Because I apparently have masochistic tendencies, I follow the blog of conservative lawyer Jonathan Turley. While he would no doubt claim to be even-handed, he is always ready to defend most everything Trump does and criticizes the actions of those on the left while ignoring most of what the right does. He was the lone legal witness supporting Trump during his Impeachment trial and can often be found on Fox News explaining away bad behavior. Besides posting, he doesn’t usually participate in the lengthy conversations on his blog, which has become a hideout for many with racist views. However, there really are some very fine people there.
A recent post found Turley complaining about a Virginia courtroom that ordered the portraits of the all-white judges hanging there because it would unduly influence juries against Black defendants. I didn’t especially have an opinion about that, but he said this in defending white judges’ portraits.
“Under Bernhard’s logic, leading jurists who fought slavery and segregation would be removed because of their race. Thus, Earl Warren, who wrote Brown v. Board of Education, would have to be removed because he was white. The irony is crushing. Warren wrote that:
“To separate [black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”
Yet, under Judge Bernhard’s approach, Warren’s portrait would have to be removed because his image would create that same “feeling of inferiority” because he happened to be white.
While Judge Bernhard refers to the portraits as “ornaments,” it is the use of race-based criteria for their removal that is so troubling and, in my view, misguided.”
What got my attention was Professor Turley putting Justice Earl Warren up as an anti-racist hero because of a single act. In writing the decision on Brown v. Board of Education, Warren also gave us the phrase, “With all deliberate speed.” which kept the decision from being implemented for decades. Let’s be careful about giving white people a lifetime of credit for an arguably good moment. Warren also ruled in favor of interning the Japanese though he admittedly regretted it later in life.
Not that there aren’t a great number of white people that mostly aren’t racist. For all those that are, several white people will advocate for them, telling us how they don’t have a racist bone in their body. As one example, Andrew Stein, a former President of the New York City Council, wrote an Op-Ed proclaiming just how non-racist Donald Trump is. Stein has apparently forgotten how Trump refused to rent apartments to Black people in New York, having their applications marked “C” for Colored so they could be turned down. The company of which Trump was President was sued twice by the federal government for housing discrimination. The second time for failing to rectify the problems identified in the first lawsuit. Trump called for the death penalty in a full-page ad in the New York Times of the Central Parl Five. Even after they were found innocent, he objected to the City of New York settlement to the five, saying it was undeserved.
His recent activities while President include jump-starting mass incarceration, attempting to nullify minority voting, labeling Black people as coming from “shithole countries,” and so much more. It may be a coincidence, but when Trump learned COVID-19 was killing primarily minorities and older people, he started promoting herd immunity, which translates to let them all die. It’s gotten where to call an obviously racist person a racist has become a racist act in itself, which has to stop.
What has become common among white people is to lower the bar for racist behavior so that it almost no longer exists. The second common thing is to defend racist behavior and deny it is racist, as in the cases of Jonathan Turley and Andrew Stein, I’m a little tired of people who constantly engage in racism, never being held accountable for it. Abraham Lincoln has said some pretty racist shit, and he doesn’t get a pass either.
“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together, there must be superior and inferior positions, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied every thing. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.” Abraham Lincoln
I’m sure I could make a lengthy list of white people that are looked up to as either not being racist at all or not as racist as others of their time that, in reality, have questionable deeds and words in their past. George Washington fitted his dentures with teeth from those he enslaved. Thomas Jefferson not only started raping Sally Hemings at age fourteen; she bore him multiple children. He promoted slave breeding of domestic slaves, ending the international slave trade, not to ultimately end slavery as his supporters suggest but to increase profits for those like himself with excess slaves.
The point I’m making is that when white people start telling me about other people that aren’t racist, my spider-sense goes off, and research usually finds proof that the claims are false. Creating doubt about America’s racist past or that racism is still in existence is one reason systemic racism hasn’t been addressed. If America had the equivalent of Operation Warp Speed to fix racism, how much better could we be better off today? One can only wonder.
This post was previously published on Medium.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member today.
Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Shutterstock