Thursday, July 3, 2014
Racist Anti-Black Editorial Cartoons from the Reconstruction Era are a Perfect Fit For Fox News and the Tea Party GOP of Today
I hope that you all have some nice and restful plans for the upcoming 4th of July weekend.
I have been processing the feedback and consequences of my viral piece on the Hobby Lobby debacle (which has settled in at about 65,000 Facebook shares).
On one hand the practical results from my "winning the Internet" for day, have been anticlimactic and unspectacular. It is nice to get the traffic and the exposure. But, those interactions constitute a type of drive-by casual engagement--that may or may not translate into growing our group of commenters here on WARN. Thus, the momentary blip is a reminder that your established home base is what ultimately matters.
However, my Hobby Lobby essay has also opened the door to some additional opportunities...more details will be forthcoming.
[In my best Kosh from Babylon 5 voice, "The truth points to itself."]
I am saving two of the pieces which I have been working on regarding Obama, and the vicious and racist assault on his legitimacy by the Tea Party GOP and John Boehner, for next week. There is also a very compelling new article on game theory and racism which I will share next week as well.
The recent commemorations of the Civil Rights Acts and Freedom Summer--and the Hobby Lobby decision--have provoked my reflecting on Howard Zinn's incisive and wise observation that "history is a moving train".
Old battles are still being fought; the present contains many echoes of the past; and how much of what we are witnessing with the White Right at present is just history playing itself out again?
While trying to put Boehner and the White Right's assault on Obama's legitimacy in context, I decided to look through Reconstruction era editions of Harper's Weekly and other publications for images of African-American congressmen and senators.
I was not been able to find the editorial cartoon that I originally sought. However, I did discover several cartoons that would perfectly at home on Fox News, a Republican Party official's wall, or as a cartoon shared via the sewer that is the Right-wing media echo chamber.
The first cartoon smears the Freedman's Bureau by depicting a lazy former slave who is a burden on the state because he "steals" money and resources from good hard working white people.
The second image "Colored Rule in a Reconstructed (?) State" by noted cartoonist Thomas Nast is a racist caricature (intended as scolding and cautionary) of African-American elected officials as incompetent because they are "apeing" the behavior of the "lowest whites".
The third set of images, also by Nast, entitled "The Odor of the (Nigger) Republican is Offense But" depicts white southern Democrats, the predecessors of the Neo-Confederate Republican Party in the post civil rights era, courting black elites in private while showing disdain for black people in public.
Shades of black conservatives and the Republican Party? The recent Cochran and McDaniel "harvesting black votes" election in Mississippi?
In all, the assault on Obama fits within a long tradition by white elected officials, the media, and the general public to discredit African-American representatives and other officials. The United States is a society which for most of its existence was quite literally "white by law". The election of Obama--twice--and the forced expansion of the polity to include black and brown folks is a system shock.
Consequently, the racist attacks by the White Right on Barack Obama (and black people en masse) should not be surprising: they are the status quo ante for American life and culture.
White bigotry towards people of color is the American way. Likewise, the efforts to expand corporate power, and the desperate power grab by Christian theocrats as exemplified by Hobby Lobby, is the American way too.
Once more, and again, there is little new in the game. The questions remains, what shall "We the People" do in response?