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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well Now it is Done

Well, Now it is Done!!

Back in the early fifties, Idaho State University had a boxing team, and it was, bar none, the best overall boxing team in the nation.  One of the boxers from the team, a handsome, tall black man went on to the Olympics where he beat a favored Swedish boxer for the heavyweight Olympic crown.  When he returned from the Olympics a big celebration was set up in Pocatello, Idaho to welcome Ed back and let him know how proud we all were for him.   The complication arose when the banquet for the celebration was scheduled at the Bannock Hotel, and, after the schedule was already established, the hotel let the organizing committee know that they really couldn’t serve Ed in the main dining room.  He was, after all, a “negro”.  This was in Pocatello, Idaho, not somewhere in Alabama, and the sh** hit the fan.  

I was so embarrassed.  A fair number of the guys I had played football with were black (actually, colored was then the preferred term, having replaced “negro” years before).  A number of high school and college students protested, picketing the hotel, the letters to the Editor of the Idaho State Journal (it may have still been the Pocatello Tribune then) were blistering.  I don’t actually remember the final result, but I vaguely remember that the banquet was held and Ed attended, but I am not sure.  I was ashamed of my city, and of  some of my friends, and even, for some ridiculous reason, of my self.  My emotions at that time led me to join the NAACP (which was almost totally white folks, most of them Jewish, at that time).   I didn’t participate much in the organization except to contribute a little money and attend two or three meetings, but I couldn’t help still being ashamed that people I knew could feel so negative (and still praise the guy and cheer) about someone’s color.

I’m embarrassed right now.  I know that some really fine people felt really threatened by the Dubai Ports business, but, after all is said and done, all this uproar was not about substantial evidence or threat, it was (in my opinion) hysteria relating to skin color and nationality and religion. (I know, I read Michele Malkin and the other right wing and left wing columnists—this time in agreement with each other and I couldn’t believe a word of it.)  

I hope that it will blow over, but if I were Muslim, living in the United States, or in any of the Arab countries which have supported us for the past few years, I would be humiliated, angry, and probably ready to join something or someone to try to validate the fact that a great injustice had been done to people who were of my faith, and who looked like me, just because of group hysteria.  I hope this doesn’t have the kind of result I fear, but I do fear, that in the next two or three years we will see results of what happened today that are far more frightening than any result of a port facility run by an Arab company (with an American CEO) could ever have been.  I think that we have proved that we have a raghead Islamophobic  flood running though this nation, just as we had a “four eyed Jap, and kill the Nazi flood when I was a child. And I fear that resolving this will be almost as painful as resolving the results of Jim Crow laws, and so-called separate but equal fictions in schools and employment regarding another group with another skin color.  I pray that I am wrong.


At 5:19 AM, Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

03 10 06

Well Three Score: I have been quite clear that I don't particularly care for Ms. Malkin. She wrote a book that justified why the Japanese needed to be interned during WWII and I disagree with the premise. Unfortunately, we are at a similar crossroads with our Arab Muslim population. And I had to delink a couple of bloggers because they used that term "raghead" indiscriminately. Although the ports deal really did bug me on a number of different levels, it had little to do with ethnicity and more to do with an ignorance about how ports are managed and a fear for the security of this nation. I thought that only the government managed ports post nine eleven. But what do I know.

About your story, that is so touching. A lot of people don't know that Jews started the NAACP back in the day! And it warms my heart that you joined it because you are a stand up kinda fella. when you say that your type of conservatism would leave us all in horses and buggies, that is not accurate when it comes to your social views. It was a pleasure reading this Richard. Have a great night. And I too, pray that WWIII ain't coming...

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

You know my opinion already so I won't belabor the point other than to say I think congress needs to continue on its path and prevent any country, China, England or Denmark from operating our other ports. That will not only show that it wasn't racist but that it was (as I feel) a matter of sovereignty.

About three days after is was publically disclosed that Muslims had been involved in 9/11, I went to a gas station to gas up my car. Perhaps a half dozen people were standing in front of me waiting to pay for their purchases to a Arab looking guy manning the till. Not one of those six people spoke a work to the cashier and the cashier just looked so lonely. When it was my turn, I said something along the lines that I didn't blame him and instantly he had a huge smile on his face. I was glad that I could cheer him up but at that time, I too felt so embarrassed for my fellow countrymen.

At 6:55 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

I'm with you 100% about discrimination. I never saw it growing up, and I hate to hear or see about it now.

But that's not what the Dubai Ports World deal was all about.

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I think that we have proved that we have a raghead Islamophobic flood running though this nation, just as we had a “four eyed Jap, and kill the Nazi flood when I was a child.

War does that to folks.

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

As usual, your post is beautifully written and thought provoking.

I supported the Dubai deal and feel strongly that we should have followed the President and approved the deal. I think the fear about security was based in ignorance about the reality of what their involvement would entail. Time will tell what this issue has spawned for the future.

With that said, I don't beleive the majority of those opposed had any racial bias at the root of their position. I believe that it was a real and sincere concern about the safety of our ports.

My grandmother was the California State President of the PTA during most of WWII. She told me of losing her best friend because of her position that PTA representation must be given to the parents interred in camps in California. It was beautiful to hear her words so many years after the fact and her peace in knowing she did the right thing.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Thanks to you all for your comments. Saur, I wish that I agreed with you that blatant discrimination (call it profiling or anything else) was not the basis of most of the uproar about the Dubais ports affair, but I can't. The types of emotions raised, and the basis on which they were raised are totally parallel to the internment of Japanese, the Jim Crow laws in the south, the indiscrimant ostracizing of German Americans in the North East of the U.S. during the second world war and many other such things. As Patrick notes, war rarely brings out our better impulses, and often our worst ones.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger Three Score and Ten or more said...

Sorry to leave two comments on my own post, but Ed, I think that you are right. If anything can be rationalized about this it would be that all of our ports and all foreign companies were treated equally. That has its own problems. Much of the depression of 1929 turned on the nationalism and isolationism that began to grow in the U.S. economy. There are some historians who attribute many other parts of WWII to that same attitude. (I don't agree, but I have read the historians)

At 7:24 AM, Blogger exMI said...

I believe the simple fact that no one except a very few right wing isolatioist zealots gave a damn aobut who ran the ports in this country untill DPW bought into the dealproves fairly conclusivly that there is a bias.
I am curious as to who is going to run the ports now? There really aren't any US companies that have the capability to handle it. the Government?? Chaos and inefficiency .

And we gave such a big thanks to Dubai for all the help they have given us in the War on Terror.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Ed Abbey said...

I think I read it somewhere on Crazy Politicos blog where he provided a link to an excellent article about why we ended up with foreign controlled ports and why we just can't flip the off switch. I couldn't find it offhand but I'm sure if I scrolled down it was there.

At 9:29 AM, Blogger exMI said...

Oh yes, I don't mean an individual bias on the part of you who opposed the deal here and on your blog. More of a societal bias. (although that could be said to be a cop out to avoid offending anyone.)

At 10:01 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

It is a done deal now and nothing to be done about that.

It is a thought provoking post, I must say.

I do think it's understandable that Americans are a little antsy about having Muslims control any of our ports, even with an American CEO.

I am not prejudiced against Muslims. I actually have a Muslim friend who runs a gas station in our town. He's looking a bit worried nowdays, and who can blame him? Your point is well made. This could get very ugly and many innocent Muslims could be hurt very badly. I sincerely hope and pray that it doesn't come to that. But it would be helpful if American Muslims would take a more vocal stand against what is going on. It would be helpful not only for us, but for them as well.

My friend says they are afraid. I suppose they have good reason to be.

At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Kathleen said...

"My friend says they are afraid. I suppose they have good reason to be."

Gayle, here is a link to an interview of a very brave woman who has received death threats since speaking out. Her name is Dr. Wafa Sultun. She is very brave in this interview on Arab TV. This may help explain why American Muslims are not speaking out more.



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