• Stephan Garnett

Walker's Clowning Recalls Bygone Era


Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker's cartoonish behavior could have landed him Hollywood roles in the 1930s.

I couldn’t help laughing out loud while I watched Stepin Fetchit do his routine. Or was it Willie Best? Or Mantan Moreland? Oh, wait a minute.

It was Herschel Walker!

You’ll pardon me if I confused Walker, who’s currently running for a Senate seat in Georgia, with some of the most famous -- or should I say infamous -- Black buffoonish character actors of Hollywood’s classic era. After all, there’s little difference between the shuckin and jivin before White authoritarian figures I’ve seen Fetchit or Best or Moreland perform on the screen, and what Walker does before his conservative and more-than-likely racist audiences in Georgia.

But there actually is a contrast. Those old-time Black performers were indeed performers. They were paid to act like fools for the gratification of largely White audiences, who had certain negative perceptions about Black Americans, and they wanted those perceptions confirmed after they’d purchased their theater tickets and settled into their seats with their bags of popcorn.

“Yassuh! Here I comes, boss! Feets don’t fail me nah!”

Ah, how satisfying it must have been to sit back in a darkened theater and see these “Negro” men behave like cowardly, brainless fools for big laughs (and very big bucks). But I thought those days had passed. I thought that in these enlightened times of the 21st century, that when it came to Black elected officials, we were much more likely to be familiar with someone like Walker’s opponent.

That’s Raphael Warnock, a seasoned politician and the first African-American to represent Georgia in the U.S. Senate. He’s a Morehouse cum laude graduate with a Doctor of Philosophy, and the pastor of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, the same church Martin Luther King Jr. pastored.

Warnock has already capably represented his Georgia constituents as a Democrat, one of only three African-Americans to currently serve in the Senate. In that capacity, Warnock has been instrumental in passing a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, fought for women’s reproductive rights, sponsored an Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act, supported LGBT rights, opposed voting restrictions, supported voting reforms and has advocated for a progressive agenda.

But that didn’t sit well with Georgia’s archly conservative right-wing Republican voters. They wanted their own Black man to push a restrictive agenda that abolishes abortion, vanquishes voting rights, demolishes LGBT reforms, and generally sends the United States back into the Dark Ages.

So, they dug up Herschel Walker, a former NFL running back and Heisman Trophy winner, who some people say was hit in the head so often that it’s left him dumber than a sack of snails. Yes, after a long career on the playing field, it is certainly possible that Walker might be suffering from a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

It’s also very likely that Walker is just plain stupid! Want proof? Here are some of his comments concerning such serious topics as the environment:

“We, in America, have some of the cleanest air and the cleanest water of anybody in the world. Since we don’t control the air, our good air decides to float over to China’s bad air.”

Or evolution:

“If man evolved from apes, why do we still have apes?”

Or Critical Race Theory, abbreviated as CRT:

“I’m sick and tired of them wanting to teach CTR in school. Critical Race Theory, can you tell me what that means?”

Or on being addressed by the racist term “coon:”

“They not even smart enough to know that a coon is one if the smartest animals in the kingdom. So, if you gonna call me something, call me by a dumb animal.”

Did you get that? If you want to racially insult Herschel Walker, call him an ostrich.

And over the past week, matters for Walker have only grown worse. It turns out that the man who has criticized Black fathers for not looking after their kids has three illegitimate children. And the man who wants to restrict abortion rights for women, even in the case of rape or incest, has paid for an abortion. And the man who preaches “family values” once put a gun to his ex-wife’s head.

This all comes not long after it was revealed that Walker lied about graduating from college, lied about his academic achievements, lied about working in law enforcement, lied about being an FBI agent, and, according to his son, Christian, lied about being a devoted father.

But has any of this diminished his support among Georgia’s most ardent Republicans? Nope! Apparently not! They’re rallying around him, some of them are even “praying” for his redemption. You see, these days, folks, when it comes to GOP candidates running for governmental office, it’s not about quality; it’s not about character. It’s about winning, and winning at all costs, no matter how terribly flawed the candidate.

Should I even mention Marjorie Taylor Greene?

Georgia deserves far better representation and has it with Raphael Warnock. But it’s very possible that Walker could win his way to the Senate. The race between Warnock and Walker is uncomfortably close.

In a way, Walker’s winning a Senate seat wouldn’t just be a misfortune for Georgia, it would be for Walker.

Had he been born just a few decades earlier, he could have gone off to Hollywood and made millions being an uproarious clown on the big screen.

And I’d have surely preferred that to witnessing his embarrassing antics on the floor of the United States Senate.