The wording on the sign, “I Heard the White House Smelled Like Collards Greens and Fried Chicken,” may be in poor taste to some, but the fact is that it was posted on a sign belonging to Mulligan’s, located on the property of Mulligan’s and the posting of same is within the rights guaranteed them by the First Amendment.
FRITS (Folks Raised in the South), by and large, like not only collard greens, but turnip greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens and poke sallet. Col. Sanders built an empire on the undeniable fact that Americans, as a people, love fried chicken. How does a remark that the White House smells like such well loved food become racist? Where I grew up, it was considered a compliment to the homemaker when someone said her kitchen “smelt good.”
There is an adage, from pre-Christian Greek literature, which states, in essence that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The same can be said of racism, in many cases. More often than not, the racism of a statement or action is more dependent upon the concept of the hearer or observer than the intention of the alleged offender.
The wording on the sign is not racist in content. Indeed, racism exists only in the minds of some of those observing it. In order to attach racial significance to the message, one has to believe that collard greens and fried chicken are exclusively “black food” and also believe in the stereotypical black who thrives on that food. Most of us know black people do not fit that stereotype and we do not automatically make that connection. In fact, the making of that connection indicates racism on the part of the hearer.
During the last presidential campaign, Mulligan’s marketed a tee shirt, bearing the inscription “Obama ‘08” and the picture of a brown cartoon monkey named “Curious George.” In times past, bigots compared black people to monkeys and apes, even making up jingles and verses to that effect. Though, I doubt many people today make that kind of connection, other than as a memory of earlier biases, I think it very probable that the people at Mulligan’s intended us to, for whatever reason. And I am sure some people found it humorous. Because of that incident, Mulligan’s has a reputation, deserved or not, of being racially biased against the President.
The people at Mulligan’s make no secret of the fact that they do not like President Obama, or his policies. They are joined by millions of others, of all races, creeds, religions and sexual orientations. None of that dislike has to do with race. Most of us know that the president’s mother was white and his father was Kenyan. There is nothing to hate in his racial and biological makeup.
“Racism” and “racist” are terms used by some today to describe just about anybody who does not embrace the current administration and its policies. The president intimates as much himself, empowering everyone else to use the same illogical argument.
In fact, the terms are used so carelessly that they really have little impact or meaning anymore, except as a convenient vehicle for the ill-informed, the enraged elite, the overly educated and the race baiters when they run out of legitimate arguments. Call your opponent a racist and you win.
One of the people quoted in the MDJ article regarding the Mulligan flap said they wanted to prevent another politically incorrect sign from going up. That, too, is in the eye of the beholder. What is politically incorrect to one is acceptable to another.
Many people think signs, saying “Re-elect Obama,” are politically incorrect and offensive. Does that mean they should be taken down?
The right to not be offended does not exist. The prospect of a world where nothing is offensive to anyone is a terrible thing to contemplate. There would be no art, no theater, no music, no literature and no NFL, etc. In short, it would be a world too sterile in which to live.
Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor in east Cobb.