Raaaaacists! (Update: New HamNation Added)

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Oct 27, 2006 10:27 AM

First, here's Chris Matthews, on the Ford ad controversy:


I hadn't seen this until this morning, but my column today is a perfect rebuttal:

Is it just me or does it feel more likely that the people who see and hear these innocuous ads and immediately jump to accusations of racism are the ones with the racial hang-ups, not Republican Southerners?

All of their theories, of course, are predicated on the idea that Tennesseans, and all Southern conservatives, are troglodytic racists who are boorish enough to vote against a man because he’s black and simultaneously sophisticated enough to pick up on very subtle coded political messages about his race.

I just don’t buy it. Listen, I understand that white Southerners are not wholly undeserving of such suspicions. Neither, certainly, are Republican operatives. I’ve lived in the South my whole life. I have seen much racial strife. But I’ve also seen much racial strife overcome.

The South is a resilient place full of warm people who don’t spend all their time thinking about race. It’s a place where black and white people live side by side, in greater percentages than any other region in the country, and where peace between them is the rule, not the exception.

I'll have a HamNation on this later today, because it got me riled. I really think this racial subtext argument about the Ford ad is bunk. The entire media is just swallowing it as fact.

I have lived in the South my whole life. Chris Matthews has not. And yet, people like Matthews are deemed experts on the racial attitudes of those in my homeland. I have known hundreds of interracial couples in my lifetime, and noticed those couples come across very little discrimination. Does it happen? Yes, but I would imagine interracial couples in the South have about the same number of issues as interracial couples elsewhere.

In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, I was at a little Baptist Church in North Carolina a couple weeks ago. It's the kind of church that would scare the mess out of the average urban liberal. It's full of warm, good Southerners who love the Lord and talk about it openly. The church is mostly white, but there are a few black members. One of those members is Deron, a 9-year-old child of a white mother and a black father.

On the Sunday I was there, Deron was at the front of the church. The preacher was announcing that Deron had just met the Lord that week and accepted him as his personal savior. Everyone in attendance beamed and shouted "Amen" as Deron smiled sheepishly and shuffled his feet. See what I mean about scaring liberals? After church, Deron had to stand in the reception line with the preacher.

Every single person in that church-- mostly white, conservative, all Southern, and many elderly--came out of the sanctuary and hugged that little boy. No one thought twice about it. I don't know how much I can stress that this is a normal occurence in the South. Black and white people have lived in close proximity and in big percentages for centuries. No one is surprised to see good relations between us anymore except for people who aren't Southern.

The only reason I noticed this incident is because Southerners have been getting so much flak lately for allegedly being so hostile toward people like Deron. The South is a wonderful place. We have racial strife, but we also know very well how to overcome it, and we work on it every single day. People like Matthews are not helping, and they know very little of what they speak.

Update: Check the last update on Allah's post, and see what the oh-so-racially-sensitive Chris Matthews had to say about Michael Steele. Among other things, black candidates should appear "unthreatening."

Update: Thoughts from a Yankee transplant in Georgia. Most transplants to the South quickly learn it's not what the stereotypes suggest, which is why most of them stay and love it, just as we do.

Update: New HamNation on this subject just added. Racism! It's everywhere, as long as you look hard enough.