Racism is not about political correctness; racism is simply vile
Republicans have created the ultimate excuse. It can be used to erase vile rhetoric or deny misbehavior. You just deploy the magic word “political correctness” and float away from the carnage you have created. Political correctness is even more potent than the magic of the words such as “death panel”. No matter what the crime, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, you just pull the tab on a can of “political correctness” and you are safe and above any criticism.
In 1971, actor John Wayne said, “I believe in white supremacy until blacks educate themselves to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgement to irresponsible people.” Well in 1971, I was returning from my second year in Vietnam where African-Americans had been assuming positions of leadership and authority on a daily basis since 1963.
They were squad leaders, platoon sergeants, combat platoon leaders, and company commanders providing leadership to American soldiers in combat. They were dying for this country as real heroes (7,300 African-Americans were KIA) while Duke, the blowhard, sat in the safety and comfort of his home and pretended to be a hero. Often right wingers will walk right over the bodies of real heroes to worship at the feet of loudmouth phonies.
In 1967, I became a member of RA1. This was what the Army called their first class of ROTC scholarship winners. Many of us went to Infantry Officers Basic Course, Ranger School, Airborne School together and were assigned as Combat Platoon Leaders to the 101st Airborne for deployment to Vietnam.
Two of my best friends from this class were African-Americans: Lee Grimsley, graduate of Tuskegee, and Gary Scott, graduate from Syracuse. Their lives and character were an unequivocal refutation of John Wayne’s racism. Both were exceptional leaders, their judgement was impeccable, and they knew how to use authority to safeguard the men they commanded. Gary was killed in combat in May of 1968 and Lee survived his first tour with the 101st but was KIA in 1971 near Dak To.
A California state legislator blocked a proposal for a “John Wayne Day” because of his rabid racism. Meanwhile, conservative lapdogs in Chattanooga were quick to defend Wayne saying his racism was just “random quotes” taken from “thousands of interviews.” Never mind that this “random quote” begins with “I believe in white supremacy”. These sycophants conclude that Wayne did not get his day because of “an overly politically correct reaction.”
What? He might as well have recited the KKK pledge. Do you really want to choose the side of history that defends racists?
Racism is not about political correctness. Racism is the tool that has been used to oppress Blacks for 400 years. Let me be clear. John Wayne is not a hero. He is a blowhard pretending to be a hero. He was an empty suit of no substance, but I hope one day that you right wingers get a day for racist blowhards. Call it Rush Limbaugh Day.
Terry Stulce served two combat tours in Vietnam, one with the 101st Airborne and one with the 69th Border Rangers. He was an LCSW and owner of Cleveland Family Counseling before retirement in 2009.