Sunday, April 27, 2014

Open Thread. Never Forget the Wisdom of Muhammad Ali, Master Showman: 'We Got to Pump This Fight Up and We're Gonna Make It Look Like a Racial Thing'

We did not have an open thread last Friday because of the fun distraction offered up by Cliven Bundy and his retinue of black conservative political blackface pole dancers. Even Bundy's own daughter (so he or she claims to be) chimed in on our conversation.

Low-hanging fruit is easy to eat. However, that same low-hanging fruit may not be very good for you as it is deficient in essential nutrients.

Muhammad Ali is one of my personal heroes. He was a master showman and provocateur who learned much of his craft as an entertainer from watching professional wrestling.

The above clip from ESPN's great 30 for 30 episode on Chuck Wepner featured Ali's "fight" with him on the Mike Douglas show.

[Wepner seems like real folks--his protest that "I have lots of black friends" is priceless. Wepner's story about his trainer putting the "maloik" on Ali is also laugh at loud funny.] 

As we start the week, it is important to remember that Cliven Bundy's racist mouth-bloviating is a distraction from other more important matters. We should learn from Ali's effort to provoke Wepner: so many of the public discussions about "racism" in the Age of Obama are faux moral panics, smoke and noise which reveal nothing substantive about systems of Power.

Bundy is an ignorant man. Cliven Bundy's racism is a function of his ignorance.

The foundational question "but what is he an example of?" should be the entry point for locating his seditious hypocritical government tit-sucking armed resistance to the federal government within a larger system of white supremacy and white privilege.

Likewise, lots of people--including Barack Obama--are wasting their time talking about the racist comments made by Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Why is it at all surprising that a rich white man has no use for his black underlings? More generally, why would anyone expect the owner of a multi billion dollar company to respect his or her employees?

Money does not translate into moral authority or virtue. As I have said before, African-American men have a near pathological obsession with basketball. Anything that dissuades them from that sickness, and reorients them to more productive activities, is a net positive in my book.

Just as the other NBA players stood mute about George Zimmerman's acquittal for murdering Trayvon Martin, Sterling's own players will not protest for fear of rocking the boat. 

[I stand corrected. I am very pleased that I was wrong: the Los Angeles Clippers turned their t-shirts inside out during warm ups and during the game wore black socks, wristbands, and armbands. In a perfect world they would have refused to play; we live in the world as it is, thus, I offer the players a halfhearted salute.]

The public will not boycott the Clippers because cheering for a team and being "entertained" is more important than taking a principled position that they will not give a racist such as Donald Sterling their money. Lions such as John Carlos and Tommie Smith, men who understood the powerful symbolic relationship between sports and politics, have been replaced by cowering lambs.

What are some important and substantive news items from last week that you would like to share? What news developments are you anticipating or thinking about this week?


Michael Varian Daly said...

Courtney H. said...


Here's an article about the story that is not getting a lot of publicity because of the race and gender of the people being victimized:

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Concerned about posturing around Russia/Ukraine:

South Sudan and Central African Republic have been making news with their domestic conflicts:

South Sudan:


Myshkin the Idiot said...

White conservatives are fleeing Bundy, black conservatives are flocking to him.

DanF said...

It's kinda, sorta too late to boycott the Clippers for Round 1. The tickets have been purchased and Sterling has banked his money. So, I can see fans wanting to support the players - but avoid the $8 beers at the concessions. Don't watch the game on TV to drive the ad revenue down for subsequent games. If they make it to Round 2, don't buy the tickets.

I'll be quite shocked if Sterling is able to hang-on a la Marge Schott. The NBA is a marketing machine, and he is toxic to the product.

joe manning said...

Mississippi's only abortion clinic faces closure pending the decision of the US 5th Circuit of Appeals Court which hears arguments today in a dispute over a newly enacted state law which requires abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges. The same strategy has been implemented in Texas and Alabama and is designed to to gut Roe by abusing the regulatory authority of states. The law amounts to a de facto ban on abortion thereby denying women their constitutional right to legal and safe abortion.

doug r said...

For Bundy, racism is not a bug, it's a feature:

joe manning said...

Donald Sterling's "girlfriend" is Vanessa Stiviano, a human being with rights and feelings. Most of the media coverage has shown gross insensitivity to her being brow beaten by Sterling and called "stupid." All the outrage has been about Sterling's racism with no mention of his patent display of male chauvinism. It shouldn't go unnoticed that women of color are routinely subjected to the double whammy of racism and misogyny.

OldPolarBear said...

There is this rather dispiriting piece that Digby put up about how we have more private security guards than we do high school teachers. And that doesn't count police, military, etc., just security guards. There is a graph and she mentions the "full article," but I don't think she put the link in there.

Bruce Miller said...

I've been thinking about the Schuette decision and how the Roberts Court is getting closer to achieving the Scalia-Thomas program making the 14th Amendment into its opposite: a ban on legislation or administrative actions designed to enforce equal protection of the laws and civil rights. Dahlia Lithwick comments on how the Court is trying to make it impossible to talk about real existing white racism in the legal context: This one at the Balkinization legal blog discusses issues relating to the kind of abstract formalism the Court is using to invalidate anti-discrimination laws:

wisconsinreader70 said...

72 year old white male Liberal. . . I simply think it is too much heat to put on black professional athletes expecting them to "speak out" stridently about issues like Don Sterling. . . Yes, it is far easier today than it was 20 or more years ago. . . And LeBron James - and even my favorite, Michael Jordan - have voiced their concerns (as have many others) - note Magic Johnson has "offered" to buy the Clippers funded by his Dodger owners partners - at full retail plus of course. . . Why should black athletes (NBA union member employees at that) be responsible for driving outrage - and most importantly - punishments. . . The owners of NBA teams are all essentially billionaires - all of them white save MJ - why shouldn't they - individually and collectively - run this guy out? . . . This is just the latest outrage from Sterling - no shocks or surprises are forthcoming. . . The shock will be if the elite owners of the NBA do something to their fellow elite billionaire. . .

chauncey devega said...

Ali learned alot from Freddie Blassie too. Be careful w. the term "cultural appropriation". Professional wrestling is American popular culture not "white" popular culture. And those of us who by heritage, birth, skin color, etc, are having their culture stolen, borrowed from, "reinvented", etc. etc. do have every right to get "torqued" about that practice.

White Americans have been stealing black culture for centuries and then doing so without acknowledgement, payment, or thanks to the originators. There is a great book called The Black Culture industry that looks at the racial economy of "race records"--the blues, early rock and roll--that you may find of use.

chauncey devega said...

I hear you. But I also can't help but believe and hold onto the principle that those players should have boycotted the game. What is the price of one's self-respect? Millions in their cases.

SabrinaBee said...

So am I. What's happening is Africa is daunting, most likely by design. Where does the truth come from? You have several oppressor countries playing these African states off each other, by any means necessary. And religion is the most useful of those means.

I've taken an interest in Ukraine because I think it illustrates just how people, in other countries are being manipulated into killing each other. And it is happening all over the globe. Both sides in Ukraine just happened to have access to media, and we are able to see it play out as it happens. And it is disturbing.

Imagine the people in Africa, and what is being done to them, who is manipulating them, and them having no means to make it public. Anything that is coming out of there now, is being interpreted by people that have ulterior motives in that resource rich country. It has been that way since the Berlin conference. And those people have never left there. In fact they added onto to the free for all.

SabrinaBee said...

It appears they have some solidarity. Sponsors are pulling ads and. The Heat is showing support. Maybe that will be the impetus for them to take a stronger stance. I really did not know this owner has had a long history of this type of behavior. I think in an ideal world, they might have gone on strike. In this world, striking is likely to get them unemployed and watching a whole new team getting their salaries. Unemployment hits male minorities the hardest. And I don't imagine there is any dearth of players willing to, (what is the way now?) "individualize" themselves, for a buck.