Reader mail

Here’s an amusing little missive I received yesterday:
I found your log entries on January 14th and 18th contradicting. First, you write that you enjoy the Plantation Mint tea, yet four days later, you use the term ‘urban-plantation’. That word, plantation, is much like the confederate flag issue we saw this past year in the South. Is that flag a positive symbol for some? Yes. Is it a negative reminder for what the south once was? Yes.
It’s your attempt to expose hidden or outright bigotry that makes your blog so interesting and, I think, illustrates how non-minorities through life never know
what it’s like to be a minority despite their best intentions. Your eyes are so wide open on Politics and Minorities; yet, you’re blinded by everyday references to slavery.
Jeff

Sigh.
The first entry Jeff refers to is my “Racist Democrats?” post, in which I quote an article by Jay Bryant that uses the phrase “urban plantation” as a metaphor for gerrymandered, all-black Congressional districts.
The second is Alan’s “Elitism” post, in which he explains the difference between two types of elites:
What matters is the elites attitude toward those outside of its niche market. I’m not aware of the makers of Dom Perignon thumbing its nose at those of us who prefer Coca-Cola or Bigelow Plantation Mint Tea to champagne. There are certainly moviemakers who sneer at audiences who don’t like their product, regarding those non-customers as rubes for failing to appreciate nihilism or political leftism or whatever the niche cinematic product is.
“Plantation”, here, is the name of a pre-existing retail product.
So before Jeff gets all huffy about SC.com’s latent racism, he should a) get his facts straight about who actually said what; b) direct his righteous anger at the Bigelow Tea company for naming their mint tea after “a negative reminder for what the south once was”.
And Jeff, if you want to see real, live ugly racism, click on this link to Sam Ward’s post about the paragon of the lefty Ozblogosphere, sometime SC.com troll Niall Cook. He refers to a Vietnamese (who hit Niall’s car with his) as an “ignorant, slitty-eyed, slimy little Landcruiser-driving vietnamese prick” and an “ignorant, non-english-speaking immigrant”.
Whoa, baby! “Ignorant” twice! Pat Buchanan is smiling!
In Sam’s comments, Niall’s self-defense is basically ” well, you evil right-wing beasts would have said much worse”. I’d direct you to Niall’s own website, but he’s deleted the posts and password-protected the entire site.
Hee.
Anyway Jeff, THAT is racism. Not the name of a tea. And I’m not “blinded” by it. Why should I be? Are you suggesting we retire the word “plantation” from polite conversation entirely?
If you asked me who was the more loathsome: the open racist who uses the “N”-word, wants to ban interracial marriage, and wears a white sheet over his head; or the racial hucksters both black and white, who use African-Americans to advance their own political goals while condescendingly claiming “it’s for their own good”, and conspicuously refusing to even consider measures that their constituents actually want (i.e. school vouchers and faith-based initiatives)? I’d have to go with the latter category.

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11 comments

  1. Al Maviva

    Yes, Sasha, really. How could you?
    First, you said that you abhorred the way that slaves were kept – with some in the field, and then some in the house.
    Then you said you admire how Bernie Williams plays Center Field for the Yankees; and how you liked Snoop Dogg because he was Old School West Coast rap in tha house.
    The fact that you were insensitive to the slave holding connotations of the words “field” and “house” – shameful words that should never be spoken aloud – shows the rest of us what an irredeemable, hopeless racist you truly are. You have so internalized the dialogue of domination and hegemony that you cannot even realize you are become a vehicle, an unconscious vessel, for the perpetuation of racism.
    Shame on you. I’m so embarassed to be a member of this group blog.

  2. Alan K. Henderson

    As a metaphor, “plantation” has two widely different contexts. As in the later post, it evokes images of involuntary servitude. It is also a generic icon of the deep South, as Bigelow obviously intended. Plantations have always been a fixture in Dixie, both before the war and afterwards when they cleaned up their act.
    (Well, the record of the Wye Plantation isn’t spotless, but that has to do with failed peace talks and kidnapped political refugees. Wye isn’t even in the South – it’s in Maryland.)
    As for the Confederate flag, some see it as a symbol of the institution supported by the majority of the Confederacy’s power base, and many others see it as a symbol of freedom. People treat the Civil War as though slavery were the only significant issue, as if the Confederacy had no legitimate gripes. Southerners rightfully objected to a tariff that bled them dry to feed Northern special interests.
    A more debatable viewpoint is the opinion that Lincoln was wrong to resort to military conquest to end secession. Many felt that they were being drawn into an argument that they had no part in. They were just living their everyday lower-economic-class lives while stuffed shirts were arguing slavery and tariffs elsewhere, and all of a sudden Union troops are invading their farms and taking their stuff.
    I believe that what cemented the preservation of the rebel battle flag was the reparations movement – I mean Reconstruction – which opened the door for even more Federal overreach, in many cases resulting in outright thievery on the part of the “carpetbaggers.” Southerners have a “leave us the hell alone and let us live our lives” attitude for a reason, and the flag is its emblem. It has also been waved by white racial separatist factions, which have fortunately been on the decline in this country.

  3. Steve

    Not to pick at addl. nits here but it strikes me that Maryland was south of the Mason Dixon line and a part of the South, no?

  4. John Anderson

    Jeff had best hope that Providence does not move him to Providemce, RI – or, in full, The State Of Rhode And Providence Plantations.

  5. Dave J

    Steve, Maryland is, and is not, the South. It was a slave state, but the South is often thought of as the states of the old Confederacy, and Maryland, like the other “border states” (Delaware, Tennessee, and Kentucky) never seceded from the Union. West Virginia and Oklahoma also probably fall into a similar category of the “greater” South.

  6. Steve

    Dave: Personally I like Scott’s remarks on this whole business although in my case I was thinking of a cultural distinction not necessarily related to the appropriate paperwork distinctions. πŸ˜‰

  7. Yobbo

    I was under the impression that a PLANTation was what you call it when you have lots of PLANTS that are all PLANTED in the same place. I’m an aussie too, maybe that’s the problem.

  8. Dave J

    Well, and Maryland has nearly as much in common culturally with Pennsylvania as with Virginia, let alone with the Deep South.
    Yes, Jay, I did forget Missouri. Given the Missouri Compromise and the fact that it was Mark Twain’s birthplace, it’s a pretty severe oversignt. Oops.