Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rodeo and Rodeo Drive

So a lot has been made in the news about the rodeo clown who put on a Obama mask and the crowd's reaction to it. I must admit it has probably been too long since I've been to a rodeo. Call it one more thing I have sacrificed by living too close to the DC beltway. So I guess it's possible that rodeos have descended into a place where racist gather - sort of a modern day 'KKK' ad-hoc gathering - but I fail to see how that is possible. I mean looking at the article, there were democrats at the rodeo, and democrats would never be found at a KKK rally, right? Well perhaps i'm wrong.

No, I don't think that's what happened here. The parallel that all right thinking people are supposed to draw is that a rodeo clown with a Obama mask is equivalent to when Ted Danson appeared in black face at the Friars Club with Whoopie Goldberg:
That was obviously racist too. Or not - even Whoopie thought it was funny (at the time). I guess America wasn't post racial enough. No, this is about rednecks mocking the greatest president ever. Since rednecks are all racist, this rodeo explosion is all about racism. No - I don't get it either.

In other news Oprah sees imagined racism in Switzerland, when a salesgirl tries to steer her toward a cheaper handbag. Now I will admit, being a guy, I don't get the 'style' thing in women's handbags. But then, I've had the same wallet for 10 years and will probably only replace it when it literally falls apart. A fashion maven I'm not. Thus, I applaud the sales girl there for snubbing the obviously overpriced handbag (designed by a white women by the way). However, to equate that experience to say blacks being made to drink at a different water fountain is sheer nonsense. The 'offense' here is that the clerk didn't recognize her a someone having more money than God, not her denigration due to her skin color.

Let's assume for a minute that the Swiss clerk was being racist. What does a European's attitude have to do with racism in the United States? To answer that question I have to relate a story where I, an average white guy, also experienced racism is Switzerland. Brace yourselves, this is going to get ugly...

I was working on a system in that was having problems and I was tasked to go to Switzerland to diagnose the issue. This was my first (and only thank God) business trip abroad and occurred about 20 years ago. I was riding up the elevator to the office the equipment was located in, when I noticed this lady staring at me. Finally, the lady asked in very heavily accented English me if I had had a skin condition. I was flabbergasted! I stuttered and told her no, that's just the way my skin looked, and the 'spots' that I had were called 'freckles'. Apparently this particular women had never seen freckles and was distressed by having to be in such close quarters with someone afflicted with my 'condition'. To say that experience scared me for life would be an understatement (not!).

So you see, I have experienced racism. It wasn't in the US, it wasn't a US person, I wasn't black, and it wasn't by a redneck. Oh - and it didn't happen in this decade or even this century. And yet, like Oprah, or the as yet unnamed people who were offended by the rodeo clown, I too can claim to have experienced racism. Now doesn't everyone feel better about that? No - me either - but perhaps I just don't have the right historical context. After all, it's not like both my parents and their parents didn't have to claw their way up from the very poorest situations. Oh wait - they did!

To me, the real tragedy is the stupidly that continues to be demonstrated in this day and age. Black churchmen urging their congregations to vote for the black candidate because of his skin color is stupid. Something like 90% of Black voters pulling the lever for a man because he is 1/2 black (twice!) is stupid. Black only caucuses in Congress are stupid. A justice department that refuses to investigate black on white crime obviously motivated by skin color differences is stupid. There is plenty of stupidity in the US, I just don't think it's where most people of color really want to look.

Speaking of clowns in mask - here's the Sec of Defense in a Biden mask - I am deeply offended:

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