Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Here on "a Darkling Plain": CPT (Cheap Political Tricks)

Perhaps you remember from high school or college English Matthew Arnold's poem, "Dover Beach," written in 1851. Arnold was very concerned that during his lifetime civilization as he knew it was disintegrating; thus the following lines:

And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

When the vote was extended in England, Arnold, the son of a famous educator, dedicated himself to educational progress, hoping that would enable those now enfranchised to vote guided by informed thinking. Alas, forlorn hope! Here we are, more than 150 years later, and not even the Newsless Courier operates on informed thinking! [See "Engelman stirs up a storm below.]

Now, I lived in the South practically my entire life, most of it in Charleston, until I married someone from New Jersey, and then I experienced other parts of the United States--northeast, midwest, left coast, even Texas (which in reality is the South also); I returned, lived here for another six years, and I never ONCE heard of anything called CPT. I did not grow up in a bubble or exist in one for the last 35 years either, so when Sandi Engelman says "Colored Person Time" is not what she meant, I believe her!

It reminds me of an older political buddy of my husband's who used to call liberals "NDG." As in, "Nelson Rockefeller is NDG." Now, I suppose someone could invent a racist interpretation of that acronym also, if he or she were so inclined, but to get that treatment, I would have to be running for office. [By the way, it meant, "No Damn Good," and he was too much of a gentleman to use profanity before a woman.]

Apart from my own experience, I have other evidence that this interpretation is deliberately BOGUS, even though the Newsless Courier claims that "most people familiar with the acronym say that means 'Colored People Time.'"

1. First, since the P & C made that statement, I would like to know who those referred to as "most people" are. And the ones familiar with the acronym who did not think it meant that (as use of the word "most" implies), what DID they think it meant?

2. I took an informal survey of native Charlestonians at my workplace, and, guess what! THEY had never heard of CPT either.

3. Even Arthur Ravenel, Jr., reported as "[catching] flack" a few years ago when he used the phrase "'black time,'" obviously had never heard of CPT, or he would have used it then! [But it was brilliant, wasn't it, to link him to the controversy, since he's running with Engelman.]

4. As for Marvin Dulaney's claim that the phrase came from the 1920s (I'm sure he meant the Harlem Renaissance, although the reporter apparently didn't know what he was referring to) and Langston Hughes--I don't buy it. I want to see the actual reference in print. I am familiar with Hughes's voluminous writings, but not the more obscure ones, I will admit. Now, I can believe that Hughes referred to "Colored Time" because I have heard of that. Of course, the phrase has nothing to do with being late, so the truth wouldn't have fit in this case. It's about serving time in the slammer--that, since treatment in jail was so much worse for blacks than whites, "colored time" was much longer in a metaphorical sense than "white time."

5. BREC, as I stated in a previous post, is supported by the Democratic Party of Charleston, and it has tried to "play the race card" already once before--suggesting that its endorsed slate should be elected because the school board needs more black members and its slate has them.

6. It's the Democratic strategy for this election, in case you have been on another planet for the last month, to make every race about ANYTHING but the issues. Thus we have Sanford being attacked for using "tar baby," the Republican Congress for not being aware of text messages sent to pages, and George Allen of Virginia being labeled a racist for using a word that I can't even spell and no one reading this had probably heard before it was picked up and splashed all over the national news ad nauseum.

And the Newsless Courier, instead of focusing on and educating the voters about the issues, chooses to participate in this name-calling and personal-attack campaign.

We're on the "darkling plain," I'm afraid, when votes are swayed by making the issue one of black versus white instead of performance versus incompetence.


Vera said...

I totally agree with you that this has turned into a race issue instead of performance vs incompentence.

However, I don't believe Ms. Engleman. She knew exactly what she was saying, but I'm not sure she thought it would cause such a clatter.

It's just sad that she is using her position board as a bully pulpit against the Dr. G-J while our schools are bad and need real help.

If she has issues with Dr. G-J's performance (I have some issues too), she has every right to express them, but she needs to keep it professional.

I don't give a rip about republican vs. democrat or black vs. white. I just want leadership.

It's the kids and the community who suffer while the board and adminstration engage in a power struggle.

We are in trying times, and really don't need this nonsense.

downtown Democrat said...

By "the Democratic Party" I suppose you mean "the Charleston County Democratic Party" or CCDP. Let me correct your statement. The CCDP HAS NOT endorsed the Blue Ribbon Education Committee (BREC), or any other group or single candidate for a seat on the Charleston County School Board. The last time I checked, those seats were part of a "non-partisan" ballot. The CCDP has been very wise to stay clear of any endorsements among the candidates in that self destructive arena. Although some of the BREC organizers may very well be Democrats, many more Democrats as individuals are actively supporting other candidates, including some who may be the object of the BREC's greatest concern.