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Aaron Freeman Headshot

Forgiving Ron Paul (and All Other White People)

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American Negroes have acquired, of necessity, some important skills. We who survived the 60's did so by mastering the art of not frightening white people. We can affect a disarmingly nervous laugh. We know about carrying a bouquet of flowers or tossing a Frisbee as ways of relaxing our melanin-deficient siblings. And we all know how to pretend we care about hockey. But of the skills we've acquired, none is handier than our expertise at forgiving white people for saying knuckleheaded, racially-insensitive stuff. Quiet as it's kept, however, if you want, you can take white people saying outrageous racial stuff as a thrilling sign of progress.

Without question ours is a kinder, gentler world than when I was born in the 1950's. For women, Negros, disabled people, children and small furry animals 2012 compared to 1950 ain't mere progress but is just barely the same planet. In 1950 Negroes were still being lynched in the United States but today we look back on not a single racist lynching since 1981. We are now so anti-lynching no one even suggest doing it to the president.

Back in 1950 a newsletter full of Negro insults would not have gotten you free Coke at the Ku Klux Klan church social; heck, in 1950 ten percent of Negroes wouldn't even have been able to read your screed. But in the amazing 2012, say Ron Paul's critics, it's a sin to have known, decades ago, that someone else had written something racially offensive and done nothing about it back then! Tolerance of racism at sub-zero levels bespeaks a culture doing something right.

It is increasingly easy to forgive racism and racist speech since we know it is breathing its last, monochromatic breath. Malcolm X, the late senator Robert Byrd, even über-segregationist governor George Wallace, are among millions Americans, many of whom are black, who for a time held racist views and then recovered.

Senator Trent Lott waxed longing for a segregationist in the White House, late vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro said Obama was "lucky" to be a black politician. Bill Clinton said Obama only won the South Carolina primary because of his skin color. OK, maybe Clinton doesn't count since he was the first black president. But I don't hold against those folks stuff they really did say on TV so I'm certainly not bothered by what Ron Paul did not write in a newsletter.

Even if Ron Paul had written racist stuff in the 80's, it'd be easy to forgive it now because we can see that when it come to racism, everything is getting better. Why be mad at somebody today when you know that in a few years they'll probably be your comrade in celebrating the next leap forward for civil rights?

All things considered, I don't give two hoots and a holler what Ron Paul did not write thirty years ago. Now, it will pique my interest if you tell me thirty years ago he had a Jefferson-like affair with a black woman. And I'll really get excited if I hear that Ron Paul was sexually harassed by Herman Cain.

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