Real life race trolling


For whatever reason (I suspect a combination of relative anonymity and a general distaste for overt racism), I don’t get too many racist trolls here at the site. I thought for sure when I started I would get all kinds of “race realists” and would-be white supremacists and all sorts of slime crawling out of the woodwork. Instead, I’ve found my life sorely lacking the high-quality and high-cognition contributions of those who believe, for whatever reason, that you can tell something meaningful about someone based on the flawed genetics behind the arbitrarily-assembled social constructs we call ‘races’.

That being said, just because they’re not here, doesn’t mean they don’t exist:

A Hawkins man is claiming his civil rights and religious freedom were violated earlier this year when a black man sacked his groceries and a Big Sandy grocery store owner banned the customer from the business. DeWitt R. Thomas filed a federal lawsuit in July against Keith Langston, owner of Two Rivers Grocery & Market.

Yeah, read that over again. You weren’t wrong – the guy who did the racist thing is suing the guys who employ the victim of the racist thing. Do not adjust your internet. This isn’t even the crazy part of the story. Are you ready for the crazy party of the story?

He stated in a nine-page, hand-written lawsuit that he told the grocery sacker, a black man, “Wait a minute, don’t touch my groceries. I can’t have someone negroidal touch my food. It’s against my creed.”

(snip)

“My question is, why after I told them how I felt and that it was against my creed did this negroid try to impress himself upon me and try to handle my groceries again.” Thomas said.

Thomas said his religious beliefs are based on Vedism, which he said encompasses Hinduism. “Vedism translates into knowledge. I am not this way because I am ignorant. Ignorance is the enemy,” he said.

Thomas said he has not broken any laws and was exercising his religious freedom and the rights he has been given. “White people are to be protected under the civil rights law just as anyone else,” Thomas said. “It would be the same as if you asked that a congoid (a person from west/central Africa) not touch your food.”

An animated .gif from a Tag Team music video

So… there are so many directions to go on this that I’m really not sure where to start. As far as I can tell, his ‘appeal to Vedism’ is entirely unique, rather than being tied to various white power mysticisms, which was my first thought upon reading this story. Also, I am deeply curious as to where he conjured up the terms “negroidal” and “congoidal”*. My guess is the internet, but I honestly haven’t a clue where.

The thing I will talk about here is the aspect that seems pretty obvious to me, but clearly isn’t quite so obvious to the people involved in the story (or indeed, many of the people I’ve seen commenting on it).

This guy doesn’t believe that shit.

I do not for an instant believe that this guy actually follows a “Vedist creed” or has any sincere objection to have either negroids, congoids, mongoloids, androidshaploids, or even Duploids bagging his damn groceries. This is fucking stage craft – elementary trolling technique that is unique only in its colourful presentation and the fact that it is happening in meatspace rather than online. If I had to guess, this guy is trying to make an oblique point that the legal protection of civil rights is absurd because they require people to accommodate people’s beliefs no matter how absurd they may be (to him, I imagine). Furthermore, they do not extend (in his opinion) to white people, and therefore nobody should have any at all (equality!)

Of course his position is stupid (and not just for the obvious reasons). When and if a white person is legitimately discriminated against by a person of colour (i.e., if he were treated with the level of dehumanizing disrespect that he showed to Aaron Menefee), he would be able to avail himself of the entirety of the legal system. The same legal system that is supposed to protect all people equally, but had to be drastically reformed to ensure that it filled in the cracks of the ‘barely behind the scenes racism’ that preceded the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (a task at which the system still fails miserably, but not as miserably as it used to). Not only that, but I’ll bet he’d have zero trouble at all raising assloads of cash for his legal defense if he did face that kind of discrimination.

So no, this isn’t a case of a religious nutjob with a wacky belief. Nor do I believe it to be a case of a racist guy looking for a bullshit backdoor to hide his public aversion to black folks. No, my suspicion is that this is something a bit more insidious – a guy who wishes to make a mockery of the very idea of civil rights legislation. The harder people push back, despite their good intentions, the longer this absurd farce is allowed to continue. Hopefully a judge will be insightful enough to see past this obvious ruse and kick this guy’s case out before he gets a trial. If not, please believe we’ll be seeing a lot more self-professed “Vedists” popping up out of the woodwork real soon.

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*I have to confess that my first reaction upon reading this story was to laugh. A lot. The story is too bizarre and too absurd not to laugh. That being said, I can’t imagine that the joke is particularly funny for Aaron Menefee, or his employer. 

Comments

  1. embertine says

    My first reaction was “WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN”

    My second was, “Congoid? Like the eel?”

    Puzzling race troll is puzzling.

  2. jamessweet says

    You are probably right, but I consider it at least a non-trivial possibility that this guy is sincere. There’s a few things going through my mind.

    First, the “congoid” thing is just weird — not just because of the bizarre invented terminology, but also because if he was playing the gambit you are suggesting, it would have made more sense for him to say, “It’s no different than if you didn’t want a caucasoid” (or whatever weird term this nutjob presumably uses for white people) “touching your food”, thereby playing up the false symmetry aspect.

    By the same token, the “Vedism is knowledge/ignorance is the enemy” line is a little bizarre and random. It sounds more like the rantings of a true believer to me than someone trying to make an abstract point.

    Really, all of the things he said would be perfectly consistent with run-of-the-mill racism mixed with a mild-yet-untreated case of schizophrenia. That doesn’t mean your hypothesis isn’t correct after all — you’ve already given some good arguments in support of it, so I won’t rehash them — but I consider it at least plausible that he’s being sincere.

    All of this is purely an academic exercise, of course, since either way he is both a) wrong and b) a total asshole. It’s just that the way in which he is an asshole is very slightly different depending on whether he really believes that black people shouldn’t be touching his food vs. believes that reverse racism is rampant and needs to be stopped by any means necessary.

  3. astro says

    Another champion and protector of straw-man free speech. I didn’t see how it was all a ruse at first. But you’re right…The ‘language’ of the thing just feels too calculated.

  4. Dunc says

    Apparently, “congoid” is a term coined by Carleton S. Coon as part of his entertainingly batshit notions of human evolution presented in his 1962 tome “Origin of Races”. (The other 4 races being Caucasoid, Capoid, Australoid and Mongoloid.)

    “Negroid” is apparently still (occasionally) used in physical or forensic anthropology.

    The real mystery is why the hell a religion based on the Vedas would make reference to racial terms and theories coined in the west during the 19th and 20th centuries… I smell pseudo-Aryanism.

    I tend to agree that he probably doesn’t really believe this shit – if he did, he wouldn’t be buying groceries from the store, where you have no idea who’s handled them before you. But given the combination of an appeal to an “Aryan” religion and obscure racial terms from the era of segregation, I suspect that he probably is a white supremacist.

  5. CT says

    I think you’re giving the guy too much credit for smarts. I know people, admittedly few, who are just like this. They will say anything/ do anything to stop anyone who is Not White (TM) from touching them or their stuff. From my standpoint in the racist South, this just looks like another racist asshat who spouted some bullshit in case he felt violated. He probably thought the grocery was ‘safe’ from the Not White(TM), was pissed when he realized it wasn’t, told the Not White(TM) to not touch his stuff, was further pissed when said Not White(TM) touched his stuff anyway. This caused the asshat-oid(?) to go home, stew repeatedly, endure mocking from his fellow asshat-oids, then write a 9 page manifesto using some bullshit he cropped from some damn where in order to prove that he hasn’t lost his whiteness by letting Not White(TM)s touch his stuff.

    And yes, it’s true, I know personally, within my in laws who refuse to go anywhere or do anything that might put them within the same room as a Not White(TM) person. They will in fact say *anything* to prevent it and if it happens suddenly they will say *anything* to prove to their crowd that they didn’t mean to do that.

  6. baal says

    I suspect that the first judge to see this will throw a public hissy at the plaintiff “vedic”. I’ve known semi-openly racist judges (well 2) and even they find such stark racism uncouth.

    In my science days, I saw grad student construct vectors with human genes on them and then use those constructs to rescue genetic defects in fruit flies. When human genes more or less work in flies getting hung up on the minor genetic and phenotypic variations in humanity seems beyond silly.

  7. jackal says

    My tea timer went off just as I read “This guy doesn’t believe that shit,” giving me several minutes to speculate on how you came to that conclusion. It is nearly impossible that this guy eats only food that hasn’t been touched by non-whites. Most produce is harvested by PoC. Living in Texas, there will be PoC stocking his groceries. Even if he requests a white server when eating out, there will be non-whites preparing his food and washing his dishes. If he actually wanted to ensure that no PoC touched his food, he’d have to grow and prepare all of his own food, 100% from seed to table, and not be buying it at the grocery store. Thus, I think you’re race-trolling via court system hypothesis is probably correct.

  8. karmakin says

    Well, in some way shape or form, he’s trolling. That’s pretty clear. Personally, I think that he thinks that going a religious liberty angle will piss off the “liburls” but that’s just me.

  9. jamessweet says

    And I don’t see any merit to the argument that “PoC will be touching his food anyway, so he can’t be serious”. I mean, really… you’re taking a belief system that allegedly involves Vedic proscriptions to avoid congoids touching your food, and objecting that the details have inconsistencies?!? Please.

    The guy might be making this all up as Ian has guessed. But the fact that “if you think about it, it doesn’t actually make any sense”, that’s irrelevant. If you don’t think about it at all, this still doesn’t actually make any sense! :D

  10. Nice Ogress says

    Possibly unrelated data point: When I was in retail, we had a lady come in at regular intervals and accuse our staff of sexually assaulting her.

    Through psychic witchcraft.

    From across the store.

    This was not badly-described/misinterpreted behaviour, either. She’d scream that a guy was ‘gnawing her breasts’ when he was six feet away, stocking the aisle. She got even more incoherent – though not violent – when the manager tried to sort it out. The cops had to escort her out every time. We finally figured out she was doing this when her meds ran out at the end of each month. She was a genuine schizophrenic; she literally couldn’t tell the difference between reality and what was in her head. They’re rare, but they’re out there.

    I don’t know how racism would mix into that, but I’m guessing not well.

  11. marismae says

    First, may I just say that the ‘Whoop, There it is!’ gif is pretty much the best thing ever. It ranks right up there with sliced bread!

    And aside from the glaringly obvious racism and trollery, this dude also displayed the slippery slope conclusion to allowing the use of ‘religious freedom’ as an excuse for bigotry of any kind.

  12. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Indeed that’s unrelated. What you’re describing are delusions of persecution, which are not present in this description.

    It’s unfortunate that you try to blame mental illness in this case. There is no evidence of such here. Some people really are racist trolls.

  13. leftwingfox says

    Part of me wonders if this guy came through this through an offshoot or association with the Hare Krishnas. Probably not though. While the Krishna Vedic beliefs are weird and anti-science, I don’t recall ever hearing about the movement using caste to justify racism.

  14. jamessweet says

    I dunno, if you see my comment above, “seems kinda like schizophrenia” entered my head as well. We’re going by like three quotes from this guy, so really none of us have any idea, whether to support or dismiss this. I’m just saying, it “felt like” some of the things my (homeless schizophrenic) brother-in-law would say, except with racism.

  15. says

    Doubtful. Hare Krishna movements are weird, but they’re very humanist. If I had to guess, I’d say this guy is just cobbling together his own unique brand of bullshit from fragments of things he’s heard on white power websites.

  16. invivoMark says

    The .gif’s alright, but there’s a guy in the back on the left who is WAY too excited about it.

  17. invivoMark says

    This feels like it’s that old meme, “You lib’ruls profess to be so tolerant, but you won’t tolerate my intolerance! Shows how hypocritical you are!”

    I see this more often in people defending their homophobia and gay bullying. The argument is so incredibly vacuous that I simply can’t formulate any intelligent comeback, and it pisses me off every time I hear it.

    Crommunist, do you think you could write a post on this argument, or point me to a post if one already exists? I go after people for using homophobic language online, and this argument is the one that gets to me the most. I’d love to see it get the thorough thrashing that it deserves.

  18. Apxeo says

    I’d second Dunc (#4) that the Vedic reference is a big red flag for Aryanism. The Rigveda has an important place among some white supremacists as an Ur-text of the “Aryan people.”

    Whatever this guy’s motivation for filing the suit, it does look as if he is deeply involved in white supremacist mysticism. Of course where he gets his various “oids” from the Rigveda is anyone’s guess.

  19. Francisco Bacopa says

    He was pretty stupid to think he would be safe from the Not White in any larger public place in Big Sandy, Texas. Recent Census data says the town is about 13% African-American, which is pretty darn white by East Texas standards.

    I think this dude is not merely a troll. The fact that he mentions “Vedism” (whatever that is) and uses a racial term used in a old racist book suggests that he’s done some research and probably grew up in a house with that book.

  20. says

    Thomas said he has not broken any laws and was exercising his religious freedom and the rights he has been given.

    I favor the idea that if people want to assert religious freedoms such as this, then I can assert my religious freedom to throw tomatoes at the back of their head. It’s not hate, it’s pasta sauce!

  21. says

    The argument is so incredibly vacuous that I simply can’t formulate any intelligent comeback

    The best comeback for that, in my opinion, is to go all Kant on them and hit them with the categorical imperative. “What you’re saying then is that you want to live in a world where any kind of arbitrary hatefulness is accepted. Are you sure about that (Y/N)? Because who do you complain to if it turns out to be open season on ignorant redneck crackers like you?”

  22. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    “Negroid” is apparently still (occasionally) used in physical or forensic anthropology.

    This reminds me of something I’d been wondering about: I took a pseudo-college-class-for-kids in Forensics over the summer one year, and I was told by the professor that humans could be divided into three or four groups – named “negroid,” “caucasoid,” and “mongoloid” for historical reasons but with little if any correspondence to socially perceived race – based on hair and blood characteristics, and that this was used in a forensic context. I suspect googling any of this is going to return a very low signal to noise ratio, so do you or anyone else know how accurate that statement is?

  23. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Because who do you complain to if it turns out to be open season on ignorant redneck crackers like you?

    After all, PZ Myers is well known for desecrating a cracker already.

  24. John Horstman says

    Of course, that assumes consistency of application with respect to the ideology and a lack of ignorance with respect to the path from ground to table that most food takes. My first thought is that this has to be a dedicated performance artist pulling a Poe to illustrate how absurd all of the cries of “religious liberty!” in support of bigotry are. Then again, some people are poorly-reasoned bigots, some people are deeply delusional, some people are both, and any of those could explain the behavior in the context of sincere belief.

  25. mythbri says

    This makes me want to open a grocery store just so I can ban this guys from shopping there.

  26. F says

    I can’t imagine that the joke is particularly funny for Aaron Menefee, or his employer.

    It really should be, though. Such a suit should have no merit whatsoever -pah, negative merit. He should be reprimanded by the courts if not simply dismissed via postcard, with and for great prejudice.

    No one mention hexaploids to him, though. He’ll manage to work that into his faux-“Vedic” BS.

  27. F says

    I should really learn to keep liquids away from my mouth when reading your blog. I can go from angry to laughing uncontrollably in a half second.

  28. says

    “5 readers of atheist blog “The Crommunist Manifesto” were admitted to hospital today from complications due to dehydration.”

    NO THANKS! I don’t need a law suit.

  29. Margaret says

    Well I wouldn’t want any hemorrhoids touching my food either. <adjusts glasses, reads again> Oh. Never mind.

  30. strange gods before me ॐ says

    Your prejudices do not justify stigmatizing people with mental illness. You have no evidence whatsoever; you are just jumping to bigoted conclusions. Don’t do that.

  31. Dunc says

    Well, these terms basically originate in 19th century phrenology… Why they’ve persisted in forensics I have no idea – although I could come up with some unpleasant speculations. I’m mostly referencing wikipedia here… ;)

  32. IB says

    AFAIK, these are/were classifications based on head shape, bare in mind that caucasoid lumps Pakistanis and Icelanders in the same broad category, and is the origin of the term Caucasian. It was the thing back then to to invent new ‘oids’, presumably this bloke has gone one step further and invented are new ism to go with it.

  33. Medivh says

    By the same token, the “Vedism is knowledge/ignorance is the enemy” line is a little bizarre and random. It sounds more like the rantings of a true believer to me than someone trying to make an abstract point.

    I’m confused as to why you think so. Most racists have heard the meme that racism is derived from ignorance, and this particular example of ignorance personified seems to think that he’s getting the jump on such accusations. A pre-emptive strike, as it were, even if it’s the verbal equivalent of spitballing a tank and thinking that the tank is neutralised.

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