Not racist.

Really. Not racist at all.

“They won’t go for a black man, that’s just it,” R.K. Horton, a retired heating and air conditioning business owner, said of his neighbors. “I don’t think it’s being racist necessarily, they just don’t like black people that well.”

One wonders what exactly he thinks racism is. (From Salon.)

Update: I’ve just got to add in the words of Chris Rock, “What’s he got to do, shoot Medgar Evers to be a racist?” And also to refer you to this nice post on the topic.

9 thoughts on “Not racist.

  1. I live in a small Western PA town which I do believe was accurately described by Obama. However, I don’t think he went far enough. The people are bitter and willfully stupid. This is a college town and yet, the locals are racist, gun-toting and vote against their economic interests. They have hard core religious belief systems that sanction racism and sexism and zero ability to critique the talk-radio wingnuts they listen to. As someone who has traveled widely in the midwest and northeast, I have come to the sad conclusion that the dumbing down of American schools has produced two generations of working class fools. Unlike their ancestors, they do not read and do not understand how their support of REpublicans has destroyed their ability to survive in the modern world. Everywhere in this small town you see shacks and rundown trailers sporting republican campaign signs. Fools, serves them right! I’ve given up on them.

  2. Gosh, Phree, it’s really hard to imagine why people in your town feel like the Democrats lack respect for them! Look, I think there are real problems with the education system, with the way that it doesn’t promote critical thinking, etc., and you’re right to point that out. That’s important–as is calling people out on racism and sexism, and on errors in reasoning. But you know, class bias happens too…. maybe you ought to be a little more careful with your generalisations about entire generations of working class people.

  3. Many people do not know what racism, or sexism, is because the media has told them for years that racism is lynching and sexism is rape. Many people have drawn the obvious conclusion that if you do actively oppose the rights of others, but rather passively accept their maltreatment, you are not a racist or a sexist, you’re just an average guy who wants to vote for an average guy just like themselves.
    So they can’t vote for a black man because then blacks might get an advantage over them. And they can’t vote for a woman because women might get an advantage over them. They can’t vote for a Republican because the bosses already have too much of an advantage over them.
    So they cling to their media fed myths and vote for the least of their fears, or they don’t vote.
    You cannot have an informed electorate when the power to decide what is important is in the hands of corporate propagandists.

  4. Sorry, bit of a typo, it should have read, if you do NOT actively oppose the rights of others…

  5. Jender:
    While I appreciate that my post may sound classist, know that I grew up in the working class and both mine and my husband’s entire families are generally working class. Rather than being classist, I am disgusted at the total willful ignorance of the working class. In my generation, the idea was to get an education and raise oneself up from the working to the middle class. Now stupidity and contempt for any attempt at intellectual growth is “in.” Even my college students who originate from the working class do not make basic attempts to study or complete class requirements. I do not voice my disgust to them directly, but their anti-intellectual sentiments cannot be denied. I teach many students from Ohio who believe Fox news is the only source of truth. So my question to those who would judge me as classist is this: how does one confront the “n” word, sexism, anti-intellectual sentiment, etc., over a 20 year period without becoming totally frustrated? If people remain willfully ignorant, and think reading/research is unnecessary when you can just get the facts from O’Reilley and Limbaugh, exactly how would you handle the situation.

    Finally it is easy to judge me from a distance. If you had ever socialized with working class adults here in Western PA or in Maine where I’ve spent considerable time, you would hear many rascist, classist, wingnut talking points that defy logic or reason. There is no possbility for discourse with persons who have no respect for the difference between facts and hearsay. A lot of my working class associates refuse to believe Obama is not a Muslim. How exactly do you counter that?

    If the working class willfully ignores its own oppression, how can anyone liberate them? They don’t seem to want to liberate themselves….

  6. The article linked to last above says importantly

    Is being racist now simply subject to the individual’s choice? Are you only racist if you self-identify as such? At what point do your actions define who you are? If stereotyping racial minorities, passively or actively supporting institutions or policies that uphold inequality, and engaging in behaviors that endorse or perpetuate the basest, most negative images of minorities doesn’t make you a racist, what does?

    . The same question arises with regard to sexism.

  7. Phree wrote: “A lot of my working class associates refuse to believe Obama is not a Muslim. How exactly do you counter that?”

    I would probably start by stating that it shouldn’t matter whether he is or he isn’t Muslim. Not doing so leaves in place the idea that it is very bad (evil) to be Muslim, reinforces the anti-Islam sentiments that have flourished since 9/11(if not before), and implies that it is insulting to Barack Obama to suggest that he is Muslim, that it casts dispersion upon him.

  8. Shelly:
    Thanks for your reply. Simply countering that it’s OK to be Muslim and that everyone should be tolerant is very naive when one is dealing with people who are immune to reason. Of course, I’ve tried the love everybody track and the explanation that we ought not to stereotype people, but I’m dealing with working class folks who use the “n” word frequently, are misogynist and can’t even tolerate Catholics let alone non-Christians.

    An anecdotal example might suffice (and this one is mild compared to some of my experiences. ) A few years ago Tibetan monks visited the local university to do cultural exchange, lectures performances, etc. (I’m in a college town with sharp divides between the professors and locals who mostly earn less than $10/hour.) The suggestion was made that the monks might also visit the local high school to discuss culture or perform. Locals went into a rage about pagans and elitist professors trying to turn their children away from Christianity. They protested, threated to pull their kids out of school on the day of the visit and generally were rude and inhospitable. The monks chose not to visit for obvious reasons and the locals were rewarded for their intolerance.

    Those who believe we ought to lecture the working class into some sort of enlightened tolerance really don’t get off campus much or they would realize that the working class (for the most part) is anything but tolerant. The Christianity they practice sanctions war, killing, preventive brutality, the erosion of civil liberties, misogyny, the degradation of women, their own impoverishment, etc,. and no amount of “discourse” is likely to make them realize the contradictions. I guess I am frustrated because I have taught in rural community colleges with these folks for years and the situation has worsened rather than improved over the last eight years.

    Face it, we’ve dumbed down high school so far that we graduate intolerant folks who are immune to logic or reason. Only a reformation of education at the k-12 level will improve the situation!

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