The Ignorant Little Man

I drove to Trenton, New Jersey this past weekend to attend a wedding in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. My wife wanted to get her nails done Saturday morning. I dropped her off and told her I was going to drive to Bordentown to take some new pictures of a statue of Thomas Paine. I had previously photographed the statue several years ago.

Thomas Paine

I parked my car around 10:00 AM, got out and started to take my first picture. As I was lining up my shot I heard a voice behind me say something like “that guy has been photographed an awful lot.” I turned around to see who was speaking. I was wearing an Obama 08 sticker on my shirt (instead of a button) and an Obama for President baseball hat that my brother-in-law had given me the previous night. The speaker was a short, older man about 65 or 70, carrying a tall walking stick with a small American flag attached to it. I think he was wearing a red hat. As soon as I turned he saw my hat and said,

“Aren’t you an American? Are you going to vote for that n*****?”

I was stunned and revolted. The words hit me in the face. I didn’t expect to meet someone so ignorant on such a beautiful sunny day in historic Bordentown, New Jersey. He continued walking towards the end of the street and I said, “I’m voting for Barack Obama. He’s ten times smarter than McCain.” He turned at the end of the street and walked back towards me. He pointed to Thomas Paine and said “Who do you think he’d vote for? Ronald Reagan.” I could have reminded him that Reagan was dead, but I didn’t. I said that Thomas Paine would vote for Barack Obama. Then the ignorant little man said, “and he’s a Muslim too.” I said, “No. He’s not.” The ignorant little man continued walking and turned down a side street. That is the last I saw of him. I was really angry. I continued to take some pictures. I took my Obama hat off and put it on Tom Paine.

Statue of Thomas Paine wearing Obama for President hat

That ignorant little man hates Obama because of the color of his skin. He has lived 65 or 70 years on this good earth and not learned a thing. Apparently, he hasn’t even really looked at the statue and read the inscriptions. Double click on the picture below to enlarge it.

Thomas Paine and Abolition of Slavery

Thomas Paine was among the first in America to advocate for the abolition of slavery. He too would have been deeply offended by the words of the ignorant little man. Read Paine’s essay African Slavery in America on ThomasPaine.org. The words of the ignorant little man are remnants of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow that still unfortunately echo through this great country. We have come a long way here in America, but there is still a long, long way to go. Too many people still invalidate another person simply because of the color of their skin. People are who they are because of what is inside them and how they treat their fellow man, not because of their skin color.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his inspirational I Have a Dream speech, ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We are not there yet. Dr. King was a courageous man. He was as brave as any soldier on a battlefield. He gave his life to free this nation from shameful behavior that divided it. This country is a better place because of him.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for president in 1931, he was rarely photographed in his wheelchair. It was thought that some people would not vote for a president with a disability. He was elected president four times and guided this nation through the Great Depression and World War Two. I bet that some people, if they had known he was in a wheelchair, would not have voted for him. FDR was the right man to lead this country in very dangerous time.

If you are thinking of not voting for Barack Obama because he is black, think again. If you are thinking of not voting at all because you live in a “blue” state and Obama is predicted to win, think again. Who knows how many ignorant little men are lurking out there. Get out there and vote.

I hope the ignorant little man (and all the other ignorant little men and women), forgets to vote.

America desperately needs someone who can lead us through this mess.

I’m voting for Barack Obama. You should too.

10 Responses to “The Ignorant Little Man”

  1. heyjude says:

    Great post. Blind bigotry is shocking to me, always will be. I’m sorry that your beautiful morning had such a blight on it. Most people are not that ignorant.
    Thank God. I am voting for Barak Obama and I’m glad you are too.

  2. Dave Roberts says:

    The question of who Thomas Paine would have voted for got me wondering. It seems I remember that he left the new world a frustrated and burned out man and lived out his life in England after a brief unhappy stint in France boosting their revolution. No? I even think he left here before the adoption of the Constitution and the right to vote for President was instituted. Perhaps if candidacies like that of Barak Obama were possible in those times he would have had reason enough to stick around. Perhaps that’s the fate of idealists (“The Rights of Man” not withstanding.)

  3. Howard Tedder says:

    Great blog. There was a crooked man that walked a crooked mile. But for democracy to work again I would volunteer to drive him to a polling place and let him cast his vote….his ignorant vote.

    These are the times that try men’s souls.

  4. Motherbitch says:

    Ignorant people are a pox upon the rest of the citizens of our great nation. Let’s hope that the ignorant little man that you encountered has a “moment of clarity” and changes his bigotted-ways. Or that he chokes on a chicken bone – whichever comes first.

    Racial relations/acceptance/tolerance, in general, have improved, but there are far too many ignorant holdovers from an earlier time. With any luck they will all have shuffled off the mortal coil before too long so a newer, wiser, younger, better educated generation can bring our nation closer to racial harmony.

    (Note; your post was so good that I’ll give you a free pass on the impassioned, but impossible to quantify “…ten times smarter..” remark.)

    Keep up the good work.

  5. Barbara Krisak says:

    John, What a great stroy; aptly titled, well written and good pictures and historical references. Why don’t you submit it to Newsweek for their column written by regular people; I forget what it’s called. I always thought Dad’s column was too light and that he didn’t take a stand on important things. Although, I realize that’s difficult to do, of course. But, we would have a better country if we all tried to do so. You have a beautiful little story about a very ugly thing; I hope more racism dies out with that generation. And, I hope enough has already gone to get Obama elected. It’s time to “pass the torch to a new generation of Americans”

  6. Irish Billy Briggs R.I.P always took the Irish politicans and immigrants alike to this statue and to the rest of the historical landmarks of Bordentown .I’m glad that he didn’t stumble upon this old geezer, as I think he’d have put him sailing on his rear down the river.
    Billy my soul mate grew up in Bordentown .He loved as a boy to sit in his boat and listen to the gospel music that came out of the African church ,that stood on the banks of the river there.I feel very sad indeed that you met this man who is dead inside.
    I stumbled by this article and I too hope O’Bama wins .

  7. John Tedder says:

    Maggie, thank you so much for commenting. I am sorry to hear that Billy passed away. It’s a small world. I know Irish Billy Briggs. My entire family has always enjoyed listening to him play his banjo and sing his songs. My father, who wrote Howard Tedder’s Random Notes in the Trentonian for many years, always enjoyed listening to Billy. For my father’s 65th birthday, they roasted him at Billy’s place on South Olden Avenue. I have spent a few nights at Tir Na Nog myself. I always enjoyed the Swinging Bob’s too.

  8. [...] Tedder presents » The Ignorant Little Man – Tedder’s Random Notes posted at Tedder’s Random Notes, saying, “Thomas Paine was among the first in America [...]

  9. RE Ausetkmt says:

    John
    You Are A Great American Patriot and I am PROUD To Have Read Your Blog; and to Know that WE Stand UNITED For OUR AMERICA !

    GOD BLESS AMERICA and Protect Barack Obama

    Thanks for Your Tremendous Contribution to the MLK 09′ Remember The Dream Blog Carnival. It will become a part of history, as it is added to the mlk wikipedia; and other mlk resources on the internet.

  10. [...] equality. We have come a long way since 1963. But we are not there yet. As long as there are ignorant little men, we are not there [...]

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