“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into”

Jonathan Swift
"The Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital." - Bill Maher
"The city is crowded my friends are away and I'm on my own
It's too hot to handle so I gotta get up and go

It's a cruel ... cruel summer"

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Amarillo Rejects KKK, Still Haven for Bigot

The Ku Klux Klan has had their demonstration. The requirements of our Constitution have been satisfied. As a community we have closed ranks and publicly rejected bigotry and hatred, no matter how it pretends to present itself.

We have taken pride in being a united citizenry, happy to see the quick departure of the American White Knights, even as local members and sympathizers have skulked away to their hiding places. But we are not finished seeing the face of bigotry.

The visit of the Klan has focused our attention onto the Klan's style of bigotry, openly hateful and vulgar. Many fine words have been written against this kind of prejudice, with ethnic slurs and vile language denounced as having “no place in a civilized society.”

A civilized society is shocked when confronted with racism, and yet by this episode we have convinced ourselves that it is outsiders who cling to the past and express their hate. We have forgotten there are others within our midst who are subtle, to whom we have become accustomed by their moderate words, but who nevertheless communicate their ignorance, prejudice and disdain for people of other ethnicities, cultures and faiths.

By discreet words, without curse or slur, he conveys ridicule and contempt with such easy practice that many no longer recognize it as bigotry. Others have become resigned or inured to it, while in this age of terrorism and jingoism more may find his new attacks on foreigners and Muslims acceptable.

Our bigot of public record needs no permit and the steps of city hall as a platform; he has a forum enjoyed by few others on the pages of the Amarillo Globe-News. Mr. Virgil Van Camp’s bigotry has long been on view for all to see, and he has been repeatedly denounced, but unlike the Klan, shows no sign of going away.

Mr. Van Camp has a right to express his views, and the Amarillo Globe-News has every right to publish what it sees fit. But unlike the Klan’s mandated platform, Mr. Van Camp’s column appears at the pleasure of the publisher, and he has been willing to abuse the privilege, foisting ignorant hatred upon the world as a reflection of Amarillo’s thoughts and beliefs.

It is possible for racists to change, to renounce their past and reform. But they do so publicly, by way of apology, atonement, and reconciliation. Mr. Van Camp has done none of these. We are forced to conclude that at some unguarded moment, like the Klan’s fascist salute, he will once again reveal and confirm his rank prejudices.

We may do with Mr. Van Camp as we have always done – nothing. We have made a great public show of rebuking the bigotry of the Klan, and may now ignore setting our own house in order.

In the face of our city's pride, noble words and admirable deeds, as long as Mr. Van Camp is the last bigot standing, he will have the last laugh.