I am almost incredulous that the Obama administration could have fallen into the trap set by right-wing race baiters concerning the Shirley Sherrod affair.
A blogger posts a misleading video on the internet, taking some remarks out of context, and the administration ousts the Agriculture Department official who made the remarks, without first even asking her what it was all about.
Oh, to be sure, racism is not confined to the right, but exists at all points on the political spectrum and in society in general.
And who knows? Maybe it is only natural, a kind of tribalism.
When I was a teenager taking a vacation with my folks and siblings we were sitting at a lunch counter in Winston-Salem North Carolina, as I recall, and a red-haired and red freckled white man with a stingy brim hat, who looked to be some kind of salesman, who was sitting on a stool next to us, volunteered, without us asking:
“If God had meant us all to live together he would have made us all the same color”.
We as little kids used the N word freely but not against blacks, but against each other or we just said it. I don’t think we really knew why we used it or what the full implications of it were.
I recall feeling bad when I saw on TV police in the South using dogs against peacefully demonstrating blacks in the 1950s and 60s. That made me mad at white bigots.
I did not feel any better when I watched blacks rioting in big city ghettos every summer it seemed in the 60s and looting stores. That made me mad at the blacks who did this.
While I don’t know personally how it feels to be black and be the victim of white prejudice, I do know how it feels to be white and be the victim of black prejudice — I served in the U.S. Army in Germany between 1968 and 1971. White officers and white NCOs for the most part in the unit in which I served were scared to discipline blacks because they would A not respond (and might resist) or B they would play the race card.
I have spoken to white soldiers and sailors who wanted to make a career of the service but decided they did not like the racism and favorable treatment given to some over others.
Am I racist? Only when racism rears its ugly head against me or when some of my resentment from a time in the past comes back. But what I noticed then and notice today is that members of different races ignore the differences in many cases, but in certain social situations they are inclined or feel compelled to slip back into racism.
It’s of course not just black and white, but brown and yellow and Middle Eastern and so on.
The most ugly and blatant racism seems to come from poor white trash and ghetto blacks, but it can be just as bad at other levels of society too, but maybe a little more subtle, or not, but just as destructive.
(The Tea Party reportedly has a lot of well-to-do whites in it and some of them do not seem to be subtle about race, but it is hard to identify who is saying what in that nebulous group.)
But speaking from the white perspective, what does stick in the craw is the idea that while if you are what we currently call a minority it is okay and even expected that you have pride in your race. But if you are white that is politically incorrect.
Affirmative action also is hard to take. While I don’t think I have ever suffered from it directly, I have relatives on my in-laws’ side who have. One was told flat out by a government fire service official that he need not apply if he was not black or American Indian. I don’t care how you look at that, even taking the fact that minorities of the past were discriminated against in employment, reverse discrimination does not solve the problem. Discrimination is discrimination.
(In the 50s and 60s when my family used to go to San Francisco, our former home, for a visit, I always noticed that the bus and street car operators were mostly black, as well as the bridge toll takers at that time. That was evidentially some kind of affirmative action going on well before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.)
But resentments of past racial discrimination have to be put behind and so does race discrimination no matter which way it goes.
We do have a black president — something that I swore would never happen in my life time.
I haven’t seen any indication that President Barack Obama made the move to oust Sherrod over the apparent misunderstanding of her remarks, but someone or ones in his administration did. He has since called her and said the decision was wrong and she has been offered her job or even a better one back.
It seems the administration was so scared it would be seen as racist that it fell for the dirty work of a blogger with ulterior motives. The motive was to discredit what the ultra and reactionary right sees as its enemy.
I personally have neither seen the original video nor the full video that supposedly vindicates her. In reality I think the whole affair is much ado about nothing, except it gave a chance for me to vent a little about my own frustrations with the race issue.
Actually white pride is accepted in certain traditional American ethnic celebrations, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest, but in general it is not politically correct to be white and proud of it, while it does seem to be so to be black and proud of it or to go around saying si’, se puede. A white person entering the U.S. illegally might be thought to be a Russian agent, but a Latino entering illegally is an “immigrant” in the parlance of political correctness.
The irony of course in the Sherrod affair was that she is black and it was implied that by her own admission that she was racist against whites and that an administration led by a black man (well half black — Clinton, of course was our first black president — just kidding — I guess it was his cool sunglasses and his ability to play the sax and his appetite for sex), Barack Obama, rushed to judgment, showing its own vulnerability in questions of race.
And why does my computer freeze up when I try to write this blog? And why does my spell check not recognize Obama and wants me to write Osama and why does it not know the word blog or blogger?