Share Me A Clue: Cotton Is Racist???

Hobby Lobby Cotton Display Goes Viral For Being Racist

Sometimes, I just don’t know what to think anymore.

Get a haircut, turn down the gol-durned music, and get off my lawn.

That university president can certainly grovel.
“The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity,” Lowry wrote. “I sincerely apologize for the discomfort, anger or disappointment we caused and solicit your forgiveness.

Ah, social media. How I fail to miss thee…

We need to stop apologising to people who get offended.

Everyone has a right to not like things, but that doesn’t mean they automatically deserve an apology. There are a million things on this stupid planet that annoy the crap out of me*, but they’re perfectly ordinary things people are allowed to do, I deserve no apology for the offence they cause me.

“Offensive” has become watered down to mean anything somebody has decided to not like today. This is incorrect usage, true offense has to be insulting, hateful, aggressive, or illegal. Get a grip, people.

*e.g. neck tattoos, noisy cars, contemporary townhouse architecture, hipsters who don’t wear socks, the incorrect spelling of “lose”, sports fans, drivers who don’t use their indicators, etc

I’m just glad he’s finally being properly socialized.

Hobby Lobby wins no points for being socially conscious but I have to defend them on this one.

When I clicked on the OP’S link I thought it was going to be some kind of display of slaves picking cotton or something similar, but it’s a few twigs from cotton plants with raw cotton attached. How is that racist? Is my cotton underwear racist?

I realize that there are sensitivities that I’ll never really understand as a white man, so I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this is way off base.

There’s a silver lining to our “everything you do is racist” society. Since it is now impossible not to be racist, we are relieved of any duty to try.

The problem is that if you take a stand in favor of the cotton, that carries real risks. Staying silent or joining the condemnation is risk-free. So we have an insane society now where if anyone sees offense in anything, it must be removed, apologies must be issued, and probably someone should get fired and never be allowed to work anywhere else again.

Because you are not offended by something, the person who says they are must be lying?

The language in that post very much looks like someone who is offended, not someone who is annoyed. Sure, it could be someone just trying to be provocative. It could be parody. But I’m 100% sure it’s not someone misusing the word “offended” to mean “annoyed.”

I do not agree with you in the slightest about apologies. They are the correct thing to do when something you do has an unintended consequence. When someone is hurt, to not apologize communicates that you intended to hurt them. Not offering apologies is the way to seem like an asshole and make people who wouldn’t be upset more upset.

I do think it’s possible to overreact to someone being offended, assuming they speak for far more people than they do. People are individuals. They have their own hangups. They can make mistaken arguments. What matters is on a larger scale than just a single person. It would be foolish to take something down if it’s just a single person flipping out. And you sure shouldn’t give some rabble-rouser power ove reveryone else. You need to take a measured response.

But an apology is about the smallest thing you can do. It’s even less than what I would consider the bare minimum, which actually involves trying to understand the other person’s point of view. I don’t agree with this person, but I do get their logic. I won’t ridicule them for it at all, let alone do so in a way that indicates I didn’t get it.

(The argument is that raw cotton is not decorative, and thus the cotton must’ve been put up for other reasons. Hence anything about cotton used in other situations does not apply. Not underwear or socks or anything.)

I honestly see this argument you are making as the much bigger problem here. People are feeling more open to sharing when they are offended. This is a good thing. The alternative is that people keep it to themselves, and the resentment can never be dealt with. We can’t have the majority culture deciding what is and is not okay to express offense over, because they will always miss things.

We just need to embrace the fact that people get offended, and then use that information to guide our actions. And, if it means more apologies showing that we actually care about other people, that’s a huge, huge improvement in this current shithole of a world.

Many older conservative parents are offended when their grown children move in together rather than getting married. They feel disrespected that their kids don’t share their values and aren’t even pretending to share their values.

I suppose that you are advocating that these people are owed apologies?

No, the issue is people declaring society insane because different people each individually say something you don’t like. It’s pretending that a society where people do care about other people’s feeling is a mental illness.

There is no risk at all to say that the cotton isn’t offensive. People are doing it right now. People did it in direct response to the tweet. In fact, since this person seems to go against what society as a whole thinks is offensive, the big risk is in agreeing with them.

Just like you, I have said it’s not offensive. Am I at any risk? Would I be even if I had my name out there? Have I ever been at risk for agreeing with the status quo? No, of course not.

This entire fucking story exists to get people outraged. It’s just someone saying something silly on Twitter. That happens all the time. It’s a story because people want to drum out outrage.

And that’s the outrage that needs to die away. Not the people who are offended. Let them be offended. If they convince enough people, we can listen. If not, then, oh well.

It’s okay to say it NOW. 10 years from now, those tweets defending cotton might come back to haunt you.

But I do think you made a great point about people expressing their outrage. I agree with you, this is healthy. But the reaction to outrage when it’s racially-based needs to be brought back into the realm of sanity, and the first step towards doing that is for taking a stand against the offended to not carry such severe risk. Incentives point heavily to just backing down in such cases.

Not at all, they can be a foolish hysteric who gets his or her rocks off being in a state of permanent arousal by being outraged.

I get that the most innocent, innocuous thing(s) to me can have a disproportionate negative emotional impact on someone else; “walking a mile in another (wo)man’s shoes…” and all that. I get it. Usually. Even if it sometimes has to be pointed out to me after the fact.

But this woman I linked to in the OP…if she lived in the South, where cotton is still grown, does she get offended by driving past a cotton field? What if some African Americans are working that field, day laborers, perhaps, or maybe even regular hired hands? Is that offensive?

What if those day laborers/field hands are Hispanic?

What if some kid glues some cotton balls onto some construction paper for a 2nd grade art project, does she get offended and call the kid a racist?

At what point do we tell the offended, “Get over yourself, princess; it ain’t all about you and your feelings. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.”

On the one hand, and aesthetically speaking, I have no earthly clue why anyone would want some sticks/twigs from some cotton plants as a decorative floral thingy; on the other hand, I realize and recognize the whole “different strokes/different folks” thing, and just roll with it.

I just don’t ascribe nefarious intent, or even clueless insensitivity, to a common commodity, like cotton plants, even when someone sticks them in a decorative vase and displays them on a table for purely aesthetic reasons on their part.

Let’s hope that we don’t start seeing people triggered by railroads.

I didn’t say they were lying, I said they’re not automatically due an apology.

This, basically.

There are contexts in which cotton (or references to cotton) could be construed to be racist, but this is a couple of branches in a bottle to be used as a fairly banal table decoration. I’d have to hear a pretty compelling argument to change my mind on this one, and the one presented in the article wasn’t even close.

This is what arts & crafts stores like HL sell, i.e. all sorts of decorative crap to suit all sorts of aesthetic sensibilities. I haven’t specifically been in an HL store, but I’ve been in similar stores, and it wouldn’t surprise me if HL had a whole section dedicated to dried-up dead twigs and grasses, with cotton plants being just one more offering.

the OP’s article quotes a rebuttal, pointing out that slaves also harvested tobacco, rice, and other crops. But it doesn’t end there. If we’re going to purge our society of all things that ever bore any connection of any kind to racism/slavery, then KFC is going to go out of business, and I’ll be mighty sad when I can’t buy watermelon at my local grocery store anymore.

To appropriate a historic symbol of oppression, whether ignorantly or not, is one thing (e.g. the “Strange Fruit” debacle from a few years ago) - but to suddenly decry imagery which was never before regarded as offensive sounds like someone is testing their ability to tie things to racism in a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon kind of way. Suppose for a moment that this was, say, the 1980s, and HL had these same cotton plant centerpieces on their store shelves. Would black people at the time have seen this and thought to themselves “that’s offensive” but felt too intimidated to say anything? Or would they have seen it and not given it a second thought?

Apparently old times there are not forgotten…

Yes, there are some nutty people in this world. Note that most people are not, at least in this case (emphasis added):