Photo via Flickr user Tony Donnelly
Welcome to another edition of This Week in Racism. I’ll be ranking news stories on a scale of one to RACIST, with “one” being the least racist and “RACIST” being the most racist.
–If you think you're safe at the zoo, on the beach, or crossing a scenic bridge, think again! Racist swans are on the loose! The Telegraph reported on a rash of "fowl" hate crimes* at Warwick University committed by a rogue swan. A fence had to be erected to keep the 4-foot beast from attacking Indian students. No word on whether or not the swan had a tiny black mustache or a fondness for "goose stepping."
Albertina Crocetti, an student at Warwick, told the Telegraph the following:
It's bizarre, she doesn't seem to like foreigners and attacks them to defend her nest. She's a true right winger that's for sure—they certainly seem to be racially motivated incidents.
Not sure if this swan qualifies for membership in the EDL, but it does have being white as a distinct advantage if it wants to be. I'm positive that the world's first winged fascist would be a shoo-in for a guest spot on the Tonight Show.
There are studies that show that animals can develop an aversion to certain physical traits in humans. Dogs can get spooked at the sight of babies, or men, or black people. An NPR report from February of this year pointed to evidence that dogs have a part of their brain that is attuned to picking up on emotional cues from people and other dogs.
That said, is what a swan or a dog experiencing really racism as we know it? Can a swan be "right-wing"? Swans can't vote—if they did, I would have enjoyed seeing Mitt Romney tell the country his great-uncle had a beak in a stump speech—and they don't have an ideology. The writer of the original article even quoted the manager of a wildlife sanctuary who said what's happening is absolutely normal. The manager, named Geoff Grewcock, states that "Because it's breeding season, it would be normal for swans to behave that way—particularly if they're in a pair, as in this case."
For some reason that I can't quite fully understand, humans want to apply their own warped logic to animals, as though the shitty way we treat each other is more acceptable because it's just "part of nature." It's past time that we, as a species, take responsibility for that fact that we invented racism, and we're the only ones who can get rid of it. 5
*Yes, I'm sorry for that joke, but I had to. I honestly had no choice in the matter.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
–Jay Z made white people uncomfortable again this week. While attending a Brooklyn Nets game with the World's Most Popular Human Being/his wife, Hova was spotted sporting a necklace bearing the emblem of the Five Percent Nation, a group the New York Post and Daily Mail characterized as a racist religious organization with ties to the Nation of Islam.
Zak Cheney-Rice over at PolicyMic did an excellent job of explaining what this obscure faith is all about, and I highly encourage you to dive into his article on the subject. In particular, he hits on the way in which the iconography of the Five Percent Nation is more synonymous with hip-hop than its actual ideology. That said, what Zak's piece missing is the flip side of his argument. These are the same flimsy reasons white people use to justify being comfortable wearing Confederate flags. They really, really want you to believe that it's just a cultural reference—heritage, not hate. That's complete bullshit.
I'm not exactly a semiotician, but even I know that signs and symbols can be subverted through artistic expression. I get that. Especially in today's hyperstimulated media environment, meaning is always fluid. Unfortunately, some stains don't wash off. The Confederate flag and the Nazi swastika are inexorably linked with racist ideology. We wished they weren't so that society could move past how these images make us feel, but that's pretty much a pipe dream.
The Five Percent Nation says white people are the devil and inherently inferior. That's racist language, no matter how popular the iconography is with the hip-hop community. If we're going to collectively get grumpy about white people displaying the Confederate flag because of what it means, then that has to apply to the opposite end of the spectrum. The more we reinforce a cultural double standard, the more resentment and anger will grow within the white community. That resentment grows into hate, which continues the cycle of racism in this country. Everyone should be proud of who they are, but finding justifications for hate speech is just about never worth it. Jay Z is not a racist, but it's irresponsible of him to do what he did. It's even more irresponsible for pundits to rationalize it because the other side can beat us to death with our own rhetorical follies. 7
–Jeanne Moos, CNN's female Andy Rooney clone (please don't ask why CNN has an Andy Rooney clone on staff in 2014) filed the above opinion piece on Prince William and Duchess Kate's encounter with Maori warriors that had the internet LOL'ing up a storm. Yes, it was very awkward seeing two high-society white people smiling and nodding at an aggressive, vaguely sexual dance. There's even a montage of other cringe-worthy situations where world leaders have to interact with "ethnics." George W. Bush doing a tribal shuffle is particularly hilarious.
As is common with CNN these days, Moos's report doesn't take the time to acknowledge that it's also contributing to how weird this all is by comparing the Maori dancers to "Chippendales" and ogling their exposed buttocks. The bemused detachment of Moos at the sight of a man's ass seems gloriously misplaced. If we keep acting like this shit is weird, it'll still be weird. You know what's really weird, though? A country that pays millions of dollars a year to support a family so they don't have to work but will still be able to afford funny hats. 7
The Most Racist Tweets of the Week:
— Chet Walken (@Walken4GOP) April 11, 2014
i fuckin hate sand nigger food
— Rafad Hanna (@Rafad_hanna) April 11, 2014
I can see why Ruby Gomez got hired at this McDonald's it's wetback central here.
— Austin Jones (@AustinBonees4L) April 10, 2014
I know my bf is hot. Keep your ugly chink eyes off of him. Even tho you talk to 5 other guys, in a relationship, won't mean you'll make it 6
— Carly Jo'el Johnston (@CarlyJo_el) April 11, 2014
This could be us but Jew playingi pic.twitter.com/HxlAa8hFJj
— glenn alston (@Glenn_alston) April 11, 2014
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