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Fifty years ago this Wednesday, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his rousing “I Have a Dream” speech (text) to a crowd of 250,000 (give or take 50K) mostly (but not exclusively) black supporters. King spoke of “Negros” not being seen as equals “in the eyes of the law”. He spoke of economic injustice that restricts “basic mobility […] from a smaller ghetto to a larger one”, and that Negros “cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote”. If you’re a Republican, you’d probably point to the fact that this country elected a black man… not once but twice… to the Presidency (no thanks to them), and we therefore may now pass some of the most discriminatory voting regulations since The Voting Rights Act became law in 1965. (It’s an awful lot like when Republican politicians attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies for Stimulus projects they tried to kill, touting how great they will be for the community.) How many Conservatives argued “If only Trayvon Martin had had a gun?” Fox “news” Sunday yesterday continued their clueless positing of just why “President Obama and Al Sharpton” were not “speaking out” in response to the “Thrill Kill” murder of an Australian tourist by three f-ed up teenagers… one of whom was white, the same way they spoke out following the murder of Trayvon Martin (uh, maybe because no one is out there DEFENDING the teenage murderers, and the fact the victim wasn’t targeted for his race, Jackasses?) But it’s not just that Republicans seem clueless on matters of race today, but that ever since the election of our first black president, they suddenly feel they have Carte Blanc to be openly & unashamedly racist. “It’s okay” to say openly racists things now because “the election of a black president proves we’re not racists.” So suddenly, we can roll back voting rights, question the birthplace of the president to label him an “other”, even openly disrespect him during his first address before a joint session of Congress (Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst in 2009) all because America is “no longer a racist country.” Got that?

Last week, the New York Times printed the results of their “racial equality” poll where they asked people across the racial spectrum what they thought of race-relations today. They also included a number of statistical facts as a basis for comparison. Fewer than “one in three” black Americans felt we have made “a lot” of progress towards racial equality since King gave his historic speech in 1963. Forty-five years later (since 1967), the average three-member black family earns just 59 percent of what the average three-member white family earns (ibid)… not because they are paid less for doing the same job (though I’m sure there’s some of that going on as well), but mostly due to the average black worker working at lower paying jobs than most whites. 50 years ago, a black man was 5 times as likely to go to prison than a white man. Today, that ratio is SIX-to-one (ibid). Why? Because we now have a justice system that’s tilted heavily in favor of the rich, and (as noted above), if you’re poor in this country, you’re nearly twice as likely to be black.

The Conservatives on the Supreme Court gutted the 1965 Voting Rights Act, citing the apparent lack of need for it in the age of Obama. And within hours, we already had Southern states clamoring to pass an avalanche of voter suppression laws that would have been illegal literally minutes before.

It seems to me (and probably you as well) that only recently (since the 2008 presidential campaign) that closet-racists that used to keep their true feelings hidden suddenly feel that they can now say & do openly racist things and not fear any backlash because so many of their neighbors are saying it too. But don’t you DARE call them “racists”! They’ll point to the black Tea Party member giving a speech before a sea of white faces. They’ll point to all the black NRA members (the ones that don’t look “Gangsta”) they are “friends” with (yet whose home they’ve never visited nor shared a beer with.)

How white do you have to be to wonder aloud if a “fist bump” might be “a Terrorist fist jab?” because the first people you’ve ever seen do it happened to be black? I’m a 40-something white guy and even *I* had seen (and performed) a “fist bump” before. That remark was just downright embarrassing.

What I don’t understand is: why do they still act like there’s something WRONG with being called a racist? Accusing a racist of being a “racist” is still an open invitation to a punch in the mouth. Why? They certainly don’t have to worry about offending their friends, and a growing number of them are saying & doing things in public without a scintilla of shame or even self-awareness that we didn’t hear with such regularity even a decade ago. Rush Limbaugh sings “Barack, the magic negro” on his radio show and his fans leaped to his defense, arguing that the song wasn’t racist (if racists could recognize racism, they wouldn’t be racists). Donald Trump, who made a second career of questioning President Obama’s legitimacy because he believed Obama’s “birth certificate” was faked to cover up the “fact” he was born in another country and was therefore ineligible to be president, has been uncharacteristically quiet following the announcement that Ted “Jose McCarthy” Cruz, whom appears to be eying a run at the presidency in 2016, was ADMITTEDLY born in Canada. Cruz’s response? His mother was born in America so therefore he’s an American citizen too (unlike President Obama, whose mother was born in the distant nation of Kansas.) And when Birther opponents of Obama are asked about the inconsistency of supporting Cruz, hilarity ensues their rationalization is that “Canada isn’t foreign”.

“Who us? Racists? Just because we prefer Paula Dean over Martin Luther King (73% to 59%)? What kind of N-word lovin’ question is that to ask?”
 

BTW: If you used to enjoy following my real-time highlights during the “Sunday Morning Roundup” over on Crooks & Liars before they attacked me and stripped me of my editorial privileges because I didn’t “volunteer enough” during my mothers’ illness to be so presumptive as to ask for some common courtesy, I’ve resumed my duties on my Facebook page every Sunday morning. Be sure to drop on by and “friend” me.

 


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