[Content Note: Racism.]

Chapter 4, page 48-49:
The next year brought big changes. The events of 1968 rocked our previously placid world and shocked the country, Yale, and me. In many ways that spring was the end of an era of innocence. The gravity of history was beginning to descend in a horrifying and disruptive way.

...I was shocked by the Reverend King's assassination and stunned by the violence. I watched, appalled, as racial riots escalated across the country. Militant groups such as the Black Panthers argued that the Reverend King's assassination also put to death the notion that civil rights could be achieved in a non-violent way. I disagreed and hoped America could remedy civil wrongs in a peaceful way.

Television brought vividly to life the discrimination that existed in many parts of America. I was horrified, as I watched the snarling dogs and billy clubs directed at America's own citizens. It was hard for me to imagine a society that would treat my friends as harshly and unjustly as what I saw on television. I was the president of our fraternity; the vice president, Paul Jones, was an African-American. So were my good friends Calvin Hill and Roy Austin. Ours was an easy, natural friendship. I was reared by parents who taught me to respect others. I had been taught, and I believed, that all people are equal, that we are children of a loving God who cares about the quality of our hearts, not the color of our skin. I was surprised by the depth of the racial hatred I saw on television. Although I came from the South, that was never the attitude at my house. As a very young boy, I had once repeated a racial slur I heard at school; my mother washed my mouth out with soap, and delivered such a stern lecture that I knew immediately I had done something very wrong. I remember my dad teaching us that every individual mattered and that each individual had a shot at the American dream... [This paragraph goes on for a million years.]

...We were young men trying to enjoy what should have been the last carefree days of youth. But we could no longer be the same cavalier college students.
Let us all raise our tiny violins and play the Yale fight song in a minor key to mourn the lost carefree days of the most privileged people in the country.

Everything about this passage is infuriating—the talking about "America" and people of color as mutually exclusive groups; the privilege thick as pigshit that allows him to talk about violent discrimination as "shocking" and a cruel truncator of what "should have been the last carefree days of youth," without even a hint of awareness that young people of color had no such privilege; the temerity of his haughty "disagreement" with the Black Panthers; his "I totes have black friends" shtick; the sickeningly familiar assertion of white people that disallowing racial slurs in their home is evidence of their lack of racism, never mind the void of actual people of color in their homes. Et cetera.

This sickening display of privilege and ignorance was published six years before Bush sat idly by as the 9th Ward drowned.

[From George Bush's A Charge to Keep, gifted to me by Deeky, because he hates me. In the US, all people who plan to run for president write a shitty book. (Some are less shitty than others, by which I mean the Democrats' books.) A Charge to Keep was George W. Bush's shitty I-wanna-be-president book, published in 1999. I am blogging one random quote per page every day until I have either made my way through the book or lost it behind a couch.]

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus