Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hatred trying to hide your fears

There are few things that really, truly offend me. Rarely do I find a joke “too soon,” foul language, while it really bothers my wife, doesn’t really faze me. I very seldom use it, but don’t really care if other people do. And I really don’t care what the outrage of the day is on cable news. If anything, the manner in which cable news operates offends me.

But if there’s one thing that I truly can’t tolerate is racism. Abraham Heschel said “racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hated for the minimum of reason.” The idea that you can spend your life feeling superior to a fellow human being simply because of the pigmentation of their skin is a viewpoint I truly can’t comprehend.  I don't know what causes a person to become so fearful of other races that their fear turns to hate. Life’s too short to fill it with prejudice and scorn. 

 I’m not naïve enough to believe that in 2012 we’ve eliminated racism from our society. While we’ve made great strides from the overt racism of previous generations that were socially acceptable, there are still hurdles to overcome. The racism of today is much more subtle. How often do you hear a Caucasian described as “well spoken” as compared to the number of times an African-American is described in that way. In the sports arena, Caucasians are more likely to be described as “intelligent” or “scrappy” while African-Americans have words like “athletic” attached to them. It may not have the vitriol of what Jackie Robinson faced, but the underlying assumptions and beliefs are no different.

So when I checked facebook the morning after the election, I expected to see people lamenting the end of the nation and how we’re facing 1,000 years of darkness, which I did. I also saw enough people proving they only get their news from FOX or right-wing pundits based on the talking points they were posting. That’s fine. We can’t, and shouldn’t, all agree on political issues and while I’d have preferred a little more reasoned discourse, I understand people wanting to blow off some steam after losing the election. (Clearly they didn’t read Nate Silver or they would have seen it coming.)

But what I did not expect was to see someone I went to high school with* using the “N-Word,” not just once, but twice. First in reference to President Obama winning and then, when someone called her on it, she called that person a “N----- lover.”

*Full disclosure: I have no recollection of this girl. Based on the number of facebook friends who are friends with her, we must have been in school at the same time.

And as bad as her post was (and it was horrible), the fact 11 people “liked” it is equally sickening. Why someone would want to publicly endorse such a mind-numbingly stupid comment is beyond comprehension.

A friend took the screen shot posted here and by 8:30 Wednesday night, it had been shared more than 1,000 times, which is fantastic. I’m all for publicly shaming anyone who wants to spread that kind of hatred. As I’ve said, I don’t understand how a person lives with that kind of pent up anger against a class of people based entirely on small genetic differences, but some do.

I’m only slightly less bothered by the fact that this person took down her facebook account early this afternoon as the screenshot spread. If you’re going to be a racist bigot, don’t hide from it. Own it. It’s yours. You posted it. You wanted people to see it.  Simply because people outside your pathetic little bubble don’t agree with you is no reason to conceal who you really are.

If there’s any positive to come out of this, it’s that this woman lost her job. Someone found out where she worked and posted that information. Eventually, a nearby media outlet called her employer and was informed she no longer works there.

Philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." I may not be doing much, but by trying to bring this to light in my very small corner of the internet, I’m trying to do something. 


sanford said...

I certainly agree with your sentiments. But I wonder if the person should have been fired. She may well have been a very good employee who happens to be a racist.
I am guessing that she dealt with African Americans at her job, but probably hid her racist side. Like you I don't know what causes people to behave this way. I just read a very good piece by David Simon (writer of the wire) about firing people over sex. I wonder if the same thing could be applied in this case and others like.

Anonymous said...

Some jobs have morality clauses. Maybe her boss was black. Who knows the reason, but I would use this as an example to all young employees in all fields about the power of social media in 2012.