Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 18, 2009
Okay, he really didn’t, but what a headline, eh?
Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a lot of racial rhetoric, and frankly it’s getting on my last nerve. Let’s get this one out of the way; racism exists in America, and in other countries around the world. It’s not exclusive to America; there is story after story, if you care to read, talking about racist behavior in countries like Mexico, England, Australia, Germany, France, Zimbabwe, etc. Yes, I threw in Zimbabwe, which is a majority black African nation.
For people throwing around the word “racist,” it’s important to put a definition of the word out there so we have a starting point. This also will preface part of what I’m going to talk about later. There are three main definitions of the word from Webster’s New World Dictionary:
1. Belief in or doctrine asserting racial differences in character, intelligence, etc, and the superiority of one race over another or others.
2. Any program or practice of racial discrimination, segregation, etc, specifically such a program or practice that upholds the political or economic domination of one race over another or others.
3. Feelings or actions of hatred and bigotry toward a person or persons because of their race.
Now, you want to talk about things that are funny? I still have my Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary from 1977, the year I started college, and numbers one and two above have been switched. Pretty interesting, eh? How many definitions change like that? Almost none; I’m not overly happy about it, because it changes the connotation of things, but I’ll deal with it.
What do I mean deal with it? If you go by the second definition first, it pretty much limits who or what can be a racist in certain circumstances. With the original definition, only the people who are in power can be racist, because only the people who are in power can create programs of discrimination and segregation against others. In America, that would be the white majority; in South Africa before the mid 90’s, that would have been the white minority. In Uganda in the 70’s, it would have been the black majority.
With the new definition as number one, it starts to muddy the waters. With that definition, there are few people who really fit the category of being a racist. For instance, though I might think Rush Limbaugh is a racist, I can’t fit him into either of the first two. Race baiter maybe, but racist? Strangely enough, he doesn’t have the power, even though a lot of people listen to him and enjoy him (no one will ever be able to explain that one to me). He does easily fit #3, though, but how do you hold someone accountable for a #3 listing?
Now, Pat Buchanan is another story. How about this quote:
“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks.” – Pat Buchanan
Now that’s racist, and incorrect, as Rachel Maddow pointed out:
Okay, we’ve clarified that, I hope. Now, as a secondary conversation, there has been a lot of noise saying President Obama should be saying something about this stuff, yet he remains “strangely quiet.” Folks, let me tell you this. There’s absolutely no way President Obama can win on his particular issue. If he says something, it’s going to set off a firestorm. By saying nothing, the firestorm is just the water rumbling a little bit, but not quite bubbling yet. My imagination would definitely love to hear it, though:
Rush Limbaugh is a racist; did you hear what he said about me?”
Sean Hannity is a racist; did you hear what he said about me?”
Glenn Beck is a racist; did you hear what he said about me?”
“Fox News is racist; did you hear what they continually say about me?”
Unfortunately, he can’t say it, and it’s not necessarily true. They’re not racists, folks. They are race baiters, as I called Limbaugh earlier, and I don’t know that’s much better. When everything someone else has to say is followed up with by making a comparison between how a white person might think about something, or about assigning every action a minority does and assigning it as “getting white people back,” that’s race baiting. Just the admission that someone might have a reason to get white people back is interesting:
“Yeah, we’ve treated you badly, given you lousy schools, won’t hire you because we don’t like your name, have segregated you, made you slaves, keep blaming you for bringing down the finances of the country and ruining the country because you’re not white like we are, and now you want to get us back because, in some fashion, you’ve proven to me that you’re something other than what I’ve been calling you all these years?”
Whew; glad I got that off my chest. 🙂 Anyway, just a short point I wanted to make. Every country has them, everyone has to deal with them. In America, yes, it’s hate speech, and I’ll say my peace against any of these people or entities when I feel it’s appropriate, which could be almost every day. It’s a shame that someone like me has to interpret every negative action that occurs and wonder if it’s because of race or because someone else just didn’t happen to be feeling me at that moment. Sometimes it’s both; now that’s scary!
Anyway, I think it’s time that, in some regard, we try to take a small step backwards, take a deep breath, then see what warrants a response and what doesn’t. Our politics and religion has gotten racial; I guess that’s the price minorities pay for progress. But I’m a little bit tired of it all; lots of noise, but nothing’s getting solved, no one’s trying to progress. If we continue just trying to hurt each other without trying to make ourselves and the world better, then it’s a lot of wasted effort. And frankly, I don’t need to have the words continually on my mind; I have other things to worry about.
What about you? Don’t y’all just love the new personal me? 😀