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Dear McCainiacs: Racism Should Not Be An Accepted American Attribute

Illustration for article titled Dear McCainiacs: Racism Should Not Be An Accepted American Attribute

It was mentioned earlier today, but it probably bears repeating: there are some sad (and probably dangerous) racists who count themselves among John McCain's and Sarah Palin's supporters. From shouting out that Obama is a terrorist to hollering "Kill him!" at a rally when Obama's name is mentioned to telling an African-American member of the press corps to "Sit down, boy," there's a lot of ugly shit around this year that makes purple Band-Aids and flip-flops look like thoughtful political discourse.On the one hand, this shit fucking sucks. This is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave and we're supposedly Proud to Be an American[s] From Sea To Shining Sea and yet, 232 years after the founding of this country, 219 years after the signing of our (admittedly racist) Constitution, 145 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, 143 years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution eliminated slavery, 140 years after the ratification of the 14th Amendment gave African-Americans (and others) equal protection under the law, 138 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment prohibited states from abridging the rights of citizens to vote because of their race, 132 years after the first of the Jim Crow laws abrogated the work that the Constitutional amendments started and 44 years after the Civil Rights Act supposedly put to rest any remaining doubts about what would be legal and what should not be acceptable in this fucking country, we've still got people who think that they are better than other people because of melanin content in their skin. And, what's even more horrifying, that they think they can openly say racist shit because being at a Republican rally — the Republican party, notably, being the party responsible for the aforementioned Emancipation Proclamation and 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments — means that they are among "their" kind. And, given that neither John McCain nor Sarah Palin — the new heirs to the leadership of the party of motherfucking Lincoln — could take a minute, a second, to chide a supporter and say, "That language has no place in this party," they might be right. This is what Nixon wrought on this country and his party, this is what Rovian politics brings. There's no courage in ignoring who your supporters are. There's no honor in taking their votes if you can't take a minute to chide them for their racism. There would be honor and there would be courage in saying, "If you are voting for us because Obama is black, or because you think he is Muslim, we don't want your votes. Vote for us on the issues, or don't vote for us at all." But John McCain and Sarah Palin will take their support and their attendance at rallies with a wink and a well-coiffed nod and everyone will pretend that they didn't hear what was said and the racists will think they have someone who agrees with them in the White House and the rest of us will march happily on by like little lemmings and believe, as we want to believe, that they don't. And on the other hand, if enough of those people come out of their noose-festooned closets wearing their Confederate-decorated clothing and quit talking about how the Flag of Intolerance is some sort of states' rights-Southern pride bullshit and acknowledge that it is about racism, showing their non-running red-white-and-blueblood for what it is, maybe I can stop hearing about how calling Obama "articulate" isn't really racist and calling him "young man" isn't really calling him "boy" and calling Michelle "angry" isn't playing to stereotypes because the people that want to turn a blind eye to the kind of underlying racism that pervades too much of our actions in this country won't be able to be willfully blind anymore. I understand that lots of people grew up with parents who preached tolerance and in environments that encouraged tolerance and lead (one might be tempted to say "sheltered") lives in which racism has never touched their lives in a way that they've seen or been able or willing to acknowledge, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And if the racists hiding among us — the guy who taped the "Whites Only" sign above my high school water fountain the year 3 African-American kids started attending my high school, for instance, or the woman who told AFL-CIO Treasurer Richard Trumka that she's not voting for Obama because of his race — have to come out and say it, then the rest of us have to acknowledge that it exists and that 44 years, and 138 years, and 140 years, and 143 years and 145 years hasn't been enough to wipe the stains of slavery from our country's soul or racism from its consciousness. And maybe once we recognize that as a country, once we acknowledge that the evil of it walks amongst not just the worst of us but some of the best of us, maybe then we can figure out why 150 years isn't enough. Obama Hatred At McCain-Palin Rallies: "Terrorist!" "Kill Him!" [Huffington Post] Unleashed, Palin Makes a Pit Bull Look Tame [Washington Post] Racism Without Racists [NY Times] This Is Exactly What I Have Been Waiting For [Ta-Nehisi Coates]


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Silence, unfortunately is all too common a reaction when it comes to whites and racism. Here's a situation I've found myself in a few times: you get a large room full/party full/table full of white people. Before the evening is over some yahoo acquaintance of a friend-of-a-friend makes a racist comment, and the room/party/table just gets quiet for moment because racist yahoo just embarassed everybody by being a jackass, and nobody can believe that they've just spent the evening with him and are wondering who else in the group is just like him. People go home and make a mental note "Don't ever hang with that guy again." I realized many years ago that SILENCE to these idiots means ASSENT. If I find myself in these types of situations, i call the asshole on it and let him know I don't share his views and he shouldn't blab his mouth around me because I don't like his assumption that I must be racist too. I've had to do this with (relatively distant) family members too. People have to speak up. Silence is never OK with this crap.