In this case, in the wake of Barack Obama's impressive victory on Tuesday night, Burnette changed his facebook status to "all the hunters gather up, we have a #$%&er in the whitehouse." Upon learning about it, UT coach Mack Brown immediately kicked Burnette off the team for a "violation of team rules." Given that Burnette has to practice against any number of premiere defensive linemen who are African-Americans, Brown's decision not only sends a strong message that hate and racism won't be tolerated by the Longhorns and protects Burnette's health.
Where someone gets the notion that this kind of vitriol is acceptable to think, let alone express, is beyond The Common Man. As if Barack Obama were not already a target of hate groups and nutjobs, this kind of idiocy only highlights that racist attitudes have been internalized and normalized in virtually every culture and subculture in the U.S. Every region and every walk of life. Fortunately, the public attention that Burnette's post has generated is an opportunity to highlight and combat these racist attitudes.
As for Burnette, he has been contrite. On his Facebook site, he wrote
"Clearly I have made a mistake and apologized for it and will pay for it. I received it as a text message from an acquaintance and immaturely put it up on facebook in the light of the election. Im not racist and apologize for offending you. I grew up on a ranch in a small town where that was a real thing and I need to grow up. I sincerely am sorry for being ignorant in thinking that it would be ok to write that publicly and apologize to you in particular. I have to be more mature than to put the reputation of my team at stake and to spread that kind of hate which I dont even believe in. Once again, I sincerely apologize."
While it's important to note that it's not just not ok to write it, it's not cool to think or believe that either, Burnette has done all in his power to make it clear he knows he was wrong. And it's entirely likely he grew up in an environment where these jokes were both accepted and prevalent. And given that he's 19 or 20 year old kid who thought a sick joke was funny, The Common Man doesn't want to pile onto his problems. Clearly, his punishment has been severe and he has been chastened. Hopefully, he will use the opportunity to interegate his own beliefs to better understand them, speak out against the kinds of statements he made, and use this time to focus on self-improvement.
Perhaps that is the best The Common Man can hope for at this point, meager though it seems. Racism has the power to ruin all of the lives it touches. Buck Burnette is learning that the hard way, but, on the bright side, he's learning.
Addendum: If Obama is smart (and by now, you know he is), here's what he'll do. He'll call Texas coach Mack Brown and ask the coach to reinstate Burnette after the season's over. After all, Burnette is more valuable in the fight against racism if he can remain active and in the public eye, and tell his story both to kids and the media. And Obama can earn easy points with UT fans. Not enough to win in Texas in '12, of course, but at this point, it's a move that costs him exactly nothing in political capital and would make him seem more acceptable to conservatives.