Pearl-Clutching in Klan Country

Yannick Marshall

The barbarians seem far from the gates. They are shouted away with calls to resign, with condemnation, stated outrage, reports of the Democrat-Reporter being under fire as if the disapproval of liberals has ever been so serious as to put a klansman under the gun. An award-winning editor calls for the KKK to night ride again and pearls are clutched, mouths stretch agape, heads and possibly some fists are shaken.  Those who see opportunity in the performance of shock at the fact that there are people in power in America who are fans of lynching stand up to shout down the racists in the distance. 

But there has never been — in the history of American journalism or public oratory— anyone who has told the truth about being shocked at any surge in or event of anti-black racism. To clutch one’s pearls at racism is to lie. 

Still, we are told we, we can knock one of them off of their horse. But what does Goodloe Sutton’s resignation achieve? A personnel transfer? Should it be accompanied by a show of contrition? The limitations of the liberal imagination are radical. The white knights at full gallop with pointed lance are asked to dismount. But there may be more appropriate responses to incitements to lynching. Apologies, contrary to popular sentiment, should not be called for. 

Board up the March on Washington, it’s outdated down goose-stepper lane. The ol’ dream is retired, the rig removed and it is duly put down. It didn’t work. If we must, then let us honor that other, scandalous, late-night MLK jr.  who no longer believed in promised lands but confessed he betrayed the people. He led them headlong into the burning house. We are inside now. Put away your picket signs. The white sheets are in our soup-tureen — place that stupefied look down. 

They strike, they apologize, they strike, they apologize, and now the guerrillas are at the gate, muskets pointed at the pearl-clasping carpetbaggers who scream from the top of one’s lungs “RESIGN!”

No. We resign.