We the (perpetually offended) People of the United States of America

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Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.34.41 AMThe other day, my cousin had a photo on FB.  The caption was something like ‘Who are we going to offend, today.”  I’m beginning to think that this is how people are looking at the world, especially here in the US.  How badly are they going to be offended, today.  Funny, but I don’t see any laws, anywhere, preventing people from being offended.  It has become a way of life.  Let’s see how offended we can be today, and who are we going to blame?  It’s like racism.  I’m so sick and tired of hearing about racism, I’m ready to shout.  It has reached the point where I’m beginning to think of racism claims with as much gravity as I give to the tale of the little boy who cried wolf.  People are perpetually seeing racists under the bed, sitting on the porch, using their toilet, and beating them out of a prime parking space.  It’s like Sigmund Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

I hate to mention this, but there is nothing wrong with a person being racist.  It is acting on those impulses that is the problem. I have a heck of a lot more respect for someone who can acknowledge their racism and their bias, yet treat everyone fairly.  Their behavior is far more civilized than the so-called individual who pretends to not to be a racist and have no bias, yet treats people who aren’t part of his/her world-view like dirt.  Having grown up in the ‘old’ South, I’ve known my fair share, from both groups of people.

There is a shark feeding frenzy over the fact that Harper Lee, in original manuscript, portrayed her father, Atticus Finch as a man of his world and era. I knew a lot of people like that, when I was a little kid.  I felt at home when I read the first chapter.  I saw the world where I grew up.  It wasn’t perfect, far from it, but could see the people in it.  I could feel the waves of humidity and heat, and hear the sounds of the insects.  I could almost smell it. I remember the country houses, unpainted, maybe without plumbing, but they had a television antenna.  I could almost see the kudzu growing. I knew the red clay, flying into Atlanta, and then the long hundred mile drive home, in the era before interstates. Sure, I was just a little kid, but I remember that world.

Then, it suddenly changed.

And, no, it wasn’t desegregation that change it.  It was a world changed by outsiders finally moving in, bringing demands for more than just the basics at the Winn-Dixie.  It was a demand for clean movie theaters, strangely enough.  The ones in the little towns were filthy, caked with sticky soda drenched floors, with restrooms so nasty you couldn’t even go near them.  Then, it changed.  You could get to the new, clean ones in Greenville in less than an hour. I don’t remember the days of blacks being required to sit in the balcony.  That was before my time.  All I remember was the balcony of the one in Seneca was so dangerous, no one was allowed in it.  So, everyone, black and white, sat where ever they wanted.

Our local schools were easily desegregated.  They built a new high school, sending the junior high kids to the former white high school.  Everyone was sent to the high school.  The old black high school, which was larger than the white high school, housed fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.  First, second, and third were divided up between three elementary schools.  That was it.  No shots were fired.  There were no cops, no riots, no marches.  They just did it, only a few years after the first integrated schools elsewhere.  It wasn’t about race, but providing a quality education. Our high school was considered the second best in the state.  The elementary school I attended was and still is, one of the top 100 schools in the country.

There were a lot of people who objected to the way things changed.  I don’t even mind admitting that the vast majority of them, the real racists were the local Democrats.  The local Republicans, of which I was by then junior leader, prided themselves on being progressive, and welcoming to anyone.  It is at this point I insert that, having been there and done that, it was quite evident Strom Thurmond was far from racist.  One of the reasons were were constantly trying to get a Republican in at the Third District was due to the latent racism of the usual Democratic suspects.

I remember, as a small child, hearing the older men discuss how the the world was going to change and not for the better.  I remember hearing the very things Harper Lee wrote about – how can ‘these people’ handle responsibility.  They aren’t prepared for leadership… and so forth and so on.  That was part of the story.  What truly gripes me is that everyone is crying ‘racism’.  It was, but then it changed.  I also remember, ten years later, these same older men talking about how wrong they were.  I also remember who and what made them change their minds.  It took a very soft-spoken, gentleman, who withstood horrible pressure and held his head high, living day in and day out with death threats and literally changed the way the average person in the South viewed race.

It happened on April 4, 1974.  If you listen to Vince Scully, his remarks were about nothing but race, a black man breaking the greatest record in all of sports.  If you listen to Milo Hamilton, Atlanta’s play-by-play, it isn’t about a black man breaking the record, but that the record had been broken.  In the South, race had nothing to do with it.

Scully could only see race.

Milo Hamilton saw the man, not the color of his skin.  A few years earlier, one of the greatest voices this nation has ever produced was on tour with the Metropolitan Opera, in Atlanta.  She was not allowed to attend a party at one of the big country clubs. Legend has it everyone connected with the Met walked out, never to attend another big party in Atlanta – ever.

I bring this up because I rarely rant and rave about apparent racism.  This is one of those times when I am.  Today, there are currently only 2 black singers on the Met’s roster.

Why?

Yep, for once I am offended.  I’m ticked.  I’m angry.  I don’t like fake racism.  This is real.  This makes me furious. I don’t give a rip about a stupid flag and the over-inflated Millennials who are exercising their right to protest.  I think they’re protesting too much.  It’s difficult to see a group of pampered young people as being subjected to the rank discrimination their grandparents experienced.  In order for someone like Bree Newsome to do what she did, one needs the financial wherewithal to travel, afford a motel room, and the climbing equipment.  Her confidence in scaling the flag pole tells us that she spends a lot of time climbing.  That’s not a cheap hobby.  It reflects the need for a good gym or club, and the leisure time to be able to afford the sport.  I just don’t see her oppressed. She may think she is, but then again, she also appears to be one of the perpetually offended.

Today’s version of protest is not cheap.  The individuals who are protesting appear to be well-spoken, educated, and eloquent.  They know what they are doing.  They just don’t present the aura of oppression, but rather just more spoiled brats from an over-protected, spoiled brat generation.  The ironic thing is that they are far better educated than the so-called racists they are protesting.  They also don’t quite grasp the fact that so-called ‘racism’ in the South stops at the stadium entry.  The great leveler in the South has been sports.

We’ve reached the point in life where just the accusation of ‘racist’ is enough to destroy a person. I happen to think it is being used intentionally, to destroy. It is now a political tool, a very vicious political tool.  There are many people, of all races who deserve to be called ‘racist’.  But, to do so, in a generic way, just to damn an entire population has terrifying implications.  The worst part of it, is people have a tendency to use their ability to be perpetually offended as a way for self-promotion.

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