The angry reaction to last week’s column about three white men antagonizing a black man in a local bar was unexpected. (JD got it exactly backwards. It was about him and a black friend antagonizing three white men in a bar. )
The angry reaction to last week’s column about three white men antagonizing a black man in a local bar was unexpected.
Unexpected, because the anger was not aimed at the trio of trash who targeted a buddy of mine as we sat in the Bristol Township lounge, quietly minding our own business. The majority of indignation was aimed at me and my old friend.
On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 10, I went with a friend, Jerry, to a Bristol Township bar to shoot pool and have a few beers. It’s his regular spot, or was, until the young white guys reacted poorly to our presence. One man played a Guns N’ Rose song with a racial slur, and yipped along to the lyrics, aiming icy glares our way. We left.
November 15, 2018
The incident, I thought, would be a good topic about “white privilege,” which I see as the perk of going about our day as whites in mostly white communities, never giving our skin color a thought. Non-white people don’t have that perk. Ask them. (Oh yes they do. Plus “Race” is more than skin deep.)
Here’s where Mullane refuses to say that he started it. Whether Mullane is willfully ignorant, just thick, or is pining for the days of the go-along-with the idea that there is no difference between races, the fact is that nothing in the DNA is conducive to black and white people engaging themselves as though there’s no difference. Mullane started out to cause trouble and now he want’s to blame someone else for the trouble he started. Mulland is pretending he’s innocent when it was him and Jerry that started out trying to get a reaction and acting all innocent and surprised that some people are angry at Mullane for causing the trouble.) This triggered a lot of white readers, both left and right. Their gripes fall roughly into three categories — a) black people are just as bigoted b) “Ha! These things don’t happen in progressive white communities” c) it’s Trump’s fault.
Let’s take Trump first. A reader writes:
“I have been working at The Peace Center for over 30 years, and I have never seen the depth and breadth of expressions of hate, intolerance and bigotry that I have in the last two years.”
If only we could hop into a time machine and return to the early 1970s and the racial unrest at Woodrow Wilson High School in Bristol Township. Or to the summer of 1957 and what happened in Levittown when the first black family moved in. Or to Doylestown of the 1940s, when the borough hotel refused to rent rooms to black people. Pearl S. Buck, the author, was mortified when the black driver for the Chinese ambassador to the United States, was turned away by the white owner. She condemned him in a letter. (Buck had the driver as her guest at her farm in Hilltown.)
Go back further to death threats against St. Katharine Drexel in Bensalem, desecration of Catholic cemeteries, Klan cross burnings in Middletown, bigotry against Italian immigrants in Bristol Borough, or black-face minstrel shows which were widely reported in lighthearted local newspaper stories right through the 1950s.
Trump to blame? “One In a Million,” the song the white guy put the juke to harass Jerry, was released 30 years ago. This stuff long predates No. 45 taking the oath two years ago.
Next, from the “Hate Has No Home Here” crowd. Several said that in the deep blue lands of milk and honey (typically any ZIP above Route 1), that sort of stuff just doesn’t happen in tidy, white, progressive neighborhoods. Right.
The sole black jurist on the Bucks County bench, the Honorable Clyde Waite, told me how he once arrived at a Bucks County Bar Association soiree in Doylestown and was mistaken for the hired help by white lawyers he had worked with for years. Another time, he was mistaken for a courthouse maintenance man. How embarrassing — for those color-blind white progressives, not Judge Waite.
Next, the “black people are just as bad” argument. This reader is typical:
“So, how good did it feel parading your black friend into a white bar? How come you guys didn’t go to a black bar? Afraid of what was in there or how they would stare at you, maybe say something to you, white boy? Your attempt to make me ashamed of my white race didn’t work. I can’t say I’m proud of (being white) because that would be racist, right?”
Jerry, whom I’ve known since 1979, grew up in Levittown, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School, and still lives here. If he wants to go out and have a beer, he really doesn’t have a choice. Anyway, how does black hostility toward whites rationalize white hostility toward blacks? I’ll await an answer. (Here it is. You want to start race based trouble do what you and Jerry did.)
That column wasn’t an attempt make anyone feel guilty about being white, or have them, as one old timer told me, “apologize for my race.” It was to point out a blind spot among white people who’ve only ever lived among white people. (How come you started trouble to point out a supposed blind spot that everyone including you know about?)
But if you are resentful, feeling that piece reduced your character to your skin color, I agree that you are right to be resentful.
Doesn’t feel good, does it? (Look in the mirror. You must think you are Saint JD to even think like that.)