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article imageOp-Ed: America's Deteriorating Social Fabric, and How We Can Fix It

By Johnny Simpson     Jul 22, 2009 in Politics
Advocates of candidate Obama promised us America would enter a new Golden Age of social harmony with his election. Yet actions by liberals, even Obama himself, have led to some of the worst social conflicts in years. It is up to him, and us, to fix it.
UPDATE: Earlier tonight (7/22), a friend of mine, a Lebanese Christian from Beirut who runs a convenience store near my home, told me a Muslim friend of his back in Lebanon asked him over the phone what the issue was with different colored people in America, and how that all worked. My friend, Tony, said he told his friend in Lebanon there was only one color in America.
I said, "green, right?" He said "no, blue." Then it struck me. Blue. The law. The law is the only color in America that really matters. We must all be equal under it or there is no America, see? 'nuff said.
UPDATE #2: It appears President Obama may be playing the race card regarding the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry 'Skip' Gates, an admitted friend. Put that into context with what you read here. Not very encouraging. On With The Show. Just be warned. It's an epic piece. 5000 words. But this is an epic subject.
How nice it all sounded during candidate Barack Obama's campaign last year. Liberal Democrats and other avid Obama campaigners promised us that with Barack Obama's elevation to the Presidency, America would experience the greatest social harmony and togetherness in American history, even the world's. In fact, they said, the mere elevation of Obama to the Presidency would be proof of 72% white-majority America's maturity on race relations, and a huge stepping stone in itself that would build racial bridges and begin to heal the old wounds of America's dark past of slavery and Jim Crow.
Nice words all. In fact, I was ready to vote for candidate Obama on that basis alone. I naively believed that, perhaps with Barack Obama's ascendancy to the highest office on earth, we conservative Republicans could finally get down to business and focus strictly on the major compelling social, political and foreign policy issues most important to our national interests as citizens of America and even the world, without constantly being attacked or derided as racist KKK closet cases, or even Uncle Toms and Oreoes.
As it turned out, I voted McKKKain. Yet the reality since President Obama's inauguration on January 20th has been far different than promised. Worst of all, Obama himself has had a hand in some of the most egregious racial injustice seen in this country since Jim Crow. The worst case was that of the Black Panther thugs intimidating white voters at a Philadelphia polling station, swinging batons, interfering with poll workers, and even stating to white voters that "you will soon be ruled by the black man, cracker."
Mr. Bartle Bull, a former campaign worker for Robert Kennedy, civil rights lawyer and former poll observer in the Jim Crow south, called it "the worst voter intimidation I have ever seen." That's a bold statement. Yet even after securing a default conviction against the three goon squad poll workers, who failed to appear in court to face charges in that case originally filed by the Bush Administration, President Obama's new attorney general, Eric Holder, dropped the case like a hot potato.
Let's turn this around for a minute. How would black Southern voters feel during the Johnson Administration, had LBJ's attorney general dropped charges against Klansmen, posted as official poll watchers, who intimidated black voters by swinging batons and saying, "you will soon be ruled by the white man, n***er!" even after securing a default conviction? Injustice knows no color, people. And it is incidents like these that only further rupture race relations in modern-day America.
Attorney General Eric Holder had the audacity to accuse we Americans of moral cowardice when it came to conversations on race. Yet in the most important case of blatant voter intimidation since Jim Crow (even worse, according to Mr. Bull), where Mr. Holder could have made a bold statement that voter intimidation against any race or creed of Americans would not be tolerated, our new AG took the liberal PC coward's route with the thuggish Black Panthers even with a default conviction in hand, an act unheard of at Justice.
And where was Congress on this rank miscarriage of justice? Crickets! Where is the justice, I ask you?
In addition, Janet Napolitano's DHS report on Right Wing Extremism, which even DHS civil liberties lawyers called very problematic, only compounded the problem. Worse, during the April 15th Tea Parties, for which Ms. Napolitano seemingly rushed the DHS RWE report out the door on April 14th just in time for, was basically a reprint of the GOP platform, which even declared opponents of the federal government enemies of the state, and lumped them in with White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis with no dividing lines whatsoever.
That isn't national security policy. That's blatant racial and political profiling and stereotyping of white conservative Republicans of the worst order. Even worse, liberal Democrats in Congress circulated memos stating that White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis were the driving force behind the Tea Parties. This was the liberal Democrat Congressional leadership that did that! That is not American. It is blatant McCarthyism: "Are you now, or have you ever been, a conservative Republican?"
And it has only gotten worse. During those same Tea Parties, the liberal Obama-worshipping MSM became one big frat house, using third grade humor in calling the Tea Partiers racist ballsucking teabaggers, with absolutely no real political analysis of what is was half a million Americans of all races, colors, creeds and political persuasions were hitting the streets of America to protest. CNN's Susan Roesgen even acted as an Obama Administration policy advocate, calling the Chicago Tea party "anti-government and anti-CNN," a statement which raised in my mind a most pertinent question: is there really a difference here?
Unbelievably, far left wack job Jeanine Garofalo made the incredibly ignorant statement on MSNBC's Countdown that all Tea Partiers only hated President Obama because he was black, and that we were all "racist redneck teabaggers." Keith Olbermann didn't even bat an eye. Now, it's one thing to be constantly assaulted as racists on a par with Nazis by the likes of Revs. Sharpton and Wright. How bad is it when we white conservative Republicans are assaulted in the same manner by white liberals? It is the flip side of the coin of liberals of all races calling Clarence Thomas and GOP Chairman Michael Steele 'Uncle Toms'.
This is insanity! Worst of all, it is totally un-American. It is mindless ideologically-driven hate which seeks to use race as just one club in a whole arsenal of weapons to beat conservative Republicans of all races over the head with, and keep them in their place. Sound familiar? It should. That's exactly what Jim Crow racists did to Southern blacks for a very long time. How is all that fair play now? Because we're white?
Second Circuit Court Judge Sonia Sotomayer, who values the judgments of wise Latina women over those of white men, a clearly racist statement, is nominated to the Supreme Court. Even worse, Republican senators are put on notice that even bringing up that subject, or opposing Judge Sotomayer's nomination even on the most legitimate of grounds, only proves said senators are doing it all out of blatant racism.
What the hell is that supposed to mean? It means we're racists no matter what we do, that's what.
The recent infamous incident with Harvard Prof. Henry 'Skip' Gates charging Cambridge Police with racial profiling, and repeatedly calling the officer who responded to an alleged burglary call at his residence a racist, is race-baiting arrogance at its worst. Instead of just complying peacefully with the officer on the scene's orders to resolve the matter by presenting ID and civilly putting the matter to rest, Dr. Gates was instead combative, arrogant, irascible, perhaps even racist himself, turning what should have been a mere case of mistaken identity into a major divisive racial issue that is even now raging across the blogosphere.
Not surprisingly, and as I predicted, the Rev. Al Sharpton wasted no time jumping into that racial sewer. The rest of the inciting race-baiters like Wright, Farrakhan and Jackson can't be far behind. Though the Middlesex District Attorney dropped the disorderly conduct charges against Dr. Gates, and all parties acknowledge that it was just an unfortunate incident, the damage is done. And we have certainly not heard the last of Rev. Al Sharpton on this issue. Far be it from he to let a dead racial horse lie without beating it to a pulp, or showing up on the scene in Cambridge with matches and gas can in hand.
This also raises a very curious question. Now that Barack Obama is POTUS, not to mention the fact that we have the Congressional Black Caucus, the federal EEOC, state EEOCs, the ACLU, the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and far too many other NGOs and so-called civil rights groups to mention, and let's not forget minority scholarships, job fairs, small business grants, hiring preferences and college admissions polices, why are people like Al Sharpton even still in business? Could it be that the cottage industry of Hate Whitey and extorting corporations like NASCAR is just too profitable a gig to set aside?
If so, this country is in very bad shape. Personally, I believe most Americans of all races, religions, creeds, and political persuasions are reasonable human animals. But all it takes is one race-baiter like Dr. Skip Gates, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright or Louis Farrakhan to turn totally non-racial matters into white-black conflagrations-for-fun-and-profit to burn whatever bridges of racial harmony get built.
In that respect, I am reminded of Dante Alighieri's Fourth Circle of Hell from his classic Inferno, where bridge builders and bridge burners are constantly pitted against each other, doomed forever to never bridge the divide of Hell and find their way out. Is that what we Americans are condemned to as a nation?
God, I am depressed. America could be, and should be, so much more than what it is today.
I am a simple American who could not love this country more deeply, even though my beginnings in a mean Cambridge housing project were as low and humble as they come. Though I am not a religious man, my father was a Baptist deacon, a Normandy veteran and the finest man I ever knew. Even in the worst of environments, he taught me all the values we Americans treasure: generosity of spirit, the respect and dignity of our fellow men no matter what their race or belief system, deep faith and trust in God and people, and success through hard work. Though not Christian myself, by compulsory attendance in church during my youth, I met some of the finest people who walked this earth who just happened to be Christians.
As it is relevant to this opinion piece, I would like to share with you a story my father shared with me of how he made a difference in race relations himself, and built his own steel bridge across the racial divide. Yet he told this story not in a boasting way, but with the simplicity and humility of a man who only did what he thought was the right thing to do, and could do no other. Because that's the kind of guy he was.
In 1943, my father was an Army sergeant in a supply division stationed in Greenland, a midway point in the North Atlantic corridor, the vital supply line between America and England during the war. During that time, as you all know, companies composed of black soldiers were segregated from whites. Upon taking up his duties in Greenland, my father found out that his supply officer, a racist Southerner, was withholding supplies and foodstuffs allotted by the Army to the black troops stationed there.
My father thought that was wrong, and took a stand. He ran into threats and vehement opposition, and from more than just the supply officer. He told me one day, as a few soldiers blocked his Jeep to keep him from delivering the rightfully allotted supplies to the black company, he challenged them at gunpoint to stop him. They didn't. They never tried stopping him again, though the racist supply officer remained a real problem.
One day, as he drove up to the black company's bivouac with a delivery, a black cook was waiting for him with a big smile, and two of the most tasty apples pies my father said he had ever eaten in his life. My father asked "what's this for?" "For doing right by us," the cook answered. "I'm just doing my job," my father told him. The cook replied, "We know. But that's more any white man has ever done for us here."
As a fitting end, my Dad, a Gold Gloves boxer then, took the supply officer up on a fight challenge. They went toe-to-toe in the ring. As my Dad recalled it, they were evenly matched and pounded the living crap out of each other, just like Ali-Frasier. After that day the two men respected each other completely, and the supply officer never interfered with my Dad delivering the black company's supplies again.
I also have an on-point story of my own. Where I grew up, racism was rampant on all sides. It was nigh impossible not to be, given the tense racial situations like court-ordered busing in Boston in the early 1970s. The greatest irony was that even the most racial of us white kids had tons of black friends. It was really strange. Just like Chris Rock said, I guess. Though I can't say what Rock did, it does ring so true.
That's really when comedy is at its best, isn't it? When it's so goddamn true? But I digress.
In 1971, my father defused what could have turned into a massive and perhaps even fatal race riot in the projects, after some black punks stole my brother's basketball right in the middle of a game. See, in the Jefferson Park projects of old, there were two buildings we all called the six-deckers, the only six-story buildings in J.P. All the rest were three. At the time, the six-deckers were mostly blacks and Hispanics.
After my brother's basketball was stolen, my Dad and my brother Mark walked over toward the black kid, who still had the basketball. My Dad called him out into the middle of the street in front of the six-deckers. Even from ten feet away, I could see our family name in indelible ink on the ball, which the kid had tried to erase. My dad saw that and pointed it out, too. The black kid just gave my Dad grief and bold-faced lied.
Now as all that was happening, about eighty white projects residents, who had witnessed all that had transpired, trailed behind my Dad and brother, then formed a huge semicircle about twenty feet behind them. At the same time, about thirty blacks were lined up on the six-decker sidewalk across the street, and more were coming. Even at ten years old, I could feel the tension rising in the air like static electricity.
My Dad must have sensed it, too. He finally turned to my brother and said, "it's not worth it. I'll buy you another basketball," then turned and left. And that was the end of it. In essence, out of racial hatred, a lot of people could have been badly hurt, or even killed, over a goddamn basketball. Think about that.
As it turned out, the crowds dispersed. The black kid taunted my Dad and brother as they left, but I understand from Mark that some projects street justice was administered to the punk not long after. But that happened to all punks there back then. Incidents like that only reinforced my hatred of blacks at the time. Yet the strange thing was, I still had black kids as best friends. Real characters, too! I could tell you stories about them all day long. It was a very strange dichotomy, yet it all seemed to make perfect sense.
Didn't even think of them as black. And we all ran from the cops with equal opportunity desperation!
Prejudices don't die easy. Other hostile racial incidents, including violence perpetrated on myself and other family members by racist black punks, only reinforced it. Yet in my early twenties, as I was stationed aboard the USS Midway (CV-41), I received a condensed copy of Winston Churchill's six-volume history of the Second World War, my monthly selection from the Military Book Club. Lots of time to read at sea.
The one particular passage of Churchill's from that phenomenal book, which struck me like an epiphany, came from a conversation between Sir Winston and a high-ranking aide to Hitler, whom Churchill was secretly meeting with in England during the mid-1930s. Churchill was becoming aware of the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and challenged Hitler's aide on the subject.
Hitler's aide defended the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies, claiming the usual stereotypes of Jewish bankers and industrialists wealth-hording, and criminal financial and social oppression of the German people. "Well why don't you just prosecute those who have committed actual crimes?" Churchill asked. "They're all like that," the aide replied, and rambled on about the justice of Nazi policies like the Nuremberg Decrees. Churchill's reply floored me, and still does today: "How can a man choose how he is born?"
How can a man choose how he is born. Since reading those profound words, I have never looked at black people, or anyone else, the same way since. We are all in essence a pair of eyes looking out on the same troubled world, though we all see that same world in very different ways. Yet like John Kennedy so famously stated of his Russian counterparts during the lowest depths of the Cold War, "We are all mortal, and cherish our children's future." Who among us, of any race, creed, religion or belief system, cannot be bound together in brotherhood with those very simple yet profound words of JFK and Churchill, that perhaps even sum up our brief yet priceless existence on this glorious but troubled Garden of Earthly Delights?
This country, nay this very planet itself, needs a lot more John F. Kennedys, Winston Churchills and James F. Simpsons, and a lot fewer Sharptons, Dukes, Wrights, Phelps and Omar Bashirs. I was not born racist because of my skin color. Nor do I believe the left-wing axioms that all whites are racist, and blacks never can be. Having been terrorized in my youth at knifepoint by racist black punks, I can testify to that reality. Yet I do not hold all blacks responsible for the violent racist actions of a few. That would be racism.
Neither should all whites be held collectively accountable for a dark history that occurred before we were even born, or the actions of racists like David Duke and hate groups like Aryan Nation and Stormfront. That's racism, too. There is something profoundly disturbing about the fact that a foul white racemonger like David Duke is ostracized and reviled by all, yet a riot-inciting black racemonger like Al Sharpton, with all kinds of blood on his hands (eight dead at Freddy's Fashion Mart alone), who not only exacerbates race relations in this country, as with Duke, but even manufactures them, as he did with the Tawana Brawley rape hoax case, becomes a Democratic presidential candidate. What's wrong with that picture?
I'll tell you what's wrong with it. Al Sharpton, who is about as much a man of God as Mullah Omar, is no role model for black Americans. He should be as reviled and outcast in the black community as David Duke is among whites. Neither should represent any of us. For as long as Al Sharpton remains an influential figure among Democrats, liberals and black Americans, they will be tainted with his racist stench and his spilled blood, just as all white Republicans and conservatives should be were David Duke to hold the same exalted status in our communities.
Even today, Sharpton seeks to sow racial discord in Cambridge, even though the cops and Dr. Gates have closed the book on it. How many people will get hurt by Big Al's racial incitement in the place of my birth?
We have come a long way in race relations in this country in the past fifty years. Yet we still have a very long way to go. We must all speak out against, and even legally punish either civilly or criminally, those who seek to sow racial discord in this country and perpetrate fear, intimidation and even violence upon the innocents of ANY race based only on our physical, religious or philosophical differences. We must punish individuals for their individual acts, not entire swaths of the American population for the sick acts of a few.
The hate directed toward white conservative Republicans in America today, even over political issues, is unprecedented in modern American history. Because many of us believe in the sanctity of life, or are offended to our cores by the Mengele-like abuses in the corrupt abortion industry, which even MLK's niece, Dr. Alveda King, and other black leaders call a black genocide, does not mean we are all Scott Roeders-in-waiting. To wish for a secure border and Ellis Island-like legal immigration does not make one racist.
That approach applies to every political issue. Real homophobia is Matthew Shepherd, Teena Brandon and the violent persecution of LGBTs in Iran and Iraq, not opposition to gay marriage. That's a social issue. To oppose the Obama government's spending policies does not make one a racist redneck teabagger, White Supremacist, Neo-Nazi, or a Timothy McVeigh-in-waiting. Some perspective is in order here, people.
In summation, strong differences of opinion, even violence of speech, i.e. heated political rhetoric, is Constitutionally protected, as opposed to incitement to violence like Al Sharpton's and David Duke's, which is not. Passions run high in politics. Always have, always will. But we must all come to the table believing that the other side, however wrong we believe they are, are acting in what they believe are ours and their best interests. To come to the table perpetually poisoned with glaring hostility and stale stereotypes only dooms us to eternal inner conflict and eventual collapse as a Republic. Any E. Pluribus Unum glue that holds us together will gradually disintegrate, and the fabric of our society will fall apart thread by thread.
If America as we know her disappears from the face of the earth, our world shall be the lesser and darker for it. I have seen the darker corners of this earth. To paraphrase Russell Crowe in Gladiator, the world is cruel, brutal and dark. America is the light. Despite what our enemies, detractors and adversaries all say about America, millions validate my point every year with their feet. Hell, keeping them all from swamping us into oblivion is one of our biggest challenges. What does that say about America, however flawed and imperfect she, and we as a people, are and always will be?
Justice for all means just that. Justice for ALL. It could not be more unjust for a Cambridge police officer to be persecuted without mercy as a foul racist for doing his job, as Black Panther thugs are given a free pass, even after being convicted by default, for some of the worst voter intimidation in American history.
It is not right that white Americans are routinely accused of the worst kinds of hate crimes merely for the words we speak, even as hate crimes charges aren't even considered for black teen mob attacks upon innocent whites in Marine Park and Akron, Ohio, the latter of which Al Sharpton seeks to equivocate even as he presses for prosecution. How could there possibly be any equivocation for any lynch mob mentality or violence, regardless of the race of the perpetrators or victims?
There is no equivocation for mob violence upon innocents. That was Adolf Hitler's bread and butter toward the hated Jews. It never gets better. It only gets worse. With Hitler, it ended in genocide. Hate-driven violence perpetrated by any race, creed or religion against another can never be justified or equivocated, not even for ten million dollars.
President Obama and the federal government have a huge role to play here. If we are to ever achieve the racial and social harmony promised during his campaign, all must be treated equal in the eyes of the law. We must at least strive for that ideal as a nation, even if we never fully achieve it. It is the striving that counts. As a people we must denounce, ostracize and even prosecute those who seek to sow discord and incite violence upon our fellow citizens, be it Stormfront or Sharpton's National Action Network.
I understand there is still a great deal of racism against blacks and other minorities in this country. But those acts which hurt peoples' physical safety, liberty, or participation in the American Dream, must be prosecuted as individual acts regardless of the racial or ethnic background of the perpetrators. To play favorites, or target certain segments of the population for blind mindless hate in order to intimidate or coerce, is not only un-American, it is injustice of the worst order.
I have now, at long length, said my peace. We know in our hearts what are the right things to do, and what is wrong. I have brought to the table here all of my experiences, good, bad and ugly, to show you my own path to racial harmony and peace, that I might guide your own. Experience is the name we give to our mistakes, so it is said. Can we not learn from our experiences and strive to make a better country, even a better world, from all of ours? To be the best we can be, without grudges, vendettas and mindless hate, and without digging up the corpses of the long-dead past? Or picking at the scabs of racial wounds that can never heal for as long as we pick at them?
Lastly, none of us can deny that slavery in America was perhaps the darkest and most shameful chapter in our nation's history. Yet, as so often happens so strangely in history, sometimes a very good thing emerges from a very great evil. Because of slavery, our country now has a sizable African-rooted population that has contributed to our culture beyond measure. And as that culture is now universal and tightly woven within our very identities, so must we all be bound together if we are to survive as a people and a nation.
I'd like that very much. All that said, we Americans can go toe-to-toe on Climate Change, universal health care, gay marriage, abortion, foreign policy, taxes, or any other social or political issues, even vehemently so. But if the social and political fabric in America continues to deteriorate as it has of late, any great ventures we set ourselves upon are doomed to failure. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Abraham Lincoln got that one right, for starters.
By the way, did you know Lincoln was a conservative white Republican? I rest my case. Good Night and Good Luck. And God Bless America. I say that as a bet-hedging agnostic, okay? It's good luck :)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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