Tag Archives: politics

Racism as a Backhanded Compliment

By Guest Contributor G.D., originally published at PostBourgie

In a post called “Penny-Pinching Jews and South Carolina Republicans,” Jeff Goldberg points to an editorial by two South Carolina Republicans defending Sen. Jim DeMint’s opposition to opening the federal spigot for his state.

Recently your newspaper published a letter from state Rep. Bakari Sellers attacking U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint and his opposition to congressional earmarks.

There is a saying that the Jews who are wealthy got that way not by watching dollars, but instead by taking care of the pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves. By not using earmarks to fund projects for South Carolina and instead using actual bills, DeMint is watching our nation’s pennies and trying to preserve our country’s wealth and our economy’s viability to give all an opportunity to succeed.

To which one of Goldberg’s readers responded:

Perhaps I’m seeing something that isn’t there, but I inferred from the title of this post a suggestion of anti-Semitic bigotry on the part of the two county Republican chairmen.

First, I think there is a difference between stereotypes to be disparaged and stereotypes to be emulated. The chairmen were guilty of the latter. Second, I’ve lived 2/3 of my life in the South/Southwest and the rest in the Northeast. I’ve the noticed that the attitudes about Jews in either place to be remarkably different. In New York, a Jew is some jerk who is dating his sister or a weirdly dressed guy who’s probably hoarding diamonds. In the S/SW and probably in most of the Midwest, a Jew is David or Solomon or Daniel or Jesus or James or Paul.

Ah, yes! Those good stereotypes that we should emulate! They’re always tossed into the bin of “bad” and “racist,” which just isn’t right. Unlike “bad stereotypes,” the good ones are dehumanizing and condescending, but in a well-intentioned sort of way!

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ACORN Pimp Sting, Child Prostitution and Accountability

by Guest Contributor (and frequent commenter) Atlasien

It’s all over the news lately: an elaborate sting operation by conservative activists.  A man and a woman go into an ACORN office, and ask about how to get affordable housing and file taxes properly.  The woman says she’s a sex worker.  The ACORN representatives give a variety of advice.  Up to this point, I don’t see anything really wrong with what they’re doing.  But then the man starts talking about his plan of bringing a group of underage girls, 13 years old, 14 years old, from El Salvador to “turn tricks” in the house.  And in the videos shown, the ACORN representatives keep on giving him advice.

I went to the sources and actually read through some transcripts.  As an example, see Page 22 of the Baltimore one.  It’s just as damning as the right-wingers are saying.

I’m glad that ACORN is firing everyone who took the bait, but I don’t think the accountability ends there.  They need to have a consistent anti-human trafficking policy.  Apparently some ACORN offices either threw them out or laughed them out (the “pimp” does look rather laughable) but way too many of them them took him seriously.  I believe ACORN’s statement about their need for reforms and review is not “caving in”, it’s an important process of accountability.

A lot of people on the left don’t want to talk about this issue.  I get a feeling of closing ranks.  After all, ACORN has done many, many good things for low-income communities.  They work with people on the margins of society that no one else will work with.  It’s a difficult balance.  Low-income people who work in illegal activities should NOT be cut off and isolated… but activities that savagely victimize other people shouldn’t be supported, either. I would never say that drug-dealing and sex work are “victimless” crimes; that would be a stupid statement because there are very few activities that are truly victimless, either legal or illegal.  Selling cigarettes is legal, for example, but not victimless.

But I refuse to believe that there is any kind of gray area when it comes to child prostitution.

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Van Jones Pushed Out of the Obama Administration

by Latoya Peterson

Over the weekend, I received the following email from Green For All:

Late last night, Van Jones resigned from his position with the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Many of us are left with pain and anger after seeing a leader of integrity, vision, and commitment targeted by hateful personal attacks. Van stepped down in service to our movement. He felt that fighting the attacks would draw attention to him and detract from our mission.

Now, our challenge is to turn our disappointment and anger into action and renewed resolve for our common goals.

Like the great social justice movements of the 20th century, our movement for an inclusive green economy is based in the most fundamental American values: equality, justice, and opportunity for all.

That’s why our opponents reduced the debate to fear, hatred, and division. They cannot win a debate about values. They cannot win a debate about solutions. Continue reading

Open Thread: Why, Free Republic, Why?

by Latoya Peterson

So here I was, blissfully disconnected from politics for the week, working on upcoming content for September, when Anna from Jezebel emails me this:

The fine Real Americans at the Free Republic have found Obama’s achilles heel: his Long Dark Staff of White Insecurity.

hoosiermama:
The only other thing that hit me was that Sinclair said BO was not circumcised. When my son was born in a hospital that was done as a matter of routine without even consulting us. Would the same be for Hawaii? OTOH People born at home or in some other cultures are not circumcised.

thecodont:
A relative of mine was born (in a hospital) a couple of years after BO’s alleged birth date. He was circumcised also (as a matter of routine, not according to any family request). [...]

MHGinTN:
You might want to make that call to a Canadian hospital …

MHGinTN:
No…it would have been in Kenya….not Canada.

They really want to perform a dick check on the President.

See, I was just going to ignore this, figuring that foolishness of this caliber just could not continue.

But then again, that’s what I thought about the birthers.

The Healthcare Reform Debate in Atlanta, With a Racial Update

by Guest Contributor (and regular commenter) Atlasien

UPDATE: There is a guy with a gun outside of Obama’s town hall. This shit is getting ridiculous. Gawker has details:

MSNBC just aired video of a man with a pistol strapped to his leg waiting for Barack Obama to arrive at a townhall in New Hampshire.

The man is carrying a sign that says, “It Is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty.” That’s a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” It was a favorite slogan of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was wearing a T-shirt when he was arrested with a picture of Lincoln on the front and a tree dripping with blood on the back.

Now, this guy is carrying a legal weapon, says NBC News’ Ron Allen. The local chief of police has no objections. Open carriage of licensed handguns is legal in New Hampshire, and the man is standing on the private property of a nearby church (!) that has no problem with an armed man hanging around.

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I live in Georgia’s 4th District, and I just attended Representative Hank Johnson’s healthcare town hall meeting. The event drew thousands of people. Our group got there an hour early, but even with that lead time, there was obviously no chance of getting inside.

So we stood outside with signs: large, simple, direct, polite signs. We got some good attention and maybe some media coverage.

Judging from the signs in the incredibly long line, supporters of healthcare reform outnumbered opponents by a lot, maybe 4 to 1. The 4th District is majority African-American and overwhelmingly Democratic. It was almost a sure bet that many healthcare opponents drove into the district from much further away. I saw a lot of exurb county license plates in the parking lot.

There were a few weird screamers. Someone yelled “YOU’RE NAZIS” at us. Another man yelled “you want to send all our money to Kenya!” However, there were so many supporters that the really rude people never achieved critical mass, and the atmosphere outside remained calm.

There was heavy security, and apparently the rules for the town hall were very strict and carefully explained at the beginning. People who yelled or were disruptive would be escorted out. I can’t wait to read a summary to see how the town hall worked out.

It was certainly nothing like the mass chaos at the town hall in St. Louis that made national news. In this event, a black conservative named Kenneth Gladney claims to have been attacked and racially insulted by (black) SEIU union activists. Depending on your point of view, Gladney could be a a brave martyr or a scam artist… or perhaps just a regular person in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s a difficult situation to get a hold on. Continue reading

Neoliberalism and Reggaeton

By Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at post pomo nuyorican homo

reggaetoncuba

Reuters recently published a pieced entitled “Reggaeton fever shakes up Cuba’s culture” the article cites an now infamous (in reggaeton circles anyway) quote by Juventud Rebelde that calls reggaeton a “reflection of ‘neoliberal thinking’.”

I think the development and growth of reggaeton in Cuba has been fascinating (if you are interested check out Geoff Baker’s work) and illuminates much about the ways in which different musical forms/genres circulate as cultural and ideological commodities.

The idea of reggaeton being a product of neoliberalism is intriguing. Clearly the flows of neoliberal capital and its circuits facilitated the spread of technologies and people that enabled the different permutations of reggaeton within the   Caribbean, the Americas, and globally.

More than anything else, I wonder what seeing reggaeton as a neoliberal commidity says about how Cuban authorities think about the neocolonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico and the forces of diaspora (not only between Puerto Rico and the U.S., but broadly speaking) in forging reggaeton, essentially outside of the Cuban nation (and well any nation really). Reggaeton is largely positioned as outside of the Cuban nation, seen as an import from the yanquis via Puerto Rico, which is why Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto is quoted in the Reuters piece as saying that reggaeton needs to be “pushed away.” Reggaeton is agringado, a corrupting influence on Cuba’s revolutionary ideals.

While reggaeton is (often mis)understood as a Puerto Rican, or even an American phenomenon, the more authorities and cultural brokers attempt to place reggaeton within some kind of national frame the more obvious it becomes that reggaeton exist in between and outside of national boundaries.

Maybe that is what makes reggaeton so threatening, what incites all these national panics? Well, besides sex and race, but of course those things are tied up within the nation too…

Now I’m just ranting though….thoughts?

The Breakthrough by Gwen Ifill [Racialicious Reads]

by Latoya Peterson


To understand civil rights, you must understand how it feels…to be trapped in someone else’s stereotype.” – Deval Patrick

During the year of 2008, people loved to talk about change, normally as a positive outcome righting a wrong or correcting a historical slight.

However, change never comes easily. Friction always occurs between the different groups who are advocating for their view of the world to become the dominant one. In The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, Gwen Ifill probes deeply into the causes and creation of political friction, dubbing the phenomenon “sandpaper politics” and documenting the lives and stories of those African American politicians who found a way to live through the heaviest friction point and manage come out polished and battle ready.

The Breakthrough’s title is a bit misleading. Ifill’s book isn’t really about Obama – it is the story of a generation in flux, an exploration of the rise of post-civil rights black leadership using Obama’s amazing political journey as a symbol of the shifting power dynamic. While telling Obama’s story, she also interviews dozens of young black leaders on the cusp of their own breakthroughs while navigating the tricky realm of crossover politics.

The new groups of young black politicians are a small piece of a larger division in black political thought. Termed “the post civil rights generation,” the new generation of up and coming leaders has different memories of America. Instead of sit-ins, soda fountains, and overt forms of racism like segregation, we now have multiculturalism, hip-hop, and covert forms of racism.
The Civil Rights Generation ushered in a completely different world for their children to grow up – one in which we would never know what is was like to be denied a seat at a lunch counter or forbidden from applying for certain jobs due to the color of our skin. They braved all types of horrors in order for us to be where we are today.

As Ifill writes,

Breaking through has its costs. John Lewis was hit in the head with a break at Selma. Vernon Jordan was shot. And families play a price as well: Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife and children were threatened, and shortly after [Deval] Patrick moved into the corner office on Beacon Hill, his wife, Diane, dropped out of public sight to receive treatment for depression. (p. 195)

Earlier in the book, Ifill referred to the high cost of ambition for black leaders, grimly counting off the death toll – Malcom, Marvin, and Medgar were all murdered at the heights of their careers, before any of them had reached the age of forty. A grim reality of working and agitating for change is having that reality hanging over head and knowing that we are just a slim 40 years from when this type of violence against civil rights leaders was common place.

However, the major theme of The Breakthrough is overwhelming optimism in the face of difficult odds. Continue reading

You Say You Want A Revolution (In a Loose Headscarf)

by Guest Contributor Mimi, originally published at Threadbared

Because this is a fashion plus politics blog, I want to post some very brief thoughts about the protests rocking Iran after what some observers are calling a fraudulent election, reinstalling President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against his main opposition, moderate reformer Mir Hossein Mousavi. (For news about the election and protests, The New York Times’ The Lede News Blog is frequently updated. For more analysis, check out Juan Cole.)

A glance at the Western media coverage from before and after the election reveals an overwhelming visual trope — the color photograph of a young and often beautiful Iranian woman wearing a colorful headscarf, usually pinned far back from her forehead to frame a sweep of dark hair. Such an image condenses a wealth of historical references, political struggles, and aesthetic judgments, because the hijab does. As Minoo Moallem argues in her book Between Warrior Brother and Veiled Sister: Islamic Fundamentalism and the Politics of Patriarchy in Iran, both pre- and postrevolutionary discourses commemorate specific bodies –whose clothing practices play a large part— to create forms and norms of gendered citizenship, both national and transnational. What Moallem calls the civic body becomes the site of political performances in the particular contexts of modern nationalist and fundamentalist movements.

This particular image being disseminated throughout the Western press right now is no exception — we are meant to understand the looseness of the scarf, the amount of hair she shows, as political acts, manifesting a desire for Western-style democracy. But this shorthand is too simplistic, too easy. As Moallem argues, Islamic nationalism and fundamentalism are not premodern remnants but themselves “by-products of modernity.” As such, the image of the Iranian woman in her loose headscarf is not a straightforward arrow from Islamic backwardness to liberal progress, but a nuanced and multi-dimensional map of political discourse and struggle. Continue reading