Waving the bloody shirt once more

by Jordan Green

Waving the bloody shirt once more

Evidence of white racist sentiment is not hard to find across the nation and particularly in the North Carolina Piedmont Triad.

And in this, the first year of Obama’s presidency, those who profess it seem emboldened to do so without fear of reproach or censure. Only one example last week was the comment thread beneath the’ online version of an Oct. 8 editorial in the News & Record applauding NC A&T University for severing financial ties to a homecoming concert headlined by mercenary rapper Gucci Mane.

In a rational discussion, readers might have questioned why the students voted to select an artist who celebrates a culture of death whose primary victims are young, black men; articulated why this artist doesn’t represent the values of the majority of African Americans; explored the tensions between protecting the reputation of an academic institution and fostering open dialogue; and pondered the financial costs of taking a principled stand.

Instead, the comment thread became a vehicle for the politics of white resentment.

The first comment sets the tone of scorn, and steers the conversation down a path of irrelevancy: “You cannot spell CRAP without RAP.” Whatever your musical preferences, anyone who holds even a passing familiarity with rap music knows that many of its giants — Public Enemy, KRS-One, the Roots and Common come to mind — have never celebrated thug life or violence, and in some cases have taken a strong stance against those values and lifestyles.

The third comment, by someone signed in as “nrsux,” reeks of racism: “Remember when America had cities where white people wanted to live?” Appended to the comment is the URL for the website of white separatist, former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and one-time Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke.

Some of the headlines of articles posted on Duke’s website reverberate with the central theme of white resentment mixed with messages reinforcing the notion that blacks are somehow less than human and that people that are different than the Anglo-Saxon norm are threatening the community’s safety and decency. “Obama’s hometown a cesspool of black youth violence: Is this the new America?” portends one. “CDC report shows the dangers of black males,” another trumpets. “The Jewish-led alien invasion.” And so on.

I raised the issue in a blog post that some N&R readers appear to be exploiting the A&T-Gucci Mane controversy to advance a white racist agenda.

While one reader commented sympathetically to my post, the others were not so complimentary.

One poster, identified as “cornelius,” rejected my premise that “white supremacy and segregation is on the march” with this scornful dismissal: “You conclude this from a reply by one crazy and one person who doesn’t like rap? Simply amazing.”

Another, a former city of Greensboro employee named Mike J. Baron, who has been engaged in an’  informationalcampaign to promote the notion that city administrators fraudulentlyexaggerated Greensboro’s water scarcity to justify building theRandleman Reservoir, used my post as forum to discuss his employmentwoes.

“Obama’s pastor, Rev.Jeremiah Wright, operated a racist training camp right from hispulpit,” he opined, before getting to the point: “The thought nevercrossed my mind that I was fired because I was white. But after seeinghow Rev. Wright indoctrinates his parishioners I am wondering ifGreensboro’s incompetent black assistant city manager secretly hatedwhite achievers like me.”

It’sfunny how any time the topic of racism is raised the conversation hasto be brought back around to wrongs committed against white people.

I’mnot at all surprised that readers like “cornelius” find the notion thatracism is on the rise to be worthy of scorn. Claiming that white peopleexhibit or display racism is not at all popular in this day and age.Which is all the more reason why it’s necessary to do so.

Thinkhow easy it is to find examples of people claiming that blacks holdsome kind of unfair advantage, have engaged in corrupt and incompetentpractices or are somehow morally deficient. They’re abundant in blogposts and comments, The Rhinoceros Times’ “Sound of the Beep” and letters to the News & Record. Andthey’re readily received, debated and taken seriously. In contrast, youwill find few examples of people calling out white racism in these sameforums. And when someone has the temerity to raise the issue of whiteracism, it’s typically held up to ridicule or characterized as “playingthe race card.”

Inthe Reconstruction era, white radicals were often denounced as “wavingthe bloody shirt,” a term of derision. It stemmed from a Republicanlawmaker waving a bloody shirt on the floor of the US House tohighlight the violence used by those who wanted to restore the whites’position of supremacy in postbellum Mississippi. The radical-Republicanclaims about Ku Klux Klan outrages were held up to be fabrications, andgrievances about the treatment of blacks considered empty manipulationsfor political gain.

Seems like we’ve been running over the same old ground.