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Archive for the ‘Racial issues’ Category

My Brother, My Hero

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John Baird, my brother, my hero.

All of my brothers are my heroes for many reasons. But let me focus at the moment on the oldest of my natural-born brothers, John Baird. There are a number of things that make him a hero: he served our country in a distinguished career of more than twenty years in the Air Force, in duty assignments in a number of hot spots around the world.

But the subject of this post is something he did well before that. The story goes…

In the early 1960’s (1962, I believe), we lived in Columbia, South Carolina. John was a senior in Columbia High School. The city was mired in the racial tension of the ’60s that ran throughout the country, centralized in the South. There were protests all across the South, which focused the nation’s attention on the need to finally fulfill the Constitution’s guarantees of equality to all citizens, without regard to race. In Columbia, as in other cities, there were protests and sit-ins at downtown stores like Woolworth’s and Walgreen’s which had lunch counters serving ‘whites only.’

Columbia High was an urban school, whose campus was only a block or so from the downtown department stores which were a focal point of the historic sit-ins. One day after John got out of school, he walked over to Woolworth’s (or perhaps one of the other department stores) and joined other protesters in the peaceful sit-in at the lunch counter. When he tried to order a burger for himself and one for the man sitting next to him (who wasn’t white), he was run out of the store. He ran halfway home (which was miles from downtown) before those who were chasing him finally gave up and let him go.

I never knew about this incident, until John recounted the story for me when I visited him just a few years ago. Since I was hearing the story for the first time, I asked if he had told our parents about it. He said he hadn’t because he didn’t want them to worry. Well, perhaps he was right to have kept it a secret. Perhaps they would have worried. But knowing what I know of our parents through their actions and the example they set (which is another story for a different day), I’m totally confident that they would have also been very proud of him, if they’d known. I know that they were proud of him anyway, but this would have only added to their reasons to be proud of their number one son.

So John, for your contribution to the public discourse, and for standing up for the change which decency mandated of our society, and for choosing to do the right thing, you are my hero.


Written by jb

March 27, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Carter’s Views

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Former President Jimmy Carter injects his personal opinion into the national debate by issuing a statement that (he believes) public opposition to President Obama is based on the “fact” that white people (in a sweeping generalization) believe “that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.”

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African-American,” Carter told “NBC Nightly News.” “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shares the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.

“That racism inclination still exists, and I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of belief among many white people — not just in the South but around the country — that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

In commenting on remarks by reporters that some have compared Obama to a Nazi, Carter also said,

“Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care. It’s deeper than that.”

He grouped Wilson’s shout of “You lie!” during Obama’s speech in that category, according to AP.

“I think it’s based on racism. There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.

“The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state. And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect.”

Just where do “these people (Carter, Pelosi, Rangle, etc.)” get the notion that they can broadly and generally ascribe the motivation of racism to anyone who happens to disagree with the policies of our President? How sanctimonious of them.

Carter grew up in the South, in a time when there indeed, and regretably, there was widespread racism. But as even he pointed out, “the South (has) come a long way.” For him (and others) to continue to attempt to apply the old racism of the South to anyone who disagrees on a policy-basis, is totally ridiculous. Carter indeed knows a bit about “sin in his heart,” and he has an absolute right to confess his own sins, but it is outrageous for him to ascribe the sin of racism to the hearts of any other person, especially when he so broadly applies the accusation to “an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama.”

I’m not saying that none of the opposition to Obama’s policies is race-based. I’m sure that some of it probably is. But for Carter and others to try to broadly paint any opposition as race-based shows them to be attempting to subvert genuine and honest discussion of the actual issues. How would they suggest we can discuss the issues? I must conclude that they ultimately don’t want discussion of these issues, and that is why they are trying to cheap-shot their way out of it with attempts like this one.

The accusation of racism has gotten out of hand. Anyone now who opposes Obama’s policies, because he happens to be black, is a racist? I don’t think so. Applying that logic, would it be accurate to say that because President Obama called Kanye West “a jackass,” he is a racist? It would have to mean that, because Kanye is black. Obama “criticized” him. Therefore, Obama did so out of the motivation of racism. How ridiculous does that look? Every bit as ridiculous as Carter’s statement claiming that my opposition to any of Obama’s policies is based on racism, in my opinion.

Carter may know well the Old South. But I claim that he knows absolutely nothing about what is in my heart. And I resent that he would try to ascribe racism to my motivation in my opposition to President Obama’s policies. He doesn’t know. And he should remain silent on things he knows absolutely nothing about.

Written by jb

September 16, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Rangle’s Race Rant

with 6 comments

From September 3, 2009 New York Post


Rep. Charles Rangel said Tuesday that “bias” and “prejudice” toward Obama are fueling opposition to health-care reform.

“Some Americans have not gotten over the fact that Obama is president of the United States. They go to sleep wondering, ‘How did this happen?’ ” Rangel (D-Manhattan) said Tuesday.

Speaking at a health-care forum in Washington Heights, Rangel said that when critics complain that Obama is “trying to interfere” with their lives by pushing for health-care reform, “then you know there’s just a misunderstanding, a bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling.”

Rangel then likened the battle over health-care expansion for the uninsured to the fight for civil rights.

“Why do we have to wait for the right to vote? Why can’t we get what God has given us? That is the right to live as human beings and not negotiate with white southerners and not count the votes. Just do the right thing,” he said.

Charlie, why does everything end up being about race, with you?

True, some Americans “go to sleep wondering, ‘How did this happen?'” I go to sleep wondering, “How did this happen?” But it’s certainly not because of a misunderstanding, a bias, or a prejudice over the fact that we now have a President who is black (which seems to be what your comments suggest).

Charlie, why can’t you accept that some Americans simply disagree with what they feel are bad ideas? Without any regard whatsoever to the race of those with whom they disagree?

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. powerfully described his Dream that one day Americans would not be driven by issues of race, but where all of us would live and work together without regard to the color of our skin. And while the country has made much progress toward that end, some people simply will not allow us to get there. Representative Rangle, with comments (and attitudes) such as those quoted above, is one of those people.

Ostensibly in the effort to fulfilling that Dream, our Government also makes it difficult (if not impossible), in so many ways, to achieve it. Just one example: I’ve often wondered, if it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, then why does our Government require them to ask employment applicants to indicate their race as part of the application process? That doesn’t make sense. Employers are not only required to ask applicants for racial information, they are also required to report that information to the Government (who is also restricted from using racial information to discriminate). Because race-based discrimination in employment is illegal, shouldn’t it also be illegal for employers to ask for racial information from applicants? Since it is illegal for anyone to discriminate along racial lines, wouldn’t it make more sense for us to have a “Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell” policy on race? That one leaves me scratching my head. As do people like Congressman Rangle.

Written by jb

September 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm