Tag Archives: racism

Parallel Planets: right wing’s grip on reality

[A repost from 2009. The GOP is still out there in lala land.]

Parallel: adj. extending in the same direction, everywhere equidistant, and not meeting

Planet: n. one of the large bodies that revolve around the sun in the solar system

This was quite a week in la-la land, where hate crimes are a reflection of one’s faith, a decrease in one’s taxes is a cause for a taxpayer revolt, and patriotic disgust at the duly elected Obama administration is sufficient reason for Texas to secede.

The unhappy rightmost fringe of the GOP exists not only on a different planet from everyone else on earth, they also run arguments that directly contradict other of their pet arguments.

We’ll take Tony Perkins first (of the Christian group – Family Research Council). He has created a website “fighthatecrimes.org” to OPPOSE a bill currently in Congress that says people who harm other people because they’re different (gay) will be prosecuted.  Isn’t the first rule of Christianity, “Love Your Neighbor as yourself?”

Then we have the TeaBaggers, who are protesting Anything and Everything Obama – currently “taxation without representation” – even though American voters went resoundingly for Obama last November and 69% support him today. And even though almost all of the protesters’ taxes will be lower, thanks to his tax cuts.

Gail Collins at the NY Times notes:

Have you ever noticed that the states where anti-tax sentiment is strongest are frequently the same states that get way more back from the federal government than they send in? Alaska gets $1.84 for every tax dollar it sends to Washington, which is a rate of return even Bernard Madoff never pretended to achieve. Yet there they were in Ketchikan waving “Taxed Enough Already!” signs and demanding an end to federal spending.

Then we go to Texas, where Governor Rick Perry (whose hair is almost as perfect as Senator John Boehner’s or Ex-Gov Blagojevich) thinks Texas should secede from the United States.  (And wasn’t Todd Palin into that as well, up in Alaska??)

Collins continues:

Have you noticed how places that pride themselves on being superpatriotic seem to have the most people who want to abandon the country entirely and set up shop on their own?

“What a great crowd,” Perry twittered, referring to the protesters he addressed in Austin, some of whom were waving American flags and yelling “Secede!”

Back when we protested the Iraq war, we were called unpatriotic and much worse; we were called traitors. “You’re either with us or you’re with the enemy…”

What makes this tax season so different from a couple hundred tax seasons that preceded it?  Last week’s protests were almost exclusively populated by white folks… Could it have anything to do with racism??

Need I mention that Obama is black?

Angry people need scapegoats – it’s the Mexicans taking our jobs and raking in welfare; it’s the black guys taking over the government.  But no one wants to admit being racist so instead they protest taxes, regulations, religious “persecution”.

Prejudice: perspective from Nick Kristof

A frightening number of Americans actually believe the rumors spread by right-wing radio personalities and religious groups – that Obama is or must might be a Muslim. And of those 10% who believe that the Book of Revelations “end-times” are near, some are saying Obama could be the “Antichrist.” You can buy T-Shirts with a horned Obama with that very caption.

Nicholas Kristof in today’s NY Times speculates that religious prejudice is replacing or masking racism:

To his credit, Mr. McCain himself has never raised doubts about Mr. Obama’s religion. But a McCain commercial last month mimicked the words and imagery of the best-selling Christian “Left Behind” book series in ways that would have set off alarm bells among evangelicals nervous about the Antichrist.

Mr. McCain himself is not popular with evangelicals. But they will vote for him if they think the other guy may be on Satan’s side.

In fact, of course, Mr. Obama took his oath on the Bible, not — as the rumors have it — on the Koran. He is far more active in church than John McCain is.

(Just imagine for a moment if it were the black candidate in this election, rather than the white candidate, who was born in Central America, was an indifferent churchgoer, had graduated near the bottom of his university class, had dumped his first wife, had regularly displayed an explosive and profane temper, and had referred to the Pakistani-Iraqi border …)

What is happening, I think, is this: religious prejudice is becoming a proxy for racial prejudice. In public at least, it’s not acceptable to express reservations about a candidate’s skin color, so discomfort about race is sublimated into concerns about whether Mr. Obama is sufficiently Christian.

The result is this campaign to “otherize” Mr. Obama. Nobody needs to point out that he is black, but there’s a persistent effort to exaggerate other differences, to de-Americanize him.

Deepak Chopra said this in another way when he wrote about Obama and the Jungian “shadow.” We project onto the “other” the darkest aspects of our own souls.

Prejudice: it’s a privilege to be white

Prejudice: a preconceived preference or idea: bias; or as EB White once said: “Prejudice is a great time saver. You can form opinions without having to get the facts.”

As a northerner who’s never thought of herself as racist, the current election season has given me lots of opportunity to look more closely at my thinking. Others are doing the same.

From a recent letter to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Kelvin LaFond:

What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class [894 out of 899]?
What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said ‘I do’ to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Michelle Obama were a wife who not only became addicted to pain killers, but acquired them illegally through her charitable organization?
What if Cindy McCain graduated from Harvard?
What if Obama were a member of the ‘Keating 5’?
What if McCain was a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, would the election numbers be as close as they are? This is what racism does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

And looking at the race through the perspective of “white privilege” – this is an excerpt from a recent column by Tim Wise:

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at 17 like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

…snip

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you’re black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.