Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When Democrats Are Racists and Reactionaries

Another African-American male given preferential treatment. His very own Waiting Room!

I didn't think it would be possible to be surprised any more by the crap emanating from the Clinton campaign. But I was so angry after watching clips of Geraldine Ferraro's comments last night that I had a hard time getting to sleep.

Folks, this is not good. We are dealing with a level of racism on the part of the Clinton campaign that every Democrat, liberal, or simply intelligent human being should be ashamed of.

In fact, I'm calling you Clinton fans out. I want one of you to explain to me how it's possible for someone to belong to a party that espouses civil rights, justice, and fairness out of one side of its big mouth while trying to nominate a candidate who has consistently engaged in racism and fear-mongering in order to get elected.

And before you start blaming Barack Obama for bringing up race, tell me when Obama has ever mentioned the subject in his campaign when he wasn't responding to the bilge coming from one Clinton surrogate or another. Find a speech. Maybe there is one. But I think you're going to have a hard time.

Ferraro's comments are being directed at the kind of of angry white male (and, obviously, female) that I foolishly thought belonged mostly on the right-wing. But, evidently, the old racist Southern Democrat mentality still exists within other areas of the Democratic Party. In Pennsylvania, perhaps? Could it be that Ferraro and the Clintons know exactly who this kind of spiritual diarrhea appeals to? And that a good number of those people happen to be in the next primary state?

Yes, it could be.

In fact, that's the point. Piss-off people like me, so I'll react; create a big stir in the media, because so many are disgusted with an obvious race-baiting tactic; which lets loose the barely suppressed racist rage of angry white folks who will then blame the smooth-talking black guy for bringing up race. And he probably got into Harvard over some poor, lily white girl who was smarter.

And I fall for it, and the media falls for it, and the Clintons have accomplished their purpose. It doesn't matter who's right or wrong on the question. The only thing that matters is outrage and the inevitable reactionary response.

I know that voice Ferraro used, and I know exactly who she's talking to. I've heard their whispers and their open racist comments around me my whole life. From Texas to New York City to Long Island. They're the guys in Billie's Tavern who say, "Long Island is the last bastion of white people in America." They listen to Ferraro and know exactly where she's coming from. Poor, victimized white people. They're one or two drinks away from donning a white robe and going after one of the few blacks who live around here, or after the Mexican immigrants.

And if you want a Democratic Party that leans on racism and reactionaries, then heed Ferraro's words.

Otherwise, I suggest you contact some of the big-shots in the Democratic Party and tell them: ENOUGH!

Tell them that this is not what the Democratic Party stands for. The ongoing race-baiting and fear-mongering on the part of the Clintons is doing tremendous and probably long-term damage to the the party, not to mention to the country.

Here's info for some major Democrats not yet affiliated with either campaign. If anyone has Al Gore's contact page or email, let me know. And if you think of anyone else in the party who should be contacted, please chime in.

Howard Dean (DNC)

Nancy Pelosi: AmericanVoices@mail.house.gov

Bill Richardson

John Edwards: press@johnedwards.com

UPDATE: Liam found contact info for Al Gore (thanks):

Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620 Nashville, TN 37203
Fax: 615-327-1323
Phone: 615-327-2227
For press interview requests, email Al Gore’s spokesperson, Kalee Kreider at Kalee@carthagegroup.com

Gasp! More African-American men getting preferential treatment. His very own water fountain!

Meanwhile, I'll let Shark Fu (AngryBlackBitch) give you her take on Geraldine Ferraro.

As a side note, AngryBlackBitch was just named one of The World's 50 Most Powerful Blogs by The Guardian. Congratulations!

Dear Geraldine:

This is not an attack.

This is a response.

I woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning thinking about you, Geraldine.

I lay there listening to my sorta-beagles snore and wondered if you really think that Senator Obama is still in this race solely because he is a black man.

I don’t know you, Geraldine, and I don’t assume a person is decent simply because they hold a certain status in the Democratic Party and feminist history. This bitch has never met you, but I sure as shit know what it is like to have someone attribute my success to my being black.

It’s the freakiest mind fuck out there to have someone treat what has been the source of oppression like it is the “it” benefit of 2008.

But you know that, don’t you…Geraldine?

Let’s get real, Geraldine. You don’t give a flying shit whether you offend the hell out of some people as long as your message gets through to the right people. The kind of people who hear a quote like that and are thankful that someone said it…fucking cheer when they hear it then eagerly e-mail it to five friends…and can’t believe you’re catching hell for it.

Those people…

…who you need to fire up and are confident the tried and true fuel of 'gender trumps race' will get it done and bring in some money.

This trifling ass shit has left me unable to imagine a scenario where I cast the vote people risked their lives and died to achieve for me for a candidate who's campaign insults what I stand for and the principles I believe in.

And next time don’t bother with the “and if he was a woman (of any color)” pander, okay?

I haven’t been caught up in that unified sisterhood concept yet, honey...and your verbal malfunction didn’t help with that shit one bit.

I’m not attacking you because you are white.

This is coming at you because you’re wrong…
Still more preferential treatment for African-American males! Why do they get to play with the ropes while the poor white folks only get to watch the fun?!?!?

UPDATE: Geraldine Ferraro resigned from her position on Hillary Clinton's finance committee.

And she still doesn't get it.

Going out with the same lack of grace that got her into this mess to begin with, she once again blamed Obama for her own dumbass, bigoted remarks:
"I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign," Ferraro wrote. "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen."


pbwiener said...

I listened closely to Ferraro's statement. Unless I see evidence that the Clintons prompted her, or that her remarks were part of a planned campaign, I fail to see them as racist or race-baiting. Isn't it possible that a comment about a black man's standing, political or otherwise, can NOT be made without its being attributed to racism? Especially in Ferraro's case. Would it better if her comments were true but never expressed or discussed? Do you think it never occurred to anyone before she spoke that his race was a major, if unusually nuanced, factor in his appeal? I believe her comments were essentially true. It does not diminish Obama to see him as the beneficiary of extremely fortuitous circumstances (while having excellent political skills). He may very well be an excellent leader. But that can be said of virtually ANY candidate. In Barack's case, his appearance is notable, symbolic and highly charged. He would not be Obama if he weren't black! He has very little going for him otherwise, no matter what one may think of Hillary's style. Do you think him a better candidate than Edwards? If he were white, would he have overshadowed Edwards? True, Ferraro probably should have buttoned her lips on the air. But then, why? When will Americans ever be able to talk freely and honestly about "racism" as a natural component of daily life? Obama is the perfect Hillary-opponent at this time, but almost certainly not the best candidate. That such evil could be so easily attributed to Clinton is typical of almost all cautionary Obama supporters. In a sense, the anti-Clinton pols and many pie-in-the-sky Obama supporters are creating the racism issue, knowing that they'll probably get away with it, due to circumstances beyond, as well as within, their control.

cowboyangel said...

Gotta disagree with you, Paul. And I think your response is exactly what the Clintons want.

This isn't the first time Ferraro's made comments about race in this campaign. It's the third time by my count. And, I'm sorry, but I think her initial argument is ridiculous. Ask any African-American who's been pulled over because of the color of his or her skin what kind of advantage there is in being black in this country. Ask the outrageous number of African-Americans in our prisons what kind of advantage it is. There's one half-black Senator out 100, and you're telling me being black puts you in a priveleged position?

Obama didn't get where he is by being black. He got where he is by being smart.

And, sorry, but you add Ferraro's comments together with Gloria Steinem's op-ed trying to make this a sex versus race issue, Bob Johnson's comments, the email from Clinton's Iowa staffers calling Obama a muslim, Andrew Cuomo's "shuck and jive" comment, and other comments and actions by the Clinton campaign, and you're damn right I think there's an identifiable pattern of race-baiting. And fear-mongering. They're playing to the worst instincts in human beings. They're playing to the reactionary in all of us.

There are numerous ways of talking about racism and sexism. People talk about it all the time. But the way folks like Ferraro and Steinem have done it smacks completely of opportunism in the midst of a tough political campaign.

The reason it's easy to ascribe these kinds of things to the Clintons is because of their history. This is exactly how they operate.

You need to go back and watch Primary Colors! :-)

It's not the first time I've heard the "Obama supporters are creating the race issue" line. But again, find me a concrete example of something Obama has said about race when it wasn't in response to crap from the Clintons. Find me one single example.

I'm responding to the race issue, because I'm disgusted that so-called liberals stoop to using what are basically fascist tactics - stirring up race and fear issues - just to get elected. I feel like I'm watching a campaign being run by the Falange in Spain in 1936. And what galls me even more is watching so many Democrats nod their heads and vote for the woman. How can you feel good about this? This is what you want your president to be like?

And I don't think of myself as some "pie-in-the-sky" Obama supporter. He was my third choice. I have my own concerns about him as a candidate. What has made me more of a supporter has been watching the Clintons pull this kind of crap again and again.

pbwiener said...

It's easy to see how this election promises to divide Democrats, Americans - and friends. As far as I can tell, the chief arguments for supporting Obama rest on vague promises and on encouraging anti-Clintonism (as if Clinton's bona fides hadn't already been well-established among minority groups, many of whom are now terrified of staying the course). That's OK - that's politics. But, aside from his opposing the Iraq invasion, I still don't see a case for Obama being given the extreme powers that governing a failing America unload on its leaders - other than that he is (currently) running against a problematic opponent (conveniently a "bitch"),is young, is an excellent orator (when using prepared speeches), and uses his peculiar background to position himself above racial politics. He hasn't earned the right to power - though he may use it wisely; it's a risk we may have to take. Colin Powell, and even Condy Rice, have earned the right, if you need a racial analog. But they're Bushies....Even New York's new Governor David Paterson has a more impressive background than Obama. I'll gladly vote for Barack if he's the candidate. But remember, if he is, he'll be running against the predictably unpredictable Republican efforts to promote McCain's white-haired experience and fair-skinned seniority. Still, there's no denying Obama's appeal. After all, many of us skeptics can still be fanned by the flap of one patriotic wing or another, not to mention hope (thanks to the lessons of Beckett), the hoary ideals of capitalist democracy, the myths of equality, and the pleasures of demonizing the opposition. But when it comes to What is to be Done?, I'm all for a new Constitutional Convention. Or do we need a Revolution first?

cowboyangel said...

I don't think Obama encourages anti-Clintonism. I think a lot of Democrats just don't like the Clintons. Come on, even a lot of old Clintonites don't like the Clintons. Bill's campaign manager in 1992 works for Obama. The PR guy from 1992 works for Obama. A lot of Obama's big early money came from former Clinton supporters. Bill and Hillary burned A LOT of people who worked with them, Paul. Why is it so hard to imagine that other Democrats simply dislike them for good reasons? They themselves have seemed completely unable to recognize this very fact. That's why they were caught off-guard in this election. They just don't get it. They think anyone who's against them is part of some "vast right-wing conspiracy." In their Bush-like arrogance, they never consider that THEY themselves may be the problem.

It will be interesting to see how Paterson does. I wish him the best of luck. It's not an easy situation to go into.

Garpu the Fork said...

I'm really getting tired of the whole notion that you're somehow anti-woman, if you wouldn't vote for Clinton. If I were to vote for her, it wouldn't be because of her genotype. If I vote for Obama, it's not because of his genotype or his skin tone, either.

The whole "well women have it worse" line is getting old, as well. PoC have been marginalized. Women have been marginalized. It's not a question of victim one-upmanship, either, because that just leads to infighting.

Liam said...

William -- great post. I wouldn't know where to start with this issue. Ferraro's comments have been thoroughly vile. It plays both the race vs. gender issue and the "privileged black man" issue, which though completely insane, is widely believed in this country, especially among Clinton's targets -- working class "Reagan Democrats" who lap up the garbage about affirmative action privileges and "welfare queens." There has been so much racist crap coming out of the Clinton campaign that I defy anyone to say it isn't coordinated. You even have Hillary herself saying Obama isn't Muslim "AS FAR AS I KNOW." And now, Clinton is probably not a racist -- but she'll use racism.

As far as Obama's qualifications -- he's smart, has an international background, has more legislative experience than Hillary Clinton, and has run a brilliant campaign.

The only advantage Obama has had from his race is his support among African-Americans, 13% of the population. This demographic, formerly staunchly pro-Clinton, was sacrificed by the Clintons when they decided to make Obama "the black candidate" before South Carolina, figuring that would marginalize him as a one-demographic candidate. Blacks have been overwhelmingly pro-Obama both because he is inspiring and because they recognize racism coming from the other side when they see it.

cowboyangel said...

PoC have been marginalized. Women have been marginalized. It's not a question of victim one-upmanship, either, because that just leads to infighting.


Keith Olbermann had a poignant line this evening in his critique of the Ferraro "disaster," saying that comments like this should be rejected by BOTH candidates, that "[Clinton] as a woman, and Senator Obama as an African-American, should both know and feel with the deepest of personal pain, which you should both fight with all you have, which you both should ensure has no place in this contest, ever."

Alas, that hasn't been the case.

cowboyangel said...


It plays both the race vs. gender issue and the "privileged black man" issue, which though completely insane, is widely believed in this country, especially among Clinton's targets -- working class "Reagan Democrats" who lap up the garbage about affirmative action privileges and "welfare queens."

I don't understand why more Democrats aren't disturbed by the Clintons moving the party so far to the right, as they have done since 1992. At some point, after pushing through a Republican agenda on NAFTA, welfare, or the Telecommunications Act, or after invading Iraq, you'd think more of their supporters would question the Clintons' right-wing tendencies.

The only advantage Obama has had from his race is his support among African-Americans, 13% of the population. This demographic, formerly staunchly pro-Clinton, was sacrificed by the Clintons when they decided to make Obama "the black candidate" before South Carolina, figuring that would marginalize him as a one-demographic candidate.

That's one of the most disturbing aspects to all of this, how blatant a strategy it seems. And, on top of that, a feeling that the Clintons must take the blacks for granted so much that they think they'll vote for Hillary in November anyway. No matter what the campaign says or does. This has always been one of the things I most dislike about the Clintons - a constant feeling that they're insulting my intelligence in such an obvious way. I always think of the line: "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining."

But they keep pissing on my leg and telling me it's raining and that it's good for me.

And I actually hate that more than Republicans who just piss on my leg because they can. At least, then, I know what I'm facing.

Liam said...

Al Gore
Fax: 615-327-1323
Phone: 615-327-2227
For press interview requests, email Al Gore’s spokesperson, Kalee Kreider at Kalee@carthagegroup.com (sorry - best I could do)
Honorable Al Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Suite 620 Nashville, TN 37203

cowboyangel said...


Thanks for the info! Where did you find it?

Liam said...

Someone on TPM or Huffington Post, suggesting a similar thing.

cowboyangel said...

I think it was TPM. I saw their post not long after I asked you the question. Only they wanted Gore, Pelosi, etc. to persuade Hillary to quit. I'm not really comfortable with that. And I can't see Party leaders doing anything like that. But I do think they can tell the Clintons to cut the racist crap. And for all of us to chill out a bit.

cowboyangel said...

You know, if we were watching Edwards or Richardson versus Obama, I have a really hard time believing this kind of crap would be taking place.

pbwiener said...

Because of the response to my post, I'm forced to ask myself, once again, if I'm blind to my own racism. Why is it that I can't see what William and Olberman and others see so clearly? Or, if I do see it, why doesn't it bother me more? I already know Hillary, if nominated, can't win the election. Obama will be a fine candidate, though I still believe Hillary has the best mind of all candidates.

I have to conclude: no, I'm not blind to my own racism. I've always been aware of it and able to put it in its place, just like I can see and ignore at the same time those endless, abominable drug ads on TV. My prejudices cut across all races and groups. In fact, it's "groupiness" I hate most, and one reason I admire Obama. It seems perfectly obvious that he has the rare ability - maybe unique in American history - to be both black and more than black at the same time - in public. He's the opposite of The Invisible Man. This doesn't mean we should ignore his race or deny that he's able to use it to advantage. I think that's what Ferraro was getting at, though I realize that some people (aided by the media) abuse her remarks and turn them into "racist commentary." (And by the way, she was right about Jesse Jackson too. He was never anything but a racial figurehead.) Unfortunately, Hillary is having a harder time transcending her gender than Barack is his race. Obama's popularity proves that our male-dominated culture is alive and well.

(Let me add as an aside, that the claim that the red phone ad was subliminally racist is as absurd as all identity-based "readings" of literature and history.)

To think that only Republicans would be prone to racism is absurd, of course. Democrats too have to learn how to handle their own, hpwever much of it has been buried by guilt and shame. Obama knows and must be prepared to handle every kind of racist stereotyping that's been festering here for 300 years.
Simply stating that he's using his race brilliantly - by emerging as a new unbreakable alloy of the melting pot - is not racist. It's fact. It's a reason to cheer, and a reason (for some) to regret that Hillary couldn't have her chance to shine. But please don't try to convince me that politics isn't, and should't be, dirty. We're all dirty - ashes and dust.