Recently, during a news conference on the city's trash woes, she said that Harrisburg's recycling would not be open to "some scumbag from Perry County".
It touched off an explosion. The story, Mayor Linda Thompson's 'scumbag' comment causes firestorm, by Emily Previti, PennLive.com, March 28, 2013, has a sidebar that looks like this:
Some background: Harrisburg is half-black, and Perry County is almost all-white. Unlike other neighboring white counties, Perry has a redneck reputation—and in fact, you will see trailer homes, cars on blocks, Confederate flags, and enough camouflage to cover a mountain.
Thompson's comment was racial. She meant to poke a stick in the eye of working-class whites. Never mind that her constituency of, ah, non-working blacks has no cause to throw stones. It's the new hierarchy—crime-committing, welfare-collecting blacks may be low, but they're one rung above poor whites.
The episode revealed a few data points in America's shifting racial landscape. For one, reaction from Perry county was swift and overwhelming. A few protestors even came down with signs. Politicians from county commissioners to congressmen denounced the remark.
At the same time, we witnessed the increasing boldness of the black politician's anti-whiteness. Whether it's trash or guns, it comes down to race for blacks. When will whites cross the line between an implicit and an explicit response?