Boy, is racism one weird-ass phenomenon. I don’t even know where to begin. Yes, I do. Today’s Media Matters email (click here for the same information on their web page) tells of yet another shocking attempt to get people to distrust our president by referring to the fact of his being half black. Here’s an excerpt:
–Fox News has, of course, been leading the charge, embarking on what Jonathan Chait calls “the most widespread and mainstream right-wing effort to exploit racial fears against Obama.” Glenn Beck nonsensically claimed that the New Black Panthers “have ties to the White House” and flat-out accused the administration of tacitly endorsing the “race war” he sees coming down the pike. Perpetually outraged Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, the “straight news” driving force behind the bogus story, has been corrected on the facts more times than should be necessary, but continues to hype the story with wide-eyed indignation.–
I grew up in the sixties, from the time that “colored” was the polite term, and have seen some perfectly nice white people struggle with learning that other people really are just human beings no matter what they look like. (We continue with this, as Goth makeup, and big hair, and the hijab continue to bring out the stereotyping instinct in us.) But, people, honest, this is the 21st Century. The president is demonstrably an intelligent, reasonable, loving-to-his-family, regular guy who is still trying to quit smoking. He isn’t the devil, or Hitler, or a secret black radical who will take away your gun and rape your sister. Is there anyone alive who actually thinks he is secretly in the Black Panthers, or would like to be, or considers them the cat’s pajamas? Really?
This is one reason I have hope for Ginsberg and her college friends. They are absolutely immune to this kind of nonsense. They’re not like progressives my age, who stiffen up and start raging (oh yeah, like right now) about the injustice of it all. They think it’s the stupidest thing they ever heard and then they go on about their business. Ginsberg attended a very cool magnet school, the kind where the jocks and artists, Goths and athletes, gays and Christians get along. There was one kid there, though, who was a homophobe. I’ll call him Bob. Bob got very upset if a guy accidentally touched him, or if homosexuality came up in conversation, or when, on Gender Bender day, the kids came dressed as the opposite gender (a hilarious and wonderful celebration, I might add). And the other kids thought this was so idiotic, they all made fun of him. In an affectionate way, they ribbed him mercilessly. They didn’t beat him up or humiliate him; they just called him out, because, really, isn’t it just kind of stupid? To think that the fact of someone else’s homosexuality has any bearing on your life, or that it’s any of your business? Kids at Ginsberg’s school could also make jokes about race that would have Jesse Jackson and Glenn Beck (I’m not equating them; they’re just both real sensitive on this issue) foaming at the mouth like Linda Blair. And then I started to notice that the Apatow movies — and other products of young people’s imaginations — do the same thing. All of these attempts by my generation to put people into groups and then discriminate against some of them are not only disdained by younger people; they’re actually ridiculed. As people my age used to poke fun at our parents because they couldn’t program a VCR, only a lot more paradigm-changing. So there is hope.
In the meantime, spread the word. Racism is gay.