In the wake of the Ferguson decision, I’ve been thinking about I Love Lucy. What, I Love Lucy? What does a sixty plus year old sitcom have to do with our current racial troubles? There’s a scene in that show where Lucy and Ethel are complaining about not being treated fairly on account of their gender, to which Fred answers dismissively (and here I’m paraphrasing), “You (i.e., women) can vote. You can wear pants. You can wrestle. You can drive buses. What more do you want?” I’ve encountered this same attitude in the conservotrad world, the general attitude being that since de jure segregation has been eliminated that blacks and other minorities have nothing to complain about, and any problems they experience are completely their own fault. I feel like they could rewrite the afore mentioned quote by Fred Mertz to say, “Black people can vote. You can sit where ever you want on the bus. You can even be president. What more do you want?”
To illustrate this tendency, I want to mention a thread that I was involved with on the Vox Nova blog. Some readers may know that VN has a reputation in the Catholic blogosphere as being “liberal,” a reputation that seems to be entirely unfounded. While it’s true that VN doesn’t engage in some of the more obnoxious culture war posturing that you see on most of the other blogs or frenzied posts about how a vote for the Democratic Party will send you straight to Hell, the writers are still operating thoroughly under the banner of “orthodoxy” and won’t write anything directly criticizing the hierarchy.
With this in mind, I present to you a thread on race on this so-called “liberal” blog:
I wasn’t surprised by the refusal of some of the regulars to confront the racist foundations of American movement conservatism. What did surprise me was once “Peter” got involved was how none of the moderators tried to rein in the crazy or even refute what he was saying. I get that race is a contentious issue that many people would rather not discuss, but when you run a blog on religious and political matters, throw out the topic and then refuse to adequately moderate it, that’s a poor reflection on the people who are supposed to be administering the blog.
What “Peter”‘s posts illustrate to me is the extent to which white conservotrad Catholics live in their own pocket dimension when it comes it race. If you honestly believe, as “Peter” seemed to, that there is a “right to discriminate” that trumps basic human rights and that the solution to our racial problems is to either deport blacks to Liberia or herd them into an American Bantustan and left to their own devices, then I really don’t have anything to say to you, even though I wasted untold hours of my life trying to do so on that thread. Believe me, if “Peter” had to take a dump on the side of the road because he couldn’t find a public restroom to enable him to answer the call of nature in dignity, I doubt he would be so enamored of the idea of a “right to discriminate.”
Some months earlier, I made the mistake of getting involved with a thread on race on Rod Dreher’s blog, where the posters also made outrageous statements, such as:
- Segregation wasn’t that bad in the South because if it was blacks would have left (I guess the Great Migration doesn’t count).
- Jim Crow-era Mississippi was a great place to be black, because if it wasn’t why would Emmett Till’s mother have sent him there to visit?
- The many skin tone variations found in Americans blacks can be attributed to consensual sex between black and white indentured servants during the colonial period, not institutionalized rape on plantations.
- Blacks and whites alike enjoyed living under segregation until “outside agitators” came in and ruined everything. Because who doesn’t love separate and unequal facilities?
Blacks are simply not part of the moral universe of these conservotrads. To be honest, I don’t even think non-whites in general are considered to be worthy of concern, as I recall an article from The Crisis Magazine from 2008 or 2009 detailing how “orthodox Catholics” should oppose Hispanic immigrants, because such people would vote “pro-abort” (i.e., Democratic). Way to show your “pro-life” concerns, people. In this world, whites are the only true Catholics and the only true Americans, and everyone else is just a metic parasite.
As this report illustrates (http://www.epi.org/publication/making-ferguson/), the circumstances that led up to the current Ferguson crisis didn’t just start yesterday, today, or even three months ago, but is the result of decades of de facto and de jure segregation that was (and still is) sponsored at all levels of the government. It should be quite clear by now that the United States is completely lacking in the desire or will to adequately deal with our racial problems. We can put a man on the moon, deploy our armed forces to any country on earth, and invent gadgets that enable us to video chat with people in outer space, but the idea of dealing forthrightly with the “Negro problem” is too much for this country to handle. And I think the mere fact that an aging white populace refuses to invest in a future that will be increasingly brown and black is what is eventually going to led to the final downfall of the USA.
The conservotrads keep wanting to know “What more do you people want?” If you haven’t figured it out in more than four hundred years, then you’re not going to get it now.