“[W]e need segregated buses…. This is Obama’s America”

Apparently, a few days ago, a white student was beaten by two black students on a school bus in Illinois. And, as you might expect, Rush Limbaugh took the opportunity to fan the flames of white paranoia. Here’s a quote from Limbaugh:

[I]n Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering…

…I think the guy’s wrong. I think not only was it racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.

Putting aside for the moment the implication that things were better when it was black kids getting beaten as the white kids cheered, there’s one big problem with Limbaugh’s premise. According to authorities, there’s no evidence that this incident was racially motivated at all. That, of course, doesn’t stop Limbaugh, though. All he needs is a piece of videotape showing a white kid getting beaten on a bus full of black students to feed the fears of his terrified audience. All he needs to do is conjure up the image of the poor, white student beset by angry black mobs to make his point about “Obama’s America” and reinforce the party line that our President, in the words of Glenn Beck, hates white people… Hell, for all we know, he might be raising a private black army answerable only to him… One wonders why it is that you can’t legally yell “fire” in a crowded theater, but you are allowed to yell “the blacks are going to kill us” in a racially-charged powder keg like the one we find ourselves in today.

Speaking of school bus violence, it seems as though there may well have been a racially-motivated attack here in Ann Arbor a few days ago, in which a 16 year old Muslim girl was beaten by a group of kids yelling anti-Islamic comments upon leaving her school bus. As that doesn’t fit Limbaugh’s narrative, though, I don’t imagine that we’ll hear about it on his show…

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  1. HauntedChickenCoop
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I doubt Limbaugh ever takes the bus. “Yuck” – public transportation! But, if he does, someone should figure out which bus route he’s on…

  2. Mr. X
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    From the conversation after the AA.com article:

    I’m an ethnic student at Skyline High School. All the articles and letters I’ve read regarding the incident (Ann Arbor.com, Free Press, AAPS district official letter) have been patchy and not very concrete. If racism and discrimination was involved (which I’m inclined to believe was, although that hasn’t been conclusively and fully proved), then AAPS has obviously failed in teaching multicultural/ religious education, acceptance, and tolerance. The education of the students involved was skewed, and the district response to the incident to its students and parents was just pathetic. How was it addressed IN SCHOOL? On Wednesday, my English 10 class had a flimsy 30-minute discussion on “What causes Prejudice?” We also talked a little about it in Social Studies on Friday. I think what AAPS needs to be doing now is re-evaluating the safety of after-school transportation in the interests of the students of AAPS. Safety and security of students should be a primary concern for the district now. As an ethnic student at Skyline High, how am I supposed to feel? I’m certainly not of the Islamic faith, but I have witnessed ethnic tension at Skyline. Secondly, I think AAPS needs to work on its multicultural education and educating students on cultural and religious acceptance and tolerance. And “Grrrrrrrr41,” I don’t know WHEN you went to Ann Arbor Public Schools, but I’ve been going to school in this district for three years now and it is NOT “one big happy family.” I see prejudice and discrimination every day. Certainly not people jumping other people resulting in six stitches, but in the way people group and form cliques. In off-handed comments. In looks and glares of disdain and spite. In racially-charged insults- I’ve seen an Arab girl called “a terrorist.” And I’m not talking just racial/ethnic discrimination here; there is rampant homophobia among high school guys. How many times do I hear gay slurs and “Oh, that is so gay” every day? There is gender discrimination. There is classism and socio-economic division. There is prejudice against foreigners. I’ve been jokingly told “Wow! You speak good English!” I don’t even speak Chinese. The bottom line is, prejudice exists in AAPS. It may not always be apparent on the surface, but in incidents like these, it rears its ugly face for all to see. And that’s a shame. And it’s a bigger shame that it takes something like THIS to bring attention to prejudice and discrimination in Ann Arbor Public Schools.

  3. Posted September 21, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    In yesterday’s NY Times, Op Ed columnist Frank Rich argued–persuasively, as usual–that the current anti-Obama rage stemmed from a large and complex set of issues (“Even Glenn Beck Is Right Twice a Day,” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20rich.html). But he agreed that the racial component is real and undeniable.

    I saw this myself last Friday during my evening commute. Stuck at a long red light, I had plenty of time to study the bumper stickers on the tired-looking Dodge Ram truck just ahead of me. There were two. One was an outsized replica of the Confederate Flag. The second, given pride of place in the back window, read: “Where’s A Good Assassin When You Need One?”

    I was pole-axed.

    Even in the land of the First Amendment, the message was utterly shocking. So I just sat there, reading and re-reading that line, hoping I was somehow misinterpreting. And knowing I wasn’t.

    Scary times, no?

  4. Dirtgrain
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Of course, NCLB and the emphasis on test results has perhaps taken away time to teach lessons on diversity. Still, there are state standards that relate to the topic.

    Then again, I don’t think it would be fair to require teachers make racist students not be racists. That could be a tall order.

  5. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I’ve always found peer and cultural pressure + persuasion to be more effective in motivating people to not be racist than any sort of school teaching or laws, which usually made it worse because of the rebellion factor.

  6. the kingpin
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    This is why kids bring guns to school. I really hope that they give this kid a year in “Juvi”, to cool his heels a little bit. I’m really disgusted by this video. If this ever happened to my child, I would have no problem showing them how a simple ball point pen can be used as a stabbing device for self defense, for future reference…

  7. Peter Larson
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I think that looking at this, people are very, very wrong to assume that the constant level of public disrespect given to Obama by people who ideally should know better is NOT racially motivated.

    Mr. James Carter is correct. American politics has sunk to a very new low.

  8. Posted September 21, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Before the election I had an african american friend say to me that she felt almost bad voting for Obama because she might be sending him to his death. That is just so sad. I hope it’s not true.

  9. James Madison
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Rush Limbaugh is both a big fat liar, and a racist of the most enduring and original American sort of racist: Someone who blames all Black people for the actions of an individual Black person. Whites are judged by their individual acts, as individuals, but all Blacks always act as representatives of their entire ‘race’. Hence, one group of Black kids getting out of line on a bus equals anti-white violence by all Blacks, directed by the Black man in the White House. Total baloney if considered as factual questions – but not necessarily lacking in political credibility or effectiveness. Back in the 183os, Nat Turner and a few dozen Virginia slaves rose in bloody rebellion against slavery and slavemasters; more slaves refused to join him than did join him. Yet the whites of Southampton County responded by murdering hundreds of slaves, in the paranoid fear that all Blacks were supporting Nat Turner. Many times the right-wing of America has provoked fears of The Black Masses to gear up the forces of reaction. Glen Beck and Limbaugh are doing just that today, just as the Ku Klux Klan did in the 1920s.

  10. EOS
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    And yet it was the Republican Party that abolished slavery. And the biggest racists of all time were Southern Democrats. And it was Democrat Leader, former Senator Robert Byrd, whose position as an Exalted Cyclops garnered him such widespread support among his fellow party members. Please, spare of the history lesson of “right-wing” racists.

  11. annoyed
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    …and if you are so clueless as to not understand that ol’ Rush was employing sarcasm and exaggeration to make a point that is just about polar opposite from what has been written here, then you’re just hopeless…….

  12. James Madison
    Posted September 21, 2009 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    EOS, I believe you have lived your entire life “spared of history lessons” and I am sure you will go on ignoring history except as a source of potshots.

    Mr. Lincoln, however, did not claim that the Republican party abolished slavery – he credited that to the Union Army and the force of arms on the fields of war. Don’t confuse the 13th Amendment, which merely ratified the war’s actual abolishment of slavery. Not that I mean to take anything from the Republican party of the 1860s — it was a party then that fought for freedom. That party’s less vestiges were purged in the late 20th century.

  13. Chelsea
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    Rush L. has only one real concern: keeping his job; keeping his name before the public. Personally, I wouldn’t give him any attention. It just encourages him.

    Second, this business about Obama hating white people would mean that he would have to hate half his family. Of course, as we get closer to becoming one race, we’ll have to fight about ideologies instead. Muslims make a convenient target at the moment. In time, it will be someone else’s turn. (Jew bashing’s always popular.)

    What I’m saying–what I always say, Mark, et al: Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose. That is: This is hardly anything new.

  14. Posted September 22, 2009 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Annoyed, I do recognize the sarcasm in Rush’s call for segregation. At the same time, however, I recognize that there’s something more behind it.

  15. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    The Republican Party of today would not let Abraham Lincoln under their tiny little tent. He would be screened out before entry.

  16. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I get being antiRepublican for any number of reasons, but sometimes some left folks err on the side of prejudicial cluelessness. I especially see the left’s crying racism playing right into their hands — I hate to tell you, but it’s not as pervasively true as you think it is (you who think it). They use that to their advantage in winning folks to their side.

  17. Mike want longr name
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink


    Why would Lincoln not be welcome? Because of his plans to deport all blacks? Or for prosecuting freemen under the fugitive slave act? Or for his support for a constitutional amendment to formally enshrine slavery in law?

  18. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    BA: “I hate to tell you, but it’s not as pervasively true as you think it is (you who think it).” (he said giggling madly to himself the whole time)

    That’s complete absolute total bullshit. I am a middle class white dude. I’m about a lily white as they come. For some reason, it has sent out a signal my whole life that it’s OK for people to say the most racist, sexist, homophobic things imaginable. And they have NEVER held back. I’ve listened to 42 years of this shit. It makes me wanna puke.

    It’s MUCH worse than anybody thinks. Racism isn’t an in-your-face, I-hate-black-people thing. Only a simpleton would think that’s how it expresses itself. It’s a subtle resistance to anything that is not within an individual’s very narrow definition of “normal”. A better word for it is prejudice. “They are black/gay/muslim, therefore they are not as good as me.” It is this individual exceptionalism that is the problem.

    The solution? Turns out that when folks simply know people who aren’t like themselves, the isms reduce significantly. Just personally knowing openly gay people makes people less homophobic. LEARNING is the key. But prejudice is alive, well and thriving at the moment. Make no mistake. It’s an American growth industry. (Do they sell stocks?)

  19. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    It never fails that I get attacked the worst when I’m being the most helpful!

  20. Oliva
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Such big egos we humans have, so big and fragile and therefore sometimes so dangerous and unruly.

    Meantime, a small bit of a piece by Andrew Sullivan that examines this difficult matter and makes room for some of the more obvious and stubborn complexities:

    Obama understands that if he were to take this bait, and attack the racism out there, he would lose. Limbaugh understands this too — and he has a much tighter grip on the Republican base than any current politician. And so in the cultural context, Limbaugh is all about riling people up and Obama is all about calming them down. It’s a war of nerves that Obama needs to transform into something much less compelling. He has to bore his way towards acceptance.

    from: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article6841197.ece

    It is refreshing to see this mention of the need to calm people down–the antidote. I know that during the all-terror-so-all-be-terrified way of life, the distressing confusion about things getting haywire and heartbreaking as torture and warrantless wiretapping and all those initiatives undertaken under Bush-Cheney got set in motion, many people talked about the felt awfulness of living in a stressed state, living in fear, angry that though they could consciously see that it was being manufactured for political purposes, it still held sway.

    Which is part of the reaction especially this late summer to the intimidation efforts by those like the people who showed up at President Obama’s townhalls with guns (outside the event), by those carrying overtly threatening signs to protests, by people like Beck, who gets so visceral and kooky and wound up but still has viewers . . . The intimidation surely is purposeful. The best thing to do probably is develop great equanimity, work on remaining calm, tune out the intimidators, focus on good works and good ideas. Not be afraid! It was unbearable to be made afraid by the last administration, and some of us voted last Nov. for hope, antidote to fear. (One gets the feeling that Limbaugh’s poor health and poor self-regard might be blocking any possible inner pathways–neural, chemical, and otherwise–to optimism and real delight, so he’s trying to bring us all down with him. That, I know, is hardly a new observation.)

    D-e-e-e-e-e-e-p, slow exhales, exercise, potlucks, love . . . are effective against bullies and intimidation!

  21. Oliva
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    BA, I was absolutely smitten by your comment a few days back in a different thread. I don’t have the exact language and won’t let myself revisit that discussion because of that spewer of not anything good or useful over there, but it was such a gem, and I am being absolutely sincere–re. the many languages you know and that you’re a ninja.

  22. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    BA, you are neither under attack nor are you being helpful by downplaying prejudice.

    But I heard you did smite Oliva.

  23. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Mike want longr name:
    Because of his plans to deport all blacks? It was the Whigs and many Republicans who supported colonization because they feared that white people would not accept 4 million freed slaves into their society. Plus the Elite Republicans and Democrats did not want them in their neighborhoods, period.

    As for prosecuting a “freeman” under the fugitive slave act, I must confess you got me there. I am not aware of any such case. Enlighten me.

    With regard to the amendment enshrining slavery into permanent law: Lincoln did not support it. He was required by law to deal with it the way he did because it was a proposal brought forth under the Buchanan Administration.
    As for states rights, Lincoln supported states rights. In fact, he often said he would/could not touch slavery in the states where it already existed because of the Constitution. However, once the war began, the rules changed. Under the war powers act, he could issue the emancipation proclamation as a military act to confiscate property. Remember, the slaveholders insisted that slaves were property. Depriving the enemy of property is a common act of war. Once that act took effect, and the black man was fighting in the Union army by the thousands, he did not want to send them back to slavery once the war was over. Thus, the big push for the 13th amendment.
    The Solid South (Dems) were created due to the insistance of the North on punishing the south, southern landowners. It may have been all different had Lincoln lived as that was not his intention.

  24. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Let me be plain: if you think the primary motivation for all the tea-baggers and town-hollers is racism (or that they are carrying guns to try to intimidate the poor helpless liberals), you are making a strategic blunder that will strengthen your enemies. Their motivation is fear of socialist-like big government that is way more powerful than them, that doesn’t listen to them, that doesn’t respect their rights, and that spends too much. That’s their motivation. You should know your enemy accurately, for your own sakes. It’s a tactical mistake to keep playing the race card here.

  25. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Oliva!

  26. Peter Larson
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    In no way do I think that the fleabaggers’ primary motivation is racism. I was referring to the ubiquitous expressions of disrespect and stupidity by elected officials and persons who should know better.

    People apparently feel much more comfortable disrespecting a minority Presidential figure than they would a whitey. Of course, this is all speculation, since there is no way to test that hypothesis. This is just a gut feeling at this point.

    Also, in no way was I trying ot suggest that Republicans are overwhelmingly racist. George Bush had possibly the most racially diverse cabinets in Presidential history and made no attempt to publically nor to politically capitalize on that fact. It was for this reason, that I could conclude that Bush could have cared less about race. In fact, I don’t think it ever dawned on him that there were minorities in his cabinet. He garnered a lot of respect from me for this. There are a lot of bad things that you can say about GWB, but you can’t say he’s a racist.

    I am positive that there is a large racist set amongst the fleabaggers, but by no means is racism their primary motive. If it were, it would be much more obvious. However, this is not to say that it doesn’t exist, nor does it excuse the ugly behavior we have seen of late.

  27. Oliva
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Trying to see the forest and trees is not so easy. Regular people and historians still argue about what the Civil War, which shaped us so critically, was “really” about. After being taught that there were complex causes or that it was actually a states’ rights issue and not about abolishing slavery, someone comes out with a new book that cites the views of plain old soldiers and citizens, lots of them, North, South, and westward, and for them it was about slavery, so, even if politicians were making ideological arguments and other factors figured in–maybe even things we still don’t understand or appreciate fully–it’s worth considering that a whole lot of regular people felt it was a war over slavery (and then that category opens up in many directions, so there’s still plenty of forest and trees).

    Just like in our time matters of race continue to abide and affect society, economically, politically, and otherwise. Even if it’s easy to point out, and celebrate, that many of the people opposed to Obama or to health care reform are not motivated by racism , that doesn’t negate the fact that a potent amount is being given a chance to romp openly, hurting (almost) all of us ultimately or immediately. Being able to call it what it is makes it possible to choose anti-racism instead, so it’s worth doing.

    It’s also worth asking African-American friends, neighbors, and family members if they’re feeling less secure generally these last couple of months, feeling more instances of intimidation or discourteous behavior, feeling offended or hurt by some of the not-so-camouflaged coded messages from SOME white politicians and talk show hosts to SOME white sign-bearing protestors. Not to mention white coworkers at such esteemed institutions as UM Hospital. It’s worth asking. Maybe they’ll say it’s been a relief to feel a growing trust among us all generally, even if not foolproof, with plenty of white people having voted Obama in. Not like the racist stuff was gone and then just returned–but it was not being tolerated or blessed or in the least appreciated. So having leading voices of the Right utter disgusting racist rants or even phrases is just not okay.

    I read that Joe Scarborough called for more honest politics and for right-wing politicians to stand up to the violent rhetoric–and he warned he’ll keep track and make it very public. Good for him–I’m surprised (though maybe I shouldn’t be–he’s stood up several times in a good direction) and grateful.

  28. Oliva
    Posted September 22, 2009 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Mark H. and others–please don’t wince in pain to read my oversimplified comments about the fluctuating history of the Civil War. I can see I made my point highly imperfectly on several fronts–but on a blog sometimes the gist is the thing (ah, hence the jungles of misunderstanding).

    Lightheartedness, too, is welcome every time and is also a staple of this blog, along with the other things.

  29. Curt Waugh
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Peter Larson: “People apparently feel much more comfortable disrespecting a minority Presidential figure than they would a whitey. Of course, this is all speculation, since there is no way to test that hypothesis.”

    Your sarcasm almost eluded me here. Unless you weren’t being sarcastic. In that case, I’m at a loss.

    GWB: Expanded government. Overspent. Warred with tiny nations.
    Result: No tea-baggers.

    BHO: Expanded government. Overspent. Warred with tiny nations.
    Result: Tea-baggers.

    That’s about the perfect definition of a test of a hypothesis if ever I saw one.

  30. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Again, Curt, not true. This stuff started building during Bush’s term. Bailout outrage was during Bush’s term. Obama has continued and expanded Bush’s over-spending policies, so now the building outrage is coming to a head. The Republican base was growing outraged that the Bush administration was ignoring them on spending and illegal immigration (among other things), and now they of course feel more ignored by Obama’s policies. What’s so hard to understand about that? I hate neocon’s too, I’m not being partisan here. If you want to live in your racism version of what’s going on here, so you don’t have to understand where these people are coming from, be my guest. But you’re not doing yourself any favors by failing to understand reality accurately.

  31. Robert
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, right, BA, the rest of the Republican party is as smart as you. Do you think we’re going to buy that. Sure it just took them a little longer to notice the things you did back in 2003, and have been complaining about since. Somehow you got through to them, and now the whole right wing is enlightened like you. Get real.

  32. Robert
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    BA was a teabagger befor teabagging was cool…WAY BEFORE…I mean like 6 years before. He had his own 9/12 rally in DC…9/12/2003!!! He was the only one that showed up that year…and at every successive 9/12 rally for then next five years, then suddenly in 2009, tens of thousands of other disenfranchized Republicans realized what BA was saying all that time, and jumped on board.

  33. Brackinald Achery
    Posted September 23, 2009 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t catch on till way later than 2003. What the hell are you flaming about?

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