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Opinion

Opinion

Hate may be veiled but it’s still there

September 23, 2012

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This is for Vanessa in South Florida.

She emailed me a few days ago after spotting a bumper sticker that read: 2012 Don’t Re-Nig. “Honestly,” she wrote, “I don’t know how to process my outrage, so I’m handing it off to you. I know that President Obama’s race has always been an issue to many people, and perhaps I live a relatively sheltered life in Democratic-leaning Broward County, but I’m still stunned by the sentiment. I’m even more stunned, naive though that may be, by the fact that some people believe it’s appropriate to flaunt that sentiment — and that it’s not a source of shame.”

Vanessa, I’m afraid I’m not nearly as shocked as you. After all, the sentiment that bumper sticker expresses has been part of the Obama narrative since before he took office.

Some of us grapple with a sense of racial and cultural dislocation, the jolting sensation in a changing nation, that their prerogatives as white people, assumptions so ingrained as to have never previously required the slightest thought, are now in question. They want “their” country back. As the great satirist Randy Newman sings in a new ballad:

“I’m dreaming of a white president

“Just like the ones we’ve always had

“A real live white man who knows the score

“How to handle money or start a war.”

But for others of us, it’s not anything so nuanced as a sense of dislocation — just the same old hate as always.

Either way, the world has changed enough that one cannot openly express such things. So instead, it gets hidden in oblique language, false controversies and putative “jokes.”

But Vanessa — when one in four Americans thinks there’s some mystery over the president’s birthplace, while Mitt Romney (son of a man born in Mexico) and John McCain (born in the Panama Canal Zone) face no such scrutiny; when tea partiers denounce health-care reform as “reparations;” when Rep. Lynn Westmoreland calls Obama “uppity,” then-Rep. Geoff Davis calls him “boy” and Rep. Joe Wilson yells out, “You lie!” during a presidential speech; when Rush Limbaugh says Obama’s election means it’s open season on white kids; when Obama is called a terrorist, a “food stamp president” and a “Chicago thug” — why should “Don’t Re-Nig” come as a surprise? It’s just the next logical step.

One cannot openly express one’s hate — right up till the day one can. Though even then, one may have to delude oneself.

When he was asked about that bumper sticker, Billy Smith of Ludowici, Ga., who manufactured it with his wife, Paula, told a reporter: “We didn’t mean it in a racist way.” The driver of that car would likely have said the same. But they do not lie for our benefit. They lie to conscience — and to self.

So this is the paradigm of our age — self delusion on the one hand, a guy trying to govern on the other, while hemmed in by race, defined in crude, stereotypical imagery, yet unable to fight it, talk about it, or even admit he sees it, for fear of compromising his effectiveness, being dismissed as, God forbid — “an angry black man.”

Yet we hope our way forward anyhow.

There hangs in the White House this photo of the president bowing to allow a little black boy to touch his head. The 5-year-old, his brother and his parents were in the Oval Office with Obama and the boy had a question. “I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he said, so softly Obama had to ask him to repeat himself. He did, and Obama invited him to see for himself. The boy hesitated.

“Touch it dude!” the president said.

The boy did. So, what do you think?” asked Obama.

“Yes,” said the boy, “it does feel the same.”

That child’s name is Jacob. And Vanessa, while some of us are dreaming of a white president, well .?.?. it’s likely Jacob has some new dreams of his own.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Comments

George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

At the end of the day we never addressed the question about progress but once again belabored the lack of it

Apparently we hate conservatives as we seem unable to support the contention that the average conservative is a racist. You know one can hate people for many reasons. Hate is hate.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 6 months ago

I just protested Lynn Jenkins in Baldwin and I can tell you from firsthand experience that conservatives love doing and saying racist things to push people's buttons or to see how much nonsense they can get away with saying before the r word is drawn. One person baited another with code language concerning the ID nonsense and it almost got heated. Why don't conservatives try to win the game fairly.....only cheaters need to win by using ID laws and voting district gerrymandering right Tom Delay???? Poll taxes and ID laws when no real concrete proven fraud exists..... the South in the 1960's and the denial of now.....don't tell me there's a difference.....

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 6 months ago

Let's remember that we are talking about people who sport "Don't re-nig" bumper stickers and those who defend them, not about those who disagree with affirmative action or the civil war.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

Yes JAFS but I don't think many of us are arguing against that.

I would suggest that we probably would have real trouble agreeing to what is in fact racist as the example above suggests.

What ever happend to my initial question. Should there not be some acknowledgement of progress made before we again drink from the bitter cup of our failures.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

Lots of broad brush ranting but no one has provided any source for the statement that the average racist is conservative!! Could that be because once again a portion of this space needs to demonize others and in such pursuit hardly considers the accuracy of their charges.

Do we hate conservatives or just consider them misguided??

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 6 months ago

"Are all conservatives racist? Perhaps 50%? Maybe 10%, Maybe a few wing nuts?"

No, just those who sport "don't re-nig" bumper stickers and those who apologize for them.

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verity 1 year, 6 months ago

Jafs, I think you made your point. I'm sure we've heard the last of the demand that all Muslims be responsible for what one Muslim does.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 6 months ago

I have always been in awe of Obama's ability to be the target of direct racism, in his face, and to still move forward constructively with those who spew at him.

I imagine it must be very frustrating for the racists.

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JonasGrumby 1 year, 6 months ago

"There hangs in the White House this photo of the president bowing to allow a little black boy to touch his head. The 5-year-old, his brother and his parents were in the Oval Office with Obama and the boy had a question. “I want to know if my hair is just like yours,” he said, so softly Obama had to ask him to repeat himself. He did, and Obama invited him to see for himself. The boy hesitated."

In the end, that's all that matters. Sure, the unemployment rate is still high and many have given up looking for work. And, yes, things don't look that good right now on the foreign policy front. However, that photo is why I and many others voted for Obama and will vote for him in November. His race is an important symbol to little African American boys and girls, and never, ever underestimate the power of a symbol. We can elect a white president in 2016. Today, we need to stick with the black one.

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observant 1 year, 6 months ago

Tanzer Your post 5 hrs 22 min ago summed it up

Just had to go to funeral in S Ga. Spent time with religious relative who spent considerable time explaining to to me why blacks are the root of all evil, based on the "bible". Last time I'll ever visit this hate filled relative. And he never misses a Wed rf Sun service at his beloved Baptist Church.

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Armstrong 1 year, 6 months ago

Must be a slow day in lib land. All the prodding and baiting here to try and start a fight and no takers. Quick, tange go post something clever from youtube ! Go, hurry !

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Mike Ford 1 year, 6 months ago

wristtwister....my comment suggests you're full of it......

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

I guess I'll have to conclude that the vast majority of conservatives who post on here don't find this offensive, since they have failed to criticize/denounce it.

That's quite unfortunate.

Or, if that's not true, then they have some sort of reasons for not doing that - if that's the case, then they should consider whether Muslims who don't denounce radical Muslims might have some sort of reasons for that as well.

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Liberty275 1 year, 6 months ago

Hatred is protected by the constitution. Speech based on hatred is protected. You cannot legislate thought.

OTOH, discrimination in some official (and by that I mean not acting as an individual) sense, public or private, based on bigotry is mostly illegal and violence always is - and it's getting a little better all the time. Equality is always on the horizon, we will never get there, but we will get closer.

We all have the capacity to respect each other as equals, but we are still learning how.

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George Lippencott 1 year, 6 months ago

I sometimes wonder when I read another of Mr. Pitt’s articles bemoaning bigotry in our world whether he is contributing to the solution or aggravating the problem. In my lifetime we have moved from “massive resistance” to a much more diverse and tolerant world. Certainly we are not where most of us would have us be but this process is a journey not an event. Perhaps Mr. Pitts could periodically acknowledge the progress made as a balance to his seeming focus on the road still to go.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 6 months ago

fossick, Adolf Hitler was part Tunisian and Sephardic Jew. The Sephardic Jewish people were chased out of Spain during the Crusades. This information was in an article I read last year. I love how the posters use Daily Caller as a reference on here.....propaganda isn't fact. I'm actually on the Daily Caller's list serve as a Democrat so I can go on there and directly refute this kind of nonsense. I'm not afraid of you or the nonsense some of you speak.....it makes me feel sad for you that you bring up this New Black Panther nonsense when I saw the Klan as a child in Ocean Springs, MS in 1978 collecting donations in boots at the intersection of US 90 and MS 57. I saw the Mennonite Choctaw Church the Klan burned down after the Choctaws told the FBI where the murdered civil rights workers burned wagon was in 1963 near the Choctaw Nunih Waiya mound and the nearby swamps near Bok Chito, MS. This scene was played out in the Mississippi Burning movie I watched last night. As a four year old child my father and I stood at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN where MLK was killed six years after it happened. Some of you are really pathetic arguers with really weak statements. I guess everyone gets fifteen minutes right?

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jaywalker 1 year, 6 months ago

Here's to hoping someone "detaches" that guys' bumper. Not that it needs explanation, but it would be just if it was one of those stickers where the entire face changes when it's moved slightly, and the separate message would be "There's an ass!@$! driving this car."

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

So far, one post clearly denouncing the license plate, but not from a conservative.

And, one post with general support, but no clear denunciation, from a conservative.

I wonder why the rules are so different when it comes to Muslims, who are expected to clearly and strongly denounce actions they find offensive by other Muslims?

If you're conservative, and you find this license plate offensive, and not representative of your views, why is it so hard to just say that?

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tange 1 year, 6 months ago

"But they do not lie for our benefit. They lie to conscience — and to self."

One cannot lie to others without, in some measure, lying to oneself.

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Getaroom 1 year, 6 months ago

Clearly what WristTwister has to say is simply not true because it was obvious to everyone that it didn't matter in the case of Bush/Palin, universally, they were both disliked by a majority of Americans.

And WristTwister is a prime example of pure unadulterated racism. So much so in fact, it would appear that someone has taken on a new screen name. Always the Pitt's hater and it shows, great job being 'out there' with your Pitt's Hatred! That is something to proud of by golly.

Like Willard Romney and his past taxes.

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WristTwister 1 year, 6 months ago

The title should read "Racism may be veiled but it’s still there". That's really what Pitts wants to write about. There will always be racists and they are not only white southern good ol' boys. There are racisits who are Arabic, Latino, Asian, and yes, there are even Black racists. The New Black Panter Party is a good example. Pitts identifies the racist bumper sticker in his very first sentence as an example of not so veiled hate. This allows him to list everything that follows as veiled racism. Pitts (like the far left) sees racism behind every negative remark about this President. If he wanted to explore real hate, he should have brought up Bush or Palin. It was classical, pure, unadulterated hate with absolutely no pretense of covering it up. No one spews hate quite like the left wingers.

http://dailycaller.com/2012/01/31/top-10-most-vile-anti-bush-signs-slideshow/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U83fHH... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJN94l...

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 6 months ago

This bumper sticker is offensive but so is the movie title White Men Cant Jump.

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Armstrong 1 year, 6 months ago

I would go along with Lenny on the majority of what he has to say in this article. You have to figure at some point in time the mullet headed, tattoo covered, toothless white trash is going to chime in on politics. I give them as much attention as the religious bigots posting this morning.

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LRonHoover 1 year, 6 months ago

Those in Pitts' crowd just have to keep banging the race drum, to attempt to extinguish the conversation that Obama is one of the lousiest presidents in modern political history---it's that plain and simple.

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gbulldog 1 year, 6 months ago

Is Obama following Hitler's modle?

Hitler was part Jew. Look what he did to the Jews.

Obama is half white. Look how he is using racism to promote his agenda. What is his true agenda? Divide and destroy anyone who has something he wants?

I was going to say poor and rich, but isn't Obama rich considered rich compared to the rest of us. Michelle sure spends it like he is or is the Gorvernment paying for her and her childrens lavish life style. Just look at the cost of clothing she is wearing. Probably not from a thrift store.

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pizzapete 1 year, 6 months ago

If the guy that made the 2012 Don’t Re-Nig bumper sticker didn't mean it in a racist way, how exactly did he mean it? It doesn't really make any sense otherwise. Does this guy know the meaning of the word renege?

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observant 1 year, 6 months ago

The racists must be sleeping in or getting dressed for for their good christian church services.

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LRonHoover 1 year, 6 months ago

Coming from a man filled with hatred who would strongly prefer anyone with opposing views or ideas would just "shut up".

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ugottabekiddin 1 year, 6 months ago

Excellent article by Mr. Pitts. Thank you. This is just one of a thousand remarks and actions by people who want him out of the White House. Obama is an incredible person to continue with such strength, grace, and focusing on what is right, whereas 99.9% of us would be a bunch of whining babies if we were the target of such immature acts. Barack Obama has set an example to his daughters and ALL OF US as to how to rise above insults and lies and get on with attempting to do good and right.

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jafs 1 year, 6 months ago

I fully expect conservatives on this board to roundly denounce this bumper sticker if they disagree with it.

Or do those rules only apply to Muslims?

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grammaddy 1 year, 6 months ago

News Flash--Obama fully intends to stay Black for at least the next four years. Get Over It!!

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