Posts Tagged ‘racism’

There She Is

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Jeffrey Page

Remember the guy in 2008 who carried the sign reading, “Keep government out of my Medicare you damn socialist?” Was he a genuine anti-government activist taking his position to the extreme? Or was he just dumb as a post?

Now, five years later, this brand of prideful ignorance is still with us – why is this not a surprise? – and requires that we consider a young woman named Nina Davuluri, who is 24 years old and who is Miss America 2014.

A little background: Davuluri, 24, is a native born U.S. citizen. She was born in Syracuse, N.Y., lived for a time in Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in brain behavior and cognitive science. She the Miss America contest as Miss New York and did all the goofy stuff that most of the 86 Miss Americas and all their runners-up before her had done since the early 1920s. There was the bathing suit business, (hers was zebra striped). There was the gown business (hers was canary yellow). There was the talent business (she performed an East Indian dance). And to show the judges just how smart she is, she was asked a question and responded by saying no, she’s not interested in plastic surgery for herself but that the procedure is available for anyone who wants it.

No surprises and in Davuluri, the judges liked what they heard and liked what they saw, and she was crowned.

The reaction was quick and furious. All it took was the revelation that Davuluri is of East Indian ancestry to bring out racist lunacy at its American best.

Here are some comments and observations I found while wandering around the internet. This is the stupidity that America still must deal with nearly 150 years after the end of the Civil War.

“I swear I’m not a racist. But this is America,” one woman wrote to buzzfeed.com.

“9/11 was 4 days ago. And she gets Miss America?”

“How the f— does a foreigner win Miss America?”

“Miss America is an Indian. With all do [sic] respect, this is America.”

“Congratulations Al-Qaeda. Our Miss America is one of you.”

I am reminded of e.e. cummings’s 1925 take on a great human failing: “Humanity i love you because when you’re hard up you pawn your intelligence to buy a drink and when you’re flush  pride keeps you from the pawn shop.”

Drudge Incites October ‘Obama Drama’

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Barack Obama, then a U.S. senator, spoke at a 2007 ministers' conference about the LA riots, Hurricane Katrina, and improving the lot of African-American communities all over the country. Some conservatives thought he sounded "too black" or "too angry."

Click here to view “Obama’s ‘Other’ Race Speech

By Emily Theroux

“Attacking Obama for Jeremiah Wright Is So 2008.”

That was the snappy headline posted last May on Keith Boykin’s blog, Fighting Words. A Republican super PAC planned to hire an “extremely literate” pitchman, Boykin said, “to argue that Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as a ‘metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln'” when he took a stand in support of same-sex marriage. The kicker? Attack ads linking the president with his controversial former pastor.

Word leaked out, however, and the PAC announced that the scandalous plan had been scrapped.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Boykin was incensed that anyone would admit they found “literate” blacks unusual — or characterize Obama as “metrosexual.” The group  wanted to “do exactly what John McCain would not let us do” in 2008, Boykin noted. “That is, they plan to lead a campaign of good old-fashioned race-baiting.”

“When asked whether Wright is off-limits in the 2012 presidential campaign, Romney said he hadn’t ‘read the papers yet,’ according to Los Angeles Times reporter Maeve Reston. Perhaps that should come as no surprise since the presumptive GOP nominee has already tried to link Obama to Wright, as he did in a radio interview with talk show host Sean Hannity in February. And though the official Wright ad campaign will never see the light of day, the racist undertone will persist through November. This is part of a dog-whistle campaign to reach out to those crazy conservatives who think Obama is a radical socialist Muslim Kenyan with no birth certificate and no right to be president.”

Willard "Mitt" Romney

A fellow BET blogger quoted GOP candidate Mitt Romney‘s famous last words on the matter: “I repudiate that effort. I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign. I hope that our campaigns can respectively be about the future and about issues and about a vision for America,” Romney told the press.

Now, Mythological Mitt has repudiated something he’d insisted five months ago was beneath his stellar standards. Before embarking on a new plan of attack designed to hit Obama hard with the GOP’s perennial backstop when the going gets rough — the race card — the Romney campaign issued a preemptive statement  denying any involvement with his henchmen’s “October surprise.”

Mitt may have delegated this new hit job to right-wing media mavens, but the scheme has Willard’s Mitts all over it. He must have been cracking all kinds of stupid, robotic jokes last night, when The Drudge Report, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity teamed up to do his dirty work, by going flat-out, race-baiting “Goddamn America!” Jeremiah WRIGHT on his opponent’s unsuspecting a$$.

 

Drudge: ‘Curious tape’ will ‘ignite accusations of racism

Matt Drudge

Yesterday afternoon,  conservative newsbreaker Matt Drudge dribbled out Twitter-hints designed to foster a feeding frenzy on the right. “Curious tape dropping tonight. NOT from MOTHERJONES. Will cause controversy, ignite accusations of racism — in both directions!” read the first Drudge clue. “Internal debate at news network about airing tape tonight, on eve of debate… MORE” came out an hour or so later.

Andrew Kirell of Mediaite chipped away at the teased Drudge story, finding several edits of what he suspected to be the tape in question, as well as a 2007 blog post by Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times that included a transcript of Obama’s speech. The video, recorded on June 5, 2007, at the Hampton University Annual Ministers’ Conference in Virginia, had been posted online for the past five years.

Then-Senator Obama spoke eloquently and without a teleprompter, using the metaphor of “a baby born with a bullet in its arm,” to a mother who had just been shot in the stomach in Compton, to discourse about despair in the African-American community — over the L.A. riots 15 years earlier, over second-rate schools, low-paying jobs, and substandard housing. He riffed about Hurricane Katrina, black prison inmates, and college students. He cited programs that would create jobs and improve transportation and health care; about investing in minority-owned businesses and ending the Iraq War.

Obama spoke with the relaxed “urban” drawl he’s been known to use when speaking to black audiences, but what of it? The longer version of the tape featured powerful, stirring oratory, not anger, and included Obama’s shout-out to the Rev. Wright, only months before the pastor’s infamous videos appeared online. Someone going for a “dangerous,” “edgy,” backbeat failed miserably by adding cheesy boom-box bass effects to the beginning and end of the tape.

 

Tucker Carlson c. ’07: ‘This isn’t a dog-whistle. It’s a dog siren.’

Tucker Carlson, ABC/Getty Images

This isn’t a dog-whistle,” intoned Tucker Carlson, who “broke” the tale of the recycled Obama tape yesterday on his website, The Daily Caller. “It’s a dog siren.”

“The racially charged and at times angry speech undermines Obama’s carefully crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups. For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he almost never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America.

“The mostly black audience shouts in agreement. The effect is closer to an Al Sharpton rally than a conventional campaign event.”

This characterization is absurd. Calling a speech delivered by a black politician to a black audience “racially charged” seems like hyperbolic fear-mongering to me — unless, of course, Carlson is expressing that kind of aggrieved mindset prevalent in people who cry “racism” whenever a black man raises his voice.

 

“THE ACCENT. THE ANGER. THE ACCUSATIONS. THE SHOUT-OUT TO REV. WRIGHT, WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE was emblazoned across the top of Drudge’s site when he posted “The ‘Other’ Obama Race Speech.”

Sean Hannity

“Tape of Obama pushing class warfare surfaces on debate eve,” read Hannity’s preposterous headline when he posted the video on the Fox News website last night. “STATE of the RACE,” the tape trumpeted in garish, 150-point crimson type. The mainstream media, Hannity noted, had been ignoring this Obama bombshell “for years,” yet Tucker was flogging it as an “exclusive.”  The truth was that both Fox and Tucker had debuted the tape when it first emerged in 2007.

 

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s take on Obama was already cranked up and ready to roll. (I’ve added italics to the code words pointed out by Rachel Maddow in this extraordinarily condescending, openly racist diatribe. This guy needs to retire from public life. His rhetoric is disgusting.)

“I’m assuming there’s some rhythm to Barack Obama that the rest of us don’t understand — whether he needs large amounts of rest, whether he needs to go play … basketball for awhile. I don’t watch ESPN; I mean, I don’t quite know what his rhythms are. But this is a guy who is a brilliant performer as an orator, who may well get reelected at the present date, and who, frankly, happens to be a partial, part-time, uh, president.  I mean, he really is like the substitute referees in the sense that he’s not a real president. He doesn’t do any of the things presidents do. He doesn’t worry about any of the things presidents do. But he has the White House; he has enormous power. He’ll go down in history as president —  and I suspect he’s pretty contemptuous of the rest of us.”

It was good old white-boy Newt who originated the term “Food Stamp President” and hatched the brilliant plot to falsely accuse Obama of removing the work requirement from welfare — the same “lazy parasite” canard suggested by the sleazy Romney slogan “Obama isn’t working.

What do Romney’s hate-mongering surrogates think the tape reveals about Barack Obama? Surprise! Back in 2007, he was “way more black than he seems to you now,” said Rachel Maddow. He went to black churches. He even talked black sometimes. Fancy that: He is more than a figment of Sean Hannity’s delusional imagination; he doesn’t always follow Insannity’s black-socialist-president script.

As it turned out, the October surprise flopped badly, even on the right. Noah Rothman of Mediaite pronounced it “The Obama Tape Dud” and said it only served to indict the 2008 press corps. “What do conservatives think they will accomplish in 2012 by consistently and incessantly submitting evidence which proves the press failed in their jobs in 2008? … Republicans would do well to focus on the issues of 2012, because the Democrats, the media and persuadable voters have moved on long ago.”

Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator’s Spectacle blog also offered his perspective: “(C)ertain allowances for edginess always have been (made) to black speakers before black audiences — a slight double standard, to be sure, but one that slavery and Jim Crow provide at least semi-reasonable excuses for, and one that is less damaging than actual policies (quotas, etc.) that enshrine discrimination into law.”

 

The MittWit’s life of unquiet desperation as the walls close in

Three months ago, Romney campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar boasted that the Romney campaign would remain in what journalist Ben Smith dubbed “the Mittness Protection Program” by continuing to avoid vital questions about his policies or “core beliefs.” Instead, Mitt would filter his utterances through conservative conspiracy websites like Drudge and  Breitbart.com.

“When this election is over, one of the lessons that will be learned by the mainstream media is that they no longer have a toe-hold on how Americans receive their news. … We no longer allow the mainstream media to define the political realities in America. The rise of Breitbart, Drudge and others, combined with an aggressive Romney campaign, is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the conservative movement.”

So how’s that Drudgy/Techie thing goin’ for ya, Mitt? Whoops! It’s almost debate time. Download a few more of those pre-programmed zingers, and do try to hide your desperation. It’s going to be a long, tetchy hour-and-a-half.

The GOP Campaign, in Black and White

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Why does this man scare so many Republicans? Hint: It may not be his economic policies.

By Bob Gaydos

Stay with me here. I’m going to try to connect the dots between the Supreme Court’s absurd decision on Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and the on-the-face-of-it foolish view of many poor to middle-class white Americans that the Republican Party represents the best hope for their future and the future of America, which is why they intend to vote for Mitt Romney.

The journey will visit the wild frontier of the birthers, the loony world of Jeremiah Wright, the penthouses of the billionaire super PACS, the righteous kingdom of Rick Santorum, the go-back-where-you-came-from land of Mitt Romney, W’s fantasy factory, the Civil War, Montana, the Occupy Movement and “welfare queens.”

Yes, racism is bound to come up.

Citizens United, of course, is the 5-4 ruling that gave corporations the same rights as individuals in donating to political action committees. They can give as much as they want and the super PACs created by this free-flowing stream of wealth can mount massive media campaigns, not so much to promote their candidate as to steamroller the opponents. This was evident in the street fight that recently passed for a Republican presidential primary. It amounted to dueling super PAC campaigns in various states. Romney won because he had the most money, not because more Republican voters liked him. They still can’t stand him. They just fear Barack Obama more.

Which is Dot Number One. This was made clear when the first thing conservative Republicans in Congress said upon Obama’s election was that they would dedicate the next four years to making sure he served only one term. Instead of, you know, we’ll try to work with him in governing the country so that maybe he’ll understand where we differ, etc.

So we have had a string of “no” votes on anything Obama proposed, public officials (and the ridiculous Donald Trump) questioning whether the president was really born in the United States even after being shown a copy of his birth certificate, innuendo that he was a Muslim (because of his name) and, just recently again, efforts to link him with his freaky former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

The Wright red herring was eliminated, or so we thought, four years ago, but one of those super-rich PACs recently tried to launch a TV campaign making the false link again. This time the behind-the-scenes directors were going to hire a well-spoken conservative black conservative to attack Obama, a well-spoken black non-conservative. You know, to prove that it was not a racially motivated effort. Romney got shamed into sort of denouncing this plan.

The Trump birther campaign was dug up in Arizona, naturally, when the secretary of state of that forlorn place said he might keep the president off the ballot this year if he did not get proof he was born in this country. The fact that he’s been running it for three-and-a-half years apparently didn’t matter, not when you can stir up resentments among some white voters.

Make no mistake, fear and resentment are at the crux of much of the Republican campaign against Obama. As much as they may argue that the campaign is about the economy and even though working class whites reportedly favor Romney over Obama by nearly two to one when asked who would be best for their financial interests, common sense says that many of those people understand that lowering taxes on the rich, making college loans more expensive and making affordable health care harder to get is not a plan that helps their interests.

So something else is influencing their vote.

It was not a fluke that Rick Santorum’s campaign gathered momentum when he started speaking out against gay marriage, against women’s contraceptive rights, against welfare for blacks. That’s right. Of course, this was only done in safely white enclaves, like Sioux City, Iowa. As reported in The Guardian, Santorum told a mostly white campaign rally there: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” He got cheers.

Now, the population of Sioux City is 2.9 percent black. Food stamp use in the area is up more than 25 percent in the last five years, with white recipients outnumbering blacks nine to one. So, what was his message, hope or resentment?

Romney, of course, has tried to portray Obama as responsible for encouraging a free flow of undocumented people across the border with Mexico. But Obama has supported strong enforcement along the border and deportation of undesirable illegals. He does support a plan to allow millions already in this country and contributing to the community to follow a path to citizenship, but so did George W. Bush. He just never had the guts to stick with his instincts in this matter.

This kind of color-coded campaigning began for Republicans in the South under President Richard Nixon and has steadily drawn older, white, poor and middle class voters away from Democrats, who have tended to disparage and dismiss the defectors rather than acknowledging their religious and cultural differences and trying to come to some agreement on economic issues. In the end, that might well be a losing effort. More to the point, it may be an unnecessary one.

Republicans, who came to power in this country leading the fight to end slavery, appear to have come down on the wrong side of history in several areas in their simple-minded effort to regain control of the government and the rewards that entails. Gay marriage is an obvious one example. In the near future, the whole white vs. black scare strategy will also be outdated. Latest census figures revealed that, for the first time in U.S. history, nonwhite babies outnumbered white babies. If the minorities abide by the conservatives’ pro-life, no-contraceptives philosophy so ardently espoused by Romney, Santorum et al, minorities will soon be a majority in America. Mixed race marriages will join same-gender marriages as routine. Immigrants of every stripe will continue to become part of the fabric of America and gain more positions of influence. Younger voters — like those leading the Occupy movement — will recognize what the super PACs and super banks have tried to do by throwing tons of money at politicians who will spread whatever message they want, whether it makes sense or not, as long as it keeps government out of their affairs.

And, oh yes, the Montana Supreme Court recently rejected the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, saying that longstanding Montana law supersedes it. Other states are joining the legal fight. Even some conservative Republicans are beginning to doubt the wisdom of giving all that power to unregulated rich people. Which sort of describes Mitt Romney.

bob@zestoforange.com

 

Ten States My Sons Should Not Live In

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

A citizens militia group at the border in Vekol Valley, Arizona. Photo from: vandal49588.blogspot.com

 

By Bob Gaydos

I ran into an old newspaper colleague at the Times Herald-Record offices the other day and in the process of catching up and complaining that I didn’t know what to write about for my blog this week, he asked if I was the one who had written an editorial for the Record (they’re anonymous) about some congressman claiming there are about 80 Democrats in Congress who were members of the Communist Party. “The nut job from Florida,” he said.

I was, I admitted, proudly. He shook his head and said something to the effect of, “Where do they find these guys?”

Where indeed, I agreed. “But more to the point,” I heard myself say, “who are the people who keep voting for them? I mean, really, would you want to live in a place where people put a guy like that in office? It’s one of the things I try to get across to my sons — you get to choose your own career paths, but please, you don’t want to live in places where they keep electing morons.”

“Sounds like you’ve got a column,” the newspaper guy says.

And so I do.

Brief intro: Max is 20 and currently studying art at SUNY Purchase. Zack is 17 and will attend (no declared major) Western New England University in Springfield, Mass., in the fall. They are both bright and, due to environmental influences, liberally inclined politically and accepting of people of all types — except, bless their hearts, morons in politics.

So yes, if nothing else I tell them sinks in, I figured at least I can warn them off living in some states later on, unless they never want to see me or their mother ever again.

This is not, by any means a scientific effort. Rather, it’s an off-the-top-of-my-head-with-a-dollop-of-research compiled list of states where you (Max and Zack, that is) don’t ever want to live. The primary criteria for making the list are: Rampant racism, anti-intellectualism, bigotry, intolerance, religious fanaticism, and electing morons to office over and over again. (If anyone who reads this is from any of these states and doesn’t see it, well, that’s your right. Just add denial to the list.)

These are going to have to be in no particular order mainly because I couldn’t decide which was worst among Texas, Arizona and Mississippi.

Let’s start with Arizona since it starts with an A. Arizona has devolved to such an extent that Sen. Barry Goldwater, darling of the John Birch Society, who was famously demonized by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election (“Goldwater in ‘64, Cold Water in ‘65, Bread and Water in ‘66”), would have trouble getting support from the angry white conservatives who run the state today. Gov. Jan Brewer, who recently went toe-to-toe with President Obama on the airport tarmac, signed into law the most repressive, intolerant immigration law in the country.

The state’s current senators are Jon Kyl, whose only job as minority whip is to whip up votes to oppose anything whatsoever proposed by Obama, and John McCain, who used to have a spine and principles until he decided to run for president and needed the support of the Republican right wing. And he gave us Sarah Palin.

Also, Arizona is brutally hot, there’s no water and there’s a bunch of men with guns driving around patrolling the border with Mexico and they’re not cops.

OK, Texas. I could stop with George W. Bush and Rick Perry as back-to-back governors. OMG, Texas. But there’s more. Texans are loudly proud of a board of education that never heard of scientific research and a penal system that likes to keep the line moving on Death Row. Toss in religious fanatics, Tom Delay and a hostility to anything not Texan and no amount of Tex-Mex cuisine is enough to want to live there. Plus, outside a few big cities, it’s miles and miles of miles and miles. It’s no country for young men either.

As for Mississippi, what can you say about a state that perennially ranks at the bottom of lists of states whose residents have a high school diploma, whose children are read to daily, who visit the dentist regularly, and who have a livable family income. Then there’s the racism, the anti-gay atmosphere and lack of concern with proper nutrition. Haley Barbour stepped down as governor in January, but not before granting full pardons to 193 inmates, including five convicted murders. His successor, Phil Bryant, on Wednesday said of Democrats in his state: “Their one mission in life is to abort children, is to kill children in the womb.” He said it after signing a bill to close down the state’s last remaining clinic that performs abortions.

Alright, this is getting depressing and that was not my goal. Let’s add South Carolina, which gave us the Civil War and, to prove things move slowly in the south, segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, anti-Obama at all costs Sen. Jim DeMint, immigrant-bashing Sen. Lindsay Graham and former Gov. Mark Sanford, who told his wife and the world he was hiking the Appalachian Trail when he was getting his exercise with his mistress in Brazil. You might get away with that in New York, but considering South Carolina’s arch-conservative approach to religion, family, etc. that qualifies as rank hypocrisy. Plus they still like to fly that Confederate Flag.

I’m going to wrap it up because this now looks like it could go on forever and I‘m beginning to feel intolerant. Other states to avoid, boys:

Alabama: See Mississippi.

Oklahoma, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky: Lots of intolerant religious folk who carry guns, and don’t like blacks or gays. Or even women sometimes.

Alaska: Texas with snow. Plus they elected Sarah Palin.

OK, that’s ten, a nice number for headline writers. But I gotta warn you, Georgia, Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana, I’ve got my eye on you, too.

(And thanks, Paul Brooks, for inspiring this column.)

bob@zestoforange.com