Thursday, September 21, 2017

He Knows Better

Lefty Ed Kilgore thinks he knows why former Alabama Chief Justice and leading GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore on Sunday stated

Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.

As perhaps the vast majority of adults in Alabama understood immediately, Moore was alluding, consciously or unconsciously, to this timeworn children’s song:

Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight / Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Like most pre-civil-rights racial references, the terms “red and yellow, black and white” aren’t considered appropriate or even acceptable today. But for many millions of people, the song, mostly remembered from the Vacation Bible Schools that most Evangelical and many mainline Christians of every race send their children to each summer, is a paean to racial unity and the opposite of “insensitive.” There’s little doubt that if righteous secular fire from Yankeeland rains down on ol’ Roy for alluding to “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” it will win him many votes.

Kilgore is afforded credibility on this subject because of his childhood in Georgia, but even an inveterate Yankee realizes that an Alabama politician will only gain votes when he's criticized for being racially insensitive.

But Kilgore is letting Moore off easily.  Moore is no longer a child who does not understand that this is mostly is a feel good hymn, hardly a serious commentary on Christian precepts.  He knows, further, that there is a racial divide in this country that the election of Barack Obama did not eliminate, much as conservatives claimed it should have done.

As a 70-year-old, Roy Moore probably was taught, formally or informally, as a child that American Indians are "red" and Asians are "yellow." However, having lived well beyond childhood, Moore should realize that American Indians are not red and Asians are not white, whatever he heard in church or elsewhere. His statement was subjectively insensitive. But it was objectively inaccurate.

Framing such problems as ones of "sensitivity" can backfire when people believe, as in this instance, that they are behaving sensitively. In the other cases, it is an easy target for conservative critics of "p.c.," many of whom now view the subjects of their derision as "snowflakes."

More than 50 years after his childhood ended, Moore probably knows- and at least should know- that we do not have red and yellow people walking amongst us.  As a son of the south, Kilgore ought not to let Moore off the hook by engaging in the bigotry of low expectations.

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