Saturday, May 29, 2010

Racism is Patriotic And Other Right Wing Delusions

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, American Actor (DOB 8/18/1957).

This commentary is in response to a blog post from "The Oracular Opinion", a right-leaning site I visit infrequently. I say my visits are infrequent because, as of late, I have given up blogging and the reading of other's blogs. I decided to check in today, however, and after composing a reply, decided to turn my comments there into a post for my blog.

The issue the proprietor of "The Oracular Opinion" was concerned about was that five students at the Live Oak High School (in California) who wore T-shirts with the America flag on them (on Cinco de Mayo) had their free speech right violated when the Principal sent them home. The Principal determined that wearing the flag T-shirts on that particular day was incendiary.

"The Oracular Opinion" called for it's readers to show their support for the students who organized the "display of patriotism", by reposting Chris W's (a Libertarian blogger) thoughts (from his blog) on their blog. I agree with the sentiment. Which is why I've decided to post my support for the wronged party - the students who were celebrating Cinco de Mayo and subjected to an ugly display of racism in the process! As a frequent poster to "The Oracular Opinion" pointed out - the wearing of the T-shirts on that particular day could certainly be interpreted as a big "up yours" to the Hispanic students.

Other ethnicities have days on which they celebrate their heritage, such as St. Patrick's Day (Irish), Oktoberfest (German) and others. It seems to me that nobody has a problem with anybody who wishes to honor their heritage by celebrating one of these ethnic holidays. The only ethnic holidays some people seem to have a problem with are those celebrated by individuals with brown skin.

The Principal who decided to send the students home was later pressured into apologizing. Perhaps he was being overly PC, but I do not believe he was wrong for taking the feelings of the Hispanic students into consideration. If he felt that they had worn the T-shirts on purpose to make a statement against the celebration of Cinco de Mayo I believe he was correct to send them home. And he should have stuck to his guns and stood by his original condemnation of the American flag T-shirt wearing student's ugly display of racism.

Or not. After reading the actual news story, I think what really happened was that the students just acted insensitively. They saw the Hispanic students celebrating Cinco de Mayo during previous years and thought that they'd counter their fellow student's enthusiasm with a "patriotic" display of their own. When it was pointed out that they were being insensitive and perhaps they should apologize, their response was "fat chance".

Since insensitivity to the ethnic background of anyone whose heritage is different than yours is a vital component of being a patriotic American (or so the Right-wing would have you believe), I've concluded that this really isn't that big a deal. We just need to get these kids (and their parents) some diversity training.

Who we really should be condemning here are people like Chris W who use opportunities like this to spread their lies about America being under attack. Specifically he said that "our history, our culture and our way of life has been assailed by forces from within to the point to where if you celebrate America and what it stands for, you are called a racist, a Nazi or a tea-bagger".

He concluded by urging his readers to "band together to show the anti-America crowd that we will not accept these assaults on free speech and patriotism". This is all complete nonsense of course. It is, however, in line with the "culture warrior" BS perpetrated by the likes of Bill O'Reilly.

As for Chris W's claim that these student's free speech rights were infringed upon - in "Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District", the Supreme Court ruled that students do not "shed their constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse door". But the ruling also said that schools do have the ability to restrict the free speech rights of students if it is "necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others".

So the students acted insensitively and perhaps the Principal overreacted. In the end, I don't really care. What I do care about is posts like Chris W's. My conclusion, based on his blog post, is that those on the Right (Republicans and Libertarians) believe that racism is patriotic. Perhaps you've heard that Libertarians support open borders? The Libertarian party platform states that they believe "economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders", and they "condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant".

However, "freedom" and "liberty" demand that individuals be free to practice racism if they so desire. Rand Paul and John Stossel have been in the news recently voicing their support for the right of private businesses to ban anyone from their property they want to. Of course Mr. Paul and Mr. Stossel both droned on regarding how abhorrent they would deem such a decision to be. And they claim that they would not patronize such a business. I find their protests unconvincing.

In my opinion these arguments are simply a smokescreen used to enable racism. Why else would this Libertarian blogger be so eager to use this story to perpetuate the myth about America being "under attack"? (which plays into the Right-wing meme that we should blame the brown people for our problems).

The effect of Arizona's recent anti-immigrant laws has been to drive Hispanics away from the Republican party. Hopefully this law never is prevented from going into effect, although I have heard that people are presently being stopped and asked to present their papers proving citizenship or lawful right to be in the country. However, regardless of what happens, at least the Republican Party has been exposed for the bigots they are.

Or, at least to the majority of Hispanics. Otherwise it seems that these laws are receiving (unbelievably) broad support. How long will people continue to buy into these Right-wing delusions? We do not need a border fence. I am in support of protecting the wages of our workforce from being driven down by an influx of cheap labor, but the way to do this is through programs like E-Verify. Republicans going after the victims (Hispanics fleeing poverty and enticed to cross our borders by corporations offering them employment) is not the answer.

Republicans claim we need to close the border first for a reason. Because they don't really want to cut off the source of cheap labor their corporate donors crave. What they really want is to keep the "illegals" afraid. So afraid that when their employers force them to work "off the clock" or under hazardous conditions - they don't complain.

And the Republicans (and Libertarians) want us to know whom to blame for our declining wages - the brown people. This is why they encourage racism with preposterous claims of America being "under attack". This is why they have countered "diversity training" with the term "politically correct".

This is also why they attack the Left. Because the Left rejects the notion that we should blame the victims - the "illegal" aliens fleeing poverty who would not be coming here if nobody would hire them once they arrived - for our immigration problems. And because we support a "path to citizenship". Not because it's an ideal solution, but, again, because we do not believe in punishing the victim.

In conclusion I urge you not to fall for arguments like Chris W's. "America" (Loony Libertarians and far-right tea-bagger types) is not "under attack". They claim they are victims when, in actuality, they're attempting to stir up anti-immigrant sentiment. Because this is what the wealthy fascists who fund their astroturf organizations want you to believe. It's simple misdirection. Blame the "brown people" and not the wealthy corporatists who actually are to blame for the decline of the Middle Class.

SWTD #40