A Mature & Honest Discussion on Race

I started this a few days ago. Race is always a very hot topic but this summer’s brew is of rare heat and takes time to simmer properly.

So, this morning’s Tuesday’s New Mad was a particularly good roundup. First of all, who knew that Kant was the life of the party? It does make a strange sort of sense, though. Of particular interest to me was an article over at Alas, a Blog! regarding a nitwit at The American Spectator calling Shirley Sherrod a liar for stating that a relative had been lynched when in fact he had merely been arrested, handcuffed, driven to the courthouse wherupon leaving the squad car he was attacked by at least three members  of a mob, one of which was armed with a two pound blackjack. The beating lasted from fifteen to thirty minutes. He was then dragged into the jail by his feet where he was thrown to the floor. Then the ambulance was called. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. To Jeffery Lord of the American Spectator, this doesn’t qualify as a ‘lynching‘ because there was no noose involved.

I will return to this in a moment. First, some background. The primary thing to understand about so-called ‘Black History’ in America is that it is not simply the history of black people but rather an alternative narrative to the official story of this country. Among other things, this counter-narrative gives fuller perspective to major historical events and is often based on far more solid evidence than many of the cherished popular myths of American history. Furthermore, it can be argued that contemporary events in America cannot be understood correctly without a familiarity with the reading of ‘Black History’.

To ‘lynch’ someone is to take vigilante mob action against a person. They don’t have to be hanged. They can be burned, beaten, dragged, drowned, shot, pressed, and torn apart by horses. Extensive research has not yet found an upper limit to the ways demented primates have discovered to torture each other to death with. Focusing on the method of murder is to willfully ignore the pattern of the violence. Lynching wasn’t a series of random acts by individuals but the unwritten policy of a dominant group for keeping a minority group oppressed. It was an act which involved entire communities and the forced participation of those whose consciences were still squirming. Mayors and town officials would shed their symbols of authority before joining in. Schools would be closed and children would be brought right down in front to witness the atrocity up close and were encouraged to participate. I have read hair-curling accounts of men having their genitals torn off by dogs mere feet from groups of young kids. The point was to desensitize and dehumanize en masse, to indoctrinate via shared guilt. Speaking of guilt, the victims were almost never actually criminals; they would be accused of some heinous crime or even just a trivial one, but there would never be any evidence presented at trial, obviously. Most often, they were a black person who had managed to save enough money to get a little bit ahead in some way,  or had managed to turn a poor plot into a profitable one. All it really took was catching the eye of the wrong white. If any of this sounds even like the slightest bit of hyperbole, please look up the tens of thousands of photos of the subject. Because, you see, the psychology of those days was such that these were treasured photos that were turned into postcards. Yes, this happened in America. Photos of unprosecuted local genocide were sent openly through the mail. I mean, that really is about as brazen as that can get.
Ida B Wells is one of my heroes. You can read her books for firsthand accounts of lynching. She risked her life publishing those accounts.

A mature and honest discussion on race with people like Jeffery Lord or Andrew Breitbart seems unlikely even to this most optimistic observer who has witnessed many a racist grinch have understanding  and love bloom in their shriveled hearts, expanding them to three times their size and more. At least suing Breitbart might cause his ilk to think twice before engaging in such blatant libels again, but there is a difference between optimism and delusion. The primary fuels of racism are ignorance and fear; a mature and honest discussion is the exact cure for ignorance and fear but some people refuse to take the medicine. They like the way the fever makes them feel and how the delusions make them think. Still, we all have biases and blind spots, we are all looking through a glass darkly every day and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. On of the fundamental tenets of my philosophy is that anyone can wake up, so there’s always hope.

2 Responses to “A Mature & Honest Discussion on Race”

  1. Beautiful. This is one of the best things you have ever written.

  2. Coming from you, that means a lot. Funny, I wasn’t trying for ‘beautiful’.

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