Tag Archives: Jamelle Bouie

The cultural war on white people

Image result for white walker

So popular within the American culture is the war on white people that the blue-eyed devil is the biggest villain in the very popular HBO TV series “Game of Thrones.” Just sayin’.

That headline is intentionally provocative, but it’s not entirely hyperbole. Discussion of civil rights and racial equality and interracial relations has, over the past few years, increasingly become less and less about reconciliation with whites and more and more about the demonization of and revenge against whites.

And it’s ironic, because many if not most of those seeking revenge against whites are non-whites (mostly black Americans) who have not directly been touched by the worst of what white Americans perpetrated upon non-whites (mostly black Americans) throughout U.S. history. (I think that I have fairly privileged non-white college students in mind the most.) And many if not most of the demonized whites of today have not perpetrated the worst of what white Americans perpetrated upon non-whites throughout U.S. history; they were just born white.

A dream was deferred — and racial revenge has been deferred, too.

The popular message to whites today is that you’re evil because you were born white. You cannot escape your whiteness, and therefore you cannot escape your evil, you blue-eyed devil.

This message is contained in even just the title “Dear White People” — the title itself is so offensive (“Dear Black People” or “Dear Hispanic People” or “Dear Asian People” wouldn’t be OK, but “Dear White People” is perfectly OK, you see, because all white people are evil) that I haven’t been able to get into either the movie or the TV show of that name.

I did get all the way through “Get Out,” the black-paranoia suspense movie in which the central message very apparently is that every white person is an anti-black racist and that no white person can be trusted by any black person.*

I guess that the white actors who appeared in “Get Out” thought that they were being good guilty white liberals by participating in this movie whose central purpose apparently is to tell its primarily black audience that Yes, you’re right, every white person is evil and is out to get you, and, given enough time, will betray you eventually.

That’s such a healthy message.

And this message was “confirmed” in the fairly recent incident in which Bill Maher bizarrely and unfunnily referred to himself as “a house nigger” on his HBO politicocomedic talk show.

Maher was “outed” as just yet another secret white supremacist, you see — his having had many black guests on his show over the years, his $1 million donation to Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and his black ex-girlfriends obviously all were just elaborate cover for his greatest love, which is, of course, to practice white supremacism — and so on his next show he had to undergo the obligatory flagellation (Bad white man! Baaad!). It was a fucking debacle.

As I have noted before, while white Americans were evenly split between Bernie Sanders and Billary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary elections and caucuses, what helped Billary win the nomination is that black Americans supported her over blue-eyed devil Bernie by a margin of three to one.

Ironically, the true blue-eyed devil was and remains Billary, but no matter.

And I expect Bernie to face anti-white (and anti-Semitic) sentiment from black voters again should he run for 2020. But we’re not even to talk about these facts, since they don’t fit the anti-white, only-whites-can-be-racist narrative that is so en vogue.

But could it be that treating a whole race of people like demons might actually induce some of them to act like demons, in a self-fulfilling prophecy? I mean, that has happened to some blacks due to the white demonization of them, has it not? Why wouldn’t it work in the opposite direction?

Lest you think that I’m going overboard here, there are these concluding paragraphs in Slate.com writer Jamelle Bouie’s piece on the recent KKK rally in Charlottesville, Virginia (to protest the removal of Confederate “hero” statues):

… But while the Klan is a faded image of itself, white supremacy is still a potent ideology. In August, another group of white supremacists — led by white nationalist Richard Spencer and his local allies — will descend on Charlottesville to hold another protest.

Unlike the Loyal White Knights, they won’t have hoods and costumes; they’ll wear suits and khakis. They’ll smile for the cameras and explain their positions in media-friendly language. They will look normal — they might even be confident. After all, in the last year, their movement has been on the upswing, fueled by a larger politics of white grievance that swept a demagogue into office.

The Klan, as represented by the men and women who came to Charlottesville, is easy to oppose. They are the archetype of racism, the specter that almost every American can condemn.

The real challenge is the less visible bigotry, the genteel racism that cloaks itself in respectability and speaks in code, offering itself as just another “perspective.”

Charlottesville will likely mobilize against Spencer and his group, but the racism he represents will remain, a part of this community and most others across the United States. How does one respond to that? What does one do about that?

I’ve been reading Bouie for years now, I believe it has been, and for the most part his discussions on racism and race relations have been fair, balanced and insightful, which you often don’t find in the discussion.

But the spirit of the paragraphs above is disturbing. Its message is that no white person can be trusted; we can’t go by the type of clothing anymore, so we can only go on the color of the person’s skin. Indeed, Bouie’s sentiment above mirrors the central thesis of “Get Out”: “The real challenge is the less visible bigotry, the genteel racism that cloaks itself in respectability and speaks in code, offering itself as just another ‘perspective.’ … What does one do about that?”

Indeed, if every white person probably is the enemy, what do you do?

Apparently the only hope that a white person has these days to get acceptance from non-whites, especially blacks, is to denounce his or her entire evil race in the strongest terms possible and to state strong agreement with every word stated by non-whites. But even that isn’t enough, you see, because the denunciations of one’s own evil, white race and the claims of sympathy and empathy with the non-white probably aren’t sincere. They’re probably just a cover-up for the blue-eyed devil’s true, inborn evil.

We cannot continue to “function” this way, not if we ever want interracial reconciliation. But therein lies the rub: Many (if not most) non-whites (blacks especially, very apparently) don’t want interracial reconciliation, because their entire identity is wrapped up in being a perpetual victim of the blue-eyed devil. (Often, even their income depends on it.) This victimization (real or fabricated) must continue for their identity (and, sometimes, their income) to remain intact, so they continually will find “proof” of this victimization whether it even exists or not.

I surmise that Bouie asked his concluding question (“What does one do about that?”) rhetorically, but I’ll answer it anyway:

You don’t worry about what other people think of you, as you have no control over that, for the very most part. You do, however, become concerned if anyone’s bigotry or hatred translates into words or actions that are meant to harm you.

As a gay man, I know that there are plenty of heterosexuals out there who claim to support equal human and civil rights for us non-heterosexuals but who actually are quite homophobic. Since we’re on the subject, I’ll add that more white Americans (64 percent) than black Americans (51 percent) support same-sex marriage (which to me is a pretty good litmus test for homophobia), so, it seems to me, a black stranger that I come into contact with is more likely to be homophobic than is a white stranger.

And as a white man I never know, when I approach, for the first time, a non-white person (perhaps especially a black person, given the ugly history between the two races in the U.S.) whether or not he or she hates whitey or whether he or she is willing to give me a chance (I do, after all, have blue eyes…).

But I don’t lose sleep over whether or not someone is an anti-white racist and/or a homophobe. Ignorance, bigotry and hatred would be and would remain that person’s problem — until and unless he or she committed a word (such as “faggot,” which black boxer Floyd Mayweather shouted at white boxer Conor McGregor on Friday**) or words and/or a deed or deeds that made it my problem.

I’d give that same advice to Jamelle Bouie and to every other black person with whom I can be an ally as long as he or she doesn’t have an intractable “Get Out”-style perception of me, just waiting until I finally, inevitably demonstrate my “true colors” (because I have, you know, just traded my pointy white hood for khakis).

P.S. I have been following “Game of Thrones” for years now and await tonight’s season-seven premiere, but the fact that the show’s biggest baddies are blue-eyed “white walkers” — the symbolism of that — hasn’t been lost on me…

*The movie has its fatal flaws, of course, such as the central plot contradiction that anti-black white supremacists want their brains transferred into the bodies of black people.

Of course, contained within that contradiction actually is black supremacism — the idea/belief that it’s actually better to possess a black body than a white body, because if it weren’t, then why would these racist whiteys steal black bodies to inhabit?

Of course, plot contradictions in “Get Out” are to be pushed aside, because, again, its central, apparently-very-appealing-to-some message (aside from black supremacism, ironically) is that every white person is out to get every black person.

**To be fair and balanced, Conor McGregor, very apparently no towering genius himself, has made anti-black racist comments, but, to my knowledge, McGregor isn’t gay, and so when Mayweather hurled the epithet “faggot” at him, those of us who actually are “faggots” were just collateral damage, you see, and I don’t believe that Mayweather’s homophobia is at all uncommon among black Americans, who routinely hypocritically claim that ignorance, bigotry and hatred always belong to someone else.

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No-brainer: Bernie would be better for black Americans than would Billary

Updated below (on Friday, January 22, 2016)

Cornel West, rapper Killer Mike and Ohio State Sen. Nina Turner discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in Charleston, South Carolina, before the Democratic Party presidential primary debate. (“BernieSoBlack” is shown “whitesplaining” in the video grab above, I’m sure…) MLK famously proclaimed, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” In today’s degraded environment of toxic identity politics, however, many judge Sanders not by the content of his character, but by the color of his skin. (Here’s a video of Cornel West’s endorsement of Sanders, by the way. West is an electrified speaker whom I once had the privilege of hearing speak.)

It’s deeply unfortunate that the contest between Billary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination largely is being painted as a contest between black Americans and white Americans who vote for Democrats, but that’s what it has come to.

Of course, we have Billary to thank for this in no small part; in the last Democratic Party presidential primary debate she did her best to equate any and all criticisms of her by the Sanders camp as a direct assault on Barack Obama. It’s classic Clintonian race-baiting and it’s classic Clintonian triangulation, but for the low-information voter – Billary’s base – apparently it works.

Bernie Sanders also has come under unfair attack by black slacktivists themselves. Only Black Lives Matter* slacktivists commandeered a public appearance by Bernie in Seattle in August, calling the white people gathered there “white supremacist liberals.” Nice! (Seriously — that’s the way to treat your allies and to maintain a coalition against the right wing!)

Bernie having dared to speak about his history of support of black Americans – and liberal Jewish Americans like Bernie have been instrumental in the civil rights movement (some died in the South fighting for civil rights for black Americans) – quickly was belittled as “BernieSoBlack.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaa!

The majority of black Americans’ Democratic presidential candidate of choice (at the moment, anyway) is Billary Clinton, her actual record and her husband’s actual record be damned (again: low-info voters are her base). Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie notes:

… Minority voters — and black Americans in particular — are the firewall for Clinton’s candidacy and the Democratic establishment writ large. As long as Clinton holds her lead with black Democrats, she’s tough (if not impossible) to beat in delegate-rich states like New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio and Texas.

Even with momentum from wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s hard to see how Sanders overcomes Clinton’s massive advantage with this part of the party’s electorate. That’s not to say he won’t excel as an insurgent candidate, but that — barring a seismic shift among black Democrats, as well as Latinos — his coalition won’t overcome her coalition.

This, in itself, raises a question. Why are black Americans loyal to Hillary Clinton? What has she, or her husband, done to earn support from black voters? After all, this is the era of Clinton critique, especially on questions of racial and economic justice.

The Crime Bill of 1994 super-charged mass incarceration; the great economic boom of the 1990s didn’t reach millions of poor and working-class black men; and welfare reform couldn’t protect poor women in the recession that followed. And the lax regulation of the Clinton years helped fill a financial bubble that tanked the global economy and destroyed black wealth. …

Indeed.

But Bernie Sanders has been singled out as the one to scapegoat as not being nearly good enough on black issues. (It’s true that Vermont, which Sanders has represented in Congress for decades, is in the top-three whitest states, but that isn’t exactly Bernie’s fault, and that doesn’t mean that Bernie isn’t an inclusive politician. I mean, how to explain the many white supremacists in the South if your argument is that one must be around a lot of black Americans in order not to be a white, anti-black racist?)

Recently Bernie was asked if he supports reparations for black Americans. (I’m pretty sure that no one has dared to ask Queen Billary this question. [If so, I haven’t seen it reported anywhere.]) Bernie responded:

No, I don’t think so. First of all, its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil. Second of all, I think it would be very divisive. The real issue is when we look at the poverty rate among the African-American community, when we look at the high unemployment rate within the African-American community, we have a lot of work to do.

So I think what we should be talking about is making massive investments in rebuilding our cities, in creating millions of decent-paying jobs, in making public colleges and universities tuition-free, basically targeting our federal resources to the areas where it is needed the most and where it is needed the most is in impoverished communities, often African-American and Latino.

Bernie is quite correct; there is no way in hell, of course, that reparations for black Americans would pass Congress any congressional session soon, and our best and probably our only politically possible avenue to try to reverse the lingering effects of slavery and its aftermath is to try to help significantly all of those who are struggling (which is what democratic socialism, to which I subscribe, is all about).

And, of course, there is no viable presidential candidate currently publicly supporting reparations. (Certainly the Repugnican Lite Billary Clinton is not!) No one wins the White House without enough of the “swing voters,” the “independents,” and one sure way to lose them is to publicly support reparations. That’s the ugly political reality for now and for some time to come, as best as I can discern it.

(Indeed, there was a time until quite recently when publicly supporting same-sex marriage, which only this past June finally was declared to be a constitutional right, at least was perceived as a sure way to lose the White House — ask Barack Obama and Billary Clinton, who didn’t publicly support same-sex marriage, at least on the national stage, until 2012 and 2013, respectively.)

For the record, I support reparations for the American descendants of slaves on principle,** even though I don’t know how slavery that went on for generations and the continued race-based oppression that for generations has followed slavery’s official end ever could be made anything even remotely approaching right.

But actual, non-theoretical reparations would have to be doled out in the real world, and I don’t see how that could be done fairly and justly. (That important consideration should have been part of Bernie’s answer to the question about his support for reparations for black Americans, and it is unfortunate that it was not, in my not-so-humble opinion.)

Yes, Japanese Americans in the late 1980s received some reparation for their internment during World War II; but World War II was much more recent than was American slavery, which ended, at least legally, a full 150 years ago. It was much easier to prove which individual, still-living Japanese Americans had been wronged by the U.S. government than it ever could be to sort out which black Americans alive today are the descendants of slaves and to calculate how much the damage of slavery set them back in their lives of today.

On that note, how, exactly, would we determine who gets reparations and who pays those reparations (and how much)?

Barack Obama, to name one prominent example, and who knows how many other black Americans are not the descendants of slaves. Would they get reparations because white privilege nonetheless affects them also?

Should I have to pay reparations (that is, anything above and beyond any reparations that would be paid for from all Americans’ tax dollars, as the Japanese-American internment camp reparations of $20,000 per individual were paid for) because I’m a white man?

I’m white, but I’ve never heard of any of my ancestors having lived in the deep South. My parents’ families moved to Arizona no later than in the 1950s from Missouri and from Texas. (Texas usually but not always is considered to be part of the South, but I consider it to be more a part of the Southwest, which is not to say that it’s not an incredibly backasswards state, because it is, and both Texas and Missouri were slave states at the time of the Civil War.)

Nor have I ever heard of any remarkably rich forebears of mine (I would think that if there had been any filthy-rich whiteys in my family’s history, I would have heard about it by now), and I certainly never have heard of any actual slave-owning forebears of mine. But even if I do have any Southern forebears, this PBS educational resource states:

The standard image of Southern slavery is that of a large plantation with hundreds of slaves. In fact, such situations were rare. Fully three-fourths of Southern whites did not even own slaves; of those who did, 88 percent owned 20 or fewer. Whites who did not own slaves were primarily yeoman farmers.

Practically speaking, the institution of slavery did not help these people. And yet most non-slaveholding white Southerners identified with and defended the institution of slavery. Though many resented the wealth and power of the large slaveholders, they aspired to own slaves themselves and to join the privileged ranks.

In addition, slavery gave the farmers a group of people to feel superior to. They may have been poor, but they were not slaves, and they were not black. They gained a sense of power simply by being white.

I wholly acknowledge this sociopoliticoeconomic phenomenon of white privilege. White privilege incontrovertibly is, as they say, a thing.

But where it comes to doling out reparations in a way that is just, equitable and fair – even assuming that Congress would pass and that the president would sign such legislation – again, how, exactly, do we determine who receives and who gives, and how much? Could it be the case that if I’m white I’m automatically “guilty” and therefore I must dole something out (above and beyond my normal tax dollars, I mean)? Could it more or less come to that? Wouldn’t that be just another form of racial profiling? Is that racial profiling actually “justice”?

I mean, I hope that I have no slave owner as a forebear, whether he or she owned “just” one slave or many slaves, but if even I don’t know whether I do or not, how could you know? No, you (the advocate for white people paying reparations) primarily or even solely would be going off of the color of my skin – something that you say is wrong.

In any event, even Barack Obama never publicly has stated that he supports reparations, so why is Bernie Sanders being burned at the stake for his truthful, honest answer on the issue?

That mostly was a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway: I believe that Bernie Sanders is perceived by the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists and their sympathizers as just another old white man (and all old white men, and all white men, in general, of course, are bad, you see – not that that’s a racist notion or anything), even though it wasn’t until relatively recently in American history that Jews like Bernie were even included in the definition of “white” (and again, even though liberal Jews have been instrumental in positive social change in the United States).

So it’s anti-white black racism (yes, just like white privilege and anti-black white racism, that is a thing, too) and it’s toxic identity politics: BernieSoWhite! (He shouldn’t be white, you see, but, if he must be white, he must feel awful and guilty about it, and he must be perpetually apologetic about the fact that he was born with pale skin, you see. [Really, get with the new race politics already! It’s not your Grandpappy’s civil rights movement anymore!])

The bottom line is that Bernie Sanders’ proposals, if manifested, would lift all boats. He is advocating for all Americans.

Political weather vane on crack Billary Clinton, on the other hand, pays lip service to certain historically oppressed groups, such as women, blacks and other racial minorities and gay men and lesbians, in a cynical (and quite successful) ploy for their campaign cash and their votes. (I feel a blog piece about the establishmentarian, calcified Planned Parenthood’s and the establishmentarian, calcified Human Rights Campaign’s stupidly, blindly recently having endorsed Billary for the White House coming on, but I won’t give birth to it today.)

Nothing in Billary’s political history (or her husband’s) indicates that in exchange for their votes (and their campaign donations), she’ll actually do very much for the downtrodden. (After all, she is quite comfortable!) She’s even more or less promising to be the third and perhaps even the fourth term of the fairly do-nothing Obama administration.

I don’t know if our nation and our planet can survive another four or eight years of much happy talk without much actual action (although, to her credit, perhaps, compared to Obama circa 2008, Billary has cut down, way down, on the happy, hopey-changey talk).

I believe that as president, Bernie Sanders would try to lift all boats (well, not any of the yachts). How much success he would have in the face of mind-blowingly-well-funded political opposition to an actually aggressively progressive political agenda I don’t know.

As president he would need, as he has said repeatedly, enough Americans, millions of Americans, rallying behind him to push through a progressive agenda in a Congress that long has been beholden to Big Money. And Americans’ favorite pastime is to sit on our asses and complain while we let someone else do all of the work.

But I believe that as president Bernie Sanders would try, and would try hard. (What I have held against Obama the most is that I don’t believe that, even with both houses of Congress in the Democrats’ control in 2009 and 2010, he even much tried to push through a progressive agenda, when he still could have; after the House of Representatives went to the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in the election of 2010, the window of opportunity slammed shut for the remainder of Obama’s time in the White House.)

So: Which is the true “white supremacist liberal” – the presidential candidate whose actual history and political ideology actually indicates that he truly would try hard for all Americans, especially downtrodden Americans, or the pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic candidate whose actual history and political ideology indicates that she promises one thing for political gain but then does another – and who lectures us at length on what can’t be done, tries to induce us to accept her unacceptable incrementalism, all the while neglecting to tell us that she won’t even try to do these things she promises because it would upset her Big Political Donors if she dared?

Kudos, though, I suppose, to Billary for her Machiavellian success in duping the majority of black Americans into believing that she would be our “third” “black” president (recall that Bill Clinton was our “first black president,” which, I suppose, would make Obama our “second,” and Billary, by marriage, our “third”).

Again, Billary similarly has duped many if not most feminists (hello, Planned Parenthood!) and gay men and lesbians (hello, Human Rights Campaign, whose initials just coinky-dinkily happen to be Billary’s, too!) into believing that she would be better for them than Bernie Sanders would be, and/or that while she can win the White House, Sanders cannot. (The polls say quite otherwise – indeed, they have Sanders doing better than Billary against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – and they say otherwise because while Queen Billary is largely despised by the American electorate as a whole, Bernie is not.)

Black Americans have the right to embrace Billary Clinton and by so doing to vote against their own best interests and to shoot themselves in the foot, and they have the right to hold out on Bernie Sanders if they wish. (Goddess knows that I’m holding out on Billary – I won’t give her a penny and certainly not my vote, no matter which demon emerges from the fire and brimstone as the Repugnican Tea Party’s presidential candidate.)

But black Americans who call themselves Democrats (or who tend to side with Democrats, anyway) reject Bernie Sanders primarily if not solely because he’s an older white man — not because as president Billary would do more for black Americans than would Bernie. Because, of course, she would not. (Again, she is promising a continuation of the Obama years, under which, ironically, most black Americans’ lives have not improved much at all.)

Let’s at least be honest about that much.

Update (Friday, January 22, 2016): Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie returns to this topic today. Among many other things, he notes:

… The Sanders revolution is multiracial and multicultural, but — like any political victory in present-day America — it depends on white Americans. It’s why he can’t support reparations. They’re too alienating to the white voters he needs to transform the nation’s politics. …

Yup.

To blame Bernie Sanders for this fact — to criticize him for not promising or even proposing something that no other viable presidential candidate would dare to even propose — is patently unjust and unfair bullshit. He does operate within political constraints.

(Bouie correctly adds that “it’s important to see that the forces that make reparations impossible can also, in diminished but powerful form, curtail [Bernie’s progressive] agenda too.” Absolutely. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try to push a progressive agenda [which apparently is Billary’s “strategy” — to not even try], but it does mean that you be aware of the potential roadblocks, that you remain aware of your political reality.)

That Bernie so often is singled out for special criticism while others — perhaps especially Billary Clinton — get off scot-free for the same exact “sin” — contributes to my strong sense that many if not even most of Bernie’s critics on racial (and some other) issues just don’t like him primarily because he’s not of their own race and/or gender.

Again: It’s toxic identity politics more than it’s anything else.

*Yes, the tone and the stance of many if not most of the Black Lives Matter “activists” apparently is that they care only about the welfare of their own group, the selfishness and short-sightedness of which is pretty fucking off-putting. (I, a gay man, for example, apparently am expected to be markedly gung-ho for the Black Lives Matter slacktivists when they historically haven’t been very supportive of my rights. Um, yeah, support needs to be a two-way street.)

And because most members of the Only Black Lives Matter crowd are sad imitations of those who came before them, and are burning bridges instead of building them, therefore apparently doing more damage than good on the whole, I can only think of them as slacktivists. Real activism is hard, selfless work — it’s not reckless, selfish, short-sighted hit jobs.

**Ta-Nehesi Coates, an advocate of reparations (perhaps the most well-known such advocate), proclaims most recently on his platform, The Atlantic:

… Reparations is not one possible tool against white supremacy. It is the indispensable tool against white supremacy. One cannot propose to plunder a people, incur a moral and monetary debt, propose to never pay it back, and then claim to be seriously engaging in the fight against white supremacy. …

I agree with at least some of this, but again: Reparations are one thing in theory, as an abstraction. But what about practicality? In practicality, we’d have to determine many things:

Who pays reparations and who does not? And how much do those who must pay reparations pay? Would these reparations come out of the U.S. Treasury, so that everyone who pays federal taxes pays reparations (meaning that many if not most black Americans would be funding at least part of their own reparations…), and/or would we (try to) extract reparations from those whom we deem especially guilty, perhaps certain corporations and certain wealthy individuals, especially if there is a clear link to their and/or their forebears’ having profiteered from slavery in the past?

Or is it good enough that if you’re white you “owe” reparations — because white privilege?

And who receives the reparations? Do they have to prove that an ancestor was a slave? (If so, what constitutes adequate proof?) Or is it good enough that they are black and that blacks are victims of white privilege? And how do the recipients of reparations receive their reparations? A check or a debit card from the federal government, I presume, but would it be one lump sum or would it come in installments? Would there be any limitations on how the reparations could be spent, or would they simply be payouts to be spent by the recipients as they wish?

Do I, a gay man, receive any reparations because it was not until just this past June that the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that it is my constitutional right to marry a member of my own sex? Do I receive reparations for that oppression and for other anti-gay treatment that I have received during my life?

Can I get reparations from the 70 percent of black Californians who voted in favor of the now-unconstitutional-we-know anti-same-sex-marriage Proposition Hate in November 2008?

How am I to be made whole after I spent 47 years as a second-class citizen whose constitutional guarantee of equality under the law routinely was shit and pissed upon by the heterosexual, heterosexist, homophobic majority?

I’m not being flippant; aren’t there a lot of groups of people out there — women (who couldn’t vote everywhere in the nation until 1920and do we issue back pay to millions and millions of women for the gender pay gap that still exists today?), Latinos (whom also have been chronically underpaid for their work, whom millions of Americans [mostly right-wing whites] don’t want to vote today [claiming that if you are Latino you’re probably an “illegal”] and who now are the nation’s largest racial minority), Native Americans (’nuff said), non-heterosexuals, non-gender-conforming individuals, atheists, Jews, Muslims, et. al., et. al. — who have a valid claim to reparations?

If we give black Americans reparations, then out of fairness don’t we also owe reparations to other historically oppressed groups of people?

These are not teeny-tiny questions. And in a democracy, especially one as messy as ours, what kind of agreement could we get on the answers to these questions?

These are my problems with the proposal of reparations for black Americans, and I suspect that they are Bernie Sanders’, too.

But it’s easier, and more politically convenient — and certainly more dramatic — to just claim that Bernie and his supporters are “white supremacist liberals”!

Especially when the main problem that the Only Black Lives Matter slacktivists (many if not most of them very apparently black supremacists themselves) have with Bernie and with his white supporters is that we were born white.

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Billary is inevitable? So was Dean! (And Bernie Sanders is NOT Ron Paul)

Associated Press photo

Howard Dean has an emotional moment, including the “Dean scream,” in Iowa in January 2004, after he devastatingly came in at third place in the Iowa caucuses (behind John Kerry and John Edwards), the first contest of the presidential primary season. Howard Dean widely was considered the inevitable victor of the contest for the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination, but once individuals actually started participating in the caucuses and primary elections, it was clear that they had dated Dean but decided to marry Kerry. Billary Clinton, like Howard Dean did, came in at third place in the Iowa caucuses in 2008 (behind Barack Obama and John Edwards). And like Dean in 2004, Billary in 2008 never recovered from her stumble in Iowa. Billary is a stunningly weak candidate, yet the lemmings have lined up behind her, just as they did for Howard Dean.

I certainly hope that Slate.com writer Jamelle Bouie was not “inspired” by “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri when he recently sloppily compared presidential aspirant U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to former Repugnican/Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul.

Democrat in name only McCaskill, who is on Team Billary, recently bloviated that Sanders “is too liberal to gather enough votes in this country to become president” and dismissed the large crowds that Sanders attracts at his campaign events by stating that Ron Paul “got the same-size crowds. [Former Repugnican Party presidential aspirant] Pat Buchanan got massive crowds. It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”

As many have noted (such as this writer for Salon.com), a majority of Americans actually quite agree with Sanders’ so-called “extreme” message. Democracy sure sucks when it doesn’t go your way, when your center-right claptrap (like McCaskill’s) actually isn’t in line with the majority.

And leave it to a member of the pro-dynastic, anti-populist, Democratic-in-name-only Team Billary to try to make your popularity with the people into a bad thing.

I get it that McCaskill lives in what I’d certainly classify as a red state: Mittens Romney won Missouri in 2012. (The last “Democratic” presidential candidate who won Missouri was Bill Clinton in 1996.) Missouri has a Democratic governor and one “Democratic” U.S. senator (McClaskill), but both houses of its state legislature overwhelmingly are Repugnican, and its delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives is six Repugnicans to two Democrats.

So to survive politically in a state as red as is Missouri, McClaskill has to pander to the right and the center-right. I get that.

But is the entire Democratic Party to shift even further right so as to further please DINOs like McClaskill in the red states, as former “Democratic” Louisiana U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (good riddance!) expected it to?

What about those of us in California, for instance? We’re the most populous state in the nation. Our governor and both houses of our state legislature are in Democratic control, both of our U.S. senators are Democrats (well, plutocrat Dianne Feinstein is a DINO), the majority of our U.S. representatives are Democrats, and a Repugnican presidential candidate hasn’t won California since 1988.

But we’re to stifle our values and ourselves for the likes of Landrieu and McCaskill? I have a much better solution: red-state DINOs (like McClaskill) just call themselves Repugnicans already and be done with it. They need to join the party with which their political philosophy and worldview is most aligned instead of trying to get the rest of us actual Democrats/progressives to convert to their version of what the Democratic Party “should” be.

Their tent is just way too damned fucking big. When you stand for everything, you ultimately stand for nothing.

Even Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie, most of whose writing I find insightful and wise, even though he acknowledges that “At 10,000 people, [Sanders’] crowd [in Madison, Wisconsin, last week] was the largest* of any candidate in the presidential race so far,” joins the conventional-“wisdom” herd and proclaims that “visibility isn’t viability, and there’s almost no chance Sanders will become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, even if he sustains his momentum into next year.”

Bouie adds: “Sanders is a fascinating candidate with a vital, underrepresented message in American politics. But the same qualities that make him unique — relative independence from the Democratic Party, a foundational critique of American politics — make him unsuited for a major party nomination, much less the Democratic one.”

Bouie concludes his unfortunate screed on Sanders:

Sanders won’t be the Democratic nominee. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be important. Here, it’s useful to think of Ron Paul, the former Republican representative who ran for the GOP nomination in 2008 and 2012. Paul drew large crowds and raised huge sums for his campaign but couldn’t translate that success into votes. Nonetheless, his splash mattered. He helped bridge the divide between libertarians and the Republican right, and he inspired a new group of conservative and libertarian activists who have made a mark in the GOP through Paul’s son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

If Sanders can sustain and capture the left-wing enthusiasm for his campaign, he could do the same for progressives. He could bring their issues onto a presidential debate stage and into the Democratic mainstream, and bring them into the process itself. No, Democrats won’t change overnight, but with time and effort, the Sanders revolution could bear real fruit.

Hey, I have an extremely radical idea, perhaps even more extreme and radical than any idea that even Bernie Sanders has put forth: How about we, the people, actually get to vote in the primaries and participate in the caucuses in order to determine who ultimately emerges as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate?

How about we allow Bernie Sanders to run his campaign for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominationthe first caucus and the first primary election aren’t until February, seven months from now – instead of declaring Billary Clinton the winner now and giving Sanders the lovely parting gift (like Rice-A-Roni) of the warmth of knowing that his candidacy helped to melt the cold, right-wing hearts of those who call themselves Democrats but who actually are a bunch of Repugnican Lites?

Crazy, huh?

But seriously: How about we, the people, and not DINOs like Claire McClaskill and not media pundits who are steeped in the conventional “wisdom” of wolf-pack “journalism,” decide, through actually participating in the actual democratic process, whether or not we deem Bernie Sanders to be an acceptable presidential candidate to put forth in November 2016?

Jamelle Bouie educates us silly Sanders supporters:

Despite the polls and the voting, presidential primaries aren’t popularity contests. Instead, they’re closer to negotiations, where interests and individuals work to choose a leader and representative for the entire group. That person has to appeal to everyone, from ideological factions and political power centers to wealthy donors and ordinary voters and activists. The candidate also has to show that he or she can do the work of a national campaign, from winning debates to raising money.

Oh, I agree, for the most part, probably. But then Bouie continues: “Clinton has done this. She came close to winning the 2008 nomination and spent the next seven years — right up to the present — building her stature in Democratic politics. …”

Yeah, 2008 was close but no cigar, and Bouie apparently essentially advocates that because Billary has been working at this since 2008, we should acknowledge that and coronate her as the 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate already; Bouie’s conventional “wisdom” apparently can be reduced to telling us Sanders supporters: “Surrender, Dorothy!”

But I recall clearly that this was what the “Deaniacs” essentially were saying to the rest of us Democrats and progressives in 2004: That former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was So Self-Evidently Inevitable that everyone should just accept that fact and get on board with Team Dean already. (I still recall that one of my favorite fellow leftists, Ted Rall, at the time a Deaniac, even went so far as to write a blatantly anti-democratic column in which he suggested in all seriousness that the Democratic primaries and caucuses just be canceled in order to save money, since Dean’s victory was assured anyway.)

I supported John Kerry as the 2004 Democratic Party presidential candidate from the get-go (as I saw him as the candidate who best could unseat the incumbent “President” George W. Bush), but I was told then by the Deaniacs: “Surrender, Dorothy!”

Except that in early 2004, when the voters actually had their say at the primaries and caucuses – which is all that actually counts, in the end – Howard Dean imploded spectacularly, and John Kerry spectacularly rose from the dead and won the 2004 Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Interestingly, campaign adviser Tad Devine, who was instrumental in Kerry’s spectacular rise from the dead like Lazarus on crack, right now is a senior adviser for Bernie Sanders.

So yeah, those who smugly write Bernie Sanders off (those would be Billary supporters, mostly), methinks, could be in for a big shock in early 2016, much as the smug Deaniacs were in early 2004 when underdog John Kerry, who had been left for dead, and not Howard Dean The Inevitable, won the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Not only does Bernie have John Kerry resurrector Tad Devine on his team, but what does it say of Billary that she lost to Barack Obama in 2008? She had been first lady for eight years in the 1990s and a (carpetbagging) U.S. senator for New York for eight years, yet upstart Obama, who had been in the U.S. Senate for only four years, not even a full term, beat Billary, which wasn’t “supposed” to happen.

Billary is significantly flawed – or she wouldn’t have lost to Obama, who came from nowhere in 2008 to snatch – democratically – the crown away from her.

And let’s face it: The uber-scandalous, slimy Billary is just one leaked e-mail or one leaked secretly-recorded video away from implosion.

Do we want Billary’s implosion to happen before the 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate is actually elected by the primary-election voters and the caucus-goers, or do we want to risk that Billary’s implosion happens after we stupidly just allow the high-risk Billary to have the party’s presidential nomination (you know, because she wants it so badly and because she has been “working” for it for so long now!) but before the November 2016 presidential election?

I, for one, not only cannot in good conscience support DINO Billary Clinton – whose vote for the Vietraq War in October 2002 when she was in the U.S. Senate (Bernie Sanders voted against it when he was in the U.S. House of Representatives) alone makes her unfit for the Oval Office** – but I wouldn’t take the risk of gambling everything away in November 2016 with her, with such a flawed, risky candidate.

I wisely resisted running with the Lemmings for Dean in 2004; I similarly am resisting running with the Lemmings for Billary in 2016.

For me, it’s Bernie or bust.***

*Bouie further notes:

Hillary Clinton drew 5,500 people to her [formal announcement] speech on Roosevelt Island in New York City, while Jeb Bush drew just 3,000 people to his announcement event at Miami Dade College in Florida. (Sen. Ted Cruz spoke to 11,000 students at Liberty University, but they had to be there — Cruz announced at the school’s convocation, which is mandatory for students living on campus.) Before Madison, Sanders spoke to a packed auditorium of 700 people in Iowa, and before that, he spoke to 5,000 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

**Gee, I wonder if Billary felt any pang of guilt or even remorse when, on this past Fourth of July during a parade in Podunk, New Hampshire (at which Queen Billary’s henchpeople employed ropes to keep the rabble safely at bay), she told a 40-year-old man whom the Vietraq War — the war for which as U.S. senator she voted — put into a wheelchair, “Thank you for your sacrifice.”

I mean, it’s not that common that the results of a soulless, self-serving politician’s wrongdoing so starkly stare him or her in the face.

***On that note, if we are going to compare Bernie to anyone on the right, in the end, when all is said and done, history just might record him to be much more like the late arch-conservative Barry Goldwater than like Ron Paul.

Not only is there the fact that in modern history members of the House of Representatives (like former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul) never go straight from the House to the White House, but must have been a U.S. senator or a governor first (Bernie meets that qualification but Ron Paul never did), but I can see Bernie winning the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination but unfortunately losing the 2016 presidential election, as Repugnican U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona lost the presidential election of 1964.

However, while Goldwater lost in 1964 (badly), he is widely credited with having fathered the “Reagan revolution” and the success of the right that we’ve seen for the past several decades. (The right’s success is evidenced not only by the worsening income inequality of the past several decades, but also by how far to the right it has spooked the Democratic Party into moving, especially under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.)

I could see Bernie Sanders doing for the left what Barry Goldwater did for the right. But the comparison of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to the much more fringy former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is lazy and sloppy at best.

So I agree with Bouie that “with time and effort, the Sanders revolution could bear real fruit,” but Bouie and I don’t get to that point of agreement by the same route.

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Jonathan Chait got it mostly right on the toxic identity politics of today

Jonathan Chait's epic race fail: How a story about racism and Obama goes horribly wrong

Left-of-center writer Jonathan Chait has committed the sin of telling the truth about our self-appointed political-correctness police, those who use their membership within an historically victimized and oppressed group to victimize and oppress others (men, mostly, and mostly white men, but sometimes white women as well). It indeed in so many quarters is open season on all white males, who are deemed automatically to be oppressors and victimizers because of their immutable characteristics of being male and being white. (As a gay white male, my non-heterosexuality gives me only so much cover for being a member of a class of victims, as homophobes widely consider homosexuality to be mutable. [Of course, it doesn’t fucking matter whether it’s mutable or not; we all should have the freedom to express ourselves sexually as we please, as long as we do so consensually.])

New York magazine writer Jonathan Chait started a shitstorm when he wrote about toxic PC (political correctness) police. Had he been completely wrong, he probably would have been ignored, but since he spoke so much unflattering truth, I’m one of only a handful of Internet commentators who have yet to comment on his comments.

First off, it’s necessary to describe the environment in which all of us Americans operate: to such a large degree stupid white men (emphasis there on “stupid”) still rule, as evidenced by the popularity of “American Sniper.” Not only is the Clint Eastwood film still No. 1, despite Eastwood’s penchant for talking to a vacant chair (actually, for “American Sniper’s” target audience, I’m sure that was in Eastwood’s favor), but the book American Sniper is No. 1 on amazon.com, and in amazon.com’s top-100-selling book titles there are no fewer than four different versions of the same fucking book (as I type this sentence) — plus an apparent knock-off book about yet another American sniper called The Reaper.

So mindless, blind worship of stupid, murderous (or at least violent or at least aggressive) white men widely misconstrued as “heroes” continues. (This could be its own blog piece, and indeed, was going to be, but I’ll get it over with here: “American sniper” Chris Kyle, who died by the sword as he lived by the sword, was no “hero.” He was part of an illegal and immoral occupying force in Iraq. As part of that illegal and immoral occupying force, he slaughtered a bunch of people who were, at least in their own eyes, defending their nation from a foreign occupying force [duh]. As Iraq had posed zero threat to the United States, as Iraq had not killed any Americans and had had no capability of killing Americans en masse [yeah, those Iraqi “WMDs” claimed by the war criminals who comprised the illegitimate Bush regime have yet to be found], there is no valid argument that Kyle was “protecting our freedoms” or some other jingoistic, Nazi-like bullshit. Kyle very apparently just really, really liked to slaughter people, and if he were Muslim instead of “Christian” and weren’t taking the big dirt nap, he probably would be a member of ISIS right now, slaughtering people left and right with gleeful abandon.)

So that is the nasty backdrop (part of it, anyway) against which those of us who aren’t stupid white men (again, emphasis on “stupid,” not on “white” or on “men”) or one of their worshipers must live in the United States of America.

That is the kind of background and context that Jonathan Chait’s piece is largely if not wholly missing, and I fault him for that fairly glaring omission, as well as for apparently not having allowed his piece to gestate long enough before birthing it upon the nation. (I often if not usually let something gestate for at least a few days before I finally give birth to it, such as this piece.) Further, the gravity of the topic — political correctness (which falls under the umbrella of identity politics) — could merit its own book, so no magazine article or blog piece (not even this one) could do it more than partial justice.

But Chait describes fairly well the phenomenon in which so many members of historically oppressed groups identify so much with being oppressed (whether these members as individuals actually have been very oppressed as individuals themselves or not) that they are hyper-vigilant about any signs of oppression.

Seriously — it used to be that people were just oppressed. And oppression was a bad thing. You didn’t want to be oppressed.

Now, being a member of an historically oppressed group is très chic. And apparently maintaining your membership in your très-chic group of oppressed people means constantly finding fresh meat, fresh new examples of how you have been oppressed, so if there aren’t any actual examples of how you have been oppressed, you’ll wildly exaggerate or even fabricate such “examples.”

Since you haven’t been (very) oppressed yourself lately, you’ll gladly piggy-back on to others’ (real or exaggerated or fabricated) oppression. That’s always fun.

If you didn’t jump on the Michael Brown bandwagon, for instance, to many that means that you are a white supremacist who supports the gunning down of black men, especially young black men, by white fascist cops who enjoy killing black men.

Never mind that it still remains quite unsettled as to whether or not Michael Brown actually went for the cop’s gun before the cop shot him dead. The cop claims that Brown did, and not only was the cop not indicted by a grand jury (which, indeed, might have been a bogus process), but the U.S. Department of Justice also declined to bring charges against the cop for civil-rights violations (granted, proving a civil-rights violation can be a high bar to clear, I know from personal experience).

It’s disturbing that so many people jumped to conclusions and have held fast to them. If your identity politics is that of the oppressed black American, then of course Michael Brown was innocent, a “gentle giant,” and was gunned down by whitey primarily if not solely for his race, and if your identity politics is that of the right-wing white person whose worldview at least verges on white supremacy if it isn’t already fully there, then of course Brown was a thug (and the phrase “black thug” would be redundant) and of course the white police officer only did what he had to do.

Either Brown went after the cop’s gun or he did not. (If I went after a cop’s gun, I’d expect to get shot.) The cop, under our existing (deeply flawed) legal structure, used deadly force against Brown legally or he did not. But whatever actually happened on that August day in Ferguson, Missouri, has little to nothing to do with identity politics, yet for many if not most Americans, their identity politics dictates the “facts.” That’s scary.

(The Eric Garner case, as I have written, at the bare minimum was a clear-cut case of manslaughter by the thuggish white cop, and, entirely unlike the Brown case, we have video of Garner incident, so “I can’t breathe” is an apt slogan of protest, whereas I never was on board with the “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” meme because there is no evidence that Brown ever put his hands up in surrender — there are only biased claims that he did.)

The case of Woody Allen, too, also wasn’t about the actual knowledge of actual facts but was about identity politics.

Women whom Rush Limbaugh might call “femi-Nazis” have asserted that of course Mia Farrow, being a woman, told the truth that Allen had molested their adopted daughter, even though the allegation came during a nasty custody battle — and that of course Allen, being a man, was guilty as charged. Never mind that none of us was there and has any actual knowledge of what did or what did not happen; we have only the claims and counter-claims of the members of a deeply broken family whose dirty laundry has been scattered all over the public square.

This is some highly toxic shit.

The case of Bill Cosby, though, and that of Arnold “Baby Daddy” Schwarzenegger when he was running for California governor in a bullshit recall election in 2003 that had amounted to a do-over election since the bumbling Repugnican candidate had lost the election in 2002: When several women have come forward publicly to state that a man has sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them, to call all of them liars (as so many did to the at-least six women who came forward about the past deeds of the future Gov. Groper) very most often is a misogynist, patriarchal thing to do.

I have little to no doubt in my mind that Bill Cosby (and Baby Daddy Schwarzenegger) serially sexually harassed and sexually assaulted women.

But actual victimization is diminished when victimization is falsely claimed or is claimed whether or not there is any evidence to support the claim of victimization — usually out of identity politics. Perversely, many if not even most members of an historically oppressed group very apparently want the latest example of possible victimization (such as the shooting death of Michael Brown) to be true victimization because, in their eyes, it strengthens their political power as claimants of oppression.

It’s perverse that oppression has morphed from something that no one wanted into something that so many cherish to the point that they’ll happily fabricate it if they deem that to do so will advance themselves somehow.

(In his piece, Chait correctly notes that “It [identity politics and its concomitant claims of perpetual and ubiquitous victimhood] also makes money. Every media company knows that stories about race and gender bias draw huge audiences, making identity politics a reliable profit center in a media industry beset by insecurity.” Indeed, both Slate.com and Salon.com, two of my favorite websites, have resident identity-politics writers, taking the feminist and the black angles, mostly, and I routinely read these writers’ pieces, and often if not usually I agree with them [Slate.com’s Jamelle Bouie rocks], but sometimes, yeah, it’s apparent that they’re really milking it. [Sorry, Salon.com’s Brittney Cooper, but in his article Chait calls you out on your frequent hysteria and hyperbole fairly fairly.])

This professional “victimhood,” is, I suspect, what has eaten at Chait, but that he perhaps did not articulate well enough in his now-infamous article.

And of his article, this paragraph, I think, is the money shot:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.” The extensive terminology plays a crucial role, locking in shared ideological assumptions that make meaningful disagreement impossible.

The emphasis there is mine. In the most rabid “p.c. culture,” indeed, “There is no allowance … for the possibility that the accusation [of an act of oppression or victimization] may be erroneous.” Within this toxic, tightly closed-off atmosphere, facts and evidence have no place at all; the politics of group identity rules supreme. Woody Allen molested his adopted daughter. Period. If you disagree with this, then you hate women and/or you are a pedophile yourself. Michael Brown was a “gentle giant” (never mind the very inconvenient video footage of him roughing up a convenience store clerk while he stole cigarillos from him on the day of his death) who was gunned down in cold blood by a white supremacist police officer. Period. If you disagree with this, then you are a white supremacist.

And indeed, as Chait writes, “A white person or a man can achieve the status of ‘ally,’ however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue.” Yup. That means going along with all manner of blatantly bullshit groupthink in order to get along, lest you be called a misogynist or racist/white supremacist or worse.

The goal of “p.c. culture” as it stands today indeed so often seems to be to push all white men into a corner, indeed, to destroy all white men or, minimally, to make all white men feel perpetually guilty (and thus perpetually disempowered) because, of course, merely by their having been born white and male, they inherently are the evil victimizers and oppressors of others (of women and of black people, mostly, but of other groups, too, of course). It’s not their individual deeds that make white males automatically-guilty victimizers and oppressors, but their mere membership within the group of white males, you see.

This is the sorry state of affairs even though the origin of “p.c. culture” was the fact that white men were pushing too many others into a corner due to those others’ immutable differences from white men, and pushing others into a corner based upon their immutable differences from oneself is a bad thing to do.

To such a large degree, the victims (well, in so many cases, the “victims”) have become the victimizers, and today the victims don’t even have to be actual victims to call themselves victims, and their actual victimization of others isn’t victimization because they are victims, and a victim cannot also be a victimizer, you see.

Get it? These are the new rules.

These new rules have got to go.

Jonathan Chait got it (mostly) right, which is why we’ve seen the reaction to him that we’ve seen.

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