Friday, March 06, 2009

Racist jokes -- hatred that laughs

I do not like racist jokes, or ethnic jokes, or Jewish jokes or Polish jokes or gay jokes -- or any jokes that are designed to make another group appear as naturally endowed with loathsome qualities. Let's take Polish jokes as an example. These are easy for me to speak to because I am of Polish ancestry.

My grandparents had crosses burned on their lawn when they came to America (by the KKK in Massachusetts) because they were "dumb Catholic immigrant Polacks". When I was a little girl, I was chased home by kids throwing rocks shortly after we moved to town calling me a "Stupid Polack".(1955) I had a teacher volunteer to tutor me in Latin because "your people have such trouble with languages -- your own is so ugly, and you have trouble learning."(1966,and I was an A student). The list goes on. But this will do for openers.

In the late 1960's, Polish jokes became popular. Every joke has the same theme...punchline: the Polish person is stupid. I started standing up to them, politely asking that people not tell me those kind of jokes.

Some people continued, despite my stopping them, saying, "It's OK, you'l see, it's FUNNY!" It never was.

Some said "OK, I'll tell the same joke, but we'll use the Irish, OK? (or the Italians, or whomever). No thanks.

Some stopped and told me I had no sense of humor, was stuck up, and didn't I know that some Polish people found these jokes amusing? Ugh.

And, to my amazement, some people said -- "Hey! I am Polish too..WE can tell them on ourselves." No, we cannot.

Eventually people stopped telling me those jokes. Sometimes I literally had to walk away. But they stopped. Some people said that my objection was like a wake up call. Some actually asked me why and entered into discussion.

But at least I didn't walk away feeling my dignity-container was a quart low.

And in so doing I realized I had to stop all forms of that kind of vile "humor" when I could. I couldn't just stop those that had to do with MY group.

Lately the racism toward Obama of the presidential campaign like this one have continued.

We have the chimp cartoon found here, and the cartoon about watermelons at the White House found here or the heinous series of cartoons sent by an education official from Staten Island which is here. In that last one,

The e-mail, which Ballarino forwarded on Jan. 4 to about 30 people -- including education advocates and school officials -- depicted a photo strip of a mock debate between then-candidates Barack Obama and John McCain that was rife with racist jokes about black people, including comparisons of African American babies to excrement.
The strip starts with McCain saying, "I have black people in my family tree," followed by Obama saying, "Really? That's great," and McCain responding with, "If I recall, they're still hanging there."

What sane person finds that funny?

Speak out, folks -- it doesn't matter what your race is, or your ethnic background -- speak out. Do not tolerate this kind of crap when it hits your mailbox. Send it back and tell the sender why.

This hateful speech does not belong in America.


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