Racism is still alive: Subdued prejudices return to surface
The civil rights bill and election of a black president didn’t end racism; it just put it temporally in a closet.
President Carter’s remark, “When Obama was elected, racism in the South bubbled to the top,” was describing the pent up fear of a black president by the “Confederacy” and rural communities.
Before Lincoln’s stand against slavery, the South was Republican but became Democrats because of it. They remained Democrats until President Johnson and the Democrats passed the Civil Rights law in 1964 and have been Republican since. This makes one wonder if the Civil War ended for many people.
Since we elected a black president, Republicans have voted and ridiculed every proposal he has presented. His background suggests that he may have enough intelligence to be right sometimes.
There is a sign I’ve seen portraying our president as a witch doctor’s head grafted onto a picture of a man wearing nothing but bead necklaces and a loin cloth, his legs spread wide, with his long thick fingers grasping a stick in front of him. There’s a bone in his nose and a confection of feathers and flowers on his head. Under the witch doctor picture is the slogan “Obama Care,” with red and blue campaign symbol as the “O” as a sickle and hammer as the “C.” These groups also accused him of not being a citizen, a communist and Nazi. These signs and accusations of an intelligent family man only 11 months in office are deplorable. “Prejudices are like rats, and men’s minds are like traps; prejudices get in easily, but it is doubtful if they ever get out.”
These signs not only brought back memories of the racism of the ’30s but the pent up racism rising to the surface today. I am not claiming all the protesters and town hall zealots are racists, but it was recognizable in my mind that racism still permeates America today. It appears to me that one of Obama’s problems is he is black, and a large part of the nation still has subdued fears, especially of black men.
The North doesn’t get a clean bill of health in racism and prejudice, only not as obvious as the South. What comes out of the mouth isn’t necessarily what’s in the heart. A Japanese proverb: “Hidden and silent worms riddle the wood,” They have allowed the middle class and educated ethnic groups some advancement, but uneducated and lower economic blacks, Indians and Hispanics are still segregated, living squalid lives.
Blacks and Hispanics haven’t been alone in prejudicial history. Jews, gays, Indians and Asians are forgotten recipients of prejudged biases. Before we entered World War II while Jews were being persecuted in Germany, Roosevelt vetoed a bill admitting 20,000 persecuted Jewish children from Germany. President Truman refused giving Jews refuge in our country after the war, so most of the Jews moved to Israel, occupying Palestinian territory and resulting in the wars between the two adversaries. Even religious groups were anti-Semitic and supported persecution of the Jews during Hitler’s reign. Indians were given land no one wanted.
Today’s history students must remember the overt anti-Semitism and racism during this period. American-Japanese citizens were sent to internment camps, and blacks were segregated in the military. Thomas Cahill’s “Hinges of History” suggests that atom bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead of Germany may have been racist, as the Japanese were of a different race than the white Germans. This may be debatable but worth thinking about.
From my experiences working with blacks in the projects, I found racism among blacks. Lighter colored blacks were ostracized by those with darker skin. Starting with Jefferson and other plantation owners, black women were impregnated by white plantation owners, resulting in lighter colored offspring with a mixture of white and black features. Intermarriage in present day is increasing the transformation. Obama is an example of interracial marriage, which is an irritant to most racists. His election was a result of an increase in votes of blacks, Hispanics and less racially bigoted young people. We are presently observing the conservatives’ all-out efforts to bring about his failure.
I don’t agree with all of Obama’s decisions, but he is very intelligent and sincere. I withhold my evaluation until he has been evaluated by non-partisan historians. Disagreeing with his policies in a civilized manner is patriotic, but hysterical dialogue and demeaning our president because of his color is uncivilized.
Don Cooks lives in Nevada City.
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