Of Course, Racism is a Major Factor in American Politics

I suppose racism is inevitable in a country built by immigrants from all over the world and forever tainted by the shame of slavery. You probably know about the want ads that said no Irish need apply and the signs in shop windows telling “Jews and dogs” to keep out. And, of course, there were the more sinister manifestations in the South – black bodies hanging from live oak trees and hooded Klansmen terrorizing former slaves, for example.

The election of the country’s first black president made me hope that America had come of age. But apparently Barack Obama’s victory was an aberration. It seems this nation is still deeply divided by prejudice. And the bigots have been emboldened by a recent surge in political support.

I did not need the NAACP to point out that the Tea Party movement includes “racist elements” that are “a threat to progress.”

I’ve said from the start that’s what the movement is all about – exploiting visceral resentment against a black family occupying the White House.

And I am not surprised by Sarah Palin’s “Facebook” message calling the NAACP statement “false, appalling, and … a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand.”

People like Palin remind me of the Black Knight in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” who lay on the ground, armless and legless, insisting it was “just a flesh wound.”

They look us in the eye and tell us that what we see so clearly is not there, that truth is false and lies are reality. Incredibly, there are people who choose to be misled, who ignore the evidence of their own five senses and follow these false prophets like lemmings.

If you doubt for a minute that bigotry is alive and well in America, just listen to Rush Limbaugh. He makes no effort to disguise his prejudice. And he obviously speaks for a large constituency as his radio program’s audience is in the millions.

Spitting on George Steinbrenner’s grave a few days ago, Limbaugh called the baseball tycoon a “cracker who made many blacks millionaires.”

It was a typical Limbaugh comment. You may recall that he was fired from ESPN for saying, “The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well.”

And, as Scott Galindez, points out today in a service called “Reader Supported News,” the bloated radio host has uttered many such gems. Here are a few cited by Galindez:

Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

The NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies.

Take that bone out of your nose and call me back (to a black caller).

Spike … you should tell them that they should loot the theater, and then blow it up on their way out (in response to a suggestion by Spike Lee that black schoolchildren should get time off from school to see his film Malcolm X)

They are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares? (in response to a caller who said that black people need to be heard)

I fear no one will ever be able to stamp out racism in America. It may be with us always. But we can point it out when we see it, and give the lie to the con artists who try to disguise it as some other “issue” – like anger against “the deficit.”

Trust me, those morons holding up signs depicting Obama as Hitler and “bearing arms” at rallies or dressing up as Klansmen (photo above, right) wouldn’t know a deficit if it crawled up their legs.

So, when Sarah Palin (photo above, left) accuses the NAACP of “diversionary tactics to change the subject at hand,”  the irony is overwhelming.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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