Friday, September 2, 2011

Jim Crow Dreaming: Rush Limbaugh Revels in the Joy of the Tea Party GOP Putting Barack Obama "in His Place"

More Jim Crow dreaming. Oh for the good old days when the blacks knew their place.

First, I want to thank Washington Monthly and The Week for giving my pieces on Andre Carson's lynching quip and my interview with Whiteness some love. Much appreciated.

Language is power. It has context. It gives meaning. Language also quite literally speaks for our collective political subconscious. Limbaugh's demand that Obama be "put in his place" (and the fun graphic on his website in which the President is shown being submissive to the GOP) is right out of the Jim Crow imagination.

[If you want to amuse yourself just google "Obama needs to be put in place" and see what appears.]

As I mentioned on the Ed Schultz radio show on Monday, the Tea Party GOP's mining of racial resentment and a sense that America is first and foremost a white man's country is nothing new. In fact, during the 2008 campaign McCain-Palin ran an attack ad which demanded that Barack Obama learn to "respect" Sarah Palin, an ad that for my money was worse than the either the Willie Horton or Jesse Helm's Black Hands/White hands campaign commercials.

Given the context of racialized violence, Jim Crow, and lynchings in this country, any ad demanding that a black man respect a white woman is a none too veiled threat that hit all of the right notes for the Tea Party GOP base. It is just ugly. And funny, the ad was aired without comment or protest.

As you know, I love addressing first priors. So I must engage Limbaugh's question: What exactly is the place of President Barack Obama? Where should he be situated relative to the Tea Party GOP and John Boehner?

As President, I would suggest that Obama's place is to lead, and the role of his office surpasses the petty dictates of John Boehner, any other any individual politician, or political party. But then again, I am one of the old school types who believes in normal politics, and not the politics of extortion and hostage taking that has become the modus operandi for a faction of political thugs and bullies known as the Tea Party GOP.

Speaking of going old school. In thinking about this week's meme of "respect" and how the Tea Party GOP and the White Conservative Jim Crow Soul feel entitled to it by birthright, while America's first black President is constantly belittled, and in turn acts as though he is actually comfortable "getting off of the sidewalk and letting white folks pass," I was reminded of the work done by Dr. Frances Cress-Welsing.

She was exalted during the heyday of 1980s and 1990s Afrocentrism, but has since had her work met with controversy. Regardless of how Welsing's thesis on race and identity has held up in post-racial America, her observations about how racism is a function of the insecurities of Whiteness, and a need to maintain group superiority, seemed spot on given the pathologically obstructionist behavior of populist Conservatives in the Age of Obama.

From the vault:


Chris Sharp said...

Sickening to see but I guess old Rush is entitled to a little celebration given the breathtaking way in which the GOP and its Tea Party overseers have emasculated someone who is supposed to be the most powerful man on earth. Definitely an ejaculatory moment for the Tea Baggers and at the rate they are going they are going to wear out their right hands before Mr. Obama's term is over.

Today, he withdrew some badly needed EPA smog regulations after the GOP and big business decided it would be more proftable to kill people with their toxic emissions than clean up their act. Of course, these were the same regulations he repeatedly promised to enact during his campaign and as recently as a few months ago. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is going to suffer most from more smog in our urban areas.

Oh, and Republican Congressman Joe Walsh declared today that he would not be attending the "idiotic" President's speech to Congress on September 7, oops I mean September 8. Now that a precedent has been set, I suspect this may be the forst speech to a "joint" session of Congresss where half the Congress decides not to show up. What will Mr. Obama do then?

At the rate we are going with all of these compromises, the Republicans won't even need to elect one of their own in 2012 to declare complete victory. Maybe the President can just switch parties and give up the compromising act, but at this point, even that would not appease the Tea Party.

Definitely a sad day to be a Progressive American and I can only imagine how angry some of those in the black community must be at the pattern of outright betrayal by the first black President.

I'll bet my next paycheck that his jobs program won't even make it out of the House until he adds anther tax cut for the rich, which he'll be more than happy to do. Mr. Obama is starting to remind me of the black kids in my high school who thought they would fit in better if they only acted more white.

Where does all of this end, other than with the election of Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann in 2012? Thaks God I have my two houses in Belize, it looks like I will be retiring there sooner than I thought. At least they have a black Prime Minister who has a set of balls and demands respect from the opposition, corrupt as he may be.

kcourtsclayton said...

As a white woman, I guess one of the "wages of whiteness" is that sometimes we presume to tell black Americans how they must feel. Chris understands that the black community must feel so betrayed by POTUS. I am not so sure.
Firstly, the black community is plural, containing individuals with different stories and varied needs. One person's betrayal is another person's answer.
You know I am a forrest-not-tree kind of girl. I like to see the big picture without being pulled down by sideshows. In that context, I see President Obama in the pantheon of heroes of our history. He will be remembered by every generation because he made freedom and truth available for more people to experience. He has also drawn out the racism that simmered below society's surface. The cruelty and racism that greets his every action/ inaction and his every word/ silence was borne of that racism. On the right it is a public, proud hatred of his race and there is a consistent effort by all to label the POTUS as "other." On the left, the racism is subtle. This paternalistic attitude demands service from Pres. Obama. Sometimes it is in the form of policy and other times it is in the form of reaction (Get angry! Don't be arrogant!) It is astounding that for a man who has few intellectual or political equals in modern history; constant advice/ instructions/ explanations are loudly and slowly stated like he is a kindergartener or
Today, almost 50 years after Civil Rigand wand with the first African American President currently in office, the patience and endurance of black Americans is still being underestimated. Maybe when your racial community has waited and fought and buried your heroes and waited some more to get to where you are today--to even have the possibility of being where you are today--you are able to appreciate more and better the advance of your people that is personified in Barack Obama. Maybe you will grant him the benefit of all doubt because only your race can truly appreciate all he is doing in the face of hate and discrimination and invalidation and othering.

The vitriol that spews unabated from the right reminds me of MLK's description of Bull Connor once he realized that integration was inevitable in 1963. That is when Connor unleashed the attack dogs and fire hoses on peaceful demonstrators. His desperation manifested through the final burst of legalized violence against black citizens.
This has been directed at the President since he took office and his indifference to the bigotry and the dog-whistles has made the racists become more vile and more transparent. Rush Limbaugh is desperate because he cannot preach about hatred if Obama is talking about compassion and understanding. We are close to the day when the lies and distortions of the GOP and their media outlets are not accepted by the voters. We have almost reached the point when the Republicans will no longer be able to campaign on white supremacy and will be to required to present their party priorities. President Obama is enduring now but it is setting up a more fair democracy for future generations.

Chris Sharp said...

It's interesting to see how this story is taking off like wildfire in the media and on the Internet. Even some of the othererwise consevative commentators are recognizing the obvious racial angle.

I should have included this in my first post but after checking out all of the links in CD's article, I may have found the perfect words to express how incredibly frustrated I feel right now and where the Progressive community should go from here. This is from thecahokian blogspot:

"We can do so much better. Pretending that what is happening is not actually happening will do us no good. America needs to have this confrontation: Obama's attempt to keep his hands clean seems to me aiming very very low. The Democratic and Republican parties need to be split asunder. Let the racists organize their party openly. Let the corporatists from both parties unite and try to take it all back. And let the vast majority of working people discover their own strength and power. Let the racism and the anti-gay bigotry and the thievery of the rich be openly condemned, and then let it be smashed.....Not papered over. Smashed."

As a lifelong fan of Mr. Marx, I say it's time for the workers of the U.S. to unite and smash the status quo, with or without the support of our President.

Henri B. said...

This was the straw that broke it for me. I don't anticipate that this is some shrewd plan that will end with an amazing show of nuts and his doing the Bin Laden Stroll to the WH podium with Ann Coulter's adam's apple in his hands. I had a moment today where I just screamed in my head I'm not voting for him next election! This was immediately followed by panic because who the hell else is there?

I'm not saying this here because I want a cookie or somebody to give a damn; it's more out of shivering impotent anger at this bs two party system. When I find myself repeatedly saying, "Why doesn't he act more like Bush and do what the hell he wants to do?!" it's time to reboot.

nomad said...

Thanks for the Cress-Welsing video. That analogy about begging the white side to allow black to win at chess is the perfect analogy of Obama's approach. This is why I am so disappointed with Obama. It's insane, unless you are deliberately trying to lose. White is never going to let black win. It's a crime to have the power to affect change, as Obama does, and not use it.

Big Mark 243 said...

When did ol' Frances fall into disrepute..? At least not in these precincts...

...I had hoped that President Obama would be transformative... but it doesn't seem to be up to the task or either he underestimated the strength of racism... maybe he believed his 'magic negro' powers would bring people together and we'd all be singing 'kumbaya' together...

nomad said...

"I can only imagine how angry some of those in the black community must be at the pattern of outright betrayal by the first black President."

Yeah, except that it will be followed by a pattern of being dutifully excused and explained away by his black supporters.

chaunceydevega said...

@Big Mark. Her "science" on melanin and energy and the like was also laughable. Her arguments on the psychology of white supremacy made more sense. Here is just one example:

@Nomad. he is a bound man and chronic compromiser by upbringing and personality. There is another element as well that I want to explore after the holiday at some point.

@Chris. Thanks for the thorough comments. Your read is always welcome.

@Tanya. Got to calm down, there is going to be even more mess in the months to come. Don't blow up just yet.

fred c said...

I get the White-Victimization-Meltdown thing, I do, but I'm starting to think that this thing is bigger than both of us. I see a lot more international cable TV than most people, Al Jazeera, CCTV, Channel News Asia, and I must say that India and China and Singapore and others have just so much wind in their sails these days that anyone would be forgiven to think that America wasn't such a big cheese anymore. Does this filter down to the White American man-in-the-street? Is it chipping away at their sense of White privilege? Lots of angles here.

nomad said...

I'm not sure I get the White-Victimization-Meltdown thing. But if it means what I think it means, I don't buy it. Obama is not a victim, nor is he bound (not in the way Chauncey suggests). It is indeed something bigger. The only victims here is us, black and white citizens alike. I think Tanya is right. And I think this is not just another political season. This is a watershed moment. The change to political system will likely be dramatic.

nomad said...

..except that, Tanya, Obama *is* doing exactly what he wants to do.

Constructive Feedback said...

Brother DeVega:


Do you mind if I tell you about a pattern that I have noticed among Black Progressive-Fundamentalists?

This will require that I build a model first. A model of our Permanent Interests and the methodology of how these are obtained.

I) Permanent Interests- Economic Prosperity For The Black Community

II) Methodology For Expression Of This Interest: A Good Paying Job For More Than 93% of Blacks who seek jobs. (ie: a Black Unemployment rate at or below 7% - Just like Clinton did)

III) Methodology to OBTAIN This Interest: American Politics - Adopting Progressive Policies to achieve "Social Justice"

IV) The Distribution.....: Getting Black Progressives Represented Into Public Policy and Corporate Positions

V) The Vehicle - Voting for the Democrats and promoting Black and Progressive Joint-venture partners into POWER to fight against Conservatives

Please read and understand this model. I have it in diagrammatic form but you should understand what I am saying by the text.

Now we have the latest DISRESPECT OF THE BLACK PRESIDENT. He wanted one time and the (racist) Republicans asked him to change to the next day. Then the NFL balked at the preemption of their multi-million dollar broadcast and Obama moved it a few hours before kickoff.

Here is my problem with you Mr DeVega. The issue is about JOBS FOR BLACK PEOPLE. After 2.5 years of Obama AND after 50 YEARS of Progressive Domination of the Black Community's economic development institutions - YOU are making an argument about DISRESPECT FOR OBAMA.

How do you justify your stance in the context of JOBS FOR BLACK PEOPLE?

The very MACHINE that received our INVESTMENTS with the notion that this would translate into PROSPERITY for our people is not ON TRIAL by you. Instead the IDEOLOGICAL ENEMY who is "disrespecting" the cherry on top of the MACHINE that you have erected is the subject of your latest INDICTMENT.

I am forced to ask you Mr DeVega:
Do you have any respect for the INSTITUTIONS IN BLACK AMERICA?

The INVESTMENTS that we have made need INVESTMENT ADVISERS who WORK IN OUR INTERESTS - ensuring the maximum returns.

I can't say at this point that you are playing the role of OUR DEFENDERS.

For you a perceived racial slight against OBAMA is worse than the SLIGHT of decades of BLACK INVESTMENTS of our BALLOTS and our DEVELOPMENT HOPES - only to have it pushed aside for a post on Boehnner.

How do you explain yourself?

chaunceydevega said...

@Fred. You are our foreign correspondent. If I were to pick a country to move to, which should it be?

@Nomad. You are winning me over slightly. Here is my problem with your theory though. Why would he go so far, do so much to become President, to work for the other side's agenda. That doesn't make sense. Not an iota.

I find it more persuasive that he is just not winning and is not constructing a proper narrative about his successes to point and this is important--that he just can't comprehend white racism of the type he is facing because of his upbringing and naive faith in white folks as a group--than that there is a bigger game afoot and he is a patsy.

Obama has miplayed his hand and failed to come out strong from day one. He let white move first using the chess analogy and now can't understand why he is getting "p"owned.

nomad said...

Chuckle! You obviously don't play chess. White always moves first. The game is rigged from the start. Probably invented by the white man. To play with our minds! Fortunately, though white always moves first, somehow black is equally likely to win.

There is a bigger game afoot than the racial discrimination issue.

"Why would he go so far, do so much to become President, to work for the other side's agenda. That doesn't make sense."

It makes sense if he is a Trojan Horse whose mission it is to destroy the enemy from the inside.

"when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, HOWEVER IMPROBABLE, must be the truth"

He is the Manchurian Democrat.