So my very sweet neighbor, whom I will call "M," was one of about three of us who objected on the 'hood listserv against the request for neighbors to call the cops on all minorities. Like Mr. Pants and I, she was roundly castigated and reviled by the howling "we are SO not racist!" mob of Trinity Parkers. This was her first experience at the receiving end of the listserv vigilante gang, so she was a bit bewildered. She e-mailed us asking "What is happening? Why are we being ostracized for reacting strongly to a racist statement?"
And of course Mr. Pants had a fantastic reply:
These things really run deep. The fact is that most in our neighborhood fully understood why D____ [dude who wrote original post] made the request he made. They themselves would've been more tactful, but that doesn't change the fact they agree with his way of thinking. They defend him, because in doing so they defend themselves. They now circle the wagons and find solace in their numbers.
Bigotry is understandable when your house is robbed, because they would've and have felt the same way. Our neighbors will pat themselves on the back and talk about how enlightened and progressive they are. They'll prove they're not racist by supporting Obama etc. They may even have a few black or Latino friends that contribute to their self assurance that they aren't racist. This all works well until there is pressure applied. When that pressure (like being robbed) is applied, base instincts and true tendencies come to the foreground.
Notice how they continue to feel very strongly about the fact he was robbed and therefore a victim. They strongly identify with him. They can't identify with the people who would be affected by calling the cops on minorities. That is a foreign concept to them, these people are the "others" who merely exist on the margins of their civilized lives. Now being robbed that's a real crime, and a crime they can identify with. They can't identify with being stopped by the police for absolutely no reason, because of the neighborhood you find yourself in, because it hasn't happened to them and they can't imagine why it would. I stopped giving a shit that the guy was robbed when he revealed himself to be a bigot. Anyone of these folks who say that their mental response would be the same if they were robbed by a black person or a white person is just not being honest. It's far more frightening when the others cross the line.
I'm not suggesting everyone is a racist, but we all have prejudices. When those prejudices are acted upon to affect reality/policy they become racist. When D____ requested that his neighbors call people with guns to deal with any minorities near his house he became or demonstrated he was a racist. If he simply gets scared when he encounters black people on the street that may just be prejudice and I don't care much about that.
In other news, several neighbors have reported that the alleged noose isn't really a noose at all but just a loop of rope, not tied into any sort of hangman's knot. If I had stumbled upon it you know I would have taken a picture (if it looked at all noose-like), so we can only speculate. I hope it wasn't actually a noose but if it was you know what? It seriously would not surprise me at all for such a thing to happen in Trinity Park