Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Congratulations! For its Botched Raid on the Gaza Aid Flotilla, Israel has Now Earned a Coveted Shit-Huffer Award!



It seems that when all you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

I have not awarded the coveted We Are Respectable Negroes Shit-Huffer award in quite some time. An homage to jenkem, a foul drug which is based on the inhalation of the toxic fumes produced by human waste, this award is given for stupidity above and beyond the call of duty. For its actions in the botched raid on the Turkish relief flotilla in international waters during which at least 9 people were killed and many more wounded, Israel has more than earned this prestigious award.

Israel's actions were an unneeded escalation of tensions in the area. And for those unfamiliar with my stances on international relations, I am a bit of a hawk. I believe in the use of State power--military and otherwise--to advance one's interests. I am also a realist. I am suspicious of the "community" of nations' ability to always deter conflict or that abstract ideas maintain the international order.

For example, I have long believed that the U.S. should strike Iran preemptively. I am concerned about the transformation of our military into one oriented to counter-insurgency warfare. Unlike many in the general public I consider China to be a clear military threat that we should be more aggressive in balancing. Finally, I consider the 3 trillion dollar boondoggle in Iraq a waste of treasure and blood--not because of a deep dislike of preemption as a national security policy--but because it took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan and Iran.

Israel has earned this award, both for this careless act, as well as for a series of selfish deeds that have betrayed America's trust in its "closest" ally in the region. During the Cold War, I was willing to give Israel a pass out of strategic necessity--even after the vicious attack on the USS Liberty. Now, with their overreach in Gaza and Beirut, repeated acts of espionage against this country, refusal to work in good faith on the settlement issue, and transferral of U.S. military secrets to China, something must give.

Contributing to their vaunted shit-huffer status, Israel's raid was both ill planned and poorly executed. I will concede all of Israel's points on this issue. Let us assume that there were weapons aboard. Let us also assume that perhaps some number of provocateurs or infiltrators were aboard the flotilla.

Was the gain to be had by raiding the ship worth the strategic fallout? Moreover, and again to my hawkish views on national defense, if Israel was so concerned about the cargo why not wait until the ship was in its territorial waters and disable the vessel? If need be, I would back destroying the bridge to stop the vessel. If the threat was truly dire, I would even support sinking it.

But, to drop commandos, one by one, into a hostile crowd and then look aghast when things go fubar is both reckless and stupid. You don't send Israel's version of the Navy Seals on a milk run and then get surprised when they do that special thing they do--i.e kill when confronted with a threat. Not to be overlooked, in Israel's rank selfishness they took no consideration for what their attack would do to the United States' relationship with Turkey.

Here, Israel is like the frat boy who wears his dirty white hat to class everyday, gets drunk playing beer pong each weekend, takes liberties with drunken sorority girls (you know they wanted it!) and chews tobacco all the while spitting nasty tobacco juice in an old Coke can. Dude can be a real jerk because he takes your friendship for granted. Ultimately, said dirty white hat wearing frat boy has a real sense of entitlement because he knows that mom and dad will always bail him out.

Borrowing from a more striking visual: In the immortal words of R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, Israel would be the guy that would fuck you in the ass and not even give you the courtesy of a reach around.

Israel made this bed and now has to lie in it. But, given the strength of the Israel lobby (yes, I said the phrase that need never be uttered) we know how the U.S. is going to play this one..."nothing to see here, move along:



Sadly it seems that our boy can do no wrong, even as he tarnishes our name and drags us into the muck with him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wrestling with Gifted Classes, Race, and Gender or Confronting the Honors Cabal



One of my favorites.

What now of the gender gap in public education?

Is is not a little commented upon irony that at every level of educational attainment that girls outperform boys. Yet, men somehow grow up to rule the world? It is also little commented upon that there is an informal system of "affirmative action" for men in college. Funny, that point is too infrequently mentioned in our debates on "preferences" and college admissions. Makes one think does it not?

As detailed by The NY Times, this pattern of gendered outcomes is mirrored even in the talented and gifted programs in our public schools.

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Educators and experts have long known that boys lag behind girls in measures like high school graduation rates and college enrollment, but they are concerned that the disparity is also turning up at the very beginning of the school experience.

Why more girls than boys enter the programs is unclear, though there are some theories. Among the most popular is the idea that young girls are favored by the standardized tests the city uses to determine admission to gifted programs, because they tend to be more verbal and socially mature at ages 4 and 5 when they sit for the hourlong exam.

“Girls at that age tend to study more, and the boys kind of play more,” said Linda Gratta, a parent at the Anderson School on the Upper West Side, one of the most selective. “But it’s a mixed bag. The day of the test, you could be the smartest boy in the world and just have a bad day.” She said that Timothy, her first-grade son, had approximately 10 boys and 18 girls in his class.

Biases and expectations among adults are often in play when determining which children count as gifted, and fewer boys appear to end up in gifted programs nationally. A 2002 study by the National Academy of Sciences reported that boys were “overrepresented in programs for learning disabilities, mental retardation and emotional disturbance, and slightly underrepresented in gifted programs,” said Bruce A. Bracken, a professor at the College of William & Mary who wrote one of the two exams that the city uses to test gifted children. He said the implications of the study were “disturbing.”

****

The piece is powerful. But, it is also noteworthy for how race and class are omitted from the equation. As is repeatedly documented, take the gender gap in school achievement at large, and then multiply it for young African Americans and Latinos. Black and Latino boys are significantly more likely to be in remedial programs, labeled ADHD, suspended, or be placed on the lowest tracks in their respective schools.

On that point: am I the only one who hates the tracking system, yet would throw a fit if my child were not put in the highest level?

Second on that point: Aren't tracking and the honor roll the biggest rackets of them all? Everyone is on the honor roll be they in the best or the lowest track. This is doubly cruel: I have relatives who children were in remedial classes throughout school. Yet, because they received "honors" each term, said parents were convinced their kids could go to Yale or Harvard. Talk about a setup for inevitable disappointment. This is a cousin to the Trophy generation, snowflakeitis that is currently afflicting our universities--we have raised a generation where everyone is special, talented, and gifted. What will be the consequences for the United States economically, socially, and politically as this entitled class takes the reigns of power?

Some of these outcomes are the result of limited social capital and a lack of resources and parental involvement. Likewise, faulty metrics for determining intelligence and "intellectual ability" explain some other results. Sadly, good old fashioned laziness and racism still account for a good part of these disparate outcomes.

Here, my beef with the talented and gifted programs, as well as tracking, is a personal one. Upon entering the fourth grade, I was initially put into the lowest cohort. I had always been in the highest track, but I was summarily demoted. For the grace of God, and one great (yet really tough) former WAC who was my teacher, I would likely have flunked out of school and become the highly successful criminal mastermind I was always meant to be.

I was bored, finishing my work in 2 minutes, and consequently getting in trouble. This teacher clearly knew something was up and contacted my parents. Together they discovered that I had been put into the wrong track. A simple bureaucratic mix up? No, upon some research it was discovered that a student teacher had done the placements that year. Under time constraints she put all of the black kids in the lowest track. Why? Her explanation under threat of lawsuit: "it seemed efficient given that black kids do badly in school." True story.

I was also not allowed into our school's talented and gifted program. My mother, being a perennial striver, wanted to know why I was not admitted. Once more, social networks, race, and class rule the day. Apparently, although I had met all the criteria for admission, certain spots had been promised to a select group of students and their families. Another threatened lawsuit later I was reluctantly admitted--Black folks love threatening to sue people by the way (I don't know if we ever follow through though). I refused to go on basic principle. You don't want me. I don't want you. Funny thing, to my knowledge not one of those "talented and gifted types" are doing well today.

Interestingly enough, that was not my last run in with the evil gatekeepers of "honors" and "talented and gifted programs." In High School I would eventually break down the barriers and join up. Predictably, I would be run out by an English teacher who stated that my writing and analytical skills were sub par. I vividly remember the paper in dispute--it was an essay on Silas Marner. I had developed a thesis on greed, gender, and white racial identity. I was flatly told those were not elements in the book and that I must not be able to fully comprehend the text. Being the obstinate respectable negro that I am, I left the class (she made it clear I would get an "F") and swore revenge in my best Wrath of Khan impression. Funny thing, I made true on my promise. And yes, she was terrified.

Like many students, I didn't get my full honors, Phi Beta, uppity top of the class awards and bonafides until college. Doubly curious, whenever I sit down with a bunch of respectable negroes from the striving middle and working classes, there is some version of the above story. Moreover and almost to the one, we remember being the only non-white kids in those spaces. I would hate to be so reductionist, but could it be that in many schools "honors" and "talented and gifted" are coded as "Whites Only" spaces?

Wow, this has actually been cathartic.

Do others have similar tales of woe and triumph in the face of the honors cabal? And what does it say about our educational system, that so many who are not judged to be among the best and the brightest in either elementary and secondary school, rise to the top in college and/or leave formal training and become stars on their own?

Is the system that broken?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy--Of Easter Eggs, Robert Putnam, and Kung Fu Goodness



Aaron McGruder's last season of The Boondocks is firing on all pistons--it seems that Brother McGruder is indeed leaving it all on the dance floor as the old expression goes. As I alluded to in a previous post, The Boondock's pulling aside the veil and reveling in the Black Superpublic is all sorts of awesomeness.

Tonight's episode--Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy--is rich with these moments--as well as with some fun Easter eggs for those folk whom are part of the cultural narrative that is ghetto nerdness.

Here are a few of the bits of goodness (both obvious and subtle) that I picked up on as Grandpa and family faced off against The Hateocracy:

1. The introduction of The Hateocracy was a wink to such revenge/crime noir movies as No Country for Old Men; Fargo; and A History of Violence.

2. Pretty obvious: The Hateocracy was comprised of Fred G. Sanford, Aunt Esther, and J.J. Walker of Good Times fame. Perhaps McGruder has been reading Donald Bogle's classic book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks?

3. The opening dream is a restaging of 28 Weeks Later.

4. A second Fargo reference--the secretary at Huey and Riley's school sounds suspiciously like Marge Olmstead-Gunderson, the pregnant Sheriff played by Frances McDormand in that Coen brothers classic.

5. In another synthetic/improvisational moment that is simultaneously a reference to Kill Bill, as well as the iconic Master of the Flying Guillotine, the weapon used by Fred Sanford's doppelganger is the same as that of the titular villain in the latter film.



6. Pretty obvious: Grand Master Bushido Brown is one part Jim Kelly and one part Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon.

7. Here is an Easter egg I could not fully identify. Was the musical cue playing during Riley and Huey's fight with The Hateocracy from The Kid with the Golden Arm? Or was it an acknowledgment of 5 Chinese Superninjas? One-Armed Boxer? Or 5 Fingers of Death? One, all, or neither? Help me out.

8. In what is perhaps the smartest hidden gem in Stinkmeaner 3: The Hateocracy, McGruder's detailing of "nigga moments" and "nigga synthesis" is a pretty clear restatement of Robert Putnam's detailing of bridging and bonding social capital in his seminal book Bowling Alone.

9. The concluding dialogue between The Freemans and The Hateocracy is the finest comment on the soft, liberal, "we are all victims," sociological explanations for crime among the ign't, ghetto underclasses I have seen in many a years: Some folks just belong in jail...no elaborate explanations necessary. As one of my colleagues once said, "if the prison industrial complex was real, we would all be in jail." Brilliant and pithy.

10. Crabs in a barrel and Black folks. Priceless...and so very true.

What other Easter eggs did I miss? What should be added to the list?

By the way, next week's episode on the trials and triumphs of the one and only Latarian Milton is going to be amazing.

Sunday Afternoon Funny: The Mayor of Blacktown, Saggin' Pants, Black Women's Failings, and the Link Between Schizophrenia and Creative Genius



Oh hail the Mayor of Blacktown!

As some of our communities descend into veritable states of nature, I knew that a lone voice would emerge, one that could diagnose the how's and why's of this journey into the heart of darkness.

Random thought: How do you like that? A reference to Locke and Conrad all in one sentence. Who says that the Hamden public schools are incapable of producing gentlemen and gentlewomen of letters...

Second random thought: Did you know that We Are Respectable Negroes is now in the top 100 U.S. Politics Blogs category on Technorati? Yikes, standards must have really slumped.

Once more the cause is clear: the plague of saggin' pants, the weakness of black men, and the failures of black women explain this madness. As the Mayor says, if the sisters would both A) stop emasculating the black man and B) discard that feminist witchcraft we could move forward as a people.

Regardless of one's position on his project to save the black man, the Mayor of Blacktown must be acknowledged as a force of the first order. His mind is deft. His thoughts are sharp. The connections he makes between causal variables are compelling. The theoretical framework which drives his project is robust.

Question: What would a regression model for the Mayor's theory of saggin' pants, black women's failures, and his black men's project look like? I am not an expert on quantitative social science, so all I can do is venture a series of educated guesses. Would the dependent variable be the state of black communities? Would the strength of black men be an index variable? And finally, given that black women are at the root of all evil in the Mayor's theories would that variable be endogenous to, and co-linear with, all the others?

Perhaps an intrepid reader will detail a model (with an explanation) which we could post later in the week...

The Mayor of Blacktown's theories are also a great example of the ability to quite literally "think outside of the box" that is common to the most creatively gifted people. Interestingly, recent research is pointing to a relationship between creative genius and schizophrenia. It would seem that the most creative folks are able to draw connections between concepts and ideas in ways that the mundanes cannot.

This research also brings me personal peace. After years of frustration, I now finally have an explanation for my awkward and unique brilliance at Scattergories (true story: one of my ex queens--my White Wonder Woman of many years--loved to play that game with me not because I ever won, but because she and our friends found my bizarre examples quite entertaining).

The story follows:

Creative Minds 'Mimic Schizophrenia'

Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists who have been studying how the mind works.

Brain scans reveal striking similarities in the thought pathways of highly creative people and those with schizophrenia.

Both groups lack important receptors used to filter and direct thought.

It could be this uninhibited processing that allows creative people to "think outside the box", say experts from Sweden's Karolinska Institute.

In some people, it leads to mental illness.

But rather than a clear division, experts suspect a continuum, with some people having psychotic traits but few negative symptoms.

Some of the world's leading artists, writers and theorists have also had mental illnesses - the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and American mathematician John Nash (portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Beautiful Mind) to name just two.

Creativity is known to be associated with an increased risk of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Similarly, people who have mental illness in their family have a higher chance of being creative.

Associate Professor Fredrik Ullen believes his findings could help explain why.

He looked at the brain's dopamine (D2) receptor genes which experts believe govern divergent thought.

He found highly creative people who did well on tests of divergent thought had a lower than expected density of D2 receptors in the thalamus - as do people with schizophrenia.

The thalamus serves as a relay centre, filtering information before it reaches areas of the cortex, which is responsible, amongst other things, for cognition and reasoning.

"Fewer D2 receptors in the thalamus probably means a lower degree of signal filtering, and thus a higher flow of information from the thalamus," said Professor Ullen.

He believes it is this barrage of uncensored information that ignites the creative spark.

This would explain how highly creative people manage to see unusual connections in problem-solving situations that other people miss.

Schizophrenics share this same ability to make novel associations. But in schizophrenia, it results in bizarre and disturbing thoughts.

UK psychologist and member of the British Psychological Society Mark Millard said the overlap with mental illness might explain the motivation and determination creative people share.

"Creativity is uncomfortable. It is their dissatisfaction with the present that drives them on to make changes.

"Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It's like looking at a shattered mirror. They see the world in a fractured way.

"There is no sense of conventional limitations and you can see this in their work. Take Salvador Dali, for example. He certainly saw the world differently and behaved in a way that some people perceived as very odd."

He said businesses have already recognised and capitalised on this knowledge.

Some companies have "skunk works" - secure, secret laboratories for their highly creative staff where they can freely experiment without disrupting the daily business.

Chartered psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon says an ability to "suspend disbelief" is one way of looking at creativity.

"When you suspend disbelief you are prepared to believe anything and this opens up the scope for seeing more possibilities.

"Creativity is certainly about not being constrained by rules or accepting the restrictions that society places on us. Of course the more people break the rules, the more likely they are to be perceived as 'mentally ill'."

He works as an executive coach helping people to be more creative in their problem solving behaviour and thinking styles.

"The result is typically a significant rise in their well being, so as opposed to creativity being associated with mental illness it becomes associated with good mental health."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Glenn Beck (Dashiki in Waiting) is Now an Afrocentric Historian



In my years I have seen the Berlin Wall fall. I have seen the end of the Soviet Union. I have seen a Black man elected president. I have seen the deaths of Michael Jackson and Gary Coleman. None of these signs portended the End of Days. After watching Glenn Beck's Friday feature on "Black Patriots" and "the Founding," I am convinced that the end is upon us.

On that day I witnessed Glenn Beck channel the hidden histories of our people that were usually consigned to the Harlem book fair, Afrocentric bookstores, the 3rd World Press, and scholars like Kunjufu, Diop, Van Sertima, J.A. Rogers, Woodson, and Franklin. On that day, I almost expected Beck to don a dashiki and preach forth on the Isis papers.

This is the sign we have awaited.

In the spirit of the Left Behind series, with the sentiment of the Christian Nationalists whom believe that folks will fly out of their clothes when they are called home, and the madness of Jesus Camp, I believe the seventh seal has been opened.

When a man such as Glenn Beck can (re)introduce our own history to us--and make it real for Conservative America--I am moved. As I watch Glenn Beck mesmerize his viewers I smell sulfur. When I try to make sense of Beck's words I see a man that is a lover of himself and of money. He is boastful, proud, abusive, ungrateful, unholy.

Ultimately, when a man such as Glenn Beck can simultaneously harness the truth of our black history, while condemning the progressive and radical vision which spawned it, I indeed know that I have seen the End of Days.

One must ask: Is Beck's performance darkly humorous or is it tragic? And what of his Red State supplicants who may (or may not) get the joke?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Persistence of the Colorline: Of Pain, Suffering, and Empathy in Post-Racial America



What we have here is a tale of two empathy studies. The first story has gotten much more attention in the mainstream media. The second story has been more of an inside baseball piece circulated among specialists in their respective fields. I wonder why?

Study number one finds that both black and white test subjects have a strong level of empathy when shown images of individuals from their respective racial groups whom are in pain. In fact, these test subjects have such a strong level of empathy for "one of their own"--what is also a measure of inter-group distance--that both blacks and whites empathize more with a member of an imagined 3rd racial group, than across the colorline with each other.

Question: Is this frightening or comforting? What does this suggest about post-racial America in the best and worst of cases?

Study number two came to a set of slightly different, yet quite distinct and quite important findings. In this experiment, white and black test subjects were shown pictures of fellow members of their respective racial groups in the midst of a natural disaster or in a neutral setting, i.e. a picnic. African Americans showed much more empathy for black people suffering in a hurricane (presumably because of the still lingering, proverbial hangover from Hurricane Katrina) than did white respondents. Moreover, white respondents showed less empathy for suffering members of their own group than did African Americans for other black folk in distress.

Why would the first experiment receive much more coverage than the second? I would hypothesize that this divergence is a rich example of media framing wherein the first study (featured on CNN's front page) confirms the popular, colorblind, post-racial meme that all groups are equally capable of "racism" or "prejudice." Thus, efforts to claim responsibility (and to ameliorate injustice) are examples of "playing the race card." What ultimately leads to either the "all of our hands are dirty so please stop complaining" meme that is popular in some Conservative circles, or the equally specious and intellectually empty claim that "all oppressions are created equal" among some on the Left and in academia.

The second study also highlights a dimension of race and racial identity in the U.S. that some may find quite troubling. Could it be that black people (and I would hypothesize that an experiment with any "out-group" would show similar results) have a particular historical experience with white supremacy that has engendered a more radically humanistic approach to politics, justice, and society than for white folk at large in this society?

My claim is not one of blood and character per se, but rather of an understanding of how suffering under power informs our sense of linked fate, identity, and kinship. The history of black folks in this country speaks well to this point: the fictive kin relationships born in slavery and that continue to the present; our leadership in a range of freedom struggles; and the richness of our cultural and political vision--the Blues sensibility so often spoken of--which gives Black and Brown folk such a prescient insight into both the contradictions and hopeful possibilities of American democracy.

You tell me. How do you explain these findings? What do they tell us about the best and worst of our souls? Why will the first story be put on proverbial blast in the next few weeks, while the second has received comparatively little coverage? Is our ability to empathize (or not) with members of a different racial group a type of hard-wiring that cannot be undone, or is this just more evidence of nurture versus nature?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Declare Today a "Be White for a Day" Holiday



Speed is freedom.

Do you ever just want to "be?" To not have to worry about being a responsible citizen? Not worrying about race and justice? Being able to free oneself of their Blue's sensibility and the unique relationship black folk have to patriotism and the American project? Or not having to think about your racial identity and personhood and how it may or may not relate to your politics--be they personal, micro, or macro?



To make real these ends, I once a month declare myself a White person. I walk about Chicago not thinking about race. I go to a romantic comedy. I eat at Chipotle. I then go feed the seagulls at Navy Pier while eating some candy from Fox and Obel and reading a few comic books.

I don't do this to turn the logic of the one drop, hypo-descent rule on its ear in a moment of lived post modernism. Nor is this day a commentary on George Schuyler's Black No More. No, I take this holiday for my own peace of mind and mental health (as experts in psychology and public health know, racism is indeed a killer).

Sure, I could be writing about how a history teacher asked her students to dress up like KKK members and reenact a lynching. Alternatively, I could muse about the militarization of police departments, "killology," and how these two variables are directly connected to the tragic shooting death of Aiyana Jones. Maybe I could comment on Rand Paul and the White soul? Hell, if I were feeling really bold, I would fire a broad side about the newly released data about the seemingly never to be closed black/white wealth gap.

Not today. On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 I am taking a "Be White for a Day" holiday. Because the ultimate power of white privilege is the ability to determine when and how one will be uncomfortable, Whiteness is also the freedom to be blissfully ignorant, as well as to benefit from the "natural" order of things without having to take any responsibility for injustice. Such a grand and relaxing state of being, one that as a mere respectable negro I can't possibly imagine...but for one day a month I am free to drink from those ambrosia laced springs.



Utter joy.

Perhaps this holiday (now celebrated by only one person) will spread across the blogosphere (and yes, white people can also participate in this White holiday). Who knows? Maybe the Be White for a Day Holiday will gain national recognition. In post-racial America maybe our children, especially those black and brown kids who know not of a world where Obama is not President, will one day know the privilege and joy of being White for a day.

A brother can dream can't he? So tell me friends, how will you spend your Be White for a Day holiday? Have you ever dreamed of something so wondrous?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Of Rand Paul, Boondocks, Jimmy Rebel, and Uncle Ruckus



Damn, I thought I knew all the racist slurs for Black folk. Now, as a result of racial pejorative escalation, I have to up my game and add these new creative turns of wordplay to a lexicon that formerly ended with moon cricket. My work is never done. In fact, tomorrow I am going to download this song, put in on my found Ipod (no, I really found it on the street as there is no way in hell I would pay for such an infernal machine), and play it whenever ign'ts upset me on the bus.

Which leads us to a quick question to start the day. Is Jimmy Rebel's and Uncle Ruckus' song, "The President is a Nigger" most popular with:

A) Tea Party attendees.

B) Black Conservatives.

C) Rand Paul supporters.

D) Devotees of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

You make the call.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What if I Taught History the Texas Board of Education's Way?



As a follow-up to my alternate timeline of U.S. history as offered by Texas and Arizona, I asked our resident historian Wernor Herzog's Bear to write an actual lecture suitable for those guidelines. So imagine if you would, your children being socialized into this new truth. Ask yourself, what will be the consequences of this Orwellian, Christian Dominionist, Right-wing Conservative rewriting of history for how students will come to view their roles as citizens, neighbors, and voters in 21st century America? Who are the winners? Who are the losers? And ultimately, what type of future will they craft?

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As many of you know, the Texas State Board of Education is about to have a vote on its social studies standards, which enshrine a Teabagger/Christian Nationalist view of American history. As a fun little exercise, I decided to write out a lecture on the Constitution that conforms to the standards. Although there's a little exaggeration here, it matches the new standards much more so than what I teach now, which is based on the work of actual professional historians.

*************************

Today class we will be discussing the creation of the Constitution. Last week during our class on the revolution we talked about the Articles of Confederation, which was America’s first form of government. It seems that the Articles just didn’t provide enough freedom, so the Founding Fathers in their infinite wisdom, guided by the hand of God, composed a more perfect document.

Their convention met in 1787, in Philadelphia. I should have you note that while many important Founders were there, Thomas Jefferson was not. You see, he really wasn’t all that significant, after all. We all know there would be no place for a Godless deist amongst the committed Christians who were going to accomplish God’s divine mission.

The Founders had a lot of ideas and precedents in their minds when they met in Philadelphia. They’d read the works of great Christian thinkers like Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin, and wanted to craft a constitution that was like the Ten Commandments, the most perfect example that they could find. What better source for how to live our lives is there than the Bible? They had read some stuff from the Enlightenment too, but understood that most of its ideas led to secular humanism.

God’s plan included sacred principles like the separation of powers and checks and balances, which were intended to create the maximum amount of freedom possible. Most importantly, it established a federal system of government, which means that the states have the freedom to defend their rights and do whatever they want. Unfortunately, that principle would not be followed in later years, leading to the unfortunate War Between the States.

There was something for everyone in the Constitution. Even slaves, who had already benefitted so much by being rescued from the horrors of the Dark Continent at the hands of benevolent European slave traders, got rights under the Constitution. Although they technically could have gotten nothing, they were given the status of 3/5s of a person, which was very generous for the time. Don’t forget, even though some of the Founders owned slaves, no one thought what they were doing was wrong at the time. And in any case, those benighted Africans weren’t going to civilize themselves!

After the Constitution was written, the Founders realized that it could use even more freedom, and so they added the Bill of Rights. The most important amendments are the second, first, and tenth. The Second Amendment gives all of us a right to bear arms, the only thing we have to protect our freedom, especially when the federal government oversteps its bounds. The First Amendment is especially important. Because the very first freedom mentioned in the Bill of Rights is that of religion, that means that America is without a doubt a Christian nation. Last, but not least, the Tenth Amendment protects states rights, and if properly interpreted, bans horrible tyranny like Obamacare.

Of course, sometimes we take some of these amendments too far. The Founders never would have thought that the Eighth Amendment banned torture, especially when applied to Muslim infidels. It’s great that we have the Fourth Amendment to protect us from the government taking our guns, but it shouldn’t be used to protect terrorists and allow women to have abortions. Hopefully someday these perversions of the Constitution will finally be overturned, and the will of God made manifest through this perfect document will be able to shine fully once again.

Friday, May 21, 2010

In the Interest of Equal Time: Rand Paul is No Barry Goldwater on Civil Rights



I do have something to say on this Rand Paul "revealing who he has always been" moment. But, why write now, when there are folks who are saying it better than I ever could?

And don't ever say that I don't think that Conservatives have something to offer. My enemy is stupidity and demagoguery wherever I may find it. Although I may not agree with every point, what follows is a reasoned, reflective engagement with the relationship between libertarianism and white supremacy that is well worth reading.

From Capital Gains and Games:

Rand Paul is No Barry Goldwater on Civil Rights


Rand Paul, son of legendary libertarian Congressman Ron Paul, for whom I worked in the 1970s, is now the official Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky. Perhaps unfortunately for him, he did not get a great deal of national press scrutiny during his primary campaign because he was an outsider that many in the national press corps thought could not win. Now that he has, they are making up for lost time. And Rand has accommodated them by repeatedly saying that he would not have voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on libertarian grounds: private businesses should not be forced to serve African Americans if they so choose. Presumably, market pressure will eventually force them to be more accommodating. If it doesn't, then so be it, Rand believes.

Both Rand's supporters and critics point to Senator Barry Goldwater's principled opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, according to Rick Perlstein's excellent book, Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, Goldwater's opposition to the Civil Rights Act was based entirely on constitutional concerns. He had been told by both William Rehnquist, then a private attorney in Phoenix and later chief justice of the Supreme Court, and Robert Bork, then a professor of constitutional law at Yale, that it was unconstitutional. Bork even sent him a 75-page brief to that effect.

To be sure, the Rehnquist-Bork position was not a lame rationalization for racism. It was rooted in the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially replicated the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which was enacted by a Republican Congress over strenuous Democratic opposition. However, in 1883 the Supreme Court, then it its most libertarian phase, knocked down the 1875 act as well as many other Republican measures passed during Reconstruction designed to aid African Americans. The Court's philosophy in these cases led logically to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which essentially gave constitutional protection to legal segregation enforced by state and local governments throughout the U.S.

As we know from history, the free market did not lead to a breakdown of segregation. Indeed, it got much worse, not just because it was enforced by law but because it was mandated by self-reinforcing societal pressure. Any store owner in the South who chose to serve blacks would certainly have lost far more business among whites than he gained. There is no reason to believe that this system wouldn't have perpetuated itself absent outside pressure for change.

In short, the libertarian philosophy of Rand Paul and the Supreme Court of the 1880s and 1890s gave us almost 100 years of segregation, white supremacy, lynchings, chain gangs, the KKK, and discrimination of African Americans for no other reason except their skin color. The gains made by the former slaves in the years after the Civil War were completely reversed once the Supreme Court effectively prevented the federal government from protecting them. Thus we have a perfect test of the libertarian philosophy and an indisputable conclusion: it didn't work. Freedom did not lead to a decline in racism; it only got worse.

Sadly, it took the Supreme Court more than 50 years after Plessy before it began to undo its mistake in Brown. This led to repeated efforts by the Eisenhower administration to enact civil rights legislation, which was opposed and gutted by Senate Democrats led by Lyndon Johnson. But by 1964, it was clear to Johnson that the tide had turned. The federal courts were moving to dismantle segregation to the extent they could, and the 1963 March on Washington, the murder and beating of civil rights demonstrators in the South and growing awareness of such atrocities changed the political climate and made the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possible--despite the filibuster against it by Senator Robert C. Byrd, who still serves in the Senate today.

If Rand Paul were saying that he agrees with the Goldwater-Rehnquist-Bork view that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was unconstitutional and that the Supreme Court was wrong to subsequently find it constitutional, that would be an eccentric but defensible position. If he were saying that the Civil Rights Act were no longer necessary because of the great strides we have made as a country in eradicating racism, that would also be defensible. But Rand's position is that it was wrong in principle in 1964. There is no other way of interpreting this except as an endorsement of all the things the Civil Rights Act was designed to prohibit, as favoring the status quo throughout the South that would have led to a continuation of segregation and discrimination against African Americans at least for many more years. Undoubtedly, changing mores would have broken down some of this over time, but there is no reason to believe that it would have been quick or that vestiges wouldn't still remain today. Indeed, vestiges remain despite the Civil Rights Act.

I don't believe Rand is a racist; I think he is a fool who is suffering from the foolish consistency syndrome that affects all libertarians. They believe that freedom consists of one thing and one thing only--freedom from governmental constraint. Therefore, it is illogical to them that any increase in government power could ever expand freedom. Yet it is clear that African Americans were far from free in 1964 and that the Civil Rights Act greatly expanded their freedom while diminishing that of racists. To defend the rights of racists to discriminate is reprehensible and especially so when it is done by a major party nominee for the U.S. Senate. I believe that Rand should admit that he was wrong as quickly as possible.

Addendum

The gist of the libertarian critique of this post, both here and on other blogs, seems to be that since segregation was enforced by the states it proves nothing about whether a libertarian society would lead to a decline in racism. Fine. But it doesn't address the original point of this post, which relates to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without it, what force was going to make the Southern states drop their racist laws? As I point out, we had an almost 100 year test of whether market/social forces were capable of changing the laws and customs in the Southern states and eliminate segregation. It didn't happen and there's no reason to think it was necessarily ever going to happen if the Southern states were left to their own devices. I believe that federal intervention was critical to eliminate the racist laws of the Southern states that restricted the freedom of African Americans. Restricting the freedom of racists to discriminate seems to be to be a very small price to pay and that on balance CRA greatly expanded aggregate freedom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What Would U.S. History Look Like If It Were Written By Texas and Arizona?

History is one part truth. History is also one part fable. It is a site of political contestation and struggle. As the state of Arizona (with its rules banning “Ethnic Studies”) and the state of Texas (reimaging its U.S. history curriculum to conform with the Tea Party and Christian Nationalist perspective) have both embraced a more “conservative” view of history, it only seems fair and reasonable to take their efforts at face value. Theirs is not an assault on academic freedom. No, it is an effort to diversify and make more inclusive and “American” the curriculum taught to our children.

Many, on both sides of the political divide, have treated these new guidelines with much derision and complaint. I suggest that the best way to understand the teaching of history as imagined by this brave new world is to work through the reality it offers. To that end, I present U.S. history as outlined in the politically correct guidelines offered by Arizona and Texas. Sometimes the old is indeed the new…welcome my friends to Tea Party U.S.A.

The Essential Dates and Events of U.S. History as Approved by the States of Arizona and Texas

1607– Jamestown founded. Capitalism, which can trace its roots to the Bible, is now firmly rooted in the New World.

1660-1800Triangular Atlantic trade continues to bring wealth and prosperity to America while giving opportunities to new immigrants.

1776–War for Independence against the tyrannical, evil British empire. Colonists suffer oppression that is unprecedented in human history. Minutemen singlehandedly defeat the evil British Empire in 1783.

1788–The United States Constitution is signed as a document to stand for all time, inspired by God, and never to be changed.

1803-1848
–America continues to expand westward into empty territories. American settlers make the land bloom with the help of friendly Indian tribes.

1823–America guarantees the freedom of all countries and people in the Western Hemisphere with the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine.

1848–Mexico, in an act of friendship following their humiliation at the Alamo by the great Republic of Texas, gives their territories to the United States.

1860s-1900s–The Gilded Age of prosperity. American capitalism provides opportunities for all people to grow wealthy, secure, and happy. Liberals and Progressives begin working against American freedom and capitalism by forming unions, demanding unfair compensation from their employers, limiting the rights of children to work in factories, and imposing restrictive regulations for the “safety” of employees. Many brave men die fighting Communist influenced unions as they riot in America’s cities.

1861-1865–Civil War fought because of an overreaching, tyrannical federal government and its desire to limit the freedoms of all Americans. 620,000 people die including many brave and noble black Americans who fought on the side of the Confederacy. Northerners and Southerners eventually find common ground through Redemption and move forward as brothers and sisters in the USA.

1865-1870s–Democratic terrorists called the Ku Klux Klan begin a reign of terror in the South until brave Republicans defeat them.

1906
–Using the Antiquities Act, Theodore Roosevelt establishes the National Park System. In one bold stroke Roosevelt establishes Socialist policies that steal land from the American people.

1913–More Socialism and class warfare ushered into the U.S. with the federal income tax system.

1917–America enters and wins World War 1 singlehandedly because the French are cowards.

1929–Great Depression begins. Tens of millions unemployed because of FDR’s failed economic policies. His New Deal introduces the nanny state, prolongs America’s economic collapse, and weakens the economy until Ronald Reagan renews America.

1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.

1941-1945–America enters and wins World War 2 singlehandedly because the French are cowards. Out of necessity, the United States drops atomic bombs on Japan.

1945-1965–A high point in U.S. history, as freedom and prosperity reign over all Americans.

1950–Senator Joseph McCarthy fearlessly highlights how America is infiltrated by communists from Russia and China. Big Hollywood and the liberal establishment are brought to their knees by his brave efforts.

1954–Brown v. Board of Education removes the parental right to send children to the schools of their choice and with the company they desire. A dangerous and unconstitutional era of activist Supreme Court decisions begins.

1955-1968–George Wallace and Martin Luther King Jr. lead a Civil Rights Movement to ensure that all Americans are judged by “the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”

1964-Barry Goldwater ignites a revolution in Conservative thought and values that resonates to the 21st century.

1968–The cinematic classic The Green Berets starring John Wayne, America’s greatest actor, debuts.

1971–America largely withdraws from Vietnam on the cusp of victory because it was weakened by The Gays, The Women’s Movement, and “The Counter-culture.” The French are cowards whose failure forced the U.S. to intervene in Indochina.

1973–Roe vs. Wade, the worst legal decision in the history of the Supreme Court is decided.

1974-Phyllis Schlafly, pioneer for the rights of women, takes a stand against evil Leftist feminists who want to ban motherhood, force mothers to work at jobs outside the home, join the military, become lesbians, and receive advanced educations which they do not need.

1974Nixon forced to resign by liberal conspiracy.

1980–Ronald Reagan, America’s greatest president, restores American providence by ushering in a new era of economic prosperity, cutting the federal budget, and corrects the unfair federal tax code in order that the hard work of the richest Americans is justly rewarded.

1989–The Berlin Wall falls. Ronald Reagan wins the Cold War singlehandedly.

1992-2000–Democrat president Bill Clinton in office. His reckless personal behavior and irresponsible foreign policy choices weaken America internationally. The U.S. economy is almost destroyed by his tax policies. His wife Hillary Clinton furthers the march towards Socialism by advocating for free public health care and to destroy the insurance companies that drive us economic growth.

2000–George Bush elected in a landslide.

2001–Terrorists attack America on September 11th. Because of Bill Clinton’s policies, a weakened border, a lax immigration policy, rampant multiculturalism, and the Democrats’ weakening of the military, America is left open to attack.

2003–Dr. King’s vision is finally made real. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court strikes down the reverse discrimination policies of the University of Michigan. Freedom rings across the land.

2003The country of Iraq, a rogue state, part of the Axis of Evil, and led by the dictator Saddam Hussein–a co-conspirator in the 9-11 attacks–is liberated by President George Bush.

2008-Arizona war hero John McCain introduces Sarah Palin to the world.

2008–Barack Obama is elected. America is in a Constitutional crisis as Obama is unable to prove that he is a U.S. citizen.

2008-the present. Brave Americans begin joining Tea Parties and 9-12 freedom groups. Millions of their members march on Washington DC.. Freedom fighter, James David Manning, places Obama on trial in absentia for treason and sedition.

2008Sarah Palin, mother, governor, author, actress, comedienne and role-model begins here meteoric rise to political stardom. She ushers in an era of robust, common sense approaches to political problems tempered by real American values.

2010Barack Obama remains President although his rule is illegitimate. Brave patriots such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh continue to lead the people’s resistance against his tyrannical rule.

2010-Patriotic legislatures in Texas and Arizona lead the battle against racial quotas and ethnocentrism as they draft legislation to defend all of America from an unending and unfettered stream of foreign invaders.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My exchange with a Tea Party wingnut (annotated)



Every once in a while, I engage in the Sisyphean task of arguing with a dimwit over the internet, or as I call it, slapboxing the armless.

The details of the exchange aren’t really that important. All you need to know is that yours truly (GG) responded to the Tea Party Wingnut (TPW) as he waxed idiotic on the topic of Arizona’s recent immigration law.

I find this all hilarious, obviously, but the sobering truth is that this person’s vote counts as much as mine. Moreover, because nuanced thought is kryptonite to the popular corporate media, he’s also more likely than I am to have his political views represented in popular newspapers, magazines, and TV shows.

The most depressing part of all of this is that there are literally millions of people like this guy, and this TPW is probably in the middle of the distribution in terms of intelligence.

Maybe it’s not so funny after all.

Enjoy.


----------------------

TPW: FACE IT OBAMA IS ILLEAGLE,[1] SO HE IS GOING TO DO EVERYTHING IN HIS ILL GOTTEN POWERS TO HURT AMERICA.[2] HIS CRONNIES ARE GOING TO ATTACK THE GOV OF ARIZONA AND PUT PRESSURE ON HIM THREATING TO TAKE FEDERAL FUDS FROM HIS STATE. IF HE DOES NOT DROP THIS LAW. PUBLIC ENEMY SAID IT BEST FIGHT THE POWER. SO RACIAL PROFILEN IS NOT THE SUBJECT.[3] IFR YOU DON'T BELONG HERE IN THE GOOD OLD USA GO BSACK TO WHERE YOU COME FROM IA MEXICO OR KENYA MR .OBAMA.[4]

GG: What color is the sky in your fantasy world?[5]


(at this point, TPW started sending me private messages. That’s when the real fun began).

TPW: MY SKY IS BLUE, SO THAT CRAP OBAMA IS SELLING YOU WAKE UP ALICE YOU ARE STILL IN WONDERLAND.OBAMA FOOLED OVER 4 MILLON NEW VOTERS TO VOTE FOR HIM JUST BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK, NOT KNOWING A DAM THING ABOUT HIS VIEWS.[6] AND AS FAR AS ILLEGALS IN THE COUNTRY FUCK'EM THEY ARE RIDING THE GRAVY TRAIN THAT AMERICANS ARE PAYING INTO IA FREE HEALTH CARE NOT... See More OBAMAS,HOUSING,TAX BREAKS AT THE END OF THE YEAR. HOW IN THE HELL DO YOU GET FED MONEY WHEN YOU PAY NO TAXS? OH BY THE WAY IF I AM BADFOR THIS COUNTRY,THEN 23 STATES IN THE UNION ARE TO.LAW SUITS AGAINST THE FED GOV OVER SHITTY HCR,[7] PLEASE GET A LIFE. NOT SINCE THE CIVIL WAR HAS THEIR BEEN AN OUT CRY AGAINST THE GOV,[8]BUT ONLY 13 STATES VIEWED IT DIFFERENT 46% OF THE UNION AND 56% OF THE AMERICAN POPULATION THINK OBAMA IS A JOKE.[9] OH I SUPPOSE YOU BELIEVE IN PAYING FOR ILLEGAL BIRTHS IN THE U.S.A. SO MRS. HERNANDEZ,CHOW,GRENDISKY AND SO LU CHE CAN BECOME AMERICANS.[10] YOU BLOW YOU TAX DOLLARS ON WASTED CRAP NOT MINE.

GG: i'm a member of the reality based community that believes in facts, not the hypocritical fairy tales peddled by dim-witted right wing entertainers.

it's never too late to join. if you do, i would be glad to have grown-up conversations about our political and ideological differences. until then, don't clog up my inbox with this silly, typo-ridden bullshit.


TPW: YOU DEMOCRATIC FOOLS[11] BY INTO GARBAGE,ALL QUOTES I ADD ARE FACTS FOX NEWS,CNN,TIME MAG,MSNBC ETC.... INTERNET SOURCES.[12] DO THE MATH 23 STAES OUT OF 50 STATES I WOULD SAY 46% IS A ROUND ABOUT FIGURE. OH I FORGOT THE 3.5 TRILLON DEBT THE IMPOSTER HAS AMERICA IN. LET'S NOT BLAME BUSH THAT IS THE CARD DEMS LIKE TO USE. BUSH WAS IN THE HOLE ROUND ABOUT FIG 1.3-1.6 TRILLON DOLLARS HE ADDED THAT IN EIGHT YEARS OBAMA HAS BEEN IN OFFICE 15 MONTHS AND ADDED 2 TRILLON TO THE DEBT GET REAL. ALSO WHY IS HE LEANING TOWARDS THE PALISTENIANS IN ISREALS COUNTRY. HELLO IT'S ISREALS COUNTRY BUILD WHERE YOU WANNA BUILD.[13] HE IS PISSING OFF OUR ONLY TRUE ALLIA BRITIAN,AND THE REST ARE COAT TAIL RIDERS. SO WHEN YOU WANT TO TALK GOV ISSUES COME WITH SOME REAL FACTS NOT JUST WORDS BLURTING OUT DEMOCRATIC GARBAGE. I FEAR NOT NOVEMBER ELECTIONS ARE NEAR REPUBLICANS WELL TAKE BACK THE HOUSE, AND OBAMA WELL FELL THE HEAT.[14]

GG: sad. i feel sorry for you.[15]

TPW: WORDS OF WISDOM FROM A DEMOCRATE. LOL LOL YOU NEED TO FEEL SORRY FOR OUR COUNTRY,WE ARE ON THE BRINK OF DESTRUCTION FROM WITH IN, AND PEOPLE ARE BLIND OR JUST DONT CARE. MYSELF ALONG WITH OVER HALF THE NATION WILL NOT PUT UP WITH THE SHIFTY EYED FORKED TOUNGE[16] GOVERNMENT IN PLACE IN D.C. CHANGE IS A COMING, I HOPE YOU TAKE OFF THE BLINDERS, AND LOOK AROUND AND SEE WHAT THE REST OF THE COUNTRY SEES GOOD LUCK. P.S. NO NEED TO FEEL SORRY OR SAD ME AND MINE ARE JUST FINE. I AM WELL EDUCATED BS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE @ AS IN PSYCOLOGY. SPELLING IS NOT MY BEST WORK[17] BUT MY FINDINGS ARE WELL STATED AND BACKED UP.[18]


TPW: P.S. RACE IS OUT OF THE ? FOR I HAVE A BEAUTIFUL AFRO-AMERICANWIFE,AND LOVEN IT.[19] P.S SHE THINKS THE SAME ALONG WITH MANNNNNNNY[20] BLACKS I KNOW.

GG: huh? when did i mention race? you sound a bit defensive, friend. anybody who feels the need to trot out a black wife (or a black tea party member) to defend themselves from racism might be a tad insecure. overcompensating for something?

ever hear of the phrase "thou doth protest too much?"[21]


TPW: DON'T HAVE TO OVERCOMPENSAT FOR ANYTHING,JUST POINTING OUT THE FACT THAT PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT OBAMA @ HIS CRAZY ETICS LIKIE TO PLAY THE RACE CARD[22] WHEN SOMEONE FINDS MANY FAULTS IN HIS ABULITY TO RUN THE FREE WORLD. WAKE UP BRO THE WOOL HAS FALLEN OFF HIS BACK AND THE WOLF IS OUT IN THE OPEN,HE IS SO BOLD WITH HIS CROOKEDNESS.

----------------------


Notes:

[1] I know, I know. It’s cheap to make fun of folks’ spelling and grammar mistakes, but damn. And this is the kind of asshole who will make a stink about “Mexican’ts” needing to learn English.

[2] Note: When Republicans win elections, conservatives trumpet the sanctity of the electoral process and the mandate it confers on the victors; when Democrats win, their governance is illegitimate and their powers are “ill gotten.”

[3] I like how he thinks that referencing a black rap group absolves him from the charge that he’s supporting racial profiling. This tokenism will be a recurring theme.

[4] I didn’t even know that people still said “The Good Old USA” without a trace of irony. Also, I like how he thinks he can tell who “belong[s]” in the country. Stay tuned, it gets better.

[5] I thought it’d keep it simple and symbolic. If I’d decided to highlight even a fraction of the inaccuracies here, my response would have been 3 pages long. Plus, these types do not respond to facts anyway.

[6] This is my favorite part. Obama “fooled” 4 million people into voting for him? Based strictly on his blackness? The depth of right-wing denial is staggering. These people simply refuse to admit that their country rejected a “war hero” and a “real American” in favor of a black, supposedly anti-American, multicultural, egghead. By the way, according to this guy, black people and liberals are the ones who love to “play the race card.” You know it’s coming.

[7] So, let me get this straight—the actions of elected federal government officials are illegitimate, but the actions of elected state government officials represent the will of the people? Got it. Keep this in mind.

[8] Now he’s comparing the right wing vitriol toward Obama to the Confederate rebellion against the Union. That’s right the Confederacy—the most extreme version of institutionalized White supremacy this country has ever seen. And yet these morons want to bristle at the charges of anti-black animus.

[9] Here he’s invoking public opinion polls about Obama’s declining popularity. I suppose I could inform him that the same polls show that congressional Republicans are far less popular than Obama, but what would be the point?

[10] The ignorance of these people is baffling.He thinks he can identify non-Americans by their “foreign-sounding” names. I wonder what he thinks of Bush administration criminals John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales? I mean, what would he think of them if he knew who they were?

[11] He assumes that all critics of Tea Party lunacy must be partisan Democrats. I’ve said it a million times before: binary thinking is the mark of a simple mind.

[12] Isn’t this the “liberal media?” And “internet sources” is hilarious—it’s like someone writing “most conservatives are sexual deviants (source: books).”

[13] If there’s anyone I trust on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s this guy (and maybe Joe the Plumber).

[14] Remember Obama’s “ill gotten powers” and all the railing against the federal government? Of course he’s prepared to toss all that aside when Republicans regain control of congress.

[15] Really, what else could I say at this point?

[16] Lizard people reference?

[17] At least he realizes it.

[18] This statement captures our modern, fact-averse culture in a nutshell. One of the best examples of truthiness I’ve seen in quite a while.

[19] A sure sign you don’t know any black people: you use the term “Afro-American.” Wow. The dating market for black women must be even worse than CNN says it is. What kind of black woman would be with this goon? I hope that he’s just lying.

[20] Take one wild guess as to what the extra “N”s stand for.

[21] I’m pretty sure he’d never heard this phrase before now.

[22] There it is!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Funny: Notes on the Barack Obama Trial in Harlem, the Public Sphere, and Baboons Jumping on Trampolines



This is what a truly dynamic public sphere ought to be--folks fighting it out on the streets over important issues of public policy.

With the spirit of a a baboon jumping on a trampoline, the erstwhile Pastor Manning had promised to bring 30,000 people to Columbia University for the sedition and treason "trial" of Barack Obama. As detailed by Salon's great coverage of the event (be sure to check out the indictments against Obama and Manning's creative jury selection process), sadly it seems, maybe 80 or so "patriots" showed up for the event.

If Pastor Manning's conspiracy theory is any indication, the trial must have been great theater:



Say it one time with me folks, Boom Shakalaka! ATLAH! Why? Because that is what God says! Or at least that is what Pastor Manning says God says.

**Insert random moment of self-approval as that last sentence was like wiping my behind with silk.**

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Resolved: Michael Steele has been Voted Out of the Tribe of Respectable Negroes


It has been decided. For his pernicious, foul, and repeated betrayals of all that Black respectability entails, Michael Steele, cowardly, head slave catcher of the GOP, has been voted out of the tribe. Let his name never be spoken again. All mentions of him shall be stricken from our records.

Always be vigilante and mindful of the traitors in our ranks. Remember, when you hear the call of battle to answer it, for when these traitors raise their heads they must be smote.

Kaplah!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Help Me Understand? Ethnic Studies Ban in Arizona Debated by Michael Dyson and Tom Horne



I am at a loss. This one is yours.

Please help me understand this lunacy, stupidity, and screed against critical thinking as offered by white racial reactionaries in Arizona. And Lord why do these knuckleheads keep talking about Dr. King, a man they would hate if they truly understood the breadth and genius of his radically humanistic philosophy?

Are these Right Wing, Conservative Tea Bagger, Xenophobic, Vox Populi types:

A) Dumb

B) Stupid

C) Bigoted

D) All of the Above

E) Something else

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Convene a War Council: Michael Steele Defames Judge Thurgood Marshall and Should Thus be Expelled from the Tribe of Black Folk



I have not called a war council in many moons. As a tribe expands, a community needs to expose the newest members to some of its most earnest traditions. In doing so, one must always remember that a slavish devotion to tradition can leave a people obsolete, hamstrung, and weakened. But, tradition can also rejuvenate, sustain, and empower us. It is in the spirit of the latter that we return to the wellspring which nurtures the tribe that is We Are Respectable Negroes.

****

Supreme Court battles are spectacles that are less about the qualifications of a given nominee than they are opportunities for the Republicans and Democrats to speak to their constituents as they rally around a given set of talking points. For the out party, the Supreme Court nomination process is a chance to rally their base and remain relevant. During these times, important signals are sent to the party faithful regarding what it means to be an ideologically "correct" Republican or Democrat. In keeping with this strategy, Michael Steele, Chairman of the GOP sent a clear signal to his base as he defiled the memory of Judge Thurgood Marshall--one of America's greatest heroes. To point: In the following press release, Michael Steele in an appeal to the strict constructionist, Constitutional fetishists that are the bleeding heart of his party stated that:

“Over the past year, the American people have been witness to President Obama’s massive expansion of the federal government into our daily lives. To assure the American people, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, will need to demonstrate that she is committed to upholding the vision of our Founding Fathers, who wrote a Constitution meant to limit the power of government, not expand it. The President has stated repeatedly that he wants a justice who will understand the effects of decisions on the lives of everyday Americans. But what Americans want is a justice who will stay true to the Constitution and defend the rights of all Americans, adhering to the rule of law instead of legislating from the bench. Given Kagan’s opposition to allowing military recruiters access to her law school’s campus, her endorsement of the liberal agenda and her support for statements suggesting that the Constitution “as originally drafted and conceived, was ‘defective,’” you can expect Senate Republicans to respectfully raise serious and tough questions to ensure the American people can thoroughly and thoughtfully examine Kagan’s qualifications and legal philosophy before she is confirmed to a lifetime appointment.”

Yes Mr. Steele, a Constitution which enshrined white supremacy as the rule of the land, deemed black Americans 3/5th's of a person, and restricted women and property-less white men from voting was in fact defective.

And yes Mr. Steele, the bolded words are those of Judge Thurgood Marshall.

Random factoid: did you know that in the late 18th century that only about one-fourth of Americans were eligible to vote? So much for democracy, no?

The irony of Mr. Steele's comments are not lost, as America's first Black Supreme Court Justice, and litigator for the NAACP in a series of cases leading to the monumental Brown vs. Board decision, struggled to make the freedoms and opportunities enjoyed by the chair of the GOP a reality. Despite Steele's questionable loyalty to the tribe that is Black America, and his earnest boot licking for the tea baggers and his White Republican Masters, men like Thurgood Marshall are the proverbial fathers of 21st century Black America. He, like Brother Malcolm and Brother Martin, is our father, brother, cousin, mentor, and sage. A giant of a man, we are forever in Judge Marshall's debt. Lest we forget, without Thurgood Marshall, there would be no President Obama.



I have not argued for the discommendation of a Negro in some time. Mr. Steele's comments (as well as the sum total of his behavior during his tenure as head of the Republican Party) have forced my hand. In keeping with our traditions:

Because of his despicable actions in defaming Judge Thurgood Marshall, I hereby, according to the by-laws of the respectable negro council, submit Michael Steele for excommunication from the tribe of honorable negroes.

Per the following designated categories, Michael Steele through his actions has shed the last remnants of personal honor and therefore must suffer discommendation because of the following indicated offense(s):

___ Driving Miss Daisy

X Bagger Vancing

X Clarence Thomas Lap Dogging

___ O.J.'ing

X Blatant Victomology a.k.a. the Jesse Jackson Offense

X Black Lap Dogging before a Conservative Audience

X Consistent and Chronic Lack of Race Pride

X Cooning and Lawn Jockeying a.k.a the Crime of Committing the Flava Flav

As a senior member of the We Are Respectable Negroes leadership council, I need the agreement of one other founding member, and the votes of 5 other members of the respectable negro tribe (or alternatively, 4 lifetime members and one honorable white ally) to complete Michael Steele's expulsion. If I have indicated the incorrect offense, or if Michael Steele should suffer discommendation because he has instead violated some other unstated and auxiliary regulation not listed above, please indicate this discrepancy according to our established rules and procedures.

Respectfully submitted,

Chauncey DeVega

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

White Privilege Boot Camp Courtesy of the Black Israelites



Wham. Boom. Pow. Damn!



I love street theater. I especially love agitprop disguised as teaching and knowledge. I have been thinking a great deal about our conversation on white privilege and my using Paul Mooney and David Chappelle as a lens for discussing race in America. In reflecting on my experiences in the classroom, I started thinking about how some students--white and black--found my approach too serious, or that I should let them express their feelings more. As I said earlier, we got's serious work to do, and I am no one's therapist.

In a quite timely, and unexpectedly coincidental fashion, a former student of mine emailed me. She is taking a course on Race and Sociology at an institution with which I was formerly affiliated. While there I had a reputation as the "mean," "tough," black, "race obsessed" professor. That may be true--but folks went to school when they were in my seminars. Trust me. Ironically, I was feared while there, but now fondly remembered by some.

My former student proceeded to explain how her class is all Oprah Winfreyesque, and the professor is more interested in discussing "feelings" and "guilt" than in critical discourse. Apparently, there is a cadre of my former padawans in the class and the feeling seems to be a shared one.

In trying to explain the logic underlying her new teacher's pedagogical approach I pointed out two things. One, race is certainly part of this (as said instructor is a White teacher at a predominantly White institution, so she is sympathetic to the "boo hoo, I feel so guilty" deflection and"I don't know what to do, yet I know I won't give up any wealth or privilege" that some white folk play when their Whiteness is put on blast). And gender may be a component too, as the professor is female. Yes, I do think there is something to the particular intersections of whiteness, gender, and feminism that color how white women teach and approach their scholarship on race. Just as my identity as a black man colors my work, gender and race have a profound influence on how white women navigate these issues as well.

Ultimately, I told my former student that in my best paraphrasing of Jesse the Body Ventura in the movie Predator, that "I ain't got time to bleed."

Why? White teachers and professors have in general not shown much compassion, coddling, and attention to the feelings of people of color in the classroom (the "please random coloured person speak for your race" moment that many of us have witnessed in the hollowed halls of academia for example). Frankly, I am not going to extend white students a courtesy that I/we/you have not been afforded because to do so reinforces the white privilege that is the rotten heart of Whiteness in this country.

Funny, if some of my former students thought I was hard, God knows what said folk would have done if a brother from the Black Israelites walked into the room. And once more to privilege, the Black Israelites may rule that corner and have the ability to make naive white college students who are drunk on the possibilities of post-racial radical humanism as they hook up with cute racially ambiguous boys after a game of beer pong cry, but they ain't got no real juice.

Am I dark and twisted as I laugh at the predictable outcome of Black rage, white fear, white denial, and the inevitable power of white women's tears in this video? Well actually they were rendered ineffective by said brother's verbal Kryptonite. Being a bit more provocative: Is there anything that he said regarding whiteness as property, power, and privilege in the U.S. that was (generally) untrue?