Go Back From Where You Came From

"I'm sorry, if the people don't like how they are treated here, go back from where you came from… Isn't this a free country, you can like or dislike who you want?????" - Nadine, in defense of racism 

I wrote a fairly unremarkable article "8 Politicians as Racist as Paula Deen". I haven't followed the Deen controversy but I thought I'd capitalize on using her name as click bait (no scruples!). I initially resisted reading the comments because I knew exactly what to expect and that they would surely infuriate me, but I finally gave in.

A lot of people came to defend Paula Deen - presumably they didn't read the article and realize that she was basically referenced in passing. We've all used these words before, some argued. (We have?) "Being PC is bringing this country down" another said. Others asked why rappers could say the n-word. Still others wanted to make sure we knew who the real racists are: all of those minorities that pick on white people. But I'd also like to award bonus points to the people who were happy to criticize Deen's racist language… which they did by using misogynistic language. Haha, that "floozy"/"fat bitch" got what she deserved.

The introductory quote from Nadine may be the most egregious example, but there are other honorary mentions from the thread:

  • John, who considers racial slurs "slang" that he only uses when someone cuts him off in traffic, assuring us that he is otherwise not racist.
  • Cat, who refused to read the article any further once she saw Michele Bachmann's name listed. (Yeah, where would anyone get off calling HER a bigot?)
  • Rolf, who floats the idea that the Republicans mentioned in the article are probably actually Democrats who spent their careers pretending to be Republicans in an attempt to tarnish the party's reputation. Good theory!
  • The dozen or so people who want to give John McCain a pass for saying "gook" and promising to continue using the term because he was a POW. I agree that his circumstances complicate things a bit, but I guarantee a lot of those people don't even give a second thought to Guantanamo Bay. 

Ultimately, I don't care much about figuring out the extent of Paula Deen's racism. Frankly, I have some relatives whose racism I need to worry about before some second-rate celebrity I've never paid attention to previously. But I do find it interesting that while Deen gets canned, U.S. politicians can actually get re-elected after displaying bigotry. Especially because their views - due to their powerful positions - contribute to institutional racism, which causes far more damage than someone who might say a slur out of ignorance rather than hate.

So when Mayor Michael Bloomberg responds to accusations of discrimination for NYC's Stop and Frisk policies by saying he thinks MORE minorities should be searched, I find that really problematic. When Bachmann names ways that black families were better off during slavery, I find that super upsetting, too. And when Bob Allen, a Florida Representative, gets caught trying to pay for gay sex and tries to excuse it by saying he was in the presence of black men and was willing to agree to anything not to get mugged that's… well, actually, that one's just hilarious. "I'm so afraid that a black man might hurt me that I tried to pay him money and offered him oral sex for my own safety" might be the funniest story I've ever heard.

No comments: