Another Outbreak Of Non-Racism

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Memo to Arizona: GET A HANDLE ON YOUR NON-RACISM.

Man, this has been a crazy, crazy time when it comes to not-racists. They seem to be coming out of the woodwork, spreading their totally non-racist views. Earlier this week, we discussed the South Carolina state lawmaker who called President Obama and Nikki Haley "ragheads" in a totally non-racist, Saturday Night Live kind of way, and on top of that, Arizona has been rife with not-racism lately.

In the middle of the furor over the Arizona immigration law, which many people fear will lead to cops stopping people on suspicion of being illegal immigrants in a way that is totally unrelated to their race, another Arizonan, talk show host and Prescott councilman Steve Blair has embroiled Arizona in another non-racist controversy.

You see, there's this mural. You've probably heard of it. It covers a couple of sides of Miller Valley Elementary School. And completely innocently, in an attempt to portray the children in the mural as "sunny", "happy", and "moving toward the light", school officials asked the painters to lighten the faces of the students.

For some reason, people interpreted it as a race thing, possibly because for two months, people driving by the students painting the mural shouted, "get the niggers off the wall", and "get the spics off the wall". Of course, the Tea Party would argue that since it's not on YouTube, it didn't actually happen. But assuming the Prescott non-racist population was so riled up as to yell racial slurs in a totally non-racist way, what got them riled up?

That's where the totally non-racist Steve Blair comes into it. Here's what he said about the mural on his talk show. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who's president of the United States today and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families - who I have been very good friends with for years - to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, 'Why?'... I'm not a racist by any stretch of the imagination, but whenever people start talking about diversity, it's a word I can't stand."

See, this is what I'm talking about. Ever since we vanquished racism in America by electing Barack Obama, we've experienced this surge in individuals like Blair. They're non-racists by any stretch of the imagination - just ask him. Yet despite being a non-racist, he hates diversity and wonders why the heck you'd put a black man in a mural, given the large number of white people in town when he was growing up.

In a less enlightened time, attitudes like that would have been branded as racist, but the word "racism" implies a value judgment, and the last thing anyone like Blair is going to be subjected to these days is a value judgment. Well, unless the people of Prescott succeed in their attempts to recall him, since he refuses to resign.

"He complained that neither artists nor school officials took the initiative to educate him. 'That might have helped clue me,' he said. 'They assumed because I asked the question (about the painting) that I was a racist and a bigot.'" - Blair, in a news conference after getting fired from his radio job.

Let me abandon the central joke of the column for a moment. The reason they assumed you were a bigot and a racist is that the question you asked was "Why are there so many black people on this mural?" It's an inherently racist question to ask. That you think you can ask that question and not be a racist and a bigot speaks very loudly about the problem we have in this country with so many goddamned self-professed non-racists.