Chain Of Attack
Years ago I was in a Home Depot store trying to buy eight feet of heavy chain for a home project. Home Depot sells chains by the foot off of a large spool of chain hundreds of feet long. You have to get some assistance in order to have the chain cut to your specific need. After the chain was cut the Home Depot employee handed me the chain and I asked if all I had to do was take it to the cashier and checkout. The guy replied that he had to give me a sales slip that indicated how much chain I had and how much it cost. Then in a rather pitiful attempt at humor, as he handed me the sales slip the guy said that if I took the chain upfront without the slip that they would put me in chains.
I’m sure the guy didn’t mean anything by what he said. He was a young black guy, probably still in high school, and there was a good chance it was probably his first job. Nevertheless, I was somewhat offended by what he said. It wasn’t that he didn’t know how to give good customer service. When I first arrived in the hardware section he was helping a white couple with whatever it was they were purchasing. Without trying to eavesdrop as I waited for my turn for service I could hear how courteous and professional he could be. When he started to help me he started with the same customer service demeanor. The quip was totally jarring. Without another word I snatched the sales slip out of the guy’s hand and left to complete the purchase.
I was reminded of that incident in the Home Depot when I heard the news about Vice President Joe Biden’s reference that the Republican’s repeal of Wall Street regulations enacted since the financial crisis that threw the country into economic crisis would throw people back in chains. The remark was made in front of an audience of supporters with many African Americans. I thought Mr. Biden should not have gone there. Whatever excuse he had for the inspiration of the metaphor he should have thought twice about it. For me it didn’t matter if it was a reference to the some conservative saying that Republicans should unshackle business from the burden of unnecessary regulations imposed by the Obama administration.
At first glance the remark could be construed as somewhat racially insensitive. But kind of like the young black guy back at the Home Depot a few years back who probably wasn’t trying to offend a customer, I’m pretty certain that Mr. Biden wasn’t trying to offend his supporters. Mr. Biden has a reputation for making gaffs and his speech the other day is just one of the latest in a long line that goes back decades. Generally speaking he has been the type of politician that supports the view of the black community on most issues. If his words can be judged to be racially insensitive it is more than likely a momentary lack of judgment and not just the latest manifestation of a personal philosophy of racial insensitivity or a possible hostility towards black people.
Compare Mr. Biden’s single sentence remark to the recent philosophies of conservative politicians who wear their disdain for black people on their sleeves. Compare Mr. Biden’s single sentence to Newt Gingrich’s core belief that black people need to give up their pursuit of welfare checks and start earning an honest living. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to Ron Paul and his newsletter with its plethora of racist statements like black people will stop rioting when the welfare checks arrive or that young blacks accused of crimes should be treated as adults because they are black. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to Herman Cain’s contention that black people are too brainwashed against the conservative philosophy of the Republican Party. Compare Mr. Biden’s remark to the conservative’s current political strategy to disenfranchise black people from voting under the guise that voting fraud is so rampant that new standards for voter identification are required to combat the problem. In all honesty the slip of Mr. Biden’s lip is nothing compared to the long chain of political attacks against black people as well as the institutions and policies that support a large portion of the black community.
Now some conservatives want to point at Mr. Biden’s statement and say that he’s the one that is now being divisive and insensitive. Some claim that Mr. Biden telling people that the Republicans want to put people in chains is out of line. It is an affront to the party of President Abraham Lincoln who freed black people from America’s nationally institutionalized racial enslavement. But these same people don’t have a problem saying that President Obama has chained or shackled businesses with regulations. These are the same businesses that continue to show record profits and distribute massive executive bonuses while at the same time shedding jobs for workers. When Mr. Obama took office, the stock market was trading somewhere down in the eight thousand range. Now it is trading over thirteen thousand. That’s a healthy improvement for anybody forced to operate under the burden of shackles.
So I guess we can wrap this all up real quick by saying Mr. Biden shouldn’t have said what he said. We all know he wasn’t trying to be literal just like we all know that the conservatives who accuse liberals of trying to shackle business to the burden of regulation weren’t meant to be taken literal. If some conservatives want to act like they’re so offended, after all the shit that they have said about and have done to the black community, join the fucking club. Whatever Mr. Biden said pales in comparison to what many conservatives have said and done. Some of these people have made political and personal attacks against black people an art form.