Sunday, January 5, 2014

Politics as Professional Wrestling: Help Me Understand. She Committed No Wrong. Why Then Did Melissa Harris-Perry Apologize to Mitt Romney's Family?

The lie that is the myth of the "liberal media" is exposed again.

Martin Bashir was fired from his show on MSNBC for telling the truth about Sarah Palin's gross and disgusting ahistorical and offensive comparison of "Obamacare" to black chattel slavery.

MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry has suffered a week of heckling criticism from conservatives and the Right-wing noise machine because one of her guests made an observation about how seemingly out of place Mitt Romney's adopted black grandchild is in the sea of waspy Whiteness that is the Romney clan.

Moreover, the brief discussion of Romney's adopted grandchild was benign. No one pointed out the reasonable (and obvious) questions that could be asked about why a family of white Mormons, who are among their religion's "elect" and elite families, would adopt a person of color when black people are supposedly stained by the Curse of Ham and not allowed (until a recent "revelation") access to white Mormon heaven? Nor did anyone highlight how the racial diversity in the one time Republican Party presidential nominee's family is seemingly at odds with the Tea Party GOP's white identity politics of racial resentment.

In the United States, politician's families are supposedly "off limits" for sniping and dart throwing by one's ideological foes. Of course, this is not true. Obama's family and children have suffered vicious racial taunts and insults from conservatives and their media apparatus. The Clinton family was also not considered as being on neutral ground and above the political fray.

Apparently, the above rules of decency only apply to conservatives. From the "War on Christmas", to the myth of the "liberal media", and a belief in "reverse racism" and other assorted fictions, the Right-wing has created an alternative reality where "good people" like them, i.e. white conservatives, are perennial victims in post civil rights era America. Such a crippling persistent state of unfairness and oppression extends upward from the rank-and-file low information Fox News viewer, to their heroes and darlings such as Sarah Palin and Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson, and even to the Romney clan, the Kochs, and Rupert Murdoch.

I have little use for the pop psychology offered up on daytime television by people such as Dr. Phil or Oprah. However, I did take away two gems of knowledge and wisdom from their respective shows that could be of use in understanding the need by "progressives" and "liberals" to always apologize for the purpose of soothing Right-wingers' supposedly hurt feelings.

One, we teach people how to treat us. Two, people will tell and show you who they really are. Very often nice people are very naive and stupid in how they do not apply such rules in their lives. Thus, they perpetuate the conditions of their own abuse. To point. The Republican Party uses political thuggery and bullying to get its way. Like all bullies, they then cry and complain that they are the real victims when their former prey stands up to them.

In this scenario, the Republican Party is the equivalent of a domestic batterer who beats the hell out of their partners or other family members. The victim stands up for him or herself and retaliates in self-defense. The domestic abuser is shocked and hurt by this defiance. Somehow they imagine themselves as being abused, and then try to convince the police of said "fact".

And guess who gets to spend the night in jail as the abuser gins of some manufactured tears and halting breath as they explain to anyone who will listen that they are the "real victim" in the relationship?

The Democratic Party, its media spokespeople and personalities, as well as many folks who identify as "liberals" or "progressives" have taught Republicans that it is okay to mistreat them. A broken government and political circus on basic matters such as the debt ceiling, extending unemployment benefits, and other related matters are the result of a codependent, political Stockholm Syndrome-like, abusive relationship between Republicans and Democrats. The latter keeps trying to get things done and to have a good relationship; the former hates the very idea of government, and the country's first black president becomes the focus of their defiance.

Professional wrestling is one of the sharpest and most illuminating frameworks for understanding American political culture. Professional wrestling is scripted theater where the outcomes of a given match are, for the most part, predetermined. In the language of professional wrestling the "loser" has to do what is called "the job". There are many ways to lose and retain credibility. A great loss can even propel a wrestler's career forward (see Steve Austin's legendary "I quit" match against Brett Hart). A pattern of "jobbing" can also signal the end of a person's wrestling career or that their time with a given promotion is coming to an end.

Doing the job properly is an art; it is essential to the business and spectacle that is professional wrestling.

I have no doubt that Melissa Harris-Perry's apology to the Romney family was sincere. I doubt that Melissa Harris-Perry would have apologized if she did not want to do so.

Her apology was also great television. It was also practical. In the language of pro wrestling, Harris-Perry had to "do the job" in order to move past this distraction so that she could go on to other far more important discussions/matches.

Melissa's doing the job was also good business for all parties involved. Now, the question is will those who run the show (i.e. "hold the book" and run the "territory" in professional language speak) at MSNBC realize the great storyline and mileage they could get out of her doing the job for Romney?

Some suggestions. Melissa Harris-Perry could talk about her family, do a show about race and Mormonism, or have a special on her family's genealogy.

As a point of comparison, the white trash Duck Dynasty human zoo was able to leverage their faux-controversy about racism and homophobia for big bucks. A&E will now have more viewers for Duck Dynasty--not fewer. Is MSNBC that smart?

Do help me understand. I see no substantive offense by anything said or done by Melissa Harris-Perry, or her guests, to the Romney clan. Why do liberals and progressive so embrace taking the "high road" and being "classy" when their opposition has no such limits or conscience?


Michael Varian Daly said...

She apologized because she's a Corporate Careerest and therefore must maintain her Corporate Minstrelsy Persona.

Bryan Ortez said...

White privilege. Fox News' hosts don't have to apologize for their jackass commentary because they are upholding the lantern of whiteness.

"Liberal media" has to walk a tight rope because they are somewhat, due to the skin color of our president, trying to maintain a race positive dialogue.

Did Bill O'Reilly ever apologize for saying black customers were not shouting in a restaurant, 'get me some tea MF'ers!" and people actually 'looked respectable, even in a black neighborhood.' ? Or telling Marc Lamont Hill he 'kind of looks like a cocaine dealer, which has been shrugged off as a part of his 'special humor.'

Sarah Palin, 'I've never been one who is beholden to political correctness,' regarding the conservative meme that Obama is enslaving white people with an invisible trick through Obamacare taxes.

The only thing I can think of that allows them to get away with being asses on Fox News and giving voice to every conspiracy and racial meme concerning black Americans and ignoring the same circumstances in white America is white privilege.

Could you imagine MHP pulling a Megyn Kelly? "We try to bring a little humor to the show and sadly that's lost on some people. I hadn't realized race was still such an issue in this country. MSNBC, you know and myself, are big targets for some folks who like to pull the race card when it suits them."

Did white news broadcasters ever apologize for anything in NBC past? I don't watch their broadcast so I couldn't say. It's interesting that as MSNBC hires more journalists of color that they come under such ridicule by conservative media.

Bryan Ortez said...

I wonder if NBC viewers were upset by it and complained to the producers.

Learning Is Eternal said...

"Republicans are overt racists where democrats make you feel good about your oppression..." I see faux & msnbc no different. No one spoke truth to power (vehemently) this time CDV & look. Faux does not apologize for any vitriol or jokes in poor taste 'bout people of color. Not only do people of color have to 'say sorry' to white power they still lose their jobs in some instances.

This is a moment like watching WWF as a tyke discovering unauthentic air slaps knock a grown man cross the ring.

I probably won't watch her show much. Not that I felt she a sold out but if there is not a line between faux news & everybody else, well...

Nick Cage - Lord of War - media - civilians.

Shady Grady said...

Is morality defined by external factors or is it something which is independent of other people?

One can understand and decry the hypocrisy and racism of the right without falling into their same traps. Romney lost over a year ago. There isn't much reason to be talking about him anyway. And there is no reason to bring up the racial mix of his family. It wasn't relevant and wasn't funny.

The fact that conservatives have gone way overboard in their false outrage doesn't change that.
Of course if one views Fox and MSNBC and their political theater as "war" then of course anything goes.

Fox is explicitly appealing to white racist resentment. MSNBC isn't. Their audience is more diverse and thus more vulnerable to demands for apologies.

KissedByTheSun said...

When you fight evil with evil, evil is still the victor. One has to understand that lies are numerous yet extremely fragile, while truth though seemingly small has great weight and integrity. It's tempting to want to enclose yourself in down stuffed cloth when you're being attacked with pillows in a city made from pillows. The abundance and popularity of the material makes pillow fighting seem like a no brainer. But, what is a city of pillows to a single flame thrower? Though it's fires burn slow, the truth will eventually consume everything it touches.

Black Romulan said...

I say MHP was being a class act and taking the moral high road by apologizing, right or wrong. I feel she honestly wants to address race issues on her show, so for her to claim the gravitas needed to undertake such a perilous ongoing discussion in our contemporary media arena she felt she had to prostrate herself to the race baiters on the right who entrapped her in this non controversial tar baby they designed in order to continue doing this work.
In her shoes I would like to think I would pull a Sarah Palin and "not retreat, but reload" on the critique that the modern GOP (as embodied in its most recent presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney) is monochromatic and racially obtuse, but I think she's seeing this situation a bit more pragmatically than I do. She's thoughtfully playing the long game as I would expect from a professor of her caliber.

Black Romulan said...

OK, so I got to address progressives taking the high road in terms of wrestling, jobbing, faces and heels.
MHP (and Keith Olberman, and Martin Bashir, and etc. etc. etc.) is the face here, and her job is keep doing the right thing no matter how many low blows the heels deal her, how many quick counts she gets, how many refs are distracted to look the other way, how many Chairmen of the Board change the event rules mid match. That's just what faces do. MLK was a face; Bull Conner was a heel.
MHP is jobbing here in much the same way Daniel Bryan jobs these days, or John Cena jobbed the unification match recently. Faces are good guys because they lose the right way, they don't stoop to conquer. The more they stay true the more they are hailed as the underdog when they do triumph over the overwhelming heel. Nelson Mandela was a face; Apartheid was the heel.
Just saying here that if one is committed to playing a face you have to own it even when you are losing because that's where the effectiveness of that role shines through. Daniel Bryan is a face who easily gets squashed often by bigger, badder, stronger opponents (with cooler finishing moves and catchphrases); but when he wins the whole audience is with him screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes!" because when the righteous overcomes overwhelming adversity its contagious and empowering. The Civil Rights Movement was a face; Jim Crow was the heel.

jaymz said...

The only truth spoken on this thread thus far.

jaymz said...

That's when they're not talking about mandingo parties, cos-play and the other "sex-positive" freakishness substituting for child-bearing/rearing heterosexual monogamy in their own wannabe MHP lives.

The only hard-hitting examination of the MHP debacle thus far is to be found here

chauncey devega said...

Any chance to talk about Bryan is a pleasure. Talk about an underused talent. He has infiltrated the Wyatt family. When he turns on them at the Royal Rumble it will be great. Taker wants a match w. him at Wrestlemania. I think his streak should continue unbroken. But, if Taker wants to retire this year there is no more deserving a person than Bryan for the rub.

Wrestling analogies are great. But in this world, it is sad that MHP and others have to play the faces in a arrangement where they will lose and the audience is not in on the narrative.

chauncey devega said...

Phil Robertson is an actor. Like all actors who are employed by a company he can be fired. Reporters are employees too. They can be fired as well. But, what does that say about how the media--and any of its truth-tellers that even exist anymore--are so limited by commercial interests.

Bashir told the truth. Palin told a lie about slavery and wanted to compare getting health insurance to the rape, torture, and murder of millions of people. Bashir told the public just a tiny bit of some of the real horrors that occurred and were afflicted on black people. The white--and many black people--are not prepared for those truths. As I wrote about 12 Years a Slave and also Django they were Disney versions of slavery. Yet, the childish public acted as though such cruelties were unimaginable.

Conservatives and decorum? Stop playing. Listen to one minute of eliminationist right-wing talk radio or watch just a bit of Fox News where they had a guest on who called for the assassination of Obama and then we can talk.

chauncey devega said...

What nobility. We need good folks like you. We also need folks who are willing to do what is necessary to win. What was that Churchill quote to that effect?

chauncey devega said...

"Not only do people of color have to 'say sorry' to white power they still lose their jobs in some instances."

Spot on. Yet, we/they keep playing the game. A poisoned chalice.

Gable1111 said...

Democrats take the high road because they are cowards, to be frank. You don't stop a bully, and the GOP tea party have been classic political bullies, by mollycoddling them and giving them what they want; they'll only want more. The few times the dems have stood up and stood on principle, voters and opinion polls responded favorably.

Now, when it comes to race, its even worse. Obama is deathly afraid of being "the angry black man," for one, and the word is out to not take on these fights, even when they are right. You split the difference and not make it seem like the bigots are really being the bigots they are. Then you have dems with the same blinders on a la Ani DiFranco, so they see no need to speak up.

If Sara Palin and others can spew all the personal, ugly stuff they've said about Michelle Obama and the girls, and no one is asking them to apologize, there should be no pressure on MHP. There is, because the fear is there, i.e. we must not seem to be opposing the right wing, because its not "nice." In fact, we want people to see we're just like them, tax cuts and all, only we're "nicer people."

The driver is the democratic party is drinking from the same corrupt fountain that the GOP is. And this is why, the ACA aside, there hasn't been any legislation -- none, that has been produced by the democrats that directly benefit the poor and middle class, and anything that comes remotely close must also be heavily weighted towards the "job creators."

The dems take the high road because they share many of the same paymasters with the GOP, and they didn't want to offend them by directly confronting racism, opposing tax cuts at a time when they are the opposite of what we need, increasing social security, the minimum wage, etc. The Dem senator Patty Murray, for example, calls a cutting social programs by "only" $8 billion, when Paul Ryan called for $40 billion, never mind the fact that "cutting the deficit" is nothing more than a con game to gut the social safety net the GOP has always hated.

This is the reason for the pressure on MHP to apologize. Dems lack principles, and they want to safely keep it that way.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

Negros can't think beyond their dik and colt 45's which is why you can't see the liberal media bias.
Oh - and Obama is the biggest Fukup America has ever seen.

nevilleross said...

@Learning Is Eternal, @chauncey devega; Amazing how Michael Moore plays dirty with The Establishment in his documentaries, and yet now he's also being pilloried for doing so (he's being accused of not sticking to facts when making Roger & Me & Bowling For Columbine, as if that mattered to the neocon establishment before.) Some would say that he benefits from white privilege too, but at least he admits it and acknowledged it (in one chapter of the book Stupid White Men called 'Kill Whitey'.) He plays dirty, why shouldn't anybody else?