Three guys walk into a bar…
Humor has a sharp edge: someone’s the butt of the joke. Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s and ’40s, our extended family — McDonald/Meinke — was Irish-German. We blinked at lots of “mick” humor and, after World War II started, some nasty “kraut” jokes. And of course, along the way we heard Jewish, Italian, Polish, gay, blonde and black jokes, whoever’s the scapegoat du jour. Some of these were funny, let’s face it.
But the jokes circulating on the Internet about Barack and Michelle Obama are crasser and cruder than I’ve heard before. (I’ve read “dumb Bush” jokes, but nothing murderous, racial, or sexual.) Obama, though probably surprised by this virulence, is the elected president of the United States, and can take the heat, but I feel sorry for Michelle.
More alarming is the growing cruelty of jokes against minorities in general, partially because — like all “prejudice” jokes — they’re basically false; but even more because they represent the actual beliefs of many conservatives. The enthusiasm with which these “jokes” are sent and received is disheartening. The following joke isn’t the worst, but typical. I include in parentheses the comments of the sender, before and after:
What the Fire Chief Said (“This is Priceless”)
(For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible. Not fair to make judgment of this until you see what the Fire Chief says!!!!)
In south Los Angeles, a 4-plex home was destroyed by fire. [Photo: burning home at night] A Mexican family of six, all welfare recipients and gang members, lived on the first floor. They died. An Islamic group of seven welfare cheats and gang members, all illegally in the country from Kenya, lived on the 2nd floor. And they, too all perished in the fire. 6 LA Hispanic Gang Bangers, and ex-cons, lived on the 3rd floor and they, too, died. A lone white couple lived on the top floor. The couple survived the fire. [photos of Jesse Jackson, John Burris, and Al Sharpton] Jesse Jackson, John Burris, and Al Sharpton were furious. They flew into LA & met with the fire chief on camera. They loudly demanded to know why the Blacks, Black Muslims, and Hispanics all died in the fire, and why only the White couple lived. [photo of white Fire Chief]
The fire chief said, “They were at work.”
(Last comment: “This has just got to keep circulating…it’s just too good.”)
I agree with the sender’s comment that “no explanation is possible.” (The white couple apparently both had night jobs.) Try to imagine yourself telling that joke. If you can tell it, I know who you’re voting for.
Republicans love to rant about “welfare cheats,” despite the well-documented fact that most welfare money — 61 percent, including food stamps — goes to whites; plus, blacks get much less from Social Security, because of lower salaries and life expectancies. (The percentage of minorities on welfare is higher; they’re poorer, for obvious reasons.)
I don’t mind picking on Sharpton and Jackson, who can be loud and hasty, though they’re at least fighting for the underdog. And it’s not that the poor are always in the right, either, but they need all the help they can get, (including unions)! The inclusion of Rodney King’s lawyer John Burris in this group, however, indicates this “joke” is aimed at the Trayvon Martin case, as they’ve all been prominent voices here.
The case has been mercilessly politicized by both sides, but at least one thing’s clear: a young unarmed black man was shot dead as the direct result of Florida’s truly stupid “Stand Your Ground” law — a law that conservative groups are promoting around the country. Somehow, we’re turning into a terrified, gated country.
Sure there are some “welfare cheats” — but we’re still stuck in the mess caused by “banking cheats,” “real estate cheats,” “tax cheats”: they’re the ones who wrecked our economy, not the minorities we’re herding into one fictional group we need to fear, and lock out. LOL.
…Your prayer, that used to be Caligula’s too,
If they only had one neck… It’s so
Unnecessary and out of date. We do.
—from “To the Rulers” by Howard Nemerov (1920-1991)