Racism and politics: to have and have Knotts

South Carolina state senator Jake Knotts called gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley and President Obama “ragheads,” and then he said he was joking. Because racial slurs are just so gosh-darned funny! LOL! What a knee-slapper!

Meanwhile, I’m like…are you kidding me? I have to look at the calendar on my wall and make sure it’s actually 2010. How is this remotely acceptable? Blatant, public racism has been par for the course since President Obama was elected, and I just do not understand the rationale. How is okay to say this stuff?

It’s a sad commentary to begin with that being a minority and landing a governorship or, yes, the presidency, in this country involves having to “come out” as Christian. Lousiana’s Bobby Jindal, anyone? Like, “Hey, I swear I’m a God-fearing Christian! Not one of Those People!” (No pun intended, but God forbid we get a Hindu, a Sikh, a Buddhist or, gasp, a Muslim in a major elected office, you know?) And, then, when you’ve stressed that you’re a non-threatening Other, you still are subject to censure. And that’s horrific. I’m not religious, but I’d venture to say that conversion is pretty serious, and when a person makes that commitment, it’s a big deal. To then have people question if you’re “really” Christian, if you’re “faking it” for some agenda…wow.

Never mind the fact that many politicians who are generational Christians aren’t actually religious and only go to church for Easter, Christmas and photo-ops…to people like Jake Knotts, Haley is just a “raghead,” a “furrener.” One of Those People who don’t represent “real” America and has to “lie” about who she is to hold a position of power.

Knotts, of course, back-pedaled when he was called out for his comments, offering this statement to local reporters:

“Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.”

I wasn’t aware there was any possible “humorous context” for “raghead.” I think the only thing Knotts wants to lose “in translation” is that he’s a bigot who doesn’t want to see a brown woman leading his state, or a black man leading our nation.

And, again, the “pretending to be someone she is not” makes me see red. Newsflash: When you’re visibly brown, from a family of brown people, and everybody is up in your business because you’re a political figure, it’s nigh impossible to pretend to be anything. Plus, Nikki Haley and President Obama have nothing to gain by constructing elaborate lies about their faith, when narrow-minded people like Jake Knotts just have to look at them to conclude that they’re different.

But, hey, there’s one advantage to Knotts openly spewing his hateful rhetoric…all you have to do is listen to him to conclude he’s a racist.

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