After reading part of syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker's article in which she refers to Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird--which addresses steep racism in the deep South--Chris Matthews actually had the nerve to ask her, "Is Sarah Palin a poster girl for racism, yes or no?"
What in the world?! What kind of allegation is that?! Almost as bad as the original question, was Kathleen's response, which was,
"Not consciously. I certainly don't think she, Sarah Palin, knows anything about Harper Lee or this deep history in the South where you don't position a White woman and a Black male and ... and ... pretend like there's nothing happening. There's a deep, deep history, which is why I dropped the Harper Lee in there."
Shall I translate her ill-formed response to say that Sarah Palin is too dumb to even know who Harper Lee is or understand the history of racism in the South? Is that what you got because that's what I got from her words.
Matthews follows that up by letting us know that he has just rewatched To Kill a Mockingbird where a white woman accused "a totally innocent Black guy" of rape and "was believed for no reason, except she said so."
So what does this have to do with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, Chris?
Now, being somewhat of an expert on To Kill a Mockingbird, as I taught it for years, I have to break this down. Harper Lee's novel is, in my opinion, the greatest novel ever written--not that I've read them all, so you can weigh that opinion with other novels you have read. My point is you'll be hard-pressed to find a book so well-written, so thought-provoking, or so completely engaging. I'm talking about the book, now, not the Academy Award winning movie. If your only knowledge of To Kill a Mockingbird is the movie, you don't even know the story; talk to me after you've done the reading!
Matthews is referring to Mayella Ewell, the White girl considered "poor white trash" in her community, who accused a kind-hearted Black husband and father, Tom Robinson (I certainly hope no connection is being made there between these characters and Sarah and Obama), of raping her. Although it was clear that he was physically incapable of committing the crime and that Mayella couldn't be trusted, Tom was still found guilty, simply because he was Black and she was White, racism being what it was in Maycomb County, Alabama, the fictitious setting of the novel. Mayella knew it would come down to that, as did everyone else, because it was an "us vs them" world in which they lived.
So what is Parker, and subsequently Matthews, saying here? I've gone over and over this in my mind and rewatched the video clip. The subtle suggestion here seems to be that Sarah Palin is the equivalent of a Mayella Ewell who used race and sexuality to attempt to destroy a man viewed as illicit and evil simply because his skin was Black. That's my read on this. That's the only thing I can get from it. Matthews seems to say that Sarah does so purposely, while Parker seems to say that Sarah doesn't quite know enough to realize what she's doing, that her tapping into the racism of Southern Republicans is unconscious, although I find it interesting that in her article she refers to Sarah as a "pretty gal with a mocking little wink." Hmmm...
Matthews went on to ask his other guest, Joan Walsh, if Sarah is tribalistic and fosters an "us vs. them" mentality that we have made such strides to get rid of in this country. This particular guest said in no uncertain terms that Sarah, during the campaign, hatefully divided the nation, did so skillfully, and enjoyed it. She stated that Sarah made Obama out to be someone other than "us." She then argued that, "Barack Obama is one of us--he's very much so. The only thing different about him is he's Black."
Okay, at this point I'd heard enough.
Walsh's comments reveal the heart of this whole debate. The point that is being made here is that Sarah Palin sees Obama as different for one reason and one reason only: because he's Black, and that this is why she seeks to separate the rest of the nation from him. This is the part that drives me nuts. Does the Left think so little of the American people? Could it be possible, has it ever crossed anyone's mind, that the people who disagree with the president do so because he's scary--not scary because he's Black, but because his world view is so far out of the mainstream that it's off the charts? Obama is a socialist in his thinking and in his vision for America. Whether he wants to call it that or not is unimportant. He clearly wants government takeover. He wants to remake America to the point that it will be barely recognizable. I do believe his agenda is an anti-freedom, anti-Constitution agenda--and THAT is what Sarah Palin has a problem with, not the color of the president's skin--and to suggest that her issue is one of race is slander, plain and simple.
The video clip ends with Matthews saying anyone on the coasts is evil to Sarah and that
"She's an Alaskan, who, I'll betcha (Yes, he said "betcha"--but don't let Sarah say it!) any money she is gonna spend most of her time down in the middle parts of the country, the rural White parts. She's gonna find those cul de sacs of Whitedom and exploit the hell out of them."
Again, what in the world?!
I've got a message for each of these people:
Kathleen Parker: The reason Sarah Palin doesn't consider Harper's Lee's novel about race in her criticism of the president's policies has nothing to do with an unfamiliarity with Harper Lee or the racial politics of the South. It's because her criticism has nothing to do with race. Sarah Palin is not Mayella Ewell, crying "rapist' because Obama is Black. She's not winking her eye to say to Southern Republicans, "Let him have it. Hang him!" She's not even unconsciously guilty of dividing the nation on racial lines. She does, however, wholeheartedly oppose government takeover.
Joan Walsh: What Sarah takes exception to concerning President Obama is not the difference of his skin color. (By the way, it seems to me YOU have subscribed to the "us vs them" mentality because actually his color is NOT different from mine, but it seems you were thinking of people like you vs people like me. Hmmm...) Sarah's issue with the president, which is the same issue that millions of Americans have of all different races, religions, and professions, is that he appears to lack a respect for the freedoms and rights of the people, seems to not understand that the government is supposed to stay in its place, weakens America's defenses, and always wants to apologize for us. That's the problem. Some people really do love their country. Some people actually deal with people as people: they praise and criticize people's policies regardless of their skin complexion. They are not afraid to walk alongside someone who happens to look different than they, but they are not going to be silenced by the politics of race baiting.
And finally, Chris Matthews: For you to suggest that Sarah Palin feels safer in American Whitedom is too vile for words--even for me. Your "bet" that Sarah Palin is too afraid to be around Black people is despicable--even for you. When was the last time you took to the Hood, dude?
We have entered a really sick, sick place in history. We have entered this place where no one can say anything about Obama without being called a racist. I have also found through nasty comments left on my blog that no one can even praise Sarah Palin without the risk of also being called a racist--even if they're Black, like me. I have been told that I am being used by Sarah Palin, that I am being deceived, and that I don't seem to understand that the greatest form of hatred is self-hatred. So I hate Black people?! And the reason for these attacks? Because I have the "unmitigated temerity" (a phrase applied to Tom Robinson in TKAM, by the way) to think on my own and to stand up for Sarah Palin.
Listening to the nonsense on the video clip, one would think that Sarah Palin should apologize for being an Alaskan, that she should have refused John McCain's call to run with him because she was a White woman who would have to speak out against a Black man, and that she should keep quiet for fear of being called a racist. NO!
I've got a message for you, Sarah:
I say keep on speaking up, Sarah! Keep walking through every door God opens for you, and keep calling wrong "wrong,"--no matter what color mouth it comes out of. They only want to shut you up.
Look, everyone, has anyone told these people that Sarah Palin was not running against Barack Obama for the presidency of the United States--the LAST time? Yes, I said the LAST time! Let the Matthews, and the Parkers, and the Walshes underestimate her if they dare be so foolish. Let them underestimate her influence. And let them underestimate me and people like me, yes, even Black people who are smart enough and are wise enough to come alive enough to vote based on principles and values. They take us--Americans--for fools, but we are not fools, and we will not allow them to play an "us vs them" game the NEXT time as they try to convince us of an "us vs them" agenda on the part of Sarah Palin, an agenda that simply does not exist. They do so, in part, by discounting her small-town upbringing in Wasilla, Alaska as insignificant and backwoods. Let me tell you, I spent a month in Alaska and most of that time in Wasilla, where this American--who happens to be Black--was treated like a princess by some of Sarah's own family and friends. I was welcomed, befriended, housed, fed, and loved--in Wasilla, Alaska. This, everyone, is the America in which Sarah Palin was made. It's the same America that you grew up in and I grew up in. It's not "us vs them." It's just "US"--all of us. Sarah believes in one America, and that's the America she stands up for. Let's stand with her!