Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bill the Baffoon

A lot has been made recently about Bill O’Really?’s quasi-racist remarks regarding his visit to Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem and his attendance at an Anita Baker concert. The favorite flavor has been complete disapproval for his buffoonery. But the specials menu includes a “Give Bill a break for at least trying” entrée that looks quite savory.

In this age of instant public retort, it’s not surprising that I just finished reading a comment, written by a self-proclaimed black man, defending O’Defiley’s present pound of preposterous punditry.

Look, on balance black citizens have every bit as much right to make fools of themselves as do all other races. I neither defend nor decry this particular idiot’s right to the same. But the implicit understanding we have developed in our society that we are not allowed to question the motives of the perceived underdogs when they defy that status is simply ridiculous.

As is well known to those who know me (though I don’t believe I have written of it here), I grew up as a Caucasian recipient of what is quaintly referred to as reverse racism. Of course the term reverse racism is itself an idiotic term. Racism is racism (is racism).

I was brought up by forward thinking parents on a sugar plantation in Hawaii. Other “sensible” white parents sent their superior offspring to private schools for the best possible education … and distance from the unwashed. Not so my folks. I admire their egalitarianism. But the practical application was a little less to my liking.

I stood on the bus when 8 years old while others sat. I came home bloody-nosed without a champion to defend me. I was called all sorts of things that had nothing to do whatsoever with my name or my inclinations. I spent years friendless, hating the color of my skin and my “social” status.

That was long ago. The point is, I have a valid point of view as a white man regarding racism. And I can say with complete certainty that racism is racism (is racism).

Even the most progressive of us tend to give a free pass to things that are less than atrocious. We make, and really we all need to do so to keep from going completely off the deep end, exceptions for behavior that is not immediately threatening. What we fail to appreciate when we do so, however, is that in so doing we are playing the role of enabler. Racism is racism is … I think you get it.

I will not accept any apologies for Bill (even from those supposedly “entitled” to grant them). One thing I understand from the circumstances of my upbringing: children are the most ignored victims of the outrage of bigotry. No apologies are acceptable.

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