2011 picture of Trayvon Martin posted from The Daily Caller
Earlier this week president Obama conducted a press conference on what he called “The Trayvon Martin Ruling.” He spoke of how “There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.” He emphasized that “…the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country.” He concluded by calling for all of us to do some “soul-searching.” He suggested that we should “convene a conversation on race.”
I am one of those “old white guys” who was around in the 1960s. I was raised in California, but ended up in Valdosta, Georgia. I remember being cautioned to be careful in the “dark section of town.” I remember being shocked to see the “Whites Only” signs. I remember walking along the street and being conscious of people with dark skin tone looking at me as if I were going to harm them. I wanted to exclaim, “Don’t judge me by the color of my skin!”
I am also a Vietnam veteran. I remember wearing a uniform through airports and feeling the same sense of being an outsider. My presence was inappropriate to many of the traveling public.
Our President’s sense of being treated with suspicion is familiar to me, as well as every other human being. We all have experiences where we feel uncomfortable in public situations. The feeling is so common that our entertainment industry frequently uses it as a theme. Who hasn’t seen one of the “Shrek” films that romanticize the travails of a lovable ogre?
So what do we make of the President’s call for “a conversation on race.” Republicans want to support the idea. We all want to remove any stigma attached to those like the lovable Shrek. It’s a sign of our Grand Gullibility.
In 1829, Mary Howitt published a poem titled “The Spider and the Fly.” The first line of the poem is “'Will you walk into my parlour?' said the Spider to the Fly.”
Keep that in mind as you contemplate “a conversation on race.” The Democratic Party teaches Americans that Republicans are racists. The Party does it by inference, claiming that members of the Democratic Party are not racists, yet racism is a chronic problem in our American culture. We are left to contemplate the question, “If Democrats are not racists, which political group could possibly be the problem?”
The Party also claims that its members are uniquely subjected to racism, as evidenced by the fact that nine out of ten American voters with dark skin tone tend to vote for the Democratic Party. There is no other American identity group so strongly aligned with a political party. The odds are thus about ten to one that individuals with dark skin tone are attracted to the Democratic Party, which puts them in direct conflict with Republicans.
Given that “a conversation on race” is intended to drive home the idea that Republicans are racists and want to harm people with dark skin tone, what possible good could come from this “conversation?”
Maybe it will expose The Reality.
“The Reality” is this: Racism in America is a political construct. It is meant to strengthen the Democratic Party by teaching its members to hate the opposition party. It is unseemly, but it works.
Here is a thought experiment to help better understand the issue:
If nine out of ten Americans with dark skin tone voted for Republicans, could the Democratic Party still teach that Republicans are racists? Would people believe that Americans with dark skin tone are inherently racist? (I imagine this would bring an end to the “raaaaacism” industry immediately!)
Also, what if I head on down to the office of the Clerk and Recorder and register as a Democrat? Will I still be considered a racist? (Since there is no racism within the Democratic Party, I will be immediately exonerated. With the stroke of a pen, I am cured of my affliction!)
These examples might show how racism is used in America as a political weapon, but there is still a problem. Republicans don’t seem to be capable of embracing the obvious.
We are skipping down the street to the melody of "La Vie en Rose." Our Republican "Grand Gullibility” still defines us.