]hey want to know who they are. They want to know where they are, what they’re doing. They don’t want them clustering in neighborhoods and changing the tempo of the whole neighborhood.” (source: mediamatters)

Nowadays, you have the good folks of Prescott AZ, complaining that the new school mural features a picture of a latino kid and forcing the school to lighten his complexion.  (Nevermind that the kid who is features is an actual student of the school – see the story for yourself here)

And any attempt to write a law requiring local police to stop and deport anyone who looks like they could be here illegally would have been laughed out of the senate as recently as 2 years ago.  While the eugenics movement (upon which the Arizona law is based) is and has always been around – ever since people started looking different — it seems to have chosen this year to make its surge.

So why is that?  What is it about these times that suddenly make it OK be a racist again.  What is emboldening the bigots?  Why is racism on the rise again?

Well, it’s my assertion that it’s not!

Not on the rise, but out into the open.

People like me have been allowed to convince themselves that the issue of racism, while not totally fixed, is under control.  Because folks knew they weren’t allowed to speak it, to espouse it or ever, ever, ever be seen to support it, we figured it would gradually fade away.  Like a cut or an ingrown hair.  Best to leave it alone.  Don’t pick at it or get it inflamed.  Let it heal on its own.

I alluded to it earlier when speaking of the eugenics movement.  It’s been there all along – hiding in the shadows – lurking without making eye contact.  Only now does it have the courage to step out into the light.

It has to do with the election of Barack Obama.  His presence and success has angered the sullen beast and drawn it out into the light of day.  From desperate Tea Partiers wailing that they want the America they knew to be returned to them to anxious white men who are worried that payback might indeed be a bitch.

Like that ingrown hair, racism has become a festering boil.  Full of seething pus and hatred – maddening the area around it and hiding beneath the surface ready to explode.  Barack Obama is the lightning rod – the lancet.

And like the boil, once lanced it can be drained.  We can see it for what it is and root out the hatred and the infection.  We can clean it up once we acknowledge it.

So now is the time for us to stand up as citizens and decent people.  To say to this ugliness: “This is not how we are!”,  “This is not who we are!”, “This is not my America and you racists don’t speak for me!”

It’s time to move beyond the political correctness of “it’s not ok to say that” to the moral correctness of “it’s not ok to think that way”.  We Americans are better than that and we deserve better than that.

I for one have had my eyes opened and my comfortable denial stripped away by recent events.  It was much easier to think that the issue was solved and gloss over it.  But it is now time for the silent majority to rise up and drown out the racist shouts with a voice that is even louder than theirs.


We will not eradicate racism with a sudden, violent blow, but by the gentle, insistent and unwavering pressure of our peers.  Let’s hear their bigoted shouts against 200 million whispers of No.  There are more decent, fair-minded people in this country than there are racists.  I believe that with all my heart.  But we need to stop being silent.  Do something – anything.  But be heard.  Write a blog (I did), write your congressman, tell a friend, tell your children, but don’t take it.  Don’t accept it. Don’t let it pass.  Now more than ever before, we need to stand up and be counted.

2 Responses to “Racism all boils down to this.”

  1. Jerry says:

    Well said. All thinking Americans need to speak out against racism, where ever encountered. It’s worth noting that with the rise in personal communication in an open society, hate groups at the fringe get to promote their views in the growing virtual public square. Fortunately public squares tend to get lots of bright sunlight.

  2. BroDawg says:

    Unfortuantely Know-nothingism is not new, and it is an all-too farmiliar part of the historical tradition. It almost always rears its ugly head during bad economic times. I’m very sad that that is the country we live in, but this wave will pass for one simple reason. Every year the electorate becomes more Latin. AZ is following the political path of CA, which was a battleground state before 1994. Now its a Dem stronghold, because of the pyrric victory of Pete Wilson & prop 187.

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