Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Debits of Whiteness: Of the Tea Party GOP's Racism and the S & P's Credit Downgrade of the United States

More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.

Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics any time soon.
The Tea Party GOP got what they wanted. Their game of economic terrorism has resulted in one more step towards economic calamity for the American people. The austerity recession is here, if not already fully arrived.

The other shoe has fallen as well: although America's AAA credit rating made it through two world wars and a Great Depression intact, it could not survive the country's first black President. The Tea Party GOP can sit in the corner, smugly smiling now, as they prepare to carve up Barack Obama just a wee bit more as the 2012 election approaches.

Let us be frank and state the obvious...a reality that so many in the mainstream media are loathe to admit: The Tea Party GOP and its highwayman want to destroy President Obama because he is a Democrat. But, they despise him because he is Black.

The intransigence and obstructionism that the President experienced at every turn, especially as seen in what is almost always a routine decision to raise the debt ceiling limit, has been--pardon the pun--deeply colored by the bugaboo that is white racism.

My claim is not one that is lacking in nuance, where it is "only" white racial resentment and hostility that drives Right-wing, Tea Party GOP opposition to Barack Obama. In a moment of extreme political polarization ideology is made to trump all. The Right-wing rage machine has made compromise, normal politics, and reasonable discourse all but impossible. Race, as the third rail in American political and social life intersects all of those variables. Thus, White racism is a sweetener of sorts that amplifies an already high stakes game of political poker and brinkmanship.

Noted historian David Roediger, echoing the magisterial W.E.B. Du Bois, introduced the phrase "wages of whiteness" into the vocabulary of those who study race, politics, and American history. His pithy turn of phrase (and what is a rich concept) has been infectious. The framework was subsequently expanded to include the idea that white skin privilege brings with it unearned material, economic, psychological, and legal resources/benefits/gains to those classified as "white" in American society. Thus, the "wages" of Whiteness.

The racial resentment and hostility of the Tea Party GOP towards President Obama has now introduced a flip side to that concept. In order to destroy a President, the Tea Party GOP was driven by both racism and partisanship to wreck the American economy and hold the people of the country hostage in a time of the Great Recession.

Here, Whiteness has become a debit--one, to the tune of billions or perhaps even trillions of dollars--as the impact of the Tea Party GOP's reckless behavior, driven by racial hostility and animus, reverberates out across the American and world economy.

Once more, the pathological nature of Whiteness hurts all things and all people across the fuzzy divides of the colorline. There is no escaping it. Even for those deeply invested in its permanence.


fred c said...

To call the Tea Party "highwaymen" is praising with feint damnation. Highwaymen, and even brigands, are mere economic criminals. The Tea Bunch are really vigilantes, which is much worse in my book. Vigilantes seek to destroy something or someone by violence, to advance a narrow political or social agenda. Whether we talk about the lynching mobs of Jim Crow, or the these so-called Tea Party Patriots, they are the vigilantes of their respective movements, the extremists at the tips of the spears.

nomad said...

White racism is the culprit here now. Well lessee. Ain't most of the electorate white? Didn't they vote this "black" man into office? Blaming the T-party for Obama's failings is like blaming the opposing team for mounting a defense. We already know Republicans fight dirty. Remember they impeached Bill Clinton. The T-party is indeed the worst of them. But it's O-baa-ma that threw the game.

Plane Ideas said...

It is early sunday morning and CD brings the fire....I can here the pastors in the hood..AMEN.AMEN.AMEN

nomad said...

Funny. I hear them saying "God damn America!"

Bobswern said...

Ahhhh...I see a member of the frustrati firebagging crew is up trying to down this post (nomad..or is that you Hamsher? Greenwald? Cenk?)

brotherbrown said...

I understand the tendency to want to blame the Tea Party for the Debt ceiling debacle, however, when California's debt rate was lowered back in February 2009, the die was cast. As the nation's bellwether state, as California goes, so goes the nation, and California's economy has fallen and can't get up.

For the first time in my life, the future looks murky, and I will advise my adult kids not to have children, at least not right now.

Race is not the prime issue; the empire is unraveling, as is inevitable, and it's going to be ugly before it gets better.

chaunceydevega said...

@Fred c. You are right, there is some feigned nobility by highwayman. Is hooga mugga mouth breathers a better description?

@Nomad. Don't get me started on racial triangulation. There is a actually a cool piece by one of my favorite political scientists who does the post-mortem math on the role of race and Obama's election. I will post it at some point.

@Thrasher. So kind. I am cooking up something else for this week. This was an easy one that wrote itself. Stay tuned.

@Nomad. Don't you make me put on some of the good Reverend now!

@Bob. I wish they followed my rants. I would be in good company. Well I know one of them has read some of WARN's madness--of which I am appreciative--hopefully the others will peek in every now and then too.

@brother. You are spot on. I don't usually post full articles from other sites as I don't want to be too pedantic. But, there is a great article I bookmarked a month or so ago that is rigorous but very accessible just on this issue. This game is deep on the neo-liberalism tip. I am going to offer it up this week with some annotations.

rikyrah said...

you are on point. thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

D said...

I'm white and I couldn't agree more that much (most?) of the Baggers are driven by a racist hate of Obama. One of the "advantages" of being white is that, when you're alone with only white people, the racism is easier to spot. I can't tell you how many times I've heard known Baggers in the community say things like "I never thought I'd live under a colored man as president" when they think they're amongst "safe" company.

John Myste said...

The GOP despises Obama because he is a liberal. Some people are racists. Some are not. The GOP is made up of people with a backward political ideology. This does not equate to racism.

Everything Obama stands for is egregious to conservatives. He ran on a platform of disgust for conservatives. He indicated that they were barbaric, stupid and would lose everything Bush built (as if Bush had built anything worth keeping).

If Clinton had become president, the GOP would have hated her because she was a woman. If Edwards had won, the GOP would have hated him for his boyish good looks and philandering. If a white male liberal had won, the GOP would have hated him for his politics.

I assure you, the hate of liberals is politically motivated, regardless of what other prejudices different members may have. Clarence Thomas is loved by conservatives as one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices ever. He is back, and they feel no generally racism for him.

Oh Crap said...

He ran on a platform of disgust for conservatives.


Conservative crybabies need to grow a thicker skin, if that's what you believe justifies these bigoted tea parties.

But you're right, though, cons are packed to the gills with xenophobia and hate, though they save the most virulent for Black people.

Why do you suppose that is?

Clarence Thomas is loved by conservatives as one of the greatest Supreme Court Justices ever. He is back, and they feel no generally racism for him.

They all pretend to love you so long as you do their bidding. One false move and they show their true colors.

Who ya foolin, John Myste?

Oh Crap said...


I'm white and I couldn't agree more that much (most?) of the Baggers are driven by a racist hate of Obama. One of the "advantages" of being white is that, when you're alone with only white people, the racism is easier to spot.

Not true. You should see what they tell us right to our faces.

John Myste said...

@Oh crap:

Sir, I am a huge Obama fan and a huge GOP critic. That fact does not make the GOP a racist party. They not only pretended to support Clarence Thomas, but they pretended to support is nomination, which is why he sits on the bench today.

Your emotions runneth away with you, sir.

They all pretend to love you so long as you do their bidding. One false move and they show their true colors. They do not all “pretend to love” you when you do their bidding. They do love you when you do their bidding. They no longer love you when you stop. See, it is not racially motivated love/hate. It is bidding-motivated love/hate.

Who ya foolin, John Myste? I don’t know, but certainly not you.

SouthernGirl2 said...

Tell it, chauncey! Tell the truth and shame the devil!

Constructive Feedback said...

My Beloved Brother Chauncey DeVega:

[quote]The Tea Party GOP got what they wanted. Their game of economic terrorism has resulted in one more step towards economic calamity for the American people[/quote]

Do you recall S&P from the days of:
* Lehman
* Merill
* Goldman

At the time of the collapse of Lehman and the tanking of the other two.............ALL OF THEM had a "AAA+" rating on their bond business.

Do you recall, Brother DeVega that at the time when their judgment was questioned as to their ability to transparently assess the risks of these Wall Street firms - this was one of the reasons driving the new 'Consumer Protection Agency' that was christened a few weeks ago by Obama.

Now - we see the truth.
Just as when the "racist Republicans" went after Fannie and Freddie (because Fannie had a BLACK CEO - Franklin Raines" - this is what Maxine Waters said). We later found that the organization was indeed built upon sand. Several hundred billions of dollars later we are still trying to recover.

Mr DeVega your use of RACISM CHASING is now at a level of pure CORRUPTION. But for your congregation (and Ed Schultz) I am not sure who is buying what you are selling.

I still love you brother.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]I understand the tendency to want to blame the Tea Party for the Debt ceiling debacle, however,[/quote]


As I scanned through the messages on this blog and came to your statement quoted above I saw you as the one countervailing voice that only dared to tacitly go against the grain.

Think about how history would have changed if that ONE VOICE in the lynch mob/ "All White Jurty" who's minds were otherwise fixated on the guilty would have spoken up with more resolve.

Is it indeed ironic that several of the respondees live in California and Illinois - the states with the LOWEST bond ratings. Since we know that the Tea Party is mostly a Southern phenomenon they must find someone else to blame.

Keep in mind - on this weekend where the former governor of New York state who had to bail out NYC several decades ago has passed - that the affairs of states are correlated by still distinct from the federal condition.

It is when the states get over-dependent on "magic money" created by the Fed that credit rating agencies start to see that the aggregate economy has lost its credibility as there is not enough productivity.

If the Tea Party which is a small Minority movement then Mr DeVega should be calling them SUPERIOR as they were able to bring the ruling progressive machine to yield toward spending cuts that it did not otherwise want to make.

Maybe Detroit, Chicago and Newark needs a 'Tea Party' opposition force as a necessary counterbalance?

Funny how the "Tea Party" is called "Terrorists" but one had better not call the "Street Pirate Gangs" who are actually KILLING BLACK PEOPLE "terrorists" for they would be called racists - just like the Tea Party is called.

The Tea Party is a threat to PROGRESSIVE-FUNDAMENTALISM - not to Black People. Blacks have fused PROGRESSIVISM with our Community Development Consciousness. Some are unwilling to see the mistake.

Anonymous said...

"The Tea Party GOP and its highwayman want to destroy President Obama because he is a Democrat. But, they despise him because he is Black."

The only racism present is in the comment I am quoting, which brings Obama's skin color into discussion where it is not relevant.

The Tea Party GOP would be just the same if it had been a President Hillary Clinton or President Jon Edwards in the White House.

Save your accusations of racism for where racism actually occurs, and stop trying to shield someone from non-racial criticism due to their skin color.

To paraphrase Cornell West, but in a more profound manner: "Race matters... only to racists".

Anonymous said...

"They not only pretended to support Clarence Thomas, but they pretended to support is nomination,"

Actually, the racism of the Left is shown in the instance of Clarence Thomas. Ever since he was nominated, and up until today, Leftists commonly use racist insults against him.

nomad said...

@Anonymous bigot.
You are wrong. There is a whole lot of racism going on here. Obama is just not fighting it effectively and he is doing so on purpose to advance his hidden agenda. I think CD is right to call out racism. But he also needs to recognize the game Obama is playing.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]. I think CD is right to call out racism. [/quote]


In the year of our Lord 2011 - the word RACISM/RACIST attached to an incident or individual has less probability of describing:

1) A Black man who has been lynched or murdered as a means of "sending a message to other Blacks to stay in their own place"

2) A Black female who has been raped as White male supremacy is projected upon Blacks though his sexual prowess

3) A group of Black students denied access to a quality educational institution because White supremacists realize the power of an educated Black and thus block the group

Instead, Nomad - as plainly seen by my dearest friend Chauncey DeVega and the congregation - RACISM in 2011 is more likely to define a POLITICAL/IDEOLOGICAL indictment by which a Black Progressive and his "White Progressive Cheshire Fox" cohort are seen making political mischief by FEIGNING OFFENSE.

Let me ask you Nomad - was there much stink shown when this video was capture by one of Mr DeVega's friends (Brother X?) friends said the following?

Zulu Shabazz calls Obama a Ninja

Please explain the SUPERIOR offense of Pat Buchanan over Shabazz?

nomad said...

You tell me, Feedback. Seem like you got all the answers.

Jeffrey B. Perry said...

Theodore W. Allen originated the “white skin privilege” concept in 1965, co-authored White Blindspot in 1967, and wrote “Can White Workers Radicals Be Radicalized?” (1969), the ground-breaking Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race (1975), the seminal two-volume The Invention of the White Race (1994, 1997), and many other pieces against white supremacy and “white race” privilege.
Allen, an ardent opponent of racial oppression and class exploitation, maintained that struggle against white supremacy was central to effort for “democracy, progress, and socialism.” He emphasized that the system of white race privileges was central to how the ruling class maintained social control in the U.S. and to the very invention of the “white race” itself.
Allen emphasized that for European-American workers the “white race” privileges are not “benefits,” but that they are “poison,” “ruinous,” a baited hook, to the class interests of working people. He urged ongoing struggle against white supremacy and white privilege as being in the class interest of working people.
Allen also stressed, however, that ruling class interests, desirous of both making profit and maintaining social control, would seek to reinforce white race privileges and white supremacist appeals in periods of developing crisis, such as we are witnessing today.
For more on this general topic readers may be interested in my lengthy article Jeffrey B. Perry, “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen On the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” (forthcoming later this month online at the Cultural Logic website).
For more on Theodore W. Allen see .

Plane Ideas said...

Jefferey respectfully 'white skin privledge' existed long before Allen authored his scholarship

Jeffrey B. Perry said...

Hi Thrasher,
Equally respectfully.
I did not say that Allen originated race privileges for "whites" (those privileges existed long before Allen wrote).
I did say he originated the "white skin privilege" concept. When I searched previously I did not see that phrase being used, particularly as he used it, before 1965.
Actually Allen's major works on "The Invention of the White Race" provides valuable historical research and analysis on how race privileges conferred by the ruling class were central to "the invention of the white race."
Perhaps "Theodore W. Allen pioneered the 'white skin privilege' analysis in 1965" would have read better to you.
As to a larger point, Allen's class-based analysis, emphasizing that race privileges are "ruinous" to working class interests precedes the analyses of Roediger and McIntosh by many years. Allen's analysis offers important reasons for "white" workers and others to oppose white supremacy and "white race" privileges.
Again, I refer you, and other readers, to

AlterEgo said...

Dave: If "I never thought I'd live under a colored man as president" is a racist comment, why is it that millions of blacks said the exact same words, and you have no problem with this?

Plane Ideas said...

Jeffery..Your search no doubt involved the usual sources of scholarship and publications.. Fact is in many other venues including Black churches and Black political groups from brain storming discussions and publications both on and off the grid the actual verbiage and discussion of "white skin privledge is a very dated, old news and a rather obsolete constuct in our venues..

I don't doubt Allen's body of work has currency and value but for me and my cohorts been there already and more importantly our emperical and real life experiences clearly are more valuable and impactful...Of course I see no problem with augmenting my library as I often do along the trail..

Jeffrey B. Perry said...

Hi Thrasher,

Your comments are much appreciated.

I have no doubt that you and your cohorts have been there and I suspect that you have probably been involved in much struggle in these areas. I also think that those real life experiences are so important and I thank you for sharing them.

To briefly share with you some of my research on “white skin privilege” (and I note that searches are made easier today than when I started because of databases that are now available -- particularly through the larger libraries). –

I checked Proquest Historical Newspapers, African American Historical Newspapers (some 270 papers), the Black Studies Center (pulls together research in many different areas), a stand-alone database for the Baltimore Afro-American, etc.

The earliest appearance in these printed forms that I found of “white-skin privilege” was beginning in 1969 in the “New York Times” and in1974 in the “Pittsburgh Courier.”

Your point, however, about the importance and insightfulness of those “discussions and publications both on and off the grid” within the Black community is very well taken and, I think, important to emphasize.

Along those lines, I offer two brief supporting anecdotes.

1. When Allen uses the term “white skin privilege” in 1965 it was in a call to a John Brown Pilgrimage that discussed and drew from the work of the Niagara Movement, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown.

2. When Allen published his 1975 pamphlet on “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race” he wrote in the very important note 63 the following –

“Of all the historians of the ‘social’ school whose work I have read, only the black historian Lerone Bennett, Jr., in his article, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ ‘Ebony,’ vol. 25 (1970), no. 10 (August), pp. 70-77, and in Chap. III of his new book ‘The Shaping of Black America’ (Chicago, 1975), succeeds in placing the argument on the three essential bearing-points from which it cannot be toppled. First, racial slavery and white supremacy in this country was a ruling-class response to a problem of labor solidarity. Second, a system of racial privileges for white workers was deliberately instituted in order to define and establish the "white race" as a social control formation. Third, the consequence was not only ruinous to the interests of the Afro-American workers but was also "disastrous" (Bennett's word) for the white worker. Others (such as the Handlins, Morgan and Breen) state the first two points to some degree, but only Bennett combines all three.
Although I learned of Bennett's essay only in April 1975, the same three essentials have informed my own approach in a book I have for several years been engaged in writing (and of which this present article is a spin-off), on the origin of racial slavery, white supremacy and the system of racial privileges of white labor in this country.”

For anyone interested in that Allen pamphlet it is available for free online.


Thanks again, so very much, for your important points.