Growing up in a small southern town has blessed me with the gift of translating Conservative hate radio. I live in a town where a lot of people never learned that it's not acceptable to call a black man boy, and the Confederate flag is not a racist relic. For decades, people of color comprised less than 10% of the total population in my town; very few of them, no matter how educated or qualified, worked (or work) in any field other than hospitality or service. When combined, these factors create the perfect atmosphere for people to talk unfiltered. I speak English, I've taken Spanish in school, but my true second language is dog whistle. When people don't see you as an equal you get distorted communication: they say what they want, and expect you to say what they want to hear. I've studied the listeners of hate radio in their natural habitat. I'll use this skill to decipher some of the comments made about the student protesters and football players at the University of Missouri.
Rush Limbaugh: You find the major problem is that there are too many white people at this place. And they apparently are not nice enough or considerate enough to the 10 percent of the people there who are black. And so there has to be some changes.
Translation: You people don't know how lucky you are to be here. You guys are the lucky ones. We give you track suits, tennis shoes, and there's basketball courts everywhere. What else do you want?
Jazz Shaw: The Inmates Are Running The Asylum At Mizzou. Parents sending tuition money there deserve what they get.
Translation: I don't care how high your S.A.T. scores are you're still thugs and hoodrats.
MICHAEL BERRY: So now the president of the university has resigned. Now, think of the message this sends. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. The football players at the University of Missouri. The football players decide who the president will be? An institution of higher learning. You're doing research on molecular biology that may lead to a cure for cancer. You're doing aeronautical research, you're doing chemical research, molecular biology research. You're educating how many thousand people? And you're letting a few thugs decide who you're president will be?
Translation: This happend because you can't control your boys. You need to run a tighter ship. This is what happens when they start feeling themselves.
MICHAEL BERRY: Good, you do have a problem. But it's far bigger than the creative shaping of poop by somebody on your campus. You got a major problem with your priorities. If you can't reign in a few football players to shut their mouth and play football, else they lose their scholarship? You've got a real problem on your hands. You've got a problem of culture. You've got a problem of priorities, and you've got a problem of pandering.
Translation: No matter how much education you have, no matter how legitimate your claims are: you need to get over it and accept the way things are.
When Blacks riot we're told to follow the model of peaceful assembly. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is used as a cudgel to thwart young radicals. When educated young men and women use their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and boycott they're still called thugs. This is a good thing: we need bigots to say out loud what their true feelings are. I love that the language has become so coded. The reason so many on the right hate politically correct language is because it's forced them to find new ways to say the same tired things. This is radical and I love it. Advantage allows one to avoid a lot of uncomfortable moments and conversations. Viral examples of blatant racism has forced some of our fellow citizens to pull their head out of the sand. All of this talk about racial animosity destroys the myth of a post-racial America. Confronting these problems in an honest way is part of the cure for them. We need to create an atmosphere where bigotry, no matter how subtle, is publicly called out and shamed.