March 19, 2008

Confessions of a bigot

I was driving back from the Quad Cities yesterday listening to coverage of B Obama's speech on race relations. I became so angry and agitated I actually pulled over at the next rest stop and dashed out the Where do you stand post below from my phone. I guess I am different, but if I heard my white grandmother, my brother, my pastor, my friend utter the phrase "God Damn the United States of America" and mean it, I would have to seperate ties. I am serious. There are some things in life you cannot pass off as eccentricities, or background or the mutterings of your crazy uncle. You cannot call my wife or daughter the c-word, and to side with those who want to destroy my Nation would fall into that category. My eldest son has rarely pissed me off more than when he claimed that Japan was in every way superior to the United States. He can have his wrong notions all he wants, but I will not listen to them in my house. If that makes me close minded and a bigot, I can live with that.

Obama talked a lot about race relations in this country. I have some comments on that subject and a commentary has been spinning in my mind since yesterday. I am smart enough to know what I want to say, but I am afraid my communication skills are not good enough to get my point across.

I grew up during the 1960's and 1970's. This was the time of dramatic changes in race relations in this country. My brother and I were raised that all men were equal, that skin color was no different than hair or eye color; mere genetics. We were taught to pick sides in hide-and seek or sandlot baseball games using the rhyme 'eenie meanie miny moe, catch a tiger by his toe'. When the neighbors subsituted 'nigger' for 'tiger' Otter and I would correct them, explaining that word was not nice.

I grew up in a unique situation. You see, while there were many Hispanics in my small town, there were no blacks. I do not think there were any in the entire county. I had my first conversation with a person of African-American decent while at Boy Scout Summer Camp. A troop from inner city Indy was the next campsite down the trail at Ransburg Reservation. I was disapointed I could not have cornrows too. I admittedly approach race realtions from a one-sided and narrow point of view. I cannot have the benefit of the other side of the argument.

Do not get me wrong. I am no saint. I have told my share of jokes denigrating persons of color. I have also joked about Poles, Italians, Germans, Frenchies, Russians, Californians, Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, Japanese, Kentuckians, Hoosiers...well, you get the idea. I have used the "N" word. I have also said spic, wetback, chink, gook, kraut, commie, sambo, mavro, polock, jap and other denigrating terms. I also inhaled.

Are race relations in this country perfect, no. Are things better? I hope so. As a Conservative, I believe the Constitution offers all an equal opportunity for success and happiness. It does not guarantee that success. Today there is no excuse for any person, regardless of color, to be uneducated. No one is condemned to a life of crime or poverty or welfare. There are twice as many scholarships available to blacks as there are for whites. Any of you who have gone through that process or who have kids in college can attest to that fact. If you are poor, the Government (ie the rest of us) will pay for your education. And unlike my kids, who will be burdened with education debt the size of a mortgage, you will enter the job market debt free.

As a white male, I am tired of shouldering the blame for the ills of the Black Community. The first Hoosierboys to arrive here were pushed from their German homeland because they were Protestant at the end of the Thirty Years War. Arriving here in the ealry 1700's there is no record of a member of my family ever owning a slave. The other branch of my family arrived in the post Civil War. As a child my Great-Great Grandmother was orphaned. She was placed on a train and sent westward, dropped off in Boone County, Indiana. She was 'adopted' by a family. In reality, she was free servant labor throughout her youth. The only difference between her lot in life and that of a slave is if she ran away, likely no one would chase her. I do not shout and scream and Blame the Germans or the Catholics or the well-intentioned (or not) Clergy that sent my ancestors from their homes. We moved on.

For those like the Reverand Wright that bemoan the white man for slavery he should consider a few facts. Nearly all of the successful slave traders in Africa were fellow Africans. I am not talking about the white colonists of South Africa either, I am talking about fellow blacks. Instead of damning me and every other 'whitey', the Reverand Wright should get down on his knees and thank God every day his ancestors were ripped from the heart of Africa and brought to these United States where the life in even the worst neighborhoods is luxury compared to most of Africa. Like the Jews who wandered the desert behind Moses, the Reverand Wright's ancestors suffered so he could have a better life. Is it perfect -- No. We all wish it were better.

Two great-great granfathers were veterans of the Civil War. Andrew Hoosier enlisted in Company I, 150 Indiana. John B served in Company C, 7th Iowa Cav. I firmly believe these men gave up their youth, their innocence and in the case of Andrew, his health to end slavery. My family made their payment for Slavery Reparations 140 years ago.

My long-winded point is the Reverand Wright and Al Sharptons and Jessee Jacksons of the world need to take a hard look at themselves. Is it my fault that a 'gangsta' culture has permeated the Black Community? Is it my fault that education is decried and anyone who wants to escape the mind-numbing cycle of drugs and poverty and gangs and welfare and lack of hope is branded an Oreo? And you B. Hussein Obama, how dare you blame Reagan Conservatives. Prior to the Great Society of LBJ were black families fatherless? True study shows the crime rate among blacks was lower than that of whites prior to the advent of the Welfare State. Mr. Obama you only want to perpetuate that policy, and increase the dependence of your Black Community on the Government. I understand you are running for President, and your whole speech was mere politics, but shame on you, sir.

Am I bigot? Maybe. Do the young black men with their hats askew and pants belted below their ass sauntering through the mall cause me to watch warily? Yes, so does a bearded tattooed white guy in biker leathers. It is my duty as a husband and father to protect my family from possible danger. Do I look with disdain on those who speak Ebonics and fail to learn the rudiments of American English? Yes. I speak with a certain patois with my friends and family. You could easily hear me say " We was goin'..." or "ain't got no" in an ordinary conversation. But with strangers, or with customers, I speak with correct grammar. Certainly, if you cannot speak the language, your ability to get a job is limited.

What I am trying to say, unsuccessfully, is if there is a race relations problem in this country, I am not sure the white guy is the culprit. Not this one anyway. Help me Obama Wan Kenobi, show me the way. In the end, I confess I do not get the hate. How have I caused Black-on-Black crime? What have I done to create a culture where one in four Black men spend time in prison? How am I responsible for the explosion of teen pregnancy and broken families in the Black Community? According to the Reverends Jackson/Sharpton/Wright even asking those questions makes me a hate-filled bigot. I guess I am guilty as charged.

Edit I guess I could have saved a lot of time and word-heavy effort and just told you to read this. There is always some smart one out there that says what I want sooo much better...

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