By Oscar H. Blayton, George Curry, Media Columnist
Team America is displaying its true colors these days. Hate speech and crazed behavior are being displayed by conservatives more and more each day, and those who self-identify as moderates and progressives are doing very little about it.
To the rest of the world, “American exceptionalism” is coming to mean exceptional intolerance and bigotry. “Team America” is becoming synonymous with “Team Bigotry.”
When the longest-sitting Justice who currently sits on the Supreme Court expresses a belief from the bench that African Americans probably do not belong at top-ranked universities, a little pennant for Team Bigotry is waved in the air.
It would not be so disturbing if Antonin Scalia were some inconsequential bigot sitting in his den and grumbling his white supremacy beliefs into his beer. But Scalia is an individual who sets policy on a national level. He is a bigot who gets to determine whether other bigots are acting legally or not. He is a bigot who gets to interpret the rights of African Americans and other people of color; and those interpretations have the force of law.
Justice Scalia has never made much of an effort to disguise his lack of respect for people of color – this despite the constant (though silent) presence of his colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas, seated at his right hand on the bench. But now, the current culture in America that displays its hatred of, and disrespect for, people of color has given him license to voice racist views from the highest court in the land. And by giving voice to these views, he is giving license to other bigots to push the ball further down the field for Team Bigotry. “If a Supreme Court Justice can express it from the bench,” these minions of racism deduce, “then it is okay for me to act on it.”
And act on it they do. Emboldened by bigots in high places such as the Supreme Court and presidential campaigns, hate filled Americans are aggressively denigrating targeted groups of people and seeking their expulsion and elimination from American soil. It has become rare that a news cycle does not have a report of Muslims suffering hate motivated attacks.
Recently, two Muslim women, both in the area of Tampa Florida, were attacked after they left their respective mosques.
One was shot at, while the other was almost run off the road. A severed pig’s head was left in the doorway of a Philadelphia mosque; and a mosque in Coachella Valley, Calif. was the target of an arsonist. All of these attacks occurred within days after one of the Republican presidential candidates proclaimed that Muslims should be barred from entering the U.S.
Muslims have been more aggressively demonized in America since the November terrorist attack in Paris and the killing of 14 victims during a San Bernardino shooting spree by a Muslim couple in early December. The rabble who carry out these attacks against Muslims are the powder kegs of violence, bigoted justices and demagogic politicians are the fuse. And they all play for Team Bigotry.
But Team Bigotry is not a new phenomenon in America. They have been waving their banners and showing their colors for centuries; and religious minorities have often been their victims.
Of course there has always been that target group of long standing – the African Americans. While volumes have been written about the impact of bigotry and racism on African Americans, the bleaching bones of long ignored atrocities against Black folk continue to emerge from the shadows and attest to the horrors of American bigotry.
One such horror was the Wilmington Massacre. In 1898, an armed mob of white terrorists, egged on by the North Carolina Democratic Party, attacked the African American community in Wilmington, N.C.
The significance of this attack is that it was not merely some mindless violence against Black folk; it was the violent overthrow of a duly elected local government within the United States.
In November of 1898, a new city council was elected with one third of its members being Black. The presence of these Blacks on a governing body was enough to give rise to fears in the white community of “Negro Domination.” Two days after the election, about 2,000 armed white insurgents burned down the town’s Black newspaper, and rampaged through the Black neighborhood of Brooklyn, killing up to 60 African Americans.
The Wilmington Light Infantry was brought in to quell the violence, but reports indicate that these troops, newly returned from the Spanish American War, sided with the white insurgents, and participated in the killing.
The true colors of Team America are also vividly displayed by the actions of Oklahoma City Police Officer, Daniel Holtzclaw. The facts of his misdeeds are becoming well known, despite being treated as less than “newsworthy” by the major media outlets in America.
Holtzclaw systematically targeted and preyed upon Black women whom he had profiled as having had prior difficulties with law enforcement and therefore vulnerable to attack because of their perceived lack of credibility. His reasoning seemed to be, that no one would believe them. And even if someone did believe them, no one would care. After all, this is Team Bigotry’s house.