Tag Archives: ignorance

Old Attitudes in the New South

I’ve just finished reading an article in the August 11 issue of Newsweek.  The issue’s cover is titled, “The End of the South:  How Obama v. McCain is Unsettling the Old Confederacy.”  The inside article I just read is entitled, “Southern Discomfort” and was written by Christopher Dickey. 

Dickey noticed some of the same things on his trek into the South that I have noticed in my move into AL:  there’s a level of ignorance that cannot be changed.  I will not for a second imply that this ignorance is pervasive.  It is an ignorance, however, rooted in a deep-seated racism that is peculiar to the deep South.  It is an ignorance that cannot be changed with education because there are blinders created by prejudice which prevent any enlightenment.  Take this quote from the article:

Yet even a third cousin of mine in the mountains of North Carolina, an independent-minded Democrat who voted for Gore in 2000 and Bush in 2004, said he can’t bring himself to vote for Obama, either.  Why?  “Because I believe he is a Muslim,” said my cousin.  Not so, I said.  He was raised a Christian and is a practicing Christian.  My cousin shook his head.  “I just don’t believe him,” he said.

There is no arguing with that.  There is no enlightenment possible. 

I was sitting in a local Mexican restaurant the other day when I overheard a conversation going on in the booth behind me.  The three women and one man were discussing the “fact” that they could never vote for Obama because he doesn’t say the Pledge and he was sworn in on the Koran and would be again if he were elected President.  Every intelligent American knows that these things are simply not true, but there is no telling those four people that those two things are falsehoods because, as we’ve discussed before, those falsehoods are simply cover for the fact that they can’t say, in public, “He’s a nigger.”  As Dickey says in his article:

(self-caricaturing bigot Dent Myers) argues that when Southerners criticize Obama, “They say, ‘He’s a Muslim, he’s a mulatto Muslim, or quadroom Muslim … [only because] they don’t want to use the old N word.”

There are more fantastic and incendiary events and remarks in Dickey’s article and other terrific articles in the Newsweek issue and I strongly encourage you to pick it up.  And now I’m going to do what I so frequently do:  encourage you to educate yourselves, educate others, and use your vote wisely.  And please try to open or continue the conversations on race in your own communities and try, no matter how futile, to correct the misconceptions.  Too often, it’s like banging our heads against steel walls.  But you never know when you may get through.

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Obama: The “Scary” Candidate

So John McCain is accusing Barack Obama of playing the race card.  It’s all over the place, in print media, on broadcast media, and on the net, so I won’t bother to reference it.  In other words, if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re living under a rock.  Obama says that McCain is painting him as the “scary” candidate:  “Nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.” 

The problem with McCain’s argument, in my view, is that this crap is true.  I was home, in Virginia, this week, passing through on my way down to Alabama.  A conversation with my step-Mother bore this out.  Her neighbors, all conservative as hell and several racist, though they would vehemently deny it, of course, have used the “scary” word to describe Obama.  They see Obama as “risky.”  They buy into the “roll of the dice” argument.  They believe that he has ties to radical Muslim groups and will bring a black power agenda to the White House.  It’s hard for McCain to claim that Obama is playing the race card when the argument has so much veracity.

All of this, of course, brings me back to the New Yorker cover and why it made me and so many progressives and Obama supporters so pissed.  There is a significant portion of the American public who actually believe this crap:  Michelle as radical black power rep, Obama as radical Madrassa adherent, the Obama White House as one where the flag would burn in favor of a Bin Laden agenda.  And I’ll speak the truth:  the folks who believe this crap aren’t smart enough to recognize that it’s satire.  Or if they are smart enough, they’re too racist or buy too much into the smears to do so.

The saying goes that ignorance is bliss.  Ignorance, my friends, is not bliss.  Ignorance is dangerous.  As I’m always begging, educate yourselves and use your vote wisely.  And please, for heaven’s sake, educate others.

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