Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ignore It- It Will All Go Away

This is precious. Yahoo News reports

Speaking at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Fla., Thomas, the second black justice to serve on the court, lamented what he considers a society that is more “conscious” of racial differences than it was when he grew up in segregated Georgia in the days before — and during — the civil rights era.

“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” Thomas said during a chapel service hosted by the nondenominational Christian university. “Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.

“That’s a part of the deal,” he added.

Thomas spent his childhood in a place and time in which businesses and government services were legally segregated. In his 2007 memoir, "My Grandfather's Son," he described his experience growing up as an African-American Catholic in Georgia during the Jim Crow era. “I was a two-fer for the Klan,” he said.

Thomas moved north from Georgia and graduated from Yale Law School in 1974. He went on to a successful judicial career that took him all the way to the Supreme Court. Thomas’ views on constitutional issues usually put him on the conservative side of the court, where he has penned opinions intended to rein in affirmative-action laws and overhaul a section of the Civil Rights Act that requires states with histories of discrimination to seek approval from the federal government before altering voting policies.

Throughout his career, Thomas said, he has experienced more instances of discrimination and poor treatment in the North than the South.

“The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated,” Thomas said. “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.”

Oh, the humanity of it all! Having to endure a lifetime appointment to the United States Supreme Court!  Jonathan Chait replies

Right. But maybe the reason race came up so rarely was not that the racial situation was better in 1960s Georgia. Maybe the reason race came up rarely is that the racial situation in 1960s Georgia was extremely terrible.

For instance, for the first 14 years of Thomas's life, Georgia had zero African-Americans in its state legislature. Majority-black Terrell had a total of five registered black voters — possibly because African-Americans were so satisfied with their treatment that they didn't see any reason to vote, or possibly because civil-rights activists in Georgia tended to get assassinated.

So maybe "reluctance to bring up racial issues" is not, in fact, the best measure of a society's racial health.

But isn't this how it is with so many of today's conservatives?  Many Republicans maintain that race should not be discussed because the election of a black man to the presidency proves that America has gotten past its racist past.   Odd, though, that these individuals voted against the very individual whose election they claim demonstrates how great- and fair-minded- America is.

Sometimes it's not only race they want to keep hidden under the rug.   Tuesday, Rush Limbaugh commented (video of Vilma interview, below)

A lot of people may not have thought about a couple things, 'cause the media is gonna turn this guy -- whether he wants to be one or not, they're gonna turn him -- into an activist.  He is going to become one. They're already calling him things. He's the Rosa Parks, he's the Martin Luther King, he's the Jackie Robinson. They're gonna turn this guy into an activist.  I already saw a story praising an unnamed team for drafting him -- even if he can't play, for drafting him -- just to make the social statement. 

This is going to be a totally media driven-story, totally -- and because of that, it's gonna mess everything up.  Let's go to the audio sound bites. Something happened on CNN yesterday.  This is last night, Anderson Cooper 360.  Anderson Cooper was not there.  Fill-in host John Berman was interviewing Jonathan Vilma.  He's a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints. 

Vilma has been very public. (summarized quotes) "I don't think this is gonna work out.  I don't know about a gay guy in the showers here in the NFL.  I just don't know."  Ryan Clark of the Steelers says, "Look, what do we say to the guy? Do you guys know what goes on in the NFL locker room?  Everybody gets teased. I mean, guys with ugly wives get teased about it. The fat linemen get teased about it.  I mean, we show no mercy.  If a guy's dating an ugly woman, we laugh at him, we laugh at her. We make a point of it."

He's quoted as saying all this.  He says, "We don't know what to say. Somebody better tell us what we can and can't say when a gay guy shows up in the locker room.  We're gonna need some guidelines on this," and that's where the media is gonna come in and be policing all this stuff.  So because Vilma has been somewhat outspoken, CNN breathlessly tracked him down, and they had the substitute host for Anderson Cooper, John Berman, interviewing Vilma last night.  We've got three sound bites. 

Here's Berman's first question: "You talked about the showers, Jonathan -- and this is a subject that does come up quite a bit: The showers.  You said, 'You know, if I'm naked in the shower, what if he looks at me?  How am I supposed to react?' Jonathan, what's your concern there? You say you're in the shower, you're naked in the shower, and a guy comes in and looks at you, and you want to know how you're supposed to react.  What's your concern there, Jonathan?"  What's the big deal?

VILMA:  No, there is no concern.  The point I was  trying to make -- or the context I was trying to take it in -- is that I've never been put in that situation. No player in the NFL has been put in that situation. So it's not as simple as anyone saying, "Well, there's nothing wrong with it." I don't see anything wrong with it.  You have other players that may; you have other players that may not.

RUSH:  Everybody's walking a tightrope here, and there are gonna be people who fall off of this thing -- and the media is gonna be waiting for that. The media is gonna just be waiting to pounce on the first or any instance they perceive to be wrong, 'cause remember who they are and who they champion.  This guy is gonna go into the NFL as a victim.  He's gonna go in as a victim...

Now, why are they fascinated by it? 

Let me ask you a different question.  Seriously.  Why is homosexuality political?  Why is there a political aspect to -- or agenda associated with -- homosexuality, and why does heterosexuality have no political agenda at all? (interruption) What do you mean, I don't want the answer?  I'm just posing the question...

 Of course I know the answer, but I'm just asking.  Why does homosexuality have a political agenda?  Why is there anything political about homosexuality while heterosexuality has no political agenda and there is no agenda attached to it? (interruption) Heterosexuality does not have activists...

No, heterosexuality does not have activists, although Hugh Hefner served as one in times past. Nor any longer are there white activists (except a very few people on the fringe of society).  The all-white wardrobe is finally out of style, and white sheets after Labor Day always have been a fashion atrocity.

Understandably, Rush did not say who in the media is trying to transform Michael Sam into Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, or Jackie Robinson.  It also is unlikely Limbaugh even understands why the analogy to Robinson is shaky.   Robinson broke the color line in baseball; Sam cannot break the sexual preference line.  It long ago was broken by gay professional football players who knew they would be former professional football players if they came out.

For Clarence Thomas, there is no race problem except for the liberals who want to talk about it. Those (conveniently unnamed) "northern liberal elites" who have been so mean to the guy who complains about (again, unnamed) people claiming victimhood probably are Senators who called him out for being unqualified for the United States Supreme Court.

For Rush Limbaugh, there is no problem of gender discrimination in the National Football League except for what the 'liberal media' wants to create.  But the proof of the problem clearly is that there has been zero gay NFL players whom we know about.  Given that it would be statistically bizarre if there were none at all, we know the gay athletes have kept their silence because of fear of the reaction by people like Limbaugh.

Limbaugh's response comes not only from fear of, or distaste for, homosexuals.  It is part of his corporatist agenda to blame the media.  The primary risk faced by Sam, and by others before him who chose to remain silent, comes from the behemoth known as the National Football League- its personnel directors, owners, and Commissioner.  Ultimately, it is they who will provide the leadership, negative or positive, and determine the fate of Michael Sam and those who come after him.

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