Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Donald Trump Turns into the Gobbledy Gooker During the First Presidential Debate Against Hillary Clinton

Last night Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met in their first presidential debate of 2016. I predicted that Trump, the madman carnival barker professional wrestling villain would defeat Clinton. I was wrong. Moreover, I am very happy and pleased to have been incorrect in my prediction. Hillary Clinton destroyed Donald Trump.

In keeping with how politics is professional wrestling, Trump's first debate--and his obvious lack of preparation and political knowledge--reminded me of the epic fail known as the Gobbledy Gooker. 

For the uninitiated, the Gobbledy Gooker, was a character and storyline dreamed up by the (then) World Wrestling Federation in 1990. Over the course of several weeks, a large amount of anticipation was generated in response to a mysterious egg that would hatch at that year's Survivor Series pay-per-view event. Children waited with anticipation. Adult fans were confused but intrigued. The egg would hatch and a man dressed as a turkey would emerge. It was a horrific moment that highlighted everything wrong with the WWF's product at the time. The Gobbledy Gooker remains a source of self-loathing humor among serious fans of professional wrestling to this day.

In this bizarre election season I am very suspicious of initial takes which suggest that Trump has somehow been defanged. Who knows how the polling numbers will play out over the next few days and weeks? But for now, and once and again, Trump has been exposed as the Emperor without clothes. But will it have any great impact on what is already a presidential race that against all odds and commonsense is entirely too close for comfort? I worry that it will not. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Conversation with Professor Whitney Strub About Right-wing Sex Panics, Newark, and Film

Professor Whitney Strub is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. He is an Associate Professor and Director of Women's and Gender Studies at Newark College of Arts & Sciences and University College-Newark. Whitney is also author of the books Perversion for Profit: The Politics of Pornography as well as The Rise of the New Right and Obscenity Rules: Roth v. United States and the Long Struggle over Sexual Expression.

In this week's episode of the podcast, Whitney and Chauncey discuss Right-wing moral panics and toilet obsessions, local film culture and Newark, porn and sexuality, traveling down Route One and stopping at adult bookstores, the great film Cruising, and the politics of sexuality, gender, and race. 

During this week's podcast, Chauncey updates folks on his travels, tells a story about his 12 hour trip from Chicago to New Haven, encountering a white racist Trumpthuglican TSA agent, and his mother's eccentricities. Chauncey also makes some predictions about Monday's presidential debate between Trump and Clinton and offers some comments about police thuggery in Tulsa and Charlotte. 

This episode with Professor Whitney Strub can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show
 is available on Itunes and at Stitcher

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The hard truth about Terence Crutcher and Tulsa: What kind of white person do you want to be?

If America were a song, the killing of unarmed black people by the police would be a standard chord progression or rhythm, the sort of indistinguishable background noise that you hear so often you might not even notice it anymore.
On Friday, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a 40-year-old black man named Terence Crutcher had car troubles. The police approached him. Crutcher responded by putting his hands in the air. The Tulsa police used a Taser on Crutcher. A Tulsa police officer, Betty Shelby, then shot him dead. They left him bleeding in the street for almost a minute before rendering any aid. The incident was recorded on video.
Crutcher had committed no crime. He was unarmed. He was a motorist in distress.He was driving home from a music-appreciation class at a local college. This street execution took less than 30 seconds.
Several months ago, I decided that I would no longer watch videos of black people being killed by America’s police. These images have become a type of pornographic violence, a new digital-era version of lynching postcards. I know all too well what dead black bodies look like. To be repeatedly exposed to such images is psychologically unhealthy.
And yet how could I ignore Terence Crutcher? So I made an exception. I was not surprised by what I saw. Lynching postcards and photographs were a way to circulate images of white-on-black racial terrorism with the goal of intimidating an entire community of people. The contemporary images of Terence Crutcher, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Laquan McDonald and many others do much of the same type of political work.
Over the last several years, I have written many dozens of essays about police thuggery and abuse against black and brown Americans. I have even developed an open-letter format to that end. How’s that for macabre efficiency? Every one could start this way:
Dear America’s police:
Please stop killing black men. I am a black man. Police have threatened and harassed me while I was doing nothing wrong. I do not know why you hate people like me so much. I have no criminal record. I hope that you will reflect on your behavior and subsequently do a better job of stopping the foul, horrible, and criminal behavior that routinely takes place in white communities all across these United States.
Those in denial about the war by American’s cops on people of color will say they are “shocked” by what is quite common. White denial — perhaps most so when embraced by people of color — is one of the bedrocks and cornerstones of white supremacy.
As I would tweak, modify and update this with specific, horrific details to fit a given circumstance, I would be reminded that I was ultimately making both a plea and a demand to the white reader. Black people — especially black men — are not monsters — yet somehow the white gaze all too often and immediately defaults to such a conclusion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Killing Keith Lamont Scott: The Kerner Commission Report and the Charlotte Uprising

On Tuesday, another black man was shot and killed by America's out of control police. In Charlotte, 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott was sitting in his car when he was approached by an undercover police officer. He supposedly exited his vehicle with a gun in his hand. The police continued to assail him. Scott was then shot dead by officer Brentley Vinson. Like Scott, Vinson is also a black man. Keith Lamont Scott was sitting in his car waiting for his daughter. She would later record a video on Facebook where she expressed her grief and shock at the police killing of her father.

Keith Lamont Scott was innocent. He had committed no crime. North Carolina is an "open carry" state where the possession of a firearm is legal and is not supposed to be a death sentence. The facts are very much in dispute in the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott. Witnesses report that he was "armed" only with a book. The police say he was "armed and dangerous."

There were protests in Charlotte as denizens rebelled against another instance of police thuggery and violence. Police and protesters were injured. In all, this cycle of police thuggery and violence against people of color is a track stuck on repeat. Racial battle fatigue is real. What are we, black and brown and white people of conscience to do next?

There will be a tedious cycle of hand-wringing, talking heads bloviating on the TV, and "think pieces" that try to find something new to say about the state sponsored violence against non-whites that is a fixture of American society since before the Founding.

As I often say about these matters, ain't much new in the game. There is no need to invent a new solution, craft a new diagnosis, or to pretend that the problem of police violence and urban rebellions are at a all new. Read the Kerner Report. It was all detailed there almost fifty years ago. How much farther along would we be as a country if we followed its suggestions?


The summer of 1967 again brought racial disorders to American cities, and with them shock, fear and bewilderment to the nation.

The worst came during a two-week period in July, first in Newark and then in Detroit. Each set off a chain reaction in neighboring communities.

On July 28, 1967, the President of the United States established this Commission and directed us to answer three basic questions:

What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again?

To respond to these questions, we have undertaken a broad range of studies and investigations. We have visited the riot cities; we have heard many witnesses; we have sought the counsel of experts across the country.

This is our basic conclusion: Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.

Reaction to last summer’s disorders has quickened the movement and deepened the division. Discrimination and segregation have long permeated much of American life; they now threaten the future of every American.

This deepening racial division is not inevitable. The movement apart can be reversed. Choice is still possible. Our principal task is to define that choice and to press for a national resolution.

To pursue our present course will involve the continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values.

The alternative is not blind repression or capitulation to lawlessness. It is the realization of common opportunities for all within a single society.

This alternative will require a commitment to national action—compassionate, massive and sustained, backed by the resources of the most powerful and the richest nation on this earth. From every American it will require new attitudes, new understanding, and, above all, new will.

The vital needs of the nation must be met; hard choices must be made, and, if necessary, new taxes enacted.

Violence cannot build a better society. Disruption and disorder nourish repression, not justice. They strike at the freedom of every citizen. The community cannot—it will not—tolerate coercion and mob rule.

Violence and destruction must be ended—in the streets of the ghetto1 and in the lives of people.

Segregation and poverty have created in the racial ghetto a destructive environment totally unknown to most white Americans.

What white Americans have never fully understood—but what the Negro can never forget—is that white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain, and white society condones it.

It is time now to turn with all the purpose at our command to the major unfinished business of this nation. It is time to adopt strategies for action that will produce quick and visible progress. It is time to make good the promises of American democracy to all citizens—urban and rural, white and black, Spanish-surname, American Indian, and every minority group.

Our recommendations embrace three basic principles:

To mount programs on a scale equal to the dimension of the problems;

To aim these programs for high impact in the immediate future in order to close the gap between promise and performance;

To undertake new initiatives and experiments that can change the system of failure and frustration that now dominates the ghetto and weakens our society.

These programs will require unprecedented levels of funding and performance, but they neither probe deeper nor demand more than the problems which called them forth. There can be no higher priority for national action and no higher claim on the nation’s conscience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Again. On Behalf of the (late) Terence Crutcher‬ and Other Black Men Both Dead and Still Alive: Dear America's Police, Please Stop Killing Us

Another black man has been executed by America's police. A broken record. Again, these incidents are not outliers or bugs. These killings are America's cops doing their "jobs" as new age slave patrollers. The newest victim of America's out of control killer cops is Terence Crutcher. Tulsa police street executed him for the crime of having a broken car. They shot Terence Crutcher less than 30 seconds after encountering him on the side of the road.  

Terence Crutcher is the newest victim of America's thug cops. I do not want to rewrite my earlier letters about innocent and unarmed black men killed by America's new age slave patrollers. The narrative is the same. Simply swap out the names.

Please stop killing us. I know this won't happen. I must continue asking. Others will transform the request into a demand.

My form letter:
Dear America's police: 
Please stop killing black men. I am a black man. Police have threatened and harassed me while I was doing nothing wrong. I do not know why you hate people like me so much. I have no criminal record. I hope that you will reflect on your behavior and subsequently do a better job of stopping the foul, horrible, and criminal behavior that routinely takes place in white communities all across these United States. 
Those in denial about the war by American's cops on people of color will say they are "shocked" by what is quite common. White denial--perhaps most so when embraced by people of color--is one of the bedrocks and cornerstones of white supremacy.
What more is there left to say? This is all a rerun and broken record.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Donald Trump May be a Ghoul, But Mike Pence is Far More Dangerous

During an interview last Monday with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence refused to describe Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke as “deplorable.”
He said, “I’m not in the name-calling business.” Pence continued, “We don’t want his support and we don’t want the support of the people who think like him.”
Following a meeting with House Republican leaders the next day, Pence again refused to describe David Duke as “deplorable.”
This was not an error. Pence’s refusal to call an unapologetic white supremacist such as David Duke “deplorable” is a strategic choice and message.
It is one that David Duke and his ilk heard loud and clear. Duke explained to Buzzfeed that:
It’s good to see an individual like Pence and others start to reject this absolute controlled media. The truth is that the Republican Party in Louisiana — I received the vast majority of Republican votes for United States Senator before and for governor before that in my state. The truth is the Republican Party is big tent. I served in the Republican caucus. I was in the Republican caucus in the legislature. I had a perfect Republican voting record. It’s ridiculous that they attack me because of my involvement in that non-violent Klan four decades ago.
It is true that 2016 is the political year of Donald Trump.
He has dominated the American corporate news media with at least $3 billion in free coverage. Trump is a fascist who has normalized a type of nativist, racist, bigoted, misogynistic and juvenile politics that is usually confined to the margins of the country’s public discourse.
Trump is a political performance artist who is remarkably entertaining: As a reality TV star and student of professional wrestling, Trump is an expert at the staged and spectacular event. His political rallies are “safe spaces” for violence, rage, vitriol and hatred. In all, these events are human zoos and political rodeos for angry white Americans who feel that they have lost “their country” and yearn to “make it great again.”
It is also true that Trump’s candidacy represents a nadir in modern American politics. It is Mike Pence and what is signaled by his refusal to describe Duke as “deplorable,” however, that has the potential to do the most harm to the country in the long term.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Donald Trump, the GOP, and Paradoxes of Race and Class in America

The brilliant and much missed Stuart Hall famously observed that "race is the modality in which class is 'lived.'"

In this political moment where superficial, lazy, and under theorized analysis and claims that "economic insecurity" is driving support for Donald Trump (hint: it is not), Hall's incisive comments on how race and class intersect remain essential. 

In the last few days and weeks, there have been a series of pieces online that have also tried to explore the connections between white identity politics, race, and class--with varying degrees of success--which are worth reading.

They include:

Politico's "What's Going on With America's White People" has a solid conversation with several excellent scholars and analysts (including the authors of the two new books "White Rage" and
"White Trash"). It is noteworthy because Politico's piece, for the most part, does not let the lazy "economic insecurity" canard go uninterrogated. 

To get the best understanding of American society, life, and politics do look abroad. The Guardian's piece on the paradoxes of white identity politics, "small government" and Trumpism is great writing. It also reinforces how the (white) masses are very much assess in America.

Mark Dudzik, writing at the excellent First of the Month, gives a sharp accounting of his first hand experience with the problematic intersections of "diversity," white identity politics, and the neoliberal order during his time as labor organizer.

Any other pieces to add to this list or other examples of sharp and smart writing to share?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Philosopher Henry Giroux (Finally) Gets Some Shine at Rolling Stone

Philosopher Henry Giroux has a featured interview at Rolling Stone. He is one of the most important and critical voices in this time of trouble and tumult. Dr. Giroux is also a friend of the website and the podcast The Chauncey DeVega Show. His episode can be found at this link.

Dr. Giroux's work on critical pedagogy, neoliberalism, the culture of cruelty, necropolitics, and the surveillance society has been a great influence on my own thinking and writing. When I write, give talks, or engage in other acts of public pedagogy, I think of myself as trying to "show my work" and improvising around a melody. As such, I want the reader/listener to see my foundational assumptions and the veins of thought that inform my argument. Unfortunately, I am (re)discovering during this election season that too many members of the chattering classes and punditry do not hold themselves to that most basic of standards. To wit. There was another moment last week where I read a a piece in a journal of record, shook my head, and said, "damn folks love to 'echo' my work, but they most certainly do not love to give me a citation."

In all, the spectacle and human zoo of the 2016 Trump election season has featured much bloviating but very little critical analysis by the Fourth Estate and the corporate news media. This is not a surprise given how Trump's meta game has broken an already corrupt and illegitimate American news media ecosystem. We should still be concerned even if the problem is an obvious one.

A question. Besides Dr. Giroux (who the mainstream 24/7 cable news media is deathly afraid of) and Noam Chomsky (another person who is on the same enemies list) what other critical voices are currently M.I.A. or persona non grata at places like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and the other mainstream news media outlets? In a perfect world who would you like to see more of?

Monday, September 12, 2016

He is Graded on a Curve: White Racism and a Cowardly News Media are Keeping Trump Close to Hillary in the Polls

 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a former United States senator and secretary of state with decades of experience as a public servant. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a real estate developer and reality TV star. He has never held public office. According to new national polling data on the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton and Trump are in a virtual tie. How did this happen?
There are many reasons. Primarily, both candidates are viewed negatively by large segments of the American public. The U.S. economy has also experienced a relatively anemic recovery (in terms of wages and wealth) from the Great Recession of the George W. Bush years.
Furthermore, the American electorate is highly partisan and polarized. As Election Day in November approaches — and despite whatever misgivings voters may feel — it is much more likely than not that a given individual will solidify their support for their political party’s chosen candidate.
These foundational factors have combined to create a close presidential race.
The American news media, much of it owned and controlled by large corporations, has also played a significant role in keeping Hillary Clinton within reach of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is an atypical presidential candidate who has utter disregard for the standing norms of American politics and even less respect for the Fourth Estate. This has allowed him to outmaneuver and manipulate many journalists and pundits. They feel beholden, or perhaps enslaved, to norms of “objectivity,” “fairness” and “balance.” Trump feels no such limitations. 
By some estimates, the American media has given Trump at least $3 billion worth of free coverage. The 24/7 cable news cycle and the media’s corporate culture have fueled an obsession with creating a “horse race” and a willingness to massage, distort and misrepresent events in order to sustain that narrative. For example, the media continues to manufacture “scandals” about Clinton’s emails while ignoring or underplaying Trump’s misdeeds, from the buying of political influence and various documented acts of political corruption to his encouragement of election tampering by a foreign power, his questionable business practices and other instances of unethical behavior.

Friday, September 9, 2016

A Conversation with Dr. Monnica Williams About Race, PTSD, Identity, and Mental Health

Psychologist Monnica Williams is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show. She is a practicing clinician, educator, and expert on issues related to race, trauma, identity, and mental health. Dr. Williams is the author of numerous articles in leading research journals and has been featured by The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Huffington Post as well as other publications. 

In this week's episode of the podcast, Monnica and Chauncey discuss race and mental health, questions of identity, and racial disparities in health outcomes. Dr. Williams also shares her great insights on how race impacts the diagnosis of mental disorders for African-Americans and gives some wisdom about coping mechanisms, the black church, and how people of color learn to process trauma.

During this week's podcast, Chauncey celebrates his birthday, shares his favorite Star Trek episodes for this, the 50th anniversary of the original series, and then gives advice to someone who wants to have a threesome with her husband's mistress.

This episode with Dr. Monicca Williams can be downloaded from Libysn and also listened to here.

The Chauncey DeVega Show
 is available on Itunes and at Stitcher

The Chauncey DeVega Show can now be found on Spotify as well.