Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Ways That the Birthers Are an Object Lesson in White Privilege

Events interfered with this drop. At present, Alternet has this piece running at almost 400 comments. It seems that some folks can't handle the truth. There is a related piece forthcoming from one of our people Carey Carey as well. Let's get back to business folks.


May you live in interesting times. What a timeless and wonderful curse that so wonderfully describes politics in the Age of Obama.

With the election of America's first black president we collectively witnessed the ascendancy of a person whose life story embodies the American dream. Obama was not alone in the grand play that is American life. There were other players who competed for the spotlight.

During this same moment America witnessed the rise of Sarah Palin to fame and glory, a woman who rides White populism and racial resentment in much the same that a witch rides a broom. As a second addition to the Tea Party GOP's Rogues Gallery there is a carnival barker named Donald Trump, a man who once lurked stage left but is now the GOP front runner as he perfectly embodies PT Barnum's famous observation that "there is a sucker born every minute," while shilling for the worst and most ugly nativist and xenophobic impulses of the White Conservative Soul.

Ultimately, the election of Barack Obama has provided a series of object lessons in the durability of the colorline in American life. Most pointedly, Obama's tenure has provided an opportunity for the worst aspects of White privilege to rear their ugly head. In doing so, the continuing significance of Whiteness is made ever more clear in a moment when the old bugaboo of White racism was thought to have been slain on November 4, 2008.

To point: Imagine if Sarah Palin, a person who wallows in mediocrity and wears failure as a virtue, were any race other than White. Would a black (or Latino or Asian or Hispanic) woman with Palin's credentials have gotten a tenth as far? Let's entertain another counter-factual: If the Tea Party and their supporters were a group of black or brown folk, who showed up with guns at events attended by the President, threatening nullification and secession, and engaging in treasonous talk, how many seconds would pass before they were locked up and taken out by the F.B.I. as threats to the security of the State? If the Tea Party were black they would have been disappeared to Gitmo or some other secret site faster than you can say Fox News.

Earlier this week President Obama tried to be the adult in the room by surrendering his birth certificate in an effort to satisfy the frothing at the mouth birthers and their cabal leaders Donald Trump and Pat Buchanan. Of course, his generous act does nothing to satisfy the Birther beast for it is insatiable in its madness. Nevertheless, a lesson can still be salvaged by exploring the rank bigotry which drives the Birther movement. In an era of racism without racists, the Tea Party GOP Birther brigands provide one more lesson in the permanence of the social evil known as White privilege.

Scholars and activists have described Whiteness as a type of property, unearned privilege, invisibility, normality, and invisibility. Donald Trump and The Birthers exhibit a surplus of all of these traits...and more.

Ten Ways that the Birthers Are an Object Lesson in White Privilege

1. Just as Pat Buchanan did with Justice Sotomayor, the Birthers have sullied President Obama as being an unqualified, "affirmative action" candidate. His academic and professional accomplishments are irrelevant. The fact that he won an open and honest election are unimportant. We should know at this point that the life successes of people of color (and to a lesser degree some women) are always questionable and suspect when viewed through the gaze of Whiteness (and sexism). White men are never burdened with the question or doubt of being qualified for any job, at any time, or any place. Their greatness and ability is a fact not a question, never is it to be interrogated. This self-delusion exists despite the fact that white men have historically been the greatest beneficiaries of unearned privilege in the history of the United States. Their mediocrity has been rewarded at every turn.

2. Naturally, the President should be White. Of course, leaders of trade and industry should be White. The natural order of things equates being White and male with having natural authority and ability--a set of traits which exist without question or doubt regardless of competence or ability. Whiteness deems the inverse for people of color. As President Obama has learned, by mere fact of his birth, and coincidence of the color of his skin, his legitimacy will always in doubt.

3. Whiteness equals authority. Thus, any White person, at any time, can question the accomplishments of a person of color. The most mediocre of White people, the sum total of whose life has amounted to 1/100th of President Obama's successes (or that of other people of color) can feel legitimate in questioning how the latter came to find their "unnatural" position in the social hierarchy. Whiteness is an advantage in the marathon of life. Through this unearned head-start a psychic wage is paid, one that allows any White person, anywhere, to question how a black or brown person came to be ahead in life for such a thing can never happen in a "just" world. Whiteness allows white folks to not feel embarrassed or ashamed in asking such impolitic and rude questions.

4. Whiteness is a get out of jail free card. Whiteness is also the freedom to be utterly unreflective regarding the foolishness and madness of one's deeds and statements as long as the target of such madness is the Other. The Birthers, Buchanan, Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Limbaugh, Breitbart and Beck engage in routine crazy talk. But Whiteness allows them to be taken seriously (at least at first) for White privilege allows the luxury of being utterly unreflective in most things.

5. White privilege is freedom from accountability. Donald Trump, Pat Buchanan, and the rank and file knuckle-dragging Birther brigands will not will they face any consequences for their ill deeds in slandering the President of the United States, or how many openly foment sedition and rebellion against the government of the United States.

6. The Obama birth certificate debacle has exposed how to be truly American a person must be White. This is one of the central unspoken (and widely accepted) truths of race in America. For example, Sarah Palin channels The Blood Countess Erzebet Bathory and bathes in this bigotry with all of her "real America" talk. Although it is a lie in the face of history, because America is a mulatto culture where the majority of black folks (and of course our Native American brothers and sisters) were in the U.S. many decades (if not at least a century) before the great unwashed masses of white ethnics arrived here, Whiteness still imagines African Americans and other people of color as semi-permanent outsiders. In total, to be American is to be Black. The Birthers in their racial heliocentrism--where to be White is to be the center of the world--are repulsed by this fact.

7. White privilege is the ability to be "normal" and "invisible." Whiteness is never interrogated. Consequently, the White nationalism of the Tea Party GOP and its embrace of the Birthers has been long able to deflect the charge that they are racist or tinged by yearnings for a return to "the good old days" when "those people" knew their place. Because Whiteness is invisibility it works like chaff to obscure the obvious fact that much of the opposition to President Obama has always been about his race and not about policy. The signs at the Tea Parties are ignored or explained away, the racist emails laughed at and/or minimized as trite and silly, and bigoted White folks who display their bonafides whenever given the opportunity are labeled as outliers.

There is slippage in naming the White racism of the Birthers as such because so many are invested in denying the semi-permanency of White supremacy in America, a sentiment that still lingers decades after the end of Jim and Jane Crow.

8. The White racial frame. Whiteness is the default position for viewing the world. It is a cognitive map and means of processing reality. The election of Barack Obama upsets this world view. Many of those drunken on Whiteness and invested in the version of events that are offered by the White Racial Frame really do think they are operating as a "principled" opposition or that they are "colorblind," when in reality race, and fears of the racial Other, are driving their behavior. Here, Whiteness and white privilege work as pathologies that make a person immune to the real motivations driving their anti-Obama derangement syndrome.

9. Whiteness is the ability and power to reframe reality. Despite whatever documents or evidence that President Obama may offer to silence the growly, rabid hostility of the Birthers and the White Conservative Soul, the terrain for debate will be continually shifted. This is a function of ideology plus partisanship mixed together and combined in the Right-wing echo chamber. This reframing of reality is also born of the narcissism that is Whiteness, for the world is what they/he/she says it is.

10. White privilege is also surprising. Many black and brown folks (as well as others) have been saying from day one that the opposition to President Obama, and the silliness suggested by the conspiranoid Birthers in particular, have been motivated by racism. Those voices were often silenced and attacked as being too sensitive and wedded to some outmoded notion of political correctness. The pundit classes have finally seen the obvious: race is the driving force behind Trump and the Tea Party GOP's obsession with Obama's birth certificate. When those not White said as much they were dismissed. Lesson for us all: Despite our protests and the evidence that black and brown folks may bring to the table, racism does not exist until good White folks say that it does.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Discommendation? Black Conservative Mychal Massie Buckdances for His White Masters By Violently Disparaging President Obama's Take Down of Bin Laden

Mother Jones Magazine has waded through the muck and mire of the Right-wing blogosphere to come up with a 10 point list of how the Right is spinning President Obama's taking down of Bin Laden.

There a few gems--agitprop ambush journalist goon Jason Mattera (the clown who I embarrassed on his own radio show a few months back) appears on the list and takes a dig at the First Lady--but the following congratulatory utterance particularly caught my eye. I remain surprised that black garbage pail kids buckdancing for white folks' gold and silver Conservatives wonder why they are persona non-grata among their own kin. The following "tweet" is one more example why:

4. WorldNetDaily contributor Mychal Massie:

Why doesn't this clown come out and say that the President should just be shot? What a coward.

Ultimately, Malcolm X's famous observation about the politics of race loyalty and self-interest in the Black community certainly do ring true in Massie's comments. In these moments of success for America's First Black President the "house negroes" of contemporary Conservatism have to do the double tap and hate twice as hard as their White masters in order to keep their bonafides.

I have not begun the process of discommendation for one who betrays the Black community (and the common good) in some time. Should we begin that most sacred of processes and kick Mr. Massie out of the clan?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

President Obama Took Out Osama Bin Laden: How will the Tea Party GOP Spin This Historic Event?

Osama bin Laden is dead. Dude was hiding in plain sight the whole time. Talk about playing the counter-intelligence game tight.

The saying used to be that politics stopped at the Atlantic and the Pacific. Since the election of President Obama the Republicans have thrown that rule out of the window. In this moment, I wonder if the Republican Tea Party GOP will revert to that old rubric as we work through just how the CIA, Delta Force, and Seal Team Six operators pulled this mission off.

Smart money says that the Right-wing will further embarrass themselves as they deny the President (and all of us) a collective rally around the flag moment.

Some scenarios and in progress thoughts on what the Tea Party GOP will do in the aftermath of Bin Laden's death.

1. The Tea Party GOP will say that it was actually Bush that set the wheels in motion to get Osama bin Laden--that Osama was killed under Obama's watch is just a coincidence.

2. The Right will suggest that Osama bin Laden was actually a figurehead at this point and his death means nothing.

3. Osama's death is a vindication of George Bush's misadventures in the Middle East. History will remember him well.

What other scenarios can you imagine? Will the Republicans deny America's first Black President this symbolic high point? Or will the Right and Conservatives act with some class and dignity in this moment?

He Was Doing the Dozens and Signifying All Over Their Asses: President Obama's Ownage of Trump and Company at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

This is the brother I voted for.

Anyone can read a joke, but it takes real timing to deliver it well. For my dollar, the greatness of Obama's speech and the video package that accompanied it was how they were laced with ghetto nerdness, winks to the golden age of hip hop, child of the 1980s goodness.

Biggie and Tupac? Hulk Hogan? And Ol' Dirty Bastard accompanying an homage to Joe Biden? Who ever would have thunk you would see such things from a sitting President? Not me. Crom is pleased.

[By the way President Obama, Optimus was a great insert, but what you really needed for a perfect "I am the Juggernaut bitch" moment was some Rodimus Prime from Transformers: The Movie]:

All the negritude naysayers should now be silenced: Obama is unapologetically Black. The President demonstrated it once more with how he effortlessly signified all over Donald Trump and the Tea Party GOP's roody poo candy asses and took them for a ride on Jabroni Drive"--

President Obama's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner is just one more data point which explains why the White Populist Tea Party GOPers hate him. He is better than them. Obama has nothing but contempt for those knuckledraggers and he makes it clear whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Tim Wise Brings the Ruckus: Cry-Baby Beached White Males Without Jobs and the Pathology of White Privilege

Something to think about on a Sunday...

I demure when outdone. I had written a piece on the Newsweek story from a week or so ago on White men that detailed how they are especially "oppressed" and "disadvantaged" in the time of The Great Recession. After watching Brother Tim Wise do his thing my post goes down the memory well never to be seen again (unless you all revive it back to life).

As my dad, who as long time readers of We Are Respectable Negroes know was a professional musician that played with James Brown among many others said, "sometimes, when someone is hotter on the set you sit back, watch, and are entertained. If you are lucky, perhaps you will learn something. Then you take that lesson and do your thing when you get a turn. Burn it up so folks know they got to follow you and bring it."

Thus, to the goodies that come with white privilege (where a 6 percent unemployment rate for college educated white men is understood to be horrendous). As the great comedian Louis CK says, who wouldn't re-up each year as White with all of the goodies one gets with being a member of that team!

Even when many a white person is out of a job and other folks--people of color in this instance--with the same credentials are significantly more likely to be unemployed, they feel aggrieved. The American Dream has long been exposed as a patent lie to most thinking people. Whiteness allows white folks to believe in it because they don't have the uniquely privileged perspective that comes from seeing the man who is pulling the strings behind the veil or curtain exposed: The Wizard of Oz moment that comes from being the little man behind the stove that the in-group is denied. Talk about the ironies of history.

Here is a telling contrast to the sad state of "Beach White Males" as offered courtesy of The Loop 21:

Overall Unemployment Goes Down, Black Unemployment Goes Up

This past Friday, April 1st, the March 2011 news tickers showed that the overall unemployment went down to the best rate in two years. But, for African Americans, it actually got worst. We wish this was an April Fool’s joke.

The black unemployment rate actually increased during the month of March from 15.3 percent in February to 15.5 percent. There was no improvement for us to celebrate, just less jobs. It’s already bad that as jobless numbers stream in, African American unemployment – especially for black males – is in high double digit territory.

“A true economic recovery cannot be experienced until it is felt by every community in our nation, especially our communities of color,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) in a recent statement following the release of the March unemployment numbers. She’ll be constantly reminding folks of that while lobbying for support of her Emergency Unemployment Compensation Expansion Act of 2011.

In fact, while the recovery is sloooow-moving, you can’t help but recall just how deep a ditch the economy was in regarding job creation (or lack thereof). Check the chart below for a glimpse at how bad. Compared to losing 700,000 jobs per month in the final hours of the Bush Administration, President Obama appears to have done much better with it despite the challenges.

In that sense, it seems as though minority populations have a disproportionately further distance to go than other groups. Yet, the “official line” or overall good news is that this time last year, the black unemployment rate was 20 percent.

Still, as stunning and obvious as that might seem, no one could tell theLoop21 exactly how these numbers came to be.

"All of the statistics show that the less education you have the more the recession hurts you,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “People need to keep that in mind when these young people are dropping out of school -- and I'm not saying that's all of it. But that's consistent no matter what your race is."

Cummings, seated in a district that is battling its share of recession redux on a regular basis, regularly holds town halls on foreclosures. A thousand people showed up for the last one.

Another often referenced problem with the “official” unemployment numbers is that they fail to include those who have stopped looking for work. Michigan Congressmen Hansen Clarke and John Conyers are both desperately reaching for explanations regarding their districts’ struggles with unemployment that has reached the high 20s.

Conyers, for his part, seemed more preoccupied with holding hearings on sports-related concussions when he was House Judiciary Committee chair than trying to figure out ways to soften the economic concussion that's hitting Detroit.

And though firebrand Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida doesn't have to confront unemployment numbers that high, he commented on the issue of how jobless numbers are skewed by not counting those who have given up.

"When you look at the real unemployment number of people out there that have just given up -- we have another number of epic proportions," said West, keeping it unusually real and strangely off his Tea Party message in recent weeks.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO) was a bit less diplomatic about the situation, calling for urgency. "I'm thrilled some Americans are finding jobs but we still have only one person per every five job pursuers who are able to get a job,” Cleaver said. "The time is growing short for the need to focus on African American unemployment.”

The issue of whether President Obama could support targeted help for African American joblessness came up during Cleaver's meeting with the President on March 30th. Whether the President will support a push for legislation that could disproportionately assist a black community dealing with a jobless rate almost double the national average is for a deadlocked jury to decide. Cleaver and other senior black caucus members' talk with Obama allegedly centered on the plight of the so-called “99ers” or those who, in most states, have already exhausted at least 99 weeks of unemployment insurance.

But, when asked about whether or not the meeting produced any real progress on the issue, we got a muffled “Yes, they did come up,” from Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and a rushed, non-elaborating “[w]e’re working on it” from Lee who really didn’t seem all that happy to talk about it.

Lee is probably mum so as not to put future deals in jeopardy. A meeting on her unemployment benefits extension bill with House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor is already scheduled for this week – actually, a day before the government is scheduled to shut down. Can you say “reschedule?”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Of Dred Scott, Slave Passes, and Donald Trump's Obsession with President Obama's Birth Certificate

Got something substantial on this Birther mess in the works, but the following seemed well-timed...

Trump's haranguing of the President over his birth certificate is a bone deep example of white racism. Commentators of all stripes took to the airwaves yesterday to finally call out the Birthers for what they are--not so polite bigots. In the broadsides fired by many in the pundit classes there is rage and offense at how Trump and the Tea Party GOP mine white bigotry for political gain. But, there is not a sense of personal offense. Sure, there is upset at Trump and the Birthers for their nonsense, but an offense of principle is not that same as feeling that you were collectively slapped in the face by the repeated insinuations that America's first black President is somehow a fraud.

Many black Americans are deeply offended by the white nationalist coloured Birther conspiracy because it signals once more that our citizenship and belonging is always in question. In total, the anti-black animus of the Birthers and their obsession with Obama's birth (and commitment to devaluing all of his life accomplishments) is a textbook example of symbolic racism. And on a more personal level, how many successful black folks can relate to having their accomplishments questioned at every turn, even by white folks who are utterly mediocre and that would be lucky to shine our shoes if we blessed them with the opportunity to do so?

History runs deep here, both in the bigotry of the Birthers, as well as in the hurt felt by Black Americans during this debacle. Obama's birth certificate is his 21st century slave pass or set of freedom papers. The unapologetic gall and dastardly nerve of the Birthers is that they feel entitled and free to question a man of great accomplishments simply because he is not White. As Judge Taney wrote in the infamous Dredd Scott decision, black Americans are "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."

When the white trash "conspiranoids" of the Birther movement, and a man like Donald Trump who was born on 3rd base and thinks he hit a triple in life, demand "the papers" on President Obama, they are just signaling to a deep history that Barack--like other black folks--had best know their place and don't ever dare to step out of it.

So much for post-racial America and the Age of Obama, for just as during Jim and Jane Crow the lowest white man can feel right and just in trying to knock the highest black man from his perch because for a negro to dream and achieve is too much for the White (Conservative) Racial Id to countenance or accept.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birth Certificate Follies: Buchanan and Trump Call Obama's Punk Card and He Predictably Folds (Again)

[Be sure to check out the newest poll on the sidebar]

I would like to say that I am surprised that Barack Obama surrendered to Buchanan, Trump, and the Tea Party GOP Birther brigands. But sadly, his retreat from battle is just one more example of a man whose life and political career have been based on being a chronic compromiser--often to his own detriment.

Only time will tell if Obama's release of his birth certificate is actually a shrewd move in a game of political chess that cuts the legs out from under the Birthers. My concern is that Obama's political calculus is based on a false prior: as John Birth inspired paranoids driven by White Nationalism, the Birthers do not really care about the birth certificate, it is a MacGuffin of sorts, a stand in for the Tea Party GOP's deep bigotry and the inability of contemporary Conservatism's id to process the fact that a black man is President.

As Barack Obama has chronically done on many issues, even those where the American people gave him a mandate to lead, the President has sought common ground with his foes, a group that collectively want to see his presidency fail...even at the cost of the Common Good. In trying to make sense of Barack Obama's role as the 21st century Neville Chamberlain of American politics, I have been working through an idea that I need your help with.

Thus, some questions:

1. Is Obama's desire to surrender at every juncture a function of his inability --as a very rational and deeply reflective person--to understand the depth of the ideologically driven hatred and rage exhibited by the Right towards him?

2. I ask this very carefully, is President Obama as a self-identified black man born to a white family, who has had to negotiate his blackness throughout his life, ill equipped to "get" the ugliness of the white racism that drives the opposition to him? Because the President's family were "good white folks" (as my grandma would describe them), is Obama unable to accept that many Conservatives hold a deep antipathy towards his personhood, and that there is nothing he as a black man can do to satisfy them?

3. During his formative years, did Obama somehow miss the "Survival Skills 101 for Being Young Gifted and Black in America" life lesson?

4. Is appeasement simply Obama's default decision rule in times of crisis or challenge?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Annotating White Conservative Internally Inconsistent Foolishness: Barack Obama's Racist Easter Church Service

It seems that Reverend Wright was not enough. The Right is trying to generate another Obama "racist" Pastor scandal as a lead into the 2012 election.

Race really is a set of cognitive maps and a perceptual screen for understanding and interpreting the world. Some on the Right see bigotry and anti-white animus in this video. By contrast, I hear and see a learned, reflective and measured man. I am no church goer for I have no use for religion. But the learned and nuanced reading of American culture and life offered by Pastor Wallace Charles is enough to even tempt me to have a sit down in this brother's pew.

Conservative talk radio website WRNO's essay, "Obama's Church Choice for Easter Based on Race" is telling not because of how it plays to white Conservatives' fears of America's first Black President. Likewise, it is not shocking that the New Right hate President Obama because they demonstrate that ugliness at every opportunity. Rather, what is insightful here is that the paranoid imagination of the Tea Party GOP holds no pretenses of internal consistency in their criticism of the President. The end goal of destroying the President much be reached at any and all costs--style, wit, and intelligence in presentation be damned.

[An introductory question: Riddle me this. So Barack Obama is a closet Muslim not born in this country, but he goes to racist Black Christian Churches? Please help me understand.]

Let's play the annotation game and expose the Tea Party GOP's nuttery as channeled by Conservative talk radio website WRNO. My comments follow in bracketed italics.


Obama's Church Choice for Easter Based on Race

It may sound a little callous and abrasive to even be suspicious of Obama's choice of churches for Easter Sunday 2011, but given the climate of the media bias so overwhelmingly in favor of casting Obama in the best light possible, the regular media professionals can't be trusted to actually do some basic reporting.

[Note the early wink to the myth of the liberal media that is embraced by Conservatives. This is a great deflection because it immediately establishes an observation that can be easily disproved as an indisputable fact, i.e. there is no liberal media: A corporate media dominates the 4th estate. By starting with this lie, Conservatives are free to transmute Right-wing opinion based news, i.e. Fox, into fact based journalism.]

Shiloh Baptist Church was that it was founded by freed slaves during the Civil War. There was no mention that this was the first Presidential visit to Shiloh, nor any mention that this inaugural visit could be more than a coincidence.

[A good dog whistle is deployed here. God forbid that a Black man would dare to go to a church founded by Americans seeking their freedom in an era of overt and violent white supremacy. I thought that Conservatives would run to this history as they channel a childish version of the GOP as "the Party of Lincoln." Instead, and especially when it relates to the first Black president, Conservative pundits abandon their own principles (to the degree they possess any) to take a specious political shot. Because Obama dared to attend a church founded by Americans who took their freedom and demanded that this country live up to its democratic potential, he is slurred as somehow being too "pro-black" and thus is by definition "anti-white."]

Was there no mention that this is a predominately black church because the media didn't want the American people to know that our President chooses his church based on race? I'm reticent to openly guess at the media's intentions, but when flattering facts are reported and unflattering facts are omitted, we have no choice but to fill in the blanks.

[Sunday is the most segregated day of the week in this country. White folks go to one set of churches. Black and brown folks go to others. That having been said, the idea that President Barack Obama chooses a church based on its racial composition is a glaring example of the normativity of whiteness and the blinding glare that is White privilege. So White Presidents can go to any church, however uniform in their composition, and that choice goes uncommented upon. Why? Because whiteness allows white folks to make choices free of the calculus or stigma that is race making in practice. This is the ultimate privilege of whiteness in America, and one that Obama as a black man can never access.]

It's understandable that the President hasn't been too eager to jump back into church life given that the one and only church our President has ever joined in his life is one of the biggest political sandbags he carried through the 2008 campaign.

[Naked signaling to Reverend Wright, a human noose that the Right literally tried to hang around then candidate Obama's neck. Also, this passage hints at the erroneous belief, and once more to whiteness as normality, that White folks' churches are imagined by many as being spaces free of politics. Insert fingers into mouth and induce vomiting.]

One has to dig into the blog notes from various reporters to piece together the content from the sermon. Aside from the First Couple being honored guests, Pastor Wallace Charles Smith also announces that his 4 week old grandson is attending church for the first time, and a pool reporter noted an interesting perspective on the infant...

Pastor Smith talked about how his baby grandson's gurgling is actually "talking" because he is saying 'I am here ... they tried to write me off as 3/5 a person in the Constitution, but I am here right now ... and is saying I am not going to let anybody from stopping me from being what God wants me to be.'"

The pastor hears American institutional racism in a baby's gurgle? Do most people with infants hear Constitutional bigotry in their baby's gibberish? Did any mention of the 3/5 clause or racism in general make it into the Easter service you attended? Is this pastor's amazing leap from a baby bark to white oppression another coincidence to add to the list, or has he established a pattern of race baiting and white bashing in the past?

[These folks don't have a sense of humor or irony. Once more to the power of the colorline to limit the White Conservative soul's ability to empathize across divides of race and to accept that their life experiences and perspectives may not be that of others. This is typical of the Conservative political personality type. Nevertheless, it is still jarring to see it so nakedly displayed. Black folks are a Blues People. We can't run away from our history, because blackness is politicized in the womb. And yes, there is something prophetic and triumphant about the thought of a black child in the year 2011 as heir to a triumphant lineage of survival and success. Perhaps some possessed of Whiteness don't get that fact.

Just as when Conservatives threw a collective fit when Michelle Obama dared to suggest that America has done people of color wrong for centuries, and thus the election of her husband allowed for a new feeling of pride, the WRNO hit piece mines the fool's gold of symbolic racism to inspire their mouthbreathing racially resentful audience (see the attached comments on the website if you want to see the political scatology the contemporary Right wallows in). Blacks folks (and other people of color to varying degrees) are perpetual outsiders in Conservatism's conception(s) of what it means to be American. As enshrined for centuries in law or more recently in Palin's gutteral and shrill war cries of "Real America," to be White is to be a full and equal member of the polity.]

No great research team was needed to uncover what comes next. The fact that a YouTube search immediately grants the answer only underscores how astronomically inept/lazy/biased the media can be.

This is in fact another pastor who sees racism around every corner, preaches white hatred, and equates talk radio with the Klan, specifically mentioning Rush.

[Ah the joys of white victimology and white oppression. It is a new/old day in American again.

So, is this the same Rush Limbaugh who describes Barack Obama's supporters as savages and walking human debris? Or says that Liberals and those others who voted for Barack Obama actually did so because they wanted to create an America in which white people shine the shoes of black people? Is this the same Right-wing talk radio that routinely offers Eliminationist rhetoric where liberals and those not sufficiently Conservative are to be killed, possessed of a mental illness, and ought to be expunged from the body politic by any means necessary? No connection to the spirit and ethic of white bigotry and violence is present here. Nope. Nothing to see here. Move along.]

While this pastor is a little less flamboyant than Jeremiah Wright in both tone and wardrobe, the evidence is in: Obama prefers and actively seeks out these churches, race is our President's primary motivation on a variety of decisions, and the media will actively provide cover for minority racists as long as it fits their narrative.

[Damn minority racists they are everywhere, hurting good white folks and limiting their life chances!

Never forget, black churches are sites of conspiracy making and strange religious practices where white folks are burned in effigy and America is routinely besmirched by ingrates who should be happy the slave ship dropped them off in the United States. Thus, we need a secret video to reveal these hidden truths of black political malfeasance and treason. Why? Because President Obama is a race obsessed, "Traitor in Chief" who hates white people, wants to oppress them, and is pathologically attracted to these cult like hives of anti-white scum and villainy. Once more, the Right signals to a basic premise: the White Racial Frame cannot accept that a black man is President.

This is doubly ironic given that Obama is both remarkably race neutral and hyper-vigilant in being a President who happens to be black and not America's first black President. Sadly, he cannot win for losing. If Obama does not talk about race the Left and the Black pundit classes skewer him. When he wakes up in the morning the White Tea Party GOP Fox News echo chamber condemns him for being black and having the nerve to breath air. Dude can't win for losing.]

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm Free, White, and Twenty-One: The Real Origins of the Tea Party GOP's Addiction to Birtherism

As John Street smartly offers, popular culture is politics and politics is popular culture.

We have got quite a few new visitors to WARN this last week (join the movement folks, we love and need you all to keep growing) . I offer a "hello" to our new readers, and an "I am glad you still here" for the people that have been following the machinations of Chaucey DeVega and family from the very beginning a few years back.

I must apologize. I have not done a critical reading of a popular culture text in some time. I am going to get back to that beloved habit very shortly as I enjoy it a great deal. But, a brief detour back to my professional bread and butter seemed well timed given all of the recent talk of birtherism, Donald Trump's front runner status, and the Tea Party GOP's allegiance to the nonsense thinking embodied by its cabal of potential 2012 candidates.

If I were impolitic, I would simply say that those Conservatives who subscribe to the belief that Obama is not eligible to be the President of the United States by the status of his birth were rank bigots who suckle at the poisoned teats of the wrong end of history as they masturbate with their own feces in an odd projection of self-loathing and simultaneous dominative racism.

[Did I just write that? Damn and wow! Sometimes I surprise even myself with those turns of phrase.]

But given that more than a plurality of Republicans believe that the President is part of some Manchurian candidate-like conspiracy which was elaborately planned decades ago you/I/we need to take this Birther mess more seriously. On the surface this is the paranoid style run amok and is thus nothing new. Digging a little deeper, the obvious fact that the Birther meme is about race, difference, and Whiteness at the turn of the 21st century becomes more apparent. However, if you get to the heart of the Tootsie Roll pop, Birtherism is all about the pathology of the White Conservative Soul and also the synergy of a few key facts that often go under-discussed.

Primarily, Obama is a black man who happens to be President. This is unsettling to many white folks--as well as to their coloured colonial administrators. Even more telling: the vitriol directed towards President Obama is not just a function of White American anxiety at the time of a declining empire.

Sure, economic insecurity and realistic group conflict are part of the story. But, there is more going on. Here, I would make two interventions. First, the hatred by the New Right towards President Obama is not only about policy (to the degree that Conservatism can even be decoupled from White supremacy) but also speaks to symbolism: the White Racial Frame cannot accept that a person of color, a black man, is the leader of The Free World and resides in the White House. This is an upset that many of The Greatest Generation and their Conservative spawn cannot countenance. Nope. Not ever, as to be White is to be quintessentially "American" in their eyes.

The second point is a bit more pointed. While Shelby Steele and others smartly suggested that then running for office Barack Obama was a compromise candidate and a "mixed man" who could please white Americans because he did not carry the baggage of slavery and racial comeuppance (like Jackson or Sharpton were imagined to by some). Thus, voting for Obama was a get out jail free card for some white folks and a potentially transgressive act. But, there was a deep problem in Obama's success for other White Americans, the very same core group who would later form the core of the John Birch infused Tea Party GOP.

Barack Obama is unapologetic in his life accomplishments. Regardless of what one thinks of Obama's policies, he is no dolt. President Obama may be too generous to his foes, but the President is without regret or doubt about his intelligence. This explains why the mediocrities of Red State America flock to Palin and her many distinguished life failures for these Tea Party GOP brigands seek not a philosopher king, but rather an intellectually bereft political Whore of Babylon who validates all of the short comings inherent in White Populism. Thus, President Obama gets tarred as "uppity" or "elitist" because, and I give my foes no parlay here, he is better, and more accomplished, than the typical proles of the Tea Party GOP ever could be.

The World, the Flesh, and The Devil is spot on in signaling to this reality. Brother Belafonte is unapologetic in his dignity and plain speech. The film itself captures all of the fears of interracial intimacy held by Tea Party GOP. The truth speaking of Inger Stevens' character is almost a direct channeling of the politics of White racial resentment that drive the Republican Party. For what is all of this "real America" talk, if not a signal to the inviolate and inalienable rights that are imagined to come with Whiteness?

In total, the Tea Party GOP may indulge in talk about Birtherism, xenophobia, rewriting history textbooks in Texas, banning ethic studies in Arizona, secession, nullification, and States' Rights, but the New Right is really about a fierce protection of the psychic and material wages of Whiteness.

The World, the Flesh, and The Devil's money shot that to be "free, white, and twenty-one" sums up the driving mantra and reason d'etre of the Tea Party GOP quite perfectly. Does it not?

I have come to a long and difficult conclusion regarding the White Conservative Soul's antipathy towards President Barack Obama. At first, I thought it was "just" policy and ideology colored by white racism. Now their disdain is becoming even more apparent as the Right and many Conservatives have made it plain that they hate the basic fact that President Obama's exists. At first I did not want to write such a thing. Now, the reality demands that we speak truth to power.

Life isn't fair. It simply is. We must not run from--but instead directly towards--this uncomfortable truth.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter is Mudfoot From Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids Laid Out in a Charity Hospital on Medicaid

Happy Easter folks. May you enjoy mixing and matching Jelly Belly jelly beans and creating new flavors to titillate the senses and scorch the soul.

When viewed with adult eyes the cartoons that populated our collective childhoods often betray (un)intended subtexts. Case in point: I don't know when it happened, but a few years ago Tom and Jerry became intolerable to my eyes. The levels of violence were simply too much for me to behold and I had to look away. In fact, I would rather watch Takashi Miike's Audition than sit through Jerry's twisted machinations of how to best destroy poor old Tom the cat. And as I related to the Tea Party GOP brigands, the Smurf's episode where those Marxist blue proles were infected by an STD that drove them to bite each other's behinds was beyond subtext--it was naked, unapologetically so...pure and simple.

Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids does truly belong in the pantheon of adult themed cartoons that teach children the realities of living in a cruel world where bad things often happen to good people.

To point: The most awkward "mom and son viewing TV together moment" of my adolescent years was The Cosby Show when Rudy--so innocent for so long--had her "woman's day," the Cosby Kids episode that dealt with teenage pregnancy takes second place. I will never forget how my snow day was ruined as I watched New York's Channel 11 six in the AM broadcast of this painful moment, the hurt made more memorable as the Cosby Kids on that day aired after a particularly satisfying episode of Battle of the Planets. Two hours of Robotech helped to soothe the pain. But the scar would always remain.

Poor Mudfoot. He lived in a shack. He was a squatter. On more than one occasion he found himself physically debilitated and at the mercy of the kindness of strangers. And all of this happened to Mudfoot before President Obama's healthcare reforms. Life is so unfair. So cruel. Yes, it is.

My friends, please eat. Be merry. Enjoy your friends and family on this day. Even if things are hard, reflect on what you have as there are many folks who would envy your relative largess.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Of Black Pride and White Prejudice: Can A White Man Kick the Truth to a Young Black Youth?

Something to think about over the weekend...

Navigating the colorline in the Age of Obama, a moment where there is racism without racists, is tough work. Race is as much a socially constructed reality, as it is a cognitive map. Race, like gender and sexuality, is also a set of scripts which we follow both consciously and subconsciously as we try to make sense of our positions in the world. These scripts are often mentally demanding and intellectually frustrating because they are not always transparent or consistent.

As I hinted at in my first posts on Black Pride and White Prejudice there is a yearning by some for consistency and equivalence in all things. But yearning does not make a thing true--or in this case equivalent.

For example, the mocking of George Bush as a monkey is not the same as labeling President Obama a gorilla or an ape. The eliminationist rhetoric of Right-wing talk radio and Fox News has no equivalent on either the Center or the Left. The Tea Party GOP can mine white racial resentment and xenophobia in ways that the contemporary Democratic Party simply cannot given its electoral base. Disparities in power have rendered the suggestion that there is a bogeyman called "black racism" false because basic priors are not satisfied. Like "white oppression," reverse racism is an oxymoron: it is one more example of Conservative New Speak that panders to white victimology, and thus should be soundly rejected.

The finger pointing practiced by the "they do it too, why can't I!" crowd is done in the defense of matters both trivial and substantial. To the former, some white folks want the freedom to use the word "nigger" in common discourse because "the blacks" do it too. To deny white folks their freedom to indulge in ugly, hateful speech is taken by some as a burden, and one more example of a "racist" double standard that penalizes them. This is patently absurd, but somehow it echoes throughout the racial id of Whiteness--most particularly for the post-Civil Rights, hip hop generation.

Nevertheless, there is a kernel of an idea here that ought to be explored.

Clockers offers a powerful example of this dilemma. As long time readers know, my contempt for street pirate, ghetto urchin, troglodytes is transparent and unapologetic. But is there a contradiction present, where I or another member of the tribe could offer the truth to a young brother or sister gone astray, yet a white person doing the same thing would potentially be labeled as "racist?"

Race is a powerful script in this context. One of the most damning consequences of white supremacy in America was not the obvious harm done by formal and informal systems of social inequity that rewarded Whiteness and marginalized those outside of it. Rather, one of the most significant and understated tragedies of America as a herrenvolk republic, was how the religion of white supremacy created a color line that to this day limits our full humanity, as well as demands a psychic debit where it is still difficult to engage in some inter-racial "real talk" without carefully dancing around the third rail that is race in American life.

So how do we categorize Harvey Keitel's tough love sermon to Mekhi Phifer in Clockers? Is it racist or not? Do we judge racism by words as opposed to intent? Do the origins of the exchange matter more than than how the exchange takes place? Or is this exercise in qualifying white racism and prejudice more about the relationships between the agents involved than the structures in which they are embedded?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pedagogical Failure? More Notes on Being a Working Class Black Guy Teaching Whiteness Studies to Young Earnest Snowflakes

As I sit here pondering the ethical conundrum of reading the results of the Implicit Association Tests submitted to me by my students (I told them I don't want to know about their biases as some things are best kept private), a quick essay seemed a good cure for my temptation.

These last few weeks have provided a proverbial gift basket of examples which demonstrate the connections between academic work and "the real world." The problem: I do not know if my students realize that they often demonstrate the validity of the very theories which they at times are so earnestly trying to reject.

For context, it is helpful to highlight the cognitive schema which the post-Civil Rights, colorblind, Age of Obama generation uses to make sense of the world: for harm to occur there must be hurt feelings and mean words; we live in a world where individuals trump structures; blame to specific agents must be assigned, if no agents are to found, no ill deeds have occurred; and that these conversations on race and power are really about "good" people and "bad" people, as opposed to institutional relationships and historical ownership of unearned advantages.

This clinging to the core mythologies of American individualism, in an era where there is racism without racists, can be tedious to shatter. But the ability to quickly break through this internalized mythos has become old hat, easily accomplished with a modest amount of effort.

As those who have read my pieces on college teaching have discovered, I can be a bit of a provocateur in the classroom. Because I delight in unsettling assumptions (and here I cannot wait to assign some of the late Dr. Manning Marable's book on Malcolm X), I have to be careful about how I go about clipping the snowflakes' wings: I want them to have a controlled crash where they leave my seminars as one of the walking wounded, stronger and better off for the experience. I don't always need to cause a state of intellectual combustion where like the robot Nomad in Star Trek an undergraduate overloads and get trapped in a fitful feedback loop.

My courses on Whiteness Studies often accomplish this perfectly. First, these courses create a necessary discomfort where majority white students have to confront that they will be the topic of conversation. This is doubly wonderful because white students--and white men in particular--often bristle at having to talk about issues of race with (insert look of shock and horror) a black man. I try to frame this experience as one that is therapeutic and positive, where to paraphrase the wonderful Jane Elliot that white folks are going to get to experience for a few weeks what black and brown folk go through their entire lives in this society. Many will not like it.

Once we get through the preamble, and a bit of awkwardness, things tend to go well. I have been blessed to generally have a good and earnest group of sincere students who want to engage. For that I am grateful. The few who are utterly resistant to all this talk about white privilege--and how whiteness is a type of property made real by the State and fiercely policed and protected by White society--do so with smiles and not with hostile eye rolls or disruptive posturing. Yet in their relative acceptance of what the scholarship on Whiteness has to offer, some students unintentionally demonstrate the validity of the very arguments which they are at times loathe to accept.

In the interest of shared professional development and reflection, here are three gems from the semester so far as offered by some of my students:

1. "I find the Implicit Association Test very problematic. The good and bad words as well as associated images could have been swapped with others and I would have gotten the same result. Ultimately, it is more of a psychological test than a bias test."

[Priceless. There was almost a Star Trek Nomad moment as we watched a video clip where the creators of the test served up some ownage to a white test taker who used similar logic to explain away the findings of the IAT.]

2. "Some of the readings are quit mean and harsh. How are these authors going to convince anyone about their findings if they are so hard on white people? This isn't winning any friends or allies. These authors should be nicer to their audience and not hurt anyone's feelings because two wrongs don't make a right."

[Quick tongued Chauncey DeVega's response: The sociologists, historians, political scientists, and other folks who we are reading are not very invested in being nice. Nor, am I. White supremacy isn't very nice. So why should we/I/they be nice in how we confront it?]

3. "Prof., you are pretty clear in your political leanings and opinions on these matters. I have read some of your work online and in print. I am not saying you have a bias, but why aren't we reading more things written by white men as opposed to women and minority writers and scholars? "

[Confused and surprised by the question sort of response: Everything you read in almost every other class is written by white men. You get that, right?]

These three examples are just the tip of a very deep iceberg whose mass is hiding under the water waiting to sink any ships that are careless enough to pass too close. Pray tell my fellow travelers do you have similar examples from the classroom or the dreaded "real world" which you would like to share in salon?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No Laughing Matter: The Tea Party GOP's Depictions of President Obama as an Ape are Motivated by Violence and Hate

Conservatives and the Tea Party GOP find great humor in depicting President Barack Obama as a monkey. Thus, it is no surprise that Marilyn Davenport, an elected member of the Orange County California Republican Party's Central Committee (and a Tea Party acolyte), was caught last week sending out racist emails about President Barack Obama that depicted him as a chimpanzee (while pressured to resign, to date she still refuses and cries that she is a "victim.") This is not the first of such racist escapades by Conservatives. Since at least 2008, The Tea Party GOP and its supporters have been obsessed with depicting Barack Obama and his family as being either subhuman or savage.

From signs at Tea Party rallies that portray the President of the United States as an "African witchdoctor," to Palin rallies where her supporters mocked then candidate Barack Obama for being a "monkey," to a series of emails that recycled tired and hackneyed stereotypes of black men as pimps and the White House as a watermelon patch (implied to include the obligatory piccaninnies), Republicans and the Tea Party GOP have flown the flag of white racial resentment with great zest and zeal.

Critics have lambasted these episodes as merely constituting moments of poor judgement by misguided individuals. Conservatives have won the language wars in America. Thus, they have succeeded in introducing such nonsense phrases as reverse racism and white oppression into our vocabulary. The result of this move has been that voices who dare to utter sharp truths about the centrality of white racial resentment in the heart of contemporary Conservatism have been kowtowed by the big lie that is false equivalence: "George Bush was mocked as a monkey or gorilla too, so what is the difference?" For deniers of the obvious racial invective underlying the attacks on Barack Obama, the "they did it too" defense has become a convenient redoubt.

I do not give safe harbor to such lazy thinking. The depictions of President Obama as a monkey or ape are no laughing matter. They are rooted in more than a deep antipathy towards the idea of a black man being President and the accompanying upset which this reality has caused for the White Racial Frame. In fact, while the Marilyn Davenports of the world and the other assorted Right-wing mouth-breathing ilk who traffic in these images may be in fierce denial of the demons that lurk in their collective self-conscious, research in cognitive and social psychology has indicated that these images are prefaced on a deep hatred of Black people.

Ultimately, caricatures which link Barack Obama to apes and gorillas are integral elements of a centuries long project of White racial violence against people of color in this country and abroad.We cannot forget that Colonialism and Imperialism were predicated on a belief in the superiority of Europeans over other peoples of the world. To legitimate this project, a narrative which naturalized superficial human differences as deep, intractable, and impossible to overcome had to be created.

The history here is quite rich. Black Africans were imagined by white Europeans as being part of a different species that was not quite human. In fact, respectable European anthropologists and scientists hypothesized that black people were the result of copulation between humans and apes. As a complement, white European biologists constructed the "chain of being"--a metaphorical tree of human types where Europeans were "naturally" at the "top" and black Africans (because they were closest to beasts) at the "bottom."

During the three centuries of slavery in the United States and the struggles over Reconstruction and against Jim and Jane Crow, images of black people as gorillas and apes were used to alternatively depict African Americans as either childlike and simple--or like the Irish before they earned their Whiteness--as violent brutes who were unassimilable and by implication a threat to the White body politic.

By depicting black people as subhuman primates a two tiered system of citizenship was legitimated where separate but equal was understood to be common sense, and mass violence by whites against a not quite equal and fully human racial Other was accepted practice.

Jumping forward to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the violent impulses that are legitimated by depicting black Americans as apes and gorillas continues to this day. Researchers have found that test takers who are first shown pictures of apes are more likely to subsequently exhibit anti-black sentiment. In a second, and even more chilling example, white men were shown comparable videos of police brutality against two individuals, one black and one white. In contrast to the white victim, after being shown pictures of apes, the test takers felt that police violence towards the black suspect was justified.

The Tea Party GOP's love of depicting Barack Obama as an ape or gorilla is not simply an outlier or interesting curiosity and artifact of "old school" racism. Rather, it is a stark example that serves as the connective tissue tying together much of the "take America back," "real America" narrative which drives the contemporary Tea Party GOP imagination. Consider: at least 50 percent of Republicans believe that President Obama was not born in this country. And serious attention is given to the premise that America's first black President is somehow controlled by his dead father's Kenyan voodoo politics or that Obama himself is a Manchurian candidate, and some type of Mau Mau who wants to kill white people.

As an additional data point, public opinion surveys suggest a deep divide where Tea Party Republicans show even higher levels of anti-black sentiment than baseline Republicans, two groups where such sentiments are not at all modest in their scale. Echoing and reinforcing these beliefs, the mouthpieces of popular Conservatism such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, suggest that white people are oppressed and that Obama's voting base are "savages" and "walking human debris." In total, the opposition against Barack Obama is premised on both ideology and racial hostility. If the New Right's cries of States' Rights and Nullification are dog whistles, the cartoons of black people as apes and monkeys are clarion calls to the sick racial id that drives the White Conservative Soul.

The portrayals of America's first Black President as an ape or gorilla are racially explicit examples of a broad assault on his legitimacy and authority. In the eyes of contemporary Conservatism, Obama is not fit for the Presidency because he is not one of their tribe. This belief is reinforced by a deep notion that his blackness places him outside of being fully American...and perhaps even the human family. In a moment when the election of America's first black President has resulted in a rise in militia activity, a record number of assassination threats, and a resurgence in the popularity of White Nationalist organizations, these caricatures of Obama as a monkey or ape are matters of the most utmost and dire seriousness.

Let me be specific, careful, and precise. My claim is not that the Marilyn Davenports of the world (and those on the Right and elsewhere) who find these images funny are going to personally indulge in racially motivated violence. However, the energy they channel, and the history which the white racial reactionaries of the Right draw upon for aid and comfort, does legitimate the worst and not the best of America's national character. Because humor reflects social norms, as well as legitimates (and also at times subverts) conventional wisdom, it is a potent force for both good and evil.

I do not know Marilyn Davenport personally. But I do understand her type. They may not hold the noose in hand, or personally light the fuse that sets the fire, but "backstage" bigots of that stripe would not run from the lynching tree. Instead, they would watch in mass and take a picnic (as many thousands of white folks did) as the ruinous energies channeled by the dark heart of Whiteness ran their inexorable course and strange fruit was made to hang by the town square. They hide their unrepentant ugliness behind humor and laughs. Yet despite their best efforts, the guffaws are based on a deep seeded prejudice which they cannot easily or long mask.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sacrilegious Sunday: George Carlin on Why He Worships the Sun and Not God

On the most segregated day of the week, when the lemmings flock to their megachurches, tithe when they cannot pay their own light bill, riot and kill when their holy books are desecrated, claim that god told them to invade Iraq, and/or speak in tongues at the altars of TD Jakes and Pat Robertson, some laughter seems both needed and necessary.

My God has a sense of humor, thus I don't think that Crom or The Most High would mind this classic Carlin routine as if we cannot laugh at the absurdities of life--and religion especially for those of us critically minded but not necessarily of the religious mind--how can we get through the day?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tax Day Analogy: The American People are to the I.R.S. as Christopher Walken is to Zangaro in The Dogs of War

The Dogs of War seems oh so fitting on this day.

General Electric and other mega corporations pay no taxes while the rest of us have to stomach the burden. In the age of globalization the plutocrats and banksters go overseas and screw the American people, yet get all of the benefits of belonging to the American polity--while having none of the burdens or responsibilities. The top one-hundreth of one percent of the U.S. population earn 27 million dollars a year, while the remainder earn an average of 31,000 in the same time period. We are truly a "unique" nation my Tea Party GOP American exceptionalism obsessed friends...yes, indeed we are.

Alas, this is the 21st century United States in the age of declining empire and a creeping, inverted totalitarianism.

Rant away my respectable negro friends and allies on this April 15th if you so desire. My sentiments are with you.