It’s always been my personal opinion, born of my personal experience (see below), that the best people to consider whether a racial slur has been used are those who feel aggrieved. They have a context I simply do not. During a recent discussion on The Five, the Fox “News” shout-a-thon, 3 out of 5 of co-hosts on Wednesday simply refused to accept that a chant of “U-S-A!” from a predominantly Caucasian high school, at a predominantly Latino team, following a basketball game could possibly have more than one meaning. They all but paraphrased the father of modern psychiatry—“sometimes a patriotic chant is just a patriotic chant”—and Freud would have had a field day with this crew. There’s no need to put them on the couch to know that Eric Bolling, Andrea Tantaros, and Kimberly Guilfoyle are in serious denial. [Video below the fold.]
The situation in San Antonio, Texas is (to me) a clear case of xenophobia and racism cloaked in the chant of patriotism. Clever that. Since everyone is playing the false equivalency game these days (see: Maher, Limbaugh, Fluke, Palin) allow me to apply some real world equivalency to this deplorable situation: What if the other team had replied to the chant of “Yew! Ess! Eh!” with the chant of “La Raza! La Raza! La Raza!”? The Right Wing would have been apoplectic. No less an authority than Glenn Beck has told us, “Context is everything.” Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA, deceased) provided all the context you need to know how a reply chant of “La Raza” would be received in his 2006 article “The Truth About ‘La Raza’”:
There are many immigrant groups joined in the overall "La Raza" movement. The most prominent and mainstream organization is the National Council de La Raza -- the Council of "The Race".
To most of the mainstream media, most members of Congress, and even many of their own members, the National Council of La Raza is no more than a Hispanic Rotary Club.
[…] Behind the respectable front of the National Council of La Raza lies the real agenda of the La Raza movement, the agenda that led to those thousands of illegal immigrants in the streets of American cities, waving Mexican flags, brazenly defying our laws, and demanding concessions.
Key among the secondary organizations is the radical racist group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan (MEChA), one of the most anti-American groups in the country, which has permeated U.S. campuses since the 1960s, and continues its push to carve a racist nation out of the American West.
Norwood creates the strawman that the MSM simply considers the National Council of La Raza to be just a “Hispanic Rotary Club,” only to shoot it down in with the extreme smear that La Raza wants to carve a “racist nation” out of the West. That’s xenophobic and racist hyperbole of the worst kind. The closest real world parallel, and the context for Latinos, is that the National Council of La Raza is the Hispanic NAACP, another organization that is still subject to outrageous smears to this day. (See: Breitbart, Sherrod, deceptively edited videos)
Let’s try another context for our high school basketball game, shall we? For the sake of argument, let’s transfer the game to Detroit’s differentiated demographical dynamic of Dearborn. Dearborn, which was once considered one of the most racist ‘Merkin cities, is now home to the largest Arab population in the country. With that demographic, it is within the realm of possibility that one team could be is all-Caucasian and the other all-Islamic. If one team started shouting “Allahu Akbar” at the other, you just know this would be the Fox “News” story of the century and used as proof of every anti-Islamic thing they ever said. Now further imagine, for the sake of further argument, that the other team—the Caucasian team—started shouting “Allah Akbar” at the Muslim team out of the blue. Most people in the country would have no trouble hearing it as a taunt against the Muslim team, even if a certain percentage of the population might cheer along. Context is everything and this is the wider context in which the shouts of “Yew! Es! Eh!” should be viewed.
That’s why it is so puzzling that The Five could so completely ignore the context in which the incident took place. Juan Williams, who along with Dana Perino, showed a great amount of empathy in this discussion and recognized the context. The chant of “Yew Ess Eh” did not happen in a vacuum. LITERALLY hundreds of years of history have to be considered, especially much more recent anti-immigrant history. Bolling, Tantaros, and Guilfoyle whitewashed all that history—pun intended—took it out of context, in order to pretend this was nothing more than a patriotic chant. Dana Perino, also to her credit, understood, even chiding her co-hosts with, “Look! We all know it—We all get it here. C’mon.” But no, they all didn’t get it. Bolling, Tantaros, and Guilfoyle continued in the same vein until the end of the segment.
Listening to the aggrieved about racial slurs is a lesson I learned at a very early age from very personal experience. I have already described in these pages enduring the taunts of “Dirty Jew,” “kike,” “sheenie”and “Christ killer,” as I walked past Immaculate Heart of Mary to get to Bow Elementary School in Detroit. The two schools were cater-corner on Pembroke Avenue so there was no way to avoid it. There was even a small group of Thugs For Jesus who dedicated themselves to waiting outside my school at the end of the day at the stop where the Hebrew School bus picked us up (for religious indoctrination and learning to read Hebrew). They would not only taunt us getting on the bus, but used that bus stop as a way to identify Jews more easily for future ugly encounters. Fifty years later and I can still feel the pain of it. I don’t think it ever really goes away.
However, this isn’t about that pain. It’s about the far worse pain I felt trying to get anyone among the predominately Christian staff at Bow Elementary to consider what I was experiencing as racism. Of course back in elementary school I didn’t have the vocabulary to express all of this. So I cried a lot. When forced by teachers to explain why I was crying, I got, “Don’t be silly,” or. “It’s just a joke,” or a myriad of other way to whitewash the offensive behavior and take it out of context. The pain of that is stronger than the taunts, even today. On one level I can dismiss what I went through as both a product of its times and “kids being kids.” But the adults!!! Their job was to protect me, not to find ways to dismiss what was happening. To be fair: Hebrew school teachers weren’t that much better because of the context put the racism into. Their advice was to ignore it because it’s just a continuum of 4,000 years of non-stop oppression. You’ll get used to it.
That’s where I learned the life lesson it’s really up to the offended to determine what's offensive. If we allowed the offenders to make that determination for us we would still be saying “nigger,” calling Black men “Boy,” Gays “faggots,” Italians "Wops," etc… That the taunt was hidden in a chant of “Yew Ess Eh!” is particularly insidious. The Latino school recites the same Pledge of Allegiance as the other school. The chant was to make them feel like outsiders and I am sure it was painful. Just as I am sure that greater pain has now been caused by those jerks on The Five dismissing this as a non-controversy. In the video below the fold, count all the various red herrings Bolling, Tantaros, and Guilfoyle throw out as they tap-dance as fast as they can to deny the racism that even the teenagers in Texas could plainly see.
Video available at Mediaite.
To be fair to Bolling: I am now certain he said “legal” and not “illegal.” I also think Beckel heard illegal because he starts blustering, so Bolling rephrases it. There’s a lot of crosstalk at that point, which makes it hard to parse, but I honestly believe he said “legal.” Had he said “illegal” I was prepared to lede with that, believe me.
With all my love,