Thursday, March 1, 2012

(Non)Racist Federal Judge Says that "Mutt" Barack Obama's Mother Had Sex With a Dog

"Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
"A little boy said to his mother; 'Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?'" the email joke reads. "His mother replied, 'Don't even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!'"
And folks wonder why black people don't trust the police and the courts?

The news media have caught the vapors over Chief U.S District Judge Richard Cebull's suggestion that President Barack Obama's now deceased mother was a lustful white woman who was so drunk that she had sex with a dog and conceived the country's first black President. Some have dressed this "joke" up by using the language of "bestiality" to describe the implied sex act, an effort at humor which suggests that intercourse across the colorline is akin to coitus between different animal species. Let's be clear: Cebull found it funny to argue that Ann Dunham was such a drunken wanton slut that she would allow a dog to put his penis inside of her vagina to the point of orgasm, and said canine would ejaculate and conceive President Barack Obama.

Despicable. And let's not make prettier this ugliness in order to make it slightly more palatable.

As I alluded to regarding the high school students who made a Youtube video rant disparaging black people, much of the real action in regards to white supremacy in the colorblind age is in "the backstage." Emails, private jokes, humor, comedy, social media, and the Internet are the primary terrain(s) upon which post-civil rights era white racism is circulated. As one of modernity's greatest inventions, white supremacy is adept at using technology to advance itself--radio, postcards, magazines, film and TV have all been vehicles for teaching, learning, and reinforcing the notion of a racial hierarchy in which whites are dominant and non-whites are naturally subordinate.

The defense, "I was just kidding" is one of the first layers of white victimology and deflection that colorblind racists deploy in the Age of Obama. As an object lesson in this strategy, and the twisted logic that reactionary conservative white supremacists use to run away from their bile--as opposed to owning it (a move that I respect)--Cebull stated the following in defense of his misogynistic attack on Barack Obama's mother:
The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication."It was not intended by me in any way to become public," Cebull said. "I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended."
"The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan," Cebull said. "I didn't send it as racist, although that's what it is. I sent it out because it's anti-Obama."
Apparently, racism is secondary to political intent. Cebull does not realize that his brand of conservatism is inseparable from white racism. This is not a surprise. As Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul have demonstrated, racist appeals are expected from the Tea Party GOP in the 2012 election cycle, and racism is inseparable from "normal" politics for the reactionary populist Right. Nevertheless, this pattern ought to remain troubling for decent minded and reasonable citizens.

He is in good company. There are many United States Justices and Judges who have openly shared their white supremacist bonafides and disdain for non-whites. For example, my favorite is Justice Taney's decision in the Dredd Scott decision where he observed:
Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men… high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used, and how it would be understood by others; and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations, and doomed to slavery.
They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrines and principles, and in the ordinary language of the day, no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separate from white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection.
A close second is Justice Sutherlan, who in the Thind case established the limits of American citizenship as (almost) uniquely limited to "whites" when he decreed that:
What we now hold is that the words 'free white persons' are words of common speech, to be interpreted in accordance with the understanding of the common man, synonymous with the word 'Caucasian' only as that [261 U.S. 204, 215] word is popularly understood. As so understood and used, whatever may be the speculations of the ethnologist, it does not include the body of people to whom the appellee belongs.
It is a matter of familiar observation and knowledge that the physical group characteristics of the Hindus render them readily distinguishable from the various groups of persons in this country commonly recognized as white...It is very far from our thought to suggest the slightest question of racial superiority or inferiority. What we suggest is merely racial difference, and it is of such character and extent that the great body of our people instinctively recognize it and reject the thought of assimilation.
Cebull should either resign or be removed from the Court. Yes, the notion that justice is blind has been exposed as a lie many times before, as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality have all been empirically demonstrated to be variables that impact decisions of "guilty" or "innocent." But ultimately, following this reveal, Cebull he has no credibility as a neutral arbiter of the law.

Many observers have suggested that Cebull should step down because there is no way that a person of color could come before him and expect equal treatment. My objection is a broader one. White supremacy, as well as racism, prejudice, and bigotry more generally, are part of a larger worldview and cognitive schema. A judge who holds beliefs like Cebull is also quite likely to be a person who has many other parochial, retrograde, and prejudicial views regarding matters of public concern. This reality should give any citizen cause, pause, worry, and concern, before entering his court.

White racism hurts people of color. It also hurts white folks too. We compartmentalize these shortcoming at the risk of hurting the public good. Cebull should step down not because he is a racist; rather, he should resign because he has demonstrated a shocking lack of the wisdom, vision, and forethought worthy of a public servant. Racism is not a narrow problem. It is a general defect of character which suggests that many other deficiencies are bubbling beneath the surface. The sooner we start thinking of white supremacy in those terms, the sooner our society will see it for the evil and social ill that it is.

10 comments:

John Kurman said...

It's completely despicable. My suggestion would be to pull a santorum on cebill, and associate him with a disgusting sex act.

I put in my entry at urban dictionary:

to cebill: to be fucked up the ass by a dog (and then lick it's dick clean).

Turnabout is fair play.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I spent more time than I had yesterday, arguing about this. The denialist arguments took two forms: a) the joke was "tasteless," but that it wasn't explicitly racist; and b) even if the joke was racist, it wasn't possible to ID Cebull himself as a racist, since it was only one incident.

Words fail. How could fail to see the racist/sexist hatred seething from this so-called "joke?"

What Cebull did makes me angry - but the fact that he has enablers makes me angrier, still.

Dan Boyd said...

If this joke was made at the expense of a white person there would be zero outrage. Making a "joke" about someone in a wheelchair is wrong. It is wrong because it is inherently less desirable to have non functioning limbs. Brother-X² would not take offense to the Judges remark as he does not believe the white man behind it is in any way superior to the target of his pun, who happens to be the most powerful man on planet Earth.

fred c said...

Thank you for acknowleging that the problem here is more general than racism. Many people, some in positions of power, have a need to feel superior to others on a daily, or moment-to-moment basis. Compartmentalizing people through generalization is a good way to demote whole groups of people all at once.

Anti-Black racism is a great tool for this, you can feel superior to a huge group of people in one fell stroke. But guys like this judge are also on the lookout for single moms, high school dropouts, drug addicts, baggy clothes, low incomes, bad haircuts, obesity, a thousand things that will allow them to feel superior.

It's insecurity, of course, and unfortunately we can now witness it on a mass scale.

Dan Boyd said...

@fred: Review the recent account of the black teens dousing an innocent white boy with gasoline and setting him ablaze.(KMBC.COM) Police are investigating this as a "possible hate crime." The door swings both ways mate. For every black that is unjustly punished by the courts there are most likely several released with a slap on the wrist by white apologist's like you and others that bend over backwards to appear non-racist.

Anonymous said...

Yet your math is as flawed as your prejudice...Invoking your twisted math Black folks are still only 14 % of population and factoring out Black males you end up with 6% of course whites are 77% of population so the break end yield of your twisted math still leaves white racism leading the index with apologists not even in the equation

Now take your ignorant ass to class and learn math and some manners cause the next time you post in here I will not be so nice..

Anonymous said...

Cebull is a racist. A grown man who should know better. His family is ashamed of him.

Anonymous said...

Good. I hope that white boy you are refering to is burning in hell. Just like your mother is.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explicit description of the text.
Anyone should feel the visceral meaning of the words.

Thank you for seeing the secondary target of the vile words-young college women.

The different voices of the dinosaur conservative males feed off each other. Ms. Dunham becomes Ms. Fluke...

fred c said...

Oh, Dan, a little time hanging around the courthouse or a casual reading of the rates of incarceration in America might be in order. Any "slap on the wrist" that you find will probably be a two-to-five instead of a seven-to-ten, in a case where the White defendant would have gotten off.

A good test question is: what race would you rather be if you found yourself in court either as a crimilal defendant, or a bankruptcy debtor, or a plaintiff in a civil case, or even as a party to a divorce? Buzz in quick! The answer is White.

And congratulations, you found an instance of Black-on-White hate crime (maybe). A couple of apples don't make an orchard.