Friday, March 28, 2008

Quotable: On Racism's 'Aesthetic Makeover'

Serious food for thought from David Sirota at Truthdig:

Since the 1960s, bigotry has undergone an aesthetic makeover. Today, the most pernicious racists do not wear pointy hoods, scream epithets and anonymously burn crosses from behind masks. They don starched suits, recite sententious bromides and stage political lynchings before television cameras. For proof, behold the mob stalking Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

... It is polite pinstriped prejudice shrouding bigotry in feigned outrage against extremism—the operative word being “feigned.” After all, John McCain solicited the endorsement of John Hagee—the pastor who called the Catholic Church “a great whore.” Similarly, according to Mother Jones magazine, Hillary Clinton belongs to the “Fellowship”—a secretive group “dedicated to ‘spiritual war’ on behalf of Christ.” She is also friendly with Billy Graham, the reverend caught on tape spewing anti-Semitism. But while Wright’s supposed “extremism” blankets the news, McCain and Clinton’s relationships with real extremists receive scant attention.

Why is it “controversial” for one pastor to address the black community, racism and blowback, but OK for another pastor to slander an entire religion? Why is it news that one candidate knows a sometimes-impolitic clergyman, but not news that his opponent associates with an anti-Semite? Does the double standard prove the dominant culture despises a black man confronting taboos, but accepts whites spewing hate? Does the very reaction to Wright show he’s right about racism?

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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