The far-right Republican/Tea Party (GOTP)-controlled Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a proposed constitutional amendment yesterday eliminating Affirmative Action in state government. The so-called “official” GOTP way of thinking for the change is that even though “discrimination exists,” “I don’t think Affirmative Action has been as successful as we like to believe,” the bill’s sponsor, state Representative T.W. Shannon (GOTP), explained. But then extremist right-wing wacko state Representative Sally Kern (GOTP) chimed in with her reasons for ending the system helping minorities advance: “blacks” simply don’t work as hard as whites:
Kern, said minorities earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and have less initiative.
“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”
But she didn’t stop with commenting on why Black-Americans earn less, according to Kern, women earn less than men because “they tend to spend more time at home with their families.”
While Kern has a very long history of making dim-witted statements on the floor of the state house — in the past she’s claimed everything from homosexuality is more dangerous than terrorism to introducing legislation to force teachers to question evolution — her far-right ignorant and bigoted comments reflect a disturbing trend among even mainstream conservatives to blame valuable social safety net programs for creating a culture of dependency or even “slavery.”
“We have heard tonight already that in prison there’s more black people. Yes, there are, and that’s tragic, it’s tragic that our prisons here in Oklahoma, what are they, 99% occupancy? But the other side of the story, perhaps this is something we need to consider: is this just because they are black that they’re in prison or because they don’t want to work hard in school?” Kern asked. “White people oftentimes don’t want to work hard in school, or Asians, oftentimes. A lot of times, that’s what happens. I’ve taught school for twenty years, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t want to work as hard, they wanted it given to them. As a matter of fact I had one student who said, ‘I don’t need to study, you know why? Because the government is gonna care of me.’ That’s kind of revealing there. Equal opportunity, not equal results.”
Well isn’t that the standard southern white racist nonsense? I grew up in the south listening to this kind of nonsense almost on a daily basis. My Mom used to make disparaging comments about African-Americans, claiming they would go to work each day – in the federal government – and just sit there knowing they couldn’t be fired. Many times she would use the “N” word, especially when anyone would talk about Dr. Martin Luther King.
But wait, there’s more pearls of wisdom from Miss KKK, “You see, women usually don’t want to work as hard as a man, because, now I mean, now get me, wait a minute, now listen to me, women, hang on, women tend to think a little bit more about their family, wanting to be at home more time, want to have a little more leisure time, that’s all I mean. I’m not saying women don’t work hard. I think women work very hard, so don’t take that the wrong way. But that’s fact as you have to keep in mind, okay? Women like to be willing to have a moderate work life with plenty of time for spouse and children and other things like that, that’s all I meant, okay. They work very hard. But sometimes they aren’t willing to commit all their life to a job like a lot of men do. That’s all I meant by that. All right.”
(Use southern accent here) Why I declare Miss Kern, you’re just as smart as a June bug aren’t you?
Well, actually June bugs are a lot smarter, and I shouldn’t be so quick to throw the poor June bugs under the same bus. Sad truth is, Kern is a symptom of today’s conservatism, and in particular of the far-right political movements like the Tea Party. They’re very predominantly white, so-called Christians, who want to blame everything wrong with America on people of color. Doesn’t matter which color, as long as it isn’t white. Problem with this way of thinking is it’s what most far-right groups do. They blame the ills of society on everyone but their own white population. You know the groups; groups like the KKK, or the Nazis. Yes, I went there. And yes there are people within the Tea Party who are comparable to Nazis. They’ve beaten people up at political events, and carried threatening signs and made threatening statements. Sorry, but if the jack boot fits.
People like Kern don’t love America; at least not an America built on equality, and opportunity. Her views on woman are not all that surprising, especially coming from a conservative. I once coached a girl’s high school softball team, and when I discovered the team’s budget was being used to pay for items on the boy’s baseball team, I objected under Title IX. Very quickly it all hit the fan. The male athletic director – a 1950s style troglodyte – and many male coaches got angry, but what really surprised me was when woman began asking me why I was stirring that pot? They didn’t think it was unreasonable for the girls to have uniforms that were ten years old while the boys got news ones every two or three years; or why the boys had a batting cage and the girls didn’t; or why the boys basketball team got to practice in the gym at the school while the girls had to go to an old gym at the local catholic church. I would look at all of them and say, “Because it’s the law.” It’s because of views like theirs that Title IX was enacted.
This is why when conservatives say, “We have to take our country back”, everyone else needs to start asking them, “Take it back for whom, and to where”? The America they want is one where woman are not paid equally to men, and where you will be forced to carry your baby to term no matter what your reason for wanting – or needing – an abortion may be; it’s an America where Hispanics are all sent to Mexico – not just the illegal ones – but all Hispanics; it’s an America where only good Christian white men occupy the White House, not some uppity black Muslim; it’s an America where there are no Mosques, and where Jews know their place too; it’s an America where only the wealthy make decisions and where the poor work for near starvation wages; it’s an America where health care is available, but only if you can afford it; it’s an America where corporations are considered to be citizens, and control the political landscape. It’s not an America we need to go back to. It’s not an America we should ever want to go back to. It’s not an America any true American should ever want.