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"What if ---------- were owned by a bunch of black people?"

Are there racial overtones to the dispute over a Philly Easter icon?

Given the fascination with the Bundy Ranch among a certain type of Attytood commenter (I'm sorry...I just don't get it, personally), I wonder how many folks read this piece the other day by Jamelle Bouie at Slate. It was called (hence the headline at top), "What if the Bundy Ranch were owned by a bunch of black people?"

Here's an excerpt:

Finally, I can't help but wonder how conservatives would react if these were black farmers—or black anyone—defending "their" land against federal officials. Would Fox News applaud black militiamen aiming their guns at white bureaucrats?

Somehow, given the degree to which right-wing media traffic in racial paranoia, I think we'd be looking at a different situation if the Bundy Ranch belonged to a bunch of black people. And as someone who closely follows the regular incidents of lethal police violence against blacks and Latinos, I also wonder whether law enforcement would be as tepid against a group of armed African-Americans. Judging from past events, I'm not so sure.

I basically agreed with that piece when it ran a couple of days ago, and I thought about it again this afternoon when I tried to sift through the comments in the city's shutting down Kensington's iconic (heh) Blasius Chocolates at the height of the Easter season, over the issue of unpaid taxes. Look, I don't know enough of the facts of the case (the city says that Blasius has failed to pay taxes repeatedly and owes $12,000, while the owner says he should be exempt from use-and-occupancy taxes for the six months a year he's not open) to say who's right or who's wrong.

But I do know this. Whenever I write about the Philly schools, for example, the comments section gets flooded with the same complaint: The schools would be fine were it it not for all the "deadbeats" who owe hundreds of millions of back taxes to the urban hellhole that is the city of Philadelphia. So as you can imagine, those folks are back today applauding the Nutter administration for getting tough on tax delinquents...finally. didn't think I was serious, did you?

No, instead the comment militia is rallying behind Blasius Chocolate much as folks rallied behind Cliven Bundy a few days ago. What's the deal? It seems like in some cases, folks have the same problem with a city Hall that has an African-American in charge just as some of the pro-Bundy crowd are suddenly worried about big government with an African-American in the White House. Why would I engage in such racist speculation? Because that's exactly what some folks are saying.

"[T]he owner dared to challenge the city run by the brothas and sistas," one wrote. Said another: "If this guy is a white guy entrepreneur creating a few jobs, it's a no-brainer: shut him down." Meanwhile, the people I always see complaining that the city is failing because of "deadbeats" seem to have disappeared today....maybe they're off for Holy Thursday. Look, it's fair to debate the city's tactics (and also the owner's) but when I read the tone of what people have to say today, and when I think of what folks normally say around this joint, I have to invoke Jamelle Bouie and wonder aloud:

What if Blasius Chocolate were owned by a bunch of black people?