Whistling Dixie

Confronting white society’s role in Ferguson.
21
Posted August 20, 2014 by E.R. Bills in News
SEcond

This is a strange time in American history. I don’t recognize us.

And by us, I mean white people. We seethe with hatred. We’re fed up and embittered. Things aren’t going our way, and somebody needs to pay. Someone deserves blame.

Our better angels have flown the coop, and our inner demons are at the wheel. On a daily basis whole legions of us prostrate ourselves before hateful messiahs who spray inane vitriol, and we just ask for more.

I’m not convinced that it’s even happening on a conscious level. For millions of Americans, I fear, this has become a reflex, conditioned by incessant guilt and self-loathing.

The history of slavery in this country is reprehensible. It was an unconscionable monstrosity. We don’t like to think about the reality of it, the depravity that allowed it to flourish, or the fact that half the country was willing to die to defend it.

Here in Texas we even threw over our own George Washington — Sam Houston himself — after he refused to lead us gently into that “good” Confederacy, which he saw as a horrific mistake. Two dozen Texas counties and thousands of sober folk sided with Houston, but he lost. Houston’s woeful banishment and Texas’ subsequent descent into the Civil War are hardly taught in our history books, much less touched on in serious conversation.

A century and a half has gone by, and we like to think (rather wishfully) that all is forgotten or can be forgotten. We insist it’s time to move on, but we want to do so without ever having truly examined our slave-owning past.

Electing a black president made us feel a little better until we realized we had elected a black president. A representative of the victims of our vilest monstrosity had risen to the highest office in the land, the most powerful job in the world. While we were busy proclaiming racism dead, this young, black Gen-X president was a constant reminder of what we had labored tirelessly to forget. And he was tasked with attempting to lead us through a perilous patch, fraught with dangers domestic, economic, and xenophobic.

When the opposition party decided to make the race card part of its political platform, it quickly legitimized our conscious and unconscious unease with the memories that Barack Obama nudged us to confront. This unease helped promote Obama’s vilification and encouraged us to feel nostalgic for (or at least more comfortable with) the good ol’ days when our past wasn’t a monstrosity and racial prejudice was a point of pride.

History will judge our current lapse unmercifully.

Our internal and often external backlash to his presidency is beginning to manifest itself in shocking ways. If we didn’t have a black president, we wouldn’t be vowing to “take our country back.” If we didn’t have a black president, we wouldn’t be showing up at town halls and Home Depots with guns (as if we were about to try and take our country back). If our president wasn’t black, I suspect, George Zimmerman would have been held accountable for the murder of Trayvon Martin.

And, I fear, if the leader of the “free” world wasn’t a black man, unarmed black folks wouldn’t be getting shot down in cold blood by militarized law enforcement officers.

White can’t be right if a black president is OK. And if we can’t take our conscious or unconscious frustrations out on him, we can take them out on folks who look like him.

For centuries, killing black folks in this country was hardly even illegal. Now that a black man is president, our primary preoccupation is condemning everything he does and buying more guns.

To my ears, it sounds like we’re whistling Dixie.


Aledo resident E. R. Bills is the author of
The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas.


21 Comments


  1.  
    weekly reader

    I personally am tired of this convoluted, overwrought nonsense and really don’t want to hear it anymore.Mr. Bills if you really believe that your fellow citizens are all congenitally evil, wear tinfoil hats,and only exist to attend gun shows, ruin the environment and mess up the so called record of the current president, then you need to vote for Hillary Clinton so you can then tell us how we all hate women too–for comic relief.But even that would not constitute effective propaganda–just static.




  2.  
    Lisa

    You know what’s really important in general about President Obama? He was the first fairly elected President since Bill Clinton was elected for a second term.
    BTW, not all Anglos are gun toters. Some Anglos actually care about what happens to other people.
    Question: Why are native Anglos in West Texas so unfriendly? It’s like people from other places–Fort Worth, Garland, Altus, Shreveport–are invisible. I was so glad when I finished school (not that it did me any good) and moved home!!!!!




  3.  
    Giant Sperm Whale

    Dude. You do not speak for me. I’m sorry you see complex matters in black and white terms only. Move to color and you’ll find all the new details really bring the story to life.




  4.  
    stoutimore

    Bills, that whistling sound you hear is wind passing through your ears. You obviously don’t count yourself among whites who “seethe with hatred,” so I wonder how many white-seethers you interviewed before reaching your sweeping conclusions. Any? You say the opposition party played the race card. Really? Your entire article is premised on racialism. The fact is that blacks have suffered more than any other demographic since the election of this president. Given that he can fix anything unilaterally with “his phone and his pen,” why hasn’t he done anything to reduce black unemployment?




    •  
      Benny Holland

      Spermy,I regret you speak for the knuckle-heads. Why don’t you take something for it? Anyway modesty, charity, and decency are not at all complex.




  5.  
    Jake

    I don’t see of any of the the author is saying. It sounds too much like a made up rant just so he can hear himself speak. There is no backlash because of his color. If anything, there was more backlash with Bush. Also, Obama is half white, raised by a white mother that was well off, and has nothing in common with the vast majority of blacks.




  6.  
    sane

    It seems that all many conservatives have any more is hate. It’s like a form of adrenaline for the conservative base, constantly primed by fear and ignorance. It’s hard to see where they mobilize or fundraise for much else these days. It’s terribly sad, but it is their primary modus
    operandi.




    •  
      weekly reader

      Typical nonsensical comment. You obviously missed the fact that the “article” was an attack piece on the people with whom you and the author ideologically disagree . Conservatives deserve equal time on FWW pages -but they are too smart to waste their time on a throw away publication that no one reads except for unintended humor. You, Bills and Lisa ought to get together and trade conspiracy theories. Maybe Art Bell will come out of retirement and use you guys on a show (like Bigfoot only less interesting). (LOL)




      •  
        E. R.

        insightful, not really. how many liberals you know carrying guns vowing to take their country back? how many liberals you know killing doctors they disagree with (see murder of George Tiller) or security guards at the Holocaust Memorial? progressives have no equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, Birthers, heck, or even the NRA. you sound clever to your choir, but you choir is shrinking because the conservative message is predicated on fear and hate. History is not on your side “weekly reader.” Sorry.




        •  
          weekly reader

          Wow. It doesn’t take much to get the LEFT totally unhinged.It is hilarious that you believe all of that bilge. (LOL)




        •  
          Benny

          Hey, E.R. tell your Daddy that Benny from Rosemont & the Gulf filling station says hi-dee.

          You’re sure right. These Baggers are a piece of work, God bless them. They are worse than fire-ants here on the Southside where I stay.




          •  
            Not Deluded

            He passed on Jan 19, Benny. Two kids from FTW in the old days–he remembered you fondly. And I dig your rhetorical/cognitve edge. Like him, I doubt too many folks who go toe-to-toe (philosophically speaking) walk away without a few well-earned bruises. Wish more of you were around this town.




  7.  
    Grayson Harper

    Thanks for another beautifully written piece, Mr. Bills–as usual, filled with keen perceptions. And if the comments above are any indication, well, once again, it looks like you did something right.




  8.  
    RusRog

    What crappy article. I hope that the paper this article was penned on can be recycled into something useful. 1st… Conservatives are no more to blame than liberals. You paint us as racist, old white men sitting around cleaning our guns waiting for a black man to walk by the front porch so we can shoot him. Where do you get that? Is it because we don’t see your point so we must be wrong? If we don’t agree with you completely then we must be racist a-holes? That’s a pretty broad brush that you paint with… I, and most other conservatives don’t care who hold the POTUS but they need to adhere to the constitution and they needs to protect the states rights. I dislike Obama for the same reason I disliked Clinton. Both lie and cheat and go around the ends of the Constitution. SO now I am racist too? Obama created offices which he uses to make policy. Obama’s various Czars? What the hell are these positions and where in the system of checks and balances do they fall? I don’t car if the President is blue as long as he does a good job. This one???? He has done nothing to help the US. He only has weakened and divided it to the point of fracture. So call me racist all you want… The facts don’t bear.you correct.




  9.  
    Benny

    My bird-dog Roxy smells better, runs faster, and is way smarter than any Bagger….including that miscreant, jail-bait flake running for Governor that the Baggers and mouth-breathers selected. Why don’t you kids grow up and amount to something? I can’t believe Texas is again running a half-wit for governor, one that is so dumb he pours urine from his boots after a night on the town. G.W., up until this day, remains hidden under his house in Dallas…a disgrace to Texas, America, and the human race. Lie and cheat? You want to talk about doing a good job? Did you see your Bagger buddies on the police force up in Missouri this week? The entire world is laughing at the degree of stupidity and avarice from these heros. Two dollars will get you five if you disagree they are not, every single knuckle-head, Repug Baggers, You flakes need to tell that stuff to people that don’t know you.




  10.  
    sane

    Benny… Incisive, succinct. Big fan.




  11.  
    weekly reader

    Do yourself a favor– and use the dictionary to define, “incisive” and “succinct”.





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