What’s a Raghead?

How can anyone who’s parading around as a Christian have such narrow-minded and prejudiced attitudes?

 

The next person who calls Nikki Haley a raghead within my earshot needs to be prepared for a verbal assault. On second thought, I probably wouldn’t bombard you with a barrage of terms letting you know just how prejudiced and uncalled-for your comments are. That would be unbecoming, wouldn’t it?

Seriously though, I don’t understand how someone who purports to be following the basic guideline of “love one another” can continue to make disparaging remarks about Indians, Muslims, Mexicans, Lebanese, Chinese, Buddhists, Mormons,  Nigerians, or any other group who looks, act, or speaks a little differently.  If the world is to be a better one, we need to realize that it’s US, not us and THEM. 

When you call someone a raghead, what do you mean? Does that person not have hopes and dreams and aspirations just like you do? Is she somehow inferior to you because her family came from another country? Even if you were born in America, were your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents born here too? Or do you even know your country of origin? And even if your forefathers jumped right off the boat at Plymouth Rock, does that mean you descended from royalty? Were these people the aristocracy of England?

Nary a day passes that I don’t hear some snide remark about Mexicans living in the USA. I know some are illegal, but many are United States citizens just like you are. They work, pay taxes, and spend money to keep our economy running. Most don’t have as much money as you do because they’re out doing jobs that you don’t want to do, jobs that require tons of physical effort but don’t pay much. And yes, I know some of you are annoyed that they don’t speak English. I’ve heard, “If you’re going to live in America, you need to speak English!” about a million times. I agree with my friend Jim who says that they’d probably love to learn our language; however, they’re so busy maintaining our lawns and constructing our buildings to take classes. And speaking of classes, even if they had time to take ESL classes, who’s going to teach them? You?

In case anyone is curious, my personal feeling about speaking and writing English is that those are essential skills for anyone who hopes to be even halfway successful in this great country of ours. Unfortunately, I can probably count on one hand the number of students with Hispanic surnames that I’ve had in my classroom in a teaching career that spans over 30 years. I’ve had the privilege of teaching students from Poland, Nigeria, France, Germany, Vietnam, China, and a few other countries, but so far, the Latino/Latina student is a rarity. I’m puzzled by it. They have to know that not speaking English is a huge deterrent to their success. Sometimes I wonder if their ignorance of the language is an advantage to the employers, apartment owners, and shopkeepers who take advantage of them.

Back to Nikki Haley, maybe you should trace your ancestry before you attack hers. And maybe you should examine your track record before you say something about hers.  What exactly have you done lately to make the world a better place? And besides, aren’t there several scriptural references in the Old Testament about how to treat strangers/aliens?  

Okay, I’m climbing down from my soapbox now. I might be taking all of these comments far too seriously. My son spent a couple of years in Mexico and found the Mexican people to be some of the warmest, friendliest people he’d ever met. He was a stranger in their land for two years, and despite the fact that he looked very different from them, he was never treated as abominably as many here in our country treat those who are “different.”

Outbursts and Hissy-fits

Okay, I wasn’t going to jump into the fray, the one about the sense of growing incivility in the United States, but a recent comment from a blogging buddy in Utah has pushed me in. The eyes of the nation are upon us here in South Carolina…and not for the reasons we’d like. Lately we’ve had instances of our elected officials saying and doing embarrassing things. Is it a Southern thing? Is the South racist? That’s what Burl in Utah says many of his acquaintances think.

Where to start? Let’ start at the top with our governor. Not only does he leave the state to fly to South America to visit with his mistress, but he does so without telling anyone where he’s going, not even Jenny. No one. After returning from his trip south, the governor held a press conference in which he rambled pathetically about his woes. Soul mate was used to describe this mysterious Venezuelan beauty, and the lovesick governor said that he was trying to fall back in love with his wife. Huh?  Doesn’t he know when to stop talking? I actually thought that maybe we as a state were getting beyond this scandal until watching a short segment on Jay Leno this week in which he and Seinfeld held an entertaining dialogue about Sanford’s behavior.

Fast forward to last week when Joe Wilson yelled, “You lie!” to the President of the United States before both houses of Congress, before the millions of viewers tuned in to hear Obama’s remarks. Appalled at Wilson’s lack of civility, I thought, “Yet another blow to the Palmetto state’s image.” Earlier this week I read an update on the man who threw shoes at President bush. No one said merely, “Tsk tsk.” No. He served prison time in his own country for insulting the leader of another country.  According to him, punishment was painful and included electric shock.

Back to Burl’s question about whether the outburst was at least partially motivated by racism. I don’t know. I do know that perhaps an Ivy League white person could be resentful of a black man who is extremely intelligent, erudite, smooth, unruffled, sophisticated, and suave.  In fact, as I recall the event, Obama’s cool demeanor was quite a contrast to Wilson’s hot one.

Moving along, I might as well mention Serena Williams and Kanye West.  While both of them acted in childish ways, I’m somehow more inclined to overlook Serena’s explosion, probably because it wasn’t typical of her.  She was having a bad day, and that’s putting it mildly.  Her behavior was unbecoming and as my mother would have pronounced, “uncalled for.” As for Kanye, his deliberate interruption of Taylor Swift’s speech was more than uncalled for. It was extremely rude and bordering on unconscionable.

So at the end of the rambling post, here’s what I think. I think America is the best country in the world to live and work and play and raise children. I also think we’ve forgotten our manners and slipped into serious incivility. We’re so much into freedom of speech and individual rights that we’ve forgotten the golden rule…and the silver one too (don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto you).

All of the above have apologized for their outbursts, hissy-fits, and behavior. Let’s learn from that and all try to be a little kinder, a little more civil…and to rein in our tempers. Please.