Longform Links – Popping Off, Gwen Ifill, Rape as a Weapon of War

WoC PhD – I’m About to “Pop Off” – Obama, Solis-Doyle, and MSNBC

Last night, like many N. Americans, I was quietly waiting for Al Gore to come on the tv and tell us why he had chosen to endorse Obama so late in the game. Mr. Gore was late. 15 minutes late.

During that 15 minutes, MSNBC left it up to Keith Olbermann to fill air time, which he did with a combination of top 3 lists and interviews of equally underprepared and unscripted pundits.

Keith asked one of the pundits about the Obama campaign’s recent hire of Solis-Doyle, the powerhouse Latina formerly running the Clinton campaign until fired after a particularly low turn out in Clinton’s favor. Olbermann wondered outloud if it was just to make Clinton angry and seal any chance she had at VP.

Yep, the qualified Latina wasn’t hired because of her stellar record, she is just the quickest way to rub salt in the white woman’s wounds and keep the racial tensions between women alive b/c Obama’s the one invested in that, not the media.

The pundit said the following:

“Maybe it was to reign in the potential first lady in case she ‘pops off’ again.”


Why was a successful, and well respected, Latina professional hired to run Obama’s campaign? To stop the equally well-educated, often eloquent, black woman from acting like the loud mouthed, violent, pre-madonna of the Oxygen reality show Bad Girls who claimed to have coined the term “pop off” and used it to mean she was about to beat somebody down.

Misogyny and racism served up on the left is just as offensive as the right.

Never in my life did I expect to be awaiting a presidential candidate endorsement speech and have some off the cuff remark by a well known, educated, and respected media figure demean the qualifications and abilities of two women of color and get a dig in it the white woman all at once.

Afrobella – Why Not Gwen?

Ifill’s first love was print journalism, but Russert helped her transition into the world of television, as she recalls in this touching tribute, “Farewell to a Standup Brother,” featured on The Root (love that site, BTW).

“There is quite a line of people who, at various times, have taken credit for my career. I usually let them do it, even if I remember events quite differently. But Tim deserves the credit. He not only talked me into switching to TV against my first instincts, but — five years later — he engineered a way for me to leave NBC when I was offered the chance to become the first African American to host a weekly public affairs program, Washington Week, over on PBS. He not only talked NBC executives into getting me out of my contract, but he also looked me in the eye and told me this was something I absolutely, positively had to do.”

Gwen also remembered her experiences with Russert on NPR with Farai Chideya and Michele Norris yesterday, in an interview that illuminated Russert’s role in mentoring several black journalists of note. In that vein, I think appointing Gwen Ifill as a moderator of Meet the Press would not only be a historic and significant decision by NBC, but I think it would make Russert tremendously pleased. At the end of that interview, Chideya invites the two esteemed journalists to consider how the election will be covered now, in light of Russert’s passing. Ifill expresses concern for the future of journalism — the industry truly is in terrifying times. There were significant layoffs at the daily in my own city just yesterday, so it’s hitting me all quite close to home.

The New York Times (Op-Ed) – Rape as a Weapon of War

The United Nations Security Council will hold a special session on sexual violence this Thursday, with Condoleezza Rice coming to New York to lead the debate. This session, sponsored by the United States and backed by a Security Council resolution calling for regular follow-up reports, just may help mass rape graduate from an unmentionable to a serious foreign policy issue.

The world woke up to this phenomenon in 1993, after discovering that Serbian forces had set up a network of “rape camps” in which women and girls, some as young as 12, were enslaved. Since then, we’ve seen similar patterns of systematic rape in many countries, and it has become clear that mass rape is not just a byproduct of war but also sometimes a deliberate weapon.

“Rape in war has been going on since time immemorial,” said Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador who was the U.N.’s envoy for AIDS in Africa. “But it has taken a new twist as commanders have used it as a strategy of war.”

There are two reasons for this. First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.

Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.

In Sudan, the government has turned all of Darfur into a rape camp. The first person to alert me to this was a woman named Zahra Abdelkarim, who had been kidnapped, gang-raped, mutilated — slashed with a sword on her leg — and then left naked and bleeding to wander back to her Zaghawa tribe. In effect, she had become a message to her people: Flee, or else.

Since then, this practice of “marking” the Darfur rape victims has become widespread: typically, the women are scarred or branded, or occasionally have their ears cut off. This is often done by police officers or soldiers, in uniform, as part of a coordinated government policy.

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