Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The inadequacy of a "good heart"

In attempting to defend herself against charges of racism, Paula Deen claimed that she has a "good heart." Juror B37 said the same thing about George Zimmerman.

When people make these claims I suspect they have pretty good evidence that the ones they are referring to have shown caring and concern to the people in their lives and that they do not exhibit hate for anyone. The underlying assumption is that racism involves hate.

But that's where they are mistaken.
The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death.

- Elie Wiesel
As a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps, Wiesel knows a thing or two about the topic.

The issue today is that most racism doesn't depend on hate - but indifference. We are indifferent to the lives and perspectives of people who are not like us. That's what allows jurors to see things from George Zimmerman's perspective but not from Trayvon's. Its what allows Paula Deen to fantasize about a slave-themed wedding reception. There is no empathy for the black person's plight.

A "good heart" that displays concern for people like us and indifference for anyone not like us is the definition of racism today. If you have any curiosity at all about how that indifference has been passed on to us all from the time we were young, listen as Jonathan Odell talks about Ms. Helen - someone with a "good heart."


  1. Well done. Amazing how the juror "knows" what Z feels in his heart.

  2. Joe smiled because I'm guessing he was suppressing the urge to say to young Odell that Miss Helen is a stupid ignorant racist piece of garbage and do everything in your power to never be like her. Because Joe knew that fighting back regardless of how old you were did not end well for a lot of Black Men.

    So Joe like many of us before him and after did the following:

    WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
    It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
    This debt we pay to human guile;
    With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
    And mouth with myriad subtleties.

    Why should the world be over-wise,
    In counting all our tears and sighs?
    Nay, let them only see us, while
    We wear the mask.

    We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
    To thee from tortured souls arise.
    We sing, but oh the clay is vile
    Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
    But let the world dream otherwise,
    We wear the mask!

    1. Thank you SO much for that poem!!!!!!

      And of course discussions about silence always remind me of the MLK quote:

      "In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

      He was talking about our indifference.

  3. SP, it takes a woman like you who has such a big heart to take a leap of faith and assume Zimmerman has or once had a heart.

    1. It's juror B37 who believes this.

      Besides, juror B37 did contend that Zimmerman should have never gotten out of his car. But, ultimately, she pretty much blames Martin just as much as Zimmerman for the ordeal. What a cop-out!

  4. This is a fantastic post.

    Thanks, as always, Smartypants!

  5. "A "good heart" that displays concern for people like us and indifference for anyone not like us is the definition of racism today."

    Matthew 5:46-47 "If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.If you are kind only to your friends,[t] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that."

    There is no particular grace in loving the people who love you and look like you. There is grace in extending the same compassion and empathy to the people who do not look like you or act like you.

  6. I've got to tell you about how these rednecks get down in old Dixie. They don't wait until the child is six years old. They tell them white is right as soon as the baby can put sentences together. Booman says we aren't "hearing" them. I have been pretty chippy these past few days. Maybe I'll be better next week.


    1. Both Jonathan Odell and I were raised in "old Dixie." We know exactly how it goes down.

    2. I had my start in Mississippi like Mr. Odell. I've got some stories that didn't really make sense until I was older. People with good hearts caused me quite a bit of trouble. The stories aren't anything that bad. It was really a lot of little things that add up. Zimmerman's verdict was enough. They're trying to bring back the good old days.

      I said some out of character things on your blog. I owe you an apology.


    3. Vic78

      I see nothing out of line that you need to apologize for. Its been a hard few days for all of us. You're among friends here.

  7. wow. thanks for that smartypants. Odell's white privilege story really hits the nail square on the head. "the silence of Mr Joe is what I had to find out about" (paraphrase. really good.


  8. This is a fantastic post! Thank you so much, Smartypants.

    I've not been quiet nor indifferent on my blog since last Saturday, and I've made lots of people, some who were friends, very, very angry. I will continue to express my anger and sorrow at what happened in that courtroom, and if that makes some people uncomfortable, then too damn bad.