Bring on the noise

Why the hecklers heckle, and why Bill Keever's gotta go now

If there's two of you, well, one's a fraud.
Taylor, however, presented a most eloquent apologetic for the Malcolm in her.

"I love you," Taylor said, "but I don't love you enough to let you walk on me. And I'm not gonna walk on you. But if you walk on me, I'm gonna come at you, and I'm not gonna stop.

"I understand your people," she added. "Bill Keever is a hogger like everyone else. He wants prestige. Bill Keever only believe in one thing--his laws."

Taylor is one of the more candid individuals I've met, and it was obvious she didn't give a hoot about what people think of her. After graciously asking my permission, she stuck a plug of tobacco in her cheek and regularly spat into a glass jar, even as our conversation veered off into a long discussion of theology.

And, believe it or not, theology plays a role here.
Black Americans are, by and large, people who reverence the Word of God. Their cultural reference point was, and remains, the Bible.

But an enormous shift in thinking has occurred in the last three decades among many blacks who identify themselves as Christians, and Taylor exemplifies it. The Jesus she prefers, by far, is the man who grabbed a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the temple, upending tables, flinging their filthy shekels onto the floor. Extend that attitude to today's racial politics, and the implication is obvious. People use it to justify the commingling of love and violence.

It doesn't matter that the Jesus who appears in just about every other passage of the New Testament preaches humility and expounds on the law of love.

Time out for that mushy stuff, Taylor said. These are the Nineties, and this is Malcolm's world. She should know--Taylor said she spent 10 years with JFK's War on Poverty. She also organized social programs in the South for both blacks and whites during the King era.

"Martin Luther King Jr. was totally nonviolent. But when they was throwing eggs and stuff, Sister Girl was jumping up and down," she recalled. "The Bible says the meek will inherit the earth. But do you really want the earth? Jesus Christ was only meek when it was necessary. I'm not gonna come out and start something, but if you don't want peace, so be it."

From there, Taylor shifted, without apology or pity, to talk of race wars.
"You rest assured--it could blow bad," Taylor said. "There's chaos now, and it's gonna get worse, because the Word [of God] said it. How can it not get worse?"

When that time comes, I said half-jokingly, I guess I'll be praying for the resurrection of Martin.

Fat chance of that, Taylor said.
"Some of your people ain't did nothing--some of them been nice," she said. "But at the same time, they refuse to come forward and say what's not right."

As I got up to leave, Taylor pulled a transistor radio into her lap and tuned in to Talk Back--the John Wiley Price show, already in progress.

When I drove home in the rain last week from Bryan Manor, my thoughts turned again to the hecklers' nemesis, poor Bill Keever.

Be a man, I thought. Step aside--right now. Know when you're not wanted, know when you've ceased to be an asset. Sure, it isn't fair. In the face of extraordinary opposition, you gave your time selflessly. Well, kind of. We know you had greater political aspirations, but pity you because they've so obviously taken several giant steps backward.

Clearly, Keever wants to stick it out till May, when his term as board president comes to its scheduled close--he wants to show those hooligans that they can't run him out of office. He wants to be the suffering antihero, proving how he's got it under control after all.

But any efforts to prove a point, at this juncture, are counterproductive for the entire district--and that goes for the hecklers, too.

The unfortunate truth is that Mr. Keever is inept, culturally and otherwise. It's something the misguided white folks from North Dallas who've begged him to reconsider resigning don't understand, perhaps because they haven't seen him in action, or don't pick up on his ethnic miscues.

Keever is no bigot, however; neither was Sandy Kress. Bigotry is an act of the will, and Keever's problem goes deep into the subconscious. From my limited observations, he seems to personify something white people never like to talk about, let alone acknowledge: that feeling of personal superiority that virtually all white Americans have received as their dubious cultural inheritance. You know he sits there thinking that if he departs, the children will play and ultimately tear down the playhouse.

It is a sensibility that chafes unbearably against something black people never like to talk about, and that this batch of protesters would never acknowledge: the false, ingrained suspicions of inferiority that are their cultural inheritance.

These respective diseases of the soul, of course, will not be affected by the changing of board presidents.

But there's one thing for sure about Keever's tormentors--the hecklers and protesters who've disrupted so many board meetings. They do what they do not only out of frustration, but because they can get away with it. They know that when they play their little games of provocation, Keever almost always takes the bait. The media, in turn, are only too happy to broadcast every bit of DISD's street theater.

That's entertainment, I guess, but it's also tragedy in the making.
So all you hecklers, stay home. Pull the curtains on this embarrassing sideshow.

And Keever, give it a rest. The white man's world won't fall apart without you.

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