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Racism on tape

A racist at the game
A racist at the game
Photo by Ronald Martinez

Why is anyone surprised?

It never occurred to any of his right wing media and political supporters that deadbeat traitor rancher Cliven Bundy…who set himself against the Federal Bureau of Land Management over grazing fees he hadn’t paid in over twenty years…might be just the teensiest bit racist? And we’re shocked that Donald Sterling, owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers…and who has, in the past, been sued and lost housing discrimination lawsuits…opens his racist mouth and says what he really thinks about his girlfriend (black and Hispanic) associating with black people (including Magic Johnson) in public.

Why are we surprised? Because we thought we were better than this.

It is apparent that our Supreme Court thinks so. In two recent decisions…concerning the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action…the Court said in so many words that racism in America is a thing of the past. Of course, events immediately following…or even occurring simultaneously…prove them wrong.

Within days of the Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, seven states began putting in place the most onerous restrictions on voting rights ever enacted in this country. Not unnaturally, most of these restrictions are aimed at keeping minority groups, primarily African Americans and Hispanics, from voting. Apparently conservatives (racists?) believe that the only way they can win elections is by cheating. And since they’ve given minorities…and women, actually…no reason to vote for them, they must try to keep these groups from voting at all. And, nearly simultaneously with last week’s decision upholding Michigan’s ban on affirmative action, came the twin recordings of racists Cliven Bundy and Donald spewing their bile on the American airwaves.

Of course Bundy’s supporters…who maybe embraced him a little too quickly (are you listening, Rand Paul, Dean Heller, Rick Perry and, most especially, Sean Hannity, Bundy’s chief media enabler?)…couldn’t back away quickly enough, denouncing his remarks on race as repugnant, unacceptable, vile, etc. One does suspect, though, that these luminaries don’t really object so much to Bundy’s views as they do to the fact that he spoke them out loud where the country could hear them.

Then Donald Sterling opened his mouth and…oh, well.

We are a better country than we were 50 and 60 years ago. The South of Bull Connor is gone. Our public facilities are open to use by all…we don’t even think anymore of the time of separate drinking fountains or rest rooms for the white and colored races. And we have, indeed, elected an African American President of the United States.

But it must also be admitted that the very election of Barack Obama to the Presidency ignited the fiercest outburst of racism since Birmingham and Selma in the form of the Tea Party and the states of the New Confederacy. Nor can it be denied that the government of the United States is in gridlock because one political party objects, not to the President’s policies, but to the color of his skin.

We thought we were better than this. Unfortunately, we are not.