The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Baby Steps, I Guess

Wednesday, August 28, was the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech. There were many events to commemorate it. It was, as I recall, a great speech. In its wake, however, things still moved slowly. That is to be expected. A republic does not move quickly to right wrongs and install justice where it was denied. It took years of strife, confrontation, and anger for things to even begin to change.

I was 17 and living in Orlando, Florida at the time of Dr. King's speech and had witnessed on TV much of the strife that resulted from the Civil Rights Movement and much blame for that strife was being laid on Dr. King's speeches in places around the south. And, to the casual observer (especially one who harbored strong racial biases), that blame was well placed. Dr. King would speak and the next few days would see marches, protests, and cops spraying the crowds with fire hoses and tossing tear gas into their midst when they would not disperse on command.

But that is not a correct observation.

I was dating a lovely young girl of 17 at the time. She was sweet and kind and friendly. But she would step off the sidewalk when a black student came toward her. When I asked why, she said she did not want to share a sidewalk with n*****s. Yes, this sweet, kind, friendly girl was an outright bigot who had no desire to look past the color of anyone's skin.  She was not alone in that school or in that town. I was. I saw no reason to hate someone you didn't know. But I kept my mouth shut... shamefully... out of fear.

When I first moved to Florida with my folks and siblings in 1956, there were still separate restrooms, water fountains, motels/hotels, and schools for blacks and whites. I walked the 10 or so blocks from my grandmother's home in Ojus to the all white elementary school I attended and each day passed by a black neighborhood of unpainted shacks and see kids waiting for the school buses which would take them ten miles away to the all black elementary school.

I never understood that at age ten and eleven and still didn't understand it when I was 17 in Orlando. I didn't understand it in the Navy when I met all sorts of people from all over the country (and much of the world) who harbored the same attitudes. Black sailors went to bars that catered to them while white sailors went to theirs. On board, most everyone got along but the undertone of prejudice was always present. In various ports, I ran into a weird mixture of racism. In Japan, in the Philippines, in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, and Hawaii, as well as Mexico and California and Seattle (and Arizona), I saw that same racial prejudice.

It was odd to see Asians (who were treated as lessers by sailors of all colors) look down their noses at black sailors and express hatred and disgust toward those of their own ethnicity who treated black sailors decently in any way. It was odd to see Mexicans show the same bigotry that whites did in the U.S. It confused me a little. Especially because those same Mexicans complained about their being treated poorly simply because they were brown. And the Asians didn't like how they were treated either.

It is out of these experiences that I came to my conclusion that human beings are inherently bigoted.

It won't ever go away, I think, it is possibly part of our DNA. But we can ignore it, we can suppress it, we can (in spite of what might lie in our hearts) treat each other with respect and dignity.

When will we?

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