CommunityPam's House Blend

I'm watching the King funeral rebroadcast on C-SPAN


… and rather than watch the incredible speakers on the podium as they speak, I’m listening as I’m watching Chimpy slouched over in his seat behind them.

Y’all know I’m a white boy from Idaho. I was eleven years old before I saw my first black person in the flesh. I was seventeen years old and in Basic Training before I was ever in a place where there were more black faces looking back at me than white ones. And lacking that exposure in my formative years, I remember being so intimidated. What are they thinking of me? Do they think I’m looking askance at them? Oh, geez, I just said “what’s up”; do they think I’m trying to be black? Do they think I’m some sort of racist (I am from Idaho; you couldn’t blame ’em)?

Very, very uncomfortable. I’m not whining; I know feeling intimidated and different is a daily fact of life for black folks. But you know, after only a couple of days, that weird feeling was gone. Soon we’re all laughing and joking with each other, even giving each other good-natured ribbing that, were it heard out of context by strangers, would be considered racist on both sides. I learned (and maybe some of them did, too) that we were far more alike than differences in melanin and culture, far more alike than the indoctrination our shared society attempts to impose.

I look at Chimpy in that chair, beady eyes darting about, body language halfway between protective and lounging, and I remember that very, very uncomfortable feeling I felt when my huge Grenadan drill instructor’s Wesley Snipes-colored face was shouting in my face. I remember that feeling of “what are they thinking of me?” I felt when the white kid from Montana and I were facing the six black Mississippian and Alabaman faces looking back at us in our squad room.

The difference is I was seventeen and I got over it.

If George W. Bush is the picture of elitist Ivy League snobbery squirming in his chair, surrounded by people he’s intimidated by if they’re not serving canap?Šs or ignoring Presidential Daily Briefs, then the polar opposite of that caricature is William J. Clinton. They say Clinton was the first black president (and the best Republican one ever!); boy, was that ever proved in the relative volume of the applause for Bush 41 & Bush 43 vs. Clinton.

And for the Rev. Dr. Lowery speaking truth to power — “we now know there were no weapons of mass destruction over there, but there are weapons of misdirection here; for war, billions more, but no more for the poor” — oh, my non-existent Supreme Deity, watching Chimpy have to listen to legitimate criticism while surrounded by black folks, why, that’s the best one-week belated birthday present I’ve ever received!

(Here’s a politically incorrect thought: why do people give Stevie Wonder a standing ovation? [smack upside the head] Ouch! You’re right, Pam, I deserved that.)

[UPDATE] In the comments, I said the following:

How could you not mention politics at the funeral of someone whose husband’s and her own civil liberties were violated by a lawbreaking Republican president spying on them without warrants when sitting right behind you is a lawbreaking Republican president violating thousands of Americans’ civil liberties by spying on them without warrants?

To which Adam tracked back with a post entitled:

The Day RFK and LBJ Joined the GOP

Wow, a Republican President wiretaped MLK. Who’d that be? Well, it couldn’t have been Nixon. You see King was shot in 1968, Nixon came to power in ’69. Though as Nixon managed to order John Kerry into Cambodia into 1968, I suppose anything is posisble. Lets go to The Atlantic:

Wow, some revisionism there on the part of Radical Russ. It began under the Democratic Administration of JFK, by Democratic Attorney General RFK and continued under the Great Society Administration of LBJ.

Which is absolutely true. Let me publicly apologize to the ghost of Nixon for that egrigious slip. I’ve been thinking a lot about Nixon and COINTELPRO and the Frank “The last senator from my birth state I could be proud of” Church Commission and I got carried away.

Still, it does not diminish the point. How could you not address an administration that’s illegally spying on Americans when the women you’re burying was the victim of an administration illegally spying on Americans?

(Note to Republicans: this is called apologizing for your mistakes when you are confronted with fact. Look into it.)

He continues:

The Libs would love to rewrite the Civil Rights story to put Republicans as the bad guys. Truth is that only 18% of Republicans opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 compared to 32% of Democrats in the Senate. In the House, 37% of Democrats opposed the Civil Rights Act compared to 20% of Republicans. The fact is that if Black Americans had been forced to depend on the votes of Democrats alone, the Civil Rights would not have happened.

To your “Republicans are all about civil rights” point. You’re absolutely correct about the civil rights votes. Hmm, what area of the country did those Dixiecrat, er I mean, Democrat votes against civil rights come from? Hint: LBJ, when signing the Civil Rights Act, said he was losing that area of the country for Democrats for a generation. Now, following that, which party was it that pursued a regional “strategy” designed to maximize the votes of those formerly Democrat racists.

And, by the way, when your party is actively trying to write second-class citizenship for gays and lesbians into the Constitution, forgive me and Democrats and LGBT-rights supporter Coretta Scott King for calling B.S. on your holier-than-thou civil rights stand.

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