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Thursday, January 24, 2019

You have to be carefully taught

I've become a huge fan of "The Nib". It's a collection of very talented young artists who are political cartoonists. But, they go way beyond partisan politics. 

What they do is more social commentary, some of it on really complex political issues. Like racism. And, the influence of social media. And, the Israeli-Palestinian War. And, domestic violence. And . . . well, what we used to call "current events".

I have posted their art on my FaceBook page but I wanted to save this particular piece because it's so astute that I wanted to chronicle it on my Blog so I would have access to it in the future.  

The Indigenous Peoples March in Washington on Friday coincided with the March for Life, which drew thousands of anti-abortion protesters, including a group from Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills.

Videos circulating online show a youth staring at and standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year-old Native American man singing and playing a drum.

Other students, some wearing Covington clothing and many wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and sweatshirts, surrounded them, chanting, laughing and jeering.

Immediately, it looked like the worst case of racist conflict since the terrible cases of racism during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Except this time, it was with a Native American. This was mere days after the Man in the Oval Office referred to a woman Senator as "Pocahontas" and made a joke - a JOKE - about the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Social Media exploded and people freely registered their outrage and anger at the image of these young men, wearing their school jackets, many with red or white MAGA hats, taunting the Native American man who was playing his drum and chanting an ancient song.

The principle of the school, together with the diocesan bishop, wrote a strong letter of apology.

But, more videos emerged - one two hours in length - which showed a more complicated situation. The boys had apparently been harassed by a group calling themselves "The Black Hebrew Israelites".

Right-wing Conservatives jumped all over LIberal/Progressives as "snowflakes" who are purveyors of "Fake News".

There followed, predictably for some, much chest beating, and multiple expressions of good old fashioned religious guilt, often dressed up as scolding and chastising by Liberals of Liberals.

There was this article.

And this one that tried to make sense of it all (like that was going to happen).

And, one of my favorites: "Steve King broke the first rule of the White Club" (pretend it doesn't exist)

My absolute favorite is one I can't find - I'll look for it - wherein a white mom asks us to imagine one of those boys being one of our sons. And then she goes on to challenge what we saw as the product of our own projections. It is absolute classic White Guilt Chest Beating. I'll keep searching. I'm going to use it in a class on racism one day.

Found it, here it is: We see things not as they are but as we are.

I only know this much: On the face of a white, privileged, heterosexual male who has un-examined,  undeserved, unearned, assumed privilege, a smirk is a smirk is a smirk.

Oh, and this: I don't care about the "context" or the "circumstances". I don't care what school you go to or who your parents are or what religion you follow.

There is nothing - absolutely no thing, no how, no where, at no time, by nobody - that even begins to approach making that behavior acceptable under any circumstances. Period.

Oh, and can I just ask: Where were the adults? I mean, where were the damn chaperones?

Anyway, the incident when the young boys were harassed by wild and crazy Black Men - an admittedly radical, confrontational group known as the Black Hebrew Israelites - was apparently preceded by a video of a few of the CCHS students sexually harassing a small group of young women, shouting things like "If you enjoy it, it's not rape." The girls, apparently, kept walking as they glared at them and asked, "How old are you?"

The whole entire 'incident' was then referred to as "more complex than originally thought". And, we know that's good Liberal-speak for "Let's get lost in the weeds so we don't have to confront the swamp, because then, we'll actually have to do something about it rather than just rant about how awful it is."

Well, all that white guilt and shame and blame and finger pointing and chest beating and allegations of 'fake news' and 'rush to judgment' swirled around for a little while (aka "backlash) until I thought I was seriously going to hurl all that toxic whiteness everywhere.

And then, just in time, our sisters and brothers of color stepped up to the microphone and spoke a word of truth that was startling to some and affirming to others of us whose resolve about what had really happened never changed, even after the longer (2 hour videos) emerged.

I want to especially point out this article entitled, "An Open Apology to the Covington Catholic MAGA Hat Harassment Team"  . As an additional bonus, if you click on the link you'll be able to see the short video with the CCHS boys harassing some young women.

The article ends with this:
Thank you, Covington Catholic.

Thank you for showing that any person of color in America who has ever protested has faced this kind of scorn. Thank you for showing that white boys intimidating others is a longstanding American tradition.

But most of all, thank you for reminding America that there is one untouchable, unassailable thing in this country — white boys. And whether it’s Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump or a bushel of high school Klansmen-in-training, if anyone ever makes the mistake of blaming them for their black-hearted hate, they will be forced to apologize.

God bless the National Championship white supremacist squad from Covington Catholic High School for giving us this much-needed history lesson.

And may God bless the still racist, always “great,” past, present, and future white boys of the United States of America.
Like the terrible racist incident in Charlottsvill, VA,  where young men marched through the streets, Nazi symbols on their shirts, carrying lit tiki torches and chanting "Jews will not replace us," the incident in our Nation's Capitol revealed something more about White America than we cared to know.

I'll have more to say about this in days to come, but right now, I just wanted to chronicle this much of the events and, as Rachel Maddow says, "stick a pin in it". I suspect we'll be back to look at this incident again. And, again. And, again.

Indeed, I'll make sure of it.

Until then, take a look at what the kids over at The Nib had to say about the past couple of days in our country. If you're White and you're reading this, I hope it either takes you up short or affirms for you what you have known all along - before your Liberal friends tried to make you feel guilty.

If you're Conservative and you're reading this . . . wait, who am I kidding? If you're a Conservative you're probably not going to waste your time reading something written by me.

And, if you're an "alt-Right Conservative" you're only reading this to be a troll and leave hateful remarks which I won't publish, so please, just go away and go back to your echo-chamber where you like to hear the sound of your own prejudice.

If you're a Person of Color and you're reading this, well, you don't have to stifle that "I told you so," that's dancing in the back of your throat. Go ahead. You can say it.

It isn't the first time you've said it and sadly, it won't be the last.

Some of us are clearly asleep at the wheel, but some of us are more 'woke' than others.

I just wish I knew how many more "wake up calls" it's going to take before we stop getting it 'white' and finally get it right.

Le sigh. Let's let those of us who want to fight against this sort of bigotry and prejudice, against vulgar displays of White Supremacy and White Nationalism and Patriarcy - especially when we see it being so very carefully taught to our young people - agree to hold each other's hands and have each other's backs until we get there.

Let's be like that Native American man, Nathan Phillips, and play our drum and sing our medicine song while we use our selves, our souls and bodies, as a sheild against errupting violence between people of different races.

And, along the way, let's not forget to laugh at ourselves occasionally. Sometimes, laughter is the most accessible path on the road to changing what you've been carefully taught. To wit:

Next up, this book: White Fragility: Why it's so hard for White people to talk about racism.


Anonymous said...

The men with tiki torches were in Charlottesville, VA, not Charleston...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks so much. I made the change. I also found the article I was looking for and posted it. It's such a classic example of "Whiteness" it's stunning.

Marthe said...

Really, enough of the boys will be boys crud - these immature tyrants in training are the result of parents who failed to teach their children to respect ALL other human beings. The near complete failure of adults to teach human decency to the current generations is exemplified by the Pretender-In-Chief and his endless destruction of every form of dignity that might have lingered in Washington. I know, I know, it's child abuse to take those boys out behind the woodshed and light up their ivory butts, but the thought has crossed my mind that such "accountability" is long over-due for all of them.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Marthe, I know that this adolescent testosterone-infused behavior is a big part of it - it has ever been thus - but I'm really deeply concerned about the aspect of racism in this story. It's the central part of the story, to my mind. The problem is that there are so many other threads that have woven themselves around this story - you mentioned one, another is the March for Life and all that gives rise to, another is the MAGA hate and all that entails - but I fear we'll use all of those things to avoid talking about racism. We White people really have to dig in and dig down. It's the only way we're going to heal from this "Original Sin".

Marthe said...

I get your point, for sure, and as a person whose DNA happens to be so White I practically glow in the dark, I'm aware of the unspoken advantages that fact has rained onto my life. Still, I was raised by a woman who tolerated ZERO disrespect for other people, ZERO racist language, ZERO inconsiderate behavior or jokes or demeaning of others. The you have to be carefully taught line is exactly correct ... good parenting outweighs outside influences every time.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The longer I live, the more I understand that race is a social construct.

lsiepw-W said...

There just aren't enough Portuguese lesbian converts in the Episcopal church....

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Grace-WorkinProgress said...


Elizabeth Kaeton said...


Don Kenner said...

The two hour video completely confirmed the boys' account of what happened. The Native American was caught lying not once, but twice, in the video. The child you all want to heap abuse upon is 16 years old. His smile when Nathan Phillips encroached upon his space (as clearly revealed in the video) was a surprised teenage smile, which devolved into a half smile (AKA Face Crime, per Orwell). Phillips lied about his war record. Where are the Christians to own up to their mistake? Where are the Christians to put politics aside and admit they were wrong? Not here. Very sad. But this is a blessing from God for those of us who want to view politicized Christianity (of the right AND the left) in it's horrific visage. Never again will I be fooled by progressives. Thank you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


1. No, the video did NOT "completely confirm" the boys' account. It made the context of the situation more complicated but it did not confirm the boys' account.

2. The Native American - he has a name, it's Nathan Phillips - was NOT "caught lying" (that's a racist stereotype of Native Americans). Some of the folks in DC who knew him as a veteran mistakenly reported that he was a Vietnam vet and some of the media reported that.

3.Who encroached on whose "space" (and, isn't this always the argument from people in this country who STOLE the land from the NATIVE Aericans?) is pretty clear. That young man - Nick - walked right into Mr. Phillip's "space". He didn't SMILE. That was a SMIRK. It's the "smile" entitled, privileged white men put on their faces when they know they are entiled, privileged and white.

4. Mr. Phillips did not lie.

5. Where are the Christians? Right here. Telling the truth in the face of old, racist lies about how white men don't lie but there are "Lyin' Injuns" - all while the man who fact checkers can attest has publically lied 91% of the time while he's been in the Oval Office.

6 My turn: Why is it that when white boys are wearing a MAGA hat - which has become a symbol of white supremacy and white nationalism (Like a KKK hood only made in China), it's just a hat, but when black boys wear a hoodie, they are "thugs"?

You're welcome.

Don Kenner said...


Nathan Phillips lied when he said he was protecting the black Israelites from the kids. He then lied when he said he was protecting the kids from the racist, homophobic, black Israelites. He also lied when he claimed that he was a combat vet in the Korean war.

Nick did not walk into Phillips' space (no one disputes this).

I could go on but why bother? I'm so disgusted with political Christians and their hypocrisy I just don't care anymore. I thank God almighty for opening my eyes with the Covington Catholic High School debacle. No longer will I be in the fog. By the way, I'm an Episcopalian. For now. Seek confession. Goodbye.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Wow. I'm sorry. I think you're right. It IS time for you to leave The Episcopal Church. For the sake of your own soul. You may find confession helpful before you leave. Goodbye. God bless. Hope you find what you need.