‘Get’em outa here!” shouts a certain presidential candidate at one of his rallies, prompting his devout adherents to scream with delight and resulting in the taunting of, cursing at, shoving and even spitting on those being removed from the scene.
One cannot help but take note that those being taunted and removed are persons of color or of another faith other than Christian. The presidential candidate watches with smug satisfaction and does nothing to halt the despicable display of hate being unleashed by his rhetoric.
Overt racism is easy to identify. For the past 40 years, such has been out of fashion and considered totally inappropriate for an educated, civilized people.
It is the way things used to be, but not now. It is the way it was in the 1950s and ’60s, separate schools, separate water fountains, separate restrooms. It’s people in the streets shouting, “2, 4, 6, 8, we won’t integrate!”
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After the 1970s, overt racism in the United States grew to be more of a taboo. This does not mean it went away; it simply transformed into a “latent” form. As I see it, latent racism is being racist while stopping short of using the “N” word.
I grew up in Southeast Missouri known as “Little Dixie” due to the cotton industry and its large African-American population. My Baptist preacher dad and mother dared, in the 1950s, to speak out against racism and gave support to the “freedom riders” in the ’50s and early ’60s.
To be a young teen in school called an “N lover,” to be shoved around in the halls and hear his parents cursed, was a lesson in racial intolerance I and my brother have carried all our lives. Never did we think we would see its ugly head rear itself in such a populist way in today’s political arena.
Sadly, in this time of growing racial and religious intolerance, especially regarding Muslims, our Christian pulpits are silent as the tide of hate, racism and intolerance seems to have free rein and even support from many sitting in church pews Sunday after Sunday. Latent racism, resting just under one’s skin, is still racism!
In the current political climate, charged with division and strong emotions, latent racism is a powerful aspect influencing the race for the highest office of our great nation. Latent racism is just as powerful and evil as overt racism.
How sad that we, as an electorate, allow our distaste for the “establishment” and the current state of affairs in our nation to ignore any presidential candidate’s use of hate or fear and to unleash “latent racism” to full blown “overt racism.”
Edward “Ned” Walsh of Princeton is the former executive director of Habitat for Humanity International in Johnston County.