Chamblee54

Examine Your Whiteness

Posted in Georgia History, Library of Congress, Politics, Race, The Internet by chamblee54 on January 27, 2018


Is the Owner of Popular Atlanta Drag Bar a Racist? This article started the current controversy. A “former employee” of Burkhart’s sent some screen shots to a local publication. The shots allegedly came from the facebook page of the bar’s owner, Palmer Marsh. The first post that you saw said “Obviously Vladimir Putin thinks that Barack Obama is a stupid (magic word). He just might be right.” The pearl clutching started immediately.

PG noted that the screen shot did not have a date or time. Three other shots were shown in the initial presentation. None of the other comments had a fraction of the offensive power of the Putin comment. The showpiece comment was suspect.

If you are going to have a public controversy about someone’s racial values, you need something strong to get people’s attention. Stories about poorly treated employees or customers will not do this. Facebook comments like “I used to think that NYC was the most intimidating place on Earth. Thanks to Mayor Rudy Giuliani … ” do not have the explosive power of the magic word. If you do not have the comment about Putin, you do not have a controversy. The ex-employee does not get their revenge.

For all the talk about institutional oppression, the public debate on racism remains very shallow. Style rules over substance any day. If you talk about economic equality, equal housing, or access to education, the audience will ignore you. Talk about police brutality, and mass incarceration, will get you a bit more attention. Palmergate is none of these things. It is about an old man, who owns a popular business, saying things on facebook that people do not like. The most spectacular of these comments is impossible to prove or disprove.

A few days later, there was another facebook thread about the comment. PG noted “Did anyone see the Obama/n-word post when it first appeared? What was the time and date? Is there a cached copy available? Do you realize how easy it would be to fake that screen shot? If an incendiary post like that appeared, why wasn’t it noticed at the time?” There was a vigorous reaction.

“this is racist apologist trash. there could be video of him typing the words in and y’all would still be like “that could be someone in prosthetics and a wig. you don’t know for sure!” ~ “Here’s a screenshot of a screenshot posted closer to the original occurrence. Is it so hard to believe that an older white man is racist?” ~ “This is on Palmer Marsh’s FB page now. You can go take a look yourself if you think I’m faking it. Doesn’t necessarily mention the racism, but is a good indicator:” ~ ‘This is also still on his FB wall. Go take a look yourself if you think someone is faking it:” ~ “And someone calling out his racism in 2013. Also on his wall. Go scroll down and look:” ~ “Do you need more? I’m happy to keep scrolling if you’re too lazy/afraid to confirm the truth yourself” ~ “alleged” I can’t with you. Look at my posts. I advise you do some research before making a public comment that makes you look like a racist apologist. I’m out.”

There are arguably racist comments on Mr. Marsh’s facebook page. (“Here in Brunswick, GA there is a billboard that reads, “Blue lives matter.” Indeed!”) Mr. Marsh went on a bit of a facebook binge sometime in 2015, and said all sorts of things. ( “I have been drinking so much liquor that I do not know what I have been saying. My apologies to those of whom I have offended. Now would probably be a good time to shut the blank up.”) However, none of these comments are evidence that he made the Putin post. They are not nearly as explosive, or overtly racist. They don’t have the same tone as the Putin comment. Also, how many people were talking about Vladimir Putin in 2015? It just does not add up.

It should be noted that there is a possibility that the Putin quote is legitimate. There are rumors that Mary Marsh, the wife of Palmer, “basically confirmed by making a status the other day saying Palmer was drunk and that she gave him hell at the time.” (PG has not seen this comment.) However, showing far less offensive posts, from the same account, is not convincing evidence.

“Do yourself and the POC in your life a favor and Examine. Your. Whiteness. Examine why its so hard to believe an old white man said the n word. Examine why you are so invested in defending a man who by all accounts was an outspoken racist. Examine why you are calling this so deeply into question.” Logic is not always a facebook friend.

After a while, PG took a break from the action. When he got back, he decided to look for cached copies. It seems that the Internet Wayback Machine does not have copies of this facebook account. The Putin post remains impossible to prove, or disprove.

Palmer Marsh on facebook is up. What has not been deleted is easy to look through. Some of the comments are still up. Some posts are arguably racist. (“If the South had won, we would be a hell of a lot better off.”) There are also some comments that contradict the racist narrative.

“Because of love, part of my heritage is West African. Some tings you cannot change. I treasure my heritage.” “I am from McIntosh County Georgia. The first dialect of English that I spoke was Gullah-Gitchee. It was a fantastic beginning as I have a perspective of the Third World that few Anglo-Americans understand. Now I feel more at home in the Bahamas than I feel at Home. I like turning back the clock.”

For those who are new here, Gullah-Gitchee is a dialect used mostly by African Americans. Does this sound like something a racist would say?

Maybe the truth is a bit more complicated. Maybe Palmer Marsh has posted some things that rub liberal fee fees the wrong way. But maybe, just maybe, a man from the Georgia coast, who has been around black people all his life, has some complicated feelings about this whole racism thing. Not everyone falls into the racist/woke binary. If we are going to have a public debate, on the statement Resolved: Palmer Marsh is a racist, the we should do a better job of examining the evidence. Don’t just accept a screen shot from a former employee. Consider that maybe it is none of your business.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress. Parts two and three of this series are now available.

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