J. Scum Spermond
“There’s a big double standard here…What’s interesting here, is when Democrats get caught saying racist things, an apology is enough. If that had been Mitch McConnell saying that about an African-American candidate for president of the president of the United States, trust me, this chairman and the [Democratic National Committee] would be screaming for his head, very much as they were with Trent Lott.” --RNC Chair Michael Steele, calling for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s resignation (incidentally, Steele thought that, for Lott, an apology would have been sufficient).Last week, when the NJ Senate voted no on same sex marriage, thanks to Democrats who included African Americans Shirley Turner of Trenton and Ronald Rice of Newark, I thought that Michael’s Steele’s “New Tolerant Intolerance” Black Neck/Red Neck reactionary coalition might actually have a chance of yielding some fruit (perhaps not the best choice of words).
Rice, an ex -cop, born in the south and raised in Newark lost an election for Mayor to the suburban raised Rhodes Scholar Cory Booker, and is Booker’s diametrical opposite on many social issues, including clean needles for addicts and same-sex marriage.
Steele’s political career has been based upon a national effort to try to meld Ron Rice Democrats to Republican social conservatives by trying to sublimate the taint of racism by emphasizing that black and right reactionaries need to stop hating each other and instead despise the real enemy: cultural liberals and the manifestations of the other that such liberals represent.But sometimes, Steele still seems like the Trojan horse for the worst sort of crackers. The Harry Reid incident may be one of those cases.
“[Harry Reid] was wowed by Obama’s oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama — a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”--from Game Change by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
First notice that Reid’s offensive words were more accurately described as anachronistic, rather than racist. “Negro” is a term that is rarely used today, except by the Census Bureau and by eccentrics like Stanley Crouch. It is only considered derogatory when uttered by one African-American about another.
Left blogger Liza Sabater of The Daily Gotham actually went ballistic on her Twitter Feed. Though no fan of Reid, who she blames for killing the Public Option (when Reid was merely the coroner who pronounced it dead), Sabater took offense to the idea that Negro was an offensive term. I assume this is because, as a black Latina, Sabater knows that Negro is merely the Spanish word for black.
On the other hand, the equivalent word in Yiddish is Schvartze, so I’m not so sure how much weight that carries.
As to the rest of Reid’s comments, the reference to “light skin” is erroneous. White people’s supposed preference for light skin is at best one of aesthetics. Light skin probably does little to surmount racism. Shari Belafonte and Lisa Bonet may have been hot in their time, but the sociological and cultural evidence (unless Spike Lee is wrong) indicates that the people most obsessed with the varying shades of African American are almost exclusively African American.
White people mostly don’t care about the skin tone of African-Americans. Most whites who are racist probably don’t make that distinction, except when the skin is so light that we‘re fooled into thinking it belongs to a Caucasian. In fact, historically, it was light-skinned African-Americans who scared white racists the most If you don't believe me, see "Birth of a Nation" or read a few paragraphs down (and also remember that perhaps the most vilified "black" politican in American history, Adam Clayton Powell, was barely darker than I am).
Concerning the comment about Obama not speaking in a dialect except when he wanted to, as they say in Latin, POTUS Ipsa Loquitur.
Finally, let us remember that Reid uttered his coarse remarks in support of electing an African-American as President of the United States. If this be racism, let us make the most of it.
Since Mr. Steele’s and others have brought it up, let us consider the contrast between Mr. Reid’s word and those of Trent Lott (who spent much of his young adulthood as an active segregationist) concerning J. Scum Spermond:
"I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
Here are some pertinent excerpts form the State's Rights Party Platform which was Mr. Thurmond’s raison d’etre when he ran for the White House:
“We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to earn one’s living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.
We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people, and of other localities in which there may be differences in race, creed or national origin in appreciable numbers.”
Funny the obsession with miscegenation and "racial integrity" from a candidate who bears some personal responsibility for engaging in the former and thereby undermining the latter. Nonethless, such shenanagins were then perfectly reflective "of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people." It is perhaps a marked sign of progress that these days the political elite of the Carolinas seems to prefer Latinas and Caucasians, even as they still zealously and jealously uphold "the constitutional right to choose one’s associates."
The words of the platform were actually the moderate side of Thurmond's campaign when compared with his words on the stump:
“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra [Talk about a usage both anachronistic and offensive] race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”
Incidentally, and I think, not coincidentally, if we extract the explicit race baiting from the Party Platform, most of the rest of Thurmond’s Kampf could easily be adopted by today’s Tea Bag Republicans, which constitute almost all of the party as it currently functions in its efforts to create paralysis and ignorance reaction:
“We believe that the Constitution of the United States is the greatest charter of human liberty ever conceived by the mind of man.
We oppose all efforts to invade or destroy the rights guaranteed by it to every citizen of this republic.
We stand for social and economic justice, which, we believe can be guaranteed to all citizens only by a strict adherence to our Constitution and the avoidance of any invasion or destruction of the constitutional rights of the states and individuals. We oppose the totalitarian, centralized bureaucratic government and the police nation called for by the platforms adopted by the Democratic and Republican Conventions…
…We stand for the check and balances provided by the three departments of our government. We oppose the usurpation of legislative functions by the executive and judicial departments. We unreservedly condemn the effort to establish in the United States a police nation that would destroy the last vestige of liberty enjoyed by a citizen.
We demand that there be returned to the people to whom of right they belong, those powers needed for the preservation of human rights and the discharge of our responsibility as democrats for human welfare. We oppose a denial of those by political parties, a barter or sale of those rights by a political convention, as well as any invasion or violation of those rights by the Federal Government. We call upon all Democrats and upon all other loyal Americans who are opposed to totalitarianism at home and abroad to unite with us in ignominiously defeating ..every…candidate for public office who would establish a Police Nation in the United States of America.
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