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Arizona City “Whitewashes” Murals: So Glad We’re Beyond All That Racism

8:11 am in Government, Race, State Government by Scarecrow

Update: Looks like the truly good folks in Prescott are fighting back, forcing some of the School Board members to say "we made a mistake, and we’re sorry." The councilman quoted below may have been fired by local talk radio show. (h/t Wonkette) See video.

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In case you needed further assurances that the popular support among whites for Arizona’s "show me your papers" and "history began in 1848, or maybe 1913" statutes couldn’t possibly be based at least partly on racism, we have an example of enlightened tolerance from the pristine community of Prescott, Arizona.

From the NYDaily News:

Artists who painted a mural at an elementary school in Prescott depicting four students, with the most prominent being a Hispanic boy, were asked to lighten the faces amid taunts and tensions.

R.E. Wall, the artist who heads the Prescott Downtown Mural Project, told a local newspaper passersby regularly shouted racially charged comments at his group while they were creating the mural at the Miller Valley Elementary School.

"You’re desecrating our school," "Get the ni—- off the wall," "Get the sp– off the wall," were common, Wall said. "The pressure stayed up consistently," Wall said. "We had two months of cars shouting at us."

And it seems one councilman just can’t handle the "black" guy in the White House:

The ranting of one city councilman seems to have revved up the controversy in the community.

"Art is in the eye of the beholder, but I say [the mural] looks like graffiti in L.A.," Councilman Steve Blair said.

"I am not a racist individual," Blair said on a radio show last month, "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?’"

The "black guy" in the mural is based on a student of Mexican descent, a school official said.

According to the most recent census data, Prescott is more than 90% white, with 8.2% claiming Hispanic origin. Blacks, Asians and Native Americans compose less than 3% combined, the data show.

Blair said Wednesday diversity is a word "I can’t stand."

I’m trying to understand why the President of the United States sent 1200 National Guard to keep reality from intruding on Prescott, Arizona, rather than guarding its schools and students from racist thuggery. We used to do that.

But I’m sure it’s a lovely place (see comment). You might want to put Prescott on your list of places not to visit this decade. [I spoke too soon; see update]

John Chandley

More:
The Arizona Republic, Altered Mural Faces Racial Debate in Prescott

Rachel Maddow On Why Rand Paul Doesn’t Get It

9:14 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

In 1964, the United States enacted the Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination in all public facilities, whether privately owned or public. Kudos to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for displaying the language of Title II, which establishes as the law of this land, enforceable by injunction, the following fundamental human rights:

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities and privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin.

Notwithstanding the members of the Texas School Board and the sensibilities of libertarians, every American should read, understand and cherish these words. They establish the basic democratic principle — still not complete — that America will demand our businesses and government institutions treat all of us fairly. I don’t know how you can have a democracy worth defending without that principle.

Despite claims of principle, Rand Paul does not appear to accept this core American value. His opposition is not principled, though he would have you believe so. When pushed to explain his real beliefs, whether with local press, CNN, or Maddow’s show, or even in politically dictated clarifying statements, he has repeatedly evaded the central question, changed the subject or distracted the questioner with some irrelevant point that just so happened to be more dog whistles to his fanatical supporters.

Paul has been asked at least a dozen times whether he agrees with the core principle that America’s businesses should not be allowed to discriminate. But instead of saying "yes," he’s told us he’s not racist himself, though no interviewer has made that charge. He’s said he doesn’t approve of discrimination and wouldn’t join a private club that discriminated, but that was never the issue. He’s said we should worry about gun rights, though no interviewer made any connection between the 2nd Amendment and the core principle of non-discrimination. And he’s tried to go off on free speech, when that has nothing to do with whether or not he supports using government to end discrimination in accommodations.

It’s appalling enough that Rand and his supporters would reopen an issue whose history of violence and inhuman treatment remains an indelible stain on who we’ve been, and who some would remain. But Paul’s views are not merely unAmerican and dangerous for that reason.

I don’t know and don’t care whether Rand Paul thinks of himself as racist or favors discrimination. The danger he represents is that in legitimizing governance views that should have been buried with Jim Crow, he’s trying to fool everyone about who he is. He apparently doesn’t have the integrity to explain clearly what he believes. Perhaps he only wants to keep signaling to his Tea Party fans that he’s one of them, while hiding the implications from everyone else.

As others have noted, there is more here than the philosophical libertarian view that government should not impose even a collective American value about non-discrimination upon private businesses, which after all, are created — licensed — by the state, not handed down from the gods. The larger principle is whether American government can insist privately owned businesses meet standards of acceptable conduct, deemed reasonable and necessary for the public welfare, as we the people define it through our chosen governments. That’s as American as apple pie.

So if Rand believes the answer is "no," then let him stand before the voters of Kentucky, with his Republican Party behind him, and explain to them why not just the corner drug store but major pharmaceutical and chemical corporations should be set free to harm people and damage the environment merely because they’re private businesses.

Because that’s the de facto operating principle we’re seeing on our Gulf and in our coal mines and on Wall Street and the executive suites of our health insurance companies and mega-media monopolies. It’s the belief that government should minimize its interference in how businesses behave even where their activities can cause great harm.

That view is strangling America, though don’t expect Paul to explain that to his Tea Party followers or Paul’s critics to apply that to their ongoing tolerance of corporate America’s capture of too much of our government.

Added/edits Friday a.m.

Update: More wisdom from Dr. Paul:

"What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,’" Rand said in an interview with ABC’s "Good Morning America." ”I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."

Other views:
Salon/Joan Walsh, Rachel Maddow demolishes Rand Paul
Digby, Who’s his daddy?
IVB/Chad Peace: Rand Paul toasted by even-handed Maddow
Ezra Klein: Rand Paul may not be a racist, but he is an extremist
Crooks & Liars/Dave Neiwert, Paul hurriedly tries to back away . . .