If you were born and raised in Kansas, I'm so sorry. I feel for you, as I do for myself. It just never stops, does it, the embarrassment?
And now, a new shame to deal with: U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, who represents Kansas's 2nd District, has opened her racist mouth, secure in her belief that her audience -- conservative republicans at a Kansas rally -- would agree with her. So, she needn't pretend that she's not racist. Oops! Someone said something about the something she said.
NOT SO PRETTY INSIDE
Just what did this pretty little Kansas bigot say, revealing her to be oh-so ugly on the inside?
Furious about the new health care reform bill and its public option supported by President Obama and certainly unhappy that Democrats have control of the House and Senate, just like so many GOP members, Congressperson Lynn Jenkins said that the Republican Party needed a "great white hope," as in Caucasian, to challenge (knock out) President Obama. Oh, yes, she did!
Her statement was on par with the racist comment of our Vice President Joe Biden, back when Barack Obama was his opponent. Joe said: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
HOW TO BACKPEDAL
Of course, when the news media caught wind of the story -- as foul a wind as found on a Kansas farm -- former-farm-girl Lynn Jenkins started to backpedal fast.
It was merely a bad choice of words and she did not intend to offend anyone, she said. We know that she didn't figure anyone at the conservative Republican rally would be offended. Duh!
People trying to give Jenkins a way out suggest she just didn't understand the origin of the phrase "great white hope." Even the Christian Science Monitor said: "Again with the collapse of the internal filtering mechanism," describing her statement as "the latest blunder." What does all that mean -- that if her "internal filtering mechanism" was working she could have hidden her true racist nature? That the "blunder" was in saying it out loud, not that something is terribly wrong with her thinking?
A RACIALLY-TINGED METAPHOR
The Kansas City Star calls Jenkins' embarrassing comment a "gaffe," but that translates to faux pas, a tactless act or foolish error made in public. Again, no-real-intent-there is the suggestion. Yet, the Star's editorial says that in using a racially-tinged metaphor, Jenkins, "who once had the reputation as the smart and straight-arrow Kansas treasurer, helps promote a different view of her." Rather than use the word "racist," the paper says that different view is "as a member of the right-wing ideological crowd of the Republican Party." What, even the news media is using CODE language?
Jenkins now says she was unaware of any negative connotation to the phrase "great white hope." So, why did she use that racially-tinged phrase to make her point about challenging Obama, our nation's first African-American president? Don't forget Obama is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.
ALMOST EVERYONE KNOWS
Almost everyone knows what the phrase "great white hope" means, even though they might not remember where it came from.
It's associated with racism and probably started in the early 1900s when white Americans with racist attitudes wanted to find a boxer to defeat the heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson (pictured left) who was black.
Johnson was the target of a vicious racist campaign and was arrested twice in 1912 for trumped-up charges of transporting white women "across state lines for immoral purposes." Both a popular stage play and a movie, "The Great White Hope" starred James Earl Jones.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you believe that U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins is still a naive farm girl and didn't know what she was saying? Or, do you think she is a calculating racist and knew exactly what she was saying and meant it?
If you are from Kansas, are you mad?
Maybe the woman is both. If you use one of the definitions which describes "naive" as one who is "lamentably unenlightened," it's a descriptor so apt for many Kansans -- particularly elected officials and ministers.
LAMENTABLY UNENLIGHTENED KANSANS
It was just last November when a church in Wichita, KS wrote on its marquee (like a movie theater marquee, only taller than the church itself) "Obama Muslim President a Sin."
Remember Brown vs Board of Education (Topeka, KS)? It was the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in this case which brought about desegregation in public schools.
It was the Kansas Board of Education which was the first to back "intelligent design" -- just four years ago (2005) the board decided that students in Kansas must study doubts about modern Darwinian theory -- a move that defied the nation's scientific establishment. It was God versus evolution.
Topeka, the capitol of KS, is also the location of Westboro Baptist Church, home base for preacher Fred Phelps, who travels the nation leading virulent anti-gay protests at funerals of gay soldiers, who've lost their lives protecting Phelps' first amendment right to free speech.
Surely there can be little doubt why Kansans born-and-bred, move far, far away and continue to be embarrassed and ashamed for the rest of our lives. Many of us secretly have pretty ruby red slippers, somewhere, that can be clicked together at the heels like Dorothy ... just in case. And the beat goes on.
TO READ "HATEMONGERS EXPLOIT RACIAL FEARS AFTER OBAMA ELECTION" CLICK HERE.
TO READ "N.Y. POST'S RACIST CARTOON: COPS ASSASSINATE CHIMP SYMBOL OF OBAMA" CLICK HERE.
TO READ "RACCOONS AT WHITE HOUSE: AMERICA STILL WAITS FOR POSTRACISM" CLICK HERE.