We live in a changing society with evolving cultural norms. Some things that were once acceptable in polite company are now considered racist — my own grandparents, proud integrationists in 1950s Georgia, also argued at one Thanksgiving dinner that black people were just genetically predetermined to be worse at sports compared to white people. (Racist stereotypes have evolved, too.) Today, some conservatives complain that you can't attack President Obama without being called racist. That might have something to do with confusion over what is racist. The Atlantic Wire would like to help with one touchy subject area: empty chair lawn decorations. These references to Clint Eastwood's speech at the Republican National Convention have gotten a lot of attention on the local news. While some say the empty chair itself is racist — erasing the black American experience — we'll start with the most charitable view, that they are meant as a display of the nonracial insult "the empty suit." (Doonesbury portrayed George W. Bush as an asterisk.) But there is no charitable way to interpret empty chair displays when they involve a noose. And yet there is a constant theme among chair lynchers — they say they had no idea they were being racist, they just needed a good, secure rope. If you need help not being racist, print this out on your way to the hardware store when picking up supplies for your own empty chair display.
Example: This chair is lynched with a bayonet, rifle, and golf club in Rochester, Minnesota, as reported by the Rochester Post-Bulletin on October 31 and flagged by Think Progress. "I'm not sure why everyone is up in arms about it," Laura Mulholland, co-owner of the chair with her husband Kevin, told the local paper.