English: William Faulkner, Nobel laureate in L...

English: William Faulkner, Nobel laureate in Literature 1949 Deutsch: William Faulkner, Nobelpreisträger für Literatur 1949 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…Where are the writers of that stature today in the Tea Party South? I was made aware of the odd mix of gain and loss when I went back to Atlanta to see my beloved grandmother. She told me not to hold change between my lips while groping for a pocket to put it in—“That might have been in a nigger’s mouth.” Once, when she took me to Mass, she walked out of the church when a black priest came out to celebrate. I wondered why, since she would sit and eat with a black woman who helped her with housework. “It is the dignity—I would not let him take the Lord in his hands.”

Tradition dies hard, hardest among those who cannot admit to the toll it has taken on them. That is why the worst aspects of the South are resurfacing under Obama’s presidency. It is the dignity. That a black should have not merely rights but prominence, authority, and even awe—that is what many Southerners cannot stomach. They would let him ride on the bus, or get into Ivy League schools. But he must be kept from the altar; he cannot perform the secular equivalent of taking the Lord in his hands. It is the dignity…

“Dumb America,” by Gary Wills, via nyb blog. Written before Justice Antonin Scalia’s “racial entitlements” outburst last week in the Supreme Court.


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