Thursday, July 30, 2009

I’m not a racist. I just sound like one.

I love when racist people say racist things and then claim they weren’t racist. Sexist people do this all the time as well, but it seems like it’s the racists that really take it to that whole other level.

In case you haven’t heard, a Boston police officer sent an e-mail the Boston Globe objecting to the way their journalism of the Gate’s case. Instead of offering a calm coherent argument for why the media was treating this case incorrectly, the officer, Justin Barrett, decided to spew a bunch of random brouhaha where he decided that it was appropriate to call Gate’s a “jungle monkey.”

Picture from the Boston Globe

This is how the email ends:
Your final statement reads, “Gates, whose great success has allowed him to transcend the racial divide-” to which I ask, when did he transcend? He indeed has transcended back to a bumbling jungle monkey, thus he forever remains amid this nation’s great social/racial divided that makes it a free and great nation mixed with crazy and awkward differences. Go ahead, ax me what I think? Gate’s is a goddamned fool and you the article writer simply a poor follower and maybe worse, a poor writer. Your article title should read CONDUCT UNBECOMING TO A JUNGLE MONKEY – BACK TO ONE’S ROOTS.

A hate to break it to all the racists out there, but using the term “jungle monkey” is a dead give away. (I don’t even get this slur. We all come from the same ancestors. This is like telling your sister her mother’s a whore. It just doesn’t make much sense.)

It’s actually a bit ironic. Not that long ago, I think it was the Fourth of July, Ryan’s father and I got in this very discussion. He had told me a story about calling some guy on t.v. a “monkey” while he was at work and he didn’t understand why people were so shocked by it. (I don’t want to misrepresent this discussion so I want to make it clear that there was a group of them standing around watching television. Ryan’s father, Robbie, didn’t bring it up out of the blue, but the problem is the guy on the t.v. was black.) Though they tried to explain to Robbie that calling black men “monkeys” was a racial slur, Robbie didn’t agree. He stood by the argument that, “I’ll call anyone who acts like a monkey a monkey.”

What Robbie failed to realize is that is a racist argument. Intent is not the most important factor when it comes to using racial slurs, because to even use them in the first place questions the integrity of your intent.

Officer Barrett chose to go with a different racist justification standby though – the good old “I was just describing his behavior, not actually calling him [insert slur].” Unfortunately for Barrett, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis wasn’t having it and stripped Barrett of his gun and badge and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino wants Barrett fired from the department.

Even the Massachusetts National Guard, in which Barrett is a captain, denounced his conduct as being a “complete violation of Army and National Guard Values and will not be tolerated."

While at first I thought it might be a little much too potentially ruin this guy’s life for this one mistake (I am not excusing the behavior, but I think our energy would be better well spent educating Barrett rather then just punishing him in a way that’s bound to only cause more resentment), after reading the sentence, “If I was the officer he [Gates] verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey, I would have sprayed him in the face with OC deserving of his belligerent non-compliance,” I can understand why people aren’t feeling so forgiving in this situation.

You can read the full e-mail here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What's on your mind?