I knew a right-wing reaction was coming. But I clutched my pearls when I read today’s opinion piece by Wesley Pruden, former editor- in-chief of the Washington Times, about President Obama bowing to the Japanese emperor.
Mr. Pruden concluded with perhaps the most racially provocative paragraph written by a legitimate American journalist in the 21st century. To wit:
“It’s no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what [America] is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared... in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.”
I worked at the Washington Times during the 1980s. I’ve had a conversation or two with Wes Pruden. I couldn’t believe that graph. He is on some Lawrence Auster shit.
And his words are ricocheting all over the Web. The liberal watchdogs at Media Matters sent out an email alert. The Huffington Post piled on.
Media gossip site Gawker is running a poll on whether Pruden’s piece is more outrageous than some shit Glenn Beck said about Roman Polanski and health-care reform. (Pruden is ahead three-to-one.)
Now, before even 24 hours have passed, the “blood impulse” column is mentioned on Wesley Pruden’s Wikipedia page.
On a biological level, the idea that one’s comprehension of (and respect for) America depends upon the birthplace of one’s father, or to whom one’s mother was sexually attracted... I mean, that’s plain silly.
On a metaphorical level, though, everyone understands what Pruden means by a “blood impulse.” He means that white Americans are the best Americans. The only true Americans. Non-whites can become good Americans maybe... but it’s not “natural” for them, not instinctive.
So then. Pruden wants to bring mamas and daddies into it? Let’s talk about his father... the Rev. Wesley Pruden, Sr. (pictured below).
As the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center has pointed out, Pruden the Elder was a staunch segregationist in Little Rock, Arkansas. The New York Times once described him as “a hot-eyed pastor.”
According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, Pastor Pruden pumped up the white mobs in front of Central High School in 1957, “verbally encouraging them, according to [journalist Roy] Reed, ‘to fight niggers, communists, and cops!’ ”
Here’s what the New York Times reported when Rev. Pruden’s Broadmoor Baptist Church was kicked out of the Pulaski County Baptist Association in 1959:
“Mr. Pruden is the chaplain and former president of the Capital Citizens Council, which has promoted resistance to the racial integration of Little Rock’s public high schools. He has also directed ‘freedom fund’ collections for the legal defense of persons arrested in segregationist demonstrations.”
So when Wesley Pruden, Jr., talks about having a blood-borne understanding of what America is all about... I am led to wonder about his natural instincts.
After all, his great-grandfather David was a corporal in the Confederate army. His great-great-grandfather – John H. Pruden – owned slaves in North Carolina. Can’t get more American than that, I reckon.