Monday, September 10, 2012

A "Both Sides Do It" Pedagogical Failure: Romney's Race-Baiting versus Obama's "Beer Politics"

The school year began a few weeks ago. As is my charge, I am teaching several courses on American politics. This is a fun time time to be leading these seminars because the presidential race provides many rich examples of the concepts we are discussing from the literature.

When a head-scratching moment occurs--one of those pedagogical failures we occasionally talk about here on WARN--I like to share it both as 1) therapy and 2) because sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd.

The Right-wing media has created its own reality. This alternate universe is also swallowing up many young people with its comforting suckers and tentacles. The stakes are high here: if you can capture a young person, socialize them into a political worldview, then naturalize it, the chances are pretty good that you can win the generational struggle. Every culture has to reproduce itself or die. The New Right and the Tea Party GOP are no exception.

In one of my classes there is a nice guy; he seems well-intentioned and very sincere. I also do not doubt that he will turn out to be quite bright. However, last week he offered up a comment that shows how even the most well-intentioned people--and in particular, the most naive and trusting--can be sucked into the spin machine that is the Right-wing media echo chamber.

We were talking about Mitt Romney's specious lie that Obama is giving welfare away to lazy black and brown people. I located Romney's ploy in the context of the Southern Strategy, and how Romney and company have all but admitted that their race-baiting antics are a means to an end, where the goal is mobilizing angry, racially resentful white voters against the country's first black President.

Our young student looked curious and confused. He raised his hand and made the point that "both sides do it."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

They Claim Frederick Douglass as a Hero But Today's (Black) Republicans Would Keep Him From Voting

The Tea Party GOP is engaged in a concerted effort to keep African Americans from voting. This is not surprising given the Republican Party's animus towards people of color; likewise, Romney and Ryan are bereft of new ideas--save for a retread of the failed supply side, trickle down economics which led to the Great Recession. Voter suppression reflects both these realities.

While their efforts to demobilize voters by robbing them of basic rights through onerous and unnecessary restrictions on access to the franchise is par for the Southern Strategy 2.0, there is a core level of hypocrisy present in the Tea Party GOP's machinations that should be called out for the base ugliness which it embodies.

Republicans are quick to claim the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. 
However, the Republican Party is also the United States' de facto White political party: it lives off of the toxic fumes of "colorblind" racism and white identity politics.

Once more, history (and empirical reality) confounds and exposes the big lie that is the modus operandi of the Right.

The Tea Party GOP's efforts at robbing black folks of their constitutional right to vote is an affront to the legacies of both Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lincoln. The former fought and died in the Black Freedom Struggle; the Voting Rights Act was one of his crowning achievements. Lincoln defeated the Confederacy. This led to Reconstruction, what was one of the most radically democratic experiments in American history where men who were just a few years (or months) ago counted as human property would soon elect their own leaders (and kin) to Congress and the Senate.

King and Lincoln died to expand the franchise to millions of black Americans. The Tea Party GOP is working to steal the right to vote from black Americans so that Romney and Ryan can be elected to the White House. This is an ugly juxaposition: it directly contrasts a struggle for the Common Good with a selfish political exercise to install a plutocrat who will continue to represent the interests of the one percent at the expense of the rest of us. 

There is another American icon that is claimed by the Tea Party GOP, one who has a "special relationship" with black conservatives. Frederick Douglass, radical abolitionist, intellectual, and freedom fighter, is consider a shining star, "one of their own" by black conservatives. In a twist of history, Douglass, this hero to black Republicans, would be disenfranchised by the very anti-voting access policies that the Tea Party GOP is implementing across the United States.

David Blight, one of America's great historians, called attention to this reality in a recent essay in the NY Times. Here, he unleashes rhetorical violence on the Republican Party and the white supremacist roots of their efforts to deny black folks (and others) the right to vote in the upcoming election:
By the mid-1840s, he had emerged as one of the greatest orators and writers in American history. But legally, Douglass began his public life by committing what today we would consider voter fraud, using an assumed name...
In Douglass’s greatest speech, the Fourth of July oration in 1852, he argued that often the only way to describe American hypocrisy about race was with “scorching irony,” “biting ridicule” and “withering sarcasm.” Today’s Republican Party seems deeply concerned with rooting out voter fraud of the kind Douglass practiced. So, with Douglass’s story as background, I have a modest proposal for it. In the 23 states where Republicans have either enacted voter-ID laws or shortened early voting hours in urban districts, and consistent with their current reigning ideology, they should adopt a simpler strategy of voter suppression.  
To those potentially millions of young, elderly, brown and black registered voters who, despite no evidence of voter fraud, they now insist must obtain government ID, why not merely offer money? Pay them not to vote. Give each a check for $711 in honor of Frederick Douglass. Buy their “freedom,” and the election. Call it the “Frederick Douglass Voter Voucher.” 
Give people a choice: take the money and just not vote, or travel miles without easy transportation to obtain a driver’s license they do not need. It’s their “liberty”; let them decide how best to use it. Perhaps they will forget their history as much as the Republican Party seems to wish the nation would.
Black conservatives are one of the rotten legs supporting the racist stool that is the Tea Party GOP. As such, their silence is expected. It is part of a bargain which they have made. For many, it is a lucrative hustle that pays the bills and brings the marginally talented an outsized amount of attention and exposure. 

This makes their choice to stand mute, or in some cases to serve as the human props and political blackface mask in support of efforts to demobilize African American voters, no less contemptible. Black conservatives want to claim Frederick Douglass, but they spit in the face of his legacy. 

Ultimately, such contradictions cause no cognitive dissonance or upset. Black conservatives who stand silent on these matters, or commit the civic sin of supporting the disenfranchisement of black and brown folks (as well as the poor), demonstrate that they too are slaves to the psychic wages of Whiteness--and the material gains that come with the choice to be a political Judas, Kiplingesque middle man, or colonial administrator who can interpret the drums of the natives.

Black conservatives such as these are not the descendants of Frederick Douglass, a great man who beat down an evil white overseer and slave breaker named Covey, escaped to freedom, and became a legend for all time. 

Rather, the black conservatives of the C.L. Bryant stripe, those Clarence Thomases, Herman Cains, Allen Wests, and other related ilk, were more likely to play the role of the mythic Black Confederate, fighting and dying in the service of their white masters to keep other African-Americans in chains and bondage.

In total, black conservatives and the Tea Party GOP need to get Frederick Douglass out of their collective mouth, for they are not heirs, in any way, to his honored legacy. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

More on Sex, Power, and Race: Interracial Cuckolding, Where White Women are "Bred" by Black Men as Their White Husbands Watch

Turning your husband into a cuckold can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do. A successfully cuckolded husband will be completely submissive. He will satisfy all your sexual cravings, manage all the mundane chores of your life, allow you to sleep with whomever you wish, subject himself to any amount of humiliation you desire, and of course, love you unconditionally. 
But be warned, cuckolding can also be one of the most challenging things you ever do. The process is long, complicated, energy consuming, and by no means sure of success. The strain on your marriage will be unbelievable, and it may be weeks or months before you succeed. In the end though, it will be worth it. 
Hopefully this will help educate women on how to begin the wonderful journey of female domination and to hopefully relieve some of the apprehension that might prevent a woman from ever trying. After reading this it will be clearer that cuckolding your husband is not as hard as it seems, and that accomplishing this feat is more possible than you thought.
Something provocative and fun for the weekend.

A few weeks ago we had a great conversation about interracial sex, power dynamics, and race in the BDSM community. In the spirit of broadening the conversations we have here on We Are Respectable Negroes, our foray into "race play" was a nice change of pace. As such, we are most certainly going to have more discussions about how sex and race are preeminent examples of the ways that "the personal is political" in the future.

I periodically share some of the keywords that bring people here to WARN. For example, given Michelle Obama's speech this week there are some real doozies to say the least--let's just say that she has been a object for many moments of onanistic fury and delight.

Surveying the results, I clicked on one of the keywords out of curiosity, a mangled phrase that read as follows: "my wive love negro black cook tune por."

[Apparently this is a cousin of sorts to "all your base are belong to us."]

You learn something new every day. I am familiar with the lifestyle/kink known as "cuckolding" which involves a man letting "his" woman or partner have sex with other men--often in front of him. This act of submission and surrender is an erotic thrill for the "cuckold" as his wife or partner is giving access to her body to another man who is known as the "bull."

I understand the pleasures to be had for some by this arrangement. It plays on issues of power and control, inverts authority and traditional gender relations, and in the best sense involves a high level of sexual autonomy and freedom. Is it for me? No. Does that matter for folks who are interested in cuckolding? No. And it should not be any other way.

In following the above keywords, I also discovered that cuckolding can also have an "interracial" aspect as well. As the old expression goes, the race business has messed all of our heads up in some pretty serious ways. Sex across the color line remains a taboo in our society. Given that our collective id and subconscious are still mired by age old stereotypes about race, sex, and the body, the realm of sexual fantasy is, pardon the pun, pregnant with these themes.

The website "Just-Interracial-Cuckold" is one part guide to the lifestyle, as well as an archive of fan fiction. One of its recurring tropes involves white women being impregnated (or bred) by black men with the consent of their white husbands.

"Just-Interracial-Cuckold" is so dense with the semiotics of race, gender, and sex, that I do not even know where to begin (if someone is thinking of writing a dissertation on literary theory and gender studies you will find a ready made project).

I love learning from all of you. Are there any folks who have been in a cuckold relationship? Have any of you played around with the interracial aspect of such an arrangement? For others, are you repulsed or fascinated by the idea of cuckolding?

For your entertainment (and enrichment), here is one of the stories from the site. Be forewarned, it is not safe for work.

My Breeding (A True Story)

Friday night and most of Saturday went by so slowly. I could do little except to think about what was going to happen Saturday night. The thoughts of my breeding keep me wet and horny most of the day. Several times I thought about masturbating to my thoughts but I decided to wait.

When the time came I drove to his apartment. The walk to his apartment seem like it took forever. I could hear the clicking of my heels echo between the buildings as walked down the sidewalks. Several times I thought about turning around and leaving but the heat and wetness between my legs drove me on.

I came to his door, hesitated again, and then knocked. Seconds later the door open and he stood before me. In his tight black leather pants and white shirt he looked like a God. He invited me in and took me to his living room. As we small talked and I had several glass of wine I could not help to look as his pants and his bulging manhood. My god I just want to scream out “take me”. After about an hour he got up and came over to me, with out a word he offered me his hand. I took it and he lead me to his bedroom.

Breitbart's Newest Black Conservative Human Prop: Kira Davis "Kicked Out" of MSNBC's Pavilion at the DNC for Supporting Mitt Romney

A hearty thanks to Cnu for the heads up on this one.

Old girl is campaigning for a role as Breitbart's new black stunt promo Jackass-inspired human prop. Kira can even play up the intersectionality card: she is a "victim" as a "conservative,"  a woman, and because of her contingent and strategic "blackness."

Kira got a few seconds of shine from a Youtube promo where she went after Toure for his (accurate and appropriate) use of the word "niggerization" while discussing Romney's race-baiting smears against President Obama. There she boohooed about a childhood experience with "racism" as a black Canadian-American conservative. I bit and wrote an open letter of sorts because I thought she was sincere...but just misguided. At present, it is now abundantly clear that Kira Davis is just another bootblack token for the Tea Party GOP. More power to her.

How will Kira Davis follow up her "abuse" and "censorship" by the evil goons at MSNBC and the "Secret Service?"

Some scenarios:

1. More tears, and a "I am a victim twice because I am black and a conservative" video on Youtube. White conservatives and their black supplicants promo the hell out of said video and it goes viral for a day.

2. Kira Davis is trying to be a black conservative version of Sandra Fluke, parlaying her raggedy sign into a round of interviews on Fox News and Right-wing Talk Radio.

3. She will accept a recurring role as a columnist over at Worldnet daily or Townhall where she will be mentored by Thomas Sowell and Larry Elder in the hard times, black conservative victimologist hustle. Tears and hugs follow. Lloyd Marcus pens a song in  honor of Kira's "struggle."

Where do you think Miss Kira Davis goes from here?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Channeling Chauncey DeVega: Rachel Maddow and Company Call Out Mitt Romney's Welfare King Anti-Obama Race-Baiting Using a Familiar Script

Please indulge me for a second.

Hmmmm.....where have we heard these talking points before. We are doing good stuff here on WARN, I smiled when I watched MSNBC today and the esteemed panel of Maddow, Sharpton, Perry, and company directly channeled some of what I have been discussing on We Are Respectable Negroes, Ring of Fire Radio, the Ed Show, Alternet, and elsewhere for months. I make no claims to preternatural genius or insight; but I do acknowledge my (pseudonymous) successes.

Maybe Crom, trickster that he is, will bless me with some honors--after the fact for how we have been so far ahead of the curve here on WARN--but for now I can hope that the email comes or the phone rings in the near future. It is all the more frustrating because I have both direct and indirect access to some of the players involved. Alas, we all make choices and must live with them.

Beyond my self-indulgent credit claiming, there was one moment in this conversation about Romney's naked racism where I did wish that I was present on the panel.

Steve Schmidt, the token Republican representative on Maddow's panel, played the false equivalence game when the infamous Jesse Helms' "Black Hands White Hands" ad from1990 was compared to Romney-Ryan's anti-Obama screeds of 2012. He argued that "both sides do it," i.e. using racism to mobilize voters. Ahistorical. Inaccurate. And a claim that can be empirically demolished with ease.

If I were part of the conversation, I would have channeled Norman Schwarzkopf and his famous "bovine scatology" quip.

Melissa was gonna shut him down, but the other panelists played nice. I would have brought the pain and simply asked how the Democrats can use anti-black racism to mobilize their base, when black and brown folks are integral to said party. Alternatively, I could have simply asked him about birthers, Tea Party bigotry, or who the Republicans want to "take their country back" from?

Hell, what about the fact that the Tea Party GOP admitted that they created the Southern Strategy, and were/are professional race-baiters and political meth addicts who cook up white racial anxiety to win over insecure white voters?

Larry Bartels and the Multicultural Elite Class Must Be Smiling at Bill Clinton's DNC Speech

Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama delivered a devastating set of punches to Mitt Romney at the Democratic National Convention. Both were masterful examples of rhetorical violence. Beautiful. Both made more so by their contrast with the Republicans' failure to tell a compelling story in Tampa--and compounded by Ann and Mitt Romney's epic inability to convince the public that they are "regular folks."

Yes, it is hard to have hundreds of millions of dollars and relate to the little guy and little gal in the time of the Great Recession. Nevertheless, it is not his wealth that is the problem--there have been many old money types in American politics--rather, Romney's failure to sell himself is a function of his naturally cold and sociopathic demeanor. Romney, quite literally, cannot relate to someone not born into his social class.

Two quick thoughts on Bill Clinton's speech.

I always smile when I see empirically grounded, compelling, and rigorous work in political science used to tell a compelling story about real people's lives. Clinton's claims about how Democratic administrations have created more economic growth is straight out of Larry Bartels' book Unequal Democracy. Everyone should read that great text. Bill Clinton certainly did.

Second, racism is a human productivity problem. If you want to understand why American political elites stood up against Jim and Jane Crow during the Cold War, listen to Clinton's speech at the 6 minute or so mark. Historically, the Racial State subsidized white mediocrity by making sure that white men (and women to a lesser degree) had access to jobs that would provide a living wage. This arrangement involved excluding people of color from the same positions as the federal government worked feverishly to create the white middle class.

During the Cold War, American political elites also realized that formal white supremacy was an international embarrassment that gave ammunition, both metaphorical and real, to the Soviets. Jim and Jane Crow had to be jettisoned because it was a dead weight on America's international prestige and influence.

In the present, this dynamic has been somewhat undone and made obsolete by globalization. Old school and aversive racism have also been unsettled by how the elite class came to realize that racial and gender diversity (even if marginal, symbolic, and mostly self-serving) could allow them to leverage more human talent. In essence, reaching across the color line made them more money because they were no longer limited to dredging the bottom ranks of an increasingly shallow bench of white male talent.

The angst of the white "working class" voter is a response to this reality. They are no longer the de facto only choice for all jobs, every opportunity, and guaranteed to win the race by simply showing up. If you have been competing with a ten lap head start, it is quite upsetting to realize that you are not as talented and/or gifted as you were led to believe. For a certain class of obsolete, white semi-skilled labor, their rage at Obama is a direct function of this insecurity.

Clinton's few-second allusion to how the multicultural elite class thinks about human productivity is the equivalent of many volumes of reading and hours of study. It was a wink to those of us in the know. Bill Clinton gave Obama, what in professional wrestling terms, is called "the hot tag." Now, the President has to get the win. Obama could not be in a better position.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Triumvirate of Political Tokenism: Romney Picks Allen West, Tim Scott, and Jen Carrol to Lead His Black Folks Outreach Efforts

Artur Davis. Allen West. Mia Love. It would appear that a bumper crop of black right-wing coconuts Oreos bootblacks new age double black face race minstrels political tokens are apparently in full bloom.

What a cornucopia of black and brown Tea Party delight! Can we buy them by the bushel?
Mitt Romney's campaign on Wednesday announced its Black Leadership Council, chaired by Reps. Tim Scott and Allen West. The council will "help facilitate dialogue between Mitt Romney and respected leaders who provide unique expertise, experience and knowledge on a range of issues impacting black American communities," according to the campaign.
In all, I guess any black guy would do. Given that Mitt Romney is polling at zero percent among African-Americans, Allen West and company can do no great harm (I still would have preferred Beetlejuice for the position) to his chances with black folks. Given his habit of sending fried chicken to the Congressional Black Caucus, West's position with Romney's campaign may actually increase turnout among Right-leaning, racially resentful white Independents and conservatives. Romney is playing a very deep game after all; never forget that fact.

[Although this does beg a math and polling methodology question, is it possible for a candidate to receive negative support in a survey and thus to measure below zero?]

As we have discussed here on WARN many times, Black conservatives have a lucrative gig--they are the professional "best black friend" that every white conservative needs when they get caught race-baiting, playing in the feces of white racism and throwing such metaphorical scatology about, or saying racist things against people of color.

Being a black (or brown) conservative is also a de facto welfare and subsidy program for a good number of professional right-wing race hustlers. When underemployed, in need of money, or a boost in one's career, a black person of otherwise mediocre/suspect talent can decide to "come out" as a black Republican. The riches and attention soon follow: a good freak show or novelty act can always find work.

In another life, I would decide to switch lanes and join up with the Tea Party GOP. My swerve would involve a public revelation about how Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh spoke truth to power and made me realize that I had been a slave on the evil Democratic Plantation.

Suffering from false consciousness, I at first retreated from the bright sun that loomed outside of the Platonic cave. When my eyes adjusted to the light of Right-wing conservative white populism I realized that the Republicans were my friends.

I then would tattoo Ronald Reagan's kind face on my back, write my own version of Conscience of a Conservative, and start the Black Folks for Barry Goldwater Superpac. I would laugh all of the way to the bank after a lucrative book deal and a series of one hour specials on Fox News.

Apparently, my get rich quick black conservative hustle is not uncommon. Writing for New York Magazine, Ann Friedman is already onto my con and I hate her for it. Damn her prescient insight:
Almost every political writer I know who isn’t a straight white man has made the joke at least once: If I ever need a major operation or find myself in serious debt, I’m selling out and going conservative. There’s a tried-and-true formula for this: Rise to a moderate level of success as a liberal-leaning writer, politician, or commentator. Drop out of the spotlight for a few months or years, then reemerge as a beautiful conservative swan, disavowing everything you said in your liberal ugly duckling days. You were just brainwashed, you’ll say, following the script. Now you know the truth: that everything you have, you have because you worked for it yourself. Sure, straight white politicians cross over, too — but to far less effect. In a party full of Clint Eastwoods, who’s going to sit up and take notice when there’s one more?
As I offered up here in my open letter to a lost soul black conservative who is doing her best to mouth vomit the talking points of Mitt Romney and the neo-John Birchers, Friedman has also identified the psychological needs and moral deficits that often drive a person of color to join a political movement and party that has nothing but utter contempt for non-whites:
I understand why the GOP elevates non-white Republicans so quickly. But what about the candidates themselves? Are there benefits to being a token? The workplace provides a helpful analogy: Think about your experiences with older women in male-dominated professions, women who are used to being the lone female in a pack of bros. They’ve earned their spot in the social order both despite and because of their gender. It’s both a badge of honor and a rarefied role they have to protect — which may be why, in my experience, they can be cold to young female newcomers who stand to threaten their status as an exception.

And I get it. At least, I think I do. Sometimes people (almost always men) will tell me that I’m “not like other women” — meaning I’m aggressive, I make dick jokes, I drink whiskey, stuff like that. I usually roll my eyes and say something like, “Lots of women are witty” (true), or “All of my lady friends drink Jameson” (mostly true). But I confess that, deep down, I get a little thrill to be distinguished from the pack. Based on that, I can imagine how good it feels to be Artur Davis or Mia Love right now. To be the venerated exception that proves all of conservatives’ rules. 
Ann Friedman has outsmarted me. Is it still possible for me to have a lucrative change of heart by joining up with the Republican Fox News Break in Case of Emergency Water Carrier Negro Brigade? Or has that ship sailed? How would you write the script?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Joe Klein was Right: To Beat Romney, Barack Obama and the Democrats Cannot Appear to be "Kissing the Butt" of Negro Equality

A white man who extended a Sunday-school class in to a two-day school for poor children was called on by irate Klan members. He was taken out, blindfolded, and forced to kiss the private parts of several assembled blacks:

Well, they made me kiss the negro man's posterior, and held it open and made me kiss it, and as well as I remember a negro woman's too, and also her private parts, and then told me to have sexual connection with her. I told them they knew, of course, I could not do that. They struck me, and some them begged for me. They asked me how I liked that for nigger equality. I told them it was pretty tough.

According to a white eyewitness, "I think that was the cause, or one cause, of his being whipped. That was what they professed, that he was equalizing himself too much, and that was the reason they made him take that kissing negro equality."
History echoes. This account from the 19th century can just as easily describe the white racial anxieties and resentment that Mitt Romney's campaign is playing to almost a century and a half later, and which Obama and the Democrats must neutralize this week.

Pundits, journalists, academics, and others have spent a good amount of energy dissecting the race-baiting go for broke white right-wing populism of Mitt Romney and the Tea Party GOP. The Republican Convention in Tampa tried to balance the "read meat" for the base with an open-arms appeal for the Independents and undecideds who were watching the event at home--and not checking out the white trash adventures of Honey Boo Boo

This week, the Democrats have a similar challenge: they need to mobilize their base; but Obama and company must also convince undecideds that they are in fact better off now than they would be under a continuation of Bush the Younger's failed economic policies under Romney-Ryan, and to tout the successes of President Obama in the face of rabid Tea Party GOP obstructionism.

The Democrats also have a particularly fine line to walk, one that is the converse of the Tea Party GOP's "mobilize the angry white men" strategy.

The novelty of having a black president has worn off. Moreover, how can the Democrats appeal to white Independents who are unhappy about the economy, somewhat "persuadable" by Romney's racial dog whistles, and yet do not feel particularly comfortable with either the latter's personality or the Tea Party GOP's policies?

These right-leaning Independents, undecideds, and low information voters are vulnerable to the white identity politics that are the foundational premise of Mitt Romney's Southern Strategy 2.0. However, with the correct prodding, some of them could perhaps be won over by the Democrats.

Ultimately, the big tent is already present in the convention hall. The practical politics involve figuring out how the Democrats can get the votes of these white fence sitters.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

White Space: A Black "Ghetto Nerd" Reflects on His Experience at Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention

Last week, I attended Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention which was held here in Chicago. I was able to do this because of the monies donated by the readers and friends of We Are Respectable Negroes. I would like to reiterate my thanks for their kindness and generosity.

As a ghetto nerd, I come to conventions with a set of assumptions which are based upon previous experiences. I also try to be open minded as each convention or gathering has its own particular personality and vibe. There are many different subcultures and hobbies among those who are self-described geeks and nerds. Consequently, I try to experience each space on its own merits. 

Our personhood is defined by many things. For example, as a person of color and a member of the working class--one who is also a sci-fi, comic book, space fantasy, pro-wrestling loving, child of the hip hop generation who studies and teaches about race and cultural politics in the United States--my critical gaze is informed by those life experiences, hobbies, habits, and interests.

By extension, I cannot help but view Chicon 7 through that lens.

In all, I was very much impressed by the sense of comradery, friendship, and warmth that the attendees of the conference showed one another. I was also very much impressed by how accessible the writers, guests of honor, and other featured attendees were towards their fans. Chicon 7 had a vibe that was supportive of science fiction as an artistic and intellectual project first, and where ego was secondary to these broader goals. And based upon the quality of the questions asked during the panels I attended, there are some pretty smart folks among sci-fi fandom. For an author to impress such a public, he or she had sure be bringing their best game.

However, all was not perfect (is it ever?). I chatted with some sci-fi writers and attendees at Chicon 7 who shared with me their concerns about the dynamics surrounding race, identity, inclusion, and fandom. I also attended the panels which explicitly dealt with questions of marginalization, inclusion, and diversity in science fiction literature and fan culture.

In the interest of parsimony, and because I cannot resist any reference to Clint Eastwood given his empty chair agitprop stunt at the Tea Party GOP convention last week, let’s work through the good, the bad, and the ugly of Chicon 7 as I experienced it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

So What? Paul Ryan Enjoyed Putting His Penis Inside of a Black Woman While He was in College

While in college, Paul Ryan enjoyed some coffee with his sugar. This fact reveals little about his political values.

White supremacist Thomas Jefferson took his own pleasures with the female slaves that he owned. Strom Thurmond, supporter of Jim and Jane Crow, and Dixiecrat, had a black mistress and "love child." A large percentage of African-Americans, as hinted at by our varying hues, have rapist's blood from white on black violations across the color line flowing in our veins. Interracial sex is part of the cultural and political typography of the United States. Consequently, these are common matters.

The Daily Mail's story about the relationship between Paul Ryan and Deneeta Pope is rich with entertaining details. Ryan was/is a gym rat. Pope was an attractive young scholar and cheerleader while in college, and to my eyes, a woman with many potential suitors. Ultimately, the Daily Mail has provided its readers with a solid human interest story. It tries to locate Paul Ryan's life trajectory relative to a story about interracial relationships, and is grounded in the bigger question of how a white man who is the vice presidential candidate for a racist political party could have been in love with an African-American woman.
The relationship and the negative reaction he said he suffered from his so-called friends were a formative experience in the political evolution of the VP pick who described himself as a 'big, big fan' of Martin Luther King and is a staunch advocate of civil rights. 
But Pope, an I.T. specialist and realtor living in Chicago, denies that they experienced any racism as a couple. Pope also said that while their relationship was not very serious, they have remained friends through the years.
'It tells you the kind of guy Paul is when you learn that he has remained friends with all of his friends that he met in college.' Michael Steel, campaign spokesman for Ryan, confirmed to MailOnline on Thursday that 'Mr Ryan dated Ms Pope in college' in the 1990s.
In a 2005 interview, Mitt Romney’s future running mate said that he had been confronted with racism personally, because he had dated an African-American and also had a brother with a black wife. I have a sister-in-law who’s African American,’ he told Milwaukee Magazine.

‘My college sweetheart was black,' he added.

‘I just experienced some ugly comments, some racist views from people who I thought were friends of mine.'
People are complicated and contradictory in their ways. My answer on these matters is a simple one: a person can enjoy having sex with someone who is a member of a group which they despise, have animus towards, or otherwise look down on. These are not complicated matters.

There is a second problematic here as well: if Paul Ryan is such a principled anti-racist who had his eyes opened to the realities of bigotry and prejudice because of his relationship with a black woman, how can he be a party to Mitt Romney's race-baiting, Southern Strategy 2.0, efforts to use white racial resentment and hostility to defeat the country's first black President? The layers of Ryan's hypocrisy are deep.

The Daily Mail offers some details on a semi-related matter that are for more compelling and important as we assess Ryan's fit for the White House, and if he would be an advocate for the Common Good.

Friday, August 31, 2012

At Which Point I have Hurt the Feelings of a "Conservative White Dude" and Made Him Tired...

I do not make a habit of sharing the emails from angry racists and others that are sent to We Are Respectable Negroes because I do not want to encourage those shenanigans. I almost made an exception a few months ago with a priceless Irish-obsessed Nordic Aryan fetishizer because the exchange was so funny.

I try to be a nice, respectable, calming, soothing colored fellow who goes to great lengths as to not upset the sensibilities of white folks. I am embarrassed, truly so, when I have strayed from this life mantra. In order to make up for my foul ways I would like to share the following email that I received a few days ago.
As a conservative white dude (i.e. a racist in your book) I have really tried all my life to treat everyone I ever met, regardless of race, creed, yada yada yada as my equal, my neighbor, and the way I would want to be treated.  But because of people like you, who cry racism at every turn, who race bait to no end, who do nothing but point fingers of accusation at the slightest mention of race, I am pretty fucking tired man. 
So it will begin.  And people like you are to blame.
 I do not want to be the cause of a race war. I am also ashamed that I was a naysayer during a week when the Tea Party GOP celebrated its commitment to diversity and racial inclusion.

What can I do to make amends? Any thoughts or suggestions?

An (Empty) Chair Shot to the Head? Clint Eastwood, the Republican Convention, Mick Foley, and a Promo That Never Was

I just got back from Chicon 7. Consequently, I missed Mitt Romney's speech--to be honest, I had no interest in watching how he would pile his own lies on top of the stinking fetid burrito of political feces and propaganda that was Ryan's stillborn lie of conservative afterbirth from the day before. I also missed out on the big surprise that the Tea Party GOP had promised its public--like many I was hoping for a holographic zombie Ronald Reagan. Alas, I am disappointed.

Instead, we were treated to one of the great elders of Hollywood, Mr. Clint Eastwood

I love Clint Eastwood's movies. I respect him as an actor. I am at a loss, a total loss, to explain his speech to an empty chair before a howling group of neo-John Bircher Secessionists. Yes, Eastwood starred in The Outlaw Josey Wales where he played a "good" Confederate. But, he also starred in Unforgiven with Morgan Freeman, and offered up one of the smartest recent meditations on the complexities of race and the color line in "post racial" America in the criminally underrated film Grand Torino. Play Misty For Me is all sorts of goodness--if I ever have a son I am going to show him that movie after my talk about how he best be weary of women with them "crazy eyes."

I would like to believe that the man with no name knows exactly what he is doing. In keeping with my ghetto nerd proclivities (and themes for the week of my attending Chicon 7), I would hope that Clint is actually doing a great pro-wrestling inspired "work/shoot" at the expense of the Tea Party GOP. Nevertheless, I must also entertain the possibility that he has suffered one too many chair shots to the head, and is lost in a waking dream. 

Maybe Ebert is right, and Clint Eastwood just souled out? But why, and for how much, given that he has more money than god?

Mirroring Mick Foley's classic promo, I do want to believe that Clint Eastwood is not a whore.

As such, I can still dream that in an alternate reality, Clint instead chose to give the Tea Party GOP his own version of Hogan's famous heel turn from Bash at the Beach circa 1996.

What a night that would have made for...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ghetto Nerds: If Germany had Won World War Two Would Black Americans have Greater or Fewer Civil Rights by Now?

I would like to formally thank all of the kind folks who offered up monies to finance my ghetto nerd sojourn to Chicon 7. I will be on several panels at the conference and am looking forward to doing some networking, as well as attending some of the parties at the event--if folks want to invite a brother over to their room/suite/floor, or to get a drink or three, do shoot me an email so we can build.

I would not be able to attend the conference if you had not extended your kindness and support. I thank you. I mean that sincerely and from my heart. In keeping with our bargain, I will be offering up a lurid story or two next week, and some selections from my zombie opus for your laughs, mocking, and amusement.

I will be sharing posts over the next few days about Chicon 7 as the events merit. I will also be borrowing a friend's camera and taking some pictures that I will offer up as "proof of life" so to speak. In keeping with the science fiction theme of the weekend's events, I would like to share the following essay by the always entertaining and readable Cobb as featured on his eponymous website a few days ago.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Particularly Low Class of White People: Republicans Throw Nuts at Black Folks; They Heckle the "Foreign" Delegate from Puerto Rico

Their forefathers were John Birchers. Their grand-pappies and grandmas likely spent time at the monthly lynching tree. Some of them were members of White Citizens Councils, the "polite" racists, who stood against civil rights for black folks and upheld Jim and Jane Crow. Earlier this year, the most zealous among them booed gay soldiers, howled in glee at the prospect of a person being executed by the State, and cheered the idea of some sad soul dying because they did not have health insurance.

This is the contemporary face of the Republican Party.

When Republicans heckled Zoraida Fonalledas, the representative from Puerto Rico to their own convention with nativist chants earlier today, they reminded the American people who and what they really are...again.

When a black CNN reporter had nuts thrown at her, and was told "this is how we feed the animals," the Tea Party GOP showed us who they have always been...again.

And do not buy into the excuse-making: Chants of "U.S.A." have nothing to do with an internecine conflict between Ron Paul and establishment conservatives. Rather, this episode has everything to do with white conservative xenophobia and anti-immigrant zeal by a group of mouth-breathing Right-wing troglodytes who believe that Puerto Ricans are dangerous Spanish speaking "foreigners."

In all, the racist and xenophobic ugliness on display during Tuesday's meeting of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida should not be a surprise. The elites and opinion leaders of the Right have created this witches brew; now, they will either be saved by their monster or the beast will consume them.

My mother's people are from North Carolina. My grandmother and other elders would often talk about "good white people." The ability to distinguish between white people who would kill you, discriminate against you at will, or put you out of house and home because they could, was a practical life skill. We may no longer have The Negro Motorist Green Book, but black and brown folks still give their kids "the talk" about how to survive a routine traffic stop by the police. Cultural memory is deep and a gift. I am so very glad (and lucky) they passed on their wisdom and life skills. In turn, if so blessed, I will share that wisdom with my children.

It is true that white supremacy has evolved over time; but the lives of people of color are still expendable, and subject to arbitrary violence in America by White Authority (and those overly identified with it--see George Zimmerman).

For people of color in the United States, skillfully and successfully navigating the color line meant (and means) protecting your own life, as well as that of your children and family. Those of us who are not part of the in-group, or otherwise marginalized by Power, have to learn this skill set if we are to survive and do well in this society. Consequently, black and brown folks have to become expert students on the ways of white people.

I do wonder if Whiteness and White Privilege permits our white brothers and sisters to realize how much people of color know about them and their particular ways.

To point: as my parents and other elders have taught me, the "U.S.A" chanting cowboy hat wearing white populists who heckled Zoraida Fonalledas represent a particularly low class of white people. They may have money, but this group of white people has no decency. The low type of white person exemplified by the neo-John Birch base of the Tea Party GOP are also bigots. All that they have to comfort them is a weak type of nationalism which is emboldened by silly chanting, and the psychic wages of whiteness that happen to come with being arbitrarily categorized as "white" in this society. 

The slogan "free, white, and twenty-one" got this class of white people through many decades of life in America. In an increasingly globalized world, with a black president, and a multicultural leadership class, such a slogan is approaching obsolescence. For many white people this is a terrifying prospect.

By comparison, Senator Priebus and Mitt Romney represent a slightly "better" class of white people. The latter is most certainly a racist. The former is likely one as well given his enabling of his party's Southern Strategy 2.0 and race-baiting against Barack Obama, the country's first black president. Together, both are "polite" racists. They have no love for what was once called "poor white trash." Elite whites such as Romney and Priebus use materially disadvantaged and racially resentful white people as a tool in order to maximize their own wealth and resources. The white reactionary populists who form the base of the Republican Party in the Age of Obama have not yet woken up to this old school con.

This brings us full circle. What of Zoraida Fonalledas? How do make sense of her awkward moment? On one hand, the better and more generous part of my soul has pity for her. It must hurt to realize that you are viewed with contempt by your own political brethren and comrades. As I suggested several here, she, and other conservatives who happen to be black, Latino, Asian, Native American, or Other, are sick with a delusion that they are "special" or "different" in the eyes of the White conservative gaze. Tuesday's happenings could perhaps be her wake up call.

The more cynical and less noble part of my soul smirks and smiles. Zoraida Fonalledas made her bed and now has to lie in it. Yes, the money and gold are substantial. Nevertheless, I struggle to understand how any self-respecting person of color could ally with the Tea Party GOP, the country's de facto White political party, and an organization whose electoral strategy increasingly consists of mining white racism and anxiety towards people of color to secure electoral victory.

I think that I will just smile. Zoraida Fonalledas experienced her own "Lisa broke Ralph's heart moment" on a national stage. The question remains: will Zoraida Fonalledas, and other non-white conservatives like her, keep coming back to the Tea Party GOP for more abuse?

I think we know the answer. They are almost to the one, sad pathetic souls.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Forget Mia Love, in a Perfect World Beetlejuice Would Be A Featured Speaker at the Republican Convention in Tampa

I have been spending so much time trying to figure out the inside game, focus group practiced, (semi) refined race-baiting antics of Mitt Romney's Southern Strategy 2.0 gambit, that I forgot how a simple message, when coupled with passion, can help a candidate connect with the public. This is especially true for low-information voters in general, and conservatives, specifically.

In a perfect world, Beetlejuice would be invited to lead the opening plenary at the Republican Convention in Tampa: his affect, diction, speech, talking points, and rage at Barack Obama are as articulate as anything that one would hear on Fox News or Right-wing talk radio. Alternatively, Beetlejuice could be put in charge of Tea Party GOP's outreach program to African-Americans. Given that Romney is polling at zero percent support among that group, Beetle could do no harm.

Instead of Beetlejuice the public was stuck listening to talking point prop black conservative Mia "not-like those lazy African-Americans" Love. Meh. Alas. We can always dream.

Smart People Saying Smart Things: Thomas Edsall Explains Romney's Racist "One-Two" Welfare Medicare Punch Strategy in The New York Times

The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor. 
Ads that accuse President Obama of gutting the work requirements enacted in the 1996 welfare reform legislation present the first theme. Ads alleging that Obama has taken $716 billion from Medicare — a program serving an overwhelmingly white constituency — in order to provide health coverage to the heavily black and Hispanic poor deliver the second. The ads are meant to work together, to mutually reinforce each other’s claims.
Chris Matthews and I had beers the other night. I drank Sapporo. He had Bell's. We talked about politics, and at his urging I shared some of my thoughts on Mitt Romney's race-baiting racist air raid siren politics. It was good. I did not tell him anything that he did not already know; Matthews was gracious, smiling the whole time.

I wish. One day, if Fate so deems it, I will be given an invite to sit at the big kids table and talk politics with the pros. Either way, I am glad that Chris Matthews has been calling out Romney and the Tea Party GOP for their willful lying, mobilizing of white racial anxiety and insecurity, and racism as they use any means necessary to defeat President Barack Obama. 

In total, the last few days have given us a bounty of pundit class wisdom. I had originally intended to comment on Ta-Nehisi Coates' great essay on President Obama, Tim Wise's bringing the pain like Jesse Ventura's mini-gun in Predator, and George Lakoff's precision job on Romney and Ryan's budget plan. All of those articles are worth reading, and please feel free to comment on them as well. 

However, Thomas Edsall, writing in The NY Times, "Knicked it out of the box" so to speak.

Edsall's essay is beautiful. He is able to crystallize expert knowledge down into relatively few words, demonstrate empirical rigor in his claims, and just drive his point home with direct, simple, and dense prose. When I grow up, I would love to be able to write like him. Jargon is a crutch; Edsall transcends it and speaks to the public with clarity and ease. Such a feat is not an easy thing to accomplish for an expert academic and intellectual of his stature and gifts. 

Ultimately, "Making the Election About Race" is an insightful working through of the genius strategy of colorblind racism, the Southern Strategy, and the politics of white racial resentment that are embodied by Romney and Ryan's two pronged assault on President Obama through the tag team meme of "Barack Obama is a Welfare King," and the seemingly "race neutral" claim that Medicare must be reformed through vouchers and other neoliberal policy initiatives.
Sharp criticism has done nothing to hold back the Romney campaign from continuing its offensive — in speeches and on the air — because the accuracy of the ads is irrelevant as far as the Republican presidential ticket is concerned. The goal is not to make a legitimate critique, but to portray Obama as willing to give the “undeserving” poor government handouts at the expense of hardworking taxpayers. 
Insofar as Romney can revive anti-welfare sentiments – which have been relatively quiescent since the enactment of the 1996 reforms – he may be able to increase voter motivation among whites whose enthusiasm for Romney has been dimmed by the barrage of Obama ads criticizing Bain Capital for firing workers and outsourcing jobs during Romney’s tenure as C.E.O. of the company. 
The racial overtones of Romney’s welfare ads are relatively explicit. Romney’s Medicare ads are a bit more subtle.
Both play on race and white racism. Yet, they do so in very different ways. The latter is the jab; conservatism and racism are one and the same in post-civil rights era politics. Here, Obama, and black people by extension, are marked as "thieves" who are stealing from good white folks by supporting a "bankrupt" entitlement program. 

Romney's lies about Barack Obama and welfare reform are complements to Ryan's Medicare gambit: Obama is taking good white people's money and giving it to the lazy blacks and other undeserving, lazy, poor people. Romney's play here is torn right out of the Tea Party's GOP racist Southern Strategy. 

The punches complement each other in a type of ugly beauty--Right-wing worries about health care expenditures do not mention race, but nonetheless play off of a sense that the white folks are getting screwed by some Other, i.e. non-whites and other "unproductive" citizens, as such, white people best work hard to protect what is theirs.

By contrast, the welfare queen lie is the overt and naked racial appeal to white racial resentment. If criticized for this ploy, Romney and the Tea Party GOP will turn it around and play the white victimhood "race card."

Either way right-leaning white independents will hear the White Tea Party GOP political cue that black and brown folks are fleecing them. Consequently, Romney and Ryan cleanup at the polls by picking those sad white folks' pockets, as the Tea Party GOP directs their racial and class-insecurity motivated anger at the wrong group of people. The plutocrats win out again as white conservative populists choose skin privilege and the psychic wages of whiteness--as they have many times before in this country--over addressing their long-term, substantive material needs. 
In essence, the ad is telling senior voters that the money they paid to insure their own access to Medicare after they turn 65 is going, instead, to pay for free health care for poor people who are younger than 65...
Romney’s Medicare ad is designed to undermine that relatively modest but potentially crucial advantage. It is artfully constructed to turn the issue of health care into a battle over limited tax dollars between a largely white population of seniors on Medicare and a disproportionately minority population of the currently uninsured who would get health coverage under Obamacare... 
The importance to the Romney-Ryan ticket of two overlapping constituencies — whites without college degrees and white Medicare recipients — cannot be overestimated. Romney, continuing the Republican approach of 2010, is banking on a huge turnout among key white segments of the electorate in order to counter Obama’s strengths with minority voters as well as with young and unmarried female voters of all races. 
There is extensive poll data showing the depth of Republican dependence on white voters.
Thomas Edsall's essay also contains a prescient warning for those who understand Romney's racist campaign strategy. Students of American politics talk about Atwater and company's notorious Southern Strategy quite often. Larry McCarthy, the evil mastermind who produced the notorious Willie Horton ad, is rolling out a series of commercials in support of Mitt Romney in the next few weeks leading up to the election. 

Romney is coming for Barack Obama. He will not be stopped. And given the sophisticated deployment of white racism by Romney and the Tea Party GOP that we have seen so far, Larry McCarthy is going to put on a clinic.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Origins of a Race-Baiting Birther: How Did Mitt Rommey's Upbringing in a Racist Religion Impact His Attitudes Towards People of Color?

I would like you to use your imagination for a few moments.

Imagine if there was a candidate for the presidency, the highest and most powerful office in the United States, and that he or she once held an official position in a religious order with which they were still very closely involved.

Imagine if that same candidate was raised to be one of the “elect,” with special obligations and a “divine” destiny to ensure that his religion saved America when its Constitution was “hanging by a thread.”

Imagine if this candidate for President belonged to a religion which long argued that black people were judged by God to be “cowards” who were not worthy of true “salvation.” Consequently, black people were destined for servitude and second class citizenship relative to white folks, even in the afterlife.

Finally, imagine if this same religion held such beliefs until 1978—not a century ago, or two hundred years ago—but less than 40 years in the recent past.

We have such a candidate today. His name is Mitt Romney.

Pluralism and tolerance are wonderful values for a society to embrace. Although the United States has been far from perfect in this regard, a belief that our differences can also be a source of strength is part of our national creed.

However, an embrace of diversity and pluralism should not prevent us from asking hard questions about which values ought to be encouraged, and if there are some beliefs and habits that are actually antithetical to our democratic project.

As the American people decide upon their next president in the months and days leading up to November’s election, these questions are made even more important.

Americans do not usually like talking publicly about religion and politics because both are understood by many people to be private matters. However, this anxiety should not stop us from asking basic questions when a concern arises that a candidate’s religion may complicate their loyalty to the Constitution, or make it either impossible or difficult for them to treat all Americans equally regardless of race, creed, or color.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What Took Him So Long? More Than "Dog Whistles" Mitt Romney Finally Goes Full Birther

Told you so. 

Mitt Romney has surrendered to the most despicable urges of white conservative populism and xenophobia. Although he will talk out of both sides of his mouth in denying the obvious, Romney has finally endorsed Birtherism. An honorable man would be a principled bigot; Romney has no principles or honor, thus he will deny, deny, deny, and obfuscate all the while winking at the white racists who are the base of the Tea Party GOP. 

One of my mentors said it is satisfying to reach a point where you have enough material written, and are enough of an authority on a topic, that you can quote yourself. This is not laziness; it is efficiency. I may not have the latter, and I am working on the former, but regarding Mitt Romney's sociopathic, white racist ways, I called out his shenanigans months ago. 

Mitt Romney is only getting started folks--and his bigotry is going to pay great dividends among "the silent majority" of white voters come election day. Candidates go "negative" because it works. White conservative candidates mine white racial resentment because they have calculated that the reward is greater than the risk. Romney's people have run the numbers and decided that ginning up white racism is a tactically sound choice for securing their candidate's victory over President Obama.  

Do allow me my moment of gloating.  Here are three passages from just a few of the pieces I have offered here on We Are Respectable Negroes that speak directly to Romney's concerted campaign of race-baiting and the Southern Strategy 2.0. Do share these prescient observations with your friends, and please tell folks where you heard them first. 

1. As I have written about numerous times, Mitt Romney is a sociopathic racist. His campaign ads have recycled naked and racist stereotypes about Barack Obama--and by implication black Americans. Moreover, Romney's use of both naked racial appeals and dog whistle politics represent one of the most sophisticated uses of racial animus in recent American political history. As the election approaches, Romney and Ryan are going to go places that McCain never would have dared. White racial resentment, and manipulating white racial anxiety in order to win over white voters, is one of the few remaining weapons (along with voter suppression) that Romney and the Tea Party GOP have left in their arsenal given the unpopularity of their proposed policies.

2. By proxy, these racially driven attacks on Barack Obama are really an assault on Black Americans. We are positioned in the White Conservative political imagination as perennial outsiders and second class citizens. As the late Joel Olson smartly observed, in the American political tradition, and in a country founded as a herrenvolk society, to be black means to be an "anti-citizen."

Romney and the Tea Party GOP's efforts to use racially coded speech, dog whistles, and naked racism to mobilize white voters against Barack Obama work only to the degree that the target audience can locate the president relative to the African American community. Thus, hostility to black folks, stereotypes about them, and other negative sentiment, is transferred on to Barack Obama. 
In all, the real America/American exceptionalism talk (both are intimates) that Romney and other Right-wing populists have deployed is a exclusionary one.

"American exceptionalism" is code for white American exceptionalism. "Real America" is code for white America.

3. The Tea Party, with its ethos of white populism, Birtherism, and racial animus towards the country’s first Black President (and people of color more generally) is emblematic of an even bigger challenge for the Republicans—they are looking to a fictive past for inspiration, what were the “good old days” when the colored folk, the gays, and the women all knew their places. This is anAmerica that never truly was. However, it is a true lie and dreamworld that is central to the Right-wing political imagination.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s family photos reflect this contrasting view of America. Mitt Romney’s family is a collective poster child for conservative “whiteopian” Culture War political dreams. Everyone is white; they are all the same.

When the Republican Party talks about a return to “traditional values” and “American exceptionalism” this is the vision of family—and the past—they are signaling to. To them, Mitt Romney’s particular brand of whiteness is normalizing, comforting and familiar.

Late to the Party: The Mainstream News Media is Finally Discussing Mitt Romney's Use of Racism to Win Over White Voters

Obama's team, in turn, says Romney's welfare charges are dishonest. Numerous independent fact-checkers, including The Associated Press, have determined that Romney and his surrogates are distorting the facts...
But that criticism has done little to persuade Romney and his aides to abandon the welfare issue or even tweak its assertions. The White House says the waivers Obama approved for states last month would only allow them to drop the work requirement if they can accomplish the same goals using different methods, a move Obama aides said was done at the request of both Republican and Democratic governors. 
Romney's welfare push comes with risk for the presumptive GOP nominee. Focusing too heavily on welfare, which had barely registered as a campaign issue before Romney began pushing it, could turn off voters who want to hear the candidates offer specific prescriptions for job growth... 
It could open Romney up to criticism that he is injecting race into the campaign and seeking to boost support among white, working-class voters by charging that the nation's first black president is offering a free pass to recipients of a program stereotypically associated with poor African-Americans.
In my best NPR fundraising voice...

I would like to extend a very sincere "thank you" to the kind readers of WARN who offered up some funds for my trip to Chicon7. Several of you dug deep into your pockets and made a donation that put quite a smile on my voice. In this hard economy, I am touched that you could find the resources to indulge my ghetto nerd proclivities and make it possible for me to represent at the World Sci-Fi Conference for the WARN family. We are so close to our fundraising goal of 300 dollars. Monday is the deadline for me to confirm if I will attend Chicon7. I think we can reach this goal if we are able to add one dollar, two dollars, the price of a  Starbucks coffee or a value meal into the begging bowl.

We Are Respectable Negroes is often ahead of the curve on many issues related to American politics, race, and popular culture. I know we are doing something valuable here--and providing a useful service to the folks who have found our humble site. The following piece about how The Associated Press is finally picking up on Mitt Romney's obvious race-baiting is more evidence of that fact.
The streets are watching. We have been discussing these related matters here on WARN for several months: our truth-telling is gaining some traction (and attention).

The mainstream news media is (finally) edging closer to an open discussion of how Mitt Romney is using racism to win over white voters. However, The Associated Press (AP) and other media outlets are still playing a game of political frontage; the AP's hand is up the proverbial dress, but they are still afraid to close the deal.

As I have said previously, and will continue to state whenever the opportunity is appropriate, Mitt Romney is a racist. He traffics in white racial anxiety and bigotry in order to scare white voters into voting against Barack Obama, the country's first black president. Romney is also an unrepentant liar: his "Barack the Welfare King" campaign is part of a larger pattern of intentional distortions and propagandizing that would impress masters of the craft such as Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels.

For many reasons, the mainstream media are very reluctant to criticize Mitt Romney's choice to use white racial resentment for political gains. Primarily, the myth of the liberal media, a fiction which has been created by conservative operatives and opinion leaders, has caused a general retreat from the tenets of responsible journalism. The Fourth Estate has been forced back onto its heels by the Right's Orwellian newspeak and partisan bullying.

To suggest that Mitt Romney is a racist (or manipulates white racism for political purposes) would mean that a journalist or pundit is brave enough to dance on the third rail of American politics and culture. Sadly, most do not have such grit, skill, or character. The triumph of colorblind racism in the post Civil Rights era also means that the default assumption is one where racism does not exist, and it is just an opinion--despite the mass of readily available evidence to the contrary.

And in the most perverse and twisted examples of the realities of race in "post racial" America, white men, generally, and white conservatives, specifically, constitute one of the most protected classes of people in the United States on these matters.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This is Who They Really Are: NPR Asks Romney's Supporters About His Barack "The Welfare King" Obama Lies

"I really don't want to help somebody who just decides, 'Oh, well, I was raised on welfare. I can raise my children on welfare,' " Malcolm said. "I had a cousin who, she is a registered nurse and the stories she told me about people coming in there and having babies just so they could get more on their food stamps and more on their welfare. It's like no, I don't want to take care of those people."
I am still handing around the begging bowl in order to try to make my way to Chicon7. Two intrepid souls out of the many more visitors to WARN this week have kindly put thrown in some change. Talk about my public embarrassment and shame.

If you like WARN give their monies some company if you can--a dollar or five from a few folks can go a long way. Such gestures are appreciated, as it would make me smile, and ghetto nerds everywhere would be in your debt. Plus, if we make our goal, you get to hear some of my lurid and embarrassing stories, as well as read part of my equally laughable novella.

My obligatory and awkward NPR inspired fundraising moment ends now.
Wednesday's edition of All Things Considered on NPR featured a particularly revealing segment on Mitt Romney's lies about President Obama and welfare reform that many of you will likely find of interest.

NPR interviewed attendees at a rally for Mitt Romney, the Tea Party GOP's presumptive presidential nominee, near Pittsburgh. There, they asked Romney's supporters about the candidate's repeated, willful, and transparently naked lie, that President Obama is going to rollback welfare reform and encourage the "parasitic" and "slothful" behavior of the undeserving (read: black and brown women) poor.

It is apparent that the folks who were interviewed are deeply immersed in a Right-wing propaganda fueled alternate reality universe. Perhaps most troubling, is how when confronted with the basic fact that Mitt Romney, their chosen candidate, is lying about Barack Obama, these individuals have a moment of cognitive dissonance, and then quickly return to partisan script.

The white conservative populist base has decided that Obama is the devil; these same people will then reframe how they process the facts in order to reach this conclusion. This type of post hoc reasoning is disturbing because it can be manipulated to justify all types of anti-social behavior, behavior that is not limited to "harmless" racism, ethnocentrism, and bigotry.

At present, conservatives live in a post-truth universe: a dangerous and frothy mix of guns, god, religion, Fox News, Christian Dominionism, conspiracy theories, and Right-wing talk radio form the boundaries of their cognition and perception. The elites on the Right know that this world is an artifice and a construction based on a lie; the foot soldiers and the base really and truly believe that the lies which are spun by their social betters and "influentials" are in fact true. All Americans suffer because this particularly virulent strain of abnormal politics makes consensus on matters and challenges of shared concern almost impossible to attain.

All Things Considered offered several particularly rich examples of these processes at work. For those of us who are trying to make sense of Romney's Svengali-like hold on post-truth, conservative voters (and right- leaning independents), these exchanges are quite instructive.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is the Tea Party GOP's 2012 Platform Crazy Like a Fox? Or is It Just Plain Crazy?

The naysayers, skeptics, critical thinking old school political hands, Republicans who are terrified of losing to Obama, as well as Democrats who are crowing about an inevitable victory come November, are alternatively either bemoaning or cheering what they see as the batshit crazy "outside of the mainstream" GOP platform that is going to be debuted at next week's convention in Florida. 

I am in the minority of opinion on these matters. Despite what the polling data and other models are suggesting, I believe that Obama, if he wins, will only sneak by in a nail biter. The Bradley Effect was pronounced slain, and dead on arrival, in 2008; however, given Romney's sophisticated use of race-baiting and dog whistle tactics, the ghost in the machine may come roaring back as a political poltergeist in 2012. The experts are also talking about how Obama's likeability may trump both a bad economy, and a candidate in Mitt Romney that is less than inspiring to the GOP base--a man who is also an insincere, negatively enigmatic figure, in the eyes of undecideds and independent voters. 

I do not know if this is a corollary to what political scientists call sociotropic or "pocketbook" voting, but my sense is that a bad economy, plus a black president, are a recipe for a losing election. I do hope that I am wrong. 

To outsiders, the Republican Party platform is pure "red meat" for the base, and as such, has a little bit of something for everyone in the New Right: it doubles down on killing Trayvon Martin(s), keeps lazy and unqualified colored people from jobs that they do not deserve (like the Presidency), ensures that men can control women's bodies, and keeps the damn Mexicans out of the country. It also talks enough about the framers, American exceptionalism, and the merits of trickle down economics so that Saint Ronald Reagan will remain at peace in his grave. 

For those outside of the Right-wing echo chamber, and who have not drunk deeply from the New Right Fox News Tea Party Jim Jones Kool-Aid, the 2012 Republican platform is one more example of how a major political party is in the midst of its death throngs as it slips further down the road to demographic suicide. However, for those in the Fox News echo chamber, and for many low information, right-leaning voters, the language of the document is imminently sensible. 

On immigration, what reasonable person could disagree with the following statement?
"We support changing the way that the decennial census is conducted, so that citizens are distinguished from lawfully present aliens and illegal aliens. In order to preserve the pinciple of one-person, one-vote, the apportionment of representatives among the states should be according to the number of citizens."
Or alternatively, who could disagree with this phrasing against "unfair" programs such as "affirmative action?" The language sounds so meritocratic:
"We support efforts to help low-income individuals get a fair chance based on their potential and individual merit; but we reject preferences, quotas, and set-asides, as the best or sole methods through which fairness can be achieved, whether in government, education or corporate boardrooms...Merit, ability, aptitude, and results should be the factors that determine advancement in our society."
The Republican Party platform uses superficially benign language in order to advance the Right's radical political agenda. This is a genius move. As such, we mock the Tea Party GOP platform at our own peril.

Am I giving the spin masters on the Right too much credit? Or is this platform one of the last exhalations of a political party on the verge of obsolescence, but is willing to fight to the end in defense of its "principles?"

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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Can You Help a Ghetto Nerd Attend the World Science Fiction Convention Here in Chicago?

You know us black folks, we are always asking folks for something. It is one of our "black habits" as Redd Foxx would say.

Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (also known as Worldcon), is one of the largest, and longest running, science fiction conferences in the United States (and to my knowledge on Earth). On a lark, and without complete information, I threw my name into the proverbial hat and offered myself up as a panelist for the event.

I very much enjoy giving talks at non-academic fan events and hanging out with fellow geeks and nerds. I also take it as a professional and personal obligation to talk about "serious" stuff, i.e. politics, race, culture, etc. with an audience that often "gets" that there is real substance to their hobby, but just needs the language and a few examples to help them along in realizing what they already know.

To my surprise, the organizers of Chicon 7 asked me to be on three panels--one of which is a meet and great "literary beer" where fans get to talk to authors and other such folks. Yes, I was surprised about that last one too. I was also surprised that panelists, all of them save for "honored guests," are expected to pay for their entry fees to the conference.

When confronted with having to pay for conferences I either 1) sneak in; 2) share a badge with a friend; or 3) ask my department for some money. These are not options for Worldcon here in Chicago as 1) I have been told they are pretty tight with security and checking badges; 2) only one person I know is going, and I don't think that I could pass as "Heather"; and 3) Worldcon falls between budgetary request cycles and my boss folks will also not pay for association memberships.

I am ultimately of two minds. I would like to go, and I think there could be some good professional networking done which will help me out with various projects including WARN. Life is funny, as you never know where and when good things can happen: for example, I may very well be offered one of the high honors of geekdom in the near future because of some folks I met at Chicago's C2E2. If it happens, I will of course share the good news with all of you.

I also think it would be great to represent for the ghetto nerd set. Science fiction and fandom can be very "white" spaces; it is good to shake things up a bit and make sure that a diversity of voices are represented.

On the other hand, I am not so moved as to come up with the 300 dollars out of pocket, in essence paying to present and do work, at a convention. I have other responsibilities regarding family and a 16 year old dog that I must prioritize, regardless of the temptation to do otherwise.

[For those of you who are justifiably curious, I did my research and Stamford Animal Rescue will be getting the money we collected a few months ago.]

This leaves me with hand open, and begging bowl out, to the friends and fans of We Are Respectable Negroes. I learned from my last semi-successful fundraising effort that you need to repeat your pleas for donations more than once. I cannot promise that I will do that, save for a few ghetto nerd related posts, in order to keep fundraising pitch in the foreground. To do more crosses over to nagging...and that isn't cool. 

Apparently, fundraisers are also most successful when they are time-limited. I need to confirm with the conference no later than Friday of this week (or Monday at the latest).

Finally, the experts on these matters suggest that you should give people who are kind enough to donate money a "thank you" or some type of gift and incentive. I like stories and sharing. Hopefully, those stories are not just interesting to me given my delusional state of sustained egomania and borderline narcissism. If we can get me to Worldcon I will offer up the following "gifts."

1. I will share some excerpts from my zombie novella. This will be your chance to laugh, mock, make fun of, and see me exposed as the literary wannabe hack that I really am. A few friends have read parts of Zombie Lives. The response ranges from "great" to "good, but do more of x,y,z" and "you have something solid here that you should send to an agent." One friend doesn't get the genre--and said it just wasn't her cup of tea despite her appreciation for what I was trying to bring to the table in writing a zombie novella that is "about something."

2. Here on WARN, I often, and in a playful manner, talk about sex and taking the ladies to Space Mountain (in reality the ride is more like The Tea Cups at Disneyland). Sometimes these episodes end in embarrassment, confusion, or laughter--usually at me and not with me.

We have two possibilities (of many here) from my catalog of epic sexual and romantic fails.

I can offer up a true story about a night of random intimacy, with a relative stranger which was ruined mid foreplay by an argument about Abraham Lincoln, the color line, and Emancipation.

Or, I can entertain and titillate, as I share a night of great shame and George from Seinfeld-like incompetence and bad luck. Details? Let's just say that this ruined night involves a sex goddess, a dog, pepper spray, and my wounded masculinity. 

It is August and the start of school is approaching. For those of you with kids, money is probably especially tight this time of year. However, if folks can find a dollar or two to throw in the virtual tip jar/donation box in the upper right hand part of the screen, I would very much appreciate the gesture.

If I am able to attend Worldcon I will of course share stories, gossip, photos, and any fun things that happen to transpire. Thank you for indulging me.

The Tea Party GOP's Greatest Fear: President Obama is a "Black-Beast Rapist"...and He is Coming to Get Them

Popular culture is an informal type of public opinion. In its best instances, popular culture is a powerful lens into our collective fears, hopes, and anxieties. I was rewatching David Mamet's Edmond, a great film which explores questions of existential angst, a man's descent into madness (or sanity depending on one's point of view), and his subsequent imprisonment. The final scenes of the film are challenging and provocative; they are a great example of how the "popular" and "political" can intersect in some surprising ways.

While it is little discussed in the mainstream press, or among the pundit classes, I would argue that the New Right and the Tea Party GOP's anti-Obamamania is driven by a sense of imperiled white masculinity. The "angry white man" has been a part of our political and cultural vocabulary for several decades. He ultimately found a home and a political party in the Tea Party GOP. Although white men are the single most powerful and wealthy group of people in this country, the Right has been able to successfully  manipulate a sense of grievance, anxiety, and fears of a lost future where "the blacks," "the minorities," "the women," and "the gays" have taken over.

This is a shrewd political strategy that plays on the relationship between psychology and politics. The petit authoritarianism that is contemporary conservatism fears nothing more than a loss of control. As such, what better way to advance one's political goals than to create a narrative of white victimology?

Ultimately, the fears of the New Right, the Tea Party GOP, and the aggrieved, imperiled white masculinity that Mitt Romney and other Republican elites pander to, are responses to a collective nightmare, what is a waking dream where they are being metaphorically raped and dominated by Barack Obama and people of color. 

During Bush 2's rule, Republicans were obsessed with how the American public, as well as the Democratic Party, should "respect" the Office of the President of the United States. Curiously, a few years later the Tea Party GOP has shown nothing but utter disrespect for President Obama since he won the office in 2008.

There are many examples of this paranoid and conspiratorial behavior.

The State of the Union Speech was interrupted in an unprecedented fashion by a Republican who yelled "you lie" at the President. Major political figures on the Right and in the mass media have alternatively suggested that President Obama is not a United States citizen, is a closet Muslim, takes orders from his dead father's African ghost, and is an "affirmative action" hire who sneaked his way through Columbia and Harvard. Obama has also been faced with threats of violence, mass rebellion, secession, and naked racism. The Tea Party GOP was willing to risk economic Armageddon during the debt-ceiling crisis in order to embarrass Barack Obama.

These conspiratorial fantasies are ultimately about respect, authority, and legitimacy. Partisanship, and an extremely polarized public that has been subjected to Right-wing propagandists who are deeply invested in crisis and rumor mongering, are central to this story too. But, "normal" politics cannot be decoupled from the symbolic politics that are necessarily embodied--quite literally--in Barack Obama, the country's first black president. For many conservatives, and especially aggrieved whites who are made insecure by the United States' changing demographics and a sense that America is not "their country" anymore, Obama is seen as pure evil--he is their anti-Christ.

In the conservative political imagination, people who look like him, his family, and those other black and brown folk with some degree of political and/or economic power, do not belong in or near the White House. White reactionary conservatives may not state the following as plainly as I am willing to: The United States has long been the white man's country; the Tea Party GOP, as a White Party, are willing to do almost anything to regain this true lie and fictive past.

As I have written about numerous times, Mitt Romney is a sociopathic racist. His campaign ads have recycled naked and racist stereotypes about Barack Obama--and by implication black Americans. Moreover, Romney's use of both naked racial appeals and dog whistle politics represent one of the most sophisticated uses of racial animus in recent American political history. As the election approaches, Romney and Ryan are going to go places that McCain never would have dared. White racial resentment, and manipulating white racial anxiety in order to win over white voters, is one of the few remaining weapons (along with voter suppression) that Romney and the Tea Party GOP have left in their arsenal given the unpopularity of their proposed policies.

I am not suggesting that Mitt Romney is experiencing, nor that he is moved by, the same racial fears and white anxieties which motivate the Tea Party GOP base. Romney and his backers are billionaires. They fear nothing. But, Mitt Romney is willing to use the petty fears of reactionary white conservatives and right-leaning independents in order to further his political and economic goals.

In these conversations about President Obama, legitimacy, white voters, and the Tea Party GOP, one variable has been consistently ignored by most pundits and analysts. The Tea Party GOP is a Southern, White political party. Its leaders made a bargain decades ago to absorb the Southern racists, the Dixiecrats, into their fold. By doing so, they flipped the South "red." This choice also meant that the Republican Party was now the party of Jim and Jane Crow, the slaveocracy, and all of the other assorted political, racial, and cultural baggage that comes with it.