Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I'm Funky Fresh Yo! or Michael Steele Knows that You Got's to Rock Your Hat Backwards in the Northeast
Patrick Buchanan's facial expressions are priceless. Buchanan may be a bigot, but at least (in his defense) he is an honest one...and I wish I knew what Buchanan was thinking as he listened to Steele further embarrass himself and the GOP.
Lord, why couldn't the GOP look under a different rock to find a more credible "leader" for their party? Random thought: doesn't Michael Steele remind you of your old uncle who is trying to remain "hip" but is twenty years off with his clothing and slang? Second random thought: when I watch Michael Steele I can't help but think of John Witherspoon in Boomerang talking about "you got's to coordinate":
Any excuse to play some Paul Mooney is right by me:
Why not? We miss you Bernie:
Monday, May 4, 2009
Chauncey DeVega says--Not So Post-Racial: the True Colors of Whiteness as a Twenty-First Century Racial Candid Camera
Humor is subjective. What one finds funny another may find tasteless or despicable.
For example, I have always been partial to the Three Stooges and find their humor to be pure genius. My love of Redd Foxx and Cleavon Little is well-known. I also think that Woody Allen's Match Point is one of the greatest movies of the last two decades with its darkly comic and tragic sensibilities where a foul harpy ruins the well-ordered life of our cavalier protagonist. By comparison, some think that the Honeymooners is a tour de force of comedic genius, a standard in television yet to be matched. By comparison, I think that the Honeymooners is grating and tacky: I simply cannot watch Ralph Kramden, a boorish lout, verbally and emotionally abuse his wife, Alice. Simply, I find no humor in it. Of course, when we add in the complexities of race in a racialized society that is struggling with its efforts, however deformed and half-conceived, to move towards being "post-racial," the question of humor, and what exactly should or ought to be laughed at, falls into sharper relief.
The brewing controversy over True Colors, where race as the ultimate circumstance of both social unease and the source of American obsession meets the classic television show Candid Camera, speaks to this tension in rare form.
Should we laugh at mammy figures such as Tyler Perry's Madea, figures who channel no more than the most basic stereotypes and coonery? Historically, were Black elites correct to condemn such shows as Amos N' Andy, when the masses found the show funny and in many ways surprisingly empowering? Is it so wrong to laugh at J.J. Walker's character in Good Times? Is it shameful to laugh at black folks throwing a fit over Popeye's running out of fried chicken? Do we lose our "progressive" card when we enjoy "regressive" or "un-PC" popular culture? Is it so problematic that we sometimes find humor in those things, be it music, art, literature, movies, or the like that do not serve the best and highest standards of what we imagine ourselves as good, respectable citizens to be? And if we do so, should we heed the words of Mao ZeDong and pause for a moment of critical self-reflection?
Because humor and comedy are so normative and subjective, I prefer not to emphasize the how in these matters--I am less concerned with why something is funny to a given person, as opposed to why a person (or a society) finds some things, events, or circumstances worthy of humor (or not). This is a subtle but important distinction. Moreover, I ask myself, what does the fact that it is okay to laugh at certain things--and do not forget that this criteria is itself socially constructed and contingent on certain arrangements and understandings of what is "natural" or "normal"--tell us about a community's values?
In watching True Colors, I laughed. I will admit it. I laughed with great reservation and unease. I laughed with sympathy. I also laughed with surprise akin to "the didn't just do that, did they?" I also laughed knowing that what I was watching was utterly lacking in wit because of its obviousness. Nevertheless, some of the funniest things are in fact the most uncomfortable.
Consider the following clip:
Okay, a funny sight gag. Yes, the reactions are "entertaining." But just as in the first clip, why would they (the producers/the writers of True Colors) find it appropriate to use this comedic setup? What boundaries of decency do they dare not cross? Where is their internal self-censor, that little voice that says one should not cross a given line of propriety? That perhaps, it is not appropriate to stage a gag that plays on racial terrorism and murder.
Here is one of the dividing lines of race, one that remains (and will continue to) long past the post-racial halcyon days of Obama's first 100 days as president. Racism and white supremacy in this country have centered upon inflicting trauma on those deemed by convention, law, and practice to be outside of Whiteness. This exercise of power on the body and mind has also traumatized--psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally its victims--and yes, Whiteness has also profoundly damaged White people as well.
Of course, a victimized mass of undifferentiated blackness and browness is not all that we are, because to hold such a belief both erases our individuality as well as robs us of agency. For me, the fact that we have overcome so much speaks to our glorious struggle and steel-willed drive and perseverance. It also explains why I shudder with disdain and disgust when so many black Americans, young and old alike, display what is at times a chronic lack of race pride.
With this qualifier noted, the fact that the trauma afflicted on Black Americans can be used for comedic fodder says much about how the full range of our humanity goes unacknowledged in America and the West, and that there is a particular type of historical myopia at work in the heart of Whiteness:
The provincialism of the Whiteness on display in True Colors is one that is incapable of putting oneself in the place of the object of humor, i.e. perhaps, why wouldn't a black person find it funny to see a KKK robe in their doctor's office? The Whiteness on display in True Colors is also a demonstration of an almost pathological narcissism. Here, the world revolves around an unnamed, universal "I". The "I" of Whiteness need not empathize or sympathize with the Other because to not have to do so is the practical advantage that is White privilege.
In total, this may be the unbridgeable divide. For Whiteness, the idea that a Klan robe in a doctor's office may be terrifying because of the complicity of doctors in racist medical experiments on black people, is unacknowledged. Moreover, that there is strong evidence of systematic racism in the medical community which negatively impacts the quality of care that people of color receive by their health providers is ignored. Or that to show a black woman images of "beautiful" White women, and then to have her "boyfriend" consistently pick them over pictures of comparable black women may in fact be speaking to dominant, narrow, and exclusive norms of Eurocentric beauty?
In teasing out how these standards surrounding what is, or is not, fair game and terrain for humor, let us consider the following (not so) True Colors inspired scenarios. Ask yourself: is this funny? why or why not?
1. Instead of two black women discovering that their doctor is a member of the KKK, 2 aged Jewish Holocaust survivors look into their doctor's closet and see a German SS uniform. Funny or not?
2. At a mall, a black pollster asks a white couple if they wouldn't mind sharing their opinions about which men in a selection of pictures were handsome (or not). The wife in the duo is shown photos of naked, muscular, well-endowed black men, all the while indicating how she prefers those men to the comparatively scrawny and more "modestly" endowed white men she is shown in the companion photos. The husband is deeply hurt and offended. Funny or not?
3. Two parents with a son in Afghanistan are visited by an actor posing as an Army chaplain. Said person then informs the parents that their son was killed in a roadside bombing. The big reveal: their son is actually alive and safe. Funny or not?
4. A person applies for life insurance and gives blood to a nurse practitioner as part of the exam. After drawing the blood, the nurse tells the patient that the needle was previously used and that he may have been exposed to HIV. Funny or not?
What scenarios would you add to the list? And what does this experiment tell us about the Whiteness of humor?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Professional Wrestling Memories--Playboy Buddy Rose has Passed Away
Playboy Buddy Rose has left us for that wonderful squared circle in the sky. Playboy, you will be missed as you were a great hand worthy of much respect.
The old school is always the true school, be it in the arts, sports, politics, or any other of our human endeavors. While it is true that "I remember when" is the most banal of human conversations, but there is something to be said for the good old days in professional wrestling.
A random bonus clip that proves my point: Bruiser Brody, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, Stan Hansen, and Youngblood in a classic match. Who cares if the match is called in Japanese as this is one hot crowd as their enthusiasm is a Lingua Franca and Esperanto for fans of professional wrestling in all corners of the globe:
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Respectable Negroes Beware! The Popeye's Fried Chicken Shortage Has Unleashed the Proletariat Against their Social Betters!
Do you now see what the pent up energy that was released by Barack Obama's presidential campaign has wrought? To my eyes, it appears that these folks have had a transformational experience which has increased their sense of political efficacy. At present, the Popeye's crusaders don't have a proper outlet for their (now) activated sense of group consciousness. We as elites best be concerned as the masses rise up against us...a series of events ironically begun by a shortage of fried chicken.
Who would have ever predicted such a thing would come to pass? I say let them eat cake!...Or in this case, a Popeye's biscuit.
A bonus clip: more evidence that Popeye's chicken does indeed bring out the worst in people--
Chauncey DeVega says: Don't Get Between Black Folks and Their Fried Chicken or the Popeye's Fried Chicken Debacle
This clips speaks for itself. Some thoughts: how do all these Black folks afford huge SUV's in this economy? Are they leased or owned? What other items do said people lease instead of own outright? Televisions? Couches? Refrigerators? Do these parents show this much enthusiasm and drive in attending to the education of their children? Are they picketing and protesting outside of the local board of education in order to improve the woefully inadequate public schools in their communities?
Being provocative: are all stereotypes based in some degree of truth?
Being really provocative: where is Operation Push, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton? Is this a civil rights issue?
Ultimately, is fried chicken THE solution to game theory's coordination game/collective action problem, i.e. give black folks the prospect of some cheap Popeye's fried chicken and they will organize and work together towards achieving a given goal?
Update--An official response from the television station which aired this story:
Rachel Barnhart (13WHAM-TV)
Not because I don’t think it was a legitimate story. Customers called our newsroom wanting us to do the story about the chain running out of chicken after promoting a big special. They said the Lake Ave. location had long lines of cars.
When we went to the Lake Ave. Popeye’s, there were indeed long lines of cars. Some people took it in stride. Other people were downright angry. A few people made jokes.
The idea of people up in arms over chicken was pretty funny. I think saying the word “chicken” over and over again was funny, too. Some of the things the customers were saying were hilarious, especially the woman who said the store should have had a trailer out back filled with “chicken on ice.”
What concerned me about the story was the stereotype of black people liking fried chicken. Everyone in our story was black. We interviewed a dozen people. Even though the suburban Penfield location also ran out of chicken, and even though a whole lot of white people also like fried chicken, I was worried some viewers would think we were doing the story because of the stereotype. I was worried we were reinforcing or making fun of the stereotype.
I think the story was a story because it was a consumer issue, customers were upset, and some customers were even laughing. The conflict was just so – human. Would I have felt better about it if we talked to white people, too? Yes. Should we have gone to the Penfield store, too? Maybe. On the other hand, do we ever pause when our stories are filled with only white people? Not often - and that's sad.
I was comfortable with running the story. It accurately reflected what happened on Lake Ave. tonight. When I get upset at a business, I am the first person to express righteous outrage. That said, I wish I hadn’t put the story together at such a late hour, because I would have loved to make a bunch of calls to get more opinions on the stereotype issue.
The video of the story we ran is linked to this blog post. We took it down for a time as our newsroom debated this issue, but you probably need to watch it in order to have an opinion.
I'd really like to hear your thoughts. Be honest. Be thoughtful. Be respectful. Any hate language will be removed.
Criticism is often leveled at 13WHAM that we do not feature Black people or other people of color in our stories unless they are criminals. As a person of color myself, I am sensitive to this.
So, you can imagine my thoughts when I saw our report last night about two local Popeye’s running out of chicken and the mayhem that ensued. My gut reaction was that the story--although a legitimate consumer complaint—seemed to reinforce a cultural stereotype about Black people and chicken. I know for a fact that no one on our staff meant for that to be the point of the story, but the fear that we would be accused of this sounded an alarm to me. It’s sad that I even had to worry about this.
The story was what it was: customers, who happened to be Black, expressing anger about a heavily advertised special that ran out. Our job as journalists is not to “whitewash (sorry, no pun intended)” the news. We aren’t here to manufacture, make up, or tamper with what exists so we ran the story. In hindsight, I’m glad we did. Race aside, it is a perfect consumer story…and consumers have a right to be angry.
However, the report sparked a discussion in our newsroom about the way we portray people of color. I have to admit, we tend to overlook the importance of being inclusive in some of our reporting. Gay, Lesbian, Hispanic, Senior, and Physically Disabled people have opinions on any number of topics, yet we tend to only interview them in relation to stories that affect their specific groups. What’s the sense in that?
This conversation is ongoing and I’m so proud that we are able to have it.
What Would a Black Militant Say About Barack Obama's First 100 Days? An Interview with Brother X-Squared
WARNNN: Hello, it has been a long time since we last spoke. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed again.
Brother X-Squared: As always Brother Chauncey, I am here to bring the light to all those negroes who remain lost in the wilderness.
WARNNN: When we last spoke, you offered some powerful observations and predictions regarding Barack Obama's campaign. There you expressed your feelings that it wouldn't matter if a Black man were to be elected president, and you expressed great doubt that Obama would in fact win.
Brother X-Squared: That is correct.
WARNNN: As we approach the first 100 days of Obama's presidency, have you changed your feelings about Obama, and do you not think that his election is an amazing milestone for America?
Brother X-Squared: Does a wet dog bark loudly when he is woken up at night by a pigeon outside his master's window?
WARNNN: Excuse me Brother X-Squared? I am confused.
Brother X-Squared: You are always confused Brother Chauncey because the White man's tricknology has gotten your mindstate upset and out of balance. The answer is no and no! This is just part of the White man's master plan as I told you in October--elect a halfrican negro as quote unquote "president" and then you can say that White supremacy is dead. They played you Tom negroes, dumb White liberals, and Obamazombies. They are already doing it, did you not see that the Supreme court is poised to outlaw affirmative action--that little bone that massa threw you negroes--and that a recent survey says that you black fools don't think America is a racist country anymore? Damn, you all don't know how deep the White man's game is. The Tom Negro Coconut lapdogs for massa are playing 1 dimensional chess while the White man is playing that Star Trek, Mr. Spock 3-D chess. You foolish negroes can't possibly win.
WARNNN: I respect your points Brother X-Squared, but you don't think that given American's history that Obama's victory is not in fact a watershed event, an amazing event of Earth shattering proportions?
Brother X-Squared: Watershed? Lord, Brother Chauncey we need to get your mind detoxed. Watershed? How dare you use such a phrase. Water equals the oceans of the Middle Passage. Shed equals where slaves were brought to be tortured by the overseers. The Renewed Black Panther Party has so much work to do in order to free you mental slaves. Furthermore, you keep asking about these 100 days of his presidency? Don't you see how the White man is manipulating you again? 100 Brother Chauncey, 100! don't you get it?
WARNNN: No, I am sorry I don't.
Brother X-Squared: 100 million of us dead and gone in the Middle Passage! Every time the mainstream media talks about 100 they are dishonoring the Black man and mocking our suffering! This is deep, deep, deep, the levels of tricknology that are being deployed to subjugate the captive Black man in America. Minstrel-hop, Tyler Perry, BET, high fructose corn syrup, these Internets, saggin' pants, we the original Black man are in a war for our souls.
WARNNN: I will rephrase the question. Did you as a Black man not feel a little pride is seeing Obama's inauguration? Did that event open you to the thought that there is some hope for American democracy to make amends for its original sin of slavery, discrimination, and racism?
Brother X-Squared: Let me ask you a question?
WARNNN: Of course.
Brother X-Squared: Which president was Obama channeling during his speech and inauguration?
WARNNN: It was pretty clear that Obama was signaling to Abraham Lincoln.
Brother X-Squared: Exactly. This is political theater of the worst sort. Obama is really channeling Franz Fanon, his inauguration was on some Black Skin, White Mask nonsense. Here, we have a halfrican, "Black" man channeling the "Great Emancipator," a man who would have kept us in chains in order to preserve the Union, and who advocated sending us, the Black man who built this country back to Africa after we were "freed." Lincoln didn't love Black people, he tolerated us--barely. And, you have a President using that symbolism...along with "Southern Belles" marching in the parade? A bunch of getting Black folk lynched heifers and sluts, who loved to take a slave to bed and then throw him to the wolves because she wanted to get some of that Sycamore tree that her melanin challenged man couldn't give her, being "honored" in the inaugural parade. Damn, give me a break. Barack Obama as Abraham Lincoln is like tits on a bull--utter and total nonsense, an oxymoron. This is laughable, a not real Black man living in the White House, a house that itself was built by African slave labor.
WARNNN: Changing topics, how would you assess his first 100 days in office?
Brother X-Squared: Are you still Black and broke?
Chauncey DeVega: Yes, and?
Brother X-Squared: I told you that halfrican wouldn't do anything for you and that he wasn't some messiah, but you all fools drank the Kool-Aid nonetheless. Fools, fools, fools.
Chauncey DeVega: Please, answer the original question.
Brother X-Squared: You are always provoking me Brother Chauncey, but I will answer the question anyway. If Obama doesn't fix this economic mess he inherited, then Obama will be the first and last Black president. Again, the White man left this mess. Little Bush, Redneck Clinton, and Daddy Bush created this crisis. Now, Obama is left to clean it up. Those devils at the Federal Reserve, the IMF, and their peeps in the Illuminati, the Bilderbergs, and those other villains played Obama. They gave a Black man the job to further their ends...and to create a Black scapegoat for these problems.
Turn on your television, what do you see? Tea Parties. And we all know what tea parties really are, but that is a convo for another time. You have these dumb working and middle class White folk wanting to overthrow the government and denouncing Obama because a multinational, fascist company, Fox News, is telling them to do so. Dumb, stupid, White folk. They need to read some history to understand how the White working class has been played by rich White men. Again, if Obama don't fix this mess he inherited then he is going to be the last Black man ever in that White House. If he fails spectacularly, then they may round up us Black people and put us in camps. But of course, the pigs know not to confront Brother X-Squared and his Nubian warriors or they will lose--in grand fashion.
WARNNN: Brother X-Squared, I know that you have found at least one thing about the Obama presidency heartwarming. How about their cute puppy, Bo, that charming little dog that the Obama's kids love so much? You said that you love dogs in your first interview, you must be happy with cute, charming, Bo?
Brother X-Squared: Don't bring my four legged friends into this Brother Chauncey, cause you know you are on thin ice with that one.
WARNNN: No offense intended, but please answer the question.
Brother X-Squared: Understood. They even played you with that dog. Look at that canine: he is black and white. Bo is a mongrel! What about his name? Bo? A good old boy, racist name! Why didn't they call the dog Omar, or Shaka? hmmm...makes one think doesn't it?
Ultimately, Bo is mixed race and weak, just like his human daddy. And, they are socializing those beautiful children to accept race mixing. So sickening. To boot, Bo is a Portuguese Water Dog! Damn, again, the White man--the Kennedys gave the Obamas that dog--the Kennedys, those drunken, racist, Irish, rum runners who earned their Whiteness by hating Black people. This is so deep. Don't you see it, Brother Chauncey?
WARNNN: I am not sure.
Brother X-Squared: Think about it--Portuguese and Water. The former were one of the foremost slave traders. Water is how they killed us. The White man gave Obama a living symbol of the ways that White supremacy enacted power on the body of the Afro-Asiatic Black man. Everyday in the White House a slave catching dog that symbolizes AmeriKKKa's hatred of the Black man is sitting at the feet of a "Black" president. Lord above, help my people.
WARNNN: Per our tradition, at the end of our interviews we ask you to tell us something we don't know. What would you like to share.
Brother X-Squared: Swine Flu.
WARNNN: Huh? Please clarify.
Brother X-Squared: The Swine Flu is proof of my prophetic vision. This pandemic encapsulates everything I have warned you about. It was unleashed by the White man onto a Black president. I will even bet you that it was made in some laboratory by an evil White scientist--you will see. And to boot, damn this is so so so deep, the Swine flu, that dirty pig--we can never forget the role of that beast in all of this--is a result of race mixing, just like Obama! The Swine Flu is a combination of human, avian, and pig flu strains. You see, God above didn't want all this race mixing, and now it will be your undoing! I mock your stupidity, those of you who have not had your eyes opened by the knowledge that I am bringing you.
WARNNN: You are always an amazing guest Brother X-Squared. Will we be hearing from you again?
Brother X-Squared: Absolutely.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Random thought: do any of you who are teachers or professors secretly wish that you could talk to/motivate your students this way?
Second random thought: should this soldier be given the title of honorary respectable negro?
A bonus: a "motivational" clip from the criminally underrated Boys from Company C:
Saturday, April 25, 2009
WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - An unusual new flu virus has spread widely and cannot be contained, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Saturday.
"It is clear that this is widespread. And that is why we have let you know that we cannot contain the spread of this virus," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters on a conference call.
The strain of swine flu is suspected of killing as many as 68 people in Mexico and infecting more than 1,000 more, including eight in the United States. (Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Patricia Zengerle)
Am I the only one who has been thinking about the movie 12 Monkeys as the swine flu outbreak seems to be taking on the markers of a global pandemic?
Is this life imitating art imitating life?
Damn It, Why Did Madonna Constantine Think of This First! And where is My 200 Million Dollar Noose? or It is Time for a Respectable Negro Flashback!
Oh nooses, we love you so--get the dark irony? We posted on this last year, and as we do by tradition--here is a respectable negro flashback!
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, on the 200 million dollar lawsuit for unlawful termination and harassment by Madonna Constantine (i.e. the Columbia Teacher's College professor who found a noose on her door in an incident purported to be fabricated as a means of justifying her removal).
Madonna Constantine Strikes Back
by John L. Jackson
Former Teachers College Professor Madonna Constantine became (in)famous last year. More than once.
The first time was because of the hubbub that ensued after she found a noose attached to her office door. The finding turned into a national news story about hate speech and resurgent public displays of racism. Then people began to speculate that she had actually hung the noose herself as a way to deflect from an ongoing investigation into allegations of plagiarism made against her. The noose was found in October of 2007. The investigation was announce in February 2008. And Teachers College fired Constantine three months later.
Just this week, the plot has thickened (as some might have imagined it would). Constantine has filed a lawsuit against her former employer for ruining her reputation. Constantine’s attorney claims that they have proof of her innocence, even speculating that the evidence vindicating Constantine was purposefully ignored by Teachers College in an attempt to justify ousting her.
Of course, Teachers College intends to fight Constantine’s suit, and the school admits to no wrongdoing, calling her suit “baseless.”
I still don’t know how to make sense of this case. It gets glossed as one person’s disingenuous attempt to inoculate herself from critique by using the protective cover of racial sympathy, as an example of taking the so-called “race card” to completely new heights.
I’ve always refused to believe that Constantine put that noose on her own door, even as I admit that the ordering of public events do easily fit such a cynical scenario. But the reality of American life is more complicated than a “gotcha” melodrama about one person’s conniving attempt to short-circuit contemporary justice with recourse to part of racism’s historical iconography, the proverbial lynching noose...
The story continues here.
Black to the past, or is that the future?
Chauncey DeVega says: I Couldn't Resist...Beware the Attack of the Nooses
I cower as I write this. My Zombie Survival Guide, and my SAS Survival Handbook have some valuable tips for dealing with this type of calamity. But, I fear the information they impart may not help me survive the attack.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Through the Looking Glass--Fox News' Unhinged, Irrational Obama Attacks Stir up Violent Right-Wing Militants
Courtesy of Alternet:
Imagine if Fox News had been on the air back on February 28, 1993, just months into the new Democratic president's first term, when agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms attempted to serve warrants on David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound, located on the outskirts of Waco, Texas. Agents arrived because federal authorities got a tip that Koresh and the followers of the misguided messiah were stockpiling weapons.
The authorities were right. Outgunned, ATF agents quickly met resistance from the Davidians, who had a .50-caliber rifle, machine guns, and more than a million rounds of ammunition at their disposal. The shootout lasted hours and became the longest in American law-enforcement history. In the end, four ATF agents were killed, and 16 were wounded. Inside the compound, five Davidians were killed and scores more injured, including Koresh, who was shot in the hip and the wrist. The gunbattle signaled the start of a 51-day standoff between Koresh and federal authorities.
Rupert Murdoch's all-news channel didn't debut in America until October 1996, but it's chilling to consider the what-ifs of how today's Fox News lineup of doomsday, anti-government prophets would have reacted to controversial and defining news events in the early 1990s -- like Waco.
As news of the failed Waco raid broke, would Fox News' notoriously weepy and apocalyptic host Glenn Beck have broken down on the air and wept for the tyranny that he saw unfolding in the government's raid? While FBI negotiators tried to win the release of Koresh's followers, would Beck have warned viewers that the president would "take your gun away one way or another"?
Amidst the 51-day siege, would Beck have warned against the creeping "totalitarian state" inside America? Would the host have gravely announced that we'd "come to a very dangerous point in our country's long, storied history"?
Would Beck have routinely vilified President Clinton as a fascist? Would he have told viewers that he wanted to debunk the militia-movement conspiracy theory that the federal government was building prison camps, but that he just couldn't knock the story down -- and that, at first glance, it appeared to be "half true"?...
the complete article can be found here.
Again, my motto:
Do they know what They created?
Today is a good day, even if I can't help but be a little dark:
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Oh well, any excuse to share the message of the mayor of Blacktown.net is a good one--he seems to be in an especially cantankerous mood on this video. Maybe the mayor needs more fiber?
I was sad, now I am happy again...this brother is a source of endless laughter (and he is right about Oprah).
Are you ready for a Pastor Manning bonus? I am. Question, is it right to pray to God that Obama walks out of the White House and forgets to put on his pants? Isn't there some prayer bylaw against such motions?
Did you know that Obama's tax cuts are to blame for an increase in drug use among black people? So says Pastor Manning:
Lord have mercy!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Who Wins When a Samurai Fights a Viking? or Spike TV's Newest Show, Deadliest Warriors
You know you are getting old when the shows you fantasized about as a child are now being made. To point: Spike TV's Deadliest Warriors. This fun show pits history's most archetypal combatants against one another in computer generated combat. Now, I am not generally a fun of counter-factuals, i.e. "what if scenarios?" because outcomes are a function of a specific time and place. Here, weapons are a function of necessity and the practical challenges one has to overcome. And, how can one decide who the deadliest warrior is in the modern context, where individuals are supported by other assets (be it artillery; air power; long-range intelligence and surveillance)? Moreover, how does one decide who actually "wins" without including the heart, drive, and personality of each warrior in the equation.
Nevertheless, the show makes for great viewing and should be required for all ghetto nerds. Be advised, the first two matchups are a bit controversial. The first show's featured matchup was between a Gladiator and an Apache Scout--an odd pairing, but the show was exciting and well executed. The second, and here is where this ghetto nerd gets upset, featured a Samurai versus a Viking. My people the Samurai won (of course), but a more classic matchup would have been a Knight from the high Medieval period versus a Samurai--this would have been one hell of a thing to see. The third episode features a Ninja versus a Spartan Warrior. I will not ruin the outcome, but will only say that a standup fight between a Ninja and any adversary is outside of the very utility and essence of what a Ninja did/does embody.
These observations hint at the brilliance of the show--late night bar conversation between armchair historians about something that never happened. Quintessential ghetto nerdness.
Here is an episode guide and a featured clip:
1. Greatest military leader? Greatest warrior?
2. Should Ike have rearmed the Germans after World War 2 and under Patton unleashed the Allied Army on the Russians? Who would have won?
3. Other matchups: Delta Force versus Navy Seal Team 6; British Royal Commandos versus U.S. Marines; Gurkhas versus the Isreali Special Forces; a Mameluke versus an Aztec warrior. Your picks?
4. F-15 verus Su-27?
5. Technology aside, is the Abrams series of main battle tanks the best in history, or does that title go to the T-34?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
What is Wrong with Black People? Who is this Sad Soul? Katrina Pierson, What Has Gone So Wrong in Your Life for You to Believe Such Things?
Lord; God above; JC; Allah; Yoda; El Elyon; Elohim; Jehovah; Most High; the Creator; He who watches over me when I do really stupid stuff and you still got my back and protect me from the consequences of my actions and deeds, I pray for this sad soul. Crom do you hear me?
Is it a coincidence that her name is Katrina? And, am I so foul as to state that there are so many reasons for "us" to hate ourselves, does it not hurt when one of "us" takes the bait? Fittingly, from the Wikipedia entry on Black Skin, White Masks:
In this study, Fanon uses psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory to explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world. He speaks of the divided self-perception of the Black Subject who has lost his native cultural originality and embraced the culture of the mother country. As a result of the inferiority complex engendered in the mind of the Black Subject, he will try to appropriate and imitate the cultural code of the colonizer. The behavior, Fanon argues, is even more evident in upwardly mobile and educated Black people who can afford to acquire the trappings of White culture. Originally formulated to combat the oppression of black people, Fanon's insights are still influential today, being utilized by various groups such as the Palestinians, the Tamils, African Americans and others, and used in their struggle for cultural and political autonomy. Fanon presents both historical interpretation and underlying social indictment.
Most High, the God I pray to when I am in the most dire of circumstances, am I wrong to imagine that she would be the sort of "sister" to star in an inter-racial porno movie as she is defiled by a group of White men, who all the while hurl the most worst racial epithets at her while she begs for more? Why do I feel bad for her, all the while why she doesn't feel bad for herself? And take note of "White" versus "white," lest one complain (because long time readers know that I am a big fan of race mixing).
Shall she suffer discommendation? I so want to kick her out of the tribe, shall we?
"In the mid-1700s the English captain of a trading ship that made runs between England and the Virginia colony fathered a child by an enslaved woman living near Williamsburg. The woman, whose name is unknown and who is believed to have been born in Africa, was owned by the Eppeses, a prominent Virginia family. The captain, whose surname was Hemings, and the woman had a daughter. They named her Elizabeth.
So begins this epic work named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times. Annette Gordon-Reed's "riveting history" of the Hemings family, whose story comes to vivid life in this brilliantly researched and deeply moving work. Gordon-Reed, author of the highly acclaimed historiography Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, unearths startling new information about the Hemingses, Jefferson, and his white family. Although the book presents the most detailed and richly drawn portrait ever written of Sarah Hemings, better known by her nickname Sally, who bore seven children by Jefferson over the course of their thirty-eight-year liaison, The Hemingses of Monticello tells more than the story of her life with Jefferson and their children. The Hemingses as a whole take their rightful place in the narrative of the family's extraordinary engagement with one of history's most important figures."
Annette Gordon-Reed is a professor of law at New York Law School and a professor of history at Rutgers University. She is the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy.
2009 PULITZER PRIZE FOR GENERAL NONFICTION: “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon. A precise and eloquent work that examines a deliberate system of racial suppression and that rescues a multitude of atrocities from virtual obscurity.
"Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries, and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of “free” black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery."
Douglas A. Blackmon is the Atlanta Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal. He has written extensively on race, the economy, and American society.
Monday, April 20, 2009
What Would the Over/Under be on a Fight Between the President of Iran and the Clowns at the UN Racism Conference?
Since, I nodded to Chavez, why not send Mahmoud Ahmadinejad some love too--love being that he is a real character who brings out the best and worst in people.
Clowns and nooses? Can someone help me understand the symbolism at work here?
But, Ahmaninejad is no fool, so don't sleep on him.
To cite: Ahmaninejad's interview on 60 Minutes where he owns George Bush:
We haven't done this in a long time. How would you caption this photo? I have two wholly unrelated caption suggestions:
1. Damn, Obama that is a nice cut you got. Can Wali fly down here and give me an edge up?
2. Chavez to Obama: Brother, don't take any IMF money to finance your bailout, their terms are worse than a payday loan.
3. Not a comment, but a musical cue--would the soundtrack for them giving each other dap be, Wu-Tang's "Triumph"; Jay-Z's "Can't Knock the Hustle (the remix)"; KRS-One's "Can't Wake Me Up (I'm a Blunt Being Smoked)"; Dre and Cube's "Natural Born Killaz"; or Biggie's "Real Niggas Do Real Things"?
Why not? This is one of the boldest, ballsy, hard body moves I have seen in a long time--Chavez calling Bush out at the United Nations:
Do you smell the sulfur?
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Glenn Beck Discovers How to Mine Poorer Black Folk as Fodder for His Populist Project or Welcome to the Glenn Beck Negro of the Moment Telethon
I won't judge the parents in this video--I will leave that up to you.
Compassionate conservatism in action? Is Glenn Beck a friend of working class and lower middle class black folk? Is this exploitive? Is this the mirror of liberal guilt? Am I wrong for this setting off so many levels on my B.S. detector? What is next, a Glenn Beck meets Jerry Lewis help poor folk of color marathon? ("Real Americans, you too can sponsor a poor American colored child!") Will Glenn Beck start his own version of Jesse Jackson's, Operation Push? Wait a second, that would actually be priceless...
And how long will it take until this Right-Wing populism descends into a let's eliminate the Department of Education screed...oops, I guess it already has if you watch the entire episode on Fox.
One thought: notice how Beck rails against money being the solution to poor schooling, but he interviews children who are actually victims of a disadvantageous funding scheme, one that is based upon an inherently unequal cut of property taxes as the basis for how public schools get their monies. As one of my White teachers in college said, if suburbanites really don't think that money matters in education ask them to send their kids to an underfunded, inner city school--then see what said parents response to that proposition is.
When I see Beck in this mode, he reminds me of Maury Povich: someone who feigns empathy all the while he holds a deep disdain, and an utter lack of empathy, for his guests:
Am I being unfair?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Updated--Chauncey DeVega says: Sometimes White Folks Do Indeed Make Me Sad--America's Racial Id On Full Display at "Patriotic" Tea Bag Parties
Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post:
The present again demonstrates a historical truth that the not so hidden underbelly of Right-wing populism is indeed White supremacy.
Update: I guess the tea-baggers have the poor White trash vote sewn up!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Updated--Let's Play the Conspicuous Negro Game! or One Black Fool Who Loves Him Some Tea Bagging...You Know There is Always One In Every Crowd
I was looking for the conspicuous negro--my own version of Where's Waldo--amongst the April 15th tea baggers (with a hope that I wouldn't find one). Alas, why must there always be one person of color willing to play poster child and pet for these Right Wing demagogues?
This lost soul was seen tea bagging outside the Bristol, County Courthouse in Bristol, Tennessee...Tennessee? one would think that being from the South he would know better.
Quick thought: doesn't he look like Apollo Creed from Rocky IV? Second thought: how many times will Fox News show this mascot as a way of insulating the April 15th "protesters" from the charge of being a group of right-wing, populist, racists?
Update: We have a second conspicuous negro amongst the sea of tea baggers. Doesn't he look like Tiger Woods' doppleganger? Are the tragic mulatto Canablasians actually fluffers for the tea baggers. And notice the smiling white guy in the background who feels like a good person because the crowd is "integrated"...thus alleviating his guilt.
Two bonus pics:
Why did they have to bring Homey the Clown into their xenophobia and racism? Don't these people have any decency? Aren't some things just off limits? Where will this end? Who's next, Mr. T?
Social science in action--the masses are indeed asses it seems--two irreconcilable issue positions held at one time (increasing spending, while cutting taxes).
It is a Tea Bagging April 15th! But When Are We Going to Have a Hot Carl for Glenn Beck Festivus for the Rest of Us?
It is tea bagging day! Are you celebrating this most wonderful of holidays by attending a tea bagging rally in your hometown or are you instead tea bagging at home with a loved one?
I must ask, what is next? A Cleveland steamer protest? A hotbox for Obama day? A give Congress a Dutch rudder march on Washington? A Cincinnati Bow tie for freedom? Maybe what the Right-Wing crowd really wants is for Obama to donkey punch them? Are the April the 15th tea baggers also playing their rusty trombones at the protests?
Sorry, I just couldn't resist...
I propose that as a counter protest all sensible folks sign a petition in order to inaugurate a new holiday--A Hot Carl for Glenn Beck Festivus for the Rest of Us. Has a ring to it, does it not?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Anti-Barack Obama Threat Pyramid: Homeland Security on Increased Alert for Right Wing Domestic Terrorists in the Age of Obama
Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean someone isn't actually after you...
When the government itself is releasing this information--an unclassified report no less--it does make one wonder what threats against Obama, our national security, and the common good that we are not privy to.
A quick question: If the unthinkable were to occur, would the Right-Wing media take ownership and admit any level of culpability or responsibility?
A choice excerpt from the Washington Time's piece "Federal Agency Warns of Radicals on Right"--
The Department of Homeland Security is warning law enforcement officials about a rise in "rightwing extremist activity," saying the economic recession, the election of America's first black president and the return of a few disgruntled war veterans could swell the ranks of white-power militias.
A footnote attached to the report by the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines "rightwing extremism in the United States" as including not just racist or hate groups, but also groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority.
"It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration," the warning says.
The White House has distanced itself from the analysis. When asked for comment on its contents, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said, "The President is focused not on politics but rather taking the steps necessary to protect all Americans from the threat of violence and terrorism regardless of its origins. He also believes those who serve represent the best of this country, and he will continue to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and benefits they have earned."
The story continues here.
Monday, April 13, 2009
In this case, my call: you got my back? The response: hell yeah. The resolution: perfect.
Thus, I bring forth a guest post from one of our respectable negro allies, Wernor Herzog's Bear--someone who you all should be paying much closer attention to (if I do say so myself).
As we used to say re: Golden Age hip hop, this one is highly quotable:
In this installment of my series on the recent abuses of history in the right wing media, I'd like to address Glenn Beck's recent conflation of the American Progressive movement with fascism. The word "fascism" has long been rendered bereft of meaning due to its abuse by ideologues on both the Right and on the Left, but Beck and the far Right are now taking this abuse to another level. As I've already discussed in terms of Jonah Goldberg's atrocity of a book, the conservative attempt to call modern liberalism "fascist" rests on a giant raft of lies, distortions, and laughably facile connections. The moronic chain of reasoning usually works like this: Hitler wanted to limit smoking and so do liberals, and thus liberals are fascists. (Goldberg actually makes this connection in his book, believe it or not.) According to this logic, the American Lung Association must be staffed by a bunch of monocled, jack booted SS men.
We can take a similar example of distorted, willfully misleading reasoning in Beck's program last week. He tries to connect public anger towards the banking CEOs who ruined our financial sector with the situation in Russia before the Bolshevik Revolution, as if resentment and criticism of the wealthy is inherently Communist. Really Glenn? Here's a quick quiz, and try to guess who wrote or said the following quotations, answers provided below.
1. "The money power preys on the nation in times of peace, and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy."
2. "All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man's own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came."
3. "It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.”
1. Abe Lincoln 2. Tom Paine 3. Andrew Jackson
I am most upset, however, at Beck's smearing of the Progressive movement and associating it and FDR with fascism because they expanded the role of government, contradicting Beck's "strict constructionist" worldview. (Although I'm not sure how waging an unprovoked war to change another nation's system of government fits into a limited view of the government's role.) Yes, what a bunch of horrible people those Progressives were, advocating things like child labor legislation, the ability for workers to organize, clean food and drug laws, lessening the power of political machines, the direct election of Senators, a more equitable taxation system, breaking up monopolies, and giving women the right to vote. How awful for them to respond to tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire, where 146 women perished when they couldn't escape, by making factories provide unlocked fire exits. How dare these fascist Progressives put such onerous restrictions on a business' right to make money! Shouldn't women like Jane Addams have just stayed home and made babies instead of providing education to the poor of Chicago and helping to found troublesome organizations like the NAACP? That's what Glenn Beck's intellectual godfathers would have told her to do. They also opposed all of the political causes that I mentioned above.
Now, I would be the first to admit that the Progressive movement had its flaws. It could take an elitist attitude towards the people it claimed to help, it did relatively little to address the oppressive racism of the early twentieth century, and some prominent Progressives like Margaret Sanger subscribed to eugenics. Beck tries to use this latter fact to make one his many facile connections between fascism and Progressivism, since Hitler believed in eugenics as well. I don't want to excuse eugenicists of any political stripe, but all the same, eugenics was a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, and Hitler represented a particularly extreme and racist understanding of it. Most eugenicists wanted to limit the ability for certain "undesirables" to reproduce, but did not want to euthenize the mentally and physically ill (a ala Hitler), nor did they believe in the propagation of a "master race." Based on Beck's reasoning, Eisenhower would be a fascist for building the Interstate Highway System, because he was inspired by the German Autobahn.
Furthermore, when Beck tries to make "judicial activism" a Progressive tactic, he forgets that the courts in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era continually gave corporations the rights of individuals under the Fourteenth Amendment. Using a "strict constructionist" interpretation of contract law, they struck down all kinds of legislation regulating work hours (which could be 12-14 hours a day at that time) and child labor as limits on the "right of contract." At least "judicial activists" like Earl Warren used their power to overturn segregation rather than endorse it (as turn of the century jurists had in the infamous Plessey decision.)
Of course, through all of his rantings, Beck and his minions use the word "fascism" without understanding what it actually means. Fascism is a very particular political ideology, it is NOT merely a system with an authoritarian leader or a single political party. Here is a useful definition from historian of fascism Robert Paxton:
"a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."
Other historians have crafted their own definitions of "generic fascism," but all point to extreme nationalism as the key ingredient. That being the case, labelling the avowed internationalist Woodrow Wilson a "fascist" actually calls him the OPPOSITE of what he really was. And is there anyone on the American scene these days pushing an "obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimbhood" more than Beck, who keeps telling his audience that they need to "take their country back" from shadowy elements? Beck's show is a veritable cavalcade of militant nationalism, singling out an amorphous "them" that is to blame for America's problems, a "them" that somehow includes America's enemies in World War II, modern day terrorists, and supporters of Barack Obama's agenda. Is there no more obnoxious cult of unity than the anti-immigrant monoculturalism spouted by his fake, distorted Tom Paine actor? I wouldn't call Beck a fascist, but his paranoid style, messianic nationalism, villification of "them," and implicit endorsement of extralegal violence makes me very uneasy.
And as long as Beck is playing the game of political genealogy, I think it's time to put his intellectual forbears under the microscope. He likes to connect his worldview to that of the "Founders," abusing the image of men like Thomas Paine in the process, but his brand of conservatism had many supporters in the 1930s. Even though he likes to compare FDR and his supporters to Nazis, they actually wanted to get involved with World War II in order to arrest fascism's spread. (Hence Woody Guthrie's famous "This Machine Kills Fascists" sticker and leftist Charlie Chaplin's satire of Hitler in The Great Dictator.)
The radical Right of that time, however, shared fascism's obsessive hatred of Communism, rampant paranoia, and even its noxious anti-Semitism. Henry Ford, that captain of industry and entrenched opponent of organized labor, was an avid reader of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion who maintained his business in Nazi Germany even after World War II began. The Beck of that era's radio waves, Father Coughlin, mixed "we surround them" populism with praise for Hitler and Mussolini and a healthy dose of anti-Semitism. In fact, FDR's most virulent opponents hatched a secret plot to overthrow him in a military coup, which begs the question, who are the fascists here?
Beck wants us to "learn from the past," but he spews forth an ideology that calls for America to return to the very Gilded Age miseries that the Progressive movement rescued us from. We've tried radical free market ideology in the past: it failed in the nineteenth century, it failed during the Roaring Twenties, and it failed more recently in the form of a financial collapse brought on by irresponsible deregulation. Like Plessey, unregulated slaughterhouses, "trusts," and male-only suffrage, Beck and his misbegotten ideas ought to be swept into the dustbin of history.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Glenn Beck, the April 15th "Tea Party", and Other Nonsense that Makes Me Want to Throw Up in My Mouth
We have something special planned regarding this Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Right-Wing, April 15th tea bagging, militia, seditious, race baiting nonsense in the near future.
For now, I am rendered speechless and I just may throw up in my own mouth:
Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: The Thrilla in Manila, Ali and Frazier, and the Politics of Memory
HBO is airing a great special this weekend on the rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. This documentary, Thrilla in Manila, is exciting and noteworthy because it presents the epic battles between these two men from the under appreciated, and little spoken to point of view of Joe Frazier.
As I have noted many times, Muhammad Ali is one of my personal heroes. But, many forget how complicated and conflicted Ali the man, as opposed to the myth, actually was.
As the great book Ghosts of Manila details, Ali could be cruel, selfish, and mercurial. Thus, Ali-Frasier was so powerful a rivalry precisely because it was so intensely personal. To that point, Ali (as he also did with Foreman and Liston) was able to present himself as the "authentic" black man, while he portrayed his opponents as "Uncle Toms." Ironically, Ali trafficked in some of the worst racial stereotypes to demean his opponents, when in fact, Ali was much more privileged in his childhood and upbringing, and in this imaginary more "White", than either Liston, Foreman, or Frazier.
Not surprisingly, given that his show routinely features some of the most honest and real conversations about race in this country, this past week Howard Stern had a great discussion about the politics of black authenticity in the Ali-Frazier rivalry.
Some quick thoughts. One, while funny at the time, I would suggest in hindsight that there was indeed something pernicious and foul in Ali's calling Frazier a "gorilla" and a "monkey." Two, did you know that Ali spoke to a KKK rally where he reiterated their shared commitment to racial separatism? So, was Ali a hero or a villain? Or was he a little of both? Who was the real hero of the Ali-Frazier rivalry? Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali?