A Texas Civil Rights Review
Column of Dissent
By Faddy MacMough
In your article I found at CounterPunch.org, “Beauty from the Heart of Texas: Denzel Washington’s “The Great Debators” you started out with the following paragraph:
Over at the Internet Movie Database, redneck trolls are saddling up their cyber posse to go night riding on the message boards against Denzel Washington and “The Great Debaters.” All of which is a good thing if you like to see relevance in contemporary art. Because deep down, “The Great Debaters” is a film about how to grow yourself into a real person despite the needlers, taunters, and brutes who dominate the space around you — and who dominate it, still.
By now you ought to know I’ll come back at you on any generalizations you make that excoriate Rednecks — it is my solemn duty after all as a leftie redneck. I’ll be the first to admit there are, as you suggest, trolls of a redneck variety. But there are trolls of all sorts of varieties that include folks who are not rednecks. And amongst the trolls who are busy attacking Denzel Washington and the great debaters are some who just don’t have the credentials to be good decent rednecks.
I’d suggest, based on his betrayal of his own roots, that Justice Thomas is a troll who, if his past maunderings are any indication, is perfectly capable to giving Denzel Washington and the movie a needling, a taunting, and a brutalizing. Given his lofty position, that would also carry some weight.
Now don’t get me wrong, trolls are trolls (especially if they are the Tolkienian persuasion) and are to be avoided, and brought to light at every opportunity. And if they happen to be rednecks as well, they certainly do need to be brought into the light of day. (Light, it seems, of a sunlight variety, causes trolls to turn to stone as any student of the Hobbit can attest.) That is just fine and dandy by me. In fact, I applaud anyone who helps to sanitize the redneck blood lines by ridding us of their influence.
However, and this is important, there are rednecks who should be your allies . . . and the allies of all sorts of people (dare I suggest types?) who are struggling against oppression and bigotry in this class society of ours. They are all on the same side of the civil rights equation and shouldn’t be alienated by a slip of the hyperbolic tongue. It doesn’t help your cause, and it only makes theirs all that more difficult.
Had I not recognized you as a fellow traveler in the art and practice of civil rights, someone who has, at least for me, sterling credentials, I wouldn’t have gone much further than the racist epithet: redneck trolls. Nor would you have done much reading if you’d run up against ‘n-word trolls’ — or ‘m-word trolls’ — or any of a number of other racist terms.
Now that brings us around to the closing paragraph:
So please don’t bother believing what the bigots tell you about this film, not even the trolls who claim to have Harvard degrees. You don’t have to be Black to feel beautifully about Denzel Washington’s fine new film, “The Great Debaters.” The “message” of this film is for anyone who still desires the capacity to dream higher than what you already are.
Here, I suppose you come close to redeeming yourself in spite of some rather grandiloquent attempts at grand eloquence. Not believing trolls, or bigots, or even folks with some fancy degree (Harvard being one), is very good advice. We should all heed your advice . . . whether our necks are black or red or brown . . . and we should, all of us, all celebrate the desire to dream higher than what we already are. Those of us wallowing in the under classes of our society have a hell of a lot more in common that we have that the power elites want us to understand and recognize.
Alas, your introductory paragraph does a great deal to continue the tradition of division and intolerance for those who are sometimes frighteningly mirrors of our own existence. It’s high time, in my not so very humble opinion, that all of us with our necks under the yoke of economic oppression were willing to celebrate our mutual successes and quit the divisive language. And it is high time that you, as one of our leaders, should watch out for those killer phrases that have our mutual antagonists smiling with delight at our antagonizing each other.
Fredegar N. MacMough (his friends call him Faddy) is a self-styled leftie, of redneck parentage, holding forth from one of those nasty little oil towns where the glories of Friday Night Lights sustain a population so used to being abused that they think things are just fine and dandy . . . where a peppermint patty world is an illusion foisted upon them because the boys did take state again.