Whiteness, Straw Man, and How Electrons Move

 

There’s often a “straw man” argument behind someone’s political opposition.

        By Dan Bodine

Hee, hee! Ain’t got a bone to pick but sure got a yarn to tell! A compassionate African American assuaged my bruised ego in the Navy once when I allowed myself to feel like the dumbest kernel of corn on the cobb! So, with migrants and minorities both now under fire, you can mix your races, yes — but you can’t segregate human lightbulbs! We all shine some! Savvy?

Me, coming up with this?  Yeah, me! Even an ol’ slow country boy from Texas has learnt a thing or two about Life. Hang on; don’t go to sleep. This is really against using straw men, or the Boogeyman, in politics!

Our divisive times in the U.S. has erupted over such racially charged terms as “White Supremacists” and GOP South’s “New Lost Cause.” With even white evangelical churches join as flag bearers! Shame.

“The commitment of white evangelical Christians to use their faith in attempts to undermine democracy, (or) to justify resistance to Covid-19 vaccines, and to erase the distinction between Christianity and libertarianism is … ‘heresy compounded by lunacy.'” writes Philosophy Professor Vance Morgan at Providence College. Amen.

All of this arose, it seems, as Senate Republicans defeated President Joe Biden’s recent expansive Voting Right’s Act — while Republicans in many state houses, too, were in various stages of diluting minority representation with redistricting. Using straw men arguments, of course!

Man, let one of ’em in, it’ll multiply like rabbits!

And juicing the supremacists’ arguments even more now, no doubt, President Biden is poised to nominate a first African American woman to a U. S. Supreme Court seat.

Oh, man, Jethro, is this ever gonna be fun! And this is Black History Month also! Bring out the popcorn!

Growing up in an earlier Segregated South didn’t give me a corrosive racist rub, for some reason. May’ve been I was a housepainter’s boy — e.g., too poor and dumb to feel threatened by skin color differences!

In Cleburne, a 30-min. drive south of Fort Worth in North Central Texas, there was a poor East Side (of the railroad tracks) — mostly minority African Americans, yes — and a much better West Side. The Whites! There was little mixture.

And Central, of course. Much less divisiveness here, though. It was west of tracks, though! And I come from that Central part — only two blocks west of railroad tracks in north Cleburne.

School integration is tied to a ’54 Supreme Court decision, but I got out of high school in Cleburne in ’62 — a year ahead of the district’s integration. So, as a White I didn’t get that memo making me a supremacist! Different? White Privileged, i.e.? Yeah. I ‘fess up! Tinged, a bit, call it.

But nationally, now there’s this flare-up of a Civil War that ended well over 150 years ago — by Whites, with no legs to stand on at all! Except fear. They’re scared of losing it!

Republicans in the defeated South, i.e., now would even back secession again (our Sen. Cancun sezs) over further Black Rights! Can you imagine?! Folks still bitter over a Lost Cause — e.g., a way of life of owning people they considered inferior!?

At end of 1st Civil War President Lincoln enumerated freedom and equality for all Blacks! And yes, there were defying racists who clung to this Lost Cause.

Some were in my childhood years later — but not with the strength of that memo, though! Only uppity I remember is a red-headed girl who hated my stutter! Or my freckles?

But here we are now in a New Lost Cause! Where did it come from? And why is it White Republicans?

Former President Barack Obama says it’s a straw man argument, created by former President Trump to win votes — e.g., make white males victims! The story, quoting a radio address, is in a 2020 issue of the Business Insider.

“…(Y)ou’ve seen created in Republican politics the sense that white males are victims,” he told the Breakfast Club radio show. (emphases mine) “They are the ones who are under attack — which obviously doesn’t jive with both history and data and economics. But that’s a sincere belief, that’s been internalized, that’s a story that’s being told…”

And it’s flared up again now all over voting rights!

Alongside, too, U.S. Census showing Whites are teetering on being a minority species now! White men, especially, are being victimized by a double whammy!

“Oh-My-Gawd, we’re losing it, Jethro! They’re gonna outnumber us?!?”

Sounds like a horror movie, no?

This fear‘s been a slow-burning ember for years, flashing up at heated political times, yes. Some experts, indeed, say it’s a fear of cultural displacement, supported by the recent Census.

Remember, i.e., the hate — likened to what’s being shown for President Biden now — that was shown Obama by white male Republicans?! Over nothing more than skin color? Drip, drip, drip.

Then in jubilation after defeating Hillary Clinton (OMG, a woman?), comes this pie-in-the-face humiliation for total support of white supremacist Donald Trump — their last Great White Hope!

Racial panic? Secession!?

Well, without the experience of grade-school classes with African Americans — e.g., could I be naive? — I possibly could be as toxic as breadcrumbs from gut-rot dough then, no?!

But I’m not! Or no one’s even hinted that to me! So how else do you explain what looks to be straw people‘s vote arguments? Except to call ’em ugly racists!? Mitch and crowd!

Maybe, it was Vietnam. At age 23 — not wanting to be drafted and sent to war to catch a bullet or explosive — in early ’67 I signed a 4-yr. enlistment hitch in the Navy. No bullets!

Was put into an Electronic Technician rating (career field) due to high math entrance exam score. My assignment out of electronics school after I’d reported aboard an aircraft carrier in Norfolk, Va. — was another electronics school: To learn the SPN-38.

It was a navigational receiver (with digital readouts that gave you location coordinates), properly dubbed an idiot’s nightmare!

Even sitting in the first row of desks in class — aka, catching every word — I was lost on it, admittedly! But did the instructor misread me?

To show me how even electricity flowed, i.e., this dedicated guy once brought a four-foot section of PVC tube and a box of white ping pong balls (the “electrons”) — which he promptly filled the tube with — and laid it all across his desk. Everything was level, yes.

Standing at one end, which was to my left, he used it to teach me the Big Secret.

“Bodine, watch closely!” he said. “This is a simple way to understand how electrons move in an electrical circuit. They merely displace ones ahead! They don’t continuously flow!”

And, sure enough, he gently pushed the first ball in the tube. And from the other end of the PVC tube…Ahah, a ball just as gently emerged, and promptly fell to the floor. And rolled around, making some noise.

That is how electricity works!” the instructor then said.

There were about 18-20 people in that class, counting the instructor. It included several African Americans as well, including one on my immediate right — next to me. High entrance exam achievers — like me, all of them! Maybe more on electricity, though.

All eyes were on me, to see whether I understood this simple demonstration. A long period of…Silence, it was. Listening to the ping pong ball roll.

I literally was stupefied at a suggestion I was soostupid!

Finally, the kind man to my right reached over and grabbed my shoulder with his left hand. Very softly. Looked at me with sparkle in his eyes.

Bro, us Blacks always get this!” he said “You understand The Man‘s point? Keep ‘ya eye on the ball is just not for electricity, but in all of Life! Keep ‘ya eyes on it! That litl’ white ball!”

The room erupted in laughter! The instructor stood dumbfounded. And the ping pong ball finally found silence along the front wall.

Me? Embarrassed a bit, of course.

But never bitter. I learned a thing or two.

And maybe certain Republicans now also need to open their eyes, too! Indeed, that straw man argument on African American ignorance could boomerang on ‘ya next election!

 

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2 thoughts on “Whiteness, Straw Man, and How Electrons Move

  1. Danny, read the whole thing. You are right on. In fact, I enjoy everything of your writing I’ve managed to find. Keep up the good ideas and maybe besides me will get to the real truth behind all of Biden’s perpetual lies.

    • Bless your heart, Donah! It’s so good to hear from an ol’ friend! Y’all doing well? Surviving in all this virus mess!? But “Biden’s perpetual lies”??! Lordy, Lordy, woman, what evilness have you got on ‘ya mind thinking like that! President Biden doesn’t lie! He may have a problem “remembering” well sometimes, but he’s older than you and I! It’s called those “Golden Year” lapses! Hee, hee! Thanks for the comment! Again, good to hear from ‘ya!

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