I wish people would stop being so confused all the time. If someone is “a racist” it is not because he is a like a Nazi with a uniform and everything, and pledges allegiance to the flag of racism, and goes around shouting “I hate Mexican people!” Well, to be fair, he might shout that if he were drunk and had smoked some of the cottonmouth killer, or were on MySpace. And those dudes in Stormfront exist. And racist skinheads too dumb to join Stormfront. Nonetheless, in ordinary speech one only means “hey, he said a thing that was racially prejudiced,” or “she told a racist joke,” or “he threw a crumpled-up beer can at that broke-ass African-American gentleman walking right beside the road (South Carolina doesn’t hold much truck with sidewalks) while shouting ‘f%cK you n1gger!,’” or “she collects these weird racist yam crate-labels from Louisiana in the ‘30s and I am not sure her motives are entirely pure.” (May God help me on this one, a collector sells them in Takoma Park at vintage fairs and sometimes I succumb. They’re so cool! She’s a 65-year-old Black lady, so she’s off the hook. OR IS SHE?!).
Anyway, otherwise very intelligent people such as Radley Balko go weirdly off the rails on this one. (Whom you should all read all the time, even though libertarians annoy you, because he is the only person in the history of blogging to ever get anybody off of death row by blogging about it. We arrange some excellent book events, and we make nice covers and John typesets’em all purty, but I’m pretty sure Radley’s got us beat ten ways to Sunday on useful blogging and we will never recoup, not with a thousand book events. Anyway he’s not the annoying kind of libertarian. Er, rather, he’s one of the least annoying kinds. He actually cares about the rights of poor people and has noticed that corporations as well as governments can infringe upon your rights, although he doesn’t focus upon this latter point as much as a left-libertarian would. Did I mention he saves people’s lives? His blog is rushing into burning buildings and dragging people out, and then it wants to go back in, and the chief’s trying to hold it back, because it’s inhaled all this smoke and all, but it busts free and saves three more children, but it just has three cute smudges of soot on its face, and then it kisses Natalie Portman. Then maybe it links to Ilya Somin, and you think, the hell he did?! Our blog is just drinking a cup of coffee, and making plans to kiss…Clive Owen? I may need to re-do the polling on this one.)
The other day Radley Balko pointed to a Reuters story which said, basically, that George Zimmerman fed his dog, and was an altar boy (no, but a real one), and loved his momma, and his Black neighbor would say on the record he had always been a sweet boy, what with his lawn-mowing, and waving, and suchlike. Radley seemed to think this showed…something new. “Turns out, the guy is a three-dimensional human being.” I protested, saying, who ever doubted Zimmerman was an actual person, in the round, who was kind to people sometimes? (Because everyone is, so I’m told. Hitler, dog, etc.) Radley responded: “I saw Tweets and blog posts from otherwise smart, calm people who immediately jumped to the conclusion that Zimmerman was a racist.”
Loves your mom, is altar boy, has a Black neighbor with whom you live harmoniously…all these things are compatible with being a racist! For damn sure they’re compatible with doing some racist shit, which may be more pertinent. I was inclined to pursue only the latter point, but what have we here? Oh, dag, Mr. Zimmerman, take it away down south, to Dixie:
I dont miss driving around scared to hit mexicans walkin on the side of the street, soft ass wanna be thugs messin with peoples cars when they aint around (what are you provin, that you can dent a car when no ones watchin) dont make you a man in my book. Workin 96 hours to get a decent pay check, gettin knifes pulled on you by every mexican you run into!
Aw, George, you didn’t have to miss none of that when you move from Manassas to Florida! You can just drive around scared to hit Cubans by the side of the road! Truth is, the demographics of the South are changing so much as an after-effect of construction jobs during the housing boom, there are plenty of Mexicans in Florida (plenty more when he wrote this, I imagine.) And of course there are always Black people. This tolls rather gloomily and out of spirit with the rest of the post all on a sudden. Ah, that’s because Mr. Zimmerman shot killed a Black teenager, isn’t it.
What was the other information provided in the Reuter’s story, which Radley’s commenter’s found so salient? There had been a bunch of serious, sometimes daylight burglaries committed in the storied “gated community” committed by Black men. Yeah, and you know what percentage of the county is Black? 32 goddamn percent. 32%! How is this not evidence that Zimmerman thought Martin was one of the people breaking into the houses, maybe just casing the joints, got out of his truck to follow him, wanted to detain him till the cops got there (which is called false imprisonment, everybody), pulled the gun to keep Trayvon from walking away, and then…? Something bad happened.
I’m sorry, but Zimmerman strikes me as a) racist, b) so dumb he could throw himself down on the ground and miss. His defense team is going to earn every penny they get paid by a huge donation fund of
racists conservative citizens concerned that he might not see justice due to Obama and Eric Holder and the New Black Panthers and Acorn and Akon and that one chick who tried to make us use only lower case letters, and L’il Wayne, and the Rev. Al Sharpton and Flo Rida, because damn that is played out; why are people still going for that? My money’s always been on Zimmerman’s escalating and then just fatally screwing up. And on his being racist. His grandmoms worked as a babysitter for two black girls that ate with the family when he was little. Did they inoculate him against racism when they passed the rice? No. Would he have followed and shot a white 17-year-old who tried to force him to taste the rainbow? No. Do I believe his self-serving story about getting lost in his own 2-street subdivision (OK, maybe that part, actually) and then getting jumped on and getting the beatdown from Trayvon, with the ninja skills he learned at Menacing Black Youths Summer Academy? No Sir, no, no and no Ma’am. R-a-c-i-s-t.
UPDATE: I should really scan some of the yam crate labels, but I should really really stop looking at the evil, makes me have to lie down watching the blood beat in the capillaries of the back of my eye computer. Anyway they’re framed. Some aren’t super racist. Like the Black guy throwing dice and it says “Don’t Cry” Louisiana Commercial Sweet Potatoes Packed By Irvin Wimberly, Church Point LA. (But we all know Irvin Wimberly never packed a single motherloving sweet potato in his damn life. He might not of touched a sweet potato. Could be he was toiling away in the sweet potato fields, infected, like Levin, with the general quickening of energy in the sweet potato packers. Could be.) Here the man just looks sad because he (and we) can tell the dice are about to turn on him viciously. The most racist one is “King” Brand Porto Rican Yams; the king is a kind of idiotic-looking 10-year-old with a plush crown whose lips are printed too big. Now, because his skin is printed dark this isn’t immediately apparent; he’s not Sambo. But once you look it it, boy howdy.
Proof that my daughter learned better than I taught her: she said “those are racist.” I said: “documenting history of racism blah blah.” She, fixing me with withering scorn (she’s only just 9 at this point) “Mom, if an African-American family were coming over for dinner, would you take them down?” I was defeated. 1930s yam crate-labels: racist.
She knew Nigerian people had been at our old place when I had them up. African-American, see, that was the kicker, though in her opinion I should have never have hung them up. (They look so cute in the kitchen!) Belle Waring, hanging racist 1930s yam crate-labels all up in everywhere: doing something racist. I was willing to amend. They’re all just moping behind the toaster now. I don’t know what to do with them, honestly. Maybe give them back to the lady who collects them, but in the beautiful frames.