Part two in a series.
There’s a rising tide on the rivers of blood
But if the answer isn’t violence, neither is your silence
– Pop Will Eat Itself, “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”
When all is said and done, nothing communicates the racism and knee-buckling stupidity of all-too-wide swaths of our nation quite like video. So if you don’t trust me to tell the truth about these folks, maybe you’ll trust their own words.
Here, for your copying-and-pasting convenience, is a transcription of some of what you just heard:
“I’m afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over. He’s not a Christian! This is a Christian nation! What is our country gonna end up like?”
“When you got a Nigger running for president, you need a first stringer. He’s definitely a second stringer.”
“He seems like a sheep – or a wolf in sheep’s clothing to be honest with you. And I believe Palin – she’s filled with the Holy Spirit, and I believe she’s gonna bring honesty and integrity to the White House.”
“He’s related to a known terrorist, for one.”
“He is friends with a terrorist of this country!”
“He must support terrorists! You know, uh, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. And that to me is Obama.”
“Just the whole, Muslim thing, and everything, and everybody’s still kinda – a lot of people have forgotten about 9/11, but… I dunno, it’s just kinda… a little unnerving.”
“Obama and his wife, I’m concerned that they could be anti-white. That he might hide that.”
“I don’t like the fact that he thinks us white people are trash… because we’re not!”
As I always told my writing students: show, don’t tell.
Clearing a Low Bar
Welcome to a state where the politics of hate
Shout loud in the crowd “Watch
them beat us all down.”
At this point, I’m trying to imagine what I can add that isn’t superfluous. That racism still exists, in tragic amounts, isn’t a revelation to anyone with more than six or seven functioning brain cells, although being confronted anew with this kind of evidence is still jarring.
What’s different, though, is what I said back in June.
Make no mistake, in the coming months you’re going to see the ugliest artillery that our nation’s drooling, inbred hatemongers have at their disposal. The looming prospect of a nigra in the White House is going to bring the vermin out of the woodwork, out from under their rocks and out into the light. It’s going to incite the well-heeled country club elite to crank up the meme machine with every sort of subtle, codemongering dogwhistle it can manufacture. The truly ignorant and hateful are going to be liquored up on rhetorical bile of the lowest sort and those who live further up the social ladder are going to be provided with a variety of messages that let them vote white without having to admit to themselves that they’re fundamentally just like the snuff-suckers in the trailer park across the tracks.
This is a good thing. Let me say that again: this is a good thing.
It’s a good thing because we’ll never defeat an enemy that can safely hide from scrutiny. This is a disease that’s only going to be cured with copious amounts of very bright light.
We will not fear your mask. Because what we believe in doesn’t need to hide.
In this election campaign, let’s invite the Klan and its fellow hate groups out into the light. Let’s get their hoods off of them. Let’s show all their videos. Let’s make sure that everybody gets to read their brochures and visit their Web sites. Let’s hand the microphone to their most eloquent speakers and stand aside. Let’s get them front and center and make sure America sees, in all its slack-jawed, toothless glory, precisely what racism looks like.
And above all, when we hear racist code masquerading as legitimate, issues-based messaging, let’s not be afraid to say “excuse me, but will you take off your hood?”
It’s decision time, and I’m ready for a referendum on hate. How about you?
Regardless of what happens on Election Day, we won’t have triumphed finally and completely over ignorance. Our culture is, at its very core, anti-intellectual and frighteningly tolerant of the willfully stupid. We fetishize shallowness and vote on whether or not we’d like to have a beer with the candidate. We mock “elites,” sort of. We’re too thick to recognize real elitism when we see it, but we can be relentless in our abuse of those born to meager means who, through little but their own intelligence and hard work, rise up to make something of themselves. Our ability for self-deception is unmatched in the entire civilized world.
But an Obama victory (which looks more likely by the day) would nonetheless mark a milestone: we would have arrived at a point where a man of non-white (or half non-white, as the case may be) heritage can be elected to our highest office. As my colleague Whythawk has observed, that actually says something pretty good about America, given how few of our fellow industrialized nations can say the same.
“We suck less,” though, isn’t the sort of shining-city-on-the-hill standard America has traditionally prided itself on setting (even if only rhetorically), and while being the first to clear a very low bar is something to note, it’s not something to get too puffed up over. This is especially true when we have millions of citizens howling for the corpse of Barack Obama. It’s especially true when our media institutions ignore the filthiness happening right before their eyes. It’s especially true when these disgusting public spectacles are funded by a hyper-rich power elite that’s willing to spend whatever it takes to keep us ignorant and at each other’s throats.
As for the premise that McCain is no racist, well … racist is as racist does, don’t you think? He got his back up at the suggestion that he was somehow like George Wallace, but in what conceivable way is that charge less fair and valid than the slanders his campaign has slung in Obama’s direction?
And why should we taken seriously McCain’s late-to-the-dance attempts to rein in the hate that’s been committed in his name? His actions in recent years have made clear that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to win the White House, Bob Dolizing himself to a degree that Dole himself could hardly have imagined. Tack this way on the advice of advisers, pander to the Right to shore up the base, let Karl Rove bully you out of your VP preference, let slip the dogs of Race War… Why would I or you or any other thinking American regard this as anything besides a tactical maneuver driven by research showing that undecided voters are turned off by it?
None of Us Are Free
In “None of Us Are Free” (written by Barry Mann, Brenda Russell and Cynthia Weil), Solomon Burke sings
None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, one of us is chained.
None of us are free.
Clearly, large portions of America remain chained. Our Cracker Problem persists, and what ought to be most disconcerting is that it not only exists in the heart of Georgia, in Outback Ohio, in pro-America Virginia or in a Republican Women’s club in California. It not only thrives in the minds of elderly whites who preferred Jim Crow to Martin Luther King. It’s not only alive and well in organizations like Stormfront and the League of the South.
No, the problem is that racism, racemongering and race-baiting are alive and well at the very highest, most public levels of our democracy: our presidential election process. And it was put there, on full display, and sanctioned by one of the only two parties that ever really stands a chance in any national election.
On November 4th, let’s hope for an epic thrashing of those who seek to profit by trading in hate and ignorance. Let’s further hope that those who can’t and won’t evolve get the message loud and clear: crawl back underneath your rocks and remain quiet until it’s finally your time to die.
But whatever we do, let’s not confuse winning a battle with winning the war. Our Cracker Problem will be with us for awhile longer, and November 5th will be the beginning, not the end.
And when they come to ethnically cleanse me
Will you speak out? Will you defend me?
Or laugh through a glass
eye as they rape our lives
Trampled underfoot by the Right on the rise…
Previously: Ich Bin Ein Auslander
Well said, Sam. Again.
Thanks for this two-parter, Sam. It took a lot of work to assemble all this, and I appreciate it.
Perhaps a Final Solution to the Cracker question is in order.
And we have a new USA Today story on how white supremacists are trying to go appeal to “middle America”: White supremacists target middle America
No final solution necessary. Well-paying jobs for the intellectually weak and poorly educated are declining rapidly. As poverty increases among crackers, so will hatred. That will cause white supremacist groups to increase their memberships as they attract more and more losers. But the flip side of that coin is that the rest of the country will become less likely to listen those groups since, after all, they’re full of losers. In general, Americans tend to shy away from identification with trash.
Careful of your groupings. They sound familiar.
JS OBrien said: “Well-paying jobs for the Jews are declining rapidly. As poverty increases among Jews, so will hatred. That will cause Jewish groups to increase their memberships as they attract more and more Jews. But the flip side of that coin is that the rest of the country will become less likely to listen those groups since, after all, they’re full of Jews. In general, Americans tend to shy away from identification with Jews.”
“Well-paying jobs for the Gypsies are declining rapidly. As poverty increases among Gypsies, so will hatred. That will cause Gypsy groups to increase their memberships as they attract more and more Gypsies. But the flip side of that coin is that the rest of the country will become less likely to listen those groups since, after all, they’re full of Gypsies. In general, Americans tend to shy away from identification with Gypsies.”
So, Cracker, let me get this straight. You are equating the the idea of racism with the Jewish and Gypsy cultures?
I think Cracker might be pulling our legs. At least I hope so. Last I checked, “Jew” wasn’t so much a choice as it was something you were born into. Cracker is a culture, but as I think a few of us scrogues proved, it is escapable.
I’m equating your attitude with racism. You sound remarkably like the elitist Nazis that saw it as their job to clean out “their” culture of unwanted, dirty refuse.
Who died and made you God?
Not that JS needs me to defend him, but I don’t think you really get to equate just anything with racism without some sort of rational grounds. You can equate being black with being Jewish, of course, or being Mexican with being Irish 100 years ago. But what you’re doing comes closer to “equating” being black with being a Redskins fan.
“Cracker” describes a broad swath of American white culture that’s defined, about as much as anything, by ignorance. And not just ignorance, but willful, hatemongering ignorance. The sort of ignorance that feels a need to crusade against just about all forms of human progress.
So if wanting that stamped out means we’re playing God, then feel free to genuflect in my direction.
And if you’re not able to distinguish between factors that are a basis for racism – that would be, you know, things like RACE – and factors that go to BEHAVIOR, then you might want to snoop around and see if you can find a place that’s a little more suited to your general … intellect. Because it’s going to be tough on you around here.
Whatever. The Nazis and the Communists of the last century also saw it as their “duty” to target what they perceived as their ideological inferiors.
When you’re dealing with ignorant people, compassion goes a lot farther than talk of “DIE!”. It’s the reason that I’m speaking to you nicely.
*grin* I won the bet, Slammy. I told you he’d use the word “Nazi” before the 14th post.
I call ’em like I see ’em. You sound like an inside-out Nazi.
Black “gangsta” culture is equally as ignorant and racist as its analogous counterparts in white culture. Gangstas are merely black crackers. I’d come down equally as hard on anyone that made calls to clean out the Gangsta Problem in the marketplace or the inner cities.
Cracker, I’m still confused. Are you saying that racism is an ideologically useful paradigm? Or are you just saying we should somehow educate the “ignorant people”? I think many of the S&R writers would agree with the idea that education is key. But I think the characteristics that define the Cracker mentality are 1) a disinclination to learn, and 2) a phobic world view. That isn’t exactly an environment conducive to education. Particularly about race.
“I think the characteristics that define the Cracker mentality are 1) a disinclination to learn, and 2) a phobic world view. ”
It’s the terms that are the problem. Let’s translate what you just said:
“I think the characteristics that define the Nigger mentality are 1) a disinclination to learn, and 2) a lazy world view. ”
Get my drift?
No. Because “Nigger,” the way you are using it, is a race. “Cracker” is a mentality.
Regardless, Cracker. The fact is, the good jobs are going to the well-educated, not those, like crackers, who hate education and feel there’s something fundamentally wrong with “book larnin’.” As they get poorer (and they will), they’ll get angrier. They’ll become even more the reactionary base of the GOP. But the thing is, none of the well-educated are going to want to associate with them, because they’re losers.
As for your “Jewish” analogy, how silly. Intellectual weakness is not race specific. Trash is trash, though.
I should know. I grew up around those people.
Bingo Ubertramp! “Cracker” is a world view. Anyone can adopt it. The fact that crackers adopt their world view says much about them as individuals. Cracker’s attempting to equate intellectual vacuity with so-called inherent traits is just more intellectual vacuity.
I grew up around many, many nasty, mean, stupid, vicious, racist, crackers. But there were many who weren’t.
Unfortunately, not all racists are stupid or ignorant. Some of them are smart as hell. Hitler himself was a damned smart SOB. But that’s a whole ‘nother can o’ worms.
Yeah. David Duke wasn’t stupid. But by and large, the vast majority of the racists I have met (and being a white Southerner means they tend to talk to me as though I agree with them when I don’t) are either butt stupid or butt ignorant. Most of the time, both.
My guess is that’s probably true of all forms of racism, particularly the more virulent forms, and it isn’t exclusive to “Crackers.”
In other words none of us will be free until the last chain is broken and only the slave can free us all.
Don’t mean to pick on Southerners, but. . . in his latest novel, Swan Peak (Simon & Schuster, 2008), James Lee Burke writes:
Damn. When did she meet my father?
In a nutshell, this describes how I guess I thought the world just WAS. Everyone in my neighborhood growing up was this way, and if the kids in my schools weren’t that way yet, they were probably on their way.
I think my life is proof, more or less, that this condition isn’t necessarily terminal, that it CAN be overcome, and that the way you overcome it is through education.
I may sound like a broken record, but if I do, at least it’s a really nice song.
Just to be perfectly clear, poverty (or continued poverty, perhaps) is not necessary to the growth and maintenance of the mentality under discussion. It persists through generations, even as better education and nutrition makes its adherents richer and taller and infinitely more effective. Lack of self-esteem? Maybe. I would describe it, at least in its later manifestations, as a sense of baffled entitlement. That rage derives from a feeling that someone, somewhere, has rearranged the cards, weighted the dice, changed the rules of a game that was supposed to be rigged for them to win every time.
If you substitute the “someone, somewhere” to “the rich”, you suddenly have class warfare. You can’t deny that there are people who rig the games in their favor. You can deny that any specific group does it to the exclusion of others though. Everyone’s f’ing around with everyone else.
Who’s denying it? Their issue is not that the game is rigged, Steve – it’s that the game is rigged in favor of someone else. It’s supposed to be set up so that the same people always win; it’s just that somehow, being white and male is no longer (actually never has been, but that’s a different can of worms) enough to get you into the winners’ circle.
True. My point was just paranoia doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Who “they” are is interchangeable with varying degrees of plausibility.
Yep. I suppose it’s the misidentification (is that a word?) of “they” and the substitution of traditional redneck (that’s what we call them, by the way) scapegoats that’s the problem. After all, figuring out who’s really got you by the short hairs might take a little work and some independent thought.