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Father Michael Pfleger Didn't Speak in a Vacuum . . .

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Message Hargrove Jones

Father Pfleger's words were not hateful or racist. Chicago's Cardinal Francis George got it right:

"Racial issues are both political and moral and are also highly charged. Words can be differently interpreted, but Fr. Pfleger-s remarks about Senator Clinton are both partisan and amount to a personal attack. I regret that deeply."

Father Pfleger's been in the black community for decades, and it's clear from his presentation that he has assumed some of the culture.

African Americans (AA) have a tradition called "playing the dozens." It involves a contest in which people put one another down, one seeks to trump the other by overwhelming him with negatives about himself. this practice is abbreviated in the monologues delivered by AA comedians, where they relentlessly lay colorful verbal assaults on a person. It also happens in gatherings, including churches, where a comical caricature of an unflattering personality, characteristic, or position, is delivered. Like many of the hard driving features of AA culture, it prepares AA for the insults and indignities that they will experience in the primary culture.

In a monolithic audience, in which no one would take offense, such language and antics is acceptable fun. But in an integrated (race, class, point of view, gender, etc.) audience, it would not be acceptable, because it might subject members of the audience to humiliation, or hurt feelings.

Many people believe that Hillary Clinton's tenacious fight, including her insistence on rule changes; number adjustments; standing down people, like Sinbad, with a dismissive, "he's a comedian," when he contradicted her lie; staffing her campaign with people who have conflicting interests; repeating an easily disproved and audacious lie; speaking authoritatively and disrespectfully to Barack; and using "our time," to describe her presidential ambitions; is the product of a sense of entitlement. Father Pfleger obviously thinks, as do many others, that Hillary's sense of entitlement comes from class "Bill's wife," and race "I'm white." Remember, it was Hillary, not Father Pfleger, who was the first person to publicly highlight her race.

Making fun of Hillary wasn't designed to humiliate or hurt her, because she wasn't supposed to see it. Rather, it was to relieve the frustration and stress of an audience, comprised of people who fear that Hillary may be allowed to take away a hard earned achievement, from a member of their group, because of her racial status. Father Pfleger's antics appeal to the AA practice of "laughing to keep from crying."

A sense of entitlement, based on race, is not a new concept in America, but we usually don't speak about it out loud, especially not in "mixed company." Father Pfleger didn't intend to do that, but maybe it's good that it got leaked to the general public because, it provides another chance for America to grow and learn.

To give some idea of how obvious white entitlement is, I will describe my daughter's experience in day camp and play acting with a friend. Her free flowing, challenging, self-asserting ways, must have prompted her day camp peers to think she was not properly socialized so, at nap time, several white girls (ages 4-5) approached her cot and announced, "we're white." Similarly, when preparing to play "school," one of two AA girls, says, "let's pretend that I'm white."

To these children, the identification white, is all that is needed to assert a recognizable status. Our denial is revealed, when we debates the existence of a reality that is so obvious to children, until they believe that it explains itself . . .

So you see, Father Pfleger wasn't speaking in a vacuum. What shocks us is freely spoken by our children. If we don't recognize the world that we have created, they do.

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Student of social dynamics, especially as it relates to issues of race and sex.
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