Monday, August 21, 2006

Swimming In Stupidity

I live in NW Charlotte County, FL, about 1/2 mile from the Sarasota County line. That marks the end of Congressman Mark Foley's turf and the beginning of the 13th Congressional District being vacated by the witch known as Katharine Harris. For my neighbors 2 streets down in the city of North Port, I can think of several reasons not to vote for candidate Tramm Hudson for this solidly Republican seat in the September 5th Florida primary: Hudson is the "big money" guy in the race, he's slung a lot of mud against fellow candidates, and as the outgoing head of the Sarasota GOP he's linked closely to Harris.

That Mr. Hudson is racist is certainly not a reason. The campaign recently made national news when RedState broke this story and posted the accompanying video of Tramm's words during a recent speech.

In 1984 we were in Panama. Our unit was doing a two-week training down there. I commanded an infantry company and we were practicing crossing a river. You know, an infantry company has 140 some-odd soldiers. A large number were black. I grew up in Alabama and I understand and I know this from my own experiences that blacks aren’t the best swimmers or may not even know how to swim. But we were crossing this and wanted to make sure every soldier could swim and if they couldn’t we’d get them across the river.

We had the line across the river and we were making our passage way and one of the black soldiers with his ruck-sack on his back, his weapon and fell from the line and he let go. Sunk down to the bottom of the river. And I’ve got to tell you, it took my breath away. Two of the sergeants manning the boats immediately jumped into the river and pulled that soldier out form below. They gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitations and we called in a medivac helicopter to take him to the hospital. That soldier could have died. I believe it was divine intervention.

So what does one make of Hudson's story from his Army days? I suppose he hoped to convey his belief that faith has a strong role in the lives of our servicemen. Like any good commander, he was naturally concerned about the safety of his men during tough training in Panama. Hudson appears to be genuinely giddy that a fellow soldier who came so close to death miraculously was saved.

But guess what? Those same words make Tramm Hudson a racist in our ridiculously PC society because he generalized (correctly) that many blacks don't swim well or can't swim at all. After the story broke, Hudson quickly issued a strong apology. He expressed his regret for hurting so many people's feelings. Too bad. Another Al Campanis. It may have been political death, but oh-the-respect I would've gained for Tramm if he stood firm and defended his harmless words.

Never mind that a New York Times article from June 19 2006 stated "black children drown at rates up to five times higher than white children" and "62 percent of the African-Americans surveyed [by the CDC] said that they had limited swimming skills." The NY Times isn't racist, it's liberal and may make the same generalization free of any fallout. Just like when Bill Cosby or Jesse Jackson preach about the breakdown of the black family in the inner city. It's ok because of the color of their skin. Never mind that they live in luxury in the wealthy surburbs of LA and Chicago, of which I and my low-income white family could only dream.

No, Hudson's a Republican. Even worse, Tramm's originally from Alabama. You know he better keep his mouth shut if he wants to get to Congress. White Men Can't Jump....but don't you say anything about a black man not swimming!

Statistics aren't racist, people. They used to be truths, that is until the civil rights, equal rights, human rights, and every other rights movement decided to rewrite the meaning of a good chunk of the English dictionary. That's not to say these movements didn't also achieve noble things, but just like Martin Luther King himself, they're far from the picture of perfection that liberals make them appear to be. I admit, treating an individual like a statistic is not always the best thing to do. But that doesn't make it racist. In fact, in this case it probably saved a man's life. Airport security, anyone?

What is worse in today's world: that soldier dying or having to admit that sometimes unfavorable racial stereotypes are true?

Yeah, I took some "white guy" comments over the years playing pick-up basketball in Atlanta's urban East Point and College Park neighborhods. And guess what? I loved it. Especially after nailing an open look on a backdoor cut to the hoop. But I still couldn't jump!


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