Temple is in Carroll County. Patrick Lanzo's Peach restaurant is in Paulding County. So CBS reporter Michelle Marsh can't even get the geography right, which casts doubt on her ability to understand the cultural significance of what it is that Lanzo intends by his unfortunate gesture.
This is not the first time the media has erred in a misguided attempt to find political meaning in this particular phenomenon, which compelled me to explain last November:
Just some demographic background for people who aren't familiar with Georgia. Paulding County is a fast-growing exurb of Atlanta, with a population of more than 120,000 that's increased nearly 50% since 2000. Median household income is more than $58,000.3, 2, 1 . . . raaaaacist! I wrote that Nov. 18, 2008 -- nearly 11 months ago -- and in all this time, Charles Johnson has yet to cite it as evidence of my Gelleresque evil. Why? Because he's lazy and stupid. If he were reasonably industrious and clever, he would have at some point found this item and said, "A-ha! Look the notorious white supremacist blogger is defending this!"
When I was growing up in Douglas County, Paulding County was overwhelmingly rural. My hometown of Lithia Springs was sophisticated and cosmopolitan compared to Dallas or Hiram. But as neighboring Cobb County became urbanized, the Cobb developers moved westward.
The big thing was when Thorton Road (Ga. 6) was widened and connected to U.S. 278 via Powder Springs and Hiram, so that you now have a virtual freeway all the way from the Atlanta Airport (Camp Creek Parkway) to Rockmart (in Polk County). The area around the intersection of U.S. 278 and Ga. 92 in Hiram is now massively developed. A lot of the residents of Paulding County commute to jobs in Cobb or Douglas counties, especially in the industrial developments around the intersection of I-20 and Thornton Road.
Lanzo's Peach Bar is being spun as part of a "racist backlash" against Obama, which is silly: Paulding County never forward-lashed, so how can they backlash? Of course, the prosperous blue-collar exurbanites of Paulding County voted 69% Republican, but that doesn't make them evil, does it?
Uh . . . no. To explain is not to defend. In my experience, people like Mad King Charles, who make a big hairy deal out of being open-minded and enlightened, are some of the most benighted bigots you'll ever meet.
The use of the "n-word" and other such epithets was not tolerated by my parents, teachers or church leaders. As I've often said, my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap and worn me out with a belt if I'd ever spoken so insultingly. The fact that my mother was a native of Randolph County, Ala., born in 1929 -- and that I was born in 1959 in Atlanta, Ga., and raised in Douglas County, Ga. -- does not constitute proof that she or I or any of our kin were "racist," anymore than anyone born in New York or Massachusetts.
All my life, however, I've had to deal with the stereotypical presumption that all white people from the South are uniquely racist -- the collective embodiment of an evil that has replaced blasphemy of the Holy Spirit as the unforgiveable sin. Guilty until proven innocent.
Frankly there are times when a Southerner is tempted to surrender to the stereotype: "Fine. You call me a racist no matter what I do or say, so I'll go ahead and be as racist as you think I am."
This, I believe, is the temptation to which Patrick Lanzo has succumbed or, if not, it's part of his appeal to whoever the customers of his restaurant are. As the local NAACP told CBS News, the "latest ploy for attention by Mr. Lanzo is not surprising."
Another Black Conservative is correct to cite this as a rebuff to "the Raaaaacism Industrial Complex" that they are "are helping to hide real racists like Lanzo in a sea of falsely accused racists."
But you know something? I'd be willing to bet that if Lt. Col. Allen West were to hold a fund-raiser in Paulding County, Ga., it might be one of the most successful events imaginable, and that he might even get a couple hundred bucks from Patrick Lanzo.
Whatever their faults or failings, the decent folks among whom I grew up have always admired real courage, and Allen West has got that in trumps. Certainly, the colonel has no fear of the Flemish Menace.
Update: (Smitty) My humblest apologies. I had comments selected to approve, and then clicked the "Reject" link on one which said something completely unconstructive. I owe the five or so of you, who had valid things to say, my sincerest regrets for the inconvenience.