There's a scene in Escape from Alcatraz in which Frank Morris, played by Clint Eastwood, and English, played by Paul Benjamin have a brief conversation about race.
English: Now you didn't sit down for two reasons, either you're scared or you just hate [black people].
Frank Morris: I'm not scared,
[sits down next to black inmates]
Frank Morris: I just hate [black people].
I paraphrased the entire conversation to avoid a wing-nut storm of outrage from both sides. One side aghast that I could use such a word and the other enraged that they can't.
There's something to be said for being in touch and honest with your emotions. Even if those emotions are unfounded hate. At least it's not overly dramatic feigned denial, which is all we've been seeing from the wing-nuts since NBC released a clip of Jimmy Carter's assessment of Joe Wilson's outburst and the antics of the Tea Baggers and anti-Obama protesters.
Many of the reactions we're seeing to Carter's assessment of what motivates the protests is like watching a cheating spouse being questioned.
"I am aghast and in shock that you would suggest such a thing. How could you even think something like that? I'm offended that a thought like that would even cross your mind. You really have serious issues and should seek help."
That anyone could categorically deny that what is being touted as genuine social and political concerns isn't racially motivated is a bit outlandish. Maybe the initial motives of a few are social and political but plenty of racist whack-jobs are jumping on the crazy train for their own message. It's a little difficult to overlook Glenn Beck's use of a watermelon to illustrate a point about two black guys - one of which is the President, or this "Tea Party" leader trying to convince Anderson Cooper, James Carville, and David Gergen that Obama dressed as a witch doctor or calling him an Indonesian Muslim and "Racist in Chief" has nothing to do with the color of his skin.
There's no doubt that Carter's sound bite was released early in the spirit of sensationalism and because it was more interesting than how he answered Brian Williams' questions about Israel or what it was like to be a peanut farmer, but the timing certainly could have been better. Like maybe bringing it up after the health care debate, the Wall Street clean up, and world peace had been addressed.
The problem is, there is no good time to bring up the issue of race in this country because it simply can't be talked about until people admit it exists. We dance and tip toe around the issue because everyone is too afraid to discuss it and to bring it up. In addition, it's nothing anyone wants to accuse someone of or to be accused of. It's become such a taboo that winning an argument or having a discussion about race has become impossible.
To illustrate my point I picked a fight with my wife last night.
I walked into the room and declared, "Toots, you're a racist!"
That's right, I call her Toots. I'm a sexist, but at least I'm not a racist.
Here's the rest of the conversation:
Toots: I am not a racist.
Me: It's just like a racist to deny being a racist.
Toots: I voted for Obama.
Me: You only voted for Obama to relieve your guilt of being a racist. It's like saying I have black friends or the Chairman of the RNC is black, so I can't be racist.
Toots: What's wrong with you? I'm not talking about this anymore. Maybe you're the racist, you seem to know a lot about racism.
Me: Hah, just like a liberal to throw the race card when they're losing.
See? It's a losing battle no matter what side you're on. The "discussion" went on like that until I almost slept on the couch.
It's difficult to say whether Wilson or the rest of the screamers are racists or motivated by racism since the issue is so difficult to address. In Wilson's case it could be that the previous administration did so much to disrespect the office of the President that this is just collateral damage.
As for the tea baggers and protesters holding witch doctor signs, pulling their kids out of school, questioning Obama's citizenship, warning us about socialism, communism, fascism, Hitler and Marx all at once, it'd be easier to process and more comforting to know that those sentiments were in fact racially motivated.
As it stands right now it just seems like they're a bunch of whack jobs making stuff up and repeating what they're told by other whack jobs who hate the fact that their side lost an election and that's more concerning than, "I just hate [black people]".
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