Friday, September 25, 2009

Don’t get haughty. It could happen here

As a reporter-type person, I have been to enough rallies with a white supremacist tinge to them to know they all border on being comical – in a warped, twisted way.

So I would guess the events expected to take place Saturday in Belleville, Ill., (a town of about 41,000 people located just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis) will create enough moments that some of us will be inclined to laugh at the sight of those bumpkins located some 300 miles to the southwest of us.

THAT TOWN HAS its own racial “incident” going down this week. It seems that a fight on a school bus involving teenage boys resulted in a white kid getting smacked around by a batch of African-American “youths.”

And as has become the reality of modern-day news judgment, this became a story largely because of the existence of video – a security camera installed on the school bus gives us images of the whole fight.

I’m not going to dispute that the kid who was beaten up suffered some pain, nor that there isn’t an element of stupidity to the whole incidents. Be honest, most brawls result from knuckleheads losing control of themselves.

But the degree to which this is becoming a circus goes far beyond the stupidity level of the original incident.

IT SEEMS THERE will be a rally at the courthouse for St. Clair County, even though the officials who normally would have to issue a permit for such an event tell the Belleville News-Democrat newspaper that no one has contacted them.

Yet local police were aware of the event, and they say they will provide the oversight to ensure that the protest does not become a physical brawl in and of itself.

This rally is being promoted by a website called, which uses the rhetoric often touted by groups that are willing to use the muscle of white supremacist organizations but does not want to be tainted by their warped view of the world – they’re not directly responsible for who shows up.

But it seems that several groups that are white supremacist (although they will engage you in the deadly dull debate that they are really “white racialist” or “white nationalist”) also are taking up the cause.

SO WHAT WE’RE likely to see from our perch up here in Chicago is a batch of knuckleheads from all across the Midwestern U.S. (and perhaps a few from further away) who are willing to wear swastika armbands or the various blood drop insignias of the Ku Klux Klan (or perhaps just a few independent misfits whose bodies are too tattooed for them to hold down a regular job in open society) who will take great pride in being able to come outside and express their “views” in public.

They’ll be able to say “n----r” in public without having everybody around them treat them like a circus freak.

We’ll hear about how this is an example of white society being subjugated, and we’re bound to hear how this is a “hate” crime. The whole purpose of this rally, like all these white supremacist rallies on government property, is to try to somehow redirect the focus of society to a time when these nitwits were allowed to think of themselves as respectable human beings.

Now as it turns out, a local minister is disgusted enough with this spectacle that he’s planning a counter-demonstration across the street from the courthouse, saying he wants to offer decent people offended by the

I’D LIKE TO be able to laugh at this and say only in Southern Illinois could something this ridiculous occur.

But then I look at the situation in Chicago and realize that our own racial comprehension is hardly any better.

Would a similar brawl on board a school bus in a Chicago suburb create the same reaction? It could, except for the fact that so many parents (using the rhetoric of “finding a good school for my kid”) have managed to put their children into schools without much racial diversity that it might be hard to find a school bus with both black and white kids on board in significant numbers.

Just recently, I wrote a story for a newspaper in the Chicago suburbs about the perception among some local residents that a particular town has had significant increases in crime, even tough the Illinois State Police crime statistics don’t bear that perception out.

THE RESPONSE TO that story has been an ongoing debate on the Internet as to race and why it is just reality that having more black people in that town than there were 30 years ago means there is more crime.

I’m not even claiming that this particular town is unique. Our racial hang-ups make it simple reality that something this stupid could happen here too.

But the fact is that some of us have our racial hang-ups, and all it would take is one stupid, trivial incident to occur so that we in the Chicago area would become the travel destination of choice for the white supremacists who want to wear their Klan-sloganed t-shirts in public (I doubt we’ll see many actual white robes in Belleville).

Then, it would be St. Louis’ chance to laugh at “those goofs up in Chicago,” who be us.


EDITOR’S NOTES: How long will it be until Belleville gets to laugh at the silliness ( taking place somewhere in the Chicago area, if not the city proper?

The commentary in many ways is more revealing than the actual story to which people ( are allegedly responding.

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