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In Mississippi, It is Still the 1960s

monkey man mississippi

By Abby Zimet, used with permission from Common Dreams

As the dystopian movie Civil War sets records depicting the “colorful horrors of the American future” on its current trajectory, we saw the same mindless, time-honored rancor play out at “Ole Miss being Ole Miss,” where a pack of rabid, jeering, shit-for-brains frat bros with white-supremely punchable faces set upon a black female student protesting genocide in Gaza. On foul display: That “Southern Heritage we’re always Jim Crowing about,” and, without change, the next generation of GOP goons and bigots. 

Robert Reich recently posted a message of hope to his students, graduating at a “tremulous” time in a world beset by racism, genocide, climate change, culture wars, rising authoritarianism. Like many of us, Reich also entered adulthood at a bitter time, in 1968, amidst war, assassinations, cities burning. “I ask my students to hold on,” he writes. “To use their lives and careers to make America better. To try to heal the world.” It’s a tough ask in a fractious time, now grimly depicted in Alex Garland’s Civil War about a nihilistic America “at war with itself.” What one critic calls “a cautionary tale about America’s inevitable self-destruction,” it offers a harrowing look at “the horrors that lie ahead for a great country on the rocks – and what America has done to itself already,” with its “motiveless carnage,” tarnished ideals, president “who has raped the U.S. Constitution,” and beleaguered free press, including “an aging survivor of what’s left of the New York Times,” “trying to record what they witness in the line of fire (as) the rest of us die.” Its bleak message: “If things continue in the (current) political direction, no one will be safe from annihilation in the next decade.”

In real life, America’s political landscape takes it down a notch or so, but still leans dark. A GOP-controlled House big on “pointless gestures and posturing” just plumbed new McCarthyist depths by passing a bill that conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism, “an insult (to) historical memory erasing decades of Jewish anti-Zionist politics”; its crypto-fascist “leader” Mike Johnson plans hearings on anti-genocide college protests to “look at the root causes funded by, I don’t know, George Soros or overseas entities.” A corrupt, far-right judicial system now includes in its plutocratic ranks not just Alito, Thomas et al but Trump fangirl Aileen ‘What Classified Documents?’ Cannon, who claims her newly exposed omission of fat-cat-funded vacations was “completely inadvertent.” Thanks to such chicanery – and despite efforts to protect election integrity and its stewards – a new survey shows over half of all election officials fear for their safety, from harassment to assault, and for their ability to do their jobs without political meddling. And the “petty little shit-stain” who so helped shred our democratic norms is still free (for now), and jabbering.

Of course, the “whining train-wreck” now seething through his sordid criminal trial – as Stormy Daniels say she was “ashamed” of their (ewww) sexual encounter – still pursues his rampage back to power. Last weekend, free from the legal strictures he gripes keep him from campaigning, he again fled to his tacky golf club to beg rich people for more money to keep him out of jail; with no low, he even scrounged for $9,000 in gag order fines. At a $40,000-a-plate bash, he groused about taking selfies with small donors who don’t deserve them, called Biden “the Gestapo” and Jack Smith “a fucking asshole,” deemed 40% of Americans moochers who “get welfare to vote and then they cheat,” and paraded his trashy VP hopefuls like a motel pageant of Miss Florida also-rans: Doug Burgum – “He’s a very rich man”; Kristi Noem, now urging Biden’s dog Commander be added to the kill list – “Somebody that I love”; Byron Donalds – “Somebody who’s created something very special, donors worth millions of dollars…I like diversity. Diversité, as you would say.” And sniveling lapdog Tim Scott, in limbo with no word from on high even as he faithfully declines six times to say he’ll accept the 2024 election results. 

Sigh. With such civic and moral mentors, thus do we get the savage, racist, redneck frat boys at Ole Miss who somehow never learned – so much for teach your children well – it is not acceptable, when witnessing a group of righteous fellow students acting in conscience to protest the slaughter of many thousands of innocents in Gaza, to single out a black woman and leer, jeer, boo, screech, give her multiple fingers, jump up and down making grotesque faces and grunting monkey noises, clutch their crotches, throw food and cups of water, chant “We Want Trump!” “Fuck Joe Biden!” and shriek, “Who’s your daddy?,” “Take a shower,” “Lizzo, Lizzo!”, “Fuck you fat-ass!” “Your nose is huge!” “Shave your legs!” “Fuck you fat bitch!” and “Lock her up!” The woman, identified as graduate student Jaylin Smith, kept filming as the idiot yahoos, safely surrounded by hundreds of barbarian peers, some in stars-and-stripes overalls, feverishly bounced around her. Reports said they outnumbered by about 10-to-1 the roughly 30, diverse students with UMiss for Palestine, who calmly carried Palestinian flags and signs: “Free Palestine,” “Stop the Genocide” and “U.S. Bombs Take Palestine Lives.”

Many of the yokels – one sage: “A thousand faces of ‘peaked in high school’…The end product of a failed state” – reportedly had no idea what the protest was about. Said one, “I don’t know what they’re doing here. I just want them gone.” See the ever-prescient William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” For many, the ugly spectacle summoned “the ghosts of UM’s past” at a school nicknamed for a plantation term, that long called its sports teams the Rebels and its mascot Colonel Reb, still has only 11% black students in a state nearly 40% black, and remains famous for the 1962 riots that followed the admission, a full eight years after Brown v. Board of Education banning segregation, of 29-year-old veteran James Meredith, the school’s first African-American student, whose arrival on the Oxford campus was accompanied by 1,400 US Marshalls and federal troops and who later said of the experience, “I considered myself engaged in a war from Day One.” In 1964, Nina Simone released her searing song, Mississippi Goddamn: “Hound dogs on my trail/school children sittin’ in jail/thinkin’ every day’s gonna be my last/I don’t belong here, I don’t belong there.”

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After video of the douchebag behavior toward a lone black woman by a horde of hooting good ole boys was met with outrage, UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce faintly acknowledged the school’s “challenging” history, noting, “Incidents like this can set us back.” Citing “offensive and inappropriate” statements and “actions that conveyed hostility and racist overtones,” Boyce said the school would “investigate” the conduct of at least one student and “determine whether more cases are warranted.” “Behaviors and comments that demean people because of their race or ethnicity…undermine the values that are fundamental to a civil and safe society,” he said in a statement. “People who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus.” Still, it remains to be seen if so-called adults who likewise say horrible things – like Mississippi’s Gov. Tate Reeves, who posted video with, “Warms my heart,” and Georgia Rep. and “racist POS” Mike Collins, who captioned the repulsive scene “Ole Miss taking care of business” – will also be held accountable. (His Congressional office number is 202-225-4101. Just sayin’.)

A ghastly piece of work who’s suggested murdering migrants by throwing them Pinochet-style from helicopters and introduced a bill to ban federal “zealots” from removing Greg Abbott’s deadly razor buoys from the Rio Grande, Collins later backtracked, slightly. He bombastically noted there “seems to be some potentially inappropriate behavior that none of us should seek to glorify” and suggested if someone “is found” to be a racist POS “they should be punished (and) will hopefully seek forgiveness” before doubling back down on “pro-Hamas, anti-American, Antifa anarchists” who “run roughshod” over nice rebels “there to learn and enjoy college.” Meanwhile, UM’s NAACP chapter swiftly condemned counter-protesters’ “reprehensible actions,” identified the monkey asshole as James “JP” Staples from Phi Delta Theta, and called for his expulsion along with that of Connor Moore and Rouse Davis Boyce from Kappa Alpha Order as the “primary perpetrators.” The next day, Phi Delta Theta removed Staples for behavior that was “offensive, outside the bounds of this discourse, and contradictory to our values.” The school has yet to take any further action.

But Toby Morton has. A writer for South Park and MadTV, Morton is also the “immature and irresponsible” creator of a series of Fascist Websites paying tribute, thanks to idiotically unregistered domain names, to the vile likes of Greg Abbott – “People die on his watch” – Elise Stefanik – “Let’s keep it white” – DeFascist 24 – “I’ve always strived to promote a safe and welcoming space for every white nationalist in Florida and beyond” – and Tennessee’s Cameron Sexton: “You racist? I got your back.” Now, he has a campaign website for J.P. Staples – “Racially driven experience in hate” – starting with a Hitler quote, “The first million was the hardest.” “I’ve been carrying this burden for far too long, and I can’t hold it in any longer,” it reads. “I hate so much it consumes me…I hate the way black people look at me, the way they talk, the way they exist…Here I am, confessing my deepest, darkest secret. I’m a scared little bitch. I fear those who are superior to me. I fear people will see who I truly am – a piece of shit. Thankfully, I represent many Americans and how we think.” And there are testimonials! Kristi Noem: “Does he have a dog?” MTG: “Welcome to the GOP.” 

Staples has scrubbed his social media accounts, forgetting the Internet is forever, but sleuths were quickly on it. From a Texas MAGA family whose father is a repeat DWI offender, “Monkey Boy” evidently “hates all races but his own.” His posts are both racist and anti-Semitic, raging at “cock-sucking Jews” who after a week removed from streaming a movie he wanted to watch and idly wondering “if Jews use the term ‘baby in the oven'” for someone pregnant. Observers mused on his future job prospects: Hero good ole boy a la Kyle Rittenhouse, or landscaping assistant, Trump advisor, guy “asking people if they want fries with their order for the rest of his life?” Many see him as “a sterling (result) of spectacularly bad parenting – mini-racists pop out.” “You’re looking at the next generation of racists,” said one, who included girlfriends “cheering (them) on – the Klan rode up to the meeting, but the wives sewed the capes and hoods.” They deem him “the true face of Mississippi,” of “the Republican Party and how they behave when nobody’s looking” – or even when we are – and of the ghosts of America’s racist past: Still and all, “They walk among us.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Good for Phi Delta Theta for expelling the racist Staples; but I certainly don’t expect much of Kappa Alpha Order whose hero is the traitor ex-general Robert E. Lee. When I was a student at Vanderbilt University (1988-92) KA had a large painted confederate flag in the fraternity house’s basement. KA’s were the “goodest” of the good ole boys. Racism in the South is still prominent, made more open and acceptable by “good people on both sides” Trump.

  2. Avatar
    TheDutchGuy

    Nevermind Mississippi. I lived in Bryan, where Confederate “stars and bars” were a common sight. That was a generation before your time, Bruce. Rebel was a reputation some of us cultivated and some had that flag hanging from the rear view mirror. We didn’t think it was racist but Bryan was in fact a sunset town. Everyone knew and most approved. Till my first visit to Toledo at nine years old, I saw only one black face, my father’s Jamaican friend who came to work during WW2. Before the turnpike, Bryan was a busy crossroads between Chicago and New York. Black folks passed thru but never stopped. A guide book called “Negro Motorist Green Book” (see the Movie “Green Book”) told black folks where to stop or avoid. A friend (Kenny Ussery) ran a Texaco at the west end of High St. He said a black family broke down nearby and came seeking repairs. He got them going but he said they were apprehensive when they came in and were surprised he was friendly and helpful. Bryan apparently had a reputation with black folks as not a welcoming place.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Forget the 1960’s–I see the 1860’s.

    You don’t have to go to Mississippi to find good ol’ fashioned racism and general assholery. Why do you think Elyse Stefanik (who, I believe, will be Trump’s running mate) got elected in “blue” New York State? Granted, she’s not representing the NYC area: She was elected by folks who live in the “North Country,” north of the Albany area. It’s been described as “Alabama with snow:” One can find homes flying Confederate flag in Plattsburgh and other towns within 20 kilometers of the Canadian border.

  4. Avatar
    TheDutchGuy

    Yes Stefanyk fits in to the Trump show perfectly. One angry inflammatory beyotch doing her best to raise her profile by enflaming situations and creating conflict where there was none. She is as repulsive as Trump. She just gets less coverage.

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