We’ve discussed the impending sense of anxiety those sympathetic to white supremacy, white hegemony, white superiority–whatever you want to call it, feel when they look at a brilliant and successful black person who succeeds despite the odds and puts the lie to their very faith (and white supremacy is more a matter of “faith” than anything else) but you have to be stunned by the unbelievable ignorance of Kathleen Parker’s latest column for the Chicago Tribune, even if you read that gay-baiting mess in the Post today.

The fact that Parkers is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group shows how utterly mainstream nativist white thought is–you would never see Louis Farrakhan with a nationally syndicated column, the backlash would be enormous. Yet here is Parker, lauding the virtues of “full-blooded” Americans.

Full-bloodedness is an old coin that’s gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values, and made-in-America. Just as we once and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

The answer has nothing to do with a flag lapel pin, which Obama donned for a campaign swing through West Virginia, or even military service, though that helps. It’s also not about flagpoles in front yards or magnetic ribbons stuck on tailgates.

It’s about blood equity, heritage and commitment to hard-won American values. And roots.

Some run deeper than others and therein lies the truth of Fry’s political sense. In a country that is rapidly changing demographically—and where new neighbors may have arrived last year, not last century—there is a very real sense that once-upon-a-time America is getting lost in the dash to diversity.

We love to boast that we are a nation of immigrants. But there’s a different sense of America among those who trace their bloodlines back through generations of sacrifice.


Yet, white Americans primarily—and Southerners, rural and small-town folks especially—have been put on the defensive for their concerns with “guns, God and gays,” as Howard Dean put it in 2003. And more recently, for clinging to “guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” as Obama described white, working-class Pennsylvanians who preferred his opponent.

Steve Benen has already discussed this and pointed out that Obama’s grandfather served in World War II but I want to further challenge the very premise that there is such a thing as a “full blooded American”. What she means by this of course, is “white Americans”. She makes this plain in that last paragraph.

What Parker needs is a history lesson. There are white men on our dollar bills, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that black men bled on battlefields in the pursuit of American independence. Before our ancestors were more than three-fifths of a person they fought to share a dream that would be denied them for hundreds of years later, that promissory note MLK talked about. They fought to preserve the Union even before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Our ancestors fought in World War I only to come home and be lynched in uniform. We fought in World War II, despite the fact that units were still segregated, and we were still treated as second class citizens under the law.

Full blooded? This nation’s history is full of the blood of our ancestors and their sacrifices, and the only reason I can’t “trace my bloodline” back to prove it is back then we were listed next to pitchforks and lanterns as farm equipment. Full blooded? How could we be full blooded anything? That choice was taken from us–we wear that reality in our skin tones and hair textures. You may have forgotten but we haven’t.

Make no mistake, racists at every level tried to prevent our ancestors from fighting, because the very act of sacrificing for this country made it as much ours as it did theirs, despite the centuries they would spend trying to deny it. Those denials continue.

So Parker wants to play Patriot Games? Let’s go. No one loves this country more than we love this country, because we loved this country even when it didn’t love us. Nobody can say that like we can say it. This isn’t about Obama’s father being from Kenya–Parker’s racialized understanding of what is “American” is as exclusive as possible. No one was talking about “full-blooded Americans” when Joe Lieberman was running for Vice President; she is talking about any American who does not share the color of her skin.

I said more than a year ago
that this election would be an argument over what we define as American. Parker and her “conservative” friends want American to mean “white”. What I forgot, and what they don’t realize, is that history has already settled everything.

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