This is Not a Joke by Chris Berry and the Political Cartel

One of my favorite blogs is that of the Political Cartel; I suspect I like this blog because the authors showcase a political and ideological leaning much different from that of my peers while I was a student at Harding University. Moreover, they are smart and fun to chat with from time to time. Here is a post from Chris Berry, one of the PC’s authors and a student at HU.

Yesterday I wrote a post about the noose being left in an African-American student’s office at ACU.  I later deleted the post as I felt it was poorly written.  I also felt that I, as a Caucasian,  do not have the perspective to write about what a black man feels when he sees a noose.  I believe the incident at ACU was horrible, and I do not stand for racism.  That being said, I will write about what the image of a noose means to me.

On September 12, 2007, the first annual “Day of Encouragement,” my uncle hanged himself from a telephone pole in my parents’ backyard in Memphis, Tennessee.  This tragedy rattled my faith in God and I am just now, almost a year later, rebuilding my faith and learning to trust God again.

The first day I was back in classes at HU, my American history teacher showed us some videos in class that showed African-Americans being hanged.  I couldn’t stand to look at these images, so I got up and walked out of class.  The images of a people being hanged became something tangible to me.  When I see a noose (even just the rope itself), I see death and injustice.

I can’t begin to imagine what this image means to someone whose family members only a generation ago were lynched for no reason at all other than their skin tone.  However, I am willing to bet that death and injustice are right up there with the emotions one might feel. It appears to me that this was more of a death threat than a “joke.”

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9 thoughts on “This is Not a Joke by Chris Berry and the Political Cartel

  1. I haven’t posted on this blog in a while although I have generally kept up with the posts. I read this on PC the other day and felt a whole new respect for Chris and simultaneously felt appalled that anyone could perform such a disgusting act. I feel like universities affiliated with the CofC often leave racism alone, pretending it doesn’t exist anymore. As Mark Elrod said after we went to a lecture by Fred Gray, a civil rights attorney, on campus last spring, “The fact that harding was only desegregated less than 65 years ago was like a hairy gorilla in the corner hanging over the Q & A segment, but being left to itself.” Afterwards I discussed the issue with my father who told me an interesting story:

    Apparently when my dad attended Harding (early 1980s) there were attacks on black students dating inter-racially. These attacks were condemned by the administration but were not stopped until a young black man was attacked upon re-entering his dorm after going bow hunting. The assailant had broken into the young man’s dorm waiting for his return. The victim was quickly grabbed from behind, but quickly pulled an arrow out of his quiver (still on his person) and stabbed over his shoulder into the assailants back. The assailant was later identified by the wound. It was not until this attack that the assailant was caught, and proper measures where taken (my dad wasn’t sure what these proper measures entailed, but the student was expelled at the least). The administration announced the end of the assaults and racism was then more carefully addressed on campus.

    This set my wheels a-turning….how was this assailant not caught before hand? Why did it take another violent encounter to end this terrorism? Dad was clear that the assaults lasted at least a month that he could remember, maybe longer. If Harding will commit so much power to catching vandals, pranksters, and perpetrators of comic misdemeanors as expediently as possible, how were they along with the Searcy Police unable to catch a felon who was bringing terror to their campus? My only solution was that there must have been many sympathizers to this radical who protected him. This made me sick. I soon realized that it is too easy for any student involved in racist activity to pass it as a joke and get someone else to vouch for their character. I feel that Harding should be stricter on these “jokes” as even if not motivated by hate, they are irresponsible. I point to a recent guerrilla publication as an example. “The Weather Report” contained a satirical article containing racist attitudes towards Asian students. The administration was rightfully appalled and has said that those involved in the publication will be expelled if caught. However, it is so hard to catch someone who the students hail as a “Robin Hood”, “Martin Luther”, or even “Stephen Colbert”, due to the humorous content of the publication. They don’t find the article inappropriate at all. Apparently, its inclusion in a comedic publication, justifies the content as a joke instead of racism. This may be true, but even so the author was extremely irresponsible and is simply propelling negative behavior and stereotyping under a protective barrier of humor, which is unacceptable. PC has a PDF copy of the Weather Report available for download, I encourage you to read it and tell your opinion. Then think of it in light of this article and tell me what you think. Is that the way a follower of Christ should carry themselves, even jokingly?

  2. I’m glad you added the second image. I considered adding such a picture to my story, but I knew that if I searched Google for such an image, I would get caught up and very depressed.

    Thanks for re-posting this.

  3. Eddie, sometimes, when I see stuff like this, it is so hard for me to understand why God gave mankind free will (which I believe He did) in the first place. I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but I just don’t really know if all the pain is worth it. I just have to trust that the whole “free will thing” was worth it. It also amazes me that He is so patient with us when He sees all the pain we can cause each other … I don’t know that this world would keep on turning if I were in charge. It is not that I am one who looks at the world and thinks how can God allow such horror … I do not believe that it is what He wants … it is what He allows by giving us free will but it is not what He desires … He desires us to seek Him and love each other …If we all obeyed Him and if Evil did not have so much of the world in its grasp … then the horror would not run rampant. To be honest, I look around the world and realize that the only hope for rising above such horrors as racism and brutality is in God and learning to love others as God loves them. So, we, as Christians, must fight for good and refuse to sweep the horrors … no matter where we find them …under the carpet. We have to deal with the hard realities, such as racism and suicide, along with their underlying causes.

    Chris, I am sorry about your loss. Suicide hurts so bad. I had a friend (and co-worker) commit suicide by hanging about a year and a half ago. I have been haunted by images in my dreams so, although each person’s grief is unique, I can understand the lasting impact of images that you mentioned in your blog piece. I am also sorry that it happened on the “Day of Encouragement” … irony makes grief that much worse. (My friend was the cheerleader sponsor of the school at which I worked at the time.) Please take care over the next few days. Grief peaks again at the one year anniversary of losses. Please surround yourself with people who can love you the way you need to be loved as you process the grief. I have already prayed, Chris … and I will keep on praying for you. Like I said, anniversaries are tough.

    ~Staci Brown

  4. Thanks, Staci.

    The whole free will thing has been a real struggle for me for a long time. I’ve often wondered why God didn’t give us free will that we only have to choose once. We have to keep on choosing, and we often make the wrong decisions. Sometimes I wonder why that when my uncle made a choice to turn his life to God, why didn’t God just take his best choice and let that be forever? I know it doesn’t work like that, but it sure would be nice.

    Thanks for your prayers and words.

  5. In my public speaking class, I teach a section about free speech and the First Amendment. During that unit, I try to trot out something stupid that someone has said as an example that “protected” speech isn’t always “ethical” speech. I used to teach Imus and his “nappy headed hos” comment, but last year I started teaching Tilghman and her ill-considered “lynch him in a back alley” comment about Tiger Woods and the decision of Golf Week to put a noose on its front cover as a lure to the story.

    As part of teaching this unit, I offer up an essay from a writer and commentator whom I respect a great deal, Michael Wilbon of the Washington post. In this article, though, Wilbon makes the claim that, were there more people of color in positions of importance at media outlets – particularly at Golf Week – an image like that would never have made it onto the cover.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/19/AR2008011902439.html

    For all that I respect and admire Wilbon, I took great issue with that statement. One doesn’t have to be a person of color, or have suffered a loss like Mr. Berry ha,s to be sensitive to the messages of certain images and words. I can assure you, were *I* on a decision-making board at Golf Week, that image never would have made it on to the cover, and I’m about as white as they come.

    My point is that these words and symbols have meaning, and no one chooses them by accident.

  6. This article is a very touching article. About 3 weeks ago I had a friend who hung herself the day before her school started, it was completely unexpected and no one knew what to do about it, and though this article is not specifically about suicide it really is a great feeling of knowing that I am not the only one who feels the way he did.

  7. Patrick B .

    Thanks for reading and commenting here. Wow! I have heard a number of different accounts about race as it relates to HU, but yours in a first. On that I will always recall is in the 1960s HU’s chapel had whites pain their faces black and I believe their lips red to represent black people seeing that known were allowed to attend. Your comment got me thinking about a future post on the role of Christian schools and institutions to be different from the world.

    Hanora — Yes that was a very difficult situation. You did better than I would have done. Way to be mature about this most difficult situation.

  8. A couple of questions came to mind when reading this.
    1) is commiting suicide a sin?
    2) why does God “let”? these things happen?

  9. “This guy Joe Wurzelbacher gets it, and he correctly labels Obama and his policies as “Socialist”.

    Obama tells him, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too.”

    Obama claims that the 98% of small businesses make less than $250,000 a year, which of course is a flat out lie. And one of Barack Obama’s most potent campaign claims is that he’ll cut taxes for no less than 95% of working families. He’s even promising to cut taxes enough that the governments tax share of GDP will be no more than 18.2% — which is lower than it is today.

    Its a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that hes also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of tax cut. For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase tax credit. Barack Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals.

    If Barack Obamas goal as President is to spread the wealth around, perhaps his unconditional meetings with Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro, and Kim Jong-Il arent so crazy — if nothing else they can advise an Obama administration on economic policy.

    Why is Barack Obama being dishonest to the American people? And why does the mainstream media always cover for his lies?

    The answer: Because Obama is nothing more than a tax and spend Liberal who wants to turn America into The United Socialist States of America– he’s a Marxist. And the Obama-Media knows he would never win the election if they actually reported the truth.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAYWAoSgS0w – Link about the TRUTH that Obama is a Marxist.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=angbZB2WeMQ – Link about the failure of socialism/Communism and of a very interesting experiment regarding the effects of socialism.

    Do not respond at all to these comments they will not be met with any reply.

    If they are erased by the curator of this blog they will be reposted.

    Those for freedom will not be silenced!

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