In Florida’s gubernatorial election, the white candidate told Floridians who might be considering a vote for his rival, the black mayor of Tallahassee, “not to monkey this up.” The race was close, quite possibly would have gone the other way if the 1.4 million disenfranchised Florida voters a disproportionate number of whom are black, had the right to vote restored after serving their sentences. This lifetime ban from voting dates to an 1838 Florida constitutional provision tweaked thirty years later, after the Civil War, to comply with the letter of the amended U.S. Constitution while ensuring blacks did not take over the government. Florida is one of the few states who have this kind of lifetime disenfranchisement law, a law that affects almost a quarter of Florida’s black voters. The law was abolished by Florida voters in the election a few days ago, by a fairly robust margin. Now the next time a white candidate urges Floridians to “not monkey it up” there is a better than even chance he will have his racist ass monkeyed up at the polls.
Democracy, of course, is for racists too. The president called himself a nationalist during at least one of his many recent televised Nuremberg-style campaign rallies. At a combative press conference after his party lost the House of Representatives and there was a swing of governors that virtually evened the national map, a black female reporter asked the president if calling himself a nationalist didn’t embolden white nationalists. The president dismissed the question: “I don’t know why you’d say that. It’s such a racist question.” He repeated the phrase “racist question” in that tic-like way of his, repeating a good tasting talking point for emphasis, several times. This fellow knows something about racist questions, they were part of his father’s review process for apartment rentals until the Fair Housing Act made race-based discrimination a federal crime.
Racism is not a uniquely American problem, though our version of it has impressively exceptional roots. Not every country enshrined race-based slavery in its founding democratic constitution, protected the liberties of the owners of other people, inferior people, at law for almost a century, fought a bloody war to preserve or abolish it, instituted racist laws and had a century of terrorism against the formerly enslaved race winked at by local law enforcement. You want American Exceptionalism? Look no further than our history of racism at law and its kissing cousin, de facto racism. Let’s not talk about what Andrew Jackson’s fortune made in slavery and land speculation, the Indian Removal Act or the Chinese Exclusion Act, let’s move on.
On October 24, 2018 two African Americans, Maurice Stallard (69) grocery shopping with his grandson, and Vicki Lee Jones (67), walking to her car, were shot to death by a 51 year-old white racist named Gregory Bush. Bush had lost his right to have a gun after violence in his home, but he’d had that right restored. Easier to get your gun back than your vote, apparently. We say this man “allegedly” shot the two to death at Krogers, after trying and failing to enter a locked black church, though he was seen killing them by many witnesses. The famous presumption of innocence, you understand. He gets his right to a fair trial, no mob is going to take him out and lynch him just because he murdered a couple of people, or somebody said he did, anyway. That wouldn’t be American! They are still puzzled about why the racist fuck killed two black people, they’re investigating, you know.
Because we Americans have a five second attention span, the story of the racist murder of two random black people in Kentucky was wiped off the screen by the revelation, the very next day, that a staunch supporter of the president had sent pipe bombs to more than a dozen notable enemies continually railed against by the president. Two days later another maniac walked into a synagogue and started spraying bullets, leaving eleven dead, including a woman who was almost 100 years old. It struck me over and over that Maurice Stallard and Vicki Jones’s murders were not included in the tally of recent hate crimes. Merely being shot to death while grocery shopping with your grandson, or in the parking lot outside the Jeffersontown, Kentucky supermarket, well, bad shit happens, I guess. Hard to keep track of it all! There was a mass shooting in a club in California the other day, too bad all the people there didn’t have guns to shoot the shooter.
Now our slippery nationalist president is on the ropes as he lies about his great recent victory in the midterms, during which his party lost their majority in the House and only held on to the Senate because Republicans only had nine seats in play while the Democrats had twenty something, and several of those states had gone handily to the president in 2016. He was snarling at reporters, seemed to be feeling desperate, fired the Attorney General he’s been mocking and humiliating for the last year or two and is poised to make some daring, desperate gangster moves. He’ll be OK, we all know, because he’s pretty much a delusional psychopath who has never been accountable for a single fuck up in his life. It’s the rest of us we should be worried about.