Rick Perry has got a real problem on his hands.And I’m not talking about his ragged debate performances.No, I’m talking about his gross racial insensitivity.
As the Washington Post first reported, Perry’s father and then Perry himself leased hunting rights at a camp in West Texas that for many years, even while he was there, had a sign at the entrance that used the “N” word in it.
Perry even took guests to that hunting camp, the Washington Post reported.
￼Herman Cain, the only African American candidate in the Republican primary, blasted Perry for this. “There isn’t a more vile, negative word than the n-word,” said Cain. “And for him to leave it there as long as he did before he painted over it, it’s just plain insensitive to a lot of black people in this country.”
Whether Perry can get out of this jam or not interests me less than the ongoing acceptance by many people of the most blatantly racist things in our culture. I still see people with lawn jockeys out in front of their homes. I still see people flying confederate flags. I still hear the slurs—maybe not the N word so much—but other hate words and stereotypes. And I recognize many of the attacks on Obama—Was he born here? Is he a Muslim? Did he write his own books?—as thinly veiled racism.
Rick Perry could do us all some good not only by apologizing for his own insensitivity but by denouncing these other expressions, which are ugly artifacts of slavery. But I doubt he will, because then he’d lose the racist vote, which is not an insignificant chunk of the Republican electorate. White supremacy lives on, 150 years after the Civil War began. Which is incredible and pathetic.