The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Day

Right-wing blogger Denesh D’Souza is a strange guy. I was looking at his blog, and he made a comment I found reasonable: that Martin Luther King was not his choice for greatest African-American. He liked Booker T. Washington better, relating to the need for responsibility in the community and economic strength. I kinda liked that…until I remembered that he wrote it the day before the MLK birthday celebration.

What a creep, and what a standard political tactic: to disguise an insult with a complement to a secondary figure. On the MLK holiday. Didn’t he ever see “Bambi”? “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” What a tool. I still remember reading his “The End of Racism” book, where he claimed that black women were not raped by white men during slavery, because by his analysis of a whore house’s books, the black prostitutes didn’t get at much business as the white ones. He is one bizarre, ass-kissing, Massa-loving brown-skinned man. Yuck.

And to think that, for a bare moment, before I realized the timing, I almost sent him a note agreeing with him…
##
Played a little tennis with Nicki yesterday. Well, actually I don’t know how to play tennis, so we just rallied, batting the ball back and forth to work on racquet control and accuracy of ball placement: literally TRYING to give it back to each other. I figure that that’s better than trying to make each other miss, at this point. A little sore this morning, but that’s cool.
##
http://rutube.ru/tracks/407764.html?v=f30f9e1aeffdef7c2499fc1c4b2e6f7e

What you have above is a link to Coach Sonnon's fighter, Jorge Rivera, fighting UFC last Saturday. His fighter, Jorge Rivera, was considered an underdog. As Roy Jones Jr. used to say, Ya'll musta forgot.

Wow.
##
I think that the Clintons have found the best tactic against Obama. By making him run against both of them simultaneously (has any former President ever campaigned like this before? I don't remember it) and then Good-Cop/Bad-Cop-ing him, they force him to seem more churlish and not a "uniter." Combine that with attacks which bring up race and ethnicity, forcing Obama or his surrogates to remind voters of his genetics and his father's religion. Again and again and again, and if he's not careful, they'll wear him down. Not pretty to watch, and I admit to a grudging admiration for the surgical efficiency of the entire operation. I bet Bill and Hillary are getting along better than they have in years. I don't resent them, because if he can't handle this, he shouldn't be our President. The man has to show who he is under pressure. I'm watching carefully, but I have to admit I've got an aorta in my throat...

22 comments:

el viejo soldado said...

"I think that the Clintons have found the best tactic against Obama. By making him run against both of them simultaneously (has any former President ever campaigned like this before? I don't remember it) and then Good-Cop/Bad-Cop-ing him, they force him to seem more churlish and not a "uniter."



Worse, it places Obama into two equally perspectively distasteful positions in addition to being distracting from the overall merits of his campaign platform itself.

1. To go on the offensive makes him the bad guy "combative negro" type. Toss badgering a woman, and a WW at that into the mix and that's SURELY a kiss of political death. And, he surely doesn't need Hillary boo-hoo'n to the masses, again.

2. To either play a consistent game of defense or try and ignore it, there's the good possibility of the "weak/cowardly negro" tag or any of it's variants. Not a good sign for the voters of the POTUS.

If I were Obama I'd attempt some sub-rosa accord with one of the other candidates and have HIM go on the attack for me with some mutual understanding somewhere down the road if things went my way. I'd employ the tried and true method of employing guerillas/mercenaries to keep my foe busy and tie up her/his figurative materials, support, and otherwise their ability to wage war on me until such time as D-Day arose. From there Obama would be in a much better position.

Frank said...

Steve says

I think that the Clintons have found the best tactic against Obama. By making him run against both of them simultaneously

But at the same eet gives him a way to attack Hillary without attacking her gender: simply attack Bill.

And this is precisely what he is doing.

But I'm afraid that in the end, Baldilocks will be correct in her assessment that what we are seeing "may be dubbed the Great Identity Politics War when we look back on it."

. Now it's Black Man against White Man--and you know who the alleged underdog is in this battle.

Just remember the nature of Identity Politics Wars; the "weaker" opponent is always the victor.

Steven Barnes said...

I don't think he should attack Bill. That's another trap. He needs to find a SURROGATE of sufficient authority to attack Bill. If he attacks, he has to step out of his strongest personae. And remember: the natural, and obvious defense: "Bill's not running." Yeah, I know that her candidacy is actually a twofer, but every minute he spends trying to establish that is a minute spent "off his message." It's very tricky, and I don't think there's ever been any circumstance like this before. Untrod territory...

Dan Moran said...

Obama's got a lot of options for surrogates, starting with Oprah. If John Kerry was serious in his endorsement, he'd be a pretty good surrogate too.

Obama should win South Carolina. Blacks are about 50% of the electorate in SC (in the Dem primary) -- and John Edwards should do well enough to draw a big chunk of the white vote, presumably mostly from Hillary. Edwards will likely drop out after South Carolina, leaving Clinton and Obama ...

29th is Florida, where the Dem candidates aren't supposed to campaign -- they're going to have an awful hard time avoiding doing that, though, since apparently they do get to keep their delegates from Florida. (Squabble between Florida Dems and national Dems over the scheduling of the Florida primary. Stupid stuff.)

10 days after SC, it's Super Tuesday, with 23 primaries or caucases -- and odds are good the nominee for both parties is decided on that day.

Dan Moran said...

BTW -- "I Have A Dream" is a great speech, no doubt, but the greatest speech I've ever seen anyone give was the Mountaintop speech. This was a man was nearly certain he was going to die -- he walks out, he's afraid -- and he gets up there and masters his fear and talks about wanting to live a long life, how like Moses he may not live to see the Promised Land, but that's OK, because at least he got to see it. And he was shot the next day.

That's courage.

Frank said...

Steve says

I don't think he should attack Bill.

Too late

Dan Moran

Obama's got a lot of options for surrogates, starting with Oprah.

Oprah's no longer in play, caught in the identity politics crossfire

a backlash by Clinton supporters appears to have prompted a rethink by Winfrey, the African-American media titan who is routinely described as the most influential woman on television.

She did not reappear in the final days before the New Hampshire primary - which Obama lost to Clinton - and has been absent from the most recent campaigning in South Carolina, which votes next weekend.


One of these days, blacks are going to realize the Democratic Party does not respect them.

I think that time may be coming soon.

Dan Moran said...

BTW, the poll we were discussing? How would you feel about Oprah.com as a place to run it? I can post it in the forums there if that works for you ....

Dan Moran said...

"One of these days, blacks are going to realize the Democratic Party does not respect them."

Shrug. There are no black Republicans in the House, Senate, or in any Governor's mansion. I'll grant you Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and Clarence Thomas ... but none of them had to get through a Republican primary. Michael Steele managed it ... in Maryland, that hotbed of conservatism.

There are literally thousands of elected black Democrats in this country. Can you name 100 elected black Republicans? Could you name 10? (At the national level you certainly couldn't -- not one, as I said.)

When Republicans start nominating and electing black candidates the way Dems do, I'll listen to the above. Until then, not likely.

Frank said...

Dan Moran said

There are no black Republicans in the House, Senate, or in any Governor's mansion.

None now, but there have been. You do remember J.C. Watts, representative from Oklahoma from 1994 to 2002.

Back in the day, the day when Democrats were enforcing Jim Crow laws in the South, there was Henry Plummer Cheatham, representative from North Carolina from 1889 to 1893.

Then there was Oscar Stanton De Priest congressman from Illinois from 1929-1935

There was Gary A. Franks, a man exactly one year older than me - to the day - served in the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut for six years, from 1991 until 1997.

This list is not exhaustive.

There is no problem with blacks running in the Republican party, except that blacks choose to be Democrats by and large

Michael Steele managed it ... in Maryland, that hotbed of conservatism.

Yeah. And look what happened to him

Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.


And

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.


"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."


Delegate Salima Siler Marriott, a black Baltimore Democrat, said Mr. Steele invites comparisons to a slave who loves his cruel master or a cookie that is black on the outside and white inside because his conservative political philosophy is, in her view, anti-black.


The day is coming....

Dan Moran said...

Republicans are fond of pointing out the racist history of the Democratic Party ... but not so found of noting that it was the Democratic, conservative South that was guilty of that racism. And that those guys are now Republicans.

I'm guessing that you can't name 10 elected black Republicans. I'm almost certain you can't name 100 -- that was a trick question on my part. There most likely aren't that many elected black Republicans in the whole country. 5-6 years ago there were better than 10,000 elected blacks in the U.S. -- of whom about 50 were Republicans -- less than .5%.

I haven't seen more recent numbers, but I'm skeptical they've doubled.

The day is coming....

Yeah, and Jesus is returning too, but I'm still depositing into my IRA. :-)

el viejo soldado said...

"I don't think he should attack Bill".


Correctamundo. Better to play the-strong-stoic-marching-on-in-the- valley-of-the-shadow act as well as the proverbial Alfred E. Newman. "Who, me?".

I'd even go as far as rigging my own Kobayashi Maru scenario, with fail-safe measures, of course, and making it look like the Clinton Machine did it to me. Something like ... ooooh I dunno ... perhaps get a brave campaign underling ... not too high on the scale ... and not too low either. And, make them a target. Real nasty mean-spirited stuff, and then come to my lamb's rescue with vindicating news while at the same time projecting a smooth righteous indignation over this shameless act of political dirty tricks and wondering aloud WHO could have possibly did this to me and my campaign staff member.

It would be a fait acompli that I'd scour the Clinton campaign record from Arkansas to 1600 Penn Ave and come up with the EXACT same thing that was done to someone else in the sure and certain knowledge that any of a number of reporters would find the same thing and I'd let them do my spit-roasting for me. Then, when eventually asked about it, Mr. Strong Stoic Lets Move On, again.

Perfect.

Steven Barnes said...

You can say that the Democrats don't respect blacks--but you'd have a hard time saying Republicans respect them more. I would give human beings credit for siding with what works best for THEM. If Conservative Republican politics are better for blacks, and they go Democrat, aren'tcha kinda saying they're not smart enough to figure that out? And if that attitude is typical of Conservatives and/or Republicans, I humbly suggest that that is the opposite of an enlightened racial attitude. It's condescending at best.
##
Oprah.com would be fine for such a poll. As would any other board where black women congregate, with the exception of:
1) Specifically feminist boards.
2) Specifically "Civil Rights" boards.
Each of the above could be expected to skew powerfully, tainting the results.

Marty S said...

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

What we need is not liberal Democratic president, or a conservative Republican president but a president of any stripe with the above qualities. Find that person White,Black, Asian, or Hispanic, male or female and I'll vote for him/her

Steven Barnes said...

Amen! Absolutely my opinion. And I deeply believe such people exist. If Obama is such a person, he'll find a way out of the box the Clintons are building for him. If not, he's just a smart, charismatic, probably good-hearted guy. We could use a lot more than that, right now. We could really use a Great Man or Woman right now. What an interesting time.

Anonymous said...

One minor thing on this MLK day: even die-hard Republicans seem to be at least somewhat impressed with Obama.

"Obama's great strength is that he seems intellectually alive, and kind of interesting. He, alone of the three, knows that we have just come through thirty years of unparalleled economic growth. Even -- especially -- in the South. He is the only possible answer to 'which one would you choose to have dinner with?' He might actually say something that wasn't entirely a matter of positioning, just because it was interesting -- or true."


--Erich Schwarz

Frank said...

Steve said

I would give human beings credit for siding with what works best for THEM. If Conservative Republican politics are better for blacks, and they go Democrat, aren'tcha kinda saying they're not smart enough to figure that out?

Well, I'm just looking at the data

A July CNN/USA Today poll found that far more blacks than whites condemn gay marriage....

Numerous polls repeatedly show that many blacks are just as, if not more, conservative than whites when it comes to support of the death penalty, stiffer sentences for drug use, support for school vouchers, and school prayer.


And

About half (47%) say they should be allowed to stay, while an identical percentage (47%) of blacks believe illegal immigrants should be required to leave the U.S. In contrast, whites by a 59%-33% margin say that illegals should be required to return home....

Interestingly, in political swing areas, Blacks are more in line with Republicans than with Democrats on the immigration issue

African Americans in the Raleigh-Durham area are more supportive of restricting immigration - both legal and illegal - than are blacks nationally or those in Chicago or Washington D.C. A solid majority (57%) favors cutting back on legal immigration and 58% support requiring illegal immigrants to return home. And on an issue of local importance, a large majority of blacks in Raleigh-Durham (84%) believe that police should be required to check the immigration status of people they encounter during routine activities such as traffic stops; two-thirds of whites (67%) agree.

Now the fact is that most people are not political junkies like I am, and they form their political opinions using a whole host of reasons. But one thing I find interesting is this study from UCLA

The results on attitudes toward affirmative action showed a polarized pattern. Latinos and blacks strongly supported affirmative action, while Asians stood closely with whites and expressed more negative views toward affirmative action, thereby creating a significant attitudinal gap between Asians and other minorities.

The results rejected the claims made by the so-called “principled politics theory,” which argues that attitudes toward racial policies are determined by political principles — not by the color of one’s skin — and that scholars tend to exaggerate the impact of racism. At the same time, the results affirmed that “symbolic racism” — a new form of anti-black prejudice embodied in traditional American values and rooted in the Protestant work ethic — dominates attitudes toward affirmative action.

The results also showed that Asians had the highest level of symbolic racism, followed by whites, Latinos and blacks. Further, symbolic racism dominates attitudes toward affirmative action for all racial groups, while political principles and ideology have relatively smaller effects on opposition to affirmative action.


But you have to admit, that the percentage of Blacks voting Republican should be higher than it is just based on the attitudes expressed in most surveys.

Perhaps people fear having oreo cookies thrown at them?

And then there is this

the importance of race diminishes with improvements in residential circumstances. With better schools, better police protection, and other benefits of suburban living, middle-class blacks are less likely to think their path in life is determined by their race. What that may mean, she said, is that middle-class blacks are less likely to make political choices based on what’s best for the entire black community.

“We start to see an erosion of the salience of race among middle-class African Americans,” Gay said. “They’re just as likely to identify themselves as black, but what weakens is the extent they believe race determines their road in life.”

Steven Barnes said...

Frank:
I don't doubt that that data is correct. But it is also extremely selective, looking at about five issues, on which the average black person is more conservative than the average white person. Fine. Didn't see there much attempt to see which issues they are more liberal than whites on. Also, we were talking Republican and Democrat, not strictly Conservative and Liberal. From this measure, you'd figure that a large percentage (perhaps the majority) would come down as Conservative Democrats. Frankly, I think that's the case. Republicans average further across that line. IF you accept my contention (even as a thought experiment) that while the majority of Conservatives are not Racist, Racists tend to be Conservative, that would cause a movement toward people who "feel" more accepting and empathetic, even if slightly more "liberal" than most black people actually are. I don't see any contradiction at all--and they're still voting their interests.

Frank said...

Steve said

looking at about five issues, on which the average black person is more conservative than the average white person.

I think these are five major issues when it comes to party differentiation.

And I don't think that in all cases blacks are more conservative than whites, just that it would seem that there should be more than 10% of blacks voting for the Republican Party.

. IF you accept my contention (even as a thought experiment) that while the majority of Conservatives are not Racist, Racists tend to be Conservative, that would cause a movement toward people who "feel" more accepting and empathetic, even if slightly more "liberal" than most black people actually are.

I absolutely do not accept this contention. And one of the reasons that I think the black voting population may begin to change their view is that this contest between Obama and Clinton has a very good chance of destroying the facade of tolerance that is enjoyed by the Democratic Party.

I think that Republicans have been associated with "racists" mostly because of their general stand on Affirmative Action. I also think that this stereotype has been subliminally encouraged by the Democratic Party.

I think that blacks have (wrongly) perceived the Democratic Party as their party. And I think that may change, even is slightly, very soon.

And I do not argue that blacks are not voting to what they perceive to be in their interest. I just think that there is a whole lot of inertia going on: especially when Democrats take for granted the black vote.

Steven Barnes said...

On issues alone, you may be right: a larger proportion of blacks should be members of the Republican party. But you also have to factor in social things, like how isolated they are if they make that move. Perhaps that shouldn't factor in, but people are people. Understand that if I'm right about more racists being on the Right than on the Left, your very lack of ability to see this is part of the problem.
And to believe what you do, you have to discount my entire lifetime of being around white folks. Frankly, this is another thing that I hear highly politicized people do a lot: invalidate the personal experiences of people who disagree with their world view.
If blacks have genuinely experienced more racism than white Conservatives believe to exist, there is a certain fatigue in explaining, over and over again, what that experience has been. I have hugely more tolerance for it than most.
Liberals tend to see the same world (in terms of the effects of racism) that most blacks see. Tehy tend to grasp the same points of view most swiftly, and be much more empathetic. Conservatives tend to take the position that this stuff is in our heads. "Just get over it." "You've been programmed to think X" "you don't know what's best for you..." and so forth.
Very, very paternalistic.
##
In my mind, the reason you have a hard time grasping this is that at your core, you believe that the majority of the best ideas are on the Right. I believe that each side has good ideas, but that different ideas have different realistic appeals to different people depending on their life situations. Aren't you, for instance, saying "I know what's good for them better than they seem to"? And while I grasp that you believe to have good reasons to think that, you need to understand that that attitude is perceived as, at a minimum, condescending. And if you believe that blacks disproportionately choose the wrong party (you might think, for instance that EVERYONE would be best as a Conservative) you are edging into racist territory. Why exactly are blacks more likely to make bad decisions in this arena than white, one might ask you? Nature? Nurture..? If you don't see why black people get very, very tired of hearing white conservatives say things that, by THEIR definitions, sound racist, while claiming up and down and sideways that there is more racism among those who empathize with and understand the lives blacks have actually led (or believe themselves to have led) then you have a big, big block here. This attitude, right there, the one you can see in the mirror, Frank, is what keeps more black people from feeling comfortable around white Conservatives. They just don't understand, and think they do--in fact they seem to think they understand us better than we do. If you want to attract more black people to Conservatism, you MUST understand this. Most of my personal beliefs and actions are in alignment with my conservative friends, but I get weary of them thinking that studying lions teaches them more about "lion-ness" than actually being one. And I honestly, truly, don't get as much of that same sense from liberals. Sorry.

Frank said...

Steve says

On issues alone, you may be right: a larger proportion of blacks should be members of the Republican party. But you also have to factor in social things, like how isolated they are if they make that move.

Precisely.

Aren't you, for instance, saying "I know what's good for them better than they seem to"?

No. I am simply saying that it would seem that blacks are under-represented in the Republican Party based on the attitudes they profess to hold.

Liberals tend to see the same world (in terms of the effects of racism) that most blacks see. Tehy tend to grasp the same points of view most swiftly, and be much more empathetic.

I agree

Conservatives tend to take the position that this stuff is in our heads. "Just get over it."

I disagree with this. I think conservatives tend to say that yes, you are in fact discriminated against. And there is no helping this other than education and understanding. But we all have problems, some more than others. So what are you going to do about it?

I think Liberals tend to say "we have to fix you" And perhaps that latter is more appealing.

If you don't see why black people get very, very tired of hearing white conservatives say things that, by THEIR definitions, sound racist, while claiming up and down and sideways that there is more racism among those who empathize with and understand the lives blacks have actually led (or believe themselves to have led) then you have a big, big block here.

Yeah well perhaps I do. But I grew up with blacks and hispanics and jews. I grew up with Italians and Irish and Poles. I grew up in Down State New York. Long Island that is. Vacationed every weekend in Manhattan. Just as often going to the Apollo as the Fillmore East.

What I hate is people telling me that I have no experience with their experience, or that I have less experience or am less empathetic than someone else.

And I also hate when you assume that I don't know how whites act and what they say behind your back. So perhaps I have a piece of the puzzle you don't and will never have.

What I am saying is people can be just as empathetic and have different solutions.

My parents were Italian working class. They were, as was most of my family died in the wool Democrats. They still are.

One thing I have learned is the power of groups. Which is why I don't belong to any. No political parties, no religions. Groups such as these warp intellectual inquiry because groups pressure us to conform. They form the baseline of what it safe to believe and still be part of the group.

And this is why I am very much in agreement with the first statement I quoted.

If you want to attract more black people to Conservatism, you MUST understand this.

I fankly do not want to attract anyone to anything. I state my views because I believe they are reasoned. Because I believe there is evidence to support them. Not because I am trying to get you to join my group. If I convince you by the power of my argument, well good for you. If not, happy trails. As Dylan once said "Time will tell who has fell and who was left behind, when you go your way and I go mine"

I don't have a group for you to join.

You have grouped me into some group to which I do not belong, and then have convinced yourself I'm trying to get you to join.

Am I a Republican? No. I have certain beliefs that sometimes are reflected more accurately by what Republicans say they believe. But there are others that are more accurately reflected by Democrats.

I, for instance am very aligned with what Fred Thompson said he was about. But Republicans clearly are not.

I disagree with Thompson on almost every social issue: abortion and gay marriage for instance. In that I am more aligned with Democrats (but I note that not a single Democratic candidate has the fortitude to endorse Gay Marriage while many Republicans will stand up and say they are against abortion)

Most of my personal beliefs and actions are in alignment with my conservative friends, but I get weary of them thinking that studying lions teaches them more about "lion-ness" than actually being one.

Yeah, well, I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day I will live in a nation where people will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

And I'm not giving up that dream and I intend to live it in order to make it true.

Whether anyone else does or not.

Steven Barnes said...

Frank, I just about love your last post. Well thought and humane. A couple of comments:
1)"And I also hate when you assume that I don't know how whites act and what they say behind your back. So perhaps I have a piece of the puzzle you don't and will never have." True! My perception of what whites say to each other is based on reading what they say in forums, books, etc. where they are apparently speaking to each other with no apparent thought that anyone non-white would read. Hard to believe they're changing that just to fool me.
2) Liberals going to fix us. Hmm. I do think they tend to have a sense that black culture is broken in some ways (which I agree with) and they believe more in social engineering to deal with this than Conservatives tend to.
3) A color-blind society is great if everybody really believes in it. But color-blindness can also obscure the reality of the guy next door who selectively hates black people. You'll just think that he hates 10% of the people he encounters. Multiply that out across millions of people, and you have a recipe for racists to hide in plain sight.
4) In no way, shape or form do I think that Conservatives are less humane or decent than Liberals. Just that the two ends of the spectrum tend to have different diseases. I think you believe that the Right is less diseased than the Left: that is of course, your prerogative.
But to me, this is just the natural human tendency to believe that where we are, and what we are, is better.
##
But your dream of a righteous and strong America is shared by almost everyone I know. The basic difference seems to be what people think about the place we are now, and what means should be employed to move forward.
##
You imply that, when black people are not present, you hear Liberals saying viler things (on average) than Conservatives. Am I accurate in interpreting you? And if so, I'd love for other white readers to chime it: O.K.: when black folks aren't present, and negative comments are made, are the politics of the commenter more often Liberal or Conservative?

Frank said...

Factoid from the City Journal

when he excoriates politicians for “letting this happen,” he’s directing his fire at Congressional Black Caucus members who support open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens. “Massive illegal immigration has been devastating to my community,” Anderson, a former auto mechanic and longtime South Central Los Angeles resident, tells listeners. “Black Americans are hit the hardest.”

Though blacks have long worried that the country’s growing foreign-born population, especially its swelling rolls of illegal immigrants, harmed their economic prospects, they have also followed their political leadership in backing liberal immigration policies. Now, however, as new waves of immigration inundate historically African-American neighborhoods, black opinion is hardening against the influx. “We will not lay down and take this any longer,” says Anderson. If he’s right, it could upend the political calculus on immigration.


Read the whole thing...