Monday, June 15, 2009

We Call Bovine Scatology on Fox "News": Did You Know That James Von Brunn was a Liberal? We Didn't. Glenn Beck's New Low, Part One

Anti-negro? no comment...

Glenn Beck's nonsense knows no bounds. I was so dumbfounded by this argument that I could not catch my breath as I choked on the bile that rose up from my stomach as I watched this garbage. Luckily, one of my people was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver and thus saved my life. Courtesy of one of our favorite guest bloggers, Werner Herzog's Bear, we now proceed to open a can of whoop ass on Glenn Beck. Let's form like Voltron (I have always wanted to say that) and take care of business:


When go you go into the political sewer, how can you get any lower? When you abuse the image of Tom Paine, turning a proto-socialist, cosmopolitan, Deist into a ueber-capitalist, nativist, Bible thumper, how can you distort history even more? Glenn Beck knows, since he recently claimed on his show that the Nazis were a Leftist movement, a statement as preposterous as "Woody Hayes was a Michigan Wolverines fan" or "Ronald Reagan was a Trotskyite." In short, it is the exact opposite of the truth.

If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that Glenn Beck will spout the most obscene lies possible to prop up his misguided vision of the world. As a historian, and especially as a scholar of Germany, I feel that I simply cannot let this go without comment. Not only is Beck committing crimes against the historical record, he is doing so in order to distort the nature of the tragic killing at the Holocaust Museum this week.

Since the claims of Beck and his guest are so outrageous, I'll deal with them in bullet points. Here are just a few of the reasons that the Nazis were a product of the extreme Right, not Left, in Germany:

-The various strands of ideology that fed into Hitler's worldview: anti-Semitism, pan-Germanism, anti-feminism, beliefs in "Aryan" superiority etc. grew out of the extreme political Right in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Germany, mostly as reactions to the changes brought on by modernity. (In a literal sense, these ideas were radical expressions of "conservatism.")
-After World War I, Hitler accused various elements of a "stab in the back" that led to Germany's defeat. Along with Jews, he also blamed the political Left for the nation's ruin, and called for the eradication of Bolshevism.
-Before Hitler's rise to power, his brown shirted "storm troopers" engaged in lethal street battles with Communist militias, seeing them as their mortal enemies, rather than Leftist allies.
-As is well known, the Nazis received a plurality (about a third) but never a majority of the popular vote. Hitler took power only after being appointed chancellor by president Hindenburg with the support of the old guard German Right, who saw Hitler as an ally to their interests.
-Once Hitler came to power, the first people he attacked and imprisoned were his political enemies, the Communists and Social Democrats (Socialists). Just because the Nazis called themselves "national socialists" does not mean that they were on the Left. The operative word for them was "national." There are tens of thousands of Leftists who were killed in concentration camps for their opposition to Hitler, and this makes Beck's lies all the more disgusting, since they seek to erase the memory of Nazism's first victims.
-In every European nation occupied by the German military during World War II, the greatest resistance came not from the political Right, which in places like Vichy France collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis, but from Communists and others on the Left. (If you want to see a dramatic illustration of this fact, watch The Sorry and the Pity sometime.) Again, Beck shits all over the memory of people who risked their lives to stop Nazism.
-After war began in Europe, many of the biggest voices calling for American intervention were on the Popular Front left, whereas hardcore conservatives like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh not only opposed intervention, but actively sympathized with Nazi Germany.

And one last one, just to make all of this more relevant

-Von Brunn, the neo-Nazi who murdered the guard at the Holocaust Museum, was an avid poster at Free Republic, and a vocal "birther" to boot (a "birther" is someone who denies that Barack Obama was born in the United States.)

Now, just because Von Brunn and Nazis in general belong on the political Right does not make them representative of all on that side of the spectrum. Similarly, as someone on the Left I hardly feel obligated to defend or even feel any kinship towards the anarchists who go around breaking and burning stuff at anti-globalization protests. At the same time, it would be preposterous for me to claim the most radical anarchists are in fact on the Right. Beck, however, just chooses to lie about the nature of Nazism, perhaps because his alarmist, paranoid, hateful, and deceitful rhetoric gives tacit and sometimes active support to fringe whackos on the far Right, whom he doesn't want to be associated with.

Or he just might be using a tried and true method of mass media manipulation: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." The source? Joseph Goebbels.

One thing bolstering his lie about Nazism being a Leftist phenomenon is the Ayn Randian ideology about the Left being "collectivist" and the Right being "individualistic." This is rather odd coming from a man who tells immigrants to give up their culture, impugns the patriotism of anyone he disagrees with, and who constantly tells his viewers they are a "we" who surrounds a shadowy "them." In my next post I will dissect the increasing prevalence of Randian thought on the Right and break down its falsehoods.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Day Hip Hop Died Part 2: Who Wins this Batttle? Eli versus Reh Dogg

Here is some Sunday afternoon fun for you all. In the spirit of Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome (wasn't the theme song amazing?), I bring you the battle to end all battles. No, it isn't Rakim versus Kane (a dream match-up) or Hova versus Nas or Biggie versus Pac...oh no! This battle is THE titanic struggle for hip hop supremacy in the 21st century. In the left corner I present quasi-mentally retarded high school emcee, Eli, a wordsmith of the first order:

In the right corner stands Reh Dogg, the spawn of Rubik's cube (his effort to channel Gza or Rza), the master of disaster and poor video production. Random factoid: I think I may actually know Reh Dogg from my time as a radio dj on WVOF 88.5 FM in Connecticut...what a small and horrible world in which we live:

Regardless of the outcome we can all take solace in the fact that either of these "MC's" is better than Lil' Wayne.

You make the call! Who is the winner in this awe inspiring clash of the Titans?

Friday, June 12, 2009

White Men Are Oppressed (Again)--Sean Hannity Carries Forth the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sean Hannity is a great man and an even more wonderful Conservative. I sleep well at night, knowing that conscientious, honorable souls such as he are keeping the legacy of the Black Freedom Struggle alive and protecting its memory...insert hand into mouth and induce vomiting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reverend Wright on Obama and "the Jews" or It is Time for a We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback!

"Them Jews aren't going to let him talk to me," Wright said. "I told my baby daughter, that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office."

With friends like Reverend Wright one does not need enemies. I must ask the obvious, how long until the Right in their conspiratorial genius proceeds to link Obama, Wright, and the White supremacist who attacked the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. I forgot, they already have--see Glenn Beck's interview with lead coconut/banana/masturbatory fantasy for the Right-Wing, Michelle Malkin:

BECK: Now, when Jeremiah Wright says "Them Jews ain't gonna let him talk to me, an ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza, ethnic cleansing by the Zionist is a sin and a crime against humanity and they won't want Barack talking like that because they will say that he's anti Israel." What's the difference between the language of an anti Semite that is also nuts and goes, kills people, and the language of Jeremiah Wright?

MALKIN: Yeah. I'd like to hear from some of these people on the left how they explain that away. I'd like to hear from the White House for that matter how he explains that away. I'm certainly glad that President Obama spoke up about the need to be vigilant against anti Semitism yesterday, but where was he when he was sitting in the pews of this virulent anti Semite for almost 20 years and not saying a word about it?

You know what will wash the foul taste of this demagoguery out of my mouth? A We Are Respectable Negroes Flashback!

Reverend Wright Investigative Report Number 1--Preliminary Report, Infiltration, and Findings

What follows is my initial report regarding my investigation into Reverend Wright and his recent behavior in relation to the Obama campaign. More information to follow.

To: The Council of Negro Elders, Midwest Division
From: Chauncey DeVega, field operative
Re: Initial Report on Reverend Wright and Operation Crabs in a Barrel

I have recently returned from my assignment and will be completing a comprehensive report for our permanent files. In short, and as expected, my recent mission has confirmed our worst fears. Reverend Wright was in fact replaced by a duplicate at a previous time, a time which heretofore remains undetermined. I am working with forensics and our remote viewing teams to generate a time line for the scenario. I am also concerned that Reverend Wright may be one of many key figures that have been replaced by our enemies. The mission summary follows.

Per standard operating procedure, I infiltrated the target area via High Altitude Low Opening drop. My movement to the rendezvous point was uneventful and I made quick contact with our informant. Upon contact, I confirmed the agent's identity and reviewed all the materials and intelligence provided by said contact. On face value, these documents confirmed our initial suspicions. As outlined by the mission plan, I exercised my authority to infiltrate the compound in order to visually confirm the intelligence and to gather further hard evidence.

Our operative directed me to an access point and I entered the facility. Luckily, the auxiliary computer servers and network interfaces were lightly guarded, and I only had to dispatch three tangos upon entry. Using the tech provided by our contacts at DARPA (tell them thanks for me), I quickly accessed the protected files on the server and copied them to my flash drive. I exfiltrated the target area and met with the Pave Low at the designated landing zone. I have begun reviewing the files, and what follows are the preliminary details of the operational plan for (what our enemies have labeled) Operation: Crabs in a Barrel.

Wright has in fact been replaced with a duplicate. Based on the data, we are unsure if the doppelganger is an exact biological copy or if it is a cybernetic device. Based on the advancement of our enemy's technology, it may in fact be a person who has 1) been altered to have Reverend Wright's appearance and 2) has had the mental engrams of the original Wright implanted in his mind with some modifications. It appears that our rivals have successfully combined three personality types in the Wright duplicate. As you know, this process (what was once called "brainwashing") was pioneered by the Nazis, with help from the American eugenics movement(s), in the 1930s and 1940s. SPECTRE had some success with this technique during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1980s and 1990s Cobra gave us fits with their efforts to combine cloning with mental conditioning and brainwashing (who can forget that Serpentor debacle?). It seems that the Greater Opposition Party (GOP) has taken this Cobra technology and moved it one step forward. What follows are the 3 personalities which have been identified in the Wright duplicate. These inferences are based on the Wright copy's body language and its parallels with the personality files in our databases.

Personality Element 1: Thor, the God of Thunder

Notice how Wright's pose during the NAACP speech mirrors the Norse God, Thor. Wright's subconscious believes he still has both Thor's hammer, as well as his godlike powers to control the elements. I also suspect that the Thor personality type, and this is only a hypothesis, may give the Wright duplicate powers which many may consider to be "other-worldly" or "supernatural."

Personality Element 2: The Black Minstrel

In keeping with the ironic turns of events brought about by Operation: Crabs in a Barrel, the Wright duplicate includes a minstrel as part of the psychological profile. Make note of the sad face and eyes. The Wright duplicate, in his dancing and posing during the NAACP meeting and at the National Press Club, was performing in a manner dictated by the engrams of the minstrel personality implant.

Personality Element 3: Mr. T

This is the final element in the Wright doppelganger's personality matrix. Mr. T is tough, resourceful, and smart. However, Mr. T is also highly sensitive, easily provoked, and has moments of irrationally. The Mr. T element in the Wright duplicate is likely the most explosive, yet remains simultaneously the most deft and adaptive. Our field agents will be apprised of the presence of a Mr. T in the personality matrix of the duplicate. Because the Mr. T element is so dangerous, all agents should exercise an appropriate level of caution if they are going to effect a capture of the Wright doppelganger.

We will continue to monitor Wright for evidence of further personality types. Generally, it is ill-advised to combine more than 3 elements in one matrix, however, given the GOP's level of sophistication they may have been able to add additional types. As you can see, these personality types when combined have made for a particularly dangerous foe. In my next report, I will compare the Wright duplicate's known abilities with those of his likely foes.


Chauncey Devega

General, and off the record, the GOP's plan shows a shocking level of sophistication. Historically, our foes are clumsy and heavy-handed (e.g. Willie Horton; Clarence Thomas; Fox News), but this is some of their best work since the MLK sex tapes and their assassination of Malcolm. I do worry that regardless of what comes to pass in the Indiana and North Carolina primaries that Operation: Crabs in a Barrel is in its first stages. Also, please tell Agent 36 that her cultivation of the contact within the GOP was exceptional. It rivals her work in addicting Rush Limbaugh to Oxycontin back in the 1990s. I am recommending Agent 36 for a distinguished service commendation for her role in this operation.

My Personal Happiness Pill Part 2: Pastor Manning Crank Calls Our Elders

As grandma said, "same to you, bastard!" Forget Prozac, I am going to just watch Pastor Manning all day, everyday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Personal Happiness Pill: Pastor Manning Interviewed on the Howard Stern Show

Howard Stern is a great interviewer because he creates an environment which disarms his subjects. Because guests on Stern's show are anticipating an experience so bizarre and outlandish, as a defensive measure they reveal a great deal by answering the very plain spoken, yet revealing questions, which Stern (aided by Robin Quivers) asks. The Pastor Manning interview is a masterful example of this approach.

Some choice moments:

@4:04--Manning's observation that only trashy white women would get with black men during the time period when Obama's father married his mom. Second point: "that everybody knows that African Men will jump over beautiful, educated, black women to get with one trashy white woman."

@7:00--"Prior to working as a burglar." Notice the parsing of that phrase.

@9:00--Pastor Manning describes his theological training. To be honest, I was surprised he studied under such notables as James Cone and Cornel West at the Union Theological Seminary--are they embarrassed, ashamed, or proud? Interestingly, his "doctorate" is a title granted by the church of which he is a minister...hmmmm.

@2:40--Pastor Manning discusses his marriage and dating history. Apparently, as a young man fresh from the fields of North Carolina, Manning moved to New York City. Beware the wicked race mixing ways of the North, as Manning was seduced by a young White woman in the stockroom of Lord and Taylor.

@4:15--Barack Obama is Senator Tarzan? I have to admit that is pretty funny.

@5:06--Oprah Winfrey is a Babylonian whore! Damn!

@7:49--Madness versus Craziness.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What’s the Best, Worst, or Strangest Thing You’ve Witnessed While Taking Public Transportation?

Ride with the dirty laundry on public transportation. Pay no attention to the people sharing a bus or subway with the dirty laundry. Obviously these people haven't heard a thing. Nor have they seen anything. Nor have they wondered why. These frightened people don't exist. The secret is safe with them.

—Bill Cosby

The Cos’ suggestion that black folks’ conduct while taking public transportation is an indicator of the health of the black public sphere is interesting. In the realm of public transportation, general norms of public behavior often press up against more specific black norms of respectability. Step on a bus or train in a city with a lot of black folks. You will see altruism, selfishness, conviviality, ignorance, vulgarity, and humor all on display.

You will see people assist mothers with strollers, cede seats to the elderly, and help riders lock their wheelchairs into place. You will hear “sirs” and “ma’ams” coming from kids’ mouths. You will see locals helping tourists with directions. Sometimes you will even see riders spotting the fares of complete strangers. You will see several people reading (mostly the Bible, trashy ghetto lit, and school textbooks).You will see that most people are quiet, friendly, and respectful.

You will also see people play (always terrible) rap and R & B loud enough for everyone to hear. You will hear people talking loudly--yelling really--about sex and violence. You will see people littering, leaving trash and food on the ground or seats, even though there are trash bins near. You will see people with no home training in norms of decent public behavior.

Because I am frequently disgusted by the conduct of public transportation riding ign’ants, individual instances of rude behavior, loudness, and vulgarity don’t stand out to me. What I remember vividly, though, are the moments of social policing in which black public transportation users are so fed up with ign’ant behavior, they confront the ign’ants. Two particular instances come to mind:

1.) I was riding a bus in the afternoon, right when school let out. A couple of bookish kids were being clowned by a group of their ign’ant schoolmates. An older brother stepped in and chided the ign’ants for teasing the couple. Predictably, the ign’ants started cursing the older brother, which prompted him to respond, “You never know, I may have a gun on me right now! Keep on talkin’, I might shoot up this whole damn bus!” The rest of the riders went from admiring this guy for saying something to realizing that he was an ign’ant too.

2.) A few weeks ago, I heard a man yelling as he got on the bus, “Hurry up before I knock yo teeth down yo mothafuckin throat. You stupid as fuck!” Then, a girl who as about 11 or 12 years old got on the bus and everyone realized that the man was yelling at this little girl, his daughter. The other riders just shook their heads and look exasperated as this man continued to curse and berate his daughter.

A few minutes later, a second man went to exit the bus and confronted the father, saying, “You think that was the right thing to do, huh? Man, you a punk! I’ll kick yo ass. Get off this bus on the next stop! You don’t yell at no little girl like that, you ol’ punk!”

The father was clearly scared and apologetic, telling his confronter, “You right. You right. That’s my daughter, but I shouldn’t have done that. I shoulda handled it better. You right.”

The confronter then exited the bus yelling, “Don’t never let me catch you on these streets. I’ll beat yo ass!” Once it was clear that his confronter was gone, the father tried to save face by saying loud enough for everyone to hear, “I’ll be done killed somebody in here. I woulda shot him, but I can’t go back to the penitentiary.”

Again, the elation the other riders felt upon seeing this father get punked disappeared immediately, as we were reminded that this loser was the little girl’s role model.

Respectable negroes, what is the best, worst, or strangest thing you’ve seen while riding public transportation?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Name That Racist Tune With Daniel Carver of the Howard Stern Show

I am quite partial to Johnny Rebel by the way. Question: how long until Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity starts using some of these songs as bumper music?

A bonus clip from the Howard Stern Show's roast of Daniel Carver where comic awkwardness ensues posthaste:

Chauncey DeVega says: African-American Veterans of D-Day and the Existential Power of Barack Obama's Presidency

Elderly White men, watching a Black President deliver the speech at Normandy with quiet reverence and respect, is one of the many reasons I believe that somehow, we will find a way to resolve our collective American dilemma.

Supporters of Barack Obama's candidacy for presidency often discussed the power of existential change that would result from his victory. Here, we meant the power which accompanied the idea of a Black American in the White House as President--a claim about what a person of color in that office would symbolize for America's national identity and shared political culture.

The commemoration of the Allied landings at D-Day, and the invasion of Fortress Europe during World War Two, are examples of these moments. Now, I am not so naive as to believe that a Black man who happens to be president will be a radical change from business as usual by virtue of his mere presence as Chief Executive. Why not? Because a two party system and a centrist politics deem that radicals do not rise to become President of these United States of America.

President Barack Obama's power and importance is rooted in the fact that a Black American, a few generations removed from a moment when his people were systematically excluded from American political life, can participate in one of a nation's most cherished ceremonies is the existential change which so many of us awaited.

In short, many of us never imagined that we would see a Black American fulfilling the role of president as national caretaker and ceremonial leader. This is why we cried and cheered when Obama was elected: for once, the check was not returned, stamped insufficient funds. Thus, President Obama's speech on the anniversary of D-Day is laced with irony as it is a raceless and colorblind moment that is simultaneously pregnant with racial meaning.

While some would like to make Black Americans, and people of color more generally, peripheral to American history, we have always been central to it. In this way, President Barack Obama's speech at Normandy completes a circle of history because while White society has long denied the role of African-Americans on D-Day (an erasure enabled by popular culture both in America and abroad) a Black man now serves as Commander in Chief:

These brave soldiers (as respectable Negroes) knew that service was an important weapon in the Black Freedom Struggle because it would make the justice claims of Black Americans undeniable. Obama knows that he is the direct product of their risk taking and labor. In silent acknowledgment, these veterans must be smiling in quiet satisfaction as President Barack Obama is in many ways the fulfillment of their efforts:

A bonus: some clips from the documentary A Distant Shore: African Americans of D-Day--

Clip One:

Clip Two:

Clip Three:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Choose Your Own Path: Anti-Black Racism Among Israeli and American Jews! or Drunk, White, Frat Boys and Sorority Chicks Say the Damndest Things

Hat tip to Ta-Nehisi Coates for calling my attention to this at journalist Max Blumenthal's website. Observation number one: she is a poli-sci major? yikes. Observation number two: you worked for Obama's campaign? yikes again. Cheap plug: check out our Chitlins and Gefilte Fish series from a few months ago which speaks directly to the issue of Black/Jewish relations.


Question: Is the above video clip of drunken Jewish American college students in Israel ranting about Barack Obama and calling him "nigger" (among the other less than polite descriptions applied to him) an example of:

A) A deep-seeded anti-black racism among Israeli and American Jewry that speaks to a significant divide between the two communities--one that points to the existence of high levels of anti-black racism abroad that Obama's presidency does little to ameliorate?


B) A bunch of drunk, White frat boys and sorority chicks who when given a bit too much alcohol, the ultimate lubricant for truth, simply shared their honest feelings about Barack Obama and black people at large?

Choose a solution and explain your reasoning.

Hip Hop Cliche and Nostalgia? or The Old School is the Only True School: Park Jam Series Brings Hip-Hop to New Generation

I savaged a piece from the New York Times a few months back that featured laid off corporate executives who are reinventing themselves by learning to be "dj's". The New York Times has redeemed itself a little bit with the following piece on the Park Jam series (and they also had a great article on "authenticity" in hip hop that I will post later today).

They also win double points from me because the piece gives some love to the often forgotten founding fathers of hip hop, Grandwizard Theodore and Grandwizard Caz--true greats that are living in relative poverty in the shadows of a multibillion dollar industry which they helped to create. I still can't get over the use of laptop dj software, especially ironic at an event celebrating the origins of hip hop music and culture, but alas I will simply have to accept that times are a changin'.

The story follows:

Park Jam Series Brings Hip-Hop to New Generation
By David Gonzalez

Rapid-fire riffs of bongo beats — the kind that sound like electronic popcorn — echoed through Behagen Playground in the Bronx on Thursday as D.J. Jazzy Jay cut between two versions of “Apache” on the turntables.

“Tonto! Jump on it!” came the lyrics from the Sugar Hill Gang’s version. “Kemosabe! Jump on it!”

And jump they did. While middle-aged women swayed their shoulders, two police officers came in tapping their feet, while a young, lean B-boy darted out onto the asphalt with a side-to side swing that morphed into a drop and a twirl. Within moments, the D.J. cut back to the Incredible Bongo Band’s original instrumental, a song that sounds like Sergio Leone meeting some beatniks on speed.

And it all made sense.

More than 30 years since hip-hop emerged in Bronx playgrounds and parties, its pioneering D.J.’s have joined their younger counterparts once again this summer for a series of free concerts in public parks. The True School NYC Summer Park Jam Series started seven years ago in Crotona Park, which will be the site for free concerts every Thursday evening in July. It has since expanded to St. Nicholas Park in Harlem and, this year, to Behagen Playground in Morrisania, where this summer’s series had its kickoff Thursday.

Behagen is a special place for Theodore Livingston, since it’s where he started D.J.-ing while still attending nearby Morris High School. He’s better known as Grand Wizard Theodore, the D.J. credited with inventing scratching.

“A jam like this is about coming back to my roots,” he said. “I never got too big or too Hollywood to not come back and play for the people. This is where I started with Mean Gene and Grandmaster Flash, right over there by the parkie house.”

He stood to the side, smiling and shaking hands with well wishers and fellow D.J.’s, like Danny Dan the Beat Mann (who helped produced some of Biz Markie’s early records). The mood was relaxed, even if the music thumped so loud you could literally feel it pulse through your lungs if you stood close enough to the tower of speakers. Grandmaster Caz — the leader of the Cold Crush Brothers — worked the microphone while kicking back in a beach chair.

“I feel the people appreciate it more now, at least the older heads do,” said Theodore, who will be performing at Behagen on Friday night. “The younger kids listen to the radio, the same old songs. They don’t know the songs we play in the park are the ones sampled on the radio.”

The manufacturers of deejay equipment also appreciate it, since they help underwrite the series, said Christie Z-Pabon, who along with her husband, Jorge, “Popmaster Fabel,” run Tools of War, a hip-hop information clearinghouse.

“That’s how we can do this for free,” she said. “It’s not like we’re going to charge people.”

As she spoke, a B-boy was methodically unfolding a large cardboard box, which he proceeded to tape down to the asphalt. He stood up, took it in, then got down and started spinning. Christie leaned over to a friend.

“Fabel tells me that in the old days, B-boys wouldn’t use cardboard,” she said. “That’s just an urban myth.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Update Number 1: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Barack Obama

Pat Buchanan is speaking truth to power again!

I will create a more complete list in the near future. For now, here are some choice comments and suggestions from our readers. Keep them coming folks, this is our chance to expose the unfair privileges that Black Americans have been enjoying during (and before) the age of Obama. Bathe in the waters of justice as we make clear for all our many accumulated unfair advantages--

From Exodus Mentality:

Black communities are afforded far more than their fair share of police protection. White communities can go days without seeing a police officer, but there is never any shortage of protection and service in Black neighborhoods. Our streets are constantly swept for crime and would be criminals. Surely we don't deserve such heightened attention, but we are privileged to receive it nonetheless.

In a somewhat similar vein, people of color are given far more chances to go to prison and take the time to think about their crimes and rehabilitate themselves, than their white counterparts. Often white people are not held responsible for their criminal activity, thus denying the the moral value of learning from their mistakes.

From Master Mahan:

As a white person, I never realized just how much society was aligned against me. Certainly I'd recognized a few disadvantages, such as the economic burden of needing to purchase sunscreen, but not all this. I don't receive near as many opportunities to learn about the justice system up close. I learn less about surviving hardships because the federal government will quickly help me before, during, and after a natural disaster.

I need to fulfill higher expectations because it's automatically assumed the best person for the job looks like me. Because of this, I'll be burdened with more responsibility and a higher tax rate. I'll need to work harder for a job to prove I wasn't a non-affirmative action pick.

Even in the media I'm at a disadvantage. I'll receive less attention if I'm falsely accused of kidnapping a white woman. No reporter will specifically seek someone of my race out for anything a white person does in the news.

The biggest black privilege of all, though, comes if you enter politics as a member of the Republican party. You'll receive funding to run against other black people. You'll placed directly behind many famous Republicans when they give speeches. You're guaranteed to be shown on TV at the Republican National Convention, and there's an excellent chance you'll be asked a give a speech. Even if you can't win a single election, you'll have job security for life. As a white man, I just wouldn't receive that sort of treatment. That's not even considering the privileges of being a woman, either. No glass ceiling means I get wet when it rains.

From MonkeyBoy:

You forgot the privilege of becoming an expert on matters of food and taste. Explaining things like why some people prefer to eat a hamburger with Dijon mustard as opposed to watermelon.

From Pudgybudgie:

You forgot the extreme attention that is paid to the driving safety and comfort of Black Americans. I can't remember the last time a police officer pulled me over to make sure I was driving a safe speed, or had all my taillights in working order. Not to mention they never stop to check that it's actually ME driving my car and not some other scoundrel. It's almost as if the highway patrol doesn't even SEE white suburban housewives.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chauncey DeVega says: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Barack Obama

"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group"

For the world to be made more just, we must be willing to be vulnerable to one another. This vulnerability often comes through a moment of profound clarity when a person (across lines of race, gender, class, and sexuality) can reach out to another and without fear of condemnation say, "I was wrong." I have finally arrived at this moment of shared empathy and confession. At these moments we need one of our own to make our privilege and prejudice clear to us--an assumed ally whose eyes are now open to injustice, who in turn will shame us into action.

In watching Thomas Sowell, who without hesitation or fear named nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sotomayor, as a racist, I am moved to action and ownership of my deeds and thoughts: this is the transgressive moment when I will confess to the realities of my own privilege as a black man in the age of Obama. Are others ready to walk this path with me? Honestly, I do not know. Nevertheless, I will be the first to take on this burden in the hope that my deeds will motivate others.

I can only hope that we as black Americans, acting in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and equality, can one day make amends for the many unearned privileges that we have garnered since the election of Barack Obama.

Justice is shared work. Community is at the heart of social transformation. Thus, please feel free to make additions to this list.

Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of Black Privilege in the Age of Obama

1. I know that the success of Barack Obama has been unsettling for many White Americans--especially those whom would normally be the default choice for appointment to the highest levels of the United States government. I understand that this change can be quite upsetting. I promise to be more empathetic to your pain and to be more patient in my efforts to understand the roots of your discontent.

2. I have the luxury of knowing that I only have to be twice as good as my White colleagues and peers to be considered for the same position. My broad range of skills are an unfair advantage in the workplace because they have afforded me opportunities to take on tasks and responsibilities that my White colleagues have often been denied.

3. Positive character traits such as humility and hard work are cultivated in me because I know that I am held to a higher standard lest I be considered "lazy" or "arrogant" by my supervisors and peers.

4. People of color have long dominated the evening news. We are disproportionately represented in the coverage of many types of news stories, especially those that feature reports of violent, criminal behavior. Moreover, with Barack Obama's domination of the evening news, the hyper-visibility of people of color is further encouraged in the mainstream media. To remedy this, I will do my best to support an increase in the amount of attention given to White people in the evening news and by popular culture at large.

5. I can go shopping most of the time knowing that I will be given extra attention. Furthermore, this extra attention to my safety through requests for identification when I would like to use a credit card or debit card are for my own protection. My fellow White shoppers are not afforded this level of concern or assistance.

6. In my professional life, I am blessed to be around people of a different race most of the time. This is very empowering and stimulating. Ultimately, this is an unearned advantage in a world that is increasingly diverse.

7. I am often asked to speak for people of my own race. With Barack Obama's election, I have to do this even more frequently. This privilege is unfair because it contributes to my intellectual, emotional, and social growth in ways that White people are not generally afforded.

8. Linked fate. Barack Obama's success or failure reflects on me personally. Likewise, my success or failure reflects on Barack Obama. This sense of connectedness and lack of relative anonymity is wonderfully empowering for all people of color.

9. I can find the literature, music, and movies that represent my culture neatly cordoned off and near the front of the store for my convenience.

10. I know that my race is always an asset and never a liability. At will, I can play the "race card" and win any debate or dispute.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lest You Think I Have Become Too Serious: Black Israelites in Times Square Versus a Killer Clown from Outer Space and a Black Zombie--Who Wins?

Question: Who is funnier, the clown or the Black Israelite? Second question: Did you notice the Black Israelite to the prayer leader's left who had totally lost it? Third question: Should we give respect to said Black Israelite as he stayed on script and used the killer clown and zombie as proof of the "White Man's" evil? Fourth question: Who are the bigger clowns and zombies, the Black Israelites or the Halloween party goers?

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Photo Montage--White Men Are Oppressed and the New Haven 20 and Frank Ricci are Their Saviors!

Yes, speak truth to power!

Again, I am moved by the heroism of the New Haven 20 and their stance against this widespread racism against White men under the terror of Jim Crow 2.0. Both my conscience and heart are struck by this case. In fact, as a gesture of unity I am going to buy their t-shirts and hats. And I am also going to remove the picture of the Little Rock Nine that is in my office and replace it with a picture of the New Haven 20:

The power of both these images is profound:

Although there is a shared echo between them, I must admit that the New Haven 20 have a dignity in their actions and struggle that the Little Rock 9 cannot match:

Ultimately, there really is no comparison at all:

We respectable negroes will continue to stand together with the New Haven 20 in their most honorable struggle, as this is THE civil rights issue of our time.

Are you with us? What are you doing to support the struggle against the new Jim Crow that is oppressing our White brothers?

Friday Afternoon Randomness-Spike Lee on Tyler Perry, Cooning, and Race Minstrelsy

You know we respectable negroes love us some Tyler Perry (yeah right--insert vomiting sound here). I don't understand the fixation on Madea or any of Perry's other "artistic" creations, but I will allow the masses their pleasures.

To that point: Spike Lee has apparently stepped up to the plate and is calling Perry out for his nouveau race minstrelsy in an interview set to air this weekend with the Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise show.

Related random anecdote: did you know that I had a student brought to near tears by my critique of Madea as a race minstrel? Second related random anecdote: did you know that in this same histrionic moment said student conflated Madea and Rosa Parks as inspirational and heroic figures? And no, I did not make that up.

Per tradition, take a close look at some of the comments which accompanied this story on the website, Global Grind. Both follow:

Spike Lee Rips Tyler Perry

Spike Lee had an interview with Ed Gordon on Our World with Black Enterprise scheduled to air this weekend. In the interview he complained about “coonery and buffoonery” and both of Tyler Perry’s shows “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” comparing them to characters from minstrel shows.

“We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made 'Boyz in the Hood'], people came out to see it. But when he did ‘Rosewood,’ nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African-Americans, we’re not one monolithic group, so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to ‘Amos n’ Andy.’”

OPINION: Why Tracy Morgan Isn’t Taking Us Two Steps

“Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors, but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is coonery and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?

Some Choice Comments:

hold up hold up, i like spike n all he got sum good movies n his archive, but anybody who say he aint hatin know damn well he is. he jus mad cuz Tyler Perry currently got him dethroned as one of the great directors not includin john singleton and who eva else gud dat i left out. neway, regarding meet the browns and house of pain, if u dont like that u must not like nun on tv cuz errbody kno they single handedly keep ppl watchin tbs. so if u dont watch em DONT! if u dont like em DONT! dont nobody care bout yo opinion cuz at da end of da day he still gettin payed haha so big upz to em and hopefully spike cum out wit sum gud enuff worth hatin on lol


Spike, Next!

To touch people's hearts, you have to know how to relate to them first. Tyler Perry is the master at this. I was once a person that wouldn't spend a dime on his movies, but now I get the brotha.

I get you too, but your messages are way too deep and subliminal for our people. People need clear, cut, messages!


Spike is so right. In my opinion most of the people laughing at the coonery that goes on in these shows perpetuate those coon stereotypes themselves. Wake up, it's the 21st century. I don't know how any self-respecting black person can watch House of Payne and laugh at it. Then again, I see lots of people like this in the South, who aren't aware of the stereotypes, shuckin and jivin right along w/ this foolishness. Tsk, tsk.


Come on Spike. Sounds like hate to me. I wonder have those people criticizing Tyler Perry ever watched any of his work. I wouldn't call it coonery and buffoonery. Some of Tyler P's stuff is very inspiring. He covers real life subjects like substance abuse, infidelity, abuse and on top of that Madea is funny as hell. I am both a Spike Lee and a Tyler Perry fan. I think it is just a dude from the east hating on a dude from the south.


Spike we thought you had a life. It took us years to understand and figure out your movies. 2 each his own:) does that mean anything to you. What you call coonery and buffoonery many of us are enjoying as comedy. I also appreciate the fact that he uses actors/actresses that other movies makers wouldnt touch like overweight, african americans or hispanics. also spike I am an NBA fan as well wasn't you a die hard for life new york fan. LA is a long way from new york. we see you courtside. you dont jump ship from your team just because they haven't won anything in years!!


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Score One More for the Team: Charles Bolden Picked as New Director of NASA

Maybe, we can finally acknowledge the Old Negro Space Program...

In the scramble to cover the New Jim Crow against White men (what I am calling the Civil Rights Movement 2.0), many of you may have missed Obama's nomination of General Charles Bolden as the new director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Isn't it funny that the establishment would explain away its lack of diversity with the much tired phrase "that there is a shortage of qualified minorities," when it seems that President Obama has been able to find stellar black and brown folk for his administration almost at will?

The story follows here:

Charles Bolden, Obama's NASA Chief Pick

HOUSTON — The nation's turbulent space program will be run by one of its own, a calming well-liked former space shuttle commander.

President Barack Obama on Saturday chose retired astronaut Gen. Charles Bolden to lead NASA. He also named former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver as the agency's No. 2. If confirmed, Bolden, who has flown in space four times and was an assistant deputy administrator at one point, would be the agency's first black administrator.

Bolden would also be only the second astronaut to run NASA in its 50-year history. Adm. Richard Truly was the first. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush unsuccessfully tried to appoint Bolden as the space agency's deputy administrator. The Pentagon said it needed to keep Bolden, who was a Marine general at the time and a pilot who flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam.

"Charlie knows NASA and the people know Charlie; there's a level of comfort," especially given the uncertainty the space agency faces, said retired astronaut Steve Hawley, who flew twice in space with Bolden.

Bolden likely will bring "more balance" to NASA, increasing spending on aeronautics and environment missions, working more with other nations in space, and emphasizing education, which the president often talks about when it comes to space, said former Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey, a longtime friend.

"He's a real leader," Abbey said Saturday. "NASA has been looking for a leader like this that they could have confidence in."--continue reading here...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Enter the New Haven 20--The Newest Freedom Fighters in the Struggle to Overthrow Jim Crow 2.0

The Little Rock Nine have been surpassed. Enter: The New Haven Twenty.

Once more, I am moved by the bravery and heroism displayed by these freedom fighters. Against impossible odds, violence, and a long history of discrimination, these great men are showing that regular folk can indeed stand against power and make real the promise of the American creed. Clearly, the New Haven Twenty have eclipsed the Little Rock Nine as they work to create a nation under their feet and carry forth the light of freedom.

It seems that the well of democracy springs eternal as in this newest freedom struggle, Fox News is Radio Dixie, and Sean Hannity is Robert Williams:

Together, they will shatter the walls of the second Jim Crow and end what Hannity so sharply describes as institutional discrimination against these good White men.

While the choice is not yet one between the ballot or the bullet, together we shall overcome. Why? Because the New Haven Twenty are armed with truth and justice...weapons that no racist regime has ever been able to resist. I implore you to join me as I echo Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who I know would have marched lockstep with the New Haven Twenty:

Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream as the New Haven Twenty march into glory and history!

Hallelujah! Are you with me?

Charles Krauthammer I Feel Your Pain: White Men Once More Victims as Obama Picks Judge Sotomayor for the Supreme Court

White men are victimized once more. Again, they are excluded from another opportunity to access the corridors of power in the Obama administration. As I empathized with Pat Buchanan on the rise of a second Jim Crow in American, one now oriented against white men of the "greatest generation," I must now extend the same olive branch to noted conservative columnist and pundit Charles Krauthammer. Again, I cannot imagine how White men are feeling in this moment as President Obama has selected a Hispanic woman, Sonia Sotomayor, as his nominee to the Supreme Court. It must really hurt to go from being the presumed choice for all things, to now being one choice among many.

I imagine it must be similar to how a "gentlemen C" student feels when he is faced with an upstart professor who demands excellence. Life is indeed unfair as the rules of the game can be changed so arbitrarily and to one's detriment. Or perhaps this experience is even more akin to that of the child who is used to always being picked first for a pick-up game of dodge ball, to now being reduced to jumping up and down and yelling "pick me! pick me!" because there is a new captain in town.

Krauthammer is to be applauded for his keen acknowledgment of how identity politics are the bread and butter, the raison d'etre for the Left and the Democratic Party. Never has the Right and the Republican Party used race as a wedge issue. Nor, have they ever attempted to mobilize their base against the real and imagined "threat" posed by people of color to an unnamed and unmarked Whiteness, one that is imagined to be, and is constructed as, interchangeable with the idea of being "American."

In the same way that the Right found a crusading hero in Allan Bakke, the plaintive in the landmark anti-affirmative action case Allan Bakke versus the Regents of the University of California, Krauthammer, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and Buchanan have found a just crusader in Frank Ricci. With him, they can now craft a mythology around a set of justice claims that will fuel the second Civil Rights Movement--a White Male Freedom Struggle that will ring through all times as it fights to dramatically restructure American society.

Frank Ricci is their Rosa Parks. Instead of a kindly, exhausted, old lady who simply wanted to ride the bus and sit where she so chose, the Right has a dyslexic firefighter who studied for twelve hours a day, employed tutors to read him the textbook, and despite all of these obstacles, still scored at the top of the exam class. His reward? to be denied his rightful and earned promotion by a group of litigious, petty, underachieving, mediocre black firefighters and their white liberal enablers who claimed that the test was "unfair." This is identity politics at its worst, a politics that is squarely outside of the American tradition.

When Krauthammer stages his freedom rides, and the movement to which he belongs has its great march on Washington, I will empathize with them. For me, the veil is lifted as I now clearly see the moral righteousness and virtue of their freedom struggle. Justice will come for these aggrieved White men, and I hope it comes very soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Reflections Part 2: Honoring Our Little Known Heroes

There are many American servicemen and women whose stories have been lost to history. Memorial Day is a time to bring light to these unsung heroes. For example:

The many women who served with great distinction during World War II as military aviators and support staff where they performed such dangerous tasks as towing targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice:

The all Japanese American 442nd Army regiment. They were real hard bodies, eventually becoming the most decorated unit in U.S. military history:

The 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the "Harlem Hellfighters." These brothers were fighting the Germans in World War I months prior to the introduction of the main United States Expeditionary force:

Heroism, service, and valor are not limited to human beings. Many of our four-legged friends have also served America with honor, distinction and sacrifice. Finally, our canine companions are receiving a much belated acknowledgment of their service and loyalty:

The Alaskan Territorial Guard which protected the United States from a Japanese assault by way of the Aleutians:

A personal hero, one man, a legend, and not widely known--Carlos Hathcock--3 days, a one thousand plus meter crawl, and a little under a mile sniper shot:

Memorial Day Reflections Part 1: Map the Fallen

Most Americans do not take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day. Although the tradition had many different starts (some would claim its origins in the Confederacy during the Civil War; others would say it was the Union that began this "holiday") the day is intended as one of remembrance during which we honor our fallen soldiers, as well as the service of our veterans. Although I may not always agree with the foreign policy decisions that have put our young men and women in harm's way, I always honor their sacrifice and service. Why? Because service to one's country is respectable negro behavior.

In between eating hot dogs, drinking cheap beer, and inaugurating the official start of summer please take the time to reflect on the sacrifices and service of the American fighting man and woman. To that end, there is a moving project called "Map the Fallen" that uses Google Earth to list and track the some 6,000 Coalition soldiers who have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns by showing their individual biographies, places of birth, and locations of death.

In keeping with the spirit of Memorial Day, I offer an experiment and suggestion: select five of these stories and read these accounts aloud. If you have children, please include them as they too need to understand the human costs of war. The stories profiled on Map the Fallen are those of our sons, daughters, brothers, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, and friends...and they deserve proper recognition.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Suspects in Terror Bombing Plot: Drug Arrests and Prison Conversions

“Right now, to me he’s, like, the dumbest person I ever came in contact with in my life,” Ms. Walker said [of her brother, an alleged conspirator to bomb a synagogue].

She added that as far as she knew, he was not a Muslim, but said “they do a little time in jail and they don’t eat pork no more.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

28 things I've learned by watching TV Court shows

I’m a sucker for TV court shows.

I’ve long been fascinated by the racial and gender dynamics of these shows, but that’s a topic for another day. In the many hours I’ve wasted logged watching TV court shows, I’ve learned a lot about court show conventions and human behavior. I’ve compiled the things I’ve learned in a convenient list.

About TV court shows:

1. The judge and the bailiff must be from different racial groups.

2a. There will never be a white WASP male hetero TV judge. (there is a white guy now, Judge David Young, but he is flaming; there have been Jewish male Judges; and there have been white Southern male redneck-ishjudges, but they are really like ethnics).

2b. The judge must dispense homespun wisdom with a touch of ethnic sass.

3. Because it makes for interesting TV, the judge will let the litigants tell each other’s personal business (drugs, sex, appearance) that has nothing to do with the case.

4. The litigant who interrupts or disrespects the judge will lose.

Practical financial advice:

5. Never let anyone put any bill in your name.

6. Never cash a check for anyone.

7. Never buy an old car as is.

Practical legal advice:

8. Always call the police after an accident or an incident.

9. Always get it in writing.

10. Read the fine print.

11. Never confess to or threaten anyone over the phone.

Practical relationship advice:

12. Never move in with someone you’ve only known for a little while.

13. Never lend money to family or friends—either give it to them or don’t.

14. Never trust a man who ignores his kids from a previous relationship.

15. Never take nude pictures/videos with a partner unless you are OK with other people seeing them.

16. Never trust a stripper (see 27.).

Phrases that indicate someone is lying:

17. “Okay, This is what happened…”/ “What had happened was…”

18. “Let me start from the beginning…”

19. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you! If you’d just let me talk…”

20. *Repeating the question before answering* (e.g., “Why did I walk over to his car? I walked over to his car because…”)

Phrases that really mean “I’m not going to pay you”:

21. “I’ll pay you back when I get my tax refund.”

22. “I’ll pay you when I receive this lawsuit settlement I’m waiting for.”

23. “I’ll pay you when I get back on my feet and start working again.”

24. “I was gonna pay, but then you started harrassing me.”

25. “I was gonna pay, but the bill was too high; you are trying to gouge me.”

Life lessons:

26. You get what you pay for.

27. Money can’t buy love.

28. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Terminator Salvation Reviewed--Let's Play Script Doctor

There is much to like about Terminator Salvation. Unlike some notable critics who absolutely loathed the newest installment in the almost 30 year saga that is the Terminator franchise, I actually liked it. Now, it is not perfect. And there are some serious issues with logic and continuity. But, I smiled, had a good time, and felt as though I got my money's worth (which is much more than I can say for the foul excuse of a movie that dares to call itself Wolverine).

What works in Terminator Salvation--giant robots; the action scenes; the visceral fun of seeing another Terminator film; ILM's cgi; and Sam Worthington's "prototype" T-101/T-800 unit. Worthington has got a great future ahead of him, and James Cameron's long anticipated movie "Avatar," is lucky to have him as the lead.

What doesn't work? Quite a bit. The analogy I would use to describe this film is that Terminator Salvation is like a piece of filet mignon in the hands of an underskilled chef. Said cook has a wonderful piece of meat to work with but overcooks it, uses olive oil instead of peanut oil to sear it, and then kills the steak in the broiler instead of baking it. To make matters worse, our overly ambitious (yet relatively unskilled) chef uses cheap cooking wine as the base for the sauce. The result is an acceptable dish that does not reach its full potential. Your dinner guests know this fact, but they humor the effort because the base ingredients are of such generally high quality.

In keeping with the metaphor, how would I improve the "dish" that is Terminator Salvation?

13 Fixes for Terminator Salvation

1. The writers and producers of this film try too hard. They have a perfect recipe for greatness and either do not "get" the franchise beyond its most superficial elements, or they do not care to understand what worked with the first two films. Sure, the Terminator films are about robots, explosions, and car chases. The Terminator franchise is also about big questions: fate, destiny, artificial intelligence, and the inevitability of the future as opposed to the primacy of free will. The first is spoken to wonderfully, the latter is relatively ignored. Solution: more homework, talking to more fans, making sure that the sequel has a great script with human drama as the foundation and base for all of the action movie elements, and reading more classic science fiction.

2. As a ghetto nerd I have spent many an evening arguing with friends about how we would survive the rise of the machines. (I love this dilemma, would AI destroy us? Or would AI protect humankind from the barbarism inherent in our souls?) Terminator Salvation fails to understand the reality of this monstrous future. Humankind has suffered a nuclear apocalypse, a genocidal war, and is now fighting a merciless foe. One would think that events would seem dour and grave. Not in Terminator Salvation. Sure, things are bad, but never do you have a sense that humanity's very existence as a species is imperiled.

3. On the post-nuclear apocalypse. The sky should be dark. Electromagnetic pulse damage should have fried most electronics, i.e. no modern cars. The surviving humans should be sick, exhausted, and psychically damaged almost beyond repair. This is the power of John Connor's character. He is a messiah who teaches humankind how to fight back against the machines. In Terminator Salvation he is peripheral. Moreover, in the world created by this first installment, Connor is utterly expendable. As a corrective, the writers and producers should watch the following clip from the Matrix animated film anthology and ask themselves, "how would a leader motivate and inspire these desperate souls?"

4. Pretty people. The characters in this film have perfect teeth, relatively nice clothes, neatly kept hair, and not a person seems deathly ill (radiation poisoning and cancer anyone?). Most glaringly, Connor's pregnant wife has apparently been shopping at Anne Taylor or Neiman Marcus. This is just plain laziness on the part of the producers. Corrective: yellow teeth, sickly people, dirt, disease, and despair. Second corrective: more religious iconography and conversations about God. The writers cannot ignore the very human reality that people in desperate situations either find their faith or utterly lose it. The film plays with John Connor as a Messianic figure, but does not follow through. The sequels must address this aspect of his personal mythology much more forcefully.

5. Please keep actor/emcee Common away from all movies produced in this country. He is so foul an actor that the Screen Actor's Guild should expressly forbid him from ever appearing in a film again. And please remove all magical negro characters that are inspired by Mad Max: the Road Warrior from the sequels to Terminator Salvation. Third suggestion: Moon Bloodgod who plays Sam Worthington's love interest is a goddess--in my pantheon of Hollywood crushes she may actually be higher than Rosario Dawson...and that ain't no easy feat to accomplish. Because of that fact my lovely Miss Bloodgod (what a name!) is out of place, and her presence is distracting. For the next few movies in a trilogy that should be more Threads and The Day After than Dawson's Creek, the actors need to get uglier, fatter, and much less attractive.

6. Simplicity. This plot is too complicated. We have a human infiltrator in Sam Worthington's character who is actually in many ways more sophisticated than the T-101 unit sent back, i.e. Arnold's model of terminator, in the first 3 films. But, Terminator Salvation's newest model of terminator is the predecessor to Arnold's version. Unnecessary. Worthington is a great character but wasted because the very fact of his presence and reveal (which was given away by the trailers for the film) is anti-climactic.

7. Brute force, bluntness, and drama. The best part of this film, and a moment that hinted at what it could have been, is the introduction of Kyle Reese's character. What would relatively untrained citizen soldiers do against robotic warriors armed with miniguns (that is a modern version of the Gatling gun for those of you out of the loop)? Would we adapt, achieve, and overcome? Or would we just die? The movie needs more of these moments. Again, the human resistance's ability to fight Skynet is never in doubt because our "primitive" firearms are able to damage and destroy the terminators. The creators of Terminator Salvation need to increase the body count of the human protagonists.

In addition, the creators of Terminator Salvation seem to have forgotten that the relative invulnerability of the terminators is the foundation for the drama (remember the first Terminator film's point that Kyle Reese is unsure of his ability to defeat the T-101 with "these weapons"). This important detail is totally undermined within the opening moments of the film.
As a fix, Terminator Salvation needs more blunt, desperate moments where dozens if not hundreds of human beings are willing to die in order to kill 1 terminator. We do this again, and again, and again because we have no choice. This is the drama and sadness that the new trilogy must capture in order to be successful.

8. Background and frame. Terminator Salvation is a relatively empty world. It needs to add constant activity in the background of its scenes. One of the key dramatic elements in the war against the machines is that they never tire, surrender, or stop in their pursuit of genocide. In Terminator Salvation the viewer never has a sense that humankind is fighting this type of enemy. For the sequels, hunter killer robots must be in the sky at all times, the resistance must be under siege, and victory must always be in doubt.

9. Military consultants. Terminator Salvation would greatly benefit from the addition of a few lines of dialogue that hint at the dynamics of the war fighting situation which humanity has found itself in. The ability of the resistance to use aircraft to fight Skynet seems unbelievable as presented. How would they survive Skynet's aerial assault? Wouldn't Skynet's local radar and satellites detect any planes in the air? A simple fix would be a throwaway comment on the fact that the resistance is using obsolescent aircraft and helicopters such as Huey's and A-10's because they are immune from Skynet's computer viruses and overrides--nix the Osprey's in the next film. A second fix would necessarily be an allusion to the resistance's ability to obtain fuel, spare parts, and mechanics to keep these vehicles in the air. A third fix would involve a clear communication to the audience that the resistance rarely uses these precious assets, and when they do, their small fleet of aircraft must stay under some arbitrary altitude (say 300 feet) in order to have any chance of survival.

10. Second suggestion on tactics and strategy in Terminator Salvation--the idea of the human resistance using submarines as a base of operations is well considered and inspired. The idea that satellite phones (and probably GPS) would still function is fanciful. This is sloppy writing where the script is building up to a big event and takes the easy road (the resistance would likely travel at night and use human "runners" on bicycles or silenced motorcycles to coordinate locally). Final thought on this point: scarcity is a way of life for insurgents, a condition made more desperate for humanity following a nuclear attack. Again, we should see the resistance desperately taking weapons and ammunition from the terminators as their armaments are among the few guaranteed to give the human soldiers any fair chance in battle.

11. The anti-climax. Because we have seen the first three films, there is never any real fear that John Connor will die, because if he did, a paradox would be introduced into the fim. John Connor should know and acknowledge this fact. If Bale's Connor did this, he would have every excuse to be brash bordering on careless. Connor would know that his survival is assured until (at least) the moment when he sends Kyle Reese to the past, and Bale's character would be more heroic in deed as a result (if played correctly, this could introduce a great deal of angst into Conner's character because he would feel like a fraud as his survival is never in doubt).

My plot correction: begin the movie with Reese and Connor meeting each other within either the first 30 or so minutes of the film and plot the movie around that encounter, or have them meet in the last 20 minutes as they work together to resolve the climax of the film.

12. Skynet is foolish, inefficient, and illogical. If Skynet knows about Reese's importance (presumably from the terminator in the third film) then why not simply eliminate Kyle once he is discovered? Also, what is most ominous about fighting artificial intelligence? Its ruthless efficiency. This is an area where Terminator Salvation could be much improved.

Also, the deus ex machina moments with Worthington in Skynet--and the resistance's assault on the installation is another example of lazy, piss poor, writing.

Continuing forward, humanity finds strength through its creativity and hope. Here, our capacity for irrational behavior is an asset in battle because we are capable of unpredictable behavior. This is alluded to by Connor but never developed--it hangs in the narrative as a note, but is never seen in the film. It must be made the heart and soul of the sequels.

13. Final thought: a heart transplant as field triage in the middle of a desert ain't gonna happen. Second final thought: I would have much preferred the rumored ending where Worthington's character becomes John Connor. This would have given all the films an existential weight as a terminator pretending to be a human is actually the leader of the resistance. Alas, Terminator Salvation has no such courage.

Terminator Salvation is a fun film that I will watch again. But, like Transformers, it is a perfect fit for the DVD format because you can fast forward through all of the unnecessary scenes and watch the action pieces. Is this a complement or an insult? I am unsure. But it is a fitting observation with which to describe this most recent installment in the storied Terminator franchise. See the movie, have fun, and lower your expectations...and maybe the sequels will live up to what this newest installment could have been.