Just Joking: A Brief Greeting (card)

There is an interesting collection of greeting cards at the local Wal-Mart.  In the “humor” department there are two categorized as “political,” and wouldn’t you know it, both feature a picture of the President of the United States, and both allow the sender to express his or her happiness that the Obama Presidency is about over.  Also, funny, there are no cards allowing me to say how pleased I am that the Republican controlled Congress has a 75.8% disapproval rating. [RCP]  And there’s no card to inform a recipient that Mrs. Clinton beats the latest incarnation of Bush by 7.7%, Walker by 9.2%, Rubio by 7.3%, the miniature Paul by 7.7%, the Cruz campaign by 11.7%, the Huckster Huckabee by 9.0%, and Dr. Ben Carson by 11.5%. [RCP]

However, the card-for-conservatives in the display doesn’t seem quite so amusing when juxtaposed with the Google map hack in which the search for “N—- house,” and “N—- King” both take the seeker to the White House. [TPM] [HuffPo] [WaPo] Google has promised an update on or before May 27th.

Nor is the sentiment level enhanced when we look at the press coverage of the Waco Shoot Out in comparison to the events in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD.   The prize for the most egregious differentiation goes to Fox News and its host Bill O’Reilly. [Salon] In some quarters. most noticeably Fox,  it’s acceptable to require representatives and spokespersons for various groups to absorb hectoring and lecturing on the many ways people are responsible for their own problems, in broad stereotypical terms.  “You people” need to get jobs, be better fathers, stay away from drugs, make better choices…..

But – let 9 people die at the hands of white biker gang members and the scene shifts – these are merely a few bad apples. Although there are some 44,000 biker gang members in this country.  Number of deaths caused by the one day of rioting in Baltimore? Zero.  Who needs the lecture about staying away from drugs, and about making better choices? [MMFA]  Whether the poor need it or not, they’re going to get it because they are all slobs, drunks, or addicts… so sayeth the conservatives. [MMFA]  So, why do liberals always bring up race, all the time? We elected an African-American President … racism’s over.  Enter the clowns once again.

A piece on the Bill Kristol v. Bill Maher exchange included the following analysis:

“…the trial of George Zimmerman produced a very different reaction. This case also hinged on race—Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen from his neighborhood in Florida, and was acquitted of all charges. But here the gap in disapproval over the verdict between white Democrats and white Republicans was not 4 points but 43. Americans had split once again into mutually uncomprehending racial camps, but this time along political lines, not by race itself.” [NYmag]

And once noting the political fracturing, the punch line:

“A different, unexpected racial argument has taken shape. Race, always the deepest and most volatile fault line in American history, has now become the primal grievance in our politics, the source of a narrative of persecution each side uses to make sense of the world. Liberals dwell in a world of paranoia of a white racism that has seeped out of American history in the Obama years and lurks everywhere, mostly undetectable. Conservatives dwell in a paranoia of their own, in which racism is used as a cudgel to delegitimize their core beliefs. And the horrible thing is that both of these forms of paranoia are right.”

Are the greeting cards “racist?”  The company would more than likely say, “No.” They were intended as purely political statements, for specific customers.  However, those customers are more likely to ascribe to the racism imbedded in their core beliefs: That the poor are Black, and Blacks are more likely to be uneducated, undisciplined, lazy, slovenly, drunken, drug addicted… and therefore unworthy.  A more sensitive perspective should yield the conclusion that while the cards were essentially political, the demarcation between what is racial and what is political in this country is a thin and permeable membrane.

The permeability allows for the kind of thinking which concludes all Blacks should take responsibility for the rioters in their neighborhoods, and the President should not use words like “bigotry” and “ideological” in the same paragraph. [NPR]   One academic study which may make for some uncomfortable reading needs to be a larger part of our national conversation on race.  The Rochester Study 2013, shows the powerful grip the legacy of slavery still maintains in our current political climate, and before we can analyze and evaluate our political institutions we should acknowledge all the factors which sustain them.

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