Racism, like beauty, mostly in eye of beholder
by Pete Borden
columnist
October 02, 2012 01:13 AM | 2086 views | 17 17 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The ineffective and poorly attended protest at Mulligan’s Food and Spirits on Roswell Street in Marietta Sept. 22 was conceived in defiance of the First Amendment. The professed motive was to protest the wording on a sign. The real purpose seemed to be to protest the right of the owners of the bar to free speech.

The wording on the sign, “I Heard the White House Smelled Like Collards Greens and Fried Chicken,” may be in poor taste to some, but the fact is that it was posted on a sign belonging to Mulligan’s, located on the property of Mulligan’s and the posting of same is within the rights guaranteed them by the First Amendment.

FRITS (Folks Raised in the South), by and large, like not only collard greens, but turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and poke sallet. Col. Sanders built an empire on the undeniable fact that Americans, as a people, love fried chicken. How does a remark that the White House smells like such well loved food become racist? Where I grew up, it was considered a compliment to the homemaker when someone said her kitchen “smelt good.”

There is an adage, from pre-Christian Greek literature, which states, in essence that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same can be said of racism, in many cases. More often than not, the racism of a statement or action is more dependent upon the concept of the hearer or observer than the intention of the alleged offender.

The wording on the sign is not racist in content. Indeed, racism exists only in the minds of some of those observing it. In order to attach racial significance to the message, one has to believe that collard greens and fried chicken are exclusively “black food” and also believe in the stereotypical black who thrives on that food. Most of us know black people do not fit that stereotype and we do not automatically make that connection. In fact, the making of that connection indicates racism on the part of the hearer.

During the last presidential campaign, Mulligan’s marketed a tee shirt, bearing the inscription “Obama ‘08” and the picture of a brown cartoon monkey named “Curious George.” In times past, bigots compared black people to monkeys and apes, even making up jingles and verses to that effect. Though, I doubt many people today make that kind of connection, other than as a memory of earlier biases, I think it very probable that the people at Mulligan’s intended us to, for whatever reason. And I am sure some people found it humorous. Because of that incident, Mulligan’s has a reputation, deserved or not, of being racially biased against the President.

The people at Mulligan’s make no secret of the fact that they do not like President Obama, or his policies. They are joined by millions of others, of all races, creeds, religions and sexual orientations. None of that dislike has to do with race. Most of us know that the president’s mother was white and his father was Kenyan. There is nothing to hate in his racial and biological makeup.

“Racism” and “racist” are terms used by some today to describe just about anybody who does not embrace the current administration and its policies. The president intimates as much himself, empowering everyone else to use the same illogical argument.

In fact, the terms are used so carelessly that they really have little impact or meaning anymore, except as a convenient vehicle for the ill-informed, the enraged elite, the overly educated and the race baiters when they run out of legitimate arguments. Call your opponent a racist and you win.

One of the people quoted in the MDJ article regarding the Mulligan flap said they wanted to prevent another politically incorrect sign from going up. That, too, is in the eye of the beholder. What is politically incorrect to one is acceptable to another.

Many people think signs, saying “Re-elect Obama,” are politically incorrect and offensive. Does that mean they should be taken down?

The right to not be offended does not exist. The prospect of a world where nothing is offensive to anyone is a terrible thing to contemplate. There would be no art, no theater, no music, no literature and no NFL, etc. In short, it would be a world too sterile in which to live.

Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.
Comments
(17)
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Nicholle
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June 14, 2014
Obama is not from the south
frogbreath
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October 05, 2012
Foley

You remind me of bull, but not Connor.
Devlin Adams
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October 05, 2012
Foley, welcome to the ever growing list of liberal whiners who are proving Borden's point for him.

Oh, by the way, If you see Lib (lol) tell him that Pete Borden will be introducing him to the crowd at Mulligans tomorrow at 2PM when he comes to explain how all the people there are ignorant racists. I am leaving shortly for Califronia, or I would join him.
Kevin Foley
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October 02, 2012
Yes, I'm sure the people who own Mulligan's meant nothing racist just as I'm sure Bull Conor was just trying to "restore order" in Birmingham.

I'm surprised you didn't mention "outside agitators," Pete.
anonymous
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October 06, 2012
Good ole Bull Connor. Just another democrat working to keeping the black folks on the plantation.

Foley, why don't you tell us about how the democrat party continues his work today...not with fire hoses, but the chains of a federal hand out -- just big enough to make folks take it and get them (barely) thru the next week, but too small to ever allow them the economic freedom to stand on their own --- and contingent upon them maintaining a level of non-productivness that guarantees they will never reach a level of economic freedom independent of the hand out from their Federal (masters).

Gotta love them Democrats. They so love black people(boy, don't they tell us)...as long as they stay on the (new) plantation.

Some things never change. Bull Connor is alive and well in the democrat party today.

Maatf
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October 02, 2012
Come on, Pete. I grew up around here, too.

Using that wording is about hoping people will think of skin color - and you know it.

I watched the same sort of thing all my life - little bits of speech used with a wink to evoke a stereotype. We Southerners are masters at it.

It is even very Southern to smile and deny that it is going on. That is part of the game. But it still is intentionally racist.
Devlin Adams
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October 03, 2012
That's your perception, It hs no basis in fact. I love the way you people keep proving Borden's point for him.
frogbreath
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October 02, 2012
JamesT-

I believe you to be the racist here. See? It doesn't men anything anymore. I hope that when you reach 30 you are a bit more open in your analysis.

As for me, I always assumed that fried anything was Southern. I come from the north and I love and eat just about any kind of greens and have, all my life.

Beauty is in the eye of the bigot???
ComradeAnon
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October 02, 2012
You say "Re-elect Obama" is "politically incorrect and offensive" and compare it to what's on the sign at Mulligans. Wow. Your definition of racism is extremely narrow.
Devlin Adams
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October 02, 2012
You need a remedial reading course. He did not compare it to what is on Mulligan's sign right now, nor did he link it to racism. He said some people find it "Offensive". That has nothing to do with racism.
James T.
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October 02, 2012
There are some key flaws in your argument.

Fried chicken and collard greens are indeed good old southern food. But the president was born in Hawaii and raised in Chicago. What is the connection between a man from Chicago and "southern food"? The only reason to assert that the president likes fried chicken and collard greens is the color of his skin. Pretending otherwise is pointless.

As to the monkey comparison. That is not from some ancient, by-gone era. I am 27 and was familiar with the racist imagery related to monkeys. Again, trying to pretend that otherwise is pointless.

Mulligans absolutely has a right to make racist signs and shirts. The people talking about silencing them are not helping. As the adage goes, "two wrongs do not make a right". But it is key to note, there are two wrongs here. Mulligan's management is racist. They say racist things and sell racist products. And your attempt to put a thin veneer of respectability on that racism just makes you look a fool.
Gnam
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October 02, 2012
Criticize all you want. You have the right to laugh at Obama. I have a right to laugh at the stupidity of white southerners, particularly folks from rural Georgia. So you exercise your right and I will exercise mine! My attack on southern whites may be racism in the eyes of some beholders!
Devlin Adams
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October 02, 2012
James T. I think you are expressing your opinion, to which you have a right.

Borden also expressed his, to which he has right.

The fact that you diagree with him does not make him wrong,nor does it make you wrong.

What makes you wrong, and what negates the rest of your blog, is the back door personal insult.

Do you think Mulkligan's is racist because they do not like President Obama? If so, then I guess you must think that everything he does is right, that there can be no other reason not to like him. If you believe that, then you are part of the problem.
James T.
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October 02, 2012
Mr. Adams,

There was nothing back door about my insult. I said the management at Mulligans was racist, and that the writer of this opinion piece was a fool.

I made logical arguments about why Mr. Borden's argument was poor. The idea that my arguments are negated because I also called Mr. Borden a fool is off-base.

I think Mulligans is racist because they post racist comments and sell racist shirts. Let me help you out here:



Obama is a bad president.

Obama is ugly.

Obama is a fried chicken eating monkey.

One of the above is racist. Two are not. I refuse to believe that people are too stupid to tell the difference.
Devlin Adams
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October 02, 2012
James, First of all, nobody at Mulligans called Obama a monkey. Had they done so,that might be racist, just as your calling Borden a fool might be racist. It depends upon your point of view and your intent. If I said, "Obama is a monkey because all black people are monekys" that would be racist.

Your argumenta are only logical to you because you made them. That does not make them logical in and of themselves.

Anyone stooping to personal insults in waht should only be an exchange of ideas is as stupid, narrow minded, bigoted and off base as you seem to think the owners of Mulligan's to be. I'll bet you know less about the people who own Mulligan's than you knwo about me, and that is zilch.
ComradeAnon
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October 02, 2012
Looks like Mr Adams needs a remedial reading course. From the above article "During the last presidential campaign, Mulligan’s marketed a tee shirt, bearing the inscription “Obama ‘08” and the picture of a brown cartoon monkey named “Curious George.” Looks like somebody at Mulligans DID call him a monkey.

Devlin Adams
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October 02, 2012
Comrade, you are wrong. The people who called him a monkey are the ones who made that connection and that interpretation.

The logical thing would have been to think that Curious George was endorsing Obama;s candidacy. Look at it this way, if the picture had been of George Clooney, would you have immediately thought Mulligan's was calling Obama George Cloone?

That is the whole point of Borden's article, which you, James T. and others missed entirely, in your mad rush to pin the label "racist" on somebody.
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