"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." Edgar Degas

Monday, July 27, 2015

Racist Friend

"If you have a racist friend
Now is the time for that friendship to end." The Special AKA


I ran across this picture and it got me thinking about the false logic behind racism and the type of bigotry that likes to think of itself as rational, as even a type of common sense. It's a false syllogism. You could say how did we go from this to being afraid of offending Al Queda, but nobody's afraid of offending Al Queda. The logic behind this quote would be the same as "How did we go from the holocaust to being afraid of offending Christians?" or "How did we go from Dylann Roof to being afraid of offending white people?" Basically, it's a way to feel good about hating millions or even billions of human beings by equating them all with a few homicidal maniacs who share their race, gender, nationality, or religion. Exploiting tragedy to gin up anger is in keeping with the time-honored tradition of bigotry and fomenting hate.





The Specials were a 2 Tone/Ska band formed in 1977 as a fusion of ska and punk. Their melodies and instrumentation were fun, infectious, and pretty damn danceable. Their lyrics were often about things like drinking, dancing, dating, love and sex, but in songs like Free Nelson Mandela and Racist Friend they tackled some meatier subjects. 




I have mixed feelings about ending a friendship with a racist friend. On the one hand, it's a repudiation of that diseased mind-set but on the other hand it only isolates the disease, allowing it to fester in the bubble of like-minded hatred. It also ignores the idea that maybe we're all racists, to varying degrees, and the best way to eliminate ignorance is to confront it, even in ourselves.

Anyway, it's a great tune. And check out Jerry Dammers' fancy footwork in the video:




If you have a racist friend
Now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end

Be it your sister
Be it your brother
Be it your cousin or your, uncle or your lover

If you have a racist friend
now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end

Be it your best friend
Or any other
Is it your husband or your father or your mother?

Tell them to change their views
Or change their friends
Now is the time, now is the time, for your friendship to end

So if you know a racist who thinks he is your friend
Now is the time, now is the time for your friendship to end

Call yourself my friend?
Now is the time to make up your mind, don't try to pretend

Be it your sister
Be it your brother
Be it your cousin or your uncle or your lover

So if you are a racist
Our friendship has got to end
And if your friends are racists don't pretend to be my friend

So if you have a racist friend
Now is the time, now is the time for our friendship to end

GOODBYE