Dammit, I’m sick of writing posts that I never finish, and this time, I’m drunk enough to post this unfinished. I wrote this a few days ago, and I’ve lost the heart to finish it. You can fill in the blanks.
So I was driving my 14-year-old daughter to school this morning and happened to have it on NPR, and they were talking about Trent Lott and his rise to glory in the Senate. And they were talking about the Strom Thurmond remark that brought him down, but as expected (unless I missed it) they failed to mention exactly why his remark was so offensive. Now, perhaps they thought we already knew the context. But if so, why quote the remark at all? Because all they did was mention that his comment started a “firestorm” and brought him down. Almost as if it was an innocent remark taken out of context by enemies, rather than a clear indicator that Lott is a racist who thought that racism should have remained an institution in America.
And so I felt the need to mention the context to my daughter, because she was slightly interested in the story (or so I’d like to believe). But rather than immediately grasping the problem, she starts going on about how you just can’t get rid of all racism and that therefore you shouldn’t try. And I, not fully grasping her point because she’s not particularly racist, started mentioning how Thurmond’s platform had been primarily against federal laws against segregation and lynchings, and that sort of thing; and I even had to explain what “lynching” meant. And she was like, “well it’s not like they’d ever pass those laws.”
And then I immediately saw the problem: We’ve gotten so far in this country fighting racism that the original dangers aren’t even mentioned anymore. But even worse, the racist rhetoric has become so divorced from reality that my daughter could recite racist rhetoric without having any clue of what she was really saying. That she thought this was about stopping racist thoughts, rather than, you know, actual racists doing bad, bad things. It just hadn’t occurred to her that governments used to help perpetuate racism and discrimination, and that that’s the kind of thing that we’re still talking about. Not necessarily that they could pass those laws now, but that that’s the proper context of this. Not about ending racism, per se, but of refusing to allow the racists to
And even then, I was amazed yesterday when I read what Thurmond’s Dixiecrat platform was, as it too used euphemisms and rhetoric to disguise what they were really talking about. Here’s what I’m talking about:
"We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totallitaran, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions."
It then went on regarding the right to discriminate against blacks and opposing anti-discrimination and anti-lynching laws. And it’s as if this was solely about liberty, and the freedom for blacks to be discriminated against and lynched. Even then, they were masking their racism in terms of them having their civil rights infringed upon. And that sort of deception has carried on to today,
And of course, once I explained it to her she was somewhat shocked and changed her tune. Similarly, she was shocked a few weeks back when I explained that, until a few years ago, it was illegal for gays to have sex in Texas, and how many people still think they should be barred from doing so. And she didn’t know any of that at all. Because it’s no longer part of the dialogue. We’ve won our battles and moved on.
Yet this is the context . Racists don’t talk about lynching and being able to discriminate outright, but even the Dixiecrat platform didn’t state that explicitly. It was all about freedom and whatnot. And sure, part of this is deception, but I really think that another part of this is self-deception. That they have to lie to themselves about what they're really doing, as it's too despicable even for them. And