When the tea party gained prominence, my husband scoffed at my insistence that they were propelled by racism. But the more he saw of them, the harder it became for him to deny. All of the things that existed when George W. Bush was president suddenly became tyranny when an African American man occupied the White House. Ironically, I've come to re-evealuate that initial conclusion, thanks in no small part to my buddies Driftglass and Blue Gal and their weekly podcast. It would be far more accurate to say that these people are white supremists. Well, actually, to be totally accurate, Christian white heterosexual male supremists in the purest sense of the word. They may have friends who are women, blacks, gays or non-Christians, but they believe that by virtue of their inherent white Christian male existence, they are superior and by rights, deserve to be at the apex of that totem pole. They resent any challenge to their supremacy and will fight tooth and nail to keep perceived pretenders from their top spot.
With that in mind, perhaps the ravings of Alabama high school football coach and teacher of psychology Bob Grisham isn't that surprising. Certainly, that Grisham is still blissfully ignorant that students now regularly carry these recording devices called cell phones should be your first clue that the man is not operating with a full deck. But nonetheless, it's still jarring to hear what passes for acceptable classroom discussion in Grisham's mind:
School district officials are investigating allegations that a Lauderdale County High School teacher made slurs in the presence of students regarding first lady Michelle Obama and gays.
Superintendent Jennifer Gray confirmed the investigation concerns the school’s head football coach, Bob Grisham, who also teaches driver’s education and psychology.
The investigation includes a 1-minute, 24-second audiotape of Grisham asking who knows who is behind the 600-calorie school lunch.
“Fat butt Michelle Obama,” he said. “Look at her. She looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She’s overweight.”
Male voices interject comments during the discussion, at one point referring to Michelle Obama as a “fat gorilla.”
Later in the tape, Grisham referred to the U.S. as going in the “wrong direction” and tells the students they can “get pissed off at me or not. You can go tell the principal, call the superintendent and tell her. I don’t believe in queers. I don’t like queers, I don’t hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong and an abomination against God.” The tape was reportedly recorded by a student Monday and took place on school campus during the school day.
When the recording came to light, Grisham immediately claimed he misspoke:
“I misspoke in a debate-type situation,” he said. “I have no hatred toward anyone or any group. People that know my heart, they know that.”
And exactly my point at the beginning of this post. I'm sure that Grisham doesn't think what was said by him or by other people in the room with his tacit endorsement was racist. He doesn't hate Michelle Obama or gays. He just finds it unacceptable that they should be accorded as much respect as him.
By the way, as a woman, I would like it to be known that effective immediately, any man who comments in a derogatory fashion about a woman's looks, especially as a value judgment of her person, has to immediately offer forward a picture of his own unassailable looks for the evaluation of women in a similar fashion, or simply STFU. Suggesting (not mandating or legislating, for crying out loud) that Americans make mindful and healthy eating choices does not invite anyone to comment on the size or weight of any portion of Michelle Obama's body.