Monday, January 11, 2010
Wait, Wait, Where Are All the Angels?
Come with me now, thrill-seekers, to that land where even angels are affeared. It's the land where the talk is of racism, religion, political correctness and women's studies.
Senator Harry Reid, the mild-mannered Mormon from Nevada has come under withering political fire from conservatives. For the better part of a year the criticism has focused on the Senator's role in shepherding health care reform legislation through the sausage grinder known as the U.S. Senate. Just recently, however, it has come to light that not only is Harry a Mormon, a bit of a sad looking sack, a legislative "water-carrier" for the Obama administration on health care but also a racist pig.
From no less an authority than Liz Cheney, a Washington pundit who proves that the "mean gene" can indeed be passed from generation-to-generation, we learn that, unlike the morally superior Republicans, not a single one of whom has ever harbored a racist thought, Harry Reid isn't fit to serve as Senate Majority Leader. His crime, in case you have been in the Gobi Desert until just today, was to utter the perfectly benign truth that Barack Obama is a "light-skinned African American"--for which he can blame his Kansas hippie white mother--and who "speaks without a Negro dialect unless he chooses to". The latter observation is also something for which Obama can blame his mother plus his grandmother and grandfather, none of who be talkin' a Negra dialeh 'round de howz when Barack was a tad. Further, none of them likely spoke as iffin he'us raised up in the holler a fur peas back 'round yonder. Ergo, Barack does not talk like Reba McEntire either.
(An aside: Had Barack been raised by his father, he would likely speak with a Kenyan accent and, to our American untrained ears, sound like Nelson Mandela.)
In any case, he wasn't. So, for many Americans, who would otherwise be uneasy with a presidential candidate who looked like Robert Mugabe and/or sounded like Ludacris, Barack Obama was a politician who looked and sounded like a reasoned and reasonable candidate. It's the same thinking that led Colin Powell to be considered a promising Republican presidential candidate. Liz Cheney will, no doubt, deny that this Powell observation ever arose around the Cheney family dinner table, given that the Cheney's are, apparently, completely free of any racial prejudices (except as relates to Middle Eastern and South Asian Muslims, all of whom should be legally tortured to extract "ticking time bomb" information in order to "Keep America Safe.com").
The conservative gas bags claim that Reid's "racist statement" is equivalent to that of Trent Lott who was forced to relinquish his Senate leadership position after suggesting that the country would have been better off if Strom Thurmond--that paragon of racial harmony--had ascended to the presidency in 1948, thus maintaining racial segregation as the national standard.
So, let's review: Reid's statement, "because Obama is a light-skinned and well-spoken Negro, it was possible that he could get elected president" is equated, by the likes of Liz Cheney, to Lott's statement suggesting that America would be a better place if blacks kept to their own restaurants, rest rooms, schools, movie balconies, rear bus seats and water fountains. For my racial entertainment dollar, the comparison would be laughably priceless if it weren't so hypocritical and ludicrous; Ludacris would likely agree.
I believe that Mark Twain said, "If you want to make people angry, lie to them. If you want to make them purple with rage, tell them the truth.''
Here's my truth. All of us are racists; we only differ in degree. At the most harmless end are people who are probably much like Harry Reid and, hopefully, you, my dear reader. At the other end is the neo-Nazi skin-head. To claim that being positioned anywhere along this continuum is equally odious is to be completely out of touch with reality and human nature. Or, if you are Liz Cheney, to be looking to score political points, in spite of the fact that you really know better. Liz isn't dumb, just shameless.
Bulletin: Blacks (and other ethnic groups) harbor racists attitudes toward whites. Here again, however, the poles are widely separated. For instance, Obama might look at me and in a benign (and mostly correct) way, figure that I can't jump, don't dance very well, love New England pot roast with potatoes, listen to NPR and sleep in striped pj's to keep my small package warm. Louis Farrakhan, however, might see me as an evil manipulator who despises ethnic "others" and who would con them out of their money and, if it weren't for federal law, own slaves and insist on being called "massa" and who walks around with big money in my pocket (next to my small package) just begging to be mugged.
But, back to the neo-con wing nuts. Even George Will, a man never once accused of being a liberal of any sort, found Ms. Cheney's pronouncement too too, when they appeared together on this past Sunday's edition of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos", (a host who could sell several of his vowels to "Wheel of Fortune" and still have a long name). Save for Robert Reich, the world's shortest economist and a flagrant academic liberal, who briefly gnawed around Ms. Cheney's ankles, the other panelists failed to help George and Robert gang tackle Ms. Liz on this topic. They should have.
Observoid of the Day: Judge a man by the content of his character, not the color of his skin unless, of course, you are holding tryouts for an outside linebacker.