Making elephants illegal

Dan ArpOpinion

Most everyone is familiar with the sayings “ignoring the elephant in the room” or “don’t think about a white polar bear.” Of course, we will then see the elephant and think about the bear.

Tennessee HB1376 assures that people will think about racial divide whether they adamantly disavow it, embrace it or just question their own feelings. Where does banning begin and where, if ever, does it end. There was a guy named Adolf who knew what was best for his people. He played on their fears. He created enemies where none existed. How did that turn out?

I grew up in a time where racial prejudice was out and open. My mother was prejudiced and made inappropriate remarks. I am proud to say that I saw here change 180 degrees in later years. She was well into her 80s. We were in an Asian restaurant. She remarked, “Can you believe there are people who are prejudiced against Asian people?” She went on to say, “there are still people who are prejudiced against Black people.” She was incredulous.

I know that I was caught up in the times. Once I made a vile and uncaring remark in front of a Black lady who worked for my cousin. When the words came from mouth, I knew instantly that I had built an impenetrable divide between this lady and me that could never be overcome. That was over 60 years ago and I still wear it.

In my high school years, we sang Peter, Paul and Mary songs about freedom, love and equality. I would like to think we were rounding a corner towards a better time. Some did, some turned back.

Our Founding Fathers and Constitutional Framers were, for the most part, men of substance. To them all men are created equal meant white men. Not women and certainly not Black enslaved people. Otherwise, they would have freed the slaves and given women the vote. Instead, they justified their position by ignoring the obvious and even purporting the view that these things were part of God’s natural order. Now they were free to move forward and ignore the obvious elephant.

Fast forward. How long do we have to wait to have honest, open discussion about how we really feel and why. Anyone who has ever brushed by basic psychology knows the importance of questioning one’s own thinking, why do I believe this way? How do I know if this is true? Who has the right to say what I can read, listen to or what I can speak or write.

“How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?” (Blowing in the Wind, P P & M)

Dan Arp is retired and lives in Heiskell.


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