Neither the Raleigh News & Observer nor N&O columnist Ruth Sheehan meant to warn us.
But warn us they did with a Nov. 16 N&O headline:
We won't tolerate noosesfollowed by a Sheehan column which included:
It was little over a week ago that a toilet paper noose was found in a bathroom on the N.C. State University campus.Sheehan and her N&O editors meant for her column to let us know they are such righteous people that they won’t tolerate even a toilet paper noose in Raleigh.
Officialdom has had plenty to say about the noose at N.C. State. Students gathered Thursday night on campus. And busloads of residents from our area are heading to Washington today to rally for a federal intervention.
But what about the rest of us? What about a world, on campus or off, where a noose might be considered a joke?
There is nothing funny about this old racist symbol. Nothing cute. Nothing clever.
In small ways and large, this is a time for the community to make that clear. In individual conversations, in water fountain chats and in community gatherings, we need to reiterate that racism is not tolerated here in any form.
There is no audience here for a noose of any sort, even a pathetic one made of toilet paper.
That is not what we're about.
But Sheehan and the N&O said nothing a while back when a hate-filled, angry crowd in Durham rallied under a large “CASTRATE” banner and shouted threats against a group of males.
Sheehan didn't say there is “nothing funny” about a "CASTRATE" banner. “Nothing cute. Nothing clever.”
Neither Sheehan nor the N&O said anything critical of the clergy, Duke faculty, staff and students, and Trinity Park pot bangers who milled and shouted that Sunday morning in front of 610 N. Buchanan Blvd.
As a matter of fact, the N&O story reporting the hate-filled rally didn’t even mention the “CASTRATE” banner; and it described the angry crowd in very sympathetic, almost admiring, terms.
Of course, the N&O would never have reported that way if the “CASTRATE” crowd had targeted males identified as gay.
If the crowd had targeted gays, there’d have been N&O headlines and news stories about “homophobia” and “a mob bent on violence.” Sheehan and the N&O’s editorial page would’ve demanded Duke fire staff members who attended the rally and provide counseling and gender awareness training for faculty and students who were there.
But the targeted males were not identified as gay and they were white.
So Sheehan and the N&O had no problem with what the crowd was doing or with its “CASTRATE” banner.
And that’s why Sheehan’s “We won’t tolerate nooses” column is a warning.
It’s not about tolerance. It’s just one more instance of the dangerous double standard at the N&O and elsewhere that made possible the Duke Hoax witch hunt and its massive injustices.
Sheehan and the N&O have never condemned the ‘CASTRATE” rally or the “Vigilante” poster or the racists who shouted death threats at Reade Seligmann or the craven leadership of Duke University who stood silent in the face of it all.
But if someone finds a piece of toilet paper in the shape of a noose on a bathroom floor, it’s time for the community to speak out and say, “We won’t tolerate nooses.”
After doing so much to launch and sustain the Duke Hoax you’d think Sheehan and the N&O would’ve learned something and would be trying to do better.
But Sheehan's column makes clear they haven’t and they’re not.
We’ve been warned.