The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

The Racist Meltdown of Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr slit her own throat professionally. I’m not the least bit surprised to be honest.

She sent out a tweet which was intentionally racist and meant to be offensive, just the way her hero Trump behaves.

She described a black woman who previously worked for Obama as the love child of the “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes,” which is not a microagression, a mistake, a bad joke, or anything similar. It is a highly offensive remark and intentionally so. Now her show is canceled. Good!

Barr has a history of unhinged, cringe-worth behavior. And while I am not trying to make an excuse for the racism she spewed I think that is her problem — she’s unhinged. I’m not sure she is all there mentally. I am not saying it because of this incident — she’s been unhinged for years. In March I compared her to the equally demented Corey Feldman and said “Barr, like her equally unhinged idol, loves to tweet stupid things. The stupider the tweet the more Roseanne thinks it’s intellectual.”

She, like other bigots, was emboldened by hate spewed by Trump. These people think because Trump gets away with it they should as well. Hate is what I call the imperialist passion; it is one always seeking to expand. When believed it wants to be expressed, when expressed it wants to be acted upon. It is not satisfied until the torches are lit and the noose is hanging from the tree limb. That’s how hate works. It always wants to conquer new territory and infect more minds.

What people such as Trump and Barr do is give other bigots permission to go one step further. When bigotry becomes acceptable it becomes more extreme and it goes from mere “speech” to actions.

We are witnessing this around the country. Take the recently example of a looser named John Jay Smith in Florida — a man who thinks he‘s extra special for dressing up in shirts that are designed like the U.S. flag — a real nationalist, if you know what I mean. Smith went into a McDonalds in St. Augustine.

He’s been hateful for sometime but this time he decided to act. He saw a couple of customers, minding their own business, who looked foreign — they were students from Egypt. Smith, who apparently was drunk to top off his hate, pulled a knife on the men and started screaming they have no right to eat “American food.” (Apparently Smith is clueless how McDonalds is all over the world.) These men fled for their own safety and Smith pursued them. He got out a stun gun and attempted to use it against them.

In St. Lucie, Florida another old white nationalist, Richard Lloyd tried to set a local convenience store on fire. His reasoning was he wanted “to run the Arabs out of the country.” The owners of the store were immigrants from India, not Arab. But, paradoxically hate is blind. It often confuses targets. Hate the Arabs, attack an Indian. Hate one group and morph into someone who hates many groups. H.L. Mencken once wrote that stupid beliefs tend to cluster in people. The same is true of bigotry.

Sure the fundamentalists hate the gays, they make that clear every day in new ways. But they also feel similarly toward Catholics, Mormons, immigrants and blacks. They rolled from one organized hate movement to another throughout American history. They were in the “Illuminati” panic of 1800, the anti-Masonic panic of the 1800s, the racist, anti-Catholic, anti-Immigrant “Know Nothing” movement of the 1850s. They hated Jews, opposed rights for women, supported the Klan, segregation and lynching. Over and over, when someone started a hate movement the born-again brigade rushed off to sign up.

Now, how bigotry is dealt with as speech and how it is dealt with as action are quite different. Some libertarians, mistakenly I think, believe they should do nothing when it is mere belief or speech. They seem to confuse themselves with the state. The state should not ban hate speech, but you aren’t the goddamn state. You have every right to act when people spew bigotry and if you don’t I have no respect for you and don’t want to associate with your kind.

It’s bizarre that some people who try to excuse bigotry with the “freedom of association” slogan themselves won’t take advantage of that freedom to disassociate from bigots. I’m willing to take advantage of that right. Refusing to do so only encourages the imperialist passion.

Ayn Rand warned people about what she called “your silent sanction.” That’s when a bigot rants and you say nothing but grin and bear it. But when someone is spewing something that is nonsense, particularly in some important arena, “Do not keep silent when your own ideas and values are being attacked.”

Now that does raise a question, when you hear a bigot spewing hate ARE YOUR OWN VALUES BEING ATTACKED? If the answer is no, then please stop pretending you are a libertarian who holds to individualism, you aren’t. You are a rank collectivists who judges individuals, not by their own actions but their collective status in some group.

So many are quick to say, “There is no such thing as group rights,” and then seem to go silent when others want to deny rights to people on the basis of group membership. The civil rights movement didn’t demand “special rights” for blacks — as conservatives whined — it explicitly said the rights of blacks shouldn’t be denied them because they are black. Gay rights wasn’t about rights granted only because one is gay, it said we should stop denying rights merely because of sexual orientation. That’s how it’s been with most such movements.

The typical (fill in the blank) rights movement exists because rights were first being denied over some collective trait.

Just look at the “white nationalists” who are so enamored with Benito Trump. They are rank collectivists. They not only think anyone with black skin is somehow inferior but they, simply because they have white skin, are inherently superior. They are spewing hate to create a form of pseudo-self-esteem for themselves. All bigotry is like that. Hate the Jews and claim superior status for Christians. Hate blacks and claim superior status for whites. Hate women and claim superior status for men. If you have self-esteem issues see a counselor, don’t take it out on innocent people.

Roseanne Barr would be much better off today if she had done that.

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A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.