Although its origin is unclear — having been attributed to both Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain — most of us have probably heard it said:
One doesn’t have to say anything, after all. Silence is always an option.
And yet it boggles the mind how often people forget this. Some, it appears — a great many in fact — seem almost compelled to spew forth whatever comes into their heads, like a fire hydrant opened on a city street during a sweltering August afternoon.
It’s a tendency that has likely always haunted the human species. Something about the ability to speak appears to dovetail with our desire to do it, even when we shouldn’t.
But however ancient the affliction, it has doubtless been aggravated by the modern age with its technologies of instant gratification capable of amplifying foolishness in ways that would have been unthinkable two decades ago.
Shorter version: most ignorant, uneducated racists would have only been known as such to their equally ignorant and uneducated friends and family back in the day.
Now, sadly, we all get to witness their fuckery.
Progress it isn’t.
To wit, Holly Tinch, of McLeod, Montana, owner of Holly’s Road Kill Saloon, who simply cannot dial back the racism.
Recently, Tinch became the subject of some controversy after having referred to COVID as the Chinese Flu on social media, but not having said Chinese — opting instead for a common anti-Asian slur.
Because she’s Klassy with a Kapital K, like the Klan.
Confronted by a Korean-American man who explained how hurtful this kind of verbiage is, rather than apologize for being a racist, Tinch doubled down, all while denying (naturally) that she was racist.
“I’m not a racist person!” she insisted, even as she explained that using the racial slur in question is just calling it “like it is.”
Which is absolutely 100 percent what a racist would say.
Oh, and then there’s her repeated use of the n-word, noted by a customer who left an otherwise positive review of Tinch’s bar on Yelp.
As in, wow, this place has fantastic burgers and a pretty good beer selection, but I probably won’t come back because the owner is a raving bigot.
So, we can now add “people who use blatantly racist slurs that everyone knows are racist slurs” to the list of white people who swear they aren’t racist.
Because white people just flat-out lie about this shit. Like all the time.
Even David Duke will tell you he’s not racist. In fact, he used to say that even when he was burning crosses in cow pastures back in the ’70s.
But the best part of Tinch’s response to the allegations wasn’t the denial part.
It was the defiant attitude barked from her gravelly throat made raspy by one too many cigarettes, one suspects, along with something about her Constitutional rights.
Because Holly Tinch, saloon proprietor, is also a student of the law.
To wit her defiant insistence that she’s going to stand by her “First Amendment, and my second Amendment,” before adding, “and the rest of them.”
Which “others” I’d bet she couldn’t name without a Google search if her life depended on it.
Or even tell us how many there are. But she’s standing by them, by God.
It’s always the first retreat of the racist.
Well, actually, the second.
The first is to insist they aren’t racist. But just in case you don’t buy that — because who would? — they have their fallback. They have a right to be racist, even though they’re totally not racist. So there!
It’s like saying, I absolutely did not kill my wife last night, but just so we’re clear, I did it in self-defense. As one is entitled to do.
Because God Bless America.
I don’t ask much from racists. I expect them to do what racists do: to open their mouths and undermine with their every utterance the idea that they might belong to some master race.
Honestly, racists usually function as exhibits A-Z as to just how wrongheaded racist theory is.
They’re like walking negations of their own ideology — rebuttals to themselves. They are people who punch themselves in the face every time they try to make a point about something.
With people like Holly Tinch, it’s like they have a devil on each shoulder.
The first one says, “White people are superior to everyone else,” while the other one — the one that controls the mouth of its host — is like, “Oh yeah? Watch this!”
. . .
Sadly, people like Holly Tinch have always been here and always will be.
And some may wonder why I would even bother exposing her sickness to the world.
But, until and unless racists are made afraid to spread their poison — fearful of the consequences, be they personal, financial, or reputational — they will continue to practice their only real skill.
Which is being racist.
If you want to be a bigot, have at it. But if you make the mistake of being a proud one, you deserve to be brought down to Earth. If you own a business, you deserve to have it bankrupted, your life forever altered, and your good name dragged until it is no longer.
Racists have free speech, to be sure. But so do we.
And we should use ours to shame and punish racists in the court of public opinion.
Every time, no exceptions.
This post was previously published on Tim Wise’s blog.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||Why I Don’t Want to Talk About Race||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
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