A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
As a Southerner, I am used to -- well, allow me to rephrase that: as far as it is possible, I am used to being called a racist, a bigot, a redneck, and several other epithets that I refuse to print here. That is not to say that I am comfortable with them, I am not. Nevertheless, again, as a southerner, hardly a day goes by that such disparaging words are not used, in reference to yours truly, singularly, as an individual, or collectively, as a member of the politically conservative right, or regionally, as a Southerner.
I suppose the thing about all this infantile name calling that troubles me most is the utter hypocrisy of those using such hurtful language. I have learned as an adult that many, if not most, of those tossing about such colorful, yet hollow charges, are soaked in ignorance of the origins of such words and the history of the my region of America, and indeed, the history of America itself.
For instance -- before the American Civil War, (you know -- the war we Southerners refer to, and think of, as “The War for Southern Independence,”) it was the Democratic Party, that had a death grip on the Southern States, which our young scholars have been erroneously, taught were the only slave holding states in the country.
This may come as a shock to you but… not only were black people enslaved in the North for over two hundred years, but the vast majority of all slave trading in America was done by northerners. Yes, we did just say: “The VAST Majority….” Remarkably, half of all North American voyages involved in the slave trade originated in Rhode Island, and all the northern states benefited. This is a fact much hidden from the youthful eyes of America’s young scholars for many, many, decades. In fact, many of those folks who so piously refer to Southerners as racists (because of our ancestors participation in the detestable trade) themselves hail from regions (and, yes, even families) that made fortunes on the trade of African blacks into slavery.
Shocked? You needn’t be. It has been SOP in America’s public (Government) school system for many years. It is the foundation of the ignorance from which springs the scurrilous charges made against so many of my ancestors and yes, even this scribe today.
I tell you this so you will be less shocked when we say that much of the name calling of southerners and politically right conservatives is coming from Representatives and Senators, of those Northern States who desperately want to paint all members of the political right as racists, and bigots.
There is also a statement made, time and again, which goes something like this: Blacks, or, if you prefer, African-Americans, cannot be racists because they lack power or clout. That is absolutely pure, unadulterated nonsense, clap-trap, BS, horse hockey, and a few other things we dare not print for general consumption. If one human hates another because of the color of his skin, regardless of the color of his own, that is bigotry. We see it everyday, as well, or hear it referenced every day in the music popularly known as “Rap” Music and "Hip-Hop" music.
The left claims to want a national “conversation” about racism in America. They don’t, of course. If they did they’d stop using the first sentences out of the mouths of members of the right to label them racists , which simply shuts off all conversation instantly.
No. The left does not want a national confab on racism in America. It is a ploy, that’s all.
White America has grown tired of pretending not to see the overt racism of the left. We’ve grown exceedingly resentful of being used as a punching bag and we’re beginning to punch back.
The national conversation on racism in America, the left claims to want, may yet materialize – in the streets of the nation’s cities as black and white mobs clash. It will be a conversation of the fist and club and, eventually, the gun.
Nobody in their right mind wants this to happen. But that is exactly where America is headed once the last straw is applied to the camel’s back.
I DO realize the weight of the words above. I DO realize, as well, that until we are ready, as a people, as a nation, to face up, honestly, to the racism of the left -- and the black community in particular – then it is a non-starter. Until that time a civil conversation will not be had for it cannot be had.
The best we can hope for is the continued stand-off and the barely concealed hatred boiling just beneath the surface. The plain truth is, I believe, the very best we can hope for is that the black community will continue to pretend they're not racists and the white community will continue to pretend that it doesn't notice black racism.
No, there will be no national conversation on racism. There WILL be more shouting matches, bruised egos, and hurt feelings, which will do nothing to salve the wounds of the vicious national argument on racism.
WE Americans have tried for 237 years to hold the people of the country together in some sort of union -- even with the numerous cracks and fault lines running between us. Today those cracks and fault lines have become chasms. And some are un-crossable. This is one of them.
© J. D. Longstreet