When I first heard on Monday that Dave Matthews, the musician who has entertained hundreds of thousands of people since first erupting onto the scene in 1994 with his eponymous band’s album Under the Table and Dreaming, gave an interview to CNN in which he voiced agreement with former President Jimmy “Dhimmi” Carter that racism permeates every level of American society, I couldn’t help but shake my head in disappointment.
“I just see it everywhere,” the singer said.
Not that I should have expected anything else, but I like Dave. In fact, during my high school and college years I probably saw him in concert a half-dozen times, if not more. It’s always disappointing to see someone like that get all wobbly under klieg lights, open their mouth, and say something so patently wrong.
Then again, was he wrong? Could racism truly be everywhere in American society?
County officials in Arlington County, VA certainly seem to think so. Or, at least, if racism isn’t everywhere, then it’s still definitely present in the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on Interstate 395. That’s right — the HOV lanes are racist.
According to a Monday report from the local, D.C.-area Fox television affiliate, Arlington County filed a lawsuit in August which asserted that the lanes–use of which requires nothing more than a car, and three people in it–unfairly benefit wealthy white drivers while discriminating against minorities. Don’t take my word for it — read this excerpt from the Fox report:
Buried in the lawsuit filed last month, county attorneys argued the HOT lanes, “encourage and enable a financially-able, privileged class of suburban and rural, primarily Caucasian residents from Stafford and Spotsylvania counties operating single occupancy vehicles (“SOV”) unimpeded access on toll lanes.”
In other words, it benefits wealthy white people.
A few pages later, the suit claims the Federal Highway Administration and the Virginia Department of Transportation failed to do the proper environmental analysis and that “their actions also constituted civil rights violations as they discriminated against minority and low income communities.”
Arlington County Chair Barbara Favola says the race issue only arose because the environmental review includes socioeconomic impact.
“It is not our intention to play a race card. I think that’s a very divisive approach,” Favola told FOX5.
Of course the county didn’t intend to employ the “race card.” Of course not. They only argued that the HOV lanes give white, wealthy drivers an unfair advantage on the Interstate. They only argued that the failure to do environmental studies unfairly violated the civil rights of and discriminated against area minorities. Nothing race-related there.
So maybe Dave was wrong after all. It’s not like racism is truly everywhere. It’s just in tea parties, and South Carolina congressmen, and in northern Virginia high-occupancy vehicle lanes. It’s not like the weather is racist or anything.
According to a report published yesterday in the Arizona Daily Star, the heat in the Phoenix area isn’t just small-o oppressive, but is actually big-o Oppressive in that it unfairly discriminates against minorities in low-income communities. That’s right — the weather is racist.
Researchers at nearby Arizona State University, according to the Daily Star, released a study in which they found that less-affluent neighborhoods in the Phoenix metro area were unfairly focused upon by the desert heat due to lack of trees, an abundance of pavement, and high population density. But don’t take my word for it — read an excerpt from the report:
The researchers report in a new study that conditions in less affluent neighborhoods — from high-density housing and the lack of trees and landscaping to converging freeways — help create pockets of extreme heat that persist day and night. In fact, for every $10,000 that an area’s income rises, the average outside temperature drops one-half degree. In wealthier neighborhoods, lush yards and trees help cool the air more quickly after the sun goes down, shortening the hours of the heat waves.
Oh, but don’t forget this next part, because racism–even at the hands of that racist weather–always demands justice:
“It’s an environmental-justice issue,” said Darren Ruddell, a geographer who led the study. “The people who are most vulnerable are also living in the worst conditions. It’s a double whammy.”
The researchers said they hope their findings will spur discussions about better managing land, water and energy use, factors that will grow more important if the predictions of climate-change models come true.
“If we can identify the areas most at risk, we can try to help them,” Ruddell said. “We could redesign neighborhoods, build cities differently, improve warning systems and ultimately reduce our vulnerability to heat.”
So that’s it — racism must be everywhere. No getting around it. Dave Matthews was right.
Perhaps white, middle-class libertarian-leaning conservatives like me should start carrying around a flip sign like those which can be found on construction sites from coast-to-coast:
DAYS WITHOUT AN ACT
WHICH COULD ONLY BE
A MANIFESTATION OF
MY INHERENT RACISM
Every night, as I finally wind down and prepare for bed, I could remove it from around my neck, hang it up on the wall, and think of our president with pride as I flip one more card, signifying another day gone by during which couldn’t possibly have said or done anything which could have been perceived as racist that day.
I didn’t argue a point in one of my law classes with an African-American classmate, even though he was obviously wrong. I didn’t honk my horn at that wise Latina in the Wal-Mart parking lot as she backed her rusty Oldsmobuick into my luxurious late-model minivan. I didn’t drive in the HOV lane, despite having four people with me on my way to work. And, most important of all, I cursed the weather for being so pleasant in my neighborhood, apologized for the darned weather to all of my black friends, and regretted each of the four hours I slept the night before with the window open.
Have we all gone completely insane? As far as I can remember, the Age of Obama was supposed to be one of racial tolerance, where everyone is equal. For crying out loud, there’s a black man in the White House, and one who along with his wife was educated at some of the finest schools in the country. People who look to charge others with racism to compensate for their own personal inadequacies need to get over themselves.
That goes for the county officials in Arlington County, VA. That goes for Jimmy Carter. That goes for the editors at Newsweek, the folks at the Arizona Daily Star, and for the researchers undoubtedly spending taxpayer-funded grant money at Arizona State. And that goes for worthless liberal so-called journalists like Maureen Dowd, who less than two weeks ago accused South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson of being racist by insinuating that he had meant to address the president as “boy,” even though Dowd herself had actually addressed Barack Obama as “boy” during the 2008 presidential campaign.
I’m tired of it. It cheapens the debate over matters of truly incredible consequence and importance, and it hurts those who actually are being subject to race discrimination. My feeling is that it is a natural consequence of the empowerment felt by those obsessed with social-justice due to a man obsessed with social justice currently residing in the White House. As a result the fringe shakedown movement usually reserved for the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, it seems, has gone mainstream, and now everyone is sporting those pin-stripe suits so popular among the race-baiting crowd. Figuratively, of course; I have no idea what Jimmy Carter was wearing when he made his idiotic remarks following the Joe Wilson outburst.
Regardless of its roots, the artificial, astroturfed divisiveness must stop before someone truly gets hurt. When Dave Matthews says that he sees racism everywhere, he may very well be right. Obviously, the mainstreaming shakedown artists in Virginia and Arizona see racism everywhere as right. The problem, however, is not the conduct and actions perceived by these people as racist — the problem is that racism is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders are dishonestly and intentionally trying to stir things up for political and other extrinsic gain.