Saturday, September 08, 2012

Democracy as Blood Sport

What did Bill Clinton say? "Democracy doesn't have to be a blood sport." 

But when a high school student openly calls for the president's assassination, and when she gains "likes" for her message, I wonder what has happened in the USA?

When I was in 3rd grade, we lived in Wilmington, Ohio, just 15 minutes from the town of Clarksville, where this 16-year-old racist lives in southwestern Oho. When I was a kid there I remember seeing a huge Confederate flag painted on the roof of a barn, and in the yard of the farmhouse, 3 crosses, which would be periodically burned. My parents told me the farmer was a member of the KKK. 

Now welcome to Ohio in 2012. I know for a fact that some people in my hometown - two hours from Wilmington - refer to Obama as "our nigger president," discounting his mixed race roots, ignoring that he was democratically elected to the highest office in the land, and proudly declaring their racism for anyone within earshot. 

That's what kids hear, they see the disrespect, the hatred amongst their parents' social circles, they catch glimmers of it on TV. Who might be surprised?

Just yesterday I spoke to my brother who lives on a farm in Licking County, Ohio. He made the same observation: People judge Obama not by his policies, not by what he has done or hopes to do for his fellow citizens, not by the accomplishments of his administration, but by some preconceived notion of him established by malicious rumor, based on his skin color, created with the worst poetic license. What did singer Hank Williams Jr. say recently at the Iowa State Fair, "We've got a Muslim president who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!"

Racists like Williams can spout any lying rant, and that becomes fodder for the next uninformed redneck cross-burner. 

There are times when I REALLY appreciate walking into my university classes here in Singapore where Singaporean Chinese, Indian and Malay kids interact respectfully, studying alongside Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Czech and French students, all co-mingling, learning together, sharing ideas and opinions, developing a better understanding of each other and their respective cultures --- and I think how "proud" I am to be the American representative amongst the group.

And then I read crap like Alyssa Douglas's tweet, and I feel almost sick and ashamed (and as if nothing has changed in Ohio since the 1960s). Blood sport, indeed. 


Teresa Widodo said...

Hi Brad,

When we have majority and minority, things like that is more likely to happen. I guess some people are just born, or raised, as chauvinists. And I agree with your stand. I loathe the racists. We cannot choose our skin colors or our eyes, right?

Anyway, it is not something that happens in The State only. Having been lived for 17 years in a diverse country like Indonesia, I had some unpleasant experience with racism. Currently we are facing exactly the same problem in my hometown. Jakarta is holding its Governor's Race this month and some people keep badmouthing one of the potential vice governors (he and his partner are one of the strongest candidates, anyway, since they have fascinating records). Basically it is because he is not the 'majority'.

If you want to read more on this: :)

Brad Blackstone said...

Thank you, Teresa, for your response. You're right saying that racism is not just in America. I've seen it around the world. But those of us who loathe ethnocentrism, racism and the like, must constantly make noise to keep the racists in check.

chickinbiskit said...

"Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."~ Denis Leary. Taken from
It's plain disturbing to hear a teen say that. I agree with what you said about questioning ourselves and asking where we have gone wrong. And yes, we shall keep making noise until no such thing exists anymore.


Anonymous said...

Even though it's been years since you wrote this, "it's all pink inside" still holds true.

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