by John Grooms
Were kind of enjoying the local hoopla over the war of words waged by former mayor Pat McCrory and Charlotte NAACP leader Kojo Nantambu. McCrory didnt like the sound of No justice, no peace, as chanted by protesters at recent school board meetings. McCrory said the chant amounted to violent words and were intended to threaten violence if protesters didnt get their way. Nantambu replied by saying McCrory has a very distorted sense of reality and, to top it off, is a racist. McCrory then replied that Nantambu should be ashamed of saying that.
I dont think McCrory is a racist, at least not in the classic sense of believing in denying basic rights to non-whites; and I dont think his comment about the No justice, no peace chant was racist. It was tone-deaf and dorky, for sure, but not racist. There is a qualitative difference between disliking an entire group of people because of their color and simply not having the first clue about those people's culture or history. Unfortunately, culturally tone-deaf statements have been a part of McCrorys career for a long time. If that helps him garner a few more redneck votes in the next election, well, thats just a pleasant (for him) side effect. Let me explain.
In 2006, the Uptown suits were all aflutter because horror of horrors! young African Americans were cruising the area on weekends. Seriously. This was a huge deal at the time. McCrory weighed in on the subject, while trying to justify a weekend Uptown show of force by police, by solemnly declaring, "Where there's cruising, there's usually trouble." Wow, now there was some insight, huh? As we wrote at the time, Golly, if cruising isn't curbed, even more young blacks might gather Uptown to socialize, wearing those tacky hip-hop clothes! Before you know it, people might even start to think they have a Constitutional right to assemble or something! Pretty scary."
The next summer, the fear of a black weekend was in full force again. Once more, Uptown panties were in a twist, and, you guessed it, Mayor Fratboy spoke up in his unique, authoritative way. "Too many of our youth, primarily African-American, are imitating and/or participating in a gangster type of dress, attitude, behavior and action," said Fearful Leader. Bet you didnt know the way you dress is a legitimate concern for the mayor, did you?
Ive covered McCrory for years, and my take on his latest venture into racially sensitive debate is this: Why is anyone surprised? Pat McCrory has consistently displayed a profound, incurious ignorance of anything outside of RichFratBoyWorld. I thought this was common knowledge. You have to forgive the rich frat boy clique, though; you see, they're convinced that they run the world, or at least that they and their beliefs, (and even clothes) are the standard to be looked up to and imitated by the rest of us. Don't worry, its not just blacks that McCrory has zero empathy for. If you werent around then, you should have seen him making an ass of himself when public art was being chosen for the light rail line. As always, Mayor Babbitt gave off a bubble-entrapped yuppie vibe, as he basically made fun of any artwork he didnt understand, and the artists who produced them. The guy's face ought to be the illustration for dictionary definitions of "philistine."
Now, I have personally heard the no justice, no peace chant, or have seen it on bumperstickers, since at least the early 1980s. Its meaning is pretty clear: if you dont get justice, you keep on pushing till you get it. Theres no implied threat of violence in the phrase, but it is a reminder to those in power that the protesters are determined to be heard. In order to avoid future wars of words, could someone please at least get McCrory some kind of primer on Life Outside the Southern Business/Politics Matrix? It would do us all a lot of good.