...always nice to see a referring address from Stormfront in your blog data. I guess the blog is really wide open. But forgive me if I don't venture over to peek in on the convo.
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
...always nice to see a referring address from Stormfront in your blog data. I guess the blog is really wide open. But forgive me if I don't venture over to peek in on the convo.
Here's Max Blumenthal's latest, a piece of agitprop that's designed to show angry black folks are over Sean Bell. I, despite my flagrant blackness, have had mixed feelings over this, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. I also am a fan of that Obama guy. Still I think this video largely shows why cats like me are only slightly more comfortable with white liberals than with white conservatives, and why even that bit of consideration may be foolish.
I have some clue that Blumenthal probably likes black folks a little more than Sean Hannity, but I don't really care about that. What concerns me is that Blumenthal shares Hannity's objectification of black people, and sees us not as actually complex humanoids, but as means to an end. It matters little that Hannity's end is to absolve white people of any responsibility, and Blumenthal's end is to show--ostensibly--that the justice system is flawed. The roots of racism always lie in an inability to understand tha the cat on the other side eats/sleeps/drinks just like you. Both white lefties and white righties have yet to come to terms with that.
Blumenthal is case and point, and he tips his hand when he calls Barack Obama to account for the Bell verdict, apparently because Obama is--like Bell--black. But Blumenthal only passingly mentions Hillary Clinton whose job it is to, oh I don't know, actually represent New Yorkers. But Obama, from Blumenthal's perspective, is supposed to side with the black protectors since black people aren't members of the human race, but really are brainless automatons who must always walk together in lockstep unity--preferably to the beat of a Snoop Dogg number.
I make no charges about Blumenthal's ancestry, nor about the sainthood of Obama. Of course Obama was being politically expedient with the Bell trial--that's what he better do if he wants to win. But what's Hillary's excuse? Oh right, I forgot. She's white and entitled to think/say/do whatever she wants. Blumenthal claims Obama is walking a fence between black and white voters, despite the fact that he's pulling in 90 percent of our side, but never mentions that Clinton has been rendered George Wallace by the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency. Most comically, Blumenthal attacks the Times for their coverage of the Bell case, presumably because they went out and actually interviewed a diverse set of black folks and found--surprise, surprise--the niggers actually have differing opinions!
Anyway, here's your dosage of white liberal patronage for the day. Enjoy. I need a bath.
Send black kids to Kentucky and West Virgina. I should say that I never bought the whole "actin white" idea anyway as any meaningful explanation of anything, besides the bruised egos of few profesional talkers. But its corollary that black America--moreso than the rest of the country--has a culture of anti-intellectualism is so abundantly false as to make me break out into fits of laughter at its very mention. A sampling from all those white folks who value intellectual rigor so much more than us thuggish blacks, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan (yes, I get the irony):
"I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife's an atheist," - Leonard Simpson, a West Virginia Democrat. Then this:
Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, insisted he was not racist but said he would feel more comfortable with Mr McCain, the 71-year-old Vietnam war hero, in the White House. "I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president," he said.
Meanwhile, I get an email like this:
This guy is a muslim trying to take over religion, rights, gunns, and lastly our country.
Does anyone remember 911. He's cunning and a racists. He is connected with dirty money and bad connections in the rest of the world.
Haha. And grammar check! Don't forget the socialist grammar check! Seriously though, if anything exposes the lie that black folks have more disdain for book-smarts than the wider country, it should be the smearing of Obama by legitimate thugs, based largely on the fact that he went to an Ivy League school and doesn't pack a shotgun to Senate hearings.
I do think his bitter remark was condescending, but I think the whole "What's The Matter With Kansas" argument is condescending, cynical and unhelpful, in that it argues that voting for things other than your economic interest is strictly the province of the rich. But what if you genuinely believe that abortion is against the wishes of God? Is the liberal argument that money should trump that? I'd rather have the argument, and lose the votes--temporarily, at least. Anyway, my main point is that this election should really show that anti-intellectualism is an equal plague upon all our houses.
One very foolish meme that's made it's way into the primary is this notion that black people voting for Barack in large margins is the equivalent (or on the scale of racism, arguably worse) of white people breaking for Hillary in similar margins. I doubt that anyone who reads this blog thinks like that, and truthfully, I haven't seen it in any of the blogs I read. It's one of those notions that you hear from beefheads like Joe Scarborough or in the Huffington Post comment section. I know, I know, those sources are roughly equal in credibility, but I just want to venture a quick response.
Blacks have been voting for whites for president since they've gotten the vote. There is no question about black people's ability to vote for a white man for president. Even in cases when blacks have a so-called black leader in the actual race, they still--in crucial times--have voted for the white guy. This is why it was patently foolish to infer that Latinos voting for Hillary were racist, when in fact Latinos had supported black candidates on several occasions.
Sorta. Actually this is just more shameless shilling for a new memoir I've written. The book is about my father and his relationship to two of his five sons--myself and my older brother "Big Bill." Anyway, there's been a lot of things going on in regards to press. Just wanted to pass folks off some links.
Here I am talking to the Wall Street Journal, mostly about process and why my background as journalist made me suspicious of the whole memoir genre.
Here is a piece in Newsweek that talks about the book and contextualizes it with some other discussions around black men and fathers.
Here is me on the radio talking to one of my father's old buddies, Mark Steiner. The convo was going great until he ambushed me with a critique of the last part of my Nation piece on Obama and Steele. Of course he was right. And my Dad subsequently rapped me for the same thing.
Also we have this piece from Publisher's Weekly about me and my Dad and the confluence of two events--his publication of Walter Mosley's Tempest Tales and Spiegel & Grau's publication of The Beautiful Struggle.
And of course, here is a video put together by some folks at the Atlantic, one of the classiest outfits I've ever had the privilege of writing for. A shout out to Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, with whom I may well be collaborating for my next book! Anyway, enjoy guys.
My father called me today to get on me, as he does at times, for something I wrote. As I discuss in my Atlantic piece, the last time we really got into it was over a piece I did for the Voice in which I dismissed Bill Cosby as the "patron saint of black elitists." Harsh, yeah and not something I would say today. But still me and Dad remain on different sides of the Cosby story. Pops is sure Bill Cosby is doing a world of good for black folks. I'm not so certain. But as I've told many people, this is how I was raised. Me and my brother Menelik always joke about how Dad used to put on NPR in the car and then debate you over your opinion. Pops raised us to think a little different, and so it's natural that on some things, we come out on different sides.
Of course sometimes, he's just right. Today, I was walking down Lenox Ave. talking to him about something I'd written in the Nation about Obama, which he generally liked. But there were two points of disagreement that he held fairly strongly. The first being this very general statement about Obama, black folks and racism that I make in the piece:
This is why all the fuss over how much or how little Obama addresses racism misses the point. Obama mentions white racism about as often as black people actually think about white racism--which is to say rarely.
This is not an endorsement. I came up waving The Final Call and convinced that the answer to everything lay in the last words of Frantz Fanon. To which most of my friends would reply, "So, who won the game last night?" Survey the average voter in Harlem, Detroit or West Baltimore, ask her to rank her presidential concerns and see where "reparations" or "abolishing the Confederate flag" compares with, say, "healt hcare" or "ending the war." In the wake of Obama's speech on race in Philadelphia, the pundits swooned, marveling specifically at Obama's willingness to say that those who fled inner-city America, who opposed affirmative action, were not racist.
That's kind of true, but--as my Pops said--it basically argues that black people aren't concerned about racism in any respect, which just ain't the case. Two things are going on there. As a kid, I was a fairly militant cat and one of my constant pet peeves was how "unconscious" I thought black people were. Thus when I hear someone like Steele caricature black America as this lefty black nationalist cabal, it goes against everything I know. And it should. But what I missed was how my perspective also colors things. It's simply incorrect to say black folks only rarely talk about "white racism." More to the point, they talk about it in a much more complicated way than most people think.
Kathy pivots off my rebuttal to Hitch, and makes a pretty good point:
The Hitchens piece, contemptible piece o' shite though it is, a surefire sign that, now that it's clear Hillary's presidential campaign is all but over, the right is proceeding apace with its attempt to Hillary-ize Michelle Obama. We have, of course, all heard about how "unpatriotic" she is. Maureen Dowd has already cattily attacked her for not being sufficiently deferential to her husband. And now we're being treated to Hitchens' exegesis of how her college term papers prove she's really Stokely Carmichael in drag. Delightful! But hey . . . radical, unfeminine, unpatriotic -- remind you of any other right-wing caricatures of a certain prominent Democratic woman with a famous husband?
Kathy puts Hitch's take in with the sort of attacks that people once hurled at Hillary. I agree. But I think I was more taken aback by the naked laziness of the Hitchens piece, than I was by the conclusion. But I guess Kathy would say that's the point. It's not like the attacks against Hillary back in the 90s were the result of deep contemplation.
Thanks to Matt Yglesias, Kathy G and Brad Delong for referring people over here, and letting me leach off their audience. Lotta new eyeballs here. Hope you guys stay. Guess this means I actually have to start thinking before I blog. And using the spell check. Can't forget about the socialist spell-check. Seriously though, the pieces in The Atlantic and The Nation have really garnered some new eyeballs, which is cool. Of course the problem is that you now get fairly intelligent people disagreeing with you. I miss the good old days of writing at the Voice, when I used to get to say things like this, and nobody said a peep, cause nobody was reading. It's a new world I guess. Or maybe not. We'll see.
Not that I think the Secret Service is racist, but...
Secret Service supervisors shared crude sexual jokes and engaged in racially derogatory banter about blacks, and passed around an anecdote about a possible assassination of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, according to internal e-mail disclosed in a federal court filing on Friday by lawyers for black Secret Service agents.
The filing includes 10 e-mail messages that were among documents the agency recently turned over to lawyers for the black agents as part of an increasingly bitter discrimination lawsuit. The messages were written mainly from 2003 through 2005, and were sent to and from e-mail accounts of at least 20 Secret Service supervisors.
For the record, they had to search through 20 million electronic documents over 16 years. I think if you had searched all my e-mail over the past year you could turn up some gems. <Ahem> But what interests me most is the joking about the death of Jesse Jackson and his wife. I have my beefs with Jesse, but I've never quite understood why he engenders so much hate in certain quarters of white America. Admittedly, this is from a biased black perspective, but most of the people that irk me at least have some sort of power to influence something. When I hear Rev. Hagee blaming Katrina on the gays, it bothers me because we know that nuts like him have the ears of the highest levels of American government and thus can influence policy. Were he just some dude ranting, I really could care less.
When I had cable I used to love the A&E documentaries on the KKK--I found their "Kill the blacks and the Jews first" quite humorous, mostly because I knew it was basically the rantings of pathetic powerless people. It's not like those guys are influencing anything in my life. (Were this 1963, I would probably feel different.) Likewise, what is Jesse really doing to white people? What has he ever done to white people besides get them a day off from work? Again, I'm not saying Jesse isn't problematic and slippery. But really folks...
Seriously. In the post below, I called for explanations to Barack's problems in Applachia and the South. What I got was some sterling and intriuging responses I'd like to highlight. What amazes me is that for crap people talk about blogs and the internet, I can post a question, and within a few hours get some fairly nuanced, complicated and intriguing explanations that run much deeper than the cliche, warmed-over, working class white people, NASCAR Dad, Defense Mom, Beer Track, Wine Track, intellectual swill that served up every night on cable news.
On a quick sidenote, this is why Buzz Bissinger was wrong the other day when railed against blogs and claimed that they were ruining journalism. Traditional journalism doesn't need blogs to ruin it. Traditional journalism is doing fine running down itself, thank you very much.
Anyway Bravo guys. Here is what we have:
From Don Weightman (Dude, are you screwing with me?):Yeah. I have a theory. The Scotch-Irish in Appalachia -- southern tier NY, Western PA, eastern & southern Ohio, western VA, on down -- love her, hate him. Those guys are clannish, anti-cosmopolitan, hate "outsiders". Too bad Obama. They love fighters, fighting dirty is fine, Yay Hillary. Look at the immigration and cultural-political statistics for those guys. The patterns are all laid out in David Hackett Fischer's wonderful book Albion's Seed, It details the effect of the various strands of British emigration on the way we live now. As to West Virginia, read it and weep.
The Clintons are particularly popular among Southern & Appalachian whites; since the latter tend to be poor, this seems to correlate w/economics, but I think it's as much cultural as anything. Bill is seen as one of them, and some of this rubs off on Hillary. Factor in the traditional competition for jobs between poor whites and (mostly poor) blacks in the South, and you've got Obama's "Appalachian Problem," as Slate called it a couple weeks back.
From Roger Bigod:
Yes, folks from the Borderlands. The ones who stopped off in Ulster for 100 years or so are known as Scots-Irish. Fisher is good. Also, James Webb's "Born Fighting". Briefly, the central governments of England and Scotland didn't control the area for 500 years. The result was a people who're clannish, resist authority and value physical prowess. They're not racist so much as distrustful of difference. The governor of Louisiana, Jindal, is Indian. He lost on his first try, mainly on the redneck vote from north central LA. He went back frequently for 4 years to speak at meetings of men's civic clubs, no doubt to assure them that he like to hunt and fish and was an all round good ole boy. It helped that he went by "Bobby", not "Piyush". He didn't go out of his way to mention his Rhodes Scholarship either.
From Alex Whalen:
I would guess that it has something to do with average age of the population. Obama's problem has never been race, or at least never just race. He's only really struggled in states where the population is particularly old. WV, OH, and PA are all examples of this phenomenon. Once the state's manufacturing base disappeared, there wasn't much to keep the next generation from leaving, and over time the state's population turned a much deeper shade of gray.
Remember when it was popular to say that Obama's best states were those with either a high percentage of black voters or state's with none at all?
As some bloggers have shrewdly pointed out, Obama does best in areas that have either a large concentration of African-American voters or hardly any at all, but he struggles in places where the population is decidedly mixed.
What this suggests, perhaps, is that living in close proximity to other races — sharing industries and schools and sports arenas — actually makes Americans less sanguine about racial harmony rather than more so.
Except that West Virginia--with a menancing 3 percent black population--is about to had Hillary a whopping victory. And what about Kentucky with its 7 percent black population? The idea that places without black folks will somehow be more receptive to a black president is too simplistic. Not that I have any better theories. Geography maybe? Obama seems to have a particular problem with whites voting in Democratic primaries in Appalachia and in the Deep South. Someone out there, with a better knowledge of history than the kid, should offers us theory. Any thoughts guys?
Heh, Jeff Goldberg is doing a "Cooking With Elijah Muhammad" series of at his new blog. Of course I found this most humorous:
It was Malik Zulu Shabazz who once called me a lox-eating Jewboy. Which, though offensive, contained an element of truth
Zulu Shabazz is, I'm sorry to admit, a Howard man. Back in the day, David Plotz did a wonderful number on him in Washington City Paper. It was one of the first pieces I saw, in fact, that made me want to work there. Anyway, Goldberg takes on Elijah Muhammad's nutty How To Eat To Live. It was that book (along with the contention of many folks I respected that Farrakhan was involved in the death of Malcolm) which convinced me, at the tender age of 15, that I could never join the NOI.
I can't remember the exact contents, but my recollection was that you basically couldn't eat biscuits, collards, black-eyed peas and cornbread. I may have that wrong, but I just remember that the list of foods you couldn't eat were some of my favorites. "Jew-bait and demagogue all you want," said the younger I. "But no way you're coming between me and my biscuits and black-eyed peas. No true man of God would dare such a thing."
That said, Bean Pie--an invention of the NOI--is one of the greatest culinary oxymorons ever invented. Sounds disgusting, but it's absolutely delicious. My Dad, after grumbling that the bean pies on the street hadn't been the same since Elijah died, once made a batch of em scratch. By Master Fard's ghost, I swear they were the win. When I went off to college the brothers would buy a Brother Howard bean-pie, and eat it with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. They called it the Muslim Sleeping Pill. Then the word leaked out that the Brother Howard Bean Pie wasn't authentic. It was made by Seventh Day Adventists. Fun times.
Really nice piece here. A small taste:
Social science analysis is the mortal enemy of conservative populism. The liberal populist sees politics as a series of quantifiable trade-offs between competing interests. The conservative populist offers an appeal that can't be quantified: Who shares your values? Who is more manly? (James Carville: "If she gave him one of her cojones, they'd both have two.")
If a liberal populist cites experts or numbers to back his position, that only proves to the conservative populist that he is out of touch. It's the intellectual equivalent of buying arugula from Whole Foods. A Clinton endorser addressed a rally last month, "You didn't go to Harvard! You weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth!" (Never mind that Clinton graduated from Yale Law School and had a far more stable, middle class upbringing than Obama.) In the liberal populists' world, the locus of evil is K Street. In the conservative populists' world, the locus of evil is Cambridge,Massachusetts.
In Clinton's defense, she obviously does not believe her own social conservative rhetoric. But neither do Republican social conservatives. She is not running for president so she can suspend the gas tax any more than George H. W. Bush sought the office on order to increase the rate of flag-saluting.
From the desk of the Atlantic's James Gibney:
The war on drugs not only wastes law-enforcement resources, it also corrodes our respect for the law in general. Using a relatively benign drug like marijuana should become a regulated pastime, indulged in by consenting adults, much like drinking alcohol or gambling. Drunk driving kills more than 17,000 people each year, and 3 percent of the U.S. population meets the criteria for "problem gamblers." But no one talks seriously about reviving the 18th Amendment or shuttering Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Why? Because Prohibition taught us that banning such activities creates a nation of lawbreakers and a popular culture that exalts criminality. Costly, dubious, and ineffective legal strictures just end up undermining the social compact they're intended to reinforce.
He's responding to a cocaine bust out at San Diego State University. Of course he ends by saying the law as the law and claiming little sympathy for the "can't-we-all-just-do-a-bong" crowd. Heh. I resemble that remark.
Again Courtesy of Balloon Juice. Oh Mittens. If only we could have run against you. The dismissal occurs somewhere around 2:00...
The tragedy is that neither Clinton carries even the slightest racial animus, as their many African-American friends and colleagues would testify, no doubt. Bill Clinton's first and most dedicated political adversary in Arkansas was "Justice Jim" Johnson, a Klan-backed Democrat turned Republican who was that state's version of Wallace. The Clintons spent years working to defeat Johnson and everything he represented, and he repaid them with years of plotting, scheming and smearing as a cog in the Arkansas Project. He hated them, first and foremost, because they represented the Democratic Party's rejection of white supremacy in the South. As governor, it was Bill Clinton who erased the last vestiges of Jim Crow from the Arkansas Constitution.
So the Clintons probably understand the essential evil of racism better than most white politicians. They have certainly done more than most of today's white politicians to combat that evil. That is why, as they contemplate the conclusion of this campaign, they deserve better from themselves than to encourage doubt about their decency and character.
Dog, we don't care whether you have any "racial animus" or whether you "understand the essential evil of racism." If you're willing to feed the fears of those who have "racial animus," how are you any better? Indeed, Intentionally playing into racist stereotypes--which you know not to be true--is arguably WORSE than actually believing them. At least the believer is being honest, and perhaps, can be talked off the ledge. What Conason is proferring is an immoral "knowledge without responsibility" standard, in which those who knowingly stoke and benefit from evil are somehow morally superior to those who blindly do evil. Dude, to paraphrase Anthony Lane, break me a fucking give.
Robert George advances the laughable notion that Hillary Clinton could cobble together a winning coalition of Latinos and working class whites, at the expense of African-Americans:
I have long had the belief that, in the back of the Clinton's mind(s), there exists the ultimate "nuclear option": They are willing to risk the Democratic Party's long monolithic grip on the black vote (by denying Obama the nomination). Indeed, they may be willing to sacrifice as much as 25 percent of the black vote with an eye toward cobbling together a new general election coalition of more working class whites -- and Latinos. As my erstwhile colleague Ryan Sager has noted, the fertile ground for Democrats right now is the Mountain West states --Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico. Hillary and Obama split those four states -- but she has consistently done better among Latinos (that fact alone probably explains poll numbers showing her doing better than Obama against McCain in Florida).
The problems within this analysis are numerous, most of them springing from a need among right-wingers to inflate the powers of the Clintons. It's amazing to me how, even though Hillary Clinton has had her ass handed to her by a freshman senator, how her team has been repeatedly outmatched and outwitted, she's still thought of as this dominant political force. Folks need to listen to Bill Parcells on this one--You are what your record says you are. Clinton is the loser of a campaign in which everything favored her--that's who she is. Not the second coming Roosevelt.
A.) To the extent that "Working Class Whites" even exist (what an incredibly lazy term), they have about as much of a beef--I would argue more of one--with Latinos as they do with African-Americans. Immigration is the big fear these days, not Affirmative Action.
B.) George's analysis assumes that Hillary Clinton somehow naturally has more appeal than Barack Obama to the WCW, in a general election. Folks I just don't buy it. More likely, in a general election, the same people who wouldn't vote for a black guy wouldn't vote for a woman anyway. And that group was probably going to go Republican anyway.
C.) Hillary Clinton's standing amongst Latinos isn't based on any great natural affinity--it's based on familiarity. John McCain has a much more concrete claim to Latino votes. Clinton's dominance of the Latino vote is an expression of her political muscle and the deep roots of the Clinton machine. The loyalty there is vastly overstated.
D.) Clinton's dominance of the WCW is overstated and distorted. In fact, in key states like Virginia and Wisconsin, she showed no such dominance. Her claim is mostly based on Ohio and Pennsylvania. But Barack Obama has been dominated the black vote in every state.
Hillary is a woman without a real country, and that really has been her problem from jump-street. Her pose as working-class heroin and her incessant race-baiting is actually a reactive measure, that came about after black voters abandoned her campaign. Not that any of this even matters. George asserts "that Democracts though who are confident that 'this is over' had better think again." But why? I demand that people who still hold on to the thought that Clinton will be the nominee show me tangible proof of how that's going to happen. Don't just make naked assertions. Back it up.
dNa has a nice post about the Andrew Charles case. As dNa suggests in the comment section, maybe we'll get into it at the panel. Any some folks may see this as a further rupture in the holy coalition between ththe blacks of Europe (the Jews) and the Jews of America (the blacks). Not the kid. Instead, I see a great unifying beauty in the following:
In any case, pursuing a Grand Jury indictment in the case has proven difficult, because Jews have their own code when it comes to talking to the police.
One source suggested the Orthodox community was taking a page from the rap world's "stop snitching" handbook. But it was actually lifted directly from the Code of Jewish Law.
"The Hebrew word is mesira, which means basically you are not allowed to be an informant," said Rabbi Shea Hecht, a well-known figure in Crown Heights. "In essence, I am not allowed to snitch, period."
Of course they won't snitch! They are an insular community, as discrete from larger society in many ways as the poorest inner city, and they have the own notions of justice and punishment. This is just how humans are--but to hear the media tell it, black people are predisposed towards criminality and that's why they won't always talk to the police.
It's always amazing to me how the foibles and mores of black folks are always seen through the lense of pathology and dysfunction. The Blue Wall Of Silence is seen as some sort of mystic force. Omerata is some old-school honorable isht. But "Stop Snitching" is just senseless, alien, thuggism. It's like, "How dare you blacks actually be as flawed as the rest of the human race!"
Wow. Courtesy of TPM. I love how the white vote is the base of the party, when a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't carried the white vote--literally--in decades. It may be that we need the white vote to win, but it isn't the "base." I watch this video and understand why these guys are fighting so hard. Think about. What place will a guy like this have in an Obama campaign?
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