Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A pattern we might not notice ...

Springfield Fire Department Captain Robert Shewchuck (above) worked on the fire which started around 3 a.m. last Wednesday morning that destroyed the Macedonia Church of God. (Dennis Leger/ Springfield Fire Department)

If I didn't quickly scan newspapers at opposite ends of the country most days, I might have missed these items:

SPRINGFIELD - Donnie Hatten was ecstatic about last week's presidential election. But when she was invited to a large celebratory gathering at a banquet hall packed with other African-Americans that night, she balked.

" 'Somebody might throw a bomb in there,' " she recalls replying.

No bombs were thrown into the party, but just after 3 a.m. several miles away, someone crept into a clearing in the woods and set fire to the predominantly black Macedonia Church of God in Christ, reducing it to a skeleton of charred metal and wood. ...

Boston Globe,
November 12, 2008

TORRANCE - Vandals target Obama supporters' property

Vandals spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on a house and several cars that displayed campaign signs or bumper stickers for President-elect Barack Obama, authorities said Tuesday.

The incidents occurred Saturday night in the Hollywood Riviera section of the city, said Sgt. Bernard Anderson. Four separate incidents were reported the next day, he said.

No arrests have been made.

At one house, the phrase "Go Back to Africa" was spray-painted across the wall, in addition to a racial epithet on the garage door, Anderson said. Several parked vehicles on the streets were spray-painted with racial slurs, he said. ...

Los Angeles Times,
November 11, 2008

Officials at St. Joseph's and La Salle Universities are investigating two racially charged incidents of the last two weeks, one involving vandalism in a classroom and the other a fight outside an off-campus fraternity house that allegedly involved racial slurs.

At both campuses, there were concerns from students and a parent that tensions had flared over the candidacy and victory of President-elect Barack Obama.

A white student at La Salle allegedly used a racial slur to describe Obama and insult students. ...

Philadelphia Inquirer,
November 11, 2008

West Salem High School principal Ed John acted quickly and decisively last week when three students used racial slurs after the election of Barack Obama.

He suspended one student for five days and punished the others in varying ways. He addressed the student body, sent phone messages home to parents, and entrusted student leaders, including black students, with educating their peers and promoting greater awareness. ...

Statesman Journal, Central Oregon,
November 11, 2008

Aside from the church burning, most of this stuff is pretty minor. And some incidents, including the worst, may not be entirely what they appear: racist backlash. We don't want to panic prematurely over every little incident.

But every since Barack Obama stepped out into the spotlight and claimed his right to present himself to the electorate, a lot of us with long memories have been holding our breath, hoping never again to live through hearing that a charismatic U.S. leader had been cut down by violence. It is impossible not to be afraid for the guy the Secret Service has named "Renegade."

I'm a big believer that you must expose and denounce the small racial episodes immediately and loudly. Keeping quiet doesn't serve. If there are folks who think an election victory by someone they do not believe is a "real American" is an excuse to act out, the rest of us need to let them know loudly that this isn't so.


Kay Dennison said...

I have no response except:

Damned right!

tina said...

More about anti-Arab racism:
I was not aware that in a liberal art college, one would have experienced racist remarks between 1997-2001, but I am not surprised.
In the early 80s, California University Press presented one of its publications in the yearly booklet as “the view of the enemy”. The book in question was the translation of an Arabic text written by an Arab during the crusades.
It must be very difficult to be both an Arab and an American, a Lebanese and an American. It is much easier to be a Lebanese in Beirut. ☺

Darlene said...

I feel so sad that there are still some ignorant people who are so insecure they have to hate someone who is different to feel important. Education is the answer and all of us must try to stamp out racism wherever we find it.

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