Pennsylvania Burning7 November, 2008
Earlier, I wrote this in reference to the election of Barack Obama: “Two things about this election:
- We are not nearly as racist a nation as we sometimes appear.
- Bush and his minions fucked up America so badly that even the pseudo semi-racists were willing to overlook his skin colour and vote for reality, science and competence.”
Please note that in #1, I state that we are not nearly as racist as we sometimes appear. Unfortunately, some people are exactly as racist as they appear. Pennsylvania has been described as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Alabama in the middle. And Alabama appears to be burning again.
Up along the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, farming and logging are a way of life. The roads are not always paved. The steep ridges are heavily forested. And the population is, like much of small town America which has seen the flight of capital and youth, bitter. Among some, bitterness can manifest itself in racism and xenophobia.
A couple from Massachussetts retired to rural Douglass Township, not too far from Binghamton, New York. According to a friend of mine, he’s a retired architect. He and his wife (Jewish and white) started up a small pottery studio and settled in. Over the last couple of years, according the Associated Press, they have face some racism.
Then, on November 2, during the run-up to a truly historic election, a cross was burned in their lawn.
Neighbor Mike Ditty told Douglass Township police he saw a man with a shaved head trying to light a cross wrapped in cloth and soaked with a flammable liquid in the yard of Eudes DeFoe.
“I started approaching him, asking him what he thought was doing. He then said to me, ‘Come down here and I’ll show you what I’m doing. I have a gun and I’ll shoot you,'” WCAU-TV, Philadelphia reported Tuesday.
And from Fox Newsup in Binghamton, New York:
[The] Gibson [Barracks of the Pennsylvania] State Police say the incident would qualify as a hate crime, and the charge against who is responsible might be Ethnic Intimidation.
Nooses at Baylor. A cardboard cutout hanged at a Quaker school in Oregon. Accusations of rape and mugging in Pittsburgh. This is not going to end. I sincerely hope that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will take a look at this, and other, attempts at racial intimidation which, unfortunately, appear to have been sparked by an African-American candidate for President. Not only that, but one who won.
The burning of a cross is an offensive, racist act. It carries with it the baggage of hundreds, possibly thousands, of lynchings. It is an act of intimidation generally aimed at ‘uppity niggers’ — African-Americans who do not know that the Bible says that they are condemned to servitude because Ham saw his father naked.
A part of me hoped that, with the election of an African-American President, we were past this. A part of me also knew that as long as xenophobic conservatives, clinging to their Bibles and their guns out of fear and bitterness, are a part of the American culture, this will be with us.