Monday, July 14, 2014

Why is Eric Holder Finally Telling the Truth About the Republican Party's Racist Opposition to Barack Obama?

I hope that you all had a nice and restful weekend. Here in Chicago, we alternated between torrential rains and thunderstorms and wonderful, unseasonably mild weather. The Taste of Chicago, one of the country's largest food festivals, also took place. The additional traffic and tourists are annoying. But, I do like watching folks marvel at a city which I often take for granted.

If I was a professional wrestler, my bio would read "from Connecticut by way of Chicago". "Parts unknown" always makes for an intriguing origin story--rest in peace Ultimate Warrior.

I would like to begin the week with a question. In a recent interview with ABC, Attorney General Eric Holder told the truth about the role played by white racial resentment and racism in the White Right's opposition to Barack Obama where he said how:

“There's a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that's directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. … There's a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there's a racial animus."
The readers' comments in response to Holder's statement are boilerplate "colorblind" conservative racism: they follow the tired, but still very revealing script, where white racists use racist logic and speech to deny that they are in fact racists.

Movement conservatism is a white supremacist ideology. Its adherents and advocates are unable to reason outside of that framework; white supremacy is their normal and foundational assumption about the nature of empirical reality. Moreover, white conservatives become extremely agitated and rageful when the role of white supremacy as a unifying ideology for their political belief system is exposed.

Religious fundamentalists act the same way when the concept of God is challenged as a childish myth and fantasy. Contemporary conservatism is a cult where white supremacy is one of the godheads. Both rage at their heretics and those others who are non-believers.

This is not the first time that Holder has stated some plain and obvious facts about how the election of a black man to the office of the President of the United States of America has caused a racist fever state among Republicans and Tea Party zealots.

Eric Holder is a "race man" who is more willing to tell the direct and raw truth relative to Obama's more restrained, "politically correct" and (too my eyes) pragmatic and tolerant (in the worst way) political personality. Holder was not elected; Obama has had to navigate the pressures of reelection. Those dynamics have guided how and to what degree both are willing to talk about white supremacy and white racism as the raison d'etre of conservatism in the post civil rights era.

On this point, Politico's very revealing and sharp examination of Holder's tenure as Attorney General suggested that:
But there’s another explanation, and according to the two dozen current and former Obama administration officials and confidants of both men I’ve spoken with in recent weeks, it may well be the main reason the first black president of the United States has stood so firmly behind the first black attorney general of the United States: Holder has been willing to say the things Obama couldn’t or wouldn’t say about race. 
“He’s a race man,” says Charles Ogletree, a longtime friend of Holder’s who taught and mentored Obama and his wife, Michelle, as Harvard Law School students in the 1980s. “He’s gone farther and deeper into some issues of race than the White House would like, but I know he has the president’s well-wishes. It’s clear [Obama and Holder] believe in the same things.” 
Holder himself recently told another African-American friend that he feels part of his job is “to talk about things the president can’t talk about as easily.” Asked to describe Holder’s role, one of his former top aides described him as “Obama’s heat shield.”
There is a paradox at the heart of white racial resentment and rage at Barack Obama and Eric Holder.

Obama has done remarkably little to directly improve the life chances of Black Americans. Eric Holder presides over a prison industrial complex which disproportionately and unfairly incarcerates black and brown people. The White Right should be clapping at the relative lack of racial progress during the last few decades, and Obama's essentially conservative, center right approach to the politics of race in the United States. They instead to choose to hate the United States' first black president. The symbolic politics of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America are too much for those who are psychically invested in whiteness to accept.

Why is Eric Holder finally telling the truth about deep union between white conservatism and white supremacy in the Age of Obama? Is he the mouthpiece for Obama's private frustrations where both men are now thinking about their historical legacies as "race men", either real or perceived? Or is Eric Holder trying to goad and provoke the bigots in the Tea Party GOP into an overreaction, one that will further reveal their white supremacist allegiances?


Myshkin the Idiot said...

There are probably a lot of reasons he's talking about it. Maybe one is he hasn't really had an opportunity in the past to discuss racism and conservatism and the issue of the lawsuit and remarks about impeachment affords him an opportunity to be candid about it. I say this because I have seen his remarks in the past about race and I think he's been more daring than most prominent politicians.

It could also be that the democrats are looking at the upcoming elections and they're saying we've faced an unprecedented amount of obstruction from the right much of which is based on House and Senate members being forced to court racist voters. We need to run them out of town if you expect us to get anything done in these last two years.

I'm concerned about the direction of my state. We vote Republican presidents in, but we vote Democratic Congressman. A couple years ago we lost Senator Byrd who did remarkable things to improve education and infrastructure in West Virginia. This year Jay Rockefeller is retiring, he also recently said much of the opposition to Obama has been because of his race to which he was challenged on the Senate floor by some big mouthed bigot and he cowered before him.

Rockefeller's seat may go red. We'll have to see. I don't care much for the Dem replacing him, but... what are you going to do. I wish they would vote in the damn Mountain Party, but that ain't ever gonna happen.

AlexVanderpoolstyle said...

I don't know if it's available anywhere, but Holder spoke at the SNCC 50th year anniversary several years ago and made a strong case that he needed people to organize about the issues of the prison industrial complex, etc.
There was a sense among the participants that Obama was a believer in SCLC and leadership from above while Holder is someone who really understood the SNCCers and felt that leadership needed community support and pressure to be able to push its agenda.

chauncey devega said...

In an alternate universe both would tell the Tea Party GOP to kiss their black butts. Damn, I wish Pryor was still with us.

chauncey devega said...

The Cowards speech was mixed. I think it was very ahistorical in terms of black and brown Americas. We have, for the most part, told the truth about the colorline. You likely have done so, but with the benefit of distance, read--don't watch Obama's famous speech on race during the campaign--it is one of the biggest sellout concessions to white racism and white racial resentment in recent memory.

And yes, I voted for him twice. And yes, I like and respect him. Ain't life twisted?

chauncey devega said...

Or just get the black and brown vote out for the midterms?

chauncey devega said...

That was a great speech. It deserved more attention. Maybe, given the White Right's dominance of our political discourse, it is better that it did not?

chauncey devega said...

Who is the Mountain Party? New to me. What is up with the job application to teach citizenship courses? Pulling for you brother.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Thank you Courtney, very kind.

I don't have ESL certification, so I have that against me a little. If I get an interview, that owuld at least be good experience for me.

j4 said...

Sound great..but are they 'Friends of Coal' ;)

Myshkin the Idiot said...

I don't know. It's hard to be a West Virginian and not be invested in the success of the coal industry. The Mountain Party supports regulation and the EPA and strongly desire less coal mining and more sustainable practices. They challenged a WVCoal representative at a "Friends of Coal" meeting to debate the dangers of the coal industry to which they were ignored.

The Mountain Party is certainly a bigger threat to unbridled coal and drilling industries. They speak about the problems West Virginians have with our environment. The coal industry only employs about 50,000 people in mining projects statewide, but many other industries are wrapped up in it. As long as they keep the idea that coal regulation results in higher utilities costs, they will remain strong with both major parties.

D. Wright said...

Is their really a difference between assuring Black and Brown people that the Democratic White House is "in touch" with our concerns of growing White racial resentment, and convincing us that they deserve our vote as austerity proceeds with their blessing at every level of governance.

It's not conspiracy as much as it is managed democracy. In the place of Al Qaeda it's the Tea Party that goes bump in the night in this narrative.

j4 said...

Just joking with you. I am from SE Kentucky. The 'friends of coal' and 'coal keeps the lights on' stuff are ubiquitous there. I like the sound of the Mountain Party but boy does there website need work.

Courtney H. said...

You are welcome.
Teaching ESL is like other kinds of teaching: be dedicated, be patient, and be flexible. I have learned a great deal while teaching ESL, and if you stick with it, you will improve, and your students will greatly appreciate it.

Miles_Ellison said...

Interestingly, whites who heard Obama's speech on race thought it was a race hustler's call to arms. Further proof that they have no desire to actually listen to what he has to say about anything.

D. Wright said...

Who is President Barack Obama in your opinion? What does he stand for?

skilletblonde said...

The first American president that is not a racist.

D. Wright said...

He certainly wields the rhetoric of a southern strategy politician when he addresses Black folk.

What does he stand for?

skilletblonde said...

Please elaborate on how he exhibits the rhetoric of a southern strategist?

D. Wright said...

From his speech during the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:

"Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support, as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself. All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided."

Evoking the ghost of Reagan to bludgeon straw men of welfare queens and dead beat dads to validate the gutting of the Great Society. Reducing systemic racism in education, law enforcement, and private employment to Black laziness and apathy. I'd swear he was John Mcwhorter. When words like that fall from the mouths of Sheelby Steele, Ben Carson, and Herman Cain we know exactly how they'd be characterized on WARN; Black Conservatives Shuckin-n-Jivin for the White Right.

2012 was the first time I'd be old enough to vote in a Presidential election having just missed 2008 by a week. I could forgive the corporate friendly ACA under the circumstances, but between Guantanamo, the drone doctrine, the expansion of the Patriot Act, and the keeping of Black America at a car's length, I couldn't bring myself to vote for him. In light of the NSA reveal in 2013, the suppression of OWS, the continuation of Corporate Imperial America, and that Obama's Brother's Keeper initiative demonstrates that all the young Black men struggling in the country aren't worth a pair of F-35s, I'm glad my conscious is clear.

If one is disappointed to see the man or woman they voted for fail or refuse to represent that voter's political views, their disappointment doesn't demonstrate their entitlement. It demonstrates the failure of democracy itself. That some would characterize our critique as complaint is a sad state of affairs. Challenging the powers that be and holding the state and its participants accountable for their actions; that is the root of activism, you cannot advance otherwise.

I can understand the "lesser evil" reasoning, though I don't agree with it. I don't understand why Obama continues to inspire loyalty in the Black left. Are we projecting our sensibilities on to him, as we are wont to do with Black people in media, business, and politics?

D. Wright said...

As I said, I understand the lesser evil reasoning, but I disagree with it. There are districts and cities where Democrats haven't faced Republican opposition of any note in decades, yet police brutality, privatization, school closures, and union breaking continue unabated. Going half-cocked challenging Democrats in the White House is a foolhardy venture, but in these "safe" districts we can and must break the Democrat's monopoly on power and build a left wing party from the ground up.

There's little evidence that Obama tried to make a break with the DLC; Hilary was his Secretary of State. Nor have Clintonian Democrats made a stink about him as most Democrats in Congress support his bills. Iranians and Syrians aren't terribly happy with Obama either. Romney intended worse, but I wouldn't pretend that Obama's re-election was a favor to them. Having seen hundreds killed in drone attacks and continued support of Israel, I don't regret my decision. I'd sooner petition to have Syrians, Iranians, Palestinians, et. al. vote yay or nay on American foreign policy concerning their countries than vote for an American Imperialist of any kind. I refuse to be any more compliant than I already am.

As an aside, Cornel West isn't a Black Separatist or a Black Nationalist, in fact he's anti-nationalist. So, marrying non-Black women doesn't violate his politics. I wouldn't humor his game about who is and isn't really Black.