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Kathleen Parker, who won a Pulitzer Prize by peddling the kind of vapid, milquetoast conservatism that passes for serious thought in this country, has decided, for reasons beyond my comprehension, to weigh in on race relations in America. She remains disappointed, months later, by President Obama's fateful decision to weigh in on the murder of Trayvon Martin and rightly point out that, if he had a son, that son would look like Trayvon. It was considered by sensible people to be the most sincere and poignant thing Obama said about the murder. 


Kathleen Parker, though, doesn't think so. For Kathleen Parker, with that single sentence, Barack Obama viciously betrayed the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., by judging Trayvon by the color of his skin and not the content of his character. Perhaps the president should have, while standing in front of the Washington press corps, conducted a thorough character evaluation of the murdered child, instead of relating to him and his parents in the way that he did. That's surely what Dr. King would have done.

Parker then expresses outright skepticism at Obama's subsequent claim that he was followed around in stores and perpetually suspected of shoplifting because of the color of his skin. "All because he was black?" the incredulous Parker wonders. Unpersuaded by that tired "racism" hypothesis for why some people are followed in stores, Parker reveals, matter-of-factly and without hint of irony, that she, too, has been followed:
Even today, I am followed when I go to the second floor of a boutique in Georgetown. Apparently, store policy requires that an attendant be upstairs when a shopper is. The way department store clerks follow me around, you’d think my face was plastered on a “Wanted for Shoplifting” poster. This is especially so if I’m dressed like a slob.
Yeah, enough with all this endless complaining, black people. Who among us hasn't been unreasonably suspected of shoplifting? Why, just the other day, when I was ascending to the second floor of this fabulous boutique in Georgetown, some overanxious clerk insisted on [following store policy] and coming up with me! And that's when it hit me: everything I've ever heard about the so-called "black experience" in America is really just hogwash. The black experience, it turns out, is, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from the experience of being a wealthy white person on the second floor of a boutique in Georgetown!

From there, Parker's column just goes off the rails completely:

But like it or not, the way we present ourselves to the world affects the way we are treated. Thus it has always been. I’m betting that few women today clutch their purses tighter when a well-groomed man, black or white, enters the elevator. A punk wearing his britches around his rump and telegraphing attitude? Even Jesse Jackson — or Eminem — might feel a tingle of discomfort.
What a graf. The first two pointless sentences just form an absurdly obvious and banal truism. The third sentence is an entirely subjective, evidence-free assertion that casually attempts to reverse hundreds of years of exhaustively documented racial profiling in America. Then, the columnist who purports to be some kind of cultural arbiter, with a keen sense of contemporary society, employs the words "britches" and "rump" in a single sentence. As for the final sentence, what? What the fuck kind of thought process led to Jesse Jackson and Eminem being chosen for inclusion in that sentence, out of all the human beings in the world? This paragraph, this column, appeared in a respected national newspaper, remember. This woman has a Pulitzer Prize.

Parker then raises the ludicrous and insane possibility that Barack Obama's utterly innocuous comments about Trayvon Martin "nourished the killing passions" of the accused murderers of Chris Lane. If Beck or Limbaugh were to say something like this, it would result, justifiably, in widespread mocking and outrage; when a newspaper columnist says the same thing in a less strident, more sophisticated way, nobody seems to mind.

In an exciting twist that takes place near the end of the column, Parker reveals that she is an outright racist. She states, with confidence and without evidence, that if the racial makeup in some recent high-profile murder cases had been reversed, there would be "riots." This is one of the great tactics of racists in this age in which overt racism is socially unacceptable: positing that, if X happened, those dark-skinned barbarians would surely riot, slaughter every white in sight, etc. The beauty of this tactic is that it requires no evidence of any kind and thus can be trotted out at will.

The column ends with Parker decreeing that nobody should talk about this petty, annoying little topic of race, ever. I propose first applying this directive to oblivious, rich white people who claim to understand the black experience in America.

Originally posted to Justin Doolittle on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 08:06 AM PDT.

Also republished by RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.

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