The ever-grow­ing mean­ing of ‘racist’

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - JIM HAR­RIS

Or­val Faubus is con­sid­ered by most peo­ple to be the most racist gov­er­nor in Arkansas his­tory.

This Demo­crat gov­er­nor’s use of the Na­tional Guard to prevent the de­seg­re­ga­tion of Lit­tle Rock’s Cen­tral High School was one of those water­shed mo­ments in the strug­gle for civil rights.

It took a Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent of the United States fed­er­al­iz­ing the Na­tional Guard to en­force court-or­dered de­seg­re­ga­tion to make it happen in Arkansas.

My grand­fa­ther, who I am named af­ter, had to deal with Faubus. He had been mayor of the small Arkansas town of Mc­caskill dur­ing some of the Faubus years.

May­ors had to work with the gov­er­nor on ru­ral devel­op­ment is­sues.

My grand­fa­ther de­scribed Faubus as “dan­ger­ous as a rat­tlesnake if crossed” and “crafty as a rat.”

While I was too young to re­mem­ber the reign of Faubus from 1955 to 1967, the for­mer gov­er­nor pub­lished a book in 1980 and toured the state sell­ing it out of the back of his old sta­tion wagon.

In 1980, I in­ter­viewed Faubus about his book and his 12 years as Arkansas gov­er­nor.

Faubus con­tended that he was not a racist, but that he had been rep­re­sent­ing the will of the peo­ple who elected him when he called out the Na­tional Guard to prevent black stu­dents from en­ter­ing Cen­tral High.

He said his poll num­bers were never higher than right af­ter Cen­tral High. The vast ma­jor­ity of Arkansans’ ap­proved of his de­ci­sions on Cen­tral High.

While he knew his­tory was judg­ing him harshly for his stand on in­te­gra­tion, he pre­dicted one day he would be vin­di­cated be­cause the lib­er­als who had taken over the Demo­crat Party would go too far in us­ing the word “racists.”

Faubus pre­dicted that while racist was a very de­mean­ing term in 1980, there would come a time when so many things were called racist that the word would be­come mean­ing­less.

Some re­cent events sug­gest this meanas-a-rat­tle-snake and crafty-as-a-rat politi­cian might have been right about the overuse of the word “racist.”

It has be­come routine that calling some­thing or some­one “racist” has be­come the knee-jerk re­ac­tion to ev­ery­thing lib­er­als dis­agree with.

Last week, the shoe com­pany Nike an­nounced it was yank­ing a sneaker line with the Betsy Ross flags on them af­ter for­mer NFL star Colin Kaeper­nick said that flag with 13 stars flag was some­how “racist.”

Kaeper­nick, who was ejected from the NFL for kneel­ing dur­ing the na­tional an­them — some­thing else he found of­fen­sive — said he didn’t like that her orig­i­nal Amer­i­can flag had flown dur­ing the time when slav­ery was le­gal in the U.S.

It gen­er­ated another round of cul­tural war be­tween those who think Amer­i­cas is good and those who see it as bad.

This cul­tural di­vide dropped to an even lower point in the state of Wash­ing­ton where the streets of Seattle are cov­ered with hu­man wastes from the home­less pop­u­la­tion that lives on those streets.

Those side­walks out­side the King County Su­pe­rior Court are drenched in hu­man urine and cov­ered in ex­cre­ment. It is not only un­pleas­ant to walk on those side­walks out­side the court house, it is not healthy to breathe the stench.

Two judges who work in that court house asked the city to power-wash the side­walks and clean up some of the filth around the court­house.

This would not nor­mally sound like an un­rea­son­able re­quest, but a county coun­cil mem­ber called it of­fen­sive and “racially in­sen­si­tive.”

King County Coun­cilmem­ber Larry Gos­sett said he does not like the idea of power-washing the side­walks be­cause it brought back images of the use of hoses against civil-rights ac­tivists.

In New York, peo­ple are point­ing out that if you live in a com­mu­nity with lots of black and brown peo­ple, your school is more likely to have a metal de­tec­tor. Ques­tions are be­ing asked if hav­ing metal de­tec­tors are some­how racist.

Mul­ti­ple Democrats are calling the idea of putting a ques­tion on the up­com­ing U.S. Cen­sus about whether the peo­ple are Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens as racist. This has not been a prob­lem in pre­vi­ous cen­suses.

Faubus, who died in 1994, seems to have been right that the word racist would come to be over used.

I still doubt this overuse of the word will ever wash his record on race clean as Faubus had hoped.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.