Tag Archives: Ted Nugent

Defining Racism in the United States: A Starting Point

29 Jul

racism_logo_sqThere has been an amazing amount of discussion after I posted my Paula Deen/ Trayvon Martin story.  While I am so appreciative of much of the conversations, I have to admit a few items gave me pause.  I shared this article on LinkedIn’s Diversity A World of Change group and I’m not sure that several people, while prolific in their comments, truly understand the definition of the word Racism.

Sadly, Racism, Prejudice, Discrimination, and Bigotry seem to be used a great deal as though they are interchangeable.  These words are not interchangeable — they are not all synonyms for Racism.  Racism has to contain an institutional and structural power dynamic.  Here in the United States that power dynamic is held primarily by white, heterosexual, middle-aged, Christian, well educated men; these are the people who establish norms in our society and have a great deal of unearned privilege because of the color of their skin.  This group, called the dominant culture, creates laws and policies — laws and policies that have an ugly history and were designed to help white folk while oppressing folks of color. Thus, Racism is: structural, institutional and systemic power that allows for discrimination and bigotry affecting someone’s health, well being, safety, and livelihood based on real or perceived racial or ethnic affiliation.

Perhaps a bit of a history lesson might be useful here.  Let us keep in mind the multi-generational impact of these laws both economically and emotionally.  1857 the Dred Scott Decision: The Supreme Court said that all people of African dissent were not and could not be counted as citizens of the United States.  Let us jump to 1935 with the start of Social Security — a great act to be passed, but sadly it did not initially apply to anyone who was not white, a significant economic impact.  Now let us move to the 1945 GI Bill — great opportunity for soldiers returning from WWII. Sadly, this bill did not initially apply to any of the soldiers of color returning from WWII.  Here we see a HUGE economic impact for generations of whites with great advantage and thus a huge disadvantage for multi-generations of people of color.  The GI Bill allowed for white soldiers to buy their first home and get a college education; this would qualify as unearned privilege due to one’s skin color.

Let us jump to 1954 when we witness the Termination Act.  The Termination Act stripped ALL Native Americans from their identities as our government told all of these people: “Okay, you are white now, so you must live in the cities and turn over your lands to the U.S. government.”  The cultural and financial impact on Native Americans was and remains profound.

Even more recent and disgraceful is SB1070 adopted by Arizona in 2010 and then adopted by Alabama in 2011, which demands that ALL Latinos/Hispanics must have proof of citizenship on them at all times.  If someone with dark skin that is, or is perceived, to be Latino/Hispanic and cannot provide documentation of citizenship, they can be put in jail.

I approach the work of equity and marginalization as a gay man.  Working as an agent of change means I am also obligated to know about the start of Gay Liberation in 1969.  The LGBT community has a long history of being targeted and imprisoned.  Until 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas, it was against the law to be gay in the United States.  Sadly, regardless of Lawrence v. Texas, it is still against the law in most states in the south.  In fact, the LGBT community have zero rights and protections in almost all of the South.  My personal call to action is to stand in solidarity with all those that are oppressed by the dominant culture and to honor their narratives–to understand how LGBT people of color are targeted and why.

This history is carried with all targeted people and passed down from generation to generation, much like if you are Jewish your family knows about the Holocaust because it affected your family for many generations.  Of course, the impact is more severe if one carries more than one of these identities.  For example, if you are a woman and a woman of color or if you are a man and a gay man of color, the impact is far worse.

Finally, let us illustrate the sad state of racism in the United States with the belligerent, bellicose, bigot Ted Nugent.  As of late, Nugent seems to be the appointed spokesperson of the GOP.  In response to the Zimmerman verdict, Nugent went on a racist tirade:

Why wasn’t Trayvon [Martin] educated and raised to simply approach someone he wasn’t sure about and politely ask what was going on and explain he was headed home? Had he, I am confident that Zimmerman would have called off the authorities and everything would have been fine.Why the nasty “creepy a– cracker” racism and impulse to attack? Where does this come from? Is it the same mindless tendency to violence we see in black communities across America, most heartbreakingly in Chicago pretty much every day of the week?…When you live in a fog of denial, usually inspired by substance abuse — you know with all the lies about dope being a victimless crime, I think you’re listening to the victims of this dopey crime, because their brains are fried. They’re either fried on substance abuse, and all of them know who I’m talking about.

The fact that the severely misguided and undereducated Nugent feels justified making these very public racist comments, along with people like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson makes it quite clear that we still have a long way to go around issues of racial and gender equity.

Call to action: Imagine how powerful we could be if all of the targeted populations joined together to stop this type of oppression and even more powerful if we enlist the support of all of our allies that are within the dominant culture?

My hope in publishing this article is to encourage and invite people to engage in a meaningful dialogue around the issues of race, gender, power, and equity.  I hope many will contribute to this conversation in a respectful manner and also correct me if I have committed any trespass in my exposition here.  That being said, I certainly appreciate all of the comments people offer on the Facebook and on LinkedIn; might I invite you to also share those comments here on the blog, so as to reach a larger audience?

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Bigot of the Week Award: April 20, Ted Nugent

20 Apr

Bigot of the Week

Some weeks it’s hard to pick a bigot from the far too many choices that present themselves. Other weeks one person easily rises (sinks?) to the award; this is one of those weeks. Washed-up rocker and gun nut Ted Nugent departed from his usual crazed rantings to engage in a hostile attack on the President followed by a racist and ignorant refusal to apologize-can we say Charm Free?

At the National Rifle Association conference last weekend, Nugent ratched up his usual attacks on the Obama administration (and Democrats in general) comparing officials to coyotes who should be shot. At the heart of his bellicose bellowing was this gem:

If Barack Obama becomes the President in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.

For a self-proclaimed patriot, those words are hypocritically close to treason–this sounds like a threat to assassinate the President to me. When rightfully skewered in the press for his rant, Nugent upped the ante by making a racist comparison to try to gain the high ground.

I spoke at the NRA and I will stand by my speech. It was 100 percent positive… See, I’m a black Jew at a Nazi-Klan rally, and there are some power-abusing corrupt monsters in our federal government that despise me because I have the audacity to speak the truth to identify the violations of our government.

This is nothing new from Nugent. While pondering a run for Michigan governor, he repeatedly attacked then-Governor Jennifer Granholm calling her “scrotumless” and shooting arrows into her picture at concerts. He has said that animal rights activists should have arrows shot through their lungs and called Fund for Animals’ Heidi Prescott a worthless whore, adding “who needs to club a seal, when you can club Heidi?” Given this history of violent rhetoric and behavior, it’s understandable that the Secret Service is taking a real interest in his latest rant. Mitt Romney, of course, whom Nugent has endorsed, remains silent on the matter.

Dishonorable mention this week goes to Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, IL. In a homily delivered last weekend, the Bishop bizarrely compared the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration’s policy on contraception and insurance to some pretty nasty company.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care. In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama, with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

Sure, Bishop, a secular government ensuring care for all of its citizens (which I thought was a Christian value) is just like the horrific acts carried out by those two dictators. Exaggerating hypocrisy much? If we follow Bishop Jenky’s logic here, I’m guessing he would also compare Jesus to Hitler.

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