Friday, August 29, 2014

CROUCH: Dog whistlers and billionaire bums

By STANLEY CROUCH, King Features Syndicated Columnist | 5/21/2014

The covers keep swirling in hot winds, lifting off causes usually hidden, disguised and called by names different from what they actually are. That explains the NBA drama earlier this month, and the Cliven Bundy mess in Nevada before that.

Both are winds blowing off a maelstrom of White House hatred, from white men claiming the need for independence from the federal government.

The covers keep swirling in hot winds, lifting off causes usually hidden, disguised and called by names different from what they actually are. That explains the NBA drama earlier this month, and the Cliven Bundy mess in Nevada before that.

Both are winds blowing off a maelstrom of White House hatred, from white men claiming the need for independence from the federal government.

The irrationality and hysteria focused on Barack Obama is not because he is the “first black president.” Rather, it comes from a long-standing obsession of American bigots — race mixing.

These tribal claims to “authentic” whiteness are the same ones that lead the true believers to claim that Jews, Hispanics and all the other ethnics are less than pure as the driven snow. Uh-oh.

The mixing of races was always hot stuff. It once manhandled and maimed sexual relations between those descended from Europe and members of the various native tribes. It raised flames when former slaves were accused of raping or touching white women. It grew and took shape when “pure” Christian women were accused of romantically mixing with the darker Italians and the Irish supposedly ruled by the pope.

This theme courses through high-class American literature by Herman Melville and Mark Twain, and epic ethnic troubles run through the work of our finest novelist of the 20th century, Mississippi’s William Faulkner. He loved to push the nose of redneck bigots into their filthy thoughts and violent passions — toward black people to whom they were or were not related.

The far right that has taken over the GOP today speaks in dog whistles, a term most often meaning bigoted Southern Confederate talk that everybody understands — especially white men and women in the middle of the big muddy. They know that lower-class whites, once called poor white trash, went into the gore-covered Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizens’ Council and the American Nazi Party.

Those organizations with their childish uniforms — from white sheets to combat gear and fatigues — existed to enforce stern forms of “authentic” ethnicity. A person could start off as “trash” but become a first-class white man by pulling on a sheet and performing violent destruction, intimidation or murder. Then one could walk the town streets with a bigoted head held high, transformed.

The tiger that slipped out of the bag in the Bundy case took on more presence with the NBA’s response to overstated claims of racism by one of its owners. The owner’s idiotic talk hardly compares to the drivel one can hear from Lil Wayne, a tattooed grotesquerie whose misogyny never bothers the so-called civil-rights leaders always ready to sell out to some pop star or exploit black businessmen in the name of the community.

The defrocking of the Los Angeles Clippers’ 80-year-old billionaire owner Donald Sterling has become splattering grease on the naked skin of our national style, hustle and culture. Sterling made an unintentional contribution to the nation at large: The franchise owner afforded the NBA a chance to prove that billionaires will no longer be let go with a slap on the wrist for openly insulting black people. Now the whole hand may be sliced off in public.

Had Sterling possessed GOP discipline and a mastery of dog whistles, he’d have gotten by, and chalked up any complaints that did emerge to emotional problems brought on by the prostate cancer now claimed.

What was telling was the resignation of the NAACP director in Los Angeles who’d been preparing to give Sterling a second lifetime achievement award at the organization’s upcoming gala bash, ever a rhetorical bath of self-pity.

In the aftermath of the outcry about the rich man’s unruly words, we actually got a chance to hear some wealthy black men say some intelligent things and express real ideas about contemporary life. It is always refreshing to hear from men like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Doc Rivers, because as individual as each man is, he is part of the overall dream of maturity had by many athletes. They do not remind one of thoroughbreds, who remained physically superior at their greatest moments but were part of a lower order. No one was fascinated by Secretariat’s opinion of anything other than finish lines — had he anything at all to say.

Obviously, all’s well that ends well.

Stanley Crouch is a syndicated columnist. Email him at crouch.stanley@gmail.com

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