Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guest post:: MIchael Cook on racism

On March, 14, I received an email from a friend in Newburyport that had a forwarded joke attached. The person who sent the original forward to my friend is a highly regarded, successful retired business man, who, as my friend has often told me, is one of greater Newburyport's wealthiest long time residents - not to mention a staunch Republican.

The forwarded "joke" was titled, "Our Dog Spot".

It went like this; Spot's owner goes down to the local welfare office to try and sign Spot up for benefits.

The clerk tells Spot's owner, according to agency guidelines, dogs do not qualify for welfare benefits.

Spot's owner then explains to the clerk that Spot is lazy, unemployed, speaks no English, and has no idea who his daddy is.

The punch lines? "Spot gets his first check next Friday. Is this a great country or what?"

I suppose I took offense at such an ignorant and bigoted "joke" because I, for a decade, have very much a part of a family that is multi-racial and multi-lingual whose members include doctors, lawyers, very successful businesspeople, school teachers, and stay at home moms who raise children with a level of manners and respect for their elders that is sorely missing in many American kids these days, even those who come from families headed by people like the original forwarder of this 'joke".

Now, I firmly believe my friend's wealthy, retired, white, Republican friend has every right to tell, and e-mail, such vile and bigoted attempts at humor, after all, Oliver Wendell Holmes said it best; and I'm paraphrasing a bit but, if one really believes in free speech, one has to be prepared to defend the speech one hates the most.

But that said, I also firmly believe every decent American who understands and rejects the hateful and bigoted subtexts of such lame attempts at "humor", has an obligation to stand up and call such "comedians" out, even if they are wealthy, retired, white, GOP pillars of greater Newburyport society.

This kind of ''humor" is anything but funny. And the fact it is being passed around on the internet among Newburyporters should be a wake-up call that, despite all the touchy feely, New Agey gobbledeegook about Newburyport being a "No
Place for Hate" community, and all the media attention the Martin Luther King Day breakfast gets, the fact is bigotry is alive and well in Newburyport.

What saddens, even frightens, me, is that it is alive and well among people like my friend's wealthy, white, well educated, retired, Republican friend. No other proof of that reality is needed beyond this most recent ignorant and bigoted "joke" this "pillar" of Newburyport society is spreading on the internet.

Michael Cook
Puerto Viejo de Limon, CR
& Nbpt


Anonymous said...

dear michael, get over yourself.

macsurf said...

anon, this has nothing to do with me.

Like I said, I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe in calling a bigot and a racist out when they try to couch their bigotry and racism in benign sounding humor.

I also believe people in Newburyport need to know such attitudes are very much alive and well, despite all the PC,touchy feely "No Place for Hate" that, when all is said and done, does little to combat the underlying issues and dynamics in play with racism.

Anonymous said...

I've found racism to be alive and well in good old Newburyport, some of it in rather surprising (read: disturbing) places. I won't go into the details.

Racism stinks: my motto has always been to hate and despise people for who they are, not what they are.

- The Carrot