Malaka Of The Week: Keith Bardwell

I was undecided about who the malaka of the week would be until late Thursday afternoon. But not because there was any shortage of candidates: there never are, malakatude is ubiquitous. This week’s “winner” hails from Hammond, Louisiana, which is not far geographically from New Orleans but exists in a sort of time warp; especially Tangipahoa Parish Justice Of The PeaceKeith Bardwellwho grabs the brass ring of malakatude this week. Here’s why this hitherto obscure functionary gets the nod:

A Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a
marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any
children the couple might have. Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in
Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial
marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that
way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and
piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my
bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

Piles and piles of black friends? That’s an unfortunate image, it evokes bodies stacked like cordwood. Well, at least they get to pee indoors before getting stacked in piles. Some of my best friends are _____ is also, of course, the classic bigot’s answer.

Apparently, Mr. Bardwell has been doing this for years but he finally turned down the wrong couple. I guess he’s never heard ofLoving v. Virgina, which is the 1967 case wherein the Supremes ruled that the state could not say “stop in the name of love” to interracial couples. Okay, I promise not to make that joke again: the Warren Court struck down Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law and the legal walls came tumbling down as it were.

It’s amazing how this shit keeps coming back over and over again. Just when we think we’ve made some progress, some peckerwood pops out of some hole and reminds us how stupid and evil people can be. I’m sure Mr. Bardwell doesn’t think he’s evil; he’s “protecting” children from having polluted and mongrelized genes.

I’m particularly interested in this story because I wrote a paper for a legal history seminar in law school about Louisiana’s anti-miscegenation and racial classification laws. It was both an enlightening and appalling experience. The Gret Stet had some very elaborate racial classifications: quadroon, octoroon to name but a few. In the end, however, it didn’t matter because one drop of black blood made one inferior in the eyes of the law and society. The laws have changed for the better but some people like Mr. Bardwell haven’t kept pace with the times. Life as well as mores move at a snail’s pace in Tangipahoa Parish, which of course sounds like a somewhat racy place but is not. Some day I’ll learn to resist punning. Nah…

Mr. Bardwell’s open defiance of the law and eagerness to share his reasoning with the press makes him a classic malaka. Cluelessness and malakatude often go hand in hand and I suspect that Bardwell will be shocked by the reaction to his actions (inactions?) and by what he’s saying to the press in justification thereof. I’ll let Injustice of the Peace Malaka have the last word:

“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a
marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t
help put them through it.”

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

Cross-posted at Adrastos.


20 thoughts on “Malaka Of The Week: Keith Bardwell

  1. Dear racists:
    Hurry the fuck up and die already. Apparently, the rest of us can’t move on with society until you either let go of your bigoted beliefs or die, and frankly I’m not holding my breath on the former.

  2. He can’t be racist. He lets black people use his bathroom!

  3. I’m sure he will lose his license soon. People like this make it harder for the rest of us in Louisiana. There’s no denying that bigotry still exists Louisiana, especially in smaller towns, and it is such a shame. I think the problem pretty much boils down to the problems with education. It’s hard to fight in the smaller towns because many of the ‘good jobs’ do not require much or any education (e.g. oil field), and subsequently education is not highly valued. However, I’m sure most people in the state will agree that what this guy is doing is wrong and would support his license removal.

  4. He’s seriously stupid. That interview is going to make his life miserable. The story has hit the front page of the Times-Picayune. The local/regional press seems to have gotten scooped by the AP. I’ll check the BR paper online when I get to work.

  5. Perhaps the saddest thing about this is that this guy may sincerely believe he’s not a racist. (Btw, the article appears to be a little confused, because JP’s don’t actually issue marriage licenses; the county clerk issues them, and the JP signs after officiating at the marriage.) Is JP an elected or appointed position down there?

  6. Everything’s elective in Louisiana. A slight exageration but Bardwell is elected.
    You are correct that clerks issue licenses but it’s obviously still illegal for him to refuse to marry these folks. They may be new to Hammond and not know about Bardwell.
    I also think you’re right: this guy doesn’t think he’s a racist.

  7. That little triangle of Louisiana above Lake Maurepas between Hammond and Baton Rouge and northward into Mississippi is kind of an historic epicenter of Klan activity. Not surprising that this buy believes it would be difficult for an interracial couple living there.
    I’m sure he doesn’t believe he’s a racist either. In his mind, I’m sure he’s just being practical. Call it a blue dog approach, if you must.

  8. Does this douche who thinks he is doing it for their future kids, because apparently no one will accept them, realize Obama had a white mother? Too bad we live in a world that our own President can’t even find a culture to identify with.

  9. Athenae,
    If he were a racist, he’d still have seperate colored water fountains and bathrooms. Racism ended with Brown vs. Board of Education.
    He shows his great, enlightened, urbane attitude by letting blacks sit at the front of the bus.

  10. I wonder what he’d make of me and my boyfriend. Me: Pale enough to trace through, blue eyes, brown hair. Ancestry: Ukranian and British isles. My boyfriend: Pale enough to trace through, green eyes, dark auburn hair, English accent, slight resemblance to Ho Chi Minh. Ancestry: English, Portuguese, Thai.
    Not everybody who’s “mixed-race” is part-black, and not everybody who evenis part-blacklooks it. (So, if a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white-skinned legal Negro marries a black woman, does this guy think that’s a mixed marriage, or not?)

  11. Hahaha @ Chris R
    Yeah, apparently he believes that white people allowing black people to use their bathrooms is some sort of progress. Why would he even include that in his interview?! So odd.

  12. As one of those “poor children of Mixed Blood”, life has been pretty good, well not when my step-mother learned that my Nother’s family has way more of the dreaded tainted blood than just that one single drop that disqualifies thee for actual inclusin in the Human Race. Or is that the “Cracker” Race?

  13. Dear Lord, Heavenly Father, I’m giving this to you… I know that as hurtful as this story is for some of us to hear, somehow…through your loving plan, this shocking thing being exposed will become a blessing to many. Amen. Mary Coppin

  14. I, too, laughed like a hyena when I saw his “I let all my Negro friends come in and even use my bathroom” comment. I mean really, what kind of backwoods hick town is he in anyway?

  15. I gave up thinking of anyone in terms of race a long time ago. If you look at the ebb and flow of history, just about everyone on the planet has had their bloodlines mingled through war/conquest/migration at some point. Some more than others, to be sure. But what it comes down to is that we are a planet of “mutts”. There are very few if any pure bloodlines left in existence. Maybe the Ainu of Japan or the Aboriginals of Australia come close, due to their long-term isolation from the wider world, I don’t know for sure.
    People should just get over this whole concept of racial heritage and the especially heinous concept of “racial purity”. All it does is give rise to bigotry wherever it rears its’ head.

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