The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

From the editor: Claiming ignorance


Oh, how I wish that I could begin this with a nonchalant “once upon a time.”

It was many years ago, to be sure. In Erie, Pennsylvania, for some project during my television days, I read that the city’s minor league baseball team had a game that evening and headed to the ballpark. Every time one of the home nine who happened to be of African-American heritage stepped to the plate an old couple behind me couldn’t help but comment.

“Black as the ace of spades,” they said about one. “All you see is teeth,” they mentioned when another cracked a smile.

The couple then cheered with great joy when these men reached base.

Certainly—and this is supposition on my part—these fans would not have called themselves racist. Like so many Americans who seem not to understand the fundamental humanity of anyone different, they probably began pointed stories with a disclaimer, something along the lines of “I’m not racist, but …”

Fast forward to Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher turned darling of some on the far right, turned embarrassment to politicians and pundits pandering to some on the far right hoping for their stamp of approval. After his now infamous commentary in which he “wondered” whether “the Negro” would be “better off as slaves” than subsisting near the poverty line, barely propped a little government assistance, Bundy tried to convince the world (in a statement laced with the word “negro”) that he is not, indeed, a racist.

Apparently, in his mind, black Americans who are unfortunate enough to require assistance, are in that state “because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton.”

I’m willing to take Bundy at his word. Perhaps he is not racist, not a bad person. But he is obviously ill-informed to the point of ignorance. And as we all know, from short-lived political darlings, the folks pushing the extreme agenda of the Humane Society of the U.S. and so many others, the dumber you are the louder you are willing to proclaim it.

Yet he is no more guilty of ignorance than those who tripped over themselves to voice their support for the rancher, even when he personally disavowed the United States. He is just one on a list of lightning rods—some leaning left, others to the right—embarrassing officials who swooned first, thought things through afterward. Consider the hemming and hawing going on right now in the halls of the NAACP, forced to pull their scheduled lifetime achievement ceremony honoring Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Yep, the man to be recognized for his donations to underprivileged youths was allegedly caught in a racist rant—and this after an apparent history of racist actions, such as refusing to rent his properties to black people.

And it goes on. In one town, residents woke up on Easter to find plastic eggs filled with hate messages. Just this week a Colorado neighborhood found similar notes delivered to their doors.

Simply put, wealth does not cleanse one of ignorant or racist beliefs. Neither does education, the lack of it or the clear ranch air.

In the midst of all of this (and similar news items), the Supreme Court and several not very observant television pundits have taken to insisting that the U.S. is now in post-racist mode. They cite, for example, the election on two occasions of a black president—the same one depicted as a monkey on cards passed around by a few no longer racist opponents.

Granted, this nation has made tremendous progress, to the point where even the ignorant know their rants put them on the wrong side of popular opinion. We are not, however, beyond the point when the differences of race, creed, color or class fade away.

Just as bad, we have yet to erase the mistaken notion that there are easy answers to difficult problems, such as poverty—the ‘end welfare and the poor will prosper’ idea, shunning all the nuances of class and economy.

Even worse, this so-called post racist America has spawned a public fascination with the less well informed. We heed the Cliven Bundys, the Kim Kardashians, the people pushing us to eat certain foods, those guys who hunt supposed monsters in the Appalachians …

So I’m willing to accept that Bundy may not deserve the scornful backlash. He’s just one of many people who can say, without recognizing the logical fallacy in his comments or the sheer ignorance of his world view, “I’m not racist, but.”


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018