Saturday, August 02, 2008

Old times there are not forgotten. . . .

In all the sordid racial history of the American South, one taboo was always powerful enough to kill.

The act of it was strictly illegal. In 1955, in the Mississippi Delta, the mere thought that a 14-year-old black boy might have had it on his mind put Emmitt Till in his grave. What was left of him.


If all the racial bugaboos of the segregated South had a corresponding curse word, miscegenation would be the F-word, the C-word, the MF-word and the S-word all rolled into one. Especially if we're talking a black man marrying, having sex with, dating or just looking wrong at a white woman.

(White men having their way with black women -- so long as no wedding vows were exchanged -- garnered de jure disapproval but a de facto wink and a grin.)


The feds said states' rights didn't include forbidding interracial matrimony. But the toxic enculturation of a Jim Crow society remains lodged in many a Southern mind, not unlike a malignant and inoperable tumor.

The fear of miscegenation is the kind of carefully taught evil that wormed its way into the subconscious of Southerners -- of Americans -- of a certain age and older. It gets beneath one's beliefs and convictions; it adheres itself to Pavlovian recesses of the subconscious, the ones governing what you feel in that split second before moral rectitude kicks in.

IT'S AN UGLY TABOO that feeds on the ugliest parts of our human fallenness.

Which, of course, makes exploiting voters' ingrained race-mixing revulsion a no-brainer for the savvy-but-unethical political operative.

And, in case you haven't noticed, there are just a few of those in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. It looks like a few more have just crawled out from under a rock in Baton Rouge to take racially charged shots at the city's African-American mayor, as reported by The Advocate:

Mayor-President Kip Holden on Friday said he is calling for a criminal investigation into a political mailer that alleges he had an affair with a married woman and was beaten up by her husband.

The mailer was in the form of a letter signed by the Rev. Charles Matthews, who Holden said does not exist.

The mailer includes a photo of Holden with a “black eye and busted lip” that he said is actually a doctored version of the picture on the mayor’s Web site.

Holden acknowledged he did suffer a black eye last year when he tripped over a piece of carpet, but noted he did not get a busted lip from the accident.

The mailer claims the woman’s husband punched Holden in the mouth and eye, and police have refused to serve as his bodyguard “on moral grounds and a strong belief that someone is going to get injured or worse, die.”
THE NEWSPAPER, truth be told, sanitized the story quite a bit. It didn't even touch the miscegenation angle, which the political mailer most certainly did -- including a photo of the black mayor and the white woman in question. Here's some purple prose directly from the "reverend's" word processor:
Pulling his pants up with one hand, grabbing his expensive alligator shoes with the other, Mayor Melvin "Kip" Holden ran from the residence, but not before a 5' 10" Caucasian man punched him in the eye and mouth (see picture). A reliable source reported seeing the Mayor's mouth bleeding as he hurried to a black Lincoln with a public license plate.

Standing in the door of his residence the man watched the Lincoln speed away driven by the mayor's bodyguard, an on duty Baton Rouge police officer. With tears in his eyes, he turned and stared at his nude spouse.
EXPENSIVE alligator shoes.

Caucasian man, tears in eyes.

Nude spouse.

You didn't see any of that ugliness in The Advocate's "mainstream" reportage. Nor did the paper point out the staggering irony of it all -- the political opponent Holden suspects is responsible for the flier is . . . black.

Holden said the allegations are ridiculous, and are obviously the handiwork of one of his opponents in the mayor’s race and their operatives.

“I have had the same four police officers with me since I took office. The only one that is no longer working with me is Eugene Smith, who said he needed additional time with his family after his father was killed in an accident,” Holden said.

Holden said criminal charges may be filed as a result of the smear tactic. He said he’s contacted the state Attorney General’s Office and the FBI.

Because the mailer was sent via U.S. mail and contained false information, federal mail fraud charges could be pending against the perpetrators, Holden said.

Holden also suggested that Metro Councilman Byron Sharper may be involved because he called the mayor’s office earlier this week and warned that “we’re going to drop a bomb on you.”

Sharper could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

In a statement issued Friday afternoon, Holden said Metro Councilman Sharper’s brother, Kurt, has distributed the fliers in public buildings.

“We have provided his identity to law enforcement as a source of information and involvement,” Holden said in the statement.
PERHAPS SOMEBODY'S trying to get both white men and black women mad at the mayor. I mean . . . y'think?

Then, to throw in a red flag for all the fire-breathers among the Religious Right, the smear piece declares, ostensibly unironically:

The FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL, THE LOUISIANA FAMILY FORUM, Local Ministers, and the Metro Council recently defeated Mayor Holden's attempt to pass a blanket declaration as to Baton Rouge being a sanctuary for homosexuals through his One Baton Rouge resolution. Please join with us in demanding legal and moral conduct from our public officials.
YOU BET, podna. Pleas for legal and moral rectitude in a sleazy, racist flier allegedly produced by black pols stooping to Kluxer tactics against a black mayor. Only in Louisiana. . . .

Only in Louisiana, dammit. Isn't anyone down there the least bit ashamed yet of what they tolerate and who they vote into office?

Anyone? Anyone?

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