You know, the ability of people to do incredibly stupid racist shit, and then say “We were just kidding!” never ceases to amaze me.

This week’s exhibit comes to you via Smoking Gun: A bunch of white students smear themselves in mud, and have a black-face “reenactment” of the Jena 6 incident. And then post it all on Facebook, to share the funny.

College students in Texas, Connecticut, and South Carolina have also done similar stupid stuff, and posted photos for us to gape at on Facebook.

How can they not see it? As Pam’s House Blend so eloquently said:

“The fact that these people thought it was hysterically funny to do this is all the evidence one needs to confirm that an honest discussion about the third rail topic of race is sorely needed.”

Read Pam’s post for an interesting discussion of how being labeled as a racist seems to stop people’s ability to acknowledge what they have done. Denial of the charge of racism is more important than reflection on the act.

I would say more, but I still am fighting my cold, so all that comes to mind is more bad words.

EDITED TO ADD: Egad.  A giant list of recent noose incidents. Oh, and Michel Medved says slavery really wasn’t all that bad. WTF indeed.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Here we go again. There is actually a school in Dallas, Park Cities, that had a day where they came to school dressed as their gardeners and other racially charged costumes. It was some kind of full on event! I’m ashamed of Texas on a daily basis.
    I hadn’t even heard about this one.

  2. What, are you kidding? Did you read Medved’s column, or are you just supporting your black sisters? He does not in any way say that “slavery wasn’t all that bad.” He refers to slavery as “unspeakably cruel,” “indefensible,” and “evil” among other negative terms. So this is the treatment he gets for trying to lay down some historical accuracy for an issue that is full of exaggeration and hyperbole…I suppose history should be rewritten because we don’t like it. We should follow the lead of those many British teachers who bravely refused to teach about the Holocaust because of their Muslim students who might be offended. We should cheer those who refuse to teach evolution, just because it pisses them off. I’d expect someone who calls themselves “Angry Black Bitch” to take exception, but did you notice that her diatribe did not address one single point Medved made? It smacks of white-hating. What she wrote amounts to nothing more than name-calling. You know, the only reason I know that O. J. is innocent is because 70% of black people think so.

    It reminds me of the reaction you get when you ask a believer in such “humanitarians” as John Edward or (shudder) Sylvia Browne why they don’t just take Randi’s million dollars and give it to charity, when instead they rake in millions from the public to buy more cars and summer homes? They have no rational answer to that question, and so alway resort to defamation and name-calling at that point.

    I should expect as much from an atheist–we all know atheists are amoral, immoral, are willfully destroying this country, and they eat kittens. Live kittens! No, don’t try to confuse me with your “facts” about atheists; We all know they are evil. Get the point?

    I am a regular reader of your blogs and I must say I’m disappointed. I know you didn’t launch a diatribe of your own, but just making the statement that you did and including as a WTF with a link is…disappointing.


  3. You know, I grew up in Texas, where in High School we had to study “the war of northern aggression.” It was never called the Civil War, and slavery was never discussed. This has left me very skeptical of claims about slavery and the civil war.

    I have several problems with Medved’s article:

    –He’s saying that genocide didn’t occur by quibbling over semantics. So, the invisible hand of the economy killed those folks?

    –throughout the entire article, he discusses PROPERTY. His whole article is about how property is important to the US. I don’t think anyone who is the “property” under discussion can read that and not feel alienated.

    –His statement that African Americans are better off in the US than if we had left their ancestors in Africa. OMG. This is what makes me think he feels slavery had a positive effect.
    This assumes that life in Africa is not different, but diminished, from that in the US. This assumes that consent would have been given, were we to have asked. This is also the same argument made at the time of slavery–“but now they are Christians! We saved them!”
    Part of the reason Africa is so destabilized is the interference of colonial powers in the past.

    4. He says “We set up Liberia, but no one went.” Cripes. How many people would have been able to go, had they known about it?
    He basically overlooks racism as an institution that never went away, and the ways in which freed slaves were constrained.

    As a final point, look at the way in which his article starts by saying “I’m defending America from terrorists who hate us!” and ends by denying a need for reparations. Seems like he might have an additional agenda there…

  4. Genocide? Again, ABB mentions it but can’t refute his point, because to do so would be to recognize the meaning of the word and genocide is clearly not something that ever had anything to do with slavery. Call it mass murder if you like, that works for me. But I’ll call anyone on their BS when they resort to such inflammatory language without any justification. Slavery was BAD. Yes, we all agree. You don’t have to invent things to make it sound worse to get the point across.

    As to property: he was talking about the economics of the time. It is impossible to discuss the issue of slavery without discussing “property,” as loathsome as that is. I certainly saw nothing in the article that said “blacks should be treated as property” or that there was any justification for it. Can you show me where he says that? In fact, he claims that the U.S. was better off when they started banning it. Of COURSE blacks are going to be alienated. I don’t blame them. As an atheist I’m a member of an “invisible” minority, yet almost every day I hear that I am not just inferior, but EVIL. I feel alienated while shopping at Wal Mart.

    I’ll give you that Britain was perhaps swifter in abolishing slavery and even on granting women’s suffrage, but the points he makes are still valid. We could be no. 2 in that category.

    “African Americans are better off in the US than if we had left their ancestors in Africa.” This is territory he really should have known better than to get into. Hindsight is 20/20. “Part of the reason Africa is so destabilized is the interference of colonial powers in the past.” And we were hardly the most influential–this had been going on for quite some time before us. But we still don’t get even a little credit for working to end it? People’s prejudices die hard, if at all.

    “life in Africa is not different, but diminished, from that in the US” Have you been to Africa? Do you know anyone from there? I do. And it’s not all beer and skittles. I know it sounds inflammatory to say/i> that they’d be better off, but again, how many people would go today? I mean, forget hindsight, just look at what’s going on. Wouldn’t “reparations” mean giving back what someone had lost? That’s a very sticky issue. Should women demand “reparations” for centuries, nay, millenia of bad treatment from men?

    He doesn’t “overlook” racism. It has nothing to do with the the article. The article is specifically addressing what he considers misinformation regarding the issue. The existence of racism is never in question and is understood as the basis for slavery.

    “I’m defending America from terrorists who hate us!” WTF? Re-read that part to me, please.

    You can debate his facts, but it seems to me that he’s being attacked just for even trying to address these issues. I can’t see the reasoning for being against his purpose. It is extremely difficult to write objectively about this issue, and even though he doesn’t succeed (or even try too hard), it’s something that we should be able to look at objectively if we’re concerned with a discussion of history. The objective case becomes the basis for our justifiable subjective reactions to it.

  5. By “colonial” powers, I don’t mean the US–I’m talking mostly about Europeans (who ran the slave trade well before America existed.)

    there is no way to know what Africa, or for that matter lots of Asia, would look like today without a colonial influence.

    I have a massive headache, so I’ll have to say more later.

  6. Well this is giving me a headache too. Debating this stuff actually keeps me up nights. I come here to read about bugs, I get enough politics from PZ and Phil Plait! Your points are well taken, and that’s all I wanted to see anyway, your thoughts and not just a link to a vitriolic diatribe. As you can guess, I love a good debate, but I don’t want to become one of those people that tries to solve the world’s problems in blog comments. I’m sure Medved can defend himself anyway if need be. But he did give me a lot to think about and even new ways of thinking about it that hadn’t occurred to me before, and that’s valuable even if his facts or intentions are suspect. It is very difficult for white people to discuss these things with any candor and not be of suspect intentions–I have never been refused service in a restaurant, had obscenities yelled at me in public, or endured a public defamation of my race in a movie or television show, or been frightened for my life for being who I am. I’m sure that most people wonder what all the fuss is about and don’t think about it much at all. If you still have comments on the issues I remarked on above I’d love to see them, but if not, no hard feelings, more bugs please.

  7. Oh, a friendly argument! That’s different! :D
    Perhaps later this afternoon, if my students continue to slack and not show up for appointments….

  8. Oh, it’s always friendly! I just tend to post when I’ve just gotten up, and I’m fuzzy-headed, and I read something and say, “What! That’s crazy! Just lemme att’em….(typing furiously)” Then rush off, late for work. Spend all day thinking what a butt-head I sounded like. Then I come home after 12 – 16 hours of work feeling mentally blasted…(more typing furiously). Wake up in the middle of the night thinking…”oh jeez, what did I say?” But if you know anything about the Mighty Favog, then you should know what to expect.

    But I am opinionated (um, duh, he’s writing comments on a blog, duh) and have even been known to do a little baiting just to get things going.

    I can’t help it if I’m willing to give Michael Medved the benefit of the doubt. He’s the originator of the Golden Turkey Awards!

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