How does this happen? 14 Months Ago White Supremacists Marched Through Charlottesville, Virginia chanting “Jews will not replace us” and President of The United States Donald Trump chastised those who called the vile bastards out, saying “THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES,” encouraging and validating far right extremists of every ilk. Today, in the wake of yet another tragic instance of hate and violence, he reads words of shock and indignation from a teleprompter and wonders how this could happen. This is Trump’s America, and if you support him, his race-baiting dog whistles, and his brand of vitriolic hate-mongering, THIS IS YOUR AMERICA. You made this.
Not every selection for the Dumb Ass Hall Of Fame is an idiot, dotard, or buffoon. Some, like this week’s honoree, are just brain-numbed by hate and ignorance.
The morality of the nation crumbles around us, hurtling toward a precipice of as-yet-unimaginable depth, spurred by the pubescent leadership of our President, the jibbering sycophants who surround him, and the spineless cowards of the Senate and Congress, most of whom are more than intelligent enough to see what this man is, but refuse to act for reasons both partisan and personal. I awake each morning, take my pills, and empty my bladder beneath a cloud of dread: what terrible things have transpired since the day before. What has the skulking boy king said, what has he done or, most often, what excremental feats of churlish impertinence have the lunks and sneering bounders emboldened by his example been up to?
Another cop killing an unarmed black man? Running him down with a patrol car? Shooting him seven or eight times in the back? Gunning him down for closing a door–a fragile blue ego more important than a warrant and the Fourth Amendment? Or maybe another ally insulted? Another adversary provoked? Another treaty broken? Another bold faced lie maintained in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Another denial of that lie, despite video?
Given all of this and so much more, I am barely surprised to hear that South Dakota state Representative Michael Clark tried to press the argument, that businesses should be allowed to turn down people based on the color of their skin. As my dad used to say, “I shit you not.”
In a heady stupor of exclusionist victory dancing following the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a homophobic Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs, Clark boasted on Facebook that the decision was a “win for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.” Other FB users called him on his gleeful embrace of bigotry, and the intrepid lawmaker doubled down.
“It is his business,” Clark wrote in a comment. “He should have the opportunity to run his business the way he wants. If he wants to turn away people of color, then [that’s] his choice.”
We’ve seen this mindset before. On buses in Tennessee. In schools in Arkansas. At lunch counters in Alabama.
It is modestly affirming that a furor quickly built, on Facebook and among the general public and first regional, then national news organizations began covering the incident. At first he tried to frame his bigotry as standard anti-government rhetoric, asserting that business owners only need serve certain segments of society and that the market would ultimately determine if the business succeeded or failed. The negative comments and press coverage built up, as some of reminded this attorney and elected lawmaker of a not-so-irrelevant document called The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Predictably, the heat was too much for tough cowboy Clark, who ultimately deleted the post on Tuesday. He said he had “jumped in on it a little bit too fast,” the Argus-Leader reported.
Not long after, he apologized via email to a reporter for the Leader, followed by a glib, insincere retraction on Facebook. “I am apologizing for some of my Facebook comments. “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race.”
But in an interview with the Argus-Leader, Clark said he believed that business owners should be able to turn away certain customers if they would otherwise violate their religious beliefs. “If it’s truly his strongly based belief, he should be able to turn them away,” Clark told the Leader. “People shouldn’t be able to use their minority status to bully a business. The vote of the dollar is very strong,” he said.
I’m still parsing which is more disgusting, the unapologetic awfulness of the President and his Trumpkins, or these slimy, cynical clones who imitate his success playing to the lowest common denominators, shouting whatever vile and hateful bile they happen to be regurgitating at any particular moment? It is a tough contest indeed. Trump is culpable for setting the tone, but they’re all playing the same game: vomit out sinful rhetoric to the bleating masses and keep pressing–then either deny it completely and blame the press for making it up, or mutter a dishonest, heartless apology rife with crocodile tears and move on. “I didn’t say that. But if you have tape that shows I did, then I certainly didn’t mean it.”
Well, Mr. Clark, we’re not buying what you’re selling. You don’t get to worm and squirm out of it with a cynical “I’m sorry,” so take ownership for the man you’ve become. Burn a cross, beat a gay man–be your honest self. Your soul is already exposed before your neighbors, your friends, and especially your God.
It is easy to say, “I would never advocate discriminating against people based on their color or race” but the simple fact is that yes, you would, because yes, you did. It’s not like we haven’t seen your kind before.
Thank all gods–the tall ones and the small ones the jiggly ones and firm ones–for dumb asses, because without dumb asses I’d have slipped completely from this blog altogether. Fortunately, just like Michael Corleone, “Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in!” The dumb asses, I mean. They do the pulling.
We’re singling out a particular sub-grouping of racist dumb-asses today, with our improbably similar nominees, Yale career student Sarah Brasch, who brought down the clenched fist of justice on her dormitory neighbor for the insidious crime of…napping while black. (I know what you’re thinking: how dare they! These black people and their fatigue, the nerve of them!) On the other side of the continent, her doppleganger, the as-yet-unidentified Merritt Lake Charcoal Nazi a.k.a. The Barbie Nazi, who saved the entire city of Oakland, and neighboring Bay Area communities, from those who dared to “barbecue while black.”
I’ve had a realization while processing the nominations, and I don’t mean the one where I drop to my knees and thank fate that I was born a white man in America. I’m not proud. I don’t feel good about that, but it is a whole hell of a lot safer for me and my children. Among the comments for a youtube video of the charcoal incident, the question was posited: do white people think 911 is there for them to call any time they feel uncomfortable or scared?
Well sure we do! We’ve got TV. We’ve got the internet. When was the last time a redneck with a license to kill wrapped his sweaty palm around my esophagus–or yours?–and squeezed, then threw me to the ground like a rag doll and charged me with resisting arrest when I squirmed and struggled for a breath? We are pretty used to the cops coming when we call and strangling, bashing, kicking, and shooting holes in all the people who make us scared. It’s a better benefit than anything the AARP offers–and The White Club is pretty much free. Hell, they pay you!
The discussion for these nominations is: are these people just evil, or just stupid? Evil can’t be grounds for a DAHOF nomination, but stupidity can. And as much as I want to think otherwise, these women probably aren’t evil, but they do make it easier to understand how great minds as far back as Plato have considered the merits of a philosophy so barbarous as eugenics. To paraphrase Sarah Palin, “Cull baby, cull.”
Too far? Yes. Yes I know it was. And I’m sorry.
What we’re looking at here is traditional fear-rooted ignorance. Recall that the KKK was formed as a self-defense brotherhood by ex-confederates (like all the male heroes in Gone With the Wind–when they rush out in the middle of the night, and dear sweet Ashley is gravely wounded, they were out doing Night Rides, lashing out violently against the threat they believed was posed by freed slaves and carpetbaggers. Poor sweet beautiful Ashley wasn’t evil–just terrified of the new realities of the the Reconstruction.
Our nominees have no karma (that we know of) to fear, but they fear none-the-less, a fear that is wrapped–like one of those little crescent rolls around a cocktail wienie–by ignorance. The Charcoal Nazi, like many martinets, clings to her interpretation of rules in a sadly futile attempt to bring order to a chaotic reality she’s unequipped to navigate. Ms. Braasch is no different. Both women’s’ smug and self-righteous facades belie defective creatures fumblingly struggling to impose control over whatever happens to scare them. Ms. Braasch, who has spent most of her 43 years accumulating a trophy case full of doctoral degrees, is clearly incapable of functioning in a community setting. We don’t have a lot of information on the Charcoal Nazi, but dollars to doughnuts she exhibits some similar traits: unreasonable anger at a world that defies her expectations–one of which we can assume was racial primacy.
It could be a difficult to sort this out, but in the end, Dumbassedness® is not necessarily a function of stupidity or racism, though are three are often symptoms of the same malady. The accomplished dumb ass exhibits selective ignorance, blinding cruelty, intellectual laziness/lack of curiosity, and the paralyzing paucity of imagination. Given such criteria, both women’s nominations are approved.
For anyone who ever suppressed an agonizing, embarrassing, disturbing little crush on Ann Coulter….
― Armistead Maupin