Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Ironies of White Supremacy: A Black State Trooper and a White KKK Toddler Meet

Lots to do here that I missed out on because of the earthquake mess.

I like my money quick, just like Bernie Mac in Kings of Comedy. The phone rang today and there was money involved. So for the last 12 hours I was putting in some work for the powers that be. When one of the head muckety-mucks asks me to do something, and they ask nicely, I always say "yes."

The dogs need their medicine. I need my comic books and Chimay. Good deal I figured.

So much to discuss though. I have a great guest piece on the Tea Party and the Gadsden flag from one of our allies that I will post soon. There is a contest also in the works. I will also be posting an annotated exchange with a colorblind racist that I have been indulging for a month, there are other assorted things bubbling up to...such as highlighting one of the great salons that has been happening in our comments section.

We are growing and doing well. Thank you. I really appreciate it.

As a place holder, here is an image I have been thinking about for months, ever since I picked up Dr. Goldberg's book The Threat of Race. The troubling and problematic intersections of race and neoliberalism are embodied by President Obama. We can be in denial. But, the facts are increasingly obvious on that matter. Thus, we can choose to deny or engage.

How much has changed? How much has stayed the same? Questions I ask when the old school is turned into near absurdity as it encounters the reality of black folks with (local) power.

Crom/God/The Most High/The Force/JC Soul Brother Number One/The Blessed Exchequer does indeed have a sense of humor.

As I shared upon his election, I cried, yes I cried when Barack Obama won. I always knew there was a deeper game going on that would lead to inevitable disappointment. Not totally his fault, but he is much responsible and should take agency for his actions and deeds. He is a great man who has shunned away much of his potential greatness.

And on any day I would sit down and build with the brother. For whatever we/they say, he is a first ballot hall of fame entrant dealing with forces that all of us cannot even imagine. Nor, would most of us want that obligation.

President Obama is still a legend. And oftentimes legends are just people who make compromises that we do not like.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Zen of Sanford and Son and the Virginia Earthquake or How Many Ways Will the Tea Party GOP Blame the Earthquake on the President?

Is there any life issue, event, or challenge that Sanford and Son has not addressed? The Zen of Fred Sanford is truly the Way.

See, we get a black President and now we got earthquakes and the like.

It is really Obama's fault. It really is. As are all the problems in the world.

And we know the Right-wing knuckledraggers are on that meme already. For all we know the Tea Party GOP has allied itself with Cobra or gotten access to HAARP in a twisted, needlessly complicated and nefarious plot to further destroy the country!

What will Pastor Manning inevitably say on the Obama-earthquake connection? We know dude is in the studio as we speak cutting a promo...

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Not a Lie if You Believe It: Rick Perry Defends His Fight for Corporate Tax Cuts as Part of Dr. King's Dream and Legacy

Apparently, Rick Perry is operating from the George Costanza principle of history and politics where it's not a lie if you believe it.

We know that the Right-wing and the Tea Party GOP is operating in its own world, writing their own history, and shifting the terms of reality to fit their ideology. The shift is Orwellian. It is also a threat to democracy long in the making.

A healthy democracy requires some sense of a shared consensus on values, the meaning of history, the Good Life, citizenship and the Common Good. The more the Tea Party GOP's Christian Dominionist Right Wing Populist truncheons such as the Bachmanns, Palins, and Perrys speak, the more clear it is that shared values and consensus have apparently exited stage right.

But even in their reframing of reality there has to be some limit, some place they will not go. Why? Not because of the Right's nobility or that their embrace of anti-intellectualism as a virtue demands some feigned hold on the truth. No, Rick Perry and his kind should know to tell lies that are not so easily exposed and refuted. It is a bad strategy because eventually you get exposed.

Then again, I am working through an assumption that the public cares for truth tellers and that the press will do their job and hold Perry and company accountable for their repeated rapes gang bang santorum laced bukkakes of history. Alas, we know that will not occur.

For those with sense, and who care, at least we have Dr. King's words and wisdom to act as a check on Rick Perry's lie:

Medical Apartheid: They Put a Hole in A Black Man's Head Using Radiation; Of Course the Eugenicists Love Black Folks

Easing into Monday.

True dignity is uncommon. When we encounter it, especially from the elder gods, we must embrace its lessons.

Thus, Kapla my brother! Your heart and soul possess great honor. You teach us all.

Nevertheless, medical Apartheid is real.

Science is not neutral. It serves the interests of the powerful. That is hard for some to believe, but curse me my respect for Foucault's wisdom.

One of the reasons I started WARN was to talk to folks that I otherwise would not have had the opportunity to engage with. Chris Sharp, one of our kind folks who comment here, forwarded me this link about forced sterilization. The Mississippi appendectomy is real history.

As you all know, I challenge my students with the faces and words of real people. The Millennials are possessed of a short term memory Youtube age, where if they do not have a visual, said event never occurred. I give them no quarter or comfort. I bring on tears for their benefit. The following will serve that end:

You should see the faces when I teach On Killing and show them war porn. They look away. I smile. But I thought they were bad men and bad women? Apparently, most are not.

In all, Chris Sharp's suggestion will be added to my classroom rotation. Eugenics was a joint project of the Nazis and of White American elites. University departments, intellectuals, scientists, and others were invested in the global project that is/was White supremacy. I know that hurts for some to hear. It is the truth. We ought not to retreat from it.

Savages did eventually becomes negroes. One of them became President. So again, I guess there is progress. Is there not?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Symbolic Racism in Action: President Obama Wants to Make White Americans "Dependent" on the Government Just Like Black People Are

"He's a very bright man. But think about his life. And think about what he was exposed to and what he saw in America. He's only relating what his experience in life was ... 
"His intent isn't to destroy. It's to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don't say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don't assume ulterior motives. I don't think he doesn't love our country. I think he does. 
"As an African American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don't believe they work overall and in the long run they don't help our country. 
But he doesn't know that because his life experience is something different. So it's very important not to get mad at the man. And I understand, his philosophy -- there's nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it's goofy and wrong [laughter] -- but that doesn't make him a bad person."
I was taught by my parents and god parents that as a black man in America I had to do at least ten times as good as a white person to get half as far. In the post-Civil Rights era I am at times tempted to drop that down to a ratio of five to one. But after seeing what the election of the first Black President has unleashed on the part of many white folks of a certain age, I am tempted to let the rule stay in effect.

Why? Because in all, the Age of Obama is an enema that has freed the most ugly types of Whiteness to act without shame or censure.

There are two concepts that students of race and politics find particularly useful as they work through how race and power intersect in American life. The more recent of the two is Joe Feagin's "white racial frame." This is really a foundational concept for understanding the many ways that whiteness is legitimated, and in turn quite literally frames how White America understands social reality and the very idea of what "normal" is.

The second concept is symbolic racism. Because racism has evolved over time from the classic slavery, hood and sheets type known as dominative racism, to the more contemporary "colorblind" variety, the language and theory has had to shift as well. These types of White racism often overlap, and one does not necessarily preclude the other. I would suggest that as we unpack the hostility of the White Right and the Tea Party GOP to President Obama, symbolic racism, and its auxiliary white racial resentment, remain the most revealing and useful frameworks for making sense of the foolishness we are witnessing.

Tom Coburn's recent comments about President Obama are an object lesson in the concept.

Symbolic racism is based upon the idea that the citizenship of blacks folks is always in question, our hard work suspect, and that we do not embody the intangibles of "Americanness." Moreover, Blacks defy the expectations of the Protestant Work Ethic, are morally suspect, complain too much about racism, and have received "special" benefits that have been denied to white people. This explains why the rhetoric of "take our America back" works so well for Right-wing populist thugs. Black Americans are the very definition of the anti-citizen and are imagined as both perpetually and existentially outside of the American mainstream.

The Tom Coburns of the world (along with the less polite Buchanans, Limbaughs, Becks, and Coulters) cannot conceptualize black genius. They cannot even accept the idea of the black middle class or that there are black and brown folks whose achievements are superior to those of the great mass of white mediocrities in this country.

Black success exists outside of their cognitive map. Beyond ideology (although Conservatism in noteworthy for its dependence on racial resentment and animus), many whites cannot even imagine the idea of a President who happens to be black. It is inconceivable. Thus, the attacks on Obama are about more than policy. They are assaults on his very personhood, attacks which are legitimated by the white racial frame.

That is the ultimate myopia of white privilege and Whiteness. The former tells white folks that they are always the best and are de facto qualified for any task or responsibility; the latter protects them from having to confront that the reality is otherwise.

Symbolic racism and Whiteness also team up to create a blind spot that is utterly devoid of introspection or critical interrogation. Does Tom Coburn know that more whites are on welfare and food stamps than any other group? What of the culture of poverty among whites in places such as rural red state America and Appalachia? Does he consider federal policies that both sustain and created the white middle class a type of entitlement? What of tax right-offs, farm subsidies, and the military industrial complex? Are those creating a class of white "dependent" Americans?

In the white racial frame black folks are always thugs, incompetents, welfare queens, and degenerate failures until we prove to the satisfaction of white folks that we are not. I know that President Obama is a forgiving and (to my eyes) naive soul on the ways of White folks. But, I do hope that Obama is finally learning about the limitations of Whiteness and how they color the vitriol and opposition he has faced every day of his presidency by Conservatives and the New Right.

Or as a "bound man," is Obama also blinded by Whiteness's glare? I do hope not.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

They Live to Rape History: Black Conservative Allen West is Here to Save African-Americans from the Evil Democratic Plantation

So Black Conservatives fancy themselves as necromancers who are trying to save Black Americans from social death? How many spell points does that take?

The history of black folks in this country really is a plaything. Folks can abuse it. They can twist it. They can draw false analogies. They can lie about it. And at this point, I don't know whether to blame the black leadership classes or the colored masses for allowing this abuse of history to continue for so long.

A provocative thought: Why is the history of black folks, with the horrors of a centuries-long experience of slavery and The Middle Passage, with many millions gone, game for abuse in the name of political pandering? Would anyone ever dare play such a disingenuous game with the history of our Jewish brothers and sisters and the Holocaust?

Imagine, a Jewish Republican calling out his brethren who vote for the Democrats as being trapped in a death camp and that he is going to free them like Schindler.

That would be sickening and unthinkable. Just as it should be.

Allen West, like black garbage pail kid Herman Cain stays on the tired script that black Americans who are Democrats are somehow slaves in need of saving by Black Republicans. As I have called folks out for before, this is an obnoxious argument that is dependent on several even more offensive suppositions.

1. Note West's use of the word "sensibility." Apparently, Black folks are stupid, don't have agency, and they have been hoodwinked by the Democrats. Black people are mindless shuffling fools who have no sense of their own collective self-interest.

2. The idea of black Republicans saving black people from the evil Democrats is twisted in its narrative. Black Democrats, i.e. the vast majority of Black America is sitting around waiting to be saved on yee old plantation; the heroic, selfless Black Conservative empowers them to freedom; these liberated masses of black humanity then run to the good safety of the Tea Party GOP and the beneficence of the Great White Father.

3. As a group, Black Americans are the only ones stigmatized in this way. Where are the questions about poor whites having false consciousness as they vote for the Tea Party GOP? Where is the savior narrative regarding white people in Red State American who consistently vote for a party based on Culture War appeals and racial resentment, all the while said party has gutted the American middle class and transferred wealth upward to the plutocrats?

The Democratic Party equals plantation analogy popularized by the Republican Party and legitimized by their Black Conservative sycophants is dependent on one of the big lies that still lingers large in White American popular memory.

For Whiteness and those overly identified with it, chattel slavery was Gone with the Wind and black Americans really were not fit for freedom. Centuries of slavery was a few bad white folks being mean, and the majority were good--and if Michele Bachmann is to be believed the Christian slave owners were particularly kind and loving to their slaves:

Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith. . . . The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.

Moreover, Birth of a Nation was real and not a fantasy. Slavery is Song of the South and happy shiftless colored folks on the plantation singing spirituals.

It was not babies ripped from their mothers and killed on the docks by slavers during the seasoning process; chattel slavery was not millions of people dead and waters red with blood such that sharks learned to follow The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade for a quick meal; the plantation was a fun place, not one where people were raped, abused, killed, disfigured, and punished by devices straight out of the Medieval period.

Chattel slavery wasn't a twisted house of perversion where white men raped black men and black women in order to assert power, where slave owners would sell their own black children into slavery for profit, or give little white girls human dolls as birthday gifts or wedding presents. The Slaveocracy was of course not a world where the bodies of black women could be made accessible to any white man, at any time, and the bodies of white women were protected as the exclusive province and domain of their husbands.

The South was a folksy fun place, not a police state where whites lived in fear of slave rebellions and the daily threat that their beloved human property would poison them, burn them with fire, or slit the sleeping throats of kind and benevolent masters and their kin.

In all, the Slaveocracy was not an institution that lifted up the lowest white man above the most high, refined, and educated black person by mere virtue of melanin count. No, the South and the Confederacy was noble, honorable, and a "tradition" worth preserving.

If any group in America knows the value of citizenship it is Black Americans. The Black Conservative Plantation lie spits in the face of this fact, and reduces us to sitting in the back seat, mere passengers in the democracy that we helped to create. If the buckdancing for the applause of White Conservatives didn't pay so well, I would hope that Allen West, Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas and the other minstrel crooners for the Right would stand up for the dignity of their own people. But then again, slavery and colonialism also created a class of black and brown folks who wanted to be honorary Whites.

Said group had little sense of linked fate to their brothers and sisters. Why would we ever expect that those old, and quite lucrative habits, would ever change?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Wisdom of Crowds: New Research Reveals that the Tea Party is Less Popular Than "Muslims" and "Atheists" Among the American Public

But in fact the Tea Party is increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion: among most Americans, even before the furor over the debt limit, its brand was becoming toxic. To embrace the Tea Party carries great political risk for Republicans, but perhaps not for the reason you might think. 
Polls show that disapproval of the Tea Party is climbing. In April 2010, a New York Times/CBS News survey found that 18 percent of Americans had an unfavorable opinion of it, 21 percent had a favorable opinion and 46 percent had not heard enough. Now, 14 months later, Tea Party supporters have slipped to 20 percent, while their opponents have more than doubled, to 40 percent. 
Of course, politicians of all stripes are not faring well among the public these days. But in data we have recently collected, the Tea Party ranks lower than any of the 23 other groups we asked about — lower than both Republicans and Democrats. It is even less popular than much maligned groups like “atheists” and “Muslims.” Interestingly, one group that approaches it in unpopularity is the Christian Right.
Once more political science shows itself to be the master social science. We mock you!

Just kidding...

The masses may be asses. As individuals they are often duped, hoodwinked, and led astray. But perhaps, just maybe, the wisdom of American democracy is that in the aggregate, and over time, the people can more or less get it right.

I smiled today when I read the NY Times' column "Crashing the Tea Party" by esteemed political scientists David Campbell and Robert Putnam. I was happy because I am really fond of their work and hold both of them in the very highest of regard. They are truly giants in the field. I also like being proven correct as my most recent essays on the Tea Party brigand John Birch highwaymen were supported by Putnam and Campbell's rigorous empirical work.

[These are the moments that tempt me to come out of the shadows and break kayfabe as getting in on the conversation as the "real" Chauncey DeVega would be great fun. But for now, I have to work from the shadows. Alas.]

Thinking and right minded black and brown folks, and politically in tune white folks and others, have been all over the Tea Party since their emergence some years ago. As is our habit, black Americans were once again leading from the front and at the forward edge of public opinion.

The way that Black folks have long called out the threat posed by the Tea Party's brand of Right-wing populism and racial resentment, and how others belatedly followed, is par for our role in American society. It can be exhausting and comes with little reward, but we all have our special burdens and role to play in the chorus that is American democracy.

Putnam and Campbell score a range of body blows and head shots to the Tea Party GOP corpus that are worth higlighting.

For example:
Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today. 
What’s more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters. 
So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.
The Right's lie of a causal narrative about the Tea Party is exposed. We knew they were Republicans on steroids. The Tea Party is also an AstroTurf organization. Students of race and politics also understand the deep role that racism plays in the policies and strategies of the contemporary GOP.

In all, the tea baggers are politically tuned in, but likely only to highly partisan sources, and revel in their roles as the foot soldier jihadis for the New Right.
More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
Theocracy watch. The naked embrace of theocracy by Perry and Bachmann is chilling. The media are still playing softball with them--but the idea that Christian Dominionists could be at the top of a mainstream political ticket speaks to 1) the deep divides in this country socially and politically about what good government embodies and the Constitution allows; and 2) how as a nation in decline and crisis, the fringe can become mainstream and thus insert themselves into a broken democratic process as a legitimate option and alternative.

To beat a tired drum, if theocracy and fascism come to America it will be through the bottom up and led by Right-wing "Christian patriots" such as Bachmann, Palin, and company. Be weary and cautious.
Yet it is precisely this infusion of religion into politics that most Americans increasingly oppose. While over the last five years Americans have become slightly more conservative economically, they have swung even further in opposition to mingling religion and politics. It thus makes sense that the Tea Party ranks alongside the Christian Right in unpopularity. 
On everything but the size of government, Tea Party supporters are increasingly out of step with most Americans, even many Republicans. Indeed, at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, today’s Tea Party parallels the anti-Vietnam War movement which rallied behind George S. McGovern in 1972. 
The McGovernite activists brought energy, but also stridency, to the Democratic Party — repelling moderate voters and damaging the Democratic brand for a generation. By embracing the Tea Party, Republicans risk repeating history.
I hope so.

But thinking more broadly, there is an effect in social psychology where people generalize from their own positions and cohort to what they intuit to be the opinions of larger groups of people. The Tea Party GOPers believe that they are the "real voice" of "real America"; the tea baggers also assume that they are the silent majority and speak for the mass public.

The Right-wing will respond to Campbell and Putnam's work with the usual mix of Conservative victimology and anti-intellectual zeal. And if  Frances Fox Piven's experience is a guideline, both should maybe get some extra security and start screening their calls and emails.

How do you think they will spin this newest data on the Tea Party's role as a faction and obstructionist outlier in American politics and public life? Will it be more of the "lamestream media" and "liberal academics" are "victimizing" us meme? Or will they try something new?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

History's Echoes: Ruby Bridges Visits the White House vs. White Students Who Benefit From a Virginia School Desegration Scholarship

First, I would like to thank Ruby Bridges for her courage. She and others like her made America a better place. They are the shoulders upon which so many of us stand. Although I often lament the fact that regular people do often make history for the worst (see Right-wing populism), they also make history for the better as well.

The latter is why I hold those black folks and others in such low regard who could have made a difference in our time of struggle, but like the Herman Cains of the world, had better things to do and "didn't want any trouble." My contempt also extends to those individuals who have directly and indirectly benefited from the Civil Rights Movement, but who feel no affinity for black and brown people.

As I have been fond of saying as of late, history's echoes are indeed deep and long. Reflecting upon the Black Freedom Struggle and the work done to integrate America's schools by such pioneers as the Little Rock Nine, Ruby Bridges, James Meredith, and many others, I began to think about justice and how far this country has come on matters of racial inequality...and so far she has to go.

Ruby Bridges' trip to the White House is so poignant symbolically precisely because of how it seems to close the circle. Thinking people know the work is far from complete--American schools are as segregated (if not more so in some areas) as they were during Jim and Jane Crow--but the moment brings a nice warm fuzzy feeling to those prone to such things.

Ironically, those fuzzy feelings are also cousins to the flat history, and the twin lies of nostalgia and kumbaya colorblind America that have been thoroughly taken to task in the recent discussions of the white savior film The Help, a movie whose lessons on these matters are clear: racial inequality and the lived legacies of white supremacy in the present can just be solved by a big group hug, a good rewrite of history where all parties are made equally culpable, and by working really hard to avoid any conversations of responsibility or blame.

The language of racial justice is quite limited in the post-Civil Rights, American context. "Reparations" is verboten. While the very word itself is terrifying to a good swath of White America, and the idea that groups of people can petition for grievance, lost wages, wealth, and for some accounting of one of the greatest crimes in human history is well-established in International Law, to even utter "reparations" is deemed a sin that will exile one from the mainstream of American politics.

There is always a caveat: in experiments where the scenario is fictional (but a mirror for what happened in this country), and under which they could conceivably benefit, white Americans are in favor of reparations. But, the same white folks are repelled by the idea of reparations when it applies to Black Americans. Adding an additional complication, other groups in America have petitioned for a group redress of grievance with little protest.

Riddle me that one...

I have always suggested that it ain't about the money and never really has been: the most real and substantial obstacle to reparations is the very idea that White America owes a formal apology to black Americans. To do such a thing, the very act of saying, "I am sorry, we are responsible, and a crime was committed by Whites against Blacks in America" or "yes, whites have and continue to receive unearned advantages because of the color of their skin and the State aided and abetted this" is too much for many to countenance.

Whiteness allows white folks to selectively be a people without a history. Because they lack history, to be held accountable is anathema and unthinkable. In all, opposition to reparations has little to do about "principled" ideology or beliefs about what the State should or ought to do relative to different groups on matters of justice. There are simply too many exceptions made for the consistency rule to be in effect.

The other obstacle to rich and significant conversation about matters of race, justice, and compensation is that everyone is "black" in post-Civil Rights, multicultural, colorblind America. To talk about blackness as something historical and real, a social fact which impacts life chances, and is influenced by institutional structures, as opposed to a "lifestyle" choice mediated by the black culture industry and Multicultural Inc., is simply too "angry" and "un-pc" for the Age of Obama, what is a moment when to critically engage race is to be a "racist" who delights in playing the "race card."

Because Blackness is a commodity that is both sold and consumed, blacks art, black music, black culture, black letters, black genius, and black artistry are made accessible to all. In twenty-first century America, black suffering, black injustice, and black struggle are also products and experiences to be shared across the colorline.

Funny, everyone want to be black when it is convenient; but few ever want to be Black when it counts.

For some time, I have wanted to discuss the following story on how white folks in Virginia are benefiting from a scholarship for those harmed by school segregation and Jim Crow. Ruby Bridges' visit to the White House has provided the fulcrum to finally share it with you all.

I must ask: How did justice ever get so twisted?

Some of Virginia's Brown Versus Board College Grants Go to Whites

“Both black and white students lost an opportunity because of the state’s decision, and both deserve this aid,” said Brenda Edwards, who administers the Brown v. Board of Education Scholarships for the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. “White people hear Brown v. Board, and they think they’re not eligible. We’re trying to change that perception. . . . We want more people to get the education they missed out on years ago.”

Half a century after many Virginia public schools shut their doors rather than accept black students, the state is offering college scholarships to compensate those whose education suffered in the era of “massive resistance” to desegregation. Among the recipients: white students.

Since 2004, about 70 people have won the scholarships, including a handful of white Virginians whose schooling was disrupted in the late 1950s and early 1960s. A precise count of white scholarship recipients was unavailable, but the total is thought to be fewer than 10. Officials who oversee the state program say they want to spread the word to more white students who might be eligible.

Phyllis Archer, 57, a scholarship recipient who is black, said the push to include white students in the program is misguided. “This was the state’s chance to apologize for wrongdoing, not to award people who have never known racism,” Archer said.

June Jeffrey, 69, is also a scholarship recipient. She is a real estate agent who is studying English at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton and is white.

In 1958, four years after the landmark Supreme Court ruling that found school segregation unconstitutional, Jeffrey’s high school in Warren County closed its doors.

While black students left the county or attended loosely organized classes in living rooms and church basements, Jeffrey’s school reestablished itself as the Warren County Education Foundation School, which enrolled only white students. It held classes in buildings across town, keeping the same teachers and paying them partly with public funds.

When a federal court ruled in February 1959 that Warren County schools must integrate, Jeffrey and most of her classmates remained at the all-white foundation school. But she said they lost access to facilities, counseling and the trappings of a traditional high school experience.

“We missed having a real senior year,” Jeffrey recalled. “We just wanted to finish up with our friends.”

Jeffrey detailed those experiences when she applied for the scholarship years later.

“I was just hoping that they wouldn’t ask me for a photo,” she said. She was never sure whether white students qualified.

Not only do they qualify, she later learned, but officials are traveling the state to inform residents — including white residents — of their eligibility. Former students whose public schools in Charlottesville, Norfolk, Prince Edward County or Warren County closed in the late ’50s and early ’60s are eligible.

The effort to recruit white applicants has reopened wounds from Virginia’s painful racial history.

Archer, who is working toward a degree in nonprofit management from the University of Richmond, said she wonders whether some scholarship recipients are from families that defended segregation. “That’s really unacceptable,” she said...

The story continues here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Now Introducing Michelle Bachmann the New Kielbasa Queen

I would buy that for a dollar.

Sometimes you just can't resist. The caption possibilities are endless, the jokes are easy given our good lady theocrat Michelle Bachmann's desire to always submit to her husband in all things, and we don't even have to mention professional homophobe Mr. Bachmann's "questionable" sexual identity.

But any chance to revisit the Kielbasa Queen on Howard Stern's classic Channel 9 TV show is worth taking:

An Epic Fail From the Peanut Gallery: Tea Party GOPers Defend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Honor When President Obama "Dares" to Channel His Memory

And now that King has his own memorial on the Mall I think that we forget when he was alive there was nobody who was more vilified, nobody who was more controversial, nobody who was more despairing at times. There was a decade that followed the great successes of Birmingham and Selma in which he was just struggling, fighting the good fight, and scorned, and many folks angry. But what he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own. It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc and we are bending it in that direction. And it takes time. And it’s hard work. And there are frustrations.

In a recent fund raising speech in New York the President evoked Dr. King and his prophetic vision. As with all matters related to Barack Obama some on the Right are using that moment to vilify the President. No surprise.

But, there are at least two interrelated issues that warrant exploration.

One, how do we locate President Obama relative to Dr. King? Given that the former is a corporatist and quite center Right in his politics, I would think the comparison on policy matters is a bit of a stretch.

Second, who "owns" Dr. King's legacy and vision? This one is a bit more complicated. On one of my favorite black garbage pail kids black conservative websites, we were having a little go around where the one and only Cobb, enabled by his white conservative feces slinging supplicants, wanted to suggest (as he often does) that the Right is "colorblind" and somehow Conservatism "gets" King's vision on race "correctly." Although I clearly disagree with the priors, Cobb did however hit on an interesting question: Why do some folks become almost apoplectic when Conservatives try to claim Dr. King?

I offer the following answer.

Overlooking the overt racism and racially resentful politics of the Tea Party GOP, as well as the tons of evidence from political psychologists and others that Conservatism is linked to authoritarian personality types, and thus racism is a natural outgrowth of those traits, a claim that contemporary Conservatives are invested in Dr. King's radical vision just strikes me as dishonest. He was vilified by the Right in his own lifetime. If Dr. King's vision on poverty, race, social justice, and health care were offered today, he would be driven out of the town square and tried in absentia by the Fox News Tea Party GOP cabal.

Because Dr. King is an American icon all parties want to own a piece of the action. That reality leads to an almost inexorable flattening and oversimplification of history where Conservatives can claim one part of the "I Have a Dream Speech" for example, to in turn argue against positions that King would have actually supported.

I typically want to dismiss such moves by Black Conservatives, Glenn Beck, and others as predictable and uninteresting. One cannot expect an ideology that in practice is prefaced on anti-intellectualism to be at all rigorous. Yet, in the Age of Obama those inversions of history have started to bear fruit. Thus, they must be treated more carefully.

The Right has with great skill moved moved the political terrain in their favor, shifted the language used to discuss politics and policy, created parallel sources of "information" from "think tanks" whose only purpose is to advance a far Right ideology (regardless of the facts or science on a policy issue), and created an alternate media and professional propaganda wing that subverts the role and responsibility of the Fourth Estate in a democracy. The sum effect of these elements is that the foot soldiers of the Tea Party GOP actually mistake thin, specious, politically oriented opinions for rock solid, concrete facts.

And as I argued here, because the Tea Party GOP and their faithful are ideological cultists on every almost issue from climate change, to the separation of church and state, to the economy, facts and reason are subverted by faith. In short, it is true because they say so. The mainstream media enables these delusions because they exist in a marketplace and cultural moment where all opinions, however ridiculous, are framed as being equal, and consequently worth reasonable discussion and attention.

The Right's response to Obama's speech on Dr. King is one more of those moments. As I often do, here is the peanut gallery in all of its glory. The mouth breathers of the Right defend King against Obama, and by doing so dishonor the former's memory, through their own twisted lens of history as it relates to the present.

Take special note of both their basic misunderstandings of history and fact, and the mental gymnastics needed to make it all cohere.


Chuck, a vet August 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Remember Dr. King very well.

First of all, he was an American and a Patriot! He did not want a socialist welfare state, nor did he substitute his loyalty to this Country for anti-American interests.

He was not a redistribution of wealth fanatic, but really wanted a level playing field. Most of all, his goal for all was a real policy of “a hand up”, not “a hand out”. Big difference.

For this guy to compare Dr King to himself is like throwing a rose into a pile of fertilizer. (Which is the only thing that was really “shovel ready” in this administration).

Dan August 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Obama is not even close to MLK. First and foremost MLK was willing to die for his beliefs, Obama can’t even make a decision that might result in him being a one term president.

Luke August 13, 2011 at 1:32 pm

How dare he compare himself to MLK, MLK gave people freedom and Obama is taking peoples freedom away.

JoeKidd August 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Americans are citizens of The UNITED States of America — not Obama’s divided states of America.

They belong to one race: The HUMAN race.

And under their skin, they bleed ONE color.

Now Obama may think he can get that color to run in the streets — he has been busy stirring his pot of Hate — but he’s wrong! You only separate colors when doing wash.

Hmm August 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Martin Luther King Jr was not known for hating the United States of America – try again, Mr. Obama. Martin Luther King Jr was not known for promoting divisiveness – try again, Mr. Obama. Martin Luther King Jr was not known for encouraging dependence on government handouts – strike three, you are out, Mr. Obama.

StopGovtBondage August 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Barry compares himself to a lot of important and successful people: Abe Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and now Martin Luther King Jr.

Thing is – Barack Obama has earned nothing – there are NO ACCOMPLISHMENTS…..his positions have either been Affirmative Action, or positions have been purchased or politicized….nothing has ever been based on merit.

And with the chip on his shoulder regarding successful people – Obama is now tearing the country apart with his class warfare……MLK – I think not.

wrongagain August 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Biggest difference would be everyone loved Dr. King. Dr. King worked to ensure everyone was judged based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin. You have decided skin color tells you all you need to know.

Susan August 13, 2011 at 11:19 am

All this talk of August vacations has me wondering. Do you ever take a vacation Keith? Love coming to your blog each day to get an unfiltered view of what is happening in DC, and you are always here. Thank you for what you do.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a Republican. He believed in non-violent resistance, just like us Tea party advocates. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That is one of the quotes Obama had weaved into the oval office rug. It was actually Theodore Parker, an 1800′s abolitionist and not MLK who originally said those words. Too bad the progressives stole that quote and twisted its meaning. I’ll bet neither Theodore Parker nor MLK thought those words would one day be used to justify Obama’s version of social justice and redistribution of wealth.

srdem65 August 13, 2011 at 10:43 am

MrO should hang his head in shame to compare his travails to those of MLK or to imply that his agenda is the same as RevKing’s.
RevKing never once called his many opponents “enemies” or called for their punishment, he never ridiculed anyone to further himself, but instead, prayed for a day when all would be judged by their character, not the color of their skin.

12wlw12 August 13, 2011 at 2:50 pm

How dare that flea compare himself to Martin Luther King! He is no more than the dirt beneath King’s shoes!. We all shared King’s dream and prayed some day it would happen. Of course there are, and always will be, those with hate in their hearts, on both sides who will not give it up. But remember this, it was not only blacks marching with Rev. King. His dream was to bring America together.. Obama and his ilk have almost destroyed everything MLK stood and fought for… the unmetigated gall of that ‘person’ comparing himself to such a great man… He has no shame!!

Susan August 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm


pilgrimsjog August 13, 2011 at 2:33 pm

“I have a nightmare that one day the sons of former slaves will sit at the table of victimhood, screaming at the sons of former democrat slaver owners, under the big tent of the democrat, progressive, slave party. Cause there ain’t no party like a democrat slave party. Git yo victim on and git paid. That’s why we vote for ‘em! To git back wages for picking democrat cotton!

kitman3 August 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

MLK was not a social justice advocate he believed in individual redemption not collective redemption.
Personal responsibility was his creed.
Progressives are so desperate to reelect our socialist-in-chief they will lie and distort MLK for their own use.
Progressivism = Totalitarianism
The “ONE” is DONE
The “O” has got to GO

Ron August 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm

MLK wanted a world where people were judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.

Obama, through his racist actions, and support of affirmative action, racial quotas and setasides, has proven that he wants to judge blacks based on the color of their skin, and NOT the content of their character.

What hasn’t Barak Hussein lied about?

Carl Spackler August 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

what the H is the “arc of moral universe?” And is it ironic or fitting that his metaphor of morality is taking something straight and bending it?

jack prong August 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

the only people who vilified dr. king were your fellow democrats, barack. dr. king was a card-carrying republican. your fellow democrats started and operated the ku klux klan from the civil war forward to today. dr. king did not lay down his life so guys like barack obama could peddle snake oil socialism. he died in a quest to get others recognized for their character and their individual rights not so you could start up a super-plantation in the united states called obamaville.

Johnny B Good August 13, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Dr King stood up against white racists and black racists and remains as a national hero to people of all skin color. BHO thinks that anyone who disagrees with him is automatically a racist. BHO and his mindless minions use racial fear like a teleprompter to accomplish their sad agenda.

marg1 August 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

King calmed the stormy waters. Obama creates chaos everywhere he goes.

What an arrogant jerk obama is. Delusional, manipulative, and dangerous for the entire planet.

How ’bout them drones he’s playing war with? And doing it all on his own without Congressional approval. Congress should impeach him, and the Nobel Committee ought to be screaming to get their Peace Prize back.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight: Racism's Role in the Tea Party GOP's Efforts to Destroy President Barack Obama and the U.S. Economy

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.
Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.
“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”
The statement seems likely to bolster one Democratic line of attack, that it was tea party intransigence — not a shortcoming of leadership by President Barack Obama — that is to blame for the U.S. downgrade, from AAA to AA+. Obama himself called on Republicans to “put country ahead of party” Thursday — a dig at conservatives in Congress who are blocking his agenda.
In black and white and from the horse's mouth.

For the first time in its history, the pristine AAA credit rating of the United States has been downgraded. Through the Great Depression and two world wars America was able to remain first among nations, a sure bet for investors, and the gold standard for following through on a promise that it would pay its debts in full, on time, and with interest. Apparently, the credit rating of the United States could survive all these perils, but not the tenure of its first Black President.

While deeply concerned by the federal government’s failure to resolve the long-term structural weaknesses in the economy, Standard & Poor’s was clear about what drove its auditors to lower the credit rating of the United States: the politics in Washington D.C. are dysfunctional and broken; and a mature and reasonable solution to the debt ceiling debate, one that grew out of normal politics and not economic terrorism, would have likely averted this most unfortunate, but wholly predictable, of outcomes.

As the pundit classes try to make sense of the debt ceiling-credit downgrade political drama, they are overlooking a central element in the Tea Party GOP’s almost mouth-frothing resistance President Barack Obama since his landslide election in 2008.

While the black blogosphere (and even Twitter) has been bubbling with this issue for some time, the mainstream media has been dancing around a fact which remains hidden in plain sight. Just as they did with their poor coverage of the Birther issue, and out of fear of a Conservative backlash, the mainstream media is loathe to speak truth to power and point out the obvious: racial hostility is one of the primary forces driving the opposition of the Tea Party GOP to President Obama. This has been evident during the debt ceiling debate and on policy matters across the board. To fail to understand this most basic of realities is to fail to understand American politics in the Age of Obama.

Having matured with the smear campaign against President Bill Clinton, Right-wing talk radio and Fox News have created an echo chamber in which ideological purity is the premier value: this dynamic has amplified the tensions between conservatives and the rest of the American people, and removed any possibility of finding a shared middle ground on issues of common concern. A normal politics of negotiation and compromise is imperiled because the terms of the debate are presented in dire, stark, and apocalyptic language.

As a result, extreme party polarization, when added to a political conversation in which the volume has been turned up way high by the Right-wing rage machine, has created a situation where the temptation to use racial appeals to destroy President Barack Obama is almost too great to resist.

In short, while extreme political ideology by the Right may be driving their stubbornness, and a cult-like belief in Free Market Fundamentalism demands tax cuts for the rich and austerity for the poor as the only solution to The Great Recession, the election of the country's first black president is a license to abandon all hold on the world of facts and reason.

There are several elements driving the Tea Party GOP’s efforts to “blacken” President Obama with the goal of limiting his ability to lead the country, and hobbling the Democratic Party at every turn.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Post-Debate Friday Right-Wing Theocracy Watch Mashup: Rick Perry's Prayers; Roger Ebert's Rebuttal; Kevin Phillips' Warning; and Frank Zappa's Ownage

One of the joys of all this tricknology is that you can clutter your pages with all sorts of videos, text, and music. I haven't fallen victim to that impulse in a few years, so please allow me to indulge myself today...

Sinclair Lewis famously wrote that "when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." The unapologetic Christian Nationalism of the Tea Party GOP and its cadre of potential 2012 nominees, a crumbling economy, and a people hungry for existential meaning on a ship of state that feels rudderless and a bit nihilistic, are a nasty mix that could in fact lead us there.

The alarm has been sounded before, and will continue to be rung. To point: here are a few clear voices for us to consider and reflect upon as we work through America's inverted totalitarianism and slouching towards Christian Dominion Theocracy.

How could we forget Frank Zappa's broadside against the Christian Right when he owned their butts on national TV?

Kevin Phillips, historian, journalist, and political scientist, called it clear a few years back during the latter years of Bush the Junior's regime, that America would be brought down by a wicked combination of radical religion, imperial overstretch, debt, and energy dependence:

But my favorite of the bunch has to be the always humble and charming Roger Ebert. Just as the most high and fate took Muhammad Ali's physical gifts and his propensity for gab to teach a lesson about the Great One's other gifts, Ebert was robbed of his verbal powers of speech so that he would find a gifted pen and a "new" voice.

Good stuff from his Sunday essay "The Error of Political Prayer":

There are vertical prayers and horizontal prayers. Vertical prayers are directed heavenward. Horizontal prayers are directed sideways at others.

It fills me with misgivings when a possible Presidential candidate warms up by running a "prayer rally" in a Texas sports stadium.

A prayer "rally?" I can think of words like gathering and meeting that might more perfectly evoke the spirit. Prayer rallies make me think of pep rallies. Their purpose is to jack up the spirits of the home team and alarm the other side.

Of course the other side has its own pep rallies, presumably leaving it to God to choose sides. That is why team prayers before a game strike me as somewhere between silly and sacrilegious. No infinite being can possibly care if Illinois beats Michigan. No God worthy of the description intervenes in the drift of a field goal kick.

It is sometimes said America was founded as a Christian nation. It was specifically not founded as a Christian nation, or the nation of any other religion. The founding European settlers were refugees from Christian nations, and had experienced quite enough at the hands of state religions. The separation of church and state is central to our democracy. It is impossible to conceive of any of the Founding Fathers approving of prayer rallies in connection with political campaigns. That is equally true of Fathers who were Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, atheist, deist or agnostic.

The rally convened by Texas Gov. Rick Perry was, like many such meetings, a free concert featuring rock and C&W singers. If prayer and only prayer has been offered, the attendance, I suspect, would have been smaller. Its purpose was achieved not so much inside the stadium as outside--so that they could pray horizontally at us.

Such prayer strikes me as unseemly. Your religion is a matter between you and the god of your definition. The eagerness to convert outsiders strikes me as one of the aspects of a cult. I believe the low emphasis placed on conversion by Jews is admirable. If you want to become a Jew, you go to them. I believe religions should convert by attraction, not promotion. Respect for other beliefs, or the lack of beliefs, should be at the heart of religions.

The separation of Church and State has rarely seemed more threatened. Many political leaders seem opposed to it. Some would translate their religious beliefs into the law of the land. Candidates are being asked to sign a "pledges" designed primarily to embarrass those who do not sign them. A self-respecting candidate would explain that he will make his own pledges, for himself, by himself.

I have not taken a liberal or a conservative position. I have not spoken as a believer or a non-believer. What I've written is Civics 101. I wonder that no political leaders of either party have had the nerve to question the rally in Texas.

There are not two sides to the separation of Church and State. There is only this: They must be separated for the health of our democracy. Americans are of many faiths and none. Our laws must apply equally to all. If your God doesn't agree, does that mean He accepts instructions from you? Are you content with such a God?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Inconvenient Facts: The Whiteness of Memory in "The Help" Versus the Ugly Realities of Jim and Jane Crow America

Stockett’s novel presented a vision of segregation in service of a feel-good story, but the film version of The Help is even more distant from the virulence of American racism. Its villains, Junior League bigots who wear smart little suits to cover their scales, are so cartoonish that viewers won’t risk recognizing themselves or echoes of their behavior in them.
The heroines—a privileged, liberal, white Mississippi woman named Skeeter Phelan (Emma Stone) and two black domestic workers, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) and Minny Jackson (a particularly good Octavia Spencer)—are much easier to identify with. The project that brings them together, a secret oral history of maids’ lives in Jackson, may spotlight the domestic side of racism.
But other than a mention of unenforced minimum-wage laws and a scene of the aftermath of Medgar Evers’ murder, the movie is disengaged with the public legal framework that let white women treat their white servants dreadfully in private. In The Help, whether you’re black or white, liberation’s just a matter of improving your self-esteem.
I took in a few movies yesterday and saw quite a few exuberant movie goers leaving The Help all excited and comparing the book to the film. There were middle aged and older black women who were pretty quiet and sat on a bench talking about the movie. I also saw a group of twenty and thirty something year old women full of giddy excitement as they enthusiastically mused about The Help's "transcendent," "empowering" themes and characters. I reserve judgment about The Help as I have not and will not see it: but after reading about the movie, talking to folks who have read the book, and listening to the trusted reviews of black women who called The Help "loathsome," I will take a pass.

Like Captain America: The First Avenger and X:Men: First Class, The Help appears to be one more data point in which the white washing of history and nostalgic memory are ways of dishonestly negotiating racial realities in post-Civil Rights, Age of Obama America. As always, and as I am so fond of saying, once more politics is popular culture and popular culture is politics.

Alyssa Rosenberg continues in The Atlantic with her sharp observation that:
Indeed, the movie, which necessarily sacrifices some character development in the name of space and speed, also conspicuously cuts out powerful illustrations of racial violence. While we get soft-hued flashbacks to Skeeter’s memories of Constantine, the black woman who raised her, there are no such flashbacks to the violent, unnecessary death of Aibileen’s son.
In another scene, Yule May, one of Minny and Aibileen’s friends, is arrested for stealing a ring from her employer. The shot shows white police manhandling and cuffing her, but when they swing at her head with a baton, the impact of the weapon against her skull is cut out of the frame. An incident of racial violence that illustrates the cost of the main villain’s quest for separate bathrooms for African-American servants is left out of the movie entirely. Even a notably gory miscarriage scene from the book is reduced to a blood-soaked nightgown and an artfully smeared bathroom floor visible only for a moment.
One way to deal with the “shitty things” in our past that Louis C.K. refers to is to downplay their existence and persistence; to cover them up in candy-colored dresses and the memorable sight of Allison Janney, as Skeeter’s mother, in a turban; to tell us that Medgar Evers was murdered but to show us John F. Kennedy’s funeral instead. The film’s timidity shows that we’re not even close to eliminating racism in America. While Skeeter may have Richard Wright’s Native Son and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird in her bedroom in Mississippi, The Help is a pastel ghost of those predecessors.
The Whiteness of memory involves a necessary a flattening of history. Often, in the white savior genre, black agency is made secondary to the opportunity of white folks to rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of history. While the Other is included, the White gaze necessitates the centrality of whiteness--and a reframing where the evils of white supremacy are a device for good white folks to show that white supremacy was an aberration and not the norm governing American social and political life. A sideshow in our own freedom struggle, Black people's agency is muted as a mere means to the ends of the recuperative project that is Whiteness in "colorblind" America.

In my conversations with folks, especially younger, "post-racial" United Colors of Benetton types, about the intersections of race, politics, social, political, and cultural life in America there is 1) a deep avoidance of the role of institutions/structures and the impact of power on their life chances; and 2) a misunderstanding of Jim and Jane Crow as something so long ago, and just an inconvenience that was overcome by a bunch of people marching with Dr. King.

As hinted at by some of the reviews of The Help, there is an avoidance of the true depth and evil of white supremacy in segregated America and how the colorline ordered life from the cradle to the grave--where one could buy clothes (or even if a black person could try them on before purchase), walk on a sidewalk, or be buried upon dying were governed by racialized law whose primary intent was the "preservation" of "social order" through the oppression of African Americans and the false elevation of Whites.

Moreover, the laws governing Jim and Jane Crow were signals to social custom, guidelines for day to day life practices, and a normative project for how the races ought to be situated relative to one another. In black and white, when presented in stark relief, they upset the fuzzy nostalgia of the flattened history offered by the white savior genre of popular films of which The Help is apparently part of.

For your consideration, some inconvenient examples of the Racial State in practice, most pointedly taken from laws governing some of the more common aspects of life in these United States:

Pool and Billiard Rooms It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards.

Cohabitation Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who are not married to each other, who shall habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars.

Juvenile Delinquents There shall be separate buildings, not nearer than one fourth mile to each other, one for white boys and one for negro boys. White boys and negro boys shall not, in any manner, be associated together or worked together.

Mental Hospitals The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients, so that in no case shall Negroes and white persons be together.

Barbers No colored barber shall serve as a barber [to] white women or girls.

Burial The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons.

Amateur Baseball It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race.

Circus Tickets All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of...more than one race is invited or expected to attend shall provide for the convenience of its patrons not less than two ticket offices with individual ticket sellers, and not less than two entrances to the said performance, with individual ticket takers and receivers, and in the case of outside or tent performances, the said ticket offices shall not be less than twenty-five (25) feet apart.

The Blind The board of trustees shall...maintain a separate building...on separate ground for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race.

Promotion of Equality Any person...who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine or not exceeding five hundred (500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both.

Fishing, Boating, and Bathing The [Conservation] Commission shall have the right to make segregation of the white and colored races as to the exercise of rights of fishing, boating and bathing.

Telephone Booths The Corporation Commission is hereby vested with power and authority to require telephone maintain separate booths for white and colored patrons when there is a demand for such separate booths. That the Corporation Commission shall determine the necessity for said separate booths only upon complaint of the people in the town and vicinity to be served after due hearing as now provided by law in other complaints filed with the Corporation Commission.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why I Loathe The Tea Party GOP Brigands and How Sadly, Sometimes "Regular People" Do in Fact Make History

What democracy has brought us. Is this the face of excellence in responsible leadership and politics?

I had a moment of clarity while sitting in an airplane, reading, somewhere over flyover America the other day. As I have written about here and elsewhere, I find the Tea Party to be one of the most pernicious, dangerous, and disturbing elements in American political and social life. A few of us were sounding the alarm about their mischief when the tea baggers first emerged as a movement several years ago.

Some suggested that they were a flash in the pan, and should best be ignored. I hate being correct on such matters, but I rightly argued that the New Right is a symptom of a bigger malaise and a deep, existential crisis in American public and social life. The tea bagger's mischief making and brigand, economic terrorism during the debt ceiling fracas is their ejaculatory moment, one to be followed up by more blind groping and trouble making in the months to come.

Even while sounding the alarm, one should maintain perspective.

The bigotry and anti-intellectualism of the Tea Party GOP are centuries old. Bachmann Palin and crew are mere updates of the 19th century Know Nothings. Their evolution as 21st century John Birchers is old wine in a new bottle: the Tea Party GOP New Right alliance is just a festering boil on the ass of America, one that has long been there and occasionally needs to be lanced.

In reflection, I am also none too moved by their racism. Me and my tribe of Respectable Negroes are experts by necessity in the various flora and fauna of White Trash America. From the Southern redneck lynching tree Jim and Jane Crow variety of North Carolina, to the anti-busing, angry white ethnic rock throwing restrictive housing covenant signing PWT of Boston and Rhode Island, my kin folk have been fighting with and busting those skulls for generations. We give as good as we get.

Echoing James Baldwin's The Ways of White Folks, we have a gifted vision for seeing the Tea Party GOP for what they are, and thus can deal with them accordingly.

In all, it is the out sized influence and emergence of the Tea Party GOP at this key moment in the decline of American Empire which ultimately gives me pause. The use and abuse of the language of "patriotism" and a dishonest, although not new, manipulation of the icons and imagery of the Founding and American Exceptionalism are other signals that something is very and deeply wrong in this country.

Moreover, how the Tea Party GOP so casually rapes The Constitution is chilling. The Tea Party GOP's belief in their own radically democratic possibilities (where facts are inconvenient as the tea baggers are a top down organization and funded by the Koch brothers) and the reinforcement of this meme by the Right-wing propaganda machine is head-shaking in its effectiveness.

In sum, it is the synergy of these variables where the risk for all Americans of good conscience and the Common Good lies.

Don't get it twisted: I am all for the little guy. In fact, the politics of the subaltern and how regular folks find ways to fight Power has long animated my interest in race, popular culture, and American politics. Regular people can and do make history all of the time. Herein lies the danger of Right-wing populism: regular folks are often manipulated and tricked; false consciousness is real; and we do not all have the equal capacity, ability, or expertise to lead well...or even govern beyond our own narrow and petty self-interest.

To point, why I call (and will continue to do so) the Tea Party GOP a faction. They are the very definition of the Federalists' worries. Nothing more and nothing less.

As a qualifier, I do not believe that every freedman or runaway slave was a perfect person, that the foot soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement were motivated by purely selfless ends, nor do I suggest that the suffragettes at Seneca Falls, or labor organizers at Matewan and elsewhere were gods and not men. But, collectively they were on the Right side of history. By contrast, the Tea Party GOP is on the wrong side of history as they fight to destroy the social safety net in the interest of the very political and economic forces that have gutted the American middle class and ushered in a new Gilded Age.

Here is the crux. Most folks want to make history, to be something more than an anonymous name, or one of the unknown masses. This want has been refined and polished by the dream merchants on Madison Avenue and nurtured by the Facebook reality TV show culture of (very) late capitalism in 21st century America. In this world we can all be famous, even if we are in fact utterly mediocre.

The sale of products are secondary to the sale of lifestyles, emotions, sentimentality, and feelings. These frameworks have been skillfully applied to politics. Obama's "hope and change" was one side of that coin. The Tea Party GOP and their rage machine is the other. The lie of false equivalence cultivated by a 24 hour news cycle which elevates all opinions and beliefs to the level of reasonable discourse is the ether that the Right-wing echo chamber both lives in and is ultimately dependent upon for sustenance and circulation.

But, what if the little guy is not fit, nor prepared or trained to be more than that anonymous soul in the back of the crowd, finger raised, testing the winds to see which way he or she will go? What if he or she is working in the interest of Power as opposed to against it? What if this person, moved by the language of "democracy," "take our country back!" or some half digested treatise written in another time, by a man or woman long dead and now recycled by Glenn Beck, does not even realize that they are being gamed by the System?

Writer Martin Booth has a great observation that rings so true in these matters. From his book A Very Private Gentlemen, where the protagonist anti-hero observes that:
These were people who could not make the tiniest mark on history, could not affect their world--the village, the parish--no matter how they tried. The best they could hope for was to share vicariously in others' petty achievements. Their ambition was to be able to say, 'Him? I knew him when he bought The Glebe,' or 'Her? I was with with her when it happened,' or 'I saw the car skid, you know. There's still a hole in the hedge: a nasty corner: someone should do something about.' Yet they never did and if I were a betting man, prone to taking a gamble, I should wager tyres still squeal on the bend, doors dent of a frosty morning.
The New Right Tea Party GOP are these folks elevated to prominence and given just enough power to believe that they have the right and privilege to alter destinies and make history. Normal politics and good sense be damned by their jihad and yearnings for ideological purity.

Participation for participation sake in a democracy has never appealed to me. The rabble of the Tea Party GOP have fulfilled the prophetic worries of The Framers regarding the perils of mass democracy and have gummed up an already broken system.

Because the Tea Party brigands play with concepts and ideologies they have little understanding of in either the macro-historical sense (e.g. a government's budget should be run like a household...or a pizza company), as a practical matter grounded in reality (there will be no real consequences for a debt default and this controversy is inconsequential political theater), or that can go beyond shallow talking points and Right-wing memes ("job creators" or "cut, cap, and balance"), no good can come of them, except as a barometer for the existential crisis the United States is experiencing as her position in the world is challenged and reevaluated.

The Tea Party GOP fancies themselves the heroes in the debt ceiling debate and free of responsibility for the financial storm their economic terrorism and hostage taking directly helped to unleash on the American people. In reality, they are villains. And like most villains, the Tea Party GOP imagines that they are good and noble, and maybe just a little understood. Sadly, we will all pay for the Tea Party GOP's little exercise in dysfunctional democracy, as they prove once more that the lumpen rabble are often best left to the footnotes, a sideshow in history.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For Ghetto Nerds and Military Grognards: Seal Team Six Shootdown Military Roundup

My sympathies go out to the families of the servicemen killed in Afghanistan over the weekend. As I occasionally do with military issues, here is a good roundup of some of the stories related to the topic that I have found useful and/or of interest.

1. Sebastian Junger's above interview with CNN was one of the few dialogues on the topic that did not veer into histrionics ("My God! How could a helicopter in a war zone with our super soldiers on board actually get shot down!"), overreach sensationalism ("This event is a referendum of the whole Afghan war and every strategy therein"), partisanship (more proof that Obama sucks), or high tech war porn navel gazing by Monday morning quarterbacks ("Incompetents! I would have done xyz as opposed to abc").

Junger offers a key insight: what's going on in country where the strength of the insurgency is apparently so great that elite infantry, i.e. Rangers can be overwhelmed and need emergency relief from a backup force?

2. The Seals are getting all of the shine since the kill mission on Bin Laden. The media forgets that the Joint Special Operations Command consists of units from across the military. The families of the Air Force Combat Controllers, and the helicopter pilots and crew of the CH-47 (who were not members of the famed Nightstalkers as was previously reported), as well as the Afghans on board should also be acknowledged for their loss. And we had best not forget the military working dog, a four legged friend that lived to serve, who was also killed in the line of duty on Saturday.

3. The shoot down was apparently part of a "missile trap" of sorts, a coordinated effort by an insurgency that knows how to work PR. Don't forget that Al-Qaeda has been teaching its franchisees the RPG shoot down a helicopter trick for sometime, going at least back to Somalia.

4. Seal Team Six is a small group within a very tight community of special operators. This loss will impact recruitment, training, and promotion. If the numbers are accurate, Seal Team 6 lost at least 10 percent of its personnel in one incident. One hell of a hit by any count.

5. The special forces are quiet operators. I wonder how they and their families feel about all of this attention? This report from NPR explores the relative surprise felt by outsiders to that community's routine, day by day approach to the human losses that inevitably come from action in the line of duty.

6. Context: the late night raid which Seal Team Six was providing backup for is part of a highly secretive "Kill/Capture" program in which thousands of such missions have been completed in recent years.

Here is some great coverage of the program courtesy of Frontline.

7. In the classic Star Trek episode "Space Seed" Kirk and crew reflect back on the latter part of the 1990s, the era of World War 3 and The Eugenics Wars. Although, the Trek universe has retconned those events, i.e. tried to explain how said events did but also did not happen as originally recorded, with the Global War on Terror and U.S. special forces operating in at least 120 countries, was Star Trek onto something? When historians look back on these decades will they refer to them as World War 3? How will historians and political scientists frame the deepening ties between the CIA and the Department of Defense where the leadership of both agencies exchanged roles with one another a few months back?

8. This is a bonus. C.J. Chivers is a war correspondent whose book The Gun on the history of the AK-47 is just a great exploration of how one piece of material culture can be a lens through which to view the history(ies) of the 20th and early 21st centuries. No ifs, ands, or buts. A must read. This interview on his experiences in Libya, friendship with slain photojournalist Tim Hetherington, and how Chivers, a former Marine, balances his tactical knowledge of combat with a principled and critical distance from the events he covers as a reporter, is a powerful example of stalwart principle in action.