Monday, October 22, 2007
Making Bigotry Comfortable
By Richard E. Noble
It was once said of Ronald Reagan that he made the racial and class bigot comfortable. Well, if Reagan made the bigot comfortable, Bill Cosby just bought him a case of beer and new recliner or a bottle of scotch and a new polo pony.
Nick the Greek and a number of others lost their jobs for saying considerably less than Bill Cosby.
If Cosby’s latest monologue was played in the background while George Wallace or Strom Thurmond’s image was up on the screen with their lips moving, I could have believed it. But when I heard sound bites of Cosby’s ranting, I figured that they must be exaggerating. This must be media hype.
So I got on the Internet and googled Cosby. I read his whole speech and watched a video. I read commentary and looked all over; but it was true. Cosby said all that stuff. And it didn’t sound any better when I saw his face on the screen and his lips moving.
Cosby has now written a book - with the help of a college professor and now it seems to me he is on a national campaign to try and clean up his image and redeem himself in the eyes of “his people”.
He isn’t saying that but if that isn’t the case - why the college professor?
Cosby knows how to speak. He has made millions over the years from speaking - and writing. But now he needs a black intellectual, college professor sitting next to him with a box, a pooper scooper and a big bag of kitty litter to try and clean up his verbal waste.
Cosby said he didn’t realize when he was spewing his vitriol that others (read white people) were listening as he was “scolding” his people.
Well, if I was a black teenager struggling in one of America’s many trash dumps and bullet ridden inner city concentration camps, I certainly wouldn’t be looking up to Mr. Cosby as one of “my people”. For sure he would be in the “one of them people” category for me.
Many in the black community are asking themselves has Cosby done a good or a bad thing.
There is no doubt in my mind, the path that Mr. Cosby has taken to show his anger and discontent with “his people” has already done more damage to black people and their struggle for social justice than even he and ten college professors will be able to redeem. But I wish him good luck nevertheless; he is going to need it. It will take more than just a sense of humor to bring back his popularity to a good many of “his people” I’m sure.
But with all that said, a nationwide discussion is now open. So I think that I will throw in my two cents.
Cosby has hit on a number of very big and important issues. One he hit right on the head, a second he skirted and a third he seems to have missed entirely.
It was stated or extracted from his book that 70% of black children are born to single mothers; coupled with that he points out that 44% of America’s enormous prison population is black. I knew about the prison statistic but I didn’t know that the fatherless situation was so wide spread. That is truly the most horrid thing that I have yet to hear on this subject. I could hardly believe that I had heard this statistic correctly. But this fact clears a good many things up in my mind.
To me these two figures are intimately related. I know that they are substantiated in the related social sciences that deal with this subject and not just in my experiences or my opinions.
Children who have no fathers, a bad or negative father; an abusive father, an alcoholic father, a distant or unloving father and so on, invariably have problems with regards to authority. This is a fact. I don’t think that you will find any qualified person who would disagree with that notion. And prisons are and always have been full of just this type of individual.
I know that this is the age of women. And I have read that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle and that may all be true in certain areas. But in regard to motherhood and child rearing, it is false. Children need fathers or father stand-ins or substitutes or something. But a child without a father or one of the above is like that fish trying to learn to ride that bicycle. Dads are very, very important to children.
Even the early death of a father has huge effects on the attitudes and mental outlook of a child.
The next issue - the one that Cosby skirted - deals with that word “endemic”. When Cosby and his college professor used that word they were clearly talking about racism.
Racism being the notion that there has been and is a built in, long historical hatred and prejudice towards blacks in the United States of America.
I would certainly not debate that issue. The historical record is clear. To make any attempt to deny it is ludicrous. But denying still takes place.
I remember forty years ago watching William F. Buckley debate the famous black writer and poet. James Baldwin, on his TV show - Firing Line.
Somebody should replay those debates today. I think even Mr. Buckley would have to hang his head in shame and embarrassment for his ridiculousness.
But, of course, I remember agreeing entirely with Mr. Buckley at the time. As a young white man who had only known one black person in his life up to that time and who considered slavery ancient history, mine was more of an emotional response than one based on intellect or actual knowledge.
But the endemic nature of racism in America is not even worthy to be debated. It is true and we should be big enough to recognize it by now.
That brings me to the third very important issue crucial to this discussion - the one that Cosby didn’t even mention. It deals with another endemic problem that is not peculiar to the United States or to racism. Truthfully it is endemic to the entire civilization of mankind. It is beyond nationalism; it is beyond racism; it is beyond sexism; it is beyond culture and society. This problem is endemic to the human species.
It is abuse. The human race is abusive and the human being is basically an abusive creature. He develops abusive systems, abusive laws, abusive social structures, abusive theologies and philosophies.
Symptoms of this abusive nature are obvious but yet go unrecognized as abuse. One is war and another is poverty.
Civilization has always hated the poor. And in the United States and all capitalistic nations that hatred is even more intense because of the exaggerated and excessively encouraged competitiveness.
People will argue and even deny as Mr. Buckley once denied and argued over racism, that this hatred does not exist. But once again the historical record is undeniable. It is all spelled out in book after book, fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and true to life, for those who have the eyes to see, the ears to hear and the intelligence to understand and realize - and the moral integrity to admit to truth.
Crime and poverty also fit together like a hand in a glove. Prisons have been filled, since the early beginning with the poor.
Poverty, slums, ghettos, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, abandonment, hate, crime and an overall bad attitude are born and bread in poverty and poor living conditions. You can yell and scream about this all you want and tell me all about your poor and struggling beginnings but the numbers are all in. The record is clear.
In Poverty is where traditional crime is born and bred.
So the poor and working class that Mr. Cosby maligned so viciously with white stereotypes and elitist rhetoric certainly do need responsible fathers and a new attitude towards fatherhood and parenting in general. But without a job that provides hope for the future, a roof over a family’s head, food on the table and respect for the worker, I would say that a responsible and respectable fatherhood becomes severely handicapped if not impossible.