Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In a recent op-ed in the Washington Post, Colbert King writes:

The Anti-Defamation League reports that John de Nugent, a white supremacist,
Holocaust denier and von Brunn acquaintance, conjectured in a media interview
that von Brunn was driven to action as a result of the election of Barack Obama,
which de Nugent described as a "tremendous signal of alarm for" von Brunn.

So here's my conjecture: there is casual racism in this country. Non-violent, but insidious, a sort of passing assumption on the parts of some people that a certain class of minority or foreigner is just not up to the task of managing, or leading, or having a certain kind of life. These are the kinds of racists that having a president like Obama is going to help. I think a term or two of a sober, intelligent, well-spoken black man will educate these kinds of racists--as this is the racism of ignorance. So many white Americans have never had a great amount of experience with a black mayor, or boss at work, or what have you. They just assumed. This assumption goes away when Obama is on TV so often and at the end of 4 or 8 years the country is still here, in (probably) better shape than it was when he took office, and life is going on like it always has.

Then there is the racism of anger, hatred and frustration. Born of angry young men who need to find a home for their impotence. This is not an ignorance that can be taught, it's a hatred. This kind of racism will not go away, and even worse, will only be inflamed by a sober, intelligent, well-spoken black man as our ultimate authority figure. These violent racists are a fact of the human condition and we can never be rid of them. I think we need to shine a light on them and stomp them down when they rise up. You can't educate or exterminate them away. All we can do is never rest, and never stand by without opposing it. As Wendell Phillips said in exactly this context, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

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