by Mike Martin
Clash Daily Columnist
What’s all the Hubbub about, bub ?
When I was young I can remember my father saying that there’s no atheists in foxholes, no black men in them, either – but brothers in arms. WWII bomber pilots learned to respect the Tuskegee Airmen fighter pilots – so much so that they requested those black men as escorts.
I remembering watching the news and hearing about how the “n*ggers” were getting uppity. ( Gov Wallace in the news ).
I was always curious as a child and tried to figure out things for myself. It seemed from the usage that “n*gger” was a derisive term, so I tried to look it up in the dictionary. Lo and behold – it wasn’t there – perplexing! The closest that I could come to “n*gger” was “niggardly”. This was defined as extremely tight with money – i.e. a cheapskate ! Given the usage ( negative and cheap ) I derived the meaning of the word “n*gger” to be poor white trash. – I knew some of them ( but not many ).
As I got older, I came to understand that it was considered a demeaning term for black people ( by the blacks ) . I also learned at a your age that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. So ok, words should be ignored – unless they are the truth.
I did some work for a neighbor who was an excavator, who later became a brother-in-law. He could be a bastard at work – fire you at 4:00 and invite you for a drink at 4:30. Work was work and he didn’t let it mix with his private life ( usually ).
He had a fuel and maintenance man ( mechanic ) he called Horn – why,I don’t know. Horn and I were walking up a hill, carrying chain saws ( running ). Horn brushed my pants with his chain saw taking a nick out of them, at which point I pushed him away, and he slid 3 or 4 feet back down the hill from my push. Horn was a black man, and “Bill” asked him why or what happened to make me push him down the hill. “Horn” said that he nicked me with his chain saw, and added – “Hell, Bill, I would have pushed me too !” There was no grudge in that man’s body, and I respected him.
I worked in a warehouse one summer and was invited to a black man’s party. I went to Brock’s party and was on time, but early compared to everyone else. Brock said he was going to shower and asked me and Big Mike to let his guests in as they arrived, which we did. They held themselves separate from us and said loud enough for us to hear, what are “they” doing at this party. Brock came down the steps and after hearing some disparaging words announced that we were his friends, he invited us, and if they didn’t like it – they could leave. If there was any doubt, I was proud to have Brock as a friend.
I went to war for my country. There were no n*ggers and honkeys in the war, we were comrades-in-arms.
For this Veterans Day, I would like to thank those people who helped shape me. I pray that Horn and Brock get a chance to read this and that the Lord has kept them well.