Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dead Breitbart Uses the Late Derrick Bell to Smear the Living President Obama

The conspiranoid thinking of the Tea Party GOP with its Birtherism, Obama derangement syndrome, and other assorted pathologies, is the rank afterbirth of conservatism during the moment that is late capitalism. This madness leads to a propensity to believe in the absurd. For example, the Tea Party GOP Right-wing media's most recent effort to slander President Barack Obama.

Breitbart, a Right-wing bomb throwing demagogue and bully who dropped dead because of rage (and likely because of an addiction to pills and cocaine), is reaching from beyond the grave to smear President Obama by virtue of his association with the late, great, Dr. Derrick Bell. In this latest machination, Breitbart's supplicants are using a two decades old videotape of Obama at Harvard to further their meme that the (now) President of the United States hates white people. This story only has traction on Fox News and in the Right-wing mediasphere--what is more proof of their alternate reality, a sociopolitical life lived in a state of epistemic closure; yet, a reality which is self-sustaining and real for its members.

If you try to confront madness with reason you will only become frustrated and crazy. I am willing to take that risk. My commitment is that deep.

For the faux populist Right, and folks such as Rick Santorum and his allies, "higher education" is a refuge of the commies, homos, queers, drug users, elitists, coloreds, hippies, secularists, liberals, and their assorted ilk. Consequently, how can any patriotic God fearing American not oppose such a wicked cabal?

I smile at this hostility because it grossly exaggerates the power that academics and others have to influence their students, and society as a whole. After watching Fox News or reading World Net Daily, I am made to feel like a member of The Legion of Doom, as opposed to a struggling lecturer. My power is presented as being outsized; rather than that of he who only has power over office supplies, notepads, pins, and yellow Post-It notes. I wish that critical and engaged scholars could change the lives of students in mass. Sadly, that the reach is far shorter than what most imagine it to be.

At this juncture, I am left wondering is the hostility of conservatives to those who teach for a living a function of a base, centuries old, anti-intellectualism? Some type of misplaced class snobbery? Do they hate Obama primary because he is black? Or could it be that many conservatives hate President Obama because he is an educated black man? And this fact terrifies them? Are the Culture Wars just a carry over from a group of people who lost the Enlightenment and now want to burn witches and kill heretics in the year 2012?

I offer the following hypothesis. Approximately 30 million or so Americans are functionally illiterate. This includes those who cannot read, those who cannot fully comprehend the meaning of a sentence, and those who cannot read well enough to complete a job application. When coupled with the Right's assault on public education, the outcome is clear: an uneducated, ill-equipped, and unsophisticated public, one whose ignorance is cultivated, is primed for conservatism and a politics of class and racial resentment.

This same public will consistently work against its own class interests in service of advancing a culture war, "values," narrative. They are moved by emotion, and the Manichean politics of the New Right and the Tea Party crowd, precisely because populist conservatism deemphasizes reasoned decision-making and instead emphasizes emotion, religion, and crude identity politics.

I would also suggest that the conservative public hears the names of these "scary" college types, but they do not have the capacity to even understand (beyond the most superficial meanings) the arguments presented by said authors.

Ironically, Breitbart, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the assorted Right wing propagandists, while skilled in offering up a type of political rhetoric for those who "want to feel smart," actually encourage glibness and stupidity. Even more funny and unexpected, the very figures they attack are some of the best thinkers which America has to offer. In all, the enemies list of the New Right is the foundation of a solid syllabus for any person who wants to think critically, and in doing so, to ask difficult questions about power, institutions, and politics. Ultimately, (and excluding the dead Austrian economist that Glenn Beck masturbates over) New Right, anti-Obama conservatives, are putting on blast some of those very people whose theories have the capacity to undo their agenda.

Since Barack Obama's ascendance, the Tea Party GOP has engaged in witch hunts against scholars such as Saul Alinsky, Frances Fox Piven, Richard Cloward, and James Cone. The newest targets are Derrick Bell, Charles Ogletree, and Noel Ignatiev. Any of these thinkers' works could form the basis of a great reading list on issues related to race, class, labor, gender, religion, and wealth inequality: I suspect the irony is lost to those on the populist Right.

In keeping with this theme, who do you think should be added to the troglodyte Right's list of verboten thought?

I would add Robin Kelley, Judith Butler, Michelle Alexander, James Loewen, Patricia Hill Collins, and Henry Giroux. What scholars would you add to the enemies list, those folks who could cause the Fox News crowd to stroke out?


Shady_Grady said...

It's because Obama's Black. And because, although I disagree with him on much, he's intelligent.

It's not anything more than that.
So one intelligent Black man introducing another even more intelligent Black man is simply too much for a racist non college grad's mind to process.

How can these people be successful when they're black? There MUST be a conspiracy.

Yeah, that's the ticket!!!

Plantsmantx said...

I think they hate him because he's black and not perceived by them to be dedicated to maintaining and advancing white privilege. In their minds...well, no- in their rhetoric, anyone who fits that description is a racist.

sal baje said...

your list already includes many scholars that i admire. here are a few more that would likely give the fox-news crowd aneurysms:

paolo freire
franz fanon
bell hooks
kimberle crenshaw
martha nussbaum
edward abbey
alberto memmi

Anonymous said...


Any Liberal Arts professor will upset them. Newt Gingrich as a grad student will hurt. You'd think he was a friend of Angela Davis back then.

chaunceydevega said...

@Shady. You didn't know that there is a global conspiracy to oppress white men and raise up unqualified coloreds?

Where you been hiding?

@Plants. Isn't that the funny thing-Obama is a centrist who is doing little to upset white privilege. Yet, they are terrified.

@Sal. Trust me. They are getting there. They just discovered Noel Ignatiev via Bell. The others will come soon. Go to their websites and see the frothing madness they worked themselves up into.

@Anon. You said the evil word! "Liberal" is never to be spoken! They are commies!

Anonymous said...

Omg. Typical liberal name calling and insults when they can't think of sonething better. Shame on all of you. Did you listen to the evidence? It's pretty clear that the racists here are Bell and Obama. Any white person who would say anything remotely like this would be lynched. If you don't like racism, don't vote for Obama. His very own comments are pretty straightforward. It's laughable to think that he may have "changed".

Anonymous said...

OMG, it's cute how you think we are obligated to like you.

Anonymous said...

At this point, *I'm* going to start hating white people.

(a different anonymous)

Dan B. said...

Oh my the comments here are marvelous!

Lets use our heads here for a second to remember every single presidential election we remember. Every President we have ever elected has been the worst President ever in the eyes of his opposition! Happens every 4 years! If the Obama administration would have been the exception to this rule would it not be in fact racist? If not for the white vote he would have never been elected. I am a "racist" and I voted for him! I also don't believe he is doing a bad job! Put that in your pipes an smoke it! There are a million mush minds in our country that really believe everything is race related. Millions more who get their marching orders from Fox news. Try not to be either.

Adam GH said...

Hmmm. Will this tape mongering work to isolate the right from moderates and independents in the 2012 election?
I like the tag line too; "The college years". See Obama went to college, "What an elitist".

Anonymous said...

I have much love and respect for Professor Bell for a number of personal reasons.

What is also revealing about the critics of Professor Bell is that many of them are white jewish pundits and intellectuals.

This attack by white jewish intellectuals against Black scholars and Black activists is not new of course but it is also present in appears whenever Black icons emerge on the public stage and in the public square.

What troubles me is that Black pundits always gives these bigots a pass. Why? How come nobody Black is objecting to Pollack's smear?

nomad said...

Given Bell's disdain of accomodationist black conservatives

-this is what he said of Clarence Thomas
“To place a person who looks black and who, in conservative terms, thinks white, is an insult.”-

he's probably smiling from the afterlife, pleased that he could be of service in smearing the presidential corporate sellout.

Plantsmantx said...

There are a million mush minds in our country that really believe everything is race related. Millions more who get their marching orders from Fox news. Try not to be either.


Anonymous said...

As one of (then) governor Reagan's advisors said of 1960s California "We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That's dynamite! We have to be selective on who we allow to go through higher education." We need to understand the (now decades old) attacks on state funding for colleges and education in general as the material base for this crusade against critical thought.