The Audacity of Decency

How dare you get along with others and express sympathy for their views?!

September 5, 2011

Okay, so I didn’t figure out this week’s Weekly Muse. I actually feel really bad about that. You stumped me, dear reader, so hopefully I’ll figure out the new set of suggestions.

In the meantime, let’s talk about racial slurs. Grab the popcorn, kids. This is going to be fun, and it features my favorite clown, Becky Boy.

This little rant starts off with some pretty general advice. Be true to yourself, know who you are, and stand for what you believe even as you are pushed by the world to believe something else. Nothing wrong there… and then it goes into strange territory that makes basic logic look like a Lovecraftian nightmare.

Beck claims that when people come after you for your beliefs, they are using radical leftist strategies like Saul Alinsky. He says that when someone tries to correct you or make you think something else besides the truth (the truth being determined by whether or not said belief is held by the Tea Party), that person should be ignored at all costs.

And as you know, Beck had a neat little rally in Israel and followed it up with tours of Africa and South America. Suffice to say, Beck comes across as the kind of man who’s probably still mystified by things like the Civil Rights Movement and all those pesky brown people asking for things “normal” Americans have.

Racism. by ~benjaminheymann on deviantART

It started when he and his co-hosts, Thing 1 and Thing 2, asked how silly they felt calling blacks “African Americans” when they traveled to other countries.

Beck: “How can people be one thing in one country and nowhere else in the world?”

Cohost 1: “That’s such a great point. What are you supposed to say? Is there a… what is the acceptable term?”

Cohost 2: “We don’t know. We don’t know-”

Beck: “Black. Black.”

Cohost 2: “African British? African-”


Let’s back up for a moment. You don’t call blacks “African American” in other countries because they’re not IN AMERICA. Enigma solved.

Secondly, there isn’t ONE term for any group. Some people prefer “African American” because they’d like to identify with that part of their heritage. The same goes for anyone who is Mexican American, Iraqi American, German American, Irish American, whatever. It’s an option, and I understand some people don’t like to think in those terms. They call themselves “American” because that’s how they see themselves. Fine. It’s their choice, and if I called someone “African American” and was chastised for doing so, I would just apologize.

There’s a similar social problem with my particular sociological group. I call myself “Mexican American” because I’m a first-generation immigrant. I’m a citizen. I also call myself “Hispanic,” although this is mostly related to race, not nationality. Two or three generations down, if my descendants live in this country, I would have no problem if they just called themselves “Hispanic.”  Why? It’s a description of who and what they are.

But Beck and company act as though we’re somehow forced to use the term “African American,” like it’s some kind of federal standard. But let’s keep going as they actually manage to show ignorance of basic tact.

Cohost 1: “Just like ‘white,’ you’d think that-”

Beck: “It’s BLACK. In South America… I mean South Africa, it’s ‘black’ and ‘colored.’ I don’t remember the difference, but there is a difference. One is…”

Cohost 2: “One is indigenous, the other comes from somewhere else.”

Beck: “Yes, and I don’t remember which one’s which, but I think even ‘Indian’ came in. I think it was also like ‘colored’ that meant ‘Indian’ or elsewhere.”

They actually acknowledge that different terms mean different things, that they’re used to refer to different people based on background… and about ten seconds later, they go ahead and ignore that. Pay attention, though. They’re starting to show hints of disgust at people identifying as something other than what these three morons think is acceptable.

Behold the kind of myopic stupidity that usually requires a full-frontal lobotomy.

Cohost 1: “But we have been taught here that ‘colored’ is really a bad thing to say, ‘cause, ‘What color are they?’ Well, okay, so you got us to stop saying that, but in other parts of the world, they still do.”

Beck: “Yeah, and it’s NOT a bad thing! Only here! Why are we made to feel bad? Notice this? ‘African American’ wasn’t made to do anything except try to create a superman. ‘Oh, don’t you try to feel bad about yourself! You’re African American!’ No, you’re an American. Instead of building the country up and saying, ‘Lookit! We all have the right here in this country. Look what might happen with Martin Luther King. That makes you an AMERICAN. Judge not by the color of your skin.’”

I’m actually still trying to figure out what Beck was trying to say in this little ramble. One thought flows into another like a concrete truck into a brick wall. He complains that “African American” is some term designed to make people feel good about themselves, yet he’s one of the major proponents of American exceptionalism, the belief that America is great just because it is America. If you follow the link, you’ll see how racially tinged these believes can get.

And “African American” has nothing to do with skin color. It’s a description of background. Technically, Charlize Theron is African American. That’s her background. And now Beck turns in the insensitivity dial to 11.

Beck: “And you weren’t over in Africa! Your great-great-grandfather was. Your great-great-great-grandfather may have been, but you weren’t! And sure this country SUCKED for blacks. BEYOND sucked! For a long time. But it doesn’t now. It doesn’t now. Be proud to be an American.”

I really don’t know what position Beck holds any more. He keeps saying our country is great, yet he’s ranted about how crappy it’s become. It’s like he’s gorging on cake while complaining it tastes like crap.

Oh, and that bit about blacks having had a hard time? Well, you wouldn’t know it from his show, since he’s talked about how slaves had it nice back in the day. Really.

Cohost 2: “I’ve always felt it’s such an insult. The idea of ‘African American.’ That they for some reason need to have-”

Beck: “Special help.”

Cohost 2: “Not even special help, just a distinction as if they’re different from us. They’re Americans just like us. Hundred percent Americans. They deserve every right, and they have the same responsibility everyone else has.”

Us? Who is “us?” There is no such thing as “average American.” There isn’t, so I can only assume that Cohost 2 thinks whites are the standard American model. It’s like that idiot student in California who said Asians should we glad we let them study at “our” university, as if whites were the standard by which all Americans are judged.

And now Beck shows his hand and we get to the real complaint.

Beck: “The thing is… it makes people afraid. That’s the key. It makes other people afraid. If we’re afraid to say something, and we all are, you’re afraid to say something because you don’t want to offend- Americans are good. Americans are kind. Not all of them. But we are great because we are good. Why do you think we said ‘handicapable’? Because we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. They’ve been using this! It’s our Achilles heel! Have. No. Fear. Dismiss these ‘human rights’ frauds!”

And there it is! It’s not that he’s upset people are being labeled or that labels exist. It’s because he somehow thinks that “they” have made “us” use terms like “African American” so we don’t offend anyone.

Here’s the problem. The word “colored” is pretty offensive to a lot of people. It has connotations of a Jim Crowe era. And Beck knows why we use certain terms. He’s discovered the liberal conspiracy.We’re trying to be police thought by using appropriate terminology. And we’re so gorram nice that we fall for things like taking into account cultural and personal sensitivities. How dare we not call them black “colored”? They have color, right?

Note how Beck and company don’t actually understand why the word “colored” is offensive. They just wonder why we don’t all have one word we can use when referring to a particular group. That’d be nice, right? Having a nice, standardized way to strip culture and self-identity, having society determine who and what we are based on government affiliation?

And if you believe that, please register with the nearest Tea Party group. They have some nice tin foil for you to make your new set of hats.

Racism by ~SmartCync on deviantART

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