Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Isn't Fair: Yes, White Democrats Like Joe Biden Can Talk to Black Folks in Ways that White Republicans Cannot

The chattering classes are still talking about Joe Biden's "y'all" and "put you back in chains" turn of phrase from a speech that he made last week in Danville, Virginia. Republicans, members of the party of Willie Horton and Birtherism, have lept at an opportunity to call a Democrat "racist." The Democrats are playing damage control and highlighting how Vice President Biden was essentially correct: the banksters and usurious financier classes do in fact want to have their full boots and heels on the necks of the American people--and the Republican Party will free them to do so with full force.

Despite all of the posturing and partisan sniping about Joe Biden's comment, the facts are actually quite plain, all this fuss about chains is really much to do about nothing, a non-controversy.

Why? Because white Democrats in the post Civil Rights era can say things to black and brown folks, and talk about race, in ways that Republicans cannot. The pundit classes are afraid to acknowledge this simple truth because their money is made from drama and conflict.

Part of the challenge here also lies in how Americans are immersed in a culture of false equivalence, one in which every point of view, however ridiculous it may be, is somehow made legitimate and valid.

The decline of traditional TV news programming and the rise of opinion journalism is simultaneously both a reflection of this cultural turn, while also contributing to it.

The craven greed of the corporate media means that they must find talking heads, opinion makers, and others to fill airtime with "interesting" points of view without regard for accuracy, truth, rigor, or substance. From this logic, if there is a scientist who represents the consensus view that global warming is real, then an "expert" who argues the opposite must be interviewed in order to create the illusion that both arguments are equally valid descriptions of empirical reality. The serious economists who dismiss the absurdity of trickle down economics and the Laffer curve have to be "balanced" by Right-wing hacks who argue against the mass of data which suggests that such theories are specious and fallacy laden. And in my favorite example, evolutionary biologists have to share TV time with creationists who believe in magic and other assorted hokum.

Ultimately the phrase "both sides do it" is a lie--although it does make for a nice Twitter hashtag.

The reality based community is left shaking their heads from these post-truth contortionists; those who believe in the fictions offered up these virtual snake oil salesman are emboldened. The Fourth Estate fails once more in its responsibilities.

In all, the culture of false equivalency is a product of the same logic that rewards every kid with a trophy even if they finish in last place.

Despite their supposed disgust with the "self-help" and "feelings" industries--the purveyors of the psychobabble pablum that told us that children should not be subjected to the pressures of competition--"personal responsibility" conservatives are deeply immersed in a parallel cultural project. Every day, millions of them watch Fox News and listen to talk radio, drinking in the toxic ether of the right wing echo chamber. This is a form of group therapy and mass hypnosis on a national scale, what is a mix of old fashioned propaganda and brainwashing, combined with political theater, and where participation is incentivized by the secret edicts and "truths" of a cult that are revealed only to the elect few.

When discussing the the politics of race in America, the lie of false equivalence (and the "both sides do it" defense) is a common redoubt for aggrieved white conservatives and those people who are invested in defending and protecting (white) privilege.

For example, the latter is operative when white folks want to use the word "nigger" and then have the gall to get upset when someone suggests that they ought not to. There are certainly words that our gay brothers and sisters say to each other that folks who are heterosexual best not mutter. I am certain that there are inside turns of phrase spoken between members of certain ethnic and religious groups that outsiders do not have the ear for, or understanding of nuance, to use correctly. As a working class black guy I lose no sleep over these reasonable norms of public and private speech: they all seem like good common sense to me. However, this same set of life experiences also helps to explain why I cannot understand those (mostly entitled and privileged) white folks who would argue the opposite position.

Alternatively, the upsetness at being told that white folks should not say nigger could perhaps just be a result of rank and arrogant privilege; the owners of whiteness and white privilege rebel and bristle at any suggestion that there are things they ought not to do.

The controversy over Joe Biden's comment about chains and debt peonage reminds me of  a close friend's wise words. One afternoon, she and I were talking about love and relationships. She made the great observation that relationships are about putting money in a metaphorical bank. Your good deeds are deposits; deeds that hurt or create emotional distance are debits. A successful relationship is the result of how people balance these debits and credits...all the while maintaining one's sanity and self-respect.

On matters of race, the Democratic Party, for all of its imperfections, has built up a ton of credits with the black community from FDR and the World War 2 era, on to the Civil Rights movement, and into the near present with the election of Barack Obama. The Republican Party is the party of the Southern Strategy, naked and subtle appeals to anti-black affect and white racial anxiety, is enamored with xenophobia and nativism, ruled by John Birchers in the Tea Party, drunk on Birtherism, and cannot avoid the addictive rhetoric of "real America" States' Rights Confederacy silly-talk.

Mitt Romney's repeated suggestions that President Obama, the country's first black President, is a lazy, angry, anti-American, welfare king thief have most certainly not helped to improve Tea Party GOP's negative ledger balance with people of color generally, and black Americans, specifically.

When Joe Biden spoke last week in Virginia there were black people in the audience. They heard his code switching and responded positively to it. If Biden had disrespected them, or African-Americans in general, we are most certainly capable of raising a stink and a fuss. Despite what tragic black conservatives and their white masters would suggest, black folks are not on a Democrat Plantation. We are shrewd political actors who are capable of making sophisticated choices about our politics, and possess a deep understanding of the realities of Power and white racism in the present.

Joe Biden can keep doing his thing. When he gets out of pocket, black folks, and those others with "money in the bank" on these matters, will certainly chime in and check him. Until Republicans get their own house in order, I would suggest they shut up and get to work on purging the racists from their own political party.

27 comments:

makheru bradley said...

At the moment I think the chattering classes are more focused on the absurdity of Todd Aiken than the buffoonery of Joey The Clown, but we can deal with Biden.

I agree with your topic statement. Barack Obama can afford to be just as insensitive on matters of race as his ignorant vice-president because he knows that he has the Black vote on lock. What other group facing 25 percent unemployment would continue to support failed policies without a whimper of protest? As Nomad said: “White racists - I mean conservatives - hate Obama because, though his policies are exactly like Bush, he's black. (Many) Black people love Obama because, though his policies are exactly like Bush, he's black.”

Essentially the only thing that has changed regarding our fox v wolf perspective since Malcolm delivered “The Ballot or The Bullet” is the melanin content of the current president.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whWk9QbFnJs

The Obama Campaign attempted to defend “The Clown” on the basis of context. However, context offers no cover for historical and racial insensitivity. Where would Biden be today if he had said they’re going to “put ya’ll back in the ovens?” Tied to the back of the bus and dragged through Crown Heights?

Vice President Biden was essentially correct: the banksters and usurious financier classes do in fact want to have their full boots and heels on the necks of the American people--and the Republican Party will free them to do so with full force.—CDV

Get serious brother. The pot can’t call the kettle black. Biden is essentially regurgitating hypocrisy. Joe Biden voted for the final version of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Bill which killed the Glass-Steagall Act. Everyone knows that Slick Willie Clinton signed the bill into law in 1999. The Leach here is former Iowa Republican Congressman Jim Leach who started “Republicans for Obama” in 2008.—LOL

Regarding the failure of Obama and Eric Holder to prosecute Goldman-Sachs, Bro. Nulan opined: “Not a single iota of testicular fortitude between the two-of-em.” Doesn’t sound like anyone trying to remove the boots of banksters and usurious financier classes from the necks of the American people.

http://subrealism.blogspot.com/2012/08/nary-iota-of-testicular-fortitude.html

Finally we have the Rethug assault on Dodd-Frank with the support of the Demons.

How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform

[It's bad enough that the banks strangled the Dodd-Frank law. Even worse is the way they did it - with a big assist from Congress and the White House.]

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-wall-street-killed-financial-reform-20120510#ixzz23d8CLgSX

As Malcolm said, “they’re all playing the same game.” Trying to refute that reality is an exercise in futility.

chaunceydevega said...

@MB. Depends on how you want your poison I guess. I mentioned this years ago on WARN, when I was in college my friends and I had a plan called operation hamhock where we envisioned a plan to elect a black president who would actually herald the end of racism and then put in place a logic for his white successors to roll back the Civil Rights Movement.

I wonder if that script has not come true.

Weird Beard said...

Perhaps I am naive with a belly full of kool-aid, a head full of lies, and eyes full of wool...but when I look at Barack Obama I have to picture a range of potential behaviors or positions on issues. I could perhaps picture it as his own personal left wing and right wing representing how far he could be stretched in either possible direction if pushed to do so, or if forced to do so through compromise to get anything accomplished. Considering the current unprecedented use of cloture voting and filibustering that has crippled functional governance to the core, I believe what we are seeing out of Barack Obama currently is the very tip of his personal right-wing range compromising with the current disfunctional congressional realities.
I imagine if there was a congress that was much farther left (full of Bernie Sanders or some such) that it would be within Obama's range to pass much more progressive/liberal/socially responsible legislation. So I feel it is within Obama's internal range to be much closer to the kind of leader I would appreciate. I don't see that possibility of range within Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. I don't feel that they could be stretched in any scenario to anything resembling a possibility of satisfaction for me.
That being said...I also understand that there is likely no possible way that congress is going to magically change in the near future, so the range of potential of Barack Obama's leadership will likely never be realized or seen. It is likely that much of his future leadership under the context of the current congress will not diverge in a satisfactory way to me from Bush, or what Romney may offer. That being said, I still hold on to the possibility within Obama that is not a possibility to be realized due to congress. So I sit with my belly full of kool-aid, my head full of lies, and my eyes full of wool without a damn thing changing for the better.

CNu said...

when I look at Barack Obama I have to picture a range of potential behaviors or positions on issues...So I sit with my belly full of kool-aid, my head full of lies, and my eyes full of wool without a damn thing changing for the better.

such is the suggestive power of black moral social capital.

tragically, the Hon.Bro.Preznit.Double-O, supported by a spineless AG and stellar cast of Brookings-vetted Boule henchmen, has single-handedly squandered generations worth of black folks' collective aspirational savings...,

Bruto Alto said...

@ CNu

True, but in that first 2 months did you really think he could meet those aspirations and secondly what could have done differently in the two months before the death of Kennedy?

Bruto Alto said...

crap I wrote that wrong, I meant what could B.O. had done differently before the loss of the Kennedy seat

CNu said...

Bro. Alto,

You workin harder to construct a post hoc rationale for the Hon.Bro.Preznit's failures, than the Hon.Bro.Preznit has EVER worked to explain wtf it is exactly that he calls himself doing.

I think that responsibility for being narrator-in-chief resides with Double-O - not with the various and sundry constituents in the great rorschachian cloud who will see into him whatever it is that their heart desires to see - somewhat like your man Weird Beard described above....,

Bruto Alto said...

@ Cnu
Yeah, so true I could only wish to hear his mind like a ep of scubs. Does he see himself as JFK or Black Bush?

nomad said...

"we envisioned a plan to elect a black president who would actually herald the end of racism and then put in place a logic for his white successors to roll back the Civil Rights Movement."

Damn that's prescient! And you didn't recognize it when it became reality?

CNu said...

The analogy of accrued deposits looks to have originated with the concept of an emotional bank account, from Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" -- a well-regarded self-help book.

rotflmbao..., OH HAIL TO THE GNAW!!!!

Covey was just another self-promoting, breath and britches, nihilistic psychopimp pandering to the egos of the sociopathic successful while preaching a prosperity gospel to the striving and suggestible.

Black folks aspirational social capital in America was built upon showing the lie that was the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights up until 1968, holding Americans up to a professed but unrealized ideal, and not actively militating in pursuit of these aims.

Moral capital.

As go black folks, so goes America OTB, not the other way around.

Michael Paul Goldenberg said...

Seems like a tough crowd here. First, I'm too old to have fallen for the notion that BHO was going to save us from our history, but I did anyway. But since my biggest focus issue is K-12 public education (not that nothing else concerns me, but it's my field, and I have the most connections to what does and doesn't happen there, the bloom was already off the rose when the execrable Arne Duncan was chosen as Sec. of Education, and in that arena things have gone steadily downhill. Were I a single-issue voter, I'd be trying to find a 3rd party or write-in candidate. Since I'm not, I am not finding it difficult to pick Obama and Biden over Romney and Ryan. It really is not even close.

I think Biden's comment made perfect sense. I know there are too many Jews who would go ballistic if he said that the GOP sought to throw Jews into camps or gas ovens, but putting people in chains has a meaning that cuts across lines because of folks like Marx: the metaphor of economic chains has a very long history, though perhaps not as long as slave chains. So unless Biden was addressing an all-black audience, I'm not sure that what he said was a gaffe or crazy or off-point or wrong. I certainly didn't respond the way, say, Jon Stewart did, but then I don't quite buy the media portrayal of Joe Biden as stupid or constantly putting his foot in his mouth. Compared to George W. Bush, he's Demosthenes. And we still have a majority of Americans who believe that Al Gore claimed he "invented the Internet," which he never came close to saying. It was just one of those lines the operatives of evil could help destroy him with, even if he never said or implied it. So the credit he DID deserve for helping to create the Internet is washed away, like Kerry's war record, etc. Giving the Republican slime machine ANY traction on Biden's comment seems like an enormous misjudgment.

Getting back to Obama, it helps to remember that we elected a politician, not, say Cornel West. For good or ill, we'll never live to see someone like that elected to high office.

CNu said...

Does he see himself as JFK or Black Bush?

I'ma go with Det. Alonzo Harris

makheru bradley said...

@CDV Operation Hamhock—it may yet come to pass, particularly when we consider the 2012 NDAA.

Talking about clairvoyance check out H. Rap Brown 1968:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfJFcGzXNr4&feature=related

As I’ve previously stated: Until the American body politic breaks the monopoly which the corrupt two-party system has on its mind, liberation from the tyranny of the oligarchic psychopathocracy is not only unachievable, it’s unthinkable.

Invisible Man said...

Black folks are on a Democrat Plantation, and Obama is now our overseer. If we were shrewd political actors, then the Black folks wouldn't be stuck in the hull of the ship, double digit unemployment, streets running with blood from Black on Black Violence, public schools privatized and turned over the cooperate fat cats who agree to right democratic campaign checks. The only Bank the Democrats including Joe Bidden are putting money in is Bank Of America, JP. Morgan Chase and Citi Bank, who are running economic policy from the White House. How disingenous and when he beats us we go right back to him so he can croon us the love song Let's Stay Together, cause he needs us as political fodder just as the slave masters needed us back in Dixie, the problem is we rebelled in various ways then, but all we do is fawn over the picture of the Commander and Chief Over Seer. I aint lying

Mark Bradly is right

.

Steven Augustine said...

Slightly off piste here, but... since you've mentioned Willie Horton, CdV: can anyone here help me find an interview of Horton (I think it was called, "Willie Horton: In His Own Words") in which WH turned out to be, contra-stereotype, coolly logical and articulate as Hell? I read it before the days of the Netweb and haven't been able to track it down since.

Back on topic: a vote for Romney is a vote for the mild and fitful resurgence of a putatively Left-leaning semi-Resistance. Romney is The Thing That Will Destroy You, and Obama is The Thing That Will Destroy You Wearing A Pleasant Mask. I think it's sort of weak-minded to prefer the latter.

Michael Paul Goldenberg said...

Need I remind people of one strand of "popular wisdom" floating around (at least in my neck of the woods) in the 2000 campaign: "We're angry at Bill Clinton (usually because he "lied" and was unfaithful to his wife, but there were other just as - to me - illogical reasons) so we're going to vote against Al Gore."

That worked out REALLY well for not only the nation, but the entire world. I cannot fathom the logic that would suggest there's anything left-leaning about voting for Romney. Or Ryan.

It took 8 years of Reagan and 4 of GHWB for some people to finally start to grasp how smart and decent and honest James Earl Carter was. I don't feel like going through 8 to 12 years more before people recognize that Mitt and Paul are NOT an acceptable alternative to Barack and Joe: not under any sort of reasoning I've ever heard backed up with facts. Of course, there's a first time for everything.

nomad said...

That's the trade off. If Obama wins the left will likely continue its anesthetized slumber. If Romney wins the left will (likely) become motivated enough to offer resistance to rightwing madness stop supporting warmed over Republican policies glazed in Obama sauce. Especially the black left might start fighting back again; stead of holding back cause the emperor in chief is black like us. Psst. As I keep saying. He's black, but not quite like us. But that's beside the point. Blacks who have silenced themselves for the sake of Obama would once again be able to speak freely about vital issues, as West and Smiley did, without being attacked and ridiculed for not maintaining that proverbial wall around Obama. At the very least would be able once again to call racism "racism".

SabrinaBee said...

Not sure about that Nomad. Things have certainly changed. With the uprisings in Italy, Greece and Muslim nations, not to mention the Occupy movement, plans have been put in place, or at least added alongside the Patriot Act that will scrutinize any gathering of three or more. We still have the internet but, who does not think that as soon as Romney/Ryan are put in, that all kinds of restrictions will be placed upon that? Republicans don't have a problem moving on their plans once elected, Democrats seek a collective when they are. Obama has been marched on a string by the very puppetmasters who pay to make him look like the evil candidate Romney is running against.

Thrasher said...

Nomad

Blacks folks have always confronted the ruling class it is part of our DNA in America... I am not purchasing any fiction about some round up of triples or any other conspiracy script ....

The end is never the end. ,...

Razor said...

CD

If the Democrats had any capital with black folk left after twisting LBJ's arm into supporting the Civil Rights Act, it was spent early in Clinton's presidency with his right-wing agenda, if you didn't buy into that "Clinton was the first black president" BS, that ignorant black folk were spouting.

Obama is a more dangerous Bill Clinton in black-face because he is more usable by the corporate elites and ruling class because of his more sympathetic image of being picked on by the white-racist element and he is black. Blacks defended Clinton too, because he was elevated to some honorary black status. Why? Simple empty rhetoric and putting black lackeys in high positions and a willingness to address black folk at gatherings. Black folk lapped the crap off his boots, while he cut welfare and signed NAFTA which would soon put half of them out of work.

Someone said that Obama is serving George W. Bush's third term...on steroids. Let's be honest, Obama is a slave-catching, loyal, self-interested, ultra-conservative political race-minstrel...a dancing puppet on a string. He actually deserves no more respect from black folk than does Clarence Thomas. We wanted a black face on the Supreme court and we got one. We wanted black folk in high places and we got Colin Powell and Condi Rice...and let's not forget AG Eric Holder, another cold-blooded Obama henchman whose job it is to protect the elites and crush and intimidate the weak and poor.

So no...the Democrats, like their foul-mouthed brethren Republicans are in the same messed up family.

makheru bradley said...

I think the comments of Bruce Dixon are useful:

http://blackagendareport.com/content/why-we-dont-spend-much-time-denouncing-republicans-we-do-democrats

Steven Augustine said...

@Razor

"Obama is a more dangerous Bill Clinton in black-face because he is more usable by the corporate elites and ruling class because of his more sympathetic image of being picked on by the white-racist element and he is black. Blacks defended Clinton too, because he was elevated to some honorary black status. Why? Simple empty rhetoric and putting black lackeys in high positions and a willingness to address black folk at gatherings. Black folk lapped the crap off his boots, while he cut welfare and signed NAFTA which would soon put half of them out of work."

Well exactly. It will never cease to amaze-and-depress me: the same old tricks work so well, over and over and over again. That's why the string-pullers have such contempt for Duh Masses. And, let's be frank: wouldn't you?

All this oracular britches-shitting about how bad things will get if Romney gets a chance! Haven't you people been paying attention to the non-hypothetical record? Why not confront the Horror of the Actual for a change? The Suave Incumbent-Raptor only needs yer Serfy asses (I write this as a self-aware Serf) once every four years: provide plausible cover for his second appointment and he can forget about your gullible asses forever. The differences between political Coke and political Pepsi in your quadrennial blind taste test have nothing to do with nutrition. Both "parties" are string-pulled by the same Owners. When will it sink in?

And the Racial aspect of the whole charade is the most exasperating of all. Do you think the black miners in South Africa who recently had the pleasure of being executed under a white banking regime in blackface feel better about those bullets being black?

Steven Augustine said...

@Michael Goldberg

"Need I remind people of one strand of "popular wisdom" floating around (at least in my neck of the woods) in the 2000 campaign: "We're angry at Bill Clinton (usually because he "lied" and was unfaithful to his wife, but there were other just as - to me - illogical reasons) so we're going to vote against Al Gore."

That worked out REALLY well for not only the nation, but the entire world. "

I take it you're not really up to speed on what Bill "Restricted Club" Clinton (and Al "Married to Tipper" Gore) were up to.

I watched junior-sociopath Al Gore on Larry King lie (amateurishly) about the serf-blessing wonders of NAFTA and I watched as the Clinton machine turned Ross Perot, who was, fatally, telling the *truth* about NAFTA, into a crazy little sideshow.

NAFTA is a worthy metaphor for the whole scam: a blatant App for third-worldizing the American Serf and accelerating the steady flow of Total Wealth into plutocrat pockets, two dissolute frat boys sold it to you gullibles with the cheeziest rape-drug-smiles on TV! And, over a decade later, as the rubble smokes and the damage is *obvious*, you're still thanking them for it! And forget about Clinton's cold-blooded execution of Retarded Ricky Ray Rector... he executed an entire (retarded) nation with the same shrug!

"In 1999 the White House, with other NATO countries in tandem, launched round-the-clock aerial attacks against Yugoslavia for seventy-eight days, dropping 20,000 tons of explosives, and killing upwards of three thousand women, children, and men. All this was done out of humanitarian concern for Albanians in Kosovo-or so we were told. Many of the liberals, progressives, and other leftists of various ideological leanings who opposed President George W. Bush's destruction of Iraq (rightly so) were the same people who supported President Bill Clinton's destruction of Yugoslavia. How strange that they would denounce a war against a dictator and torturer like Saddam Hussein yet support a war against a social democracy like Yugoslavia. Substantial numbers of liberals and other "leftists" were taken in, standing shoulder to shoulder with the White House, NATO, the CIA, the Pentagon, the IMF, and the mainstream media when it came to Yugoslavia.
In the span of a few months, Clinton bombed four countries: Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq intermittently, and Yugoslavia massively. At the same time, the United States was involved in proxy wars in Angola, Mexico (Chiapas), Colombia, East Timor, and sundry other places. And of course U.S. forces continued to be deployed around the globe, with hundreds of overseas support bases-all in the name of peace, democracy, national security, and humanitarianism."

Yep: the same old tricks work over and over and over again. But that's what happens when they brainwash you into accepting the childishly dichotomous, football-team model of politics, Michael. Put on your facepaint and your team colors and shout your silly lungs out at The Game. Never once ask yourself about the people who own The Stadium.

Steven Augustine said...

erratum: "Goldenberg" (sorry!)

nomad said...

@SabrinaBee "We still have the internet but, who does not think that as soon as Romney/Ryan are put in, that all kinds of restrictions will be placed upon that?"

I dunno. There are some really creepy police state activities being implemented already. I think the Obama administration would, with its insidious methods, would be more effective in restricting the Internet than R/R would be. Remember R/R will be resisted by the left. Obama, on the other hand, will not be resisted by the left. He'll be assisted, or, at very least, enabled. Lesser evil? Nah. More effective evil.

Norman Rorqual said...

That Daily Beast story you linked to was really nuts. It said, basically: Biden called the Republicans racists in a speech; that is just as offensive as a Republican a few years ago saying the world would be a better place if we had kept segregation, and a lot of our problems would not exist. The story said that since one guy lost his job for advocating slavery in 2011, Biden should lose his job for pointing out what people already know.

You weren't kidding when you said false equivalence.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most perfectly written essays I have ever seen. You opinions are thoughtfully written and supported, and the prose flows wonderfully.