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Home / Articles / Views / Letters /  Letters | Race in the U.S.A.
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Thursday, July 8,2010

Letters | Race in the U.S.A.

Race in the U.S.A.

Among Ward Churchill’s trademarks (snide remarks, long-winded pontification, deceit, pompous jargon, etc.) is his delight in guilt-tripping white liberals, the core element of his own political constituency. His July 1, 2010, Boulder Weekly essay (“The opposite of everything is true,” cover story) purports to quote Kwame Ture (Stokeley Carmichael). Churchill, however, often attributes his own words to others, usually people of color, thereby allowing him to speak for those to whom he has no ties. (The tactic is called “fabrication.”) He infers his perpetual use of sunglasses protects his eyes from the glare of white skin, which — if true — suggests he wears them during his morning shave. His genealogy only shows white ancestry (he wears shades to hide his European features). He derides Boulder for its white population, but he’s lived there by choice for 34 years and assumes no one sees the irony and hypocrisy of his critique. A better caption for his essay would have been, “The opposite of everything Churchill writes about himself is true.”

Ernesto B. Vigil/Denver

Fuck Ward Churchill. Rob Prince, senior lecturer, international studies/University of Denver

Not guilty

(Re: “White guilt,” Uncensored, July 1.) Your white guilt article is more like white trash-talk. Racism is not only the disease of the white man.

I grew up in a small town where the most prejudicial comments were between Catholics and Protestants and the only Jewish family owned the only supermarket. There were no blacks, no Mexicans, no Asians — I am your typical white girl from the sticks. My first encounter with racism was in college when my Jewish boyfriend took me home to meet his mother. She hated me because I was a shiksa. Since then I have encountered racism from blacks who sneered at, leered at and insulted me; Mexicans who proclaimed white folks could not be trusted; and when in Japan, I was the despised gaijin.

Nevertheless, here I am. More likely to achieve success. Quite likely to stay out of prison. Able to afford and find good health care with its corollary of being knowledgeable enough about health to be healthy. I am hopefully less likely to die a violent death, and so on. Indeed, I have a privileged life. I have had opportunities, and I took them. So sue me for not feeling guilty.

How is it that since I have this life, I should consequently consider myself racist? I don’t get it. According to your logic, we should every one of us bear unimaginable shame due to the reprehensible actions of others who are of the same skin tone. By that logic all black people should identify with their genocidal brethren in Africa. I guess if you have a white mother and a black father, you are either exempt as the sins sort of cancel one another out, or else you are doubly burdened, or maybe it’s watered down to half of each.

Oh, wait! My trauma is not “collective”; therefore, it does not count. I am racist by inference, and the people who demeaned me were just reacting to pre-existing conditions that I am guilty of by association. Or something.

So now you undoubtedly think I am defending my “ego,” whatever that is. Another ill-defined and populist concept with absolutely no constructive purpose to its use.

The logic in this “white guilt” article is shamefully flawed. It’s just more blame on the white guy who, by the way, is also responsible for inventing miraculous devices, creating millions of jobs here and elsewhere and providing an infrastructure that is the envy of the world and precisely why people want to live here.

The white guy is under attack.

Washington, Jefferson and that noble group of white guys are going down. The society they envisioned is being destroyed. It failed. There are those who will dance on its grave, but I sincerely hope for your future and for our children’s sake that what replaces it is a decent and civilized place where all can prosper. Articles like this make me shudder and fear the worst. It’s just more white-bashing trash talk. If you are going to foster a dialogue, make it a constructive one.

Sue Anderson/Boulder

Bukowski and the Beats

(“Re: Charles Bukowski uncovered,” Arts & Culture, July 1.) I had a bit of a giggle at Adam Perry’s article, wherein he ponders the separation between Naropa and the Beats on one hand, and Charles Bukowski on the other.

Embarrassingly enough, I had never heard of Bukowski — an American — until first visiting Germany in 1976. The young people there were completely taken with him, and I devoured his books like sauerbraten. When I moved to Boulder in 1982, I was invited out to drinks at Juanita’s by a group of Naropa students and faculty, back when the “campus” was the space above the now Boulder Book Store. I was seated next to Reed Bye, and as the conversation went on I eagerly asked if he had read with Charles Bukowski.

Bye turned to me and did one of those vaudevillian fake-puking things, as if throwing up into my lap. In fact, he did manage to drool out some of his nachos onto my jeans. The next 20 minutes or so of conversation was a real slam-fest of negativity, as each Naropa denizen voiced a variation on what a fraud, what a drunk, what an impossible man Bukowski was: “He wants you to call him Hank!” was voiced with the sort of horror one reserves for finding half a rat in one’s tofu salad.

The Ginsberg Beats have never wanted anything whatever to do with Bukowski, possibly because he sweats and is uncouth, if my memory of that evening serves. One thing Bukowski most definitely was not was socially delicate, but novels like Hollywood reveal him to be a compassionate observer of the human condition on par with any Buddhist. This, I think, creates trouble in mind for a lot of the more self-important champions of that period of modern literature, e.g., how can this brawling, bloody, smelly, combative, loving individual fit into our world view? Darn right there’s a conscious decision to not let Hank be part of the club!

Peter Johnson/Longmont

In God they trust

The Boulder Daily Camera and the Denver Post ran an advertisement today ( July 4, 2010) featuring George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Ronald Reagan, who are ascribed quotes supposedly supporting the concept that the United States was created by and can only survive with god’s help (sic). Of course, if one reads the fine print one can only assume that the god referred to in this advertisement is whichever one is believed in by the advertising department at Hobby Lobby and Mardel Stores of Oklahoma City, Okla., since they, not one of the many god’s worshiped by various members of the population of this great country, are the ones who paid for this ad.

I have several questions for Hobby Lobby, Mardel Stores or their representatives:

Assuming your god(s) is omniposee tent, as most religions think their god or gods are, why does she or they, need your feeble efforts to spread her word?

Why would your god want Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, adulterers both, to represent her to the American people?

Why did the framers, who include everyone in this ad but Reagan (I know he was old, but not that old), prohibit a religious test in the U.S. Constitution or enact the First Amendment prohibiting the establishment of a national religion?

Ben Franklin supposedly said “…a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his (her/its?) notice…” implying that god is basically aware and in control of everything going on. If that is the case I would suggest that god, whichever one(s) you think may be actually watching over us, has really turned things into a “dog’s breakfast.” Katrina, BP oil spill, global climate change, Iraq, Afghanistan, most of Africa, crime, poverty, intolerance, the NRA, the Republican Party, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, the Tea Party, George W. Bush … Well, I could go on, but you get the point. Why would you want to leave this evidently capricious entity in charge?

Back to point one: If this god were really interested in getting her message, out I doubt she would have to enlist Hobby Lobby (or rely on pedophiles or anyone else for that matter). In Genesis and Exodus, god was supposedly smiting non-believers and innocents alike for a variety of transgressions and punishing whole populations (remember the plagues for the Egyptians and the 40 years in the desert for the Jews, not to mention the obliteration of Sodom and Gomorrah) with seemingly reckless abandon, and I suspect, a bit of schadenfreude. So whether she would want to start indiscriminate smiting or just run a huge “sky billboard” outlining her points, or just take a direct route and make us all believe in her, she really shouldn’t need your (Hobby Lobby) help in recruiting, should she?

Whether you choose to believe in a god or gods is your choice, however, the framers had a specific thought in mind when the First Amendment was crafted. It was to ensure the separation of church and state was codified. We can see what happens when that doesn’t occur in the excesses of the Inquisition, the Taliban, al Qaeda, Iran and the growing intolerance of the religious right in this country. If you still think you want god running things, think about what would happen if someone else’s god were the “true god” and was put in charge. What Would Siva Do (WWSD)?

James C. Bailey, Jr./Boulder

No respect for history

The sun chased a warm, bright light over Erie on our Historical Old Town Erie Tour, which led our 120 thirdgrade students from Black Rock Elementary School on a great historical journey. The children’s emotions were high as they enjoyed the “mountain man’s” stories and questions he asked them about the historical sites. All 120 students, in addition to the Old Town Tour, enjoyed a visit with Sara Wise at the Wise Homestead Museum.

Recently sadness, disappointment and raised emotions hit fellow historian John Garcia, many other Erie residents and me after discovering that someone had used a crowbar to confis cate four of our new “Old Town Erie Historical Sites” plaques off the old buildings, including the Catholic and Methodist churches and both buildings in the 1800s mercantile complex.

Newcomers and visitors to the area visit our Erie Chamber of Commerce and pick up a walking tour brochure, then venture back into the time of the coalminers and the Wild, Wild West, while walking around and enjoying our Historic Old Town. Now another dark moment appears over Erie, like the damage done to our historic cemetery grave markers earlier this spring. Vandalsstruck again and show no respect or regard for our Erie citizens or the value that history offers. Why?

Dave Johnson/Erie

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