Saturday, April 06, 2013

Why Today's "Stealth" Bigots Are Worse Than Old-School Racists

By MARC McDONALD

In a perfect society, there would be no bigots and no racism. Of course, America will never be mistaken for a perfect society. And despite our national delusion that we've become a "colorblind" society that has moved beyond racism, the truth is more complex.

In some ways, it's actually harder to fight racism these days in America than it was, say, 30 years ago. For one thing, a lot of people (particularly Republicans) deny that racism even exists today. In fact, most of these people insist that white people are the "victims" of racism.

In the old days, foes of racism had clear-cut targets and goals. Fighting for African-Americans to be able to vote in the Deep South of the 1960s was no picnic---but at least it was a concrete, clear-cut goal to work toward.

But these days, the fight against racism is more complex. It's more difficult to fight racism when vast numbers of white Americans deny that it even exists these days.

The fact that shockingly high numbers of African-Americans are locked up in prison? Nope, there's no racism in today's America.

The fact that African-Americans still are much more likely to live in poverty than white Americans? Nope, there's no racism in today's America.

The firestorm of (idiotic) controversy about President Obama's birth certificate? Nope, there's no racism in today's America.

Back in the old days, bigots were at least upfront and honest about their racism. I recall during my younger years growing up in the small towns of Texas, I knew many "old school" bigots. These people had no problem with openly using the "N" word. They openly expressed their contempt for "n*ggers."

I recall a sad scene that I witnessed in 1983 in Fort Worth, Texas, while I was working as a truck driver. While I was unloading a truck, a fellow employee was talking to his two children, "instructing" them about the "ways of the world."

"N*ggers don't work in this country," he said. "They all sit around collecting welfare. Come welfare day once a week, they all jump into their Cadillacs and drive up to the welfare office. Never forget, kids, n*ggers are the real problem in this country."

It was sad to see this middle-aged bigot poisoning the minds of his young kids.

But sometimes, I actually prefer old-school bigots like that to today's new breed of "stealth" bigots. You've got to give credit to the old-school bigots: at least they were honest and upfront about their racism. After all, we do (allegedly) live in a "free" society. If people want to be racist, that's their right.

Then there are the "stealth" bigots, who are becoming increasingly common in today's America.

You've met these "stealth" bigots yourself. They're full of quietly simmering hostility toward minorities. They routinely listen to Rush Limbaugh's racist spewings. They're the ones who're always forwarding to you unsolicited right-wing mass emails (which often feature shockingly bigoted and racist content). And yet, they always get angry and indignant if you suggest that they're racist in any way.

I once had an acquaintance who routinely raged about how minorities were "ruining" America. He routinely spewed the "N" word in private, but took care to avoid saying it in public. And he fiercely denied being a racist in any way.

Once, I was arguing with him about why America was facing financial ruin. I pointed out to him that a good part of the reason for America going broke is our ruinous wars, like Vietnam and Iraq, which cost America trillions.

But my acquaintance was having none of it. "The reason we're going broke is because of welfare going to nigglets in places like Detroit," he said.

I pointed out to him that this was not only wrong, but racist. "You do realize that the word "n*gger" is racist, don't you?" I said.

"I didn't say n*gger," he responded with a straight face. "I said nigglet."

So it goes when dealing with today's "stealth" bigots. Of course, these people have mastered their craft of "stealth" bigotry at the knee of their heroes like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of the bigoted right-wing media.

Limbaugh, of course, is the master of "stealth" bigotry. This is a guy who has made an art form of skillfully dancing around the "N" word.

Limbaugh has never actually used the "N" word on his show. But he very carefully packs as much racist content into each program by skillfully using code words and "dog whistle" phrases, while pushing all the right emotional hot buttons of white working class males who are angry with their declining standards of living and eager to find a scapegoat.

Limbaugh is hardly alone in his stealth bigotry. You hear a lot of this same sort of subtle racism across the entire sewer hole of 24-hour U.S. right-wing talk radio. You also hear it on the likes of Fox News and the right-wing blogosphere. Spend some time at some of these right-wing sites and you quickly come to the realization that racism is as bad today as it's been in decades in America.

The likes of Limbaugh and Fox News show how in some ways its more difficult today to fight racism than it was years ago. After all, back in the 1970s, racist bigots often simply shared their views by word of mouth. Back then, they didn't have their own 24-hour news channels and national talk radio networks to spread their filth.

I have nothing but contempt for these new-school "stealth" bigots. If you're going to be a racist bigot in America, go ahead and put on the white sheet and openly use the "N" word. Be honest and upfront about your bigotry. But please, please, don't dance around the "N" word and pollute your mind with Limbaugh and Fox News and use words like "n*gglet" and then claim with a straight face that you're not a racist bigot.

20 comments:

Suzan said...

Trust me, Marc,

Here in the South, you don't have to beg them to act like old-time bigots. There are still plenty of them around.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Love ya,

S

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Suzan, thanks for stopping by. Yes, you're definitely right: there are still plenty of old-school bigots here in the South.

LarryE said...

"I didn't say n*gger" he responded with a straight face. "I said nigglet."

And since a "nigglet" is defined as the child of a black person, that is, bluntly, "a baby n*gger," exactly how is that supposed to make a difference?

I wonder if he was fooling himself into believing it did make a difference (people do that sort of thing all the time) or if he was fooling himself into believing he was being astoundingly clever.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi LarryE, thanks for stopping by. You make a very good point and one that I've often wondered about, living here in Texas and being surrounded by bigoted Rush ditto-heads.
The "n*gglet" conversation that I detailed in my post is just one of many, many such discussions I've had over the years with people who fiercely denied to me that they were racist in any way.
I've often wondered if these people are serious or if they think they're being clever in a sophisticated, ironic way. The problem is, Texans don't really do "irony." Texans' humor is much more along the lines of Larry the Cable Guy and "Hee Haw."
In Texas, there are a few pockets of progressives (like in Austin), but they are few and far between.

jane hyden said...

all you have to do is read the responses whenever theres an article about the potus. they call the flotus nasty names and obama a chimp etc. its putrid and vile.

J Michael said...

I figure that a lot of stealth bigots may not even realize that they are racists. They don't hate minorities, they only want them to get off welfare, stay on their side of the border and quit taking the good jobs in the US, and stay in the closet; it's not as if they are in the KKK. When I am in a position to confront such people, I try to direct my arguments towards what they say, rather than if they are racists or not. A good opener is "if you keep saying such racist things, people are going to think that you are a racist."

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jane, thanks for stopping by.
re:
>>"all you have to do is read the
>>responses whenever theres an
>>article about the potus.

Yes, I notice that quite a bit on news articles linked on Yahoo. And on the right-wing blogs, it's scary how vicious the comments are.

Marc McDonald said...

re:
>>I figure that a lot of stealth
>>bigots may not even realize that
>>they are racists

I've definitely found this to be the case. I talked to one guy once who was constantly using the "N" word and talking about how he "didn't want the n*ggers dating our white women." He then strongly denied that he was a racist.

BekkaPoo said...

Maybe, just like in most other areas, these hardcore "stealth racists" (who let's face it many are on the right-wing side of the political spectrum) just don't actually know *what* they are saying.. I think they say words, they hear sounds coming from their mouths, however comprehension of what is being said is totally gone. Then they are surprised when they encounter someone with a working knowledge of English or who has the ability to use a dictionary.. Stealth racists.. lots of sound and fury signifying nothing. They are fearful of losing their unearned social priveleges, and they're in panic mode.

Ted McLaughlin said...

I was always taught, and believe, that actions speak louder than words. If you act like a racist, then you are a racist -- and it doesn't matter how much you try to deny it. If a person doesn't like being labeled a racist, then they should stop acting and talking like a racist.

For me, it's that simple.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Ted, thanks for the comment. You make a very good point.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi BekkaPoo, thanks for your comment.
re:
>>They are fearful of losing their
>>unearned social priveleges, and
>>they're in panic mode.

Yes, for sure, and it's a fear that is fanned by the flames of the NeoCon bigotry spewing forth from Fox News and talk radio.

Anonymous said...

I NOT TO SURE ABOUT THE COMMENTS HERE, TRUE OLD DAYS KNEW WHERE THE LINE WAS. BUT TO TURN AROUND AND PAINT REPUBLICANS AS ALL RACIST AND LISTENERS TO OTHER OPINIONS AS RUSH FOX THAT THEY ARE RACIST IS FEEDING THE FIRE OF HATRED. fOR EVERY ACTION IS A REACTION AND THE HATE ESCALATES. THAT IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO SEE. LET IT FADE AWAY AND IT WILL IF THERE IS NO REACTION. HUMANS ARE LOVING AS MUCH AS EVIL. WHY FEED THE MONSTER WITH UR REACTION LAW OF PHYSICS.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Anon, I'd like to point out again that I actually have no real problems with people who choose to be racist. We are supposed to have freedom of speech in this country. If anyone wants to be a hard-care racists, then I say: knock yourself out and go for it.
The problem I have are with those racists who claim that they're actually not racist. It's this stealth bigotry that I take issue with. And it's extremely widespread here in Texas. Here, I'm surrounded by loads of stealth bigots.

Julia Stone said...

It seems to me the rhetoric of commentary on social network sites just keeps ratcheting up the rage. The threats are geting more violent and more explicit. The language is vile. Hundreds upon hundreds of people are piling on the filth. The sheer volume of it frightens me, should frighten us all. Go to a right-wing Facebook page sometime and you'll see what I mean.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Julia, thanks for your comment and for stopping by.
re:
>>Go to a right-wing Facebook page
>>sometime and you'll see what I
>>mean
I know what you mean. I don't even have to go to the right-wing sites to see this sort of thing. Almost every day, when I check my email, I get these vicious right-wing emails that are forwarded to me by the wingnuts I know (I always find it interesting how they assume I want to read these unsolicited emails in the first place).

Leisha Young said...

Hi, I'm from Australia and really enjoyed reading your article. There is a phenomenon at the moment in Australia whereby people are using their Smart Phones to record racist tirades by individuals on public transport and shaming them on YouTube. The media is then picking up on them and they are getting widespread attention all over the country (and beyond I believe).

There was an incident recently with a woman screaming at a Middle Eastern gentleman. She screamed into his face "my grandfather fought in the Second World War to keep you black c***s out of here". When people started to challenge her she said "I'm not racist". Honestly, what is wrong with these people that they can't see their own prejudice? I am flummoxed by it. How can you honestly be that ignorant and one eyed?

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Leisha, thanks for your commend and kind words. It's always fascinating to get a different perspective from another country. Here in the U.S., our abysmal mainstream media does a poor job of reporting what goes on in other nations.
re:
>>When people started to challenge
>>her she said "I'm not racist".
One thing I've noticed many times here in the U.S. is that you have all these white people who are blatantly racist and then claim they're not racist.
But when it comes to so-called "reverse racism," these same people are hyper-sensitive. They really believe that white people are the ones who're oppressed in today's America.
I think part of the problem is that White America by and large has never honestly confronted the legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era that followed slavery.
Americans by and large remain hopelessly ignorant about their own nation's history.

DMK717 said...

I AM FROM A MEDIUM SIZED NORTHERN CITY, ERIE, PA. FROM WHAT I GATHER, MOST NORTHERN CITIES ARE QUITE SEGREGATED, SO IS ERIE. THERE'S PROBABLY MORE RACIAL IGNORANCE IN THE NORTH BECAUSE OF THIS, BUT IT IS NOT AS OUTSPOKEN. I'VE HEARD THE SAME ABOUT CHICAGO. WHEN M.L.K. MARCHED THROUGH CHICAGO, MOBS OF WHITES THREW BRICKS AT HIM AND HIS SUPPORTERS AND WAVED THE CONFEDERATE FLAG.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi DMK717, thanks for your comment. Say, I live in the South and I would be quite surprised if the North had greater "racial ignorance" than the south.
Here in Texas, racism is still pretty widespread. Most of my white acquaintances, for example, are quite racist (even if they don't believe they are). In private, they denigrate blacks and use the "N" word. Bizarrely, though, they all believe that it's white people who are somehow the victims of "racism" in today's America.
Rush Limbaugh's power to brainwash people is really quite extraordinary.