Thursday, March 10, 2011
A Thursday Tickler: Which is Funnier? Drunken History's Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln or Mike Tyson Does the President's Speech?
How naughty...a Thursday tickler. That sounds like the cousin to a French tickler but without the freedom fries--bonus points if you get the joke. I wonder if Northwestern University would allow me to demonstrate such a device?
Here is a good laugh to start the day. The absurdity parade continues this week where real life is indeed stranger and more surreal than fiction (and which I will offer comment on shortly). We have the "Muslim McCarthy Hearings," Tea Party GOP resident hypocrite in chief Newt Gingrich's excuse making that patriotism made him cheat on his (then) wife, and of course the big lie hooga mooga tricksterism that resulted in the ousting of one of the head muckety-mucks at NPR. Damn, I can still turn a country English Grey Poupon infused phrase that is one part Grady from Sanford and Son mixed with a bit of Pudd'nhead Wilson. Twain would indeed be quite proud.
What absurdities would you add to our list of Thursday Ticklers?
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Premise: White people in America are oppressed. Problem: If white folks are losing, I can't even begin to imagine who is winning.
Over the weekend CNN featured an article which examined the question of how and if white Americans are oppressed in the Age of Obama. As of today, that story has almost 8,000 comments and has been shared on Facebook by 46,000 people. Voices as varied as Tocqueville, Myrdal, Hacker, Dubois, and others have long observed that race is America's national obsession. It predated the country's founding; was a crucial problem at the heart of America's "democratic" origins as a slaveocracy; and even after the Civil Rights Movement, the slaying of de facto state sponsored racism in the form of Jim Crow, and the election of the first non-white President, the bugaboo of America's racial project remains well and alive in to the 21st century.
However, because some folks may feel a thing to be true--here being a sense that Whiteness is under siege, especially as perceived by racially resentful and some grossly entitled white Americans--does not make it so. Just as the left and progressives proceed from the big lie that is the myth of "the liberal media" when they rebut Fox News on those terms, a conversation about White oppression necessarily begins from an inversion of history. As the bastard child of opinion journalism where standards of fact and credulity have been thrown by the wayside in the interest of higher ratings, the narrative of white oppression is one where the emperor truly has no clothes. In short, the meme of an America where whites are oppressed is utter balderdash because the argument itself is based on a lazy, tired, and easily exposed fiction.
Consider the following inconvenient facts.
1. CNN's article suggests that White America has not and does not think of its interests in racial terms. Thus, the White Conservative, New Right backlash in the Age of Obama is somehow novel. It is a new phenomenon in this country's history. While an uncomfortable fact for many to acknowledge, America is a country founded as a formal white supremacist republic from the bone of its traditions down through to the sinew and muscle of its laws and creed. Moreover, the struggle for a multiracial democracy is in many ways contrary to the American political tradition.
2. White America has long cried that it is being oppressed and is under siege. First, white people were oppressed by slaves who had the unmitigated gall to want their freedom (and those horrible abolitionists and others who aided them). Then, White America was oppressed by those pesky Civil Rights types that wanted to bring down Jim Crow and shatter the tradition of States' Rights. White America had to suffer another insult and oppression when various people's movements have sought to expand the republic's exclusive democracy beyond those nominally male, straight, and middle class.
3. A violent, white ethnic backlash greeted the gains of the Civil Rights Movement when Dr. King and others turned their sights northward. By extension, the narrative of white folks as victims has long circulated in this country because it pays political dividends to those who deploy it. The psychic and material wages of whiteness are profoundly insecure in the minds of those who possess those out-sized, unfair, and unearned life chances by virtue of the chance of birth. When those undue privileges are imagined as being under threat, that realization can easily spawn Right-wing reactionary movements such as anti-government militias, the Tea Parties, the John Birch Society, Councils of Conservative Citizens, and the Ku Klux Klan.
4. Perhaps most importantly, the narrative of White oppression in the Age of Obama overlooks a basic historical trend in the United States: Whiteness keeps on winning. It is dynamic, multifaceted, adaptive, and all encompassing. In the same way that the Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, and Jews were assimilated into Whiteness in the 20th century, there are racial groups who are not considered White today that will be embraced with open arms by Whiteness in the America of tomorrow.
In total, the election of Barack Obama and the decade(s) long decline of American empire have brought to the forefront a reality that radical scholars and thinkers have long suspected of being true, but is now impossible to deny: the White Soul is in crisis.
Whites as a group have controlled in an anti-democratic fashion (and continue to this day) every major social, political, and economic institution in the United States. Yet, if one listens to Beck, Limbaugh, and the New Right Tea Party's "real American" brigades, one would think that white folks (who on average have at least ten times the wealth of blacks and Latinos) are being asked to sit on the back of the bus under the heavy thumb of Jane and Jim Crow. To be so withdrawn from reality, Whiteness and the White (Conservative) Soul must draw on pathological levels of narcissistic entitlement, privilege, and historical myopia that collectively merit an entry in the DSM-IV.
By metaphor, the politics of White oppression and white racial resentment are the embodiment of the spoiled brat at the birthday party. The kid has everything and does not even realize it. But, when asked to share (or if another child gets a gift or some small amount of attention) a temper tantrum inevitably ensues.
This is the new face of White supremacy in the 21st century. It does not wear a hood or formally deny one the opportunity to rent an apartment or get promoted at one's job. And as a wink to its sophistication, the new racism against whites framing works through its lie by borrowing the language, icons, and symbols of the Civil Rights, women's, and multicultural movements of the 1960s. In these language wars, aided and abetted by the Right-wing echo chamber of Fox News and the Right-wing blogosphere, liberals become fascists and racists, while Conservatives and Republicans hold the flame of anti-racism and social justice. Sadly, few if any reasonable folks raise voices of protest for fear of offending "the silent majority" and consequently suffering the slings and arrows of conservative demagogues.
Practically, the new/old racism of the New Right Tea Party GOP proceeds from an unstated assumption that to be in power is to be White. To be qualified for any job, anywhere, is the norm (thus the ugly language of "qualified" minorities, women and why the pundit classes and the White public never asks if a white man is "qualified" for his job). Glaringly, the new racism of White oppression works from a foundation that to be white is consequently to be in a natural position of authority and responsibility. And most pointedly, to be a "real" American is to be White. Thus, the Right's obsession with Barack Obama and his Kenyan father, and the belief held by a majority of Republicans that the President is not born in this country naturally follows from said toxic premise.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Government Medical Testing On Humans Revealed: Maybe They Really Were Putting Saltpeter in Church's Fried Chicken?
Conspiracy theories are one of the common ways that the aggrieved and disempowered make sense of the world. Consider then: the hip hop generation came of age in the aftermath of the failed revolutionary dreams of the 1960s. During the 1970s and 1980s, those dreams had morphed into something else--gangs like the Bloods and Crips; street preachers who held the flame for Afrotopia and its deep wells of Afrocentric wisdom; and keepers of sacred truths who had once been soldiers "in the struggle." These decades also spawned conspiracies of the Illuminati, Timberland's corporate symbol as the lynching tree, Snapple iced tea company endorsing chattel slavery, and the agitprop myth that is the Willie Lynch letter.
In my hometown there was one such brother--a former Black Panther who would monologue and grandstand at city council meetings, harangue guest speakers such as Amiri Baraka and Bobby Seale when they would give lectures at Yale University, and preach the hidden in plain sight truth of such books as Behold a Pale Horse at barbershops and hair salons across the Elm City. Almost inevitably, Public Access TV would eventually become his home in The 4th Estate.
There, our brother would find some small amount of fame and validation as he spun wondrous tales of the truth behind the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the attack on the USS Liberty, cloning experiments at Yale, the role of the Rockefellers and the Bilderbergs in shaping global political economy, how the U.S. government routinely experiments on its soldiers and citizens, and the omnipresence of the national security and intelligence state.
I would often smirk at his stories when my father would insist on (re)introducing us time and time again (necessitated because our secret keeper's memory was long damaged by drugs, Agent Orange, as well as too many years immersed in old books and archives). At the time, I do not recall if my dismissal of his wisdom was a function of youthful naivete and patriotic dreams cultivated by too many viewings of Red Dawn. Alternatively, my immediate dismissal of his arguments could also have been born from a fear, much like that experienced by the residents of Plato's cave, when they are shown that the shadows on the wall are not real.
As he got older, and I came around less and less, our street preacher would excitedly share his newest discoveries with me. In later years I discovered that our "spook who sat by the door" (as my mom affectionately called him) was in fact affiliated with the Panther 21, that he did have an FBI file, and was actually targeted by Cointelpro. It would seem that just because one is paranoid, does not in fact make one crazy.
This week the U.S. government admitted some long held truths that were hidden in plain sight. For those in the know-- that the powers that be, "those trusted" institutions would experiment on black and brown folk, inmates, the poor, mental patients, and others similarly judged to be expendable--is not a revelation. That is the tragedy of consumer-citizen in the age of cynicism, spectacle, and illusion. Nothing surprises us anymore. Thus, we raise no howls. Nor do we make any protests.
Some of the information detailed by the Associated Press include the following cringe inducing vignettes:
-A federally funded study begun in 1942 injected experimental flu vaccine in male patients at a state insane asylum in Ypsilanti, Mich., then exposed them to flu several months later. It was co-authored by Dr. Jonas Salk, who a decade later would become famous as inventor of the polio vaccine.
-Government researchers in the 1950s tried to infect about two dozen volunteering prison inmates with gonorrhea using two different methods in an experiment at a federal penitentiary in Atlanta. The bacteria was pumped directly into the urinary tract through the penis, according to their paper.
-Researchers in the mid-1940s studied the transmission of a deadly stomach bug by having young men swallow unfiltered stool suspension. The study was conducted at the New York State Vocational Institution, a reformatory prison in West Coxsackie. The point was to see how well the disease spread that way as compared to spraying the germs and having test subjects breathe it. Swallowing it was a more effective way to spread the disease, the researchers concluded. The study doesn't explain if the men were rewarded for this awful task.
Yuck. And double yuck. This begs the question: what conspiracy theories held to be absurd in the present, will in the near future be revealed as true?
I know I am not the only ghetto nerd and respectable negro to occasionally dip my toes in the pond that is hidden history. Pray tell my fellow blues people, for we as students of power and history intimately understand that things are not always as they seem.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Parsing Popular Conservative Pablum in the Twilight of the Wisconsin Uprising: Ronald Reagan's Ideas in a Leninist Framework
One of our original guest bloggers (and WARN's resident historian) has been developing a framework that he has termed "Private Sector Pravda." This great turn of phrase is Werner's way of describing the intersection of the Right Wing Echo Chamber, mouth breathing foot soldiers of the New Right, and the talking point spewing apparatchik's of the Tea Party GOP.
In this latest installment, Werner Herzog's Bear cuts loose and lays bare the deeper game at work in the Tea Party GOP's nationwide effort to eviscerate and destroy America's labor unions through a reframing of the master narrative where the good guys are remade into villains, and the corporate classes are transformed into the great defenders of the American working and middle classes. What is a situation that would be laughable if it were not so tragic.
Today I'd to spin out my "Private Sector Pravda" meme a little more, and comment on the interesting similarities between the ways that the current crop of rightwingnuts approaches politics and the mentality of Marxism-Leninism. Of course, both sides would be revolted by the comparison, but I am not making it on the basis of ideology. (Ideologically they are almost polar opposites.)
The root of all evil in the world is reduced to one thing whose elimination will bring about a paradise on earth: capitalism in the case of the reds, "big government" in the case of the rightwingnuts. Whether its the revolution or the free market, both are claimed to have magical properties that will somehow solve everything from global hunger to the problems of higher education.
Like a good party apparatchik of the days of yore, your average rightwingnut sees the world through a binary prism: the good guys who are with us and the bad who are against. This I think helps explain the staggering levels of hatred being spewed forth onto public employees these days, by working for the government they are modern day kulaks. The same goes for those snobby college professors. (In either system intellectuals can't catch a break.) The animus against these people has nothing to do with anything they've done, and everything to do with what they represent. They are simply pure, unadulterated evil. Hence the current crop of governors can fire all kinds of state workers in the name of "job creation": those who work for the state are not considered to have "real" jobs, they are parasites.
When a narrow, fanciful ideology eventually fails catastrophically, be it Leninist or Reaganist, its adherents tend to do anything they can to blame something else. In America an unrestrained financial sector created a massive, unsustainable real-estate bubble whose bursting has destroyed our economy. That fact (and it is a fact) does not conform to the rightwingnut narrative, and so they blame government incentives for home ownership, completely passing over the fact that the banks were giving out mortages to anyone with a pulse so that they could create mortages to cut up and speculate upon under the assumption that they would always retain value. In the face of the obvious and complete failure of the command economy of the Soviet bloc, one still hears Marxists who claim that it just wasn't done the right way under the right conditions. These ideologues, no matter if they carry icons of Lenin or of Reagan, are seriously deluded. (And they do mindlessly worship their heroes, don't they? So many who claim to love "The Founders" seem to have little to no idea of what they were actually like.)
Yet these ideologues get constant reaffirmation of their worldview from a propaganda machine that has an easy explanation for every complex problem, and a new set of villians to pour hatred upon each day. They are told that a recent snowstorm negates the scientific consensus on global warming, that union workers rather than corporations are benefiting most from our economic system, that all Muslims are supporters of terrorism, and that modern-day progressives are a cancer to be expunged from the body politic. They and their allies are internal enemies who threaten "real America," be it through the first lady's anti-obesity campaign or history textbooks that fail to present a triumphalist, ultra-nationalist interpretation of the American past.
Perhaps worst of all, those motivated by extremist ideology, be it on the left or on the right, tend to take an "ends justify the means" approach in order to bring about their utopia. Just witness the fillibusters, Swift Boat lies, birtherism, threats of government shutdown, "town hall" screamfests, and unilateral stripping of collective bargaining rights. (By the way, for all of you who are too blinded to see it, the reason that Scott Walker is taking these rights from teachers but not cops or firefighters is that the latter unions supported him. This is really a power play to destroy an important base element of the Democratic party.)
Obviously, I do not think that Bolsheviks and today's right-wing nuts are moral equivalents. However, I do think that our political system no longer works according to the old rules where two centrist, corporately compromised parties vie for power with some compromises along the way. Instead we have one centrist, corporately compromised party willing to work with the other side, which has been transformed into a vehicle for a messianic, nationalist, laissez-faire political movement that will stop at almost nothing to get what it wants. Historically a fight between weak centrists and strong ideologues ends badly.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Today is the last day of Black History Month. While of course every day should be one where we reflect on the contributions of all peoples to improve American democracy, this month has always held a special place given the unique experience of black people in the United States. From property, a people who were quintessentially American yet judged less than human fought to perfect American Democracy in the face of unimaginable bigotry, violence, and evil. For me, that is worth (at least) one month out of the year.
This year, I have chosen to reflect on the complexities of the Black experience by offering a series entitled, "Black History Month is..." Sure, black history month is an obligatory reciting of great deeds, firsts, and inventors. But as I have gotten older, I have come to see that history is much more complex. I still cling to The Black Book (my favorite tome of coming of age negro awareness). Slowly, I have to accept that black folks are like all people. Despite the inherently politicized nature of our experience in the West and our special "Blue's Sensibility," some black folks choose to fight against white supremacy and State power, while others choose to be bystanders (or even literally and metaphorically get in bed with it). The collective experience of Black America is not just one of resistance where 24/7, of everyday, and of every hour, we are engaged in some great freedom struggle against the Racial State and white hegemonic power. No, sometimes the true fruits of liberty are the freedom to simply "be."
In total, while there are everyday Black heroes whose success in a society--where upon birth they were immediately deemed less than, separate and unequal, or doomed to second class citizenship by virtue of their blood quantum--was measured by living a good life, there are others less heroic, less brave, and perhaps not even commendable who are also part of Black history. I tried to capture just a little of that complexity with my "Black History Month is..." series.
As the month ends, I would like to add one more wrinkle to how we conceptualize what does (or does not) count as the experience and history of Black Americans--an intervention that may be provocative (or even offensive) to some. I would suggest that Black History Month is also everyday white people doing the right thing. This is no pat on the back, false praise, and get out jail card for those white Americans who want to imagine that in mass their people were on the right side of history in this country--any fair minded appraisal of the Black Freedom Struggle and how White America was complicit with and benefited from racism would immediately throw that assertion into the dustbin of history.
When I speak of everyday white folks doing the right thing, I mean those quiet white people who nudged history forward by selling homes to black folks in "restricted communities" when such a choice could have meant professional suicide. I mean those quiet white folks who were in charge of integrating their offices and places of employment...and did so fairly and professionally. I mean those quiet white folks who reached out to the first wave of black students who crossed the colorline and bravely entered what were formerly all-White, Jim and Jane Crow spaces. I mean those quiet white folks who served honorably and side by side with their black brothers and sisters in the aftermath of President Truman's groundbreaking military desegregation order. I mean those white bank officers who approved loans for blacks when the convention was that we should be denied. And of course I mean the Freedom Riders, Abolitionists, and those who were down like John Brown despite the risk to their own lives.
In total, I mean those quiet white folks who did the right thing not because they were especially righteous, moral, or noble. Some acted on principle. Others acted on self-interest. And a few were simply being themselves and knew of no other way to behave.
The choice to stand with or against power is simply that--a choice. When some white folks, especially of the post-Civil Rights, post-racial, Benetton Obama generation say, "I don't know what to do about racism! I am just one person" Or "that was so long ago, I shouldn't feel guilty about the past, most white people would have done the same things if they lived then and we should judge history in its context!"
In response, I simply say that "people make choices." You can choose to act. You can choose to stand pat. White people, as human beings, with full agency, make that choice everyday. For example, white people like Charles Moore, legendary photographer of the Civil Rights Movement, chose to do the right thing. Here, and in that way, I hold white folks to the same level of accountability and justice as I do my black and brown kin.
I don't know if that bar is set to high or too low. But the standard exists. And this generation of white Americans is part of a continuum of history to which they are responsible. Ultimately, Black History Month is everyday white people doing the right thing. In this month, as well as year round, white folks should be at least as reflective regarding this fact as their fellow black Americans.
Rep. Michele Bachmann told radio host Mark Levin on Friday evening that in facing protests by labor supporters Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans are like President Abraham Lincoln, who fought the Confederacy, and President Reagan, who contended with the Soviet Union. But contrary to Bachmann’s assertion, Lincoln had more in common with the 14 Democrats who left the state to avoid a vote on the GOP bill to cut collective bargaining for Wisconsin workers: In 1840, he jumped out a window to avoid a vote on a bill he didn’t like.
“I’m just observing our neighbors to the east over there and having a laugh,” Bachmann said. “I’d say it’s a new revolution going on over there. We saw the great Ronald Reagan pushing back the Soviet Union in the eastern bloc nations. We saw Abraham Lincoln push back the Confederacy in Atlanta. And now we’re seeing the Republicans in Wisconsin causing the Democrats to retreat to Rockford, Illinois, so I’d say we’re winning!”
She added, “This is how liberals react. They don’t take no for an answer.”
Once more, they show us who they always are. For the Vox Populi New Right Tea Party GOP, stupid is once again the new black. As a qualifier, there is more truth to Bachmann's claim regarding good old Ronnie Reagan as union buster number one, than said lady knew. In a Right-wing echo chamber that is utterly detached from reality, and whose minions bite at the bit for a chance to recite the talking point of the day, Michelle Bachmann is champion of champions--Queen Bee of the mediocrities.
Or stated differently Michelle Bachmann is batshit crazy:
A person who is batshit crazy is certifiably nuts. The phrase has origins in the old fashioned term "bats in the belfry." Old churches had a structure at the top called a belfry, which housed the bells. Bats are extremely sensitive to sound and would never inhabit a belfry of an active church where the bell was rung frequently. Occasionally, when a church was abandoned and many years passed without the bell being rung, bats would eventually come and inhabit the belfry. So, when somebody said that an individual had "bats in the belfry" it meant that there was "nothing going on upstairs" (as in that person's brain). To be BATSHIT CRAZY is to take this even a step further. A person who is batshit crazy is so nuts that not only is their belfry full of bats, but so many bats have been there for so long that the belfry is coated in batshit. Hence, the craziest of crazy people are BATSHIT CRAZY.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
In the maelstrom of the Herman Cain Race Minstrel Affair, we have missed out on quite a few conversations. Last Monday was Presidents' Day--a day of rest, Popeye's Fried Chicken coupon redemption, and obligatory editorials ranking the "best" and "worst" Chief Executives. Of course the Right want to exaggerate the greatness of corporate pitchman turned President, Ronald Reagan. Others want to claim FDR as particularly noteworthy for his mastery of realpolitik because of how he saved capitalism from itself. The middle road and safe choice for the best there was and the best there ever will be are the trinity of Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson. Ultimately, there is no accounting for taste. But historians of the presidency do have their (least and most) favorites.
History is written in multiple drafts. For example, as the people of the Middle East challenge power and remake their societies some on the Right want to claim these events as the direct result of George Bush's dreams of empire in Iraq and a policy of preemptive war. Only the hindsight wisdom of history will determine if that narrative is correct or not.
In parallel, President Jimmy Carter left office as a President much maligned. In the decades which followed, he has become one of our eldest and most respected statesman. Looking backward from America's current malaise, economic crisis, lost hopes and dreams, and a zeitgeist which channels a belief that this country's best years are behind her, Carter's intervention seemed prophetic.
Where would America be in the 21st century if we had followed the plan outlined by President Carter's famous speech? How would Americans respond in the present if Obama channeled the real talk and raw honesty of President Carter? If President Obama looked us in the collective eye and spoke plainly about the mess we are in at the nadir of American Empire and how we can salvage our collective destiny?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Behold the New Right's latest manufactured scandal. What is the over/under on how long before this video becomes the Fox News rage of the day?
Let's parse the description which accompanies the clip on the website Founding Bloggers. It reads:
"Wow. Just wow. What do you get when SEIU aggressive progressives are confronted with the antithesis of their world view, a black gay conservative American? Their racist heads implode, of course!
In the video below, SEIU thugs hurl vile personal verbal attacks at a free and independent thinking black homosexual conservative American."
We don't need the genius of Noam Chomsky or George Lakoff to analyze the semiotics at work in the above passage. Just as with the Herman Cain liberal racism framing, the New Right has once more discovered victimology, the politics of grievance, and political correctness. Notice the emphasis: this conservative "victim" is described as "free," "independent," "thinking," and "American." As a bonus, the subject of the video is also the Other and now because of his political orientation is doubly marginalized. Thus by implication, liberals, progressives, people of color--and now our GLBQT brothers and sisters who are not Right-wing quislings--are not free, independent, thinking, or American.
Question: is the discovery of "racism" by Right-wing reactionaries the unintended consequence and hell-spawn blowback of 3rd wave feminism's development of the critical framework known as intersectionality?
Long time readers know that I love counterfactuals. I also find prediction markets compelling intellectual exercises as well. In that spirit, let's collectively work through the newest Right-wing echo chamber Dunning-Kruger talking point meme.
So then, a game: What will be the next group that Right-wing reactionaries rush to defend against liberal racism? Some preliminary entries:
1) One legged libertarian hermaphrodites?
2) Overweight, left handed millionaires?
3) Tall blondes who read Ayn Rand and belong to their local university's Objectivist Society?
4) Tea Party tea baggers who are discriminated against in the labor market because of their felony status?
Who would you add to the list?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The Perfectly Poetic Timing of the White Conservative Soul: Fox News and Barack Obama is an Upright Walking Gorilla
Given all that has transpired this week where good white conservatives painted me with faux outrage as a "racist" for using a metaphor in my description of how black conservatives buck dance and perform for the Right-wing racial imagination, we have this overlooked story on the Fox News website.
Where was the condemnation? Where was the outrage? Funny, I thought the beating heart and soul of contemporary popular tea party conservatism was "colorblind?" That it took great offense to such hateful and vicious speech?
Alas, the Right-wing Vox Populi show their true colors. It is the greatest offense since the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby for a black person to make an allusion that links Herman Cain "to the monkey in the window," but it is alright for white folks to call Barack Obama a gorilla.
Courtesy of the Daily Kos:
Today on the Fox Nation web site, they posted a story on the popularity of some new videos of a gorilla walking upright like a man. That seems like it should be an innocuous little animal tale with a precocious jungle creature imitating human behavior. But this is Fox Nation we're talking about.
This is the sort of item that Fox Nation posts fully aware of the dog-whistle effect it will have on its readers: a community of dimwits that is simply incapable of masking the open hostility and racism that is at the core of their putrid souls. Here is a sampling of the comments to be found attached to the article:
1preacher: Yea, I could see where this Gorilla evolved from obama's family.
amveteran: This is a true knuckle dragger. Reminds me of Al Sharpton.
winterhawk: Just as I thought, that's buckwheat's daddy.
flyinjohn23: Not only that....He got himself one of those Hiawian Birth Certificates over the internet all on his own too.
1preacher: Because I said that this was obama's mother, that is racist? Not following that one.
hawk1052: Shelia Jackson Lee, comes to mind.
armed: is the one in the background carrying a teleprompter and throwing tater tots at the other one.
And if that isn't bad enough, there were at least 13 comments that the Fox Nationalists "flagged for review." If the examples above made it past their decency filter, we can only imagine how disgusting were the comments that were removed were. And in addition to the overt racism, there was also an abundance of derogatory and idiotic remarks regarding evolution and the intelligence of liberals.
These people are sick and beyond pathetic. And Fox News knows exactly what they are doing by throwing this chum in the tank. This isn't the first time that Fox Nation's readers behaved so atrociously. Last year they posted feverishly about how they wished the President were dead.
The bigots at Fox are surely comfortable with this sort of hatred. We learned last summer that only 1.38% of Fox's audience is African American (compared to about 20% each for CNN and MSNBC). So they probably don't think they have much to lose by being racist jerkwads. Just their humanity, and they don't have much of that to begin with.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Ownage? Chauncey DeVega's Appearance on Ambush "Journalist" Jason Mattera's Radio Show to Discuss the Herman Cain is a Race Minstrel Affair
For those not in the know, this
Thus, all subtlety would be thrown out of the window when/if I appeared on his show. I made a simple calculus: 770 AM is a huge station with great reach which I could play to my advantage; two, an appearance on a cookie cutter Right-wing radio show would be a chance to conduct a long-planned experiment.
The Right-wing echo chamber is not based on reasoned discourse because its premise is anti-intellectualism. Consequently, those not of the Right-wing tribe often lose in "debates" when on their turf because the tendency of progressives/Leftists/centrists/reasonable Conservatives is to want to talk and exchange ideas. Popular Conservatism is based on the opposite--scream, talk in bullet points, and recite talking points. The only way to win is to either play for a stalemate, or alternatively to deploy the rhetorical strategies of mouth-breathing Populist Conservatism against them.
In my appearance on The Jason Mattera Show I decided for a combination of both approaches. Mattera is a bully. Mattera is also someone who must control the situation in order to make his points because he is so utterly and totally bereft of substantive ideas. How do you beat a bully? You bully them back. How do you defeat an ambush? You ambush your attackers.
The Mattera Show did a good deal of subtle post-editing in their podcast of my appearance on Sunday (note to self: always record your own appearances for posterity sake) . In my live appearance, Mattera was noticeably flustered and could not answer basic questions: are black people who vote for the Democratic Party children or stupid? Are poor whites who vote for the Republican Party on a "plantation" of sorts?
He conveniently edited these out with repeated inserts of "lower his mic." During the live broadcast Mattera had no answer and fell all over himself evading the question.
I had some contacts listening to the show live. That group included neutral folks so that I could get some unbiased feedback. The consensus on their end was that I owned Mr. Mattera from step one. In the version which Jason Mattera did not throw down the memory well, I think I fought him to a standstill and won on points (especially given the fact that kicked me off the show in consternation and resorted to profanity and calling me a "kook" when he could not make his "logic" stick). There is also a caller--now edited out--who further angered Mattera when she seconded everything that I said.
The Right-wing shock jock class is not one that I want to be associated with on a repeated basis. As I told a friend, I felt as though I lost a few I.Q. points from merely being a "guest" in such a venue. I can only imagine the damage which Right-wing media does to its listeners. As always, your feedback is welcome and appreciated.
The segment starts at about minute 57.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
I want to thank all of my fellow travelers who have chimed in on the Herman Cain Race Minstrel Affair. I may not have responded to each of you individually. But trust, your support is appreciated and I give love to you all.
I am going to be doing a few more interviews on the radio, as well as online regarding this matter, and then move on. I don't dance or monkeyshine for gold, silver, or attention so I am going to stick with the girl that I brought to the prom. Stated differently, I am going to keep doing what I have been doing damn/despite/because/and regardless of the consequences. As you know I follow the pro-wrestlers' creed: I am me with the volume turned up. I will not deviate from my promise to always be sincere and real. That decision rule--one rooted in my working class roots--has brought me farther than I ever thought possible. With your help, our momentum will keep pushing us forward to bigger and greater things.
In keeping with my love principle, I only felt it fair to ask one of the longtime members of the WARN family who has been out there in the trenches--quite literally--since this dust-up began, to give her account of the events as she experienced them.
Courtesy of our friend OhCrapIhaveacrushonSarahPalin fame...
I was raised by Reagan Democrat(ic) Moral Majority Christian Coalition parents, both ordained ministers, who were primarily "race people". That is, they saw their own work as the first/only Blacks in their places of employment, our positioning as the first/only Blacks in our neighborhood and their decision to send me to all-white Christian schools as desegregation part 2. Many liberals do not know about, or understand, this aspect of Black conservatism. I do, because I lived it, and am a product of it. I spent three years at Fundagelical U., where I had my first more-than-friends same-sex set of events (oh, the things that go on in those sex-segregated dorms...) My father was emeritus and board member of a Christian college with ties to the New Apostolic Reformation. My first vote was for Pat Robertson.
And yes, I really do have a crush on Sarah Palin.
With those ex-conservative bonafides out of the way, I can say with certainty there's good reason not to trust people like Herman Cain, Unhyphenated-Americans like Lloyd Marcus, and the seven other Black characters on the Tea Party circuit. Their sincerity is in question, due not simply to their skin color, as Chauncey's detractors wish to make one believe, but because of their behavior which fits longstanding patterns of race-opportunism.
Enter: coonery, tommery and minstrelsy--the popular American art form infamous for distorting and misrepresenting Black people in the White imagination. Make no mistake: Race minstrelsy continues in the 21st century.
Ask yourself the following. Do tales of black incompetence, vindictiveness, threats of socio-political instability, and white slavery sound familiar?
Have you ever noticed that Republicans, and with all of their loud wails of being the "party of Lincoln," do not mention the postbellum era of Republican Reconstruction during the years of 1865-1877? Though "Jim Crow" was a character out of blackface minstrelsy, White state's rights conservatives imposed this formal type of racism on all non-whites immediately after the end of the Civil War, with this period of de facto white supremacy being codified into law with the landmark Supreme Court case Plessy vs Ferguson (1896). Furthermore, in many regions of the US, such as the west south, north and midwest, this condition lasted into the late 1970s and sometimes decades beyond.
So of course Republicans don't mention the problematic era of Reconstruction--at least not in their outside voices anyway. Why? To do so would alienate their state's rights, Confederate flag-fetishizing constituents.
Hey you, the voter with all the values! Have some Obama waffles!
For example, the Obama Waffles caricature, based in Aunt Jemima visual rhetoric, is directly out of minstrelsy branding. Black conservatives know this. The Muslim-baiting, McCarthy-lite inside content was even worse. But how many conservatives, outside of one, professional homo-hater Bishop Harry Jackson, have ever dared to speak up against such bigotry?
In addition, have you ever noticed how "these lovers of the Constitution" are silent on Tammy Bruce's almost-daily characterization of President Barack Obama as "Urkel?" What is a reference to a 1990s-era sitcom character that scholars Mary Dalton and Laura Linder associate with minstrelsy stock characters such as Sambo the coon. Moreover, it never made the news when Bruce asserted back in January that she gets to call gays "homos" because she is one.
Of course, we heard a few grumbles from their corner when Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com posted an illustration of Senator Joe Lieberman in blackface. But, I do not recall it making the news at Fox News.
And no maliciousness or death wishes are ever directed at those who wield the epithet "race-pimp", which on the American right is synonymous with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Yet we saw it happen against Mr. DeVega over at Alternet.
Conservative jihadis from the lowliest twitterers to the twits at Fox/Kingdom Holding News Channel seek to silence Chauncey DeVega's so-called "racism" as they are quick to condemn and police the behavior of every Black person outside the conservative fold. Ultimately, a Black man speaking his mind about the behavior of a Black conservative without the permission of white overseers, and without apologies or reservation, is an affront to their White authority.
To White conservatives this is bad behavior. Moreover, it is bad behavior that must be punished. Preferably, with repeated epithet strings like like "you're on the Democrat plantation"; "only Black conservatives (i.e. 5% of Black voters or less) think for themselves"; The KKK is the Democrats Robert Byrd; Nazis are Socialists; Read some Ayn Rand, etc. etc. etc.. We observed this behavior from freeper after freeper over at Alternet.
Nobody with common sense buys their stale old Reconstruction-era hysteria. This is the fundamental issue conservatives have with Chauncey DeVega's article, and his subsequent, rage-inducing refusal to be intimidated by even the loudest, most obnoxious Right-wing bullies.
For Herman Cain's part, he is simply using this as a free publicity grab. He should be thanking Chauncey DeVega and giving him 15% for putting Cain on the cultural map, instead of leaving him to stew in Tea Party obscurity.
Despite what the paleoconservatives at Outside the Beltway would have us believe, images out of race minstrelsy are ugly. So is minstrelsy-inspired talk like "Sambo beat the bitch." Who can blame white state's rights conservatives for wanting to distance themselves from this history?
At present, the mainstream state's rights crowd and affiliated Tea Partiers seem to be testing out another remedy.
Armed with language and concepts stolen from liberals, the left wing of the far Right is on the march. They are bringing the conservative movement to a social crossroads.
This week, we saw all manner of state's rights conservatives labeling the entire left "racists" who, like Chauncey DeVega, victimize them with "hate speech". The late 20th and early days of the 21st centuries are apparently moments when the bizarre and surreal have seemingly become the new normal and mundane.
Conservative gays like GOProud attend CPAC. Even Glenn Beck says same sex marriage isn't a threat to America and shouldn't be a priority of the right. Sarah Palin wears the label "feminist" with in-your-face aplomb, and, seeimingly, singlehandedly introduced the concept of "misogyny" to the same right-wing males who have spent the past twenty years denying it's existence. Now, they use the term with relish against anyone who disagree with her policies. The feminists who did not vote for Mrs. Palin are now "the sexists".
Two years ago, no conservative would be caught dead engaging in such leftist Marxist progressive politically-correct anti-liberty speech. Today, it's the norm in many of their circles. However ironic and problematic, given their backgrounds the lemmings cheering on Herman Cain at CPAC are going to have a much tougher time repackaging themselves as mavens of diversity and true inheritors of the mantle of abolitionism and civil rights.
During the Civil Rights era, state's rights conservatives such as the John Birch Society (which bankrolls CPAC) and Ezra Taft Benson (Glenn Beck's favorite), routinely labeled MLK and any other civil rights workers Communists, Socialists, or Marxists. They were in the right-wing gaze people who were unable to think for themselves.
Today, the GOP runs candidates who dress as Nazi war criminals in their spare time. Their gubernatorial candidate for New York sends these emails to friends on the taxpayer dime. Conservative Republicans permit governors to impose Confederate History Month onto the public, and dig in their heels when others allow KKK members to be commemorated on state license plates. A Republican women's organization in South Carolina recently held a "Southern Experience" ball, complete with Confederate generals (Glenn McConnell, R - SC State Senate President), and rent-a-slaves. McConnell's colleague in the senate, Jake Knotts, called other GOP politicians "ragheads".
For me, this grand burlesque of extreme cognitive dissonance has been the week's entertainment. Save for a couple shows on Fox and the usual suspects on the Right-wing side of these Internets, their predictable antics in trying to shut down Chauncey DeVega turned out to be a flop. In a tragicomedy of sorts, conservatives have become the very anti-First Amendment PC police they have spent the past two decades decrying. And it is high comedy watching them try to fulfill this role on the public stage.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I am glad I avoided this drive-by. This is the new meme folks: liberals are bigots and full of hatred. And of course, Conservatives want to "get past" race.
Insert fingers into throat and induce vomiting.
Oh yeah, Bret Baier doesn't like me either.
I am a slave catcher. Wow. And apparently, the Democrats are the "plantation" and liberals and progressives are the forces of white supremacy and the Southern slaveocracy. Stunning.
Wouldn't it be funny if Cain road the road to the GOP nomination on the back of Chauncey DeVega? I guess little people do in fact make history.
What a Day: Chauncey DeVega Says No to Fox News and Also Gets Herman Cain to Say "Race Minstrel" on the Erick Erickson Show
This has been a whirlwind few days. I am still processing everything and am appreciative of your support. Regardless of what happens I got a Right-wing conservative talk radio host to quote Transformers: The Movie. Score points for the ghetto nerds with that one. I also had the pleasure of having Hermain Cain quote me calling him a "race minstrel" and "black garbage pail kid." And now I was condemned by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Cynthia Tucker as "sophomoric" and "vicious." It would seem I am moving up to the high rent district with the enemies I am making. Oh the joys of life.
Finally, I was invited on Fox News to debate Juan Williams on the Sean Hannity Show. I politely declined for a variety of reasons. But, if the venue and timing were a better fit I am more than willing to do an appearance...hint hint, if NPR or others want to chat I am ready, willing, and more than eager and able. I am also going to make a surprise appearance on blogtalk radio in a few minutes. Sometimes folks should be careful who they mention as the devil may in fact show up.
Stay strong in the struggle.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Judge Chauncey DeVega by His Foes: I Have Been Rebuked (Again) by Establishment Black Conservative Garbage Pail Kids for Saying Herman Cain is a Race Minstrel
Black Conservatives Condemn Left-Wing Blogger's Racial Attack on Herman Cain
Washington, D.C. – Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are condemning a major left-wing web site's blistering racial attack on black conservative Herman Cain, and once again is asking why the liberal civil rights establishment still refuses to condemn racial attacks on black conservatives.
"I find it shocking and an indictment of Herman Cain's antagonist when he is obviously compelled to retreat to amoral diatribe when valid arguments against Cain's record cannot be found. This tactic is the 800-pound yellow gorilla in the middle of the room that progressives like to pretend doesn't exist," said Project 21 çhairman Mychal Massie. "Where are the usual suspects who are so quick to find racial insult in the acts of the tea partiers?"
Cain, a prominent conservative activist and former corporate CEO, was a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. on February 11. In the wake of that speech, the prominent left-wing web site AlterNet featured a blog post referencing the address that called Cain "a monkey in the window." Cain's speech was called "a version of race minstrelsy where he performs 'authentic negritude' as wish fulfillment for White Conservative fantasies" and "bad comedy." Black conservatives in general were referred to as "black garbage pail kids" who "entertain and perform for their White Conservative masters."
"It would be one thing to critique Herman Cain's politics, but it seems the message was less important than the man. This cowardly, anonymous attack was based solely on Cain's race," noted Project 21's Massie. "It's a problem that all black conservatives face, and it's appalling when such race-based animosity is ignored by the civil rights establishment. Saying nothing will confirm they have a double-standard rooted deeply in a political agenda."
The author of the outrageous AlterNet post is "Chauncey DeVega" — a pseudonym. According to his bio, DeVega's writing has appeared in prominent media venues such as the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly and the Root (a web site run by the Washington Post and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates). DeVega's post was added to the AlterNet site on February 12. He also has another blog hosted by Salon.com as well as his own web site.
"I call on AlterNet to immediately withdraw and issue a public condemnation of this vitriolic content appearing in their online publication," said Project 21 member Niger Innis, who introduced Cain at CPAC. "AlterNet's mission statement boasts that it is a medium that transcends traditional journalism and is, instead, intended to 'emphasize workable solutions to persistent social problems.' AlterNet also asserts that their content 'underscores a commitment to fairness, equality and global stewardship.' Such virtues are in direct contradiction to the deplorable and irresponsible commentary they have allowed to be published."
Innis, who is also the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality, added: "This is particularly ironic that, after calls for civility in political discourse by many in the media, they would — through their inaction — encourage such socially reckless and racially insensitive material on a prominent left-wing publication."
On July 17, 2010 on the Fox News Channel, Project 21 full-time fellow Deneen Borelli asked NAACP senior vice president Hilary Shelton if his group would "issue a statement condemning those individuals" who target black conservatives for abuse based on their politics. At the time, Shelton replied, "Why, yes, ma'am… Just give us some details." Despite sending him details and a follow-up letter, no condemnation was ever issued by the NAACP.
Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie repeatedly challenged Al Shaprton, Marc Morial and former D.C. congressional delegate Walter Fauntroy to a debate, now tentatively scheduled, with or without them, for February 28 in Washington, D.C., to address the trio's past allegations about tea party extremism. Massie has yet to receive any replies.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Chauncey DeVega is Public Enemy Number One in the Conservative Blogosphere Because He Called Herman Cain a Race Minstrel
It would seem that Chauncey DeVega is a bad boy again. In the past, I have been mean to Sarah Palin. And in the present, my cruelty apparently knows no boundaries as I have hurt the feelings and besmirched the honor of good Conservative
Color me pleased. So my friends, the Conservative horde has been unleashed. From Breitbart, the Washington Times, to Hot Air, Pajamas Media, Townhall, and Power Line the right wing echo chamber is beating its drums. Please enjoy my infamy, as I wouldn't be motivated to cause so much trouble if it were not for all of your support.
What next my tribe of respectable negro friends and allies? Should I lay low or join the battle? And what will the reactionary troglodytes of the New Right do next?
Monday, February 14, 2011
Can't a brother have an onanistically good time without having the bugaboo of race show up when he least expects it...
And once more, how does it feel to be a problem...or perhaps even window dressing?
Ultimately, the historical power of white supremacy is (contrary to the fantasies held by the post-Civil Rights generation) not that of an outlier. Instead, white supremacy's power is in its ubiquitous nature--the capacity to be both everywhere and nowhere at all.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
In the immortal words of Megatron in Transformers: The Movie, Herman Cain's speech to CPAC really is bad comedy. As you know, I find
When race minstrelsy was America's most popular form of mass entertainment, black actors would often have to pretend to be white men, who then in turn would put on the cork to play the role of the "black" coon, Sambo, or Jumping Jim Crow. Adding insult to injury, in a truly perverse and twisted example of the power of American white supremacy black vaudevillians would often pretend to be white in order to denigrate black people for the pleasures of the white gaze.
Herman Cain--an ironic name if ever, and one more suited to a tragic figure in a Harlem Renaissance era novella--is not "blackening twice" as some race minstrels chose to do.
[Unfortunately, the attendees at CPAC are not the butt of some type of joke where the white man wearing the cork is really a black man in secret.]
Instead, Herman Cain's shtick is a version of race minstrelsy where he performs "authentic negritude" as wish fulfillment for White Conservative fantasies. Like the fountain at Lourdes, Cain in his designated role as black Conservative mascot, absolves the White racial reactionaries at CPAC of their sins. This is a refined performance that Black Conservatives have perfected over many decades and centuries of practice.
Let's consider the routine. First, Cain enters the stage to Motown music. Then Cain feigns swimming after rolling up his sleeves to show them his black skin and how he is a hardworking negro (not like those other ones). Cain bellows in a preacher affected voice and channels the folksy negro down home accent of his late grandpappy. In the money shot, Cain gives the obligatory "black folks who are not Republicans are on the plantation" speech to the joyous applause of his White benefactors. And he doubles down by legitimating any opposition to President Barack Obama as virtuous and patriotic regardless of the bigoted well-springs from which it may flow.
In total, CPAC is a carnival and a roadshow for reactionary Conservatives. It is only fitting that in the great tradition of the freak show, the human zoo, the boardwalk, and the great midway world's fairs of the 19th and 20th centuries, there is a Borneo man, a Venus Hottentot or a tribe of cannibals from deepest darkest Africa or Papua New Guinea on display. For CPAC and the White Conservative imagination, Herman Cain and his black and brown kin are that featured attraction.
We always need a monkey in the window, for he/she reminds us of our humanity while simultaneously reinforcing a sense of our own superiority. Sadly, there are always folks who are willing to play that role because it pays so well.