More on the Former Name of Perry’s Hunting Lodge

The story of Perry's hunting lodge probably doesn't tell us that much about Perry, but it is still telling.

At the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

In all seriousness, I think this says very little about Rick Perry, and a lot more about the country he seeks to govern.

He has a point—and his post is worth reading in full.

A key conclusion:

what we see on display in the quotes is the insidiousness of racism, the way it gets in the blood, and literally alters the senses. A black woman in the county claims she was constantly addressed as “Nigger.” A white man, in the very same county, claims that “Blacks were perfectly satisfied.”

Several people in the story have no notion of why the name “Niggerhead” would be offensive. It’s just what it is.

Having grown up in Texas and having lived over a decade in Alabama (and with family from the state), I can personally attest to some of the attitudes that Coates notes:  many whites from the pre-civil rights generation just don’t see what the big deal was.  This is reminiscent of the quote that got Haley Barbour in trouble not that long ago, in fact:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he doesn’t remember the Civil Rights Era being “that bad” despite attending a Martin Luther King, Jr. rally nearly 50 years ago.

“I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” Barbour (R), 63, told the conservative Weekly Standard, which did a lengthy profile on the governor. “I remember Martin Luther King came to town, in ’62. He spoke out at the old fairground and it was full of people, black and white.

For those who were trying to puzzle out why the vast majority of African-Americans tend not to want to vote Republican in a recent comment thread, these types of statements ought to be instructive.  There is still a great deal of denial amongst southern whites in particular, about this country’s experience with race and racism.  They all too frequently consider it as something that was a) not really all that bad (at least they don’t remember it that way) and b) is settled (so why fuss about it now?).   The story of the hunting lodge in question underscores this.  Forget Perry, the fact that the lodge kept the offensive name until the 1980s is telling enough, especially when multiple people from the area are quoted as saying things like “No one thought anything about it” (which, I expect, was true).  And in regards to the notion that because it was a place name it therefore was easy to overlook the offensiveness of the name, I give you mistermix at Balloon Juice.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. JeffC says:

    the lodge wasn’t owned by the Perry’s ever … they leased it and painted over the rock with the name on it …

    nothing but a smear that you are continuing …

  2. Nikki says:

    In all seriousness, I think this says very little about Rick Perry, and a lot more about the country he seeks to govern.

    Which is why I posted in Doug’s column that I knew that article was the first of the long knives sent to sink Perry’s candidacy. Additionally, I believe the Bloomberg article on the Kochs is an attempt to damage funding for the Tea Party.

    I’m sure all of this stuff has been known for years. I believe it was kathy (commenting on Doug’s Perry thread) who asked why this stuff didn’t come up during Perry’s governorship bids. People have known about this stuff for years. Why does it come out now?

  3. Nikki says:

    @JeffC: Oh stop overreacting and re-read what he said.

  4. @JeffC: I am guessing you didn’t read the post.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    @JeffC:

    I’m guessing you read neither Professor Taylor’s nor Mr. Coate’s actual words. Let me repeat for you the very first full sentence:

    In all seriousness, I think this says very little about Rick Perry, and a lot more about the country he seeks to govern.

    But, you know, continue thinking everyone is out to get you and your candidate.

  6. mistermix says:

    @JeffC: You’re right, Jeff. They were powerless to do anything about a property that they chose to enter into a voluntary contract to rent. They couldn’t ask the owner to paint over, flip over or haul away the rock before they would lease the land. They couldn’t paint over the rock themselves, because it was the owner’s rock, not theirs. We can ignore the whole situation because they rented instead of owning. Problem solved.

  7. mistermix says:

    @Nikki: You’re right, it is suspicious. Some might say that the reason it comes up now is that Perry is running for President of the United States instead of a benighted backwater where stuff like this is tacitly accepted. However, I, like you, smell a conspiracy — a conspiracy of enlightenment.

  8. Nikki says:

    @mistermix: Thank you, mistermix. “JesusButtf**kingBigRed.” I love it.

  9. ponce says:

    This is reminiscent of the quote that got Haley Barbour in trouble not that long ago, in fact…

    IIRC, this quote got Barbour got in trouble because his story was a lie, not because of its distorted content.

  10. mattb says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    There is still a great deal of denial amongst southern whites in particular, about this country’s experience with race and racism.

    Fixed Steven.

    As a white, who grew up in a racially mixed community in the “progressive” North East during the 80’s, I have to say that things are not that much different here. In part that’s because of a percieved “get out of racism” free card because we were not the South (and ergo that Racism only really existed in the Southern States).

    I’ve heard more than my fair share of “I understand why southern Blacks who had to deal with segregation are still complaining, but (the dreaded but..) that doesn’t excuse playing the race card here.” Likewise, there’s also a lot of “I don’t see why I have to worry about racism, my family never lived in the south, and only came to this country after Slavery was abolished.”

  11. Hey Norm says:

    @ Nikki…

    “…Additionally, I believe the Bloomberg article on the Kochs is an attempt to damage funding for the Tea Party…”

    I would argue that the Koch Bros activities damage the Tea Party (which, when you follow the money, is really just a subsidiary of Koch Industries) because when you examine what a world of de-regulation looks like…ie Koch Industries making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, and neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations…it’s not very attractive.
    Blaming a reporter or a publication for shining a light on that dark world…where rivers and ground water are polluted and people die because of lack of safety measures…is mis-guided.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    I wonder whether we will see an OTB post on the Koch brothers story.

  13. samwide says:

    Ta-Nehisi Coates :

    But what we see on display…is the insidiousness of racism, the way it gets in the blood, and literally alters the senses.

    Let me tell a story about my own family that might help those not from a Southern family understand what Coates was getting at.

    As it happens, my family is from Texas. During the Depression, my grandmother worked in laundry in Dallas for a number of years. During all the time she worked in the laundry, she did so beside a black lady. She and lady had much in common, color aside (and as you’ll see, that was a very big aside). Both of them were at that time single mothers trying to raise a family in those hard-scrabble times, working long, hard hours for very little money. They had much to talk about.

    In the late 30s, my family left Texas and moved to the West Coast. It turned out that black lady and her family moved at about the same time to the same part of the country. My mother told me that my grandmother and the black lady stayed in close touch, speaking on the phone at least two or three times a week. When the lady passed away, my grandmother was crushed. One of her closest friends, if not her closest, had died.

    When my grandmother was coming toward the end, my mother took her to a large local cemetery to make the arrangements. During the conversation about the arrangements, my grandmother, the sweetest, gentlest woman I’ve ever known, said the cemetery official, “If you bury me next to a nιgger, I will come back and haunt you.” My mother said she was completely serious. The insidiousness of racism was in her blood and had literally altered her senses. She was, after all the time she’d spent with and talking to her friend, after all the time they’d spent exploring the resonances of their common problems and troubles, incapable of denying racism’s power.

    Pascal said the heart has reasons reason knows nothing of. He knew what he was talking about.

  14. ponce says:

    I wonder whether we will see an OTB post on the Koch brothers story.

    Well, they could claim it’s not a big enough story to rate a post.

    But you’d think Doug Mataconis, who generates over 1000 tweets a week, could squeeze in a tweet about the Koch Brothers’ wacky antics seeing as he’s already posted over a dozen anti-Occupy Wall Street tweets today:

    http://twitter.com/#!/dmataconis

  15. You know what ponce. When people start complaining that I don’t write about something, that’s a guarantee that I won’t write about.

  16. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Hey Doug, you should know that Jay Tea seems to have hijacked your name and picture.

  17. Perry was a Democrat back in that day. Funny how that’s not being mentioned, since Jim Crow was invented and enforced by southern Democrats.

  18. ponce says:

    You know what ponce. When people start complaining that I don’t write about something, that’s a guarantee that I won’t write about

    To be honest, I think we’d prefer if one of the more…careful OTB members posted their thoughts on Bloomberg’s Koch Bros. report, Doug.

    I mean, I think we all know what the Libertarian position on it is…

  19. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Let me give you the same advice that I should follow more often. Before you post, stop and ask yourself if you’re acting like a grown up.

    Mike

  20. samwide says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    Perry was a Democrat back in that day. Funny how that’s not being mentioned, since Jim Crow was invented and enforced by southern Democrats.

    That would have some moment but for the fact that those Southern Democrats are now Southern Republicans. What’s that thing about leopards and their spots?

  21. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You know what ponce. When people start complaining that I don’t write about something, that’s a guarantee that I won’t write about.

    You know, even before you wrote this I was wondering about the dynamic, how you must feel about your audience, and their down-votes …

    But you know, as an exercise imagine how apesh*t the right would have gone, if it was Soros or Buffett.

  22. john personna says:

    (I did like the Coates piece.)

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    And its funny how both they and Perry joined the Republican party.

    It’s almost as if the Southern Democrats–who “invented and enforced Jim Crow”–felt more at home there.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @samwide:
    That was my story for the day. Thanks for that.

  25. Paul says:

    @Nikki:
    That’s easy!

    Because in the ’80’s Perry was a DEMOCRAT. It was OK for him to use/ignore it then. After all, Democrats (formerly Dixiecrats) are the ones who have been and still are keeping certain people in slavery – it’s just that now they want to include the rest of the populace as well.

  26. mattb says:

    @samwide:
    Again, this isn’t a southern phenomenon. I think that many white families from across the nation can tell similar stories. I know that I’ve heard a bunch of them over the years.

  27. samwide says:

    @mattb:

    Again, this isn’t a southern phenomenon. I think that many white families from across the nation can tell similar stories.

    I didn’t mean to imply that it was a solely Southern phenomenon. But the Perry story is about Texas, and Steven discussed the racial aphasia that seems to afflict a lot of Southern whites. I thought I’d give some substance to that.

  28. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Doug, I’ve consistently defended you as an intelligent and thoughtful man, but that last post is a doozy. Please stop making a fool out of me.

  29. Jay Tea says:

    @Hey Norm: I would argue that the Koch Bros activities damage the Tea Party (which, when you follow the money, is really just a subsidiary of Koch Industries)

    Having been to a couple of Tea Party events, and done a bit of digging on my own, here’s my conclusion:

    There ain’t a whole lot of money to follow.

    I understand that the Left lives off the big-money, astroturfed movements, but that ain’t the only way things can get done. And the Tea Party doesn’t need, want, or have any “big money” behind it.

    You say there is. I say, where?

    Point to most any liberal protest, and I can show you where the money is going. Big-name speakers. Fancy mass-printed signs and T-Shirts. Big, decorated buses. Designated, professional spokespeople and security and organizers.

    Tea Party? All home-made stuff. Vendor tents.Buses, if present, chartered by talk stations that then either sell tickets or write it off as a promotional event. No professional organizers or designated spokespeople. Self-appointed “security” whose main job is exposing the “infiltrators.”

    And here’s something about the Koch Brothers that no liberal “investigation” will ever disclose: they give a hell of a lot more to medical and other apolitical non-profits than they spend on politics. There was even a protest when they gave about $150 million to a cancer research facility because they were the Koch Brothers.

    J.

  30. mattb says:

    @samwide:
    I didn’t think you were implying that at all.

    I added the note mainly because I think that all to often this is seen as a problem with “Southern Whites.” And I wanted to point out that this still is a fact of life across this country.

    It’s just more PC/safe (on all sides) to discuss it as a Southern problem (since I think most Americans use “the South” as code for decades behind the rest of us),

  31. @mattb: I thoroughly take your point about the issue being national. It does seem to have a certain acuteness here (in the deep south) but it may just seem that way to me since I am here.

  32. ponce says:

    It does seem to have a certain acuteness here (in the deep south) but it may just seem that way to me since I am here.

    The Klan was quite powerful in Oregon for a time:

    http://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/entry/view/ku_klux_klan/

  33. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: So because they give money to medical research we shouldn’t care that they’re illegally selling technology to Iran? Treason’s okay, as long as you’re rich enough?

  34. ponce says:

    There ain’t a whole lot of money to follow.

    Jay, ever heard of any of these wingnut Tea Party cheer leading squads?

    The Kochtopus is a group of minarchist organizations founded by Charles G. Koch. They include the Cato Institute (which plays a central role in the Kochtopus), Reason Foundation, Property and Environment Research Center, Students for a Libertarian Society, The Libertarian Review, Institute for Humane Studies, Council for a Competitive Economy, Heritage Foundation, Federalist Society, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

    http://wikibin.org/articles/kochtopus.html

  35. Jay Tea says:

    @ponce: And that has exactly what to do with the Tea Party movement?

    You and others keep talking about how the Tea Party movement is “bought and paid for” by the Koch brothers and others. But you can’t ever quite seem to show exactly where that money goes, and what it’s spent for.

    The Tea Party movement is decidedly and deliberately low-rent. There’s nothing to buy there.

    J.

  36. ponce says:

    You and others keep talking about how the Tea Party movement is “bought and paid for” by the Koch brothers…

    Well Jay,

    I’d suggest you start your research with FreedomWorks, the Koch Brothers owned astroturf group that runs the Tea Party.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/178979-freedomworks-will-protest-romneys-speech-to-tea-party

  37. WR says:

    @Jay Tea: The Tea Party is the “low rent” face of the corporatist Koch empire — the Tea Party money flows by the tens of millions into TV ads screaming about the evils of Obamacare and unions. Just because you had to buy your own tricorner hat doesn’t mean your owners aren’t pouring insane amounts of money into the system. You’re just too dumb to figure out how to get any of it, try as you desperately might.

  38. Attention guys:

    1) This thread is not about the Koch brothers.

    2) Could we all please stop the direct personal attacks (I have deleted a couple of posts in which the basic goals seems to be name calling).

    3) Could we tone down the profanity, please?

    Thanks.

  39. An Interested Party says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: In the future, I’ll be sure to use a more benign term like “horse pucky” but the point I made still stands–it is quite ridiculous to claim that members of the modern Democratic Party “are the ones who have been and still are keeping certain people in slavery – it’s just that now they want to include the rest of the populace as well”…

  40. @An Interested Party: Actually, the only reason I deleted that one was because it was only fair since I had deleted several deployments of a similar word from another commenter in this thread.

    But yes, there has been some significant manure in this thread.

  41. Nikki says:

    @Paul: It’s because I’m black, isn’t it, that you give me such sh*t to work with. Please tell me this is true.

  42. jan says:

    @Donald Sensing:

    Perry was a Democrat back in that day. Funny how that’s not being mentioned, since Jim Crow was invented and enforced by southern Democrats.

    Some interesting points, especially the one about Jim Crow and southern democrats.

  43. samwide says:

    @jan:

    Some interesting points, especially the one about Jim Crow and southern democrats.

    Only to the abysmally uniformed.

  44. @jan:

    Some interesting points, especially the one about Jim Crow and southern democrats.

    Of course, the issue of Rep/Dem isn’t really the issue, is it? The issues are race and racism.

    That, prior to a certain date (and one not that long ago–i.e., in some cases as recently as the 1990s), all southern politicians (of the successful variety) were Democrats makes the whole partisan delineation issue rather moot, yes?