The race card

Much of the law and best practice that has been adopted in these islands relating to discrimination and diversity has its origins in the United States. American legislation, much of it adopted during the Lyndon B Johnson presidency, defined a fair amount of legal reform in this part of the world, and US pressure groups pushing for equal rights set the tone for others across the world. And yet, in some respects America also still has more people openly undermining equality and diversity than almost anywhere else.

The most recent example of this is to be found in political infighting in the US Republican party. In the developing election campaign for Governor of South Carolina, Republican candidate Nikki Haley – a woman of Sikh descent – has been criticised in extraordinary terms by a state senator from her own party, Jake Knotts. Here is what he has been reported as saying:

‘We already got one raghead in the White House; we don’t need a raghead in the governor’s mansion.’

What is amazing is that such overtly racist talk can be accepted as part of the rough and tumble of electoral politics, and that, apparently, no attempt is being made to prosecute Mr Knotts. For many people all over the world, the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency showed the growing political maturity of America and gave heart to the movement for equal rights. However, this is undermined to quite an extent by the extreme racist discourse of many of those on the right in US politics, in political debate and on the airwaves. There should be no tolerance for such talk. The last bit of growing up still remains to be completed.

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20 Comments on “The race card”

  1. wendymr Says:

    You think that’s bad? Watch this video.

    This guy, Stephen Anderson, is a Baptist minister, and he has said openly, and on camera, that he prays for Obama’s death and would like to see him die of brain cancer. There’s a story here on CBS.

    One reason he gives is that Obama supports abortion – which there isn’t a lot of evidence for – but it’s pretty clear that what really lies behind his hatred is Obama’s race.

    And that’s before we get into Arizona’s new law effectively allowing the police to use racial profiling to decide who to ask for proof of citizenship. If you’re Hispanic in Arizona now, be prepared to be harassed by the police.

  2. kevin denny Says:

    There is a certain irony about calls for not tolerating the intolerant. To put it another way, to what extent do we tolerate people who are mad, bad or dangerous to know? In some countries Holocaust denial is verboten. While its something I would find risible were it not so odious, I don’t think it should be illegal. Cleary you can’t stop people thinking it so stopping people saying it publicly is rather absurd. It is better to confront them with the evidence: light is the best disinfectant.
    The same issue arises with racism. Can we/should we prevent people expressing such views? I have a strong preference towards freedom of speech. Interestingly, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Kentucky, Rand Paul (a Tea Party guy) has expressed the view the racism is protected by the First Amendment.

    • Sally Says:

      Yes, people have a right to their preferences, even their prejudices, and to actively express them by discriminating, even unfairly. It’s when unfair discrimination reaches institutional levels that we must act.

      • People absolutely *don’t* have the right to express their prejudices by discriminating!!! However, expressing their prejudices is a more tricky issue…

      • Sally Says:

        Suppose I have a prejudice against, say, racists and my daughter is tossing up between marrying two guys, one of whom is a racist. I claim a right to show careful judgement, to discriminate, in my case, in favour of the non-racist. We should all learn to discriminate and to do it well. The dichotomy here is not between discriminating and not discriminating (every time you choose you discriminate) but between fair and unfair discrimination.

  3. preston63 Says:

    You and your one comment failed to address the fact that Obama won with the majority of white vote or he wouldn’t have won at all. Maybe ( and I just mean “maybe”), he’d of beaten John McCain in the final race, but there ain’t no way in Hell he’d of taken the Democratic Primary from Hillary Clinton had he been a white man! Even ultra-Left wing liberals wouldn’t want some junior league no-show to finally represent their ultimate and almost orgasmic goal in achieving the presidency of the United States!!! Who are you trying to fool, fool!! hahahaha
    The Left saw their “savior” in a smooth-talking black man that would heed their leash for another 4 years while they continued to erode the greatest country in the world. The true “black man” you denigrate to some sub-human status that depends on the white man’s support to survive, as you so covertly imply in your role as the devout non-racist, really only wants you to respect him and leave him the Hell alone to get by in life and still enjoy a little free time with the kids. He really don’t give a fat rat’s ass if you like him or not! Maybe if you’d face these issues with facts and figures and take into consideration that not NEAR as many folks as you think actually think like you do;,,, but rather there’s really a very great number of people, black, white, yellow and red, that just want you to give them an honest wage and let them live and raise their children as they see fit, WITHOUT government help or apathy!! Who the Hell you think you are thinking the black man needs your help in ANY fight?!!
    Condaleeza Rice was the person I wanted to run in 2008 and and I’m a little ashamed to admit that part of her appeal was because she is a woman of color. It was nice to see someone that feels much the same as I do, but she also gave us the proof we truly judged someone by their character. I can’t imagine anyone, Right or Left (isn’t the opposite of Right,,,, wrong? hahaha) that could find something worthwhile to condemn her for and she has the resolve and determination to do what she feels is right for the country. Ms. Rice would surely bring us together much better than the divisive and polarizing president we have today, that’s for DAMN sure!
    Please continue to spout your assertions of racism to all those that believe your bullshit.. Those with a little common sense and the fortitude to face the truth know that you’re just “whistling Dixie!!” hahahahaha

    • John Says:

      From what I’ve managed to piece together from your argument, you’re a black right-wing southern worker who’s learnt to write, yes?

      • preston63 Says:

        What a summation!! Is that all you could glean from my little tirade? And what is it exactly that you’re implying when you say ” a black right-wing southern worker who’s learnt to write”? Could your true color (or lack thereof) be trying to reveal itself in such a statement? Are you implying that it’s quite an accomplishment that a black man actually “learnt to write”? Pay attention to what you’re writing my friend. You wouldn’t want anyone to rightly guess your true inner self, now would you? hahahha (And no,,, I’m not a black man, although I play one when I’m hitting all the local black nightspots! lol)

    • Sally Says:

      Next step English, then a bit of history?

      • preston63 Says:

        While you may have a valid point regarding my English skills, I challenge you to find a historical error in my comment. Rather than disparaging the grammar, how about arguing its context? I find it amusing but quite frustrating how the Left likes to demonstrate their perceived superior intellect over us “simple rubes” with criticism of our style but never seem to have any valid arguments to produce that proves us wrong. Have fun at my expense all you want, but you only show your ignorance when your rebuttal consists only of ridicule while lacking any substance.

    • Jilly Says:

      What IS it with the right-wing and their War on Syntax?

      • preston63 Says:

        Sorry Jilly,,,, I was too busy trying to teach you Lefties a little common sense while in English class and didn’t pay enough attention to the teacher. (I know,,,, an impossible and hopeless endeavor but I just HAD to try to help! hahaha) Anyway, I’ll make a deal with you, ok? I’ll see if I can find some classes here on line to improve my grammar skills if you’ll promise to take your head out of your ass and experience reality for a change. I’m really sorry to be the one to break news to you like this Jilly, but those things are called “movies” and they’re for entertainment only; not actual newscasts or documentaries.

      • preston63 Says:

        I looked for you and I think I found your blog and if I was successful, I was surprised to learn you are a Chinese woman. If so, please excuse my language in my last comment to you… I try not to be so crude when I am speaking to a lady and I hope you will accept my apology.

    • Sally Says:

      I think the right is unaware that the left feels as uncomfortable about ‘political correctness’ as they do. However the left and right have different reasons for it. The right, in the guise of promoting freedom of expression, use the notion of PC as a mask for their fear of genuine change towards freedom and equality. The left on the other hand see PC as substituting the simple censorship of language for the radical debate and activity necessary in their effective pursuit.

      • preston63 Says:

        Showing off your superior English again are you Sally? Sorry dear, but all those big words are only a cover for the actual true definition of “political correctness” which can be defined quite simply with only a few words. That is: PC=Lying. When one uses falsehood to define something because the true definition may cause someone a little discomfort or they may find it insulting, one is hiding from the truth and therefore cannot confront it or address it. I’m sure a doctor very much dreads informing his patient that they have cancer because he knows the fear and angst it will bring them. But he’s not helping the patient if he re-names it the mumps, is he?

    • John Says:

      Yes, and in that way often inhibiting their effective pursuit.

  4. Victor Says:

    The laws in the US derive from the history of black slavery, even the American Indians had Black slaves.

    The history of slavery in Ireland is the complete opposite — Irish women were taken as slaves by Vikings to Iceland, Irish men and women were take as slaves by the Ottomans to North Africa, Irish women and men were taken as slaves by the British to Australia and N America.
    There is no history of the Irish taking slaves since the day of St Patrick.
    We have nothing to apologize for– on the contrary in fact.

  5. “What is amazing is that such overtly racist talk can be accepted as part of the rough and tumble of electoral politics, and that, apparently, no attempt is being made to prosecute Mr Knotts.”

    In an ideal world, racism would disqualify candidates in the eyes of the voters. I’m ashamed to say it doesn’t always.

    But as for prosecution–I don’t think that would be possible in the U.S.: there’s no equivalent to Ireland’s libel laws, and in fact speech of all kinds is generally protected under the First Amendment. Even racist speech.

  6. Victor Says:

    The most blatant and lethal racism these days is in Israel, driven by lethal right wing fanatics.
    Watch the videos of the racist attack on the Arab Israeli woman parliament member from yesterday– It is much worse than the 80s in S Africa.
    Harvard has a sane approach

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