December 31, 2013

Florida high school stereotypes Indians

Video: Florida High School's Horrific Display of Cultural StupidityA video posted to YouTube on November 25, 2013, has been making the rounds and upsetting to some. In it the Baker County High School History Club in northern Florida is supposedly sharing Native American culture with pre-schoolers. But what happens in the video can only be described as a racially ignorant display.

It opens to one student reading how tribal men and women spend their time, then pans over to a group of white girls dressed in fringed dresses in front of a teepee.

They whoop when the men—white high-school boys wearing fake headdresses and “war paint”—return.

The pre-schoolers have also been dressed in construction paper headdresses and are then taught a “traditional dance.” The dance looks something like the chicken dance and includes music with lyrics like “turkey time” and “gobble gobble gobble jump.”

December 30, 2013

Ani DiFranco's white obliviousness

As you may have heard, Ani DiFranco, the white liberal feminist folk singer, got in trouble for scheduling a retreat at the slave-owning Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana. Some postings on the subject:

…But How Dare You Complain to Me: Ani DiFranco, White Obliviousness and Historical Memory

By Tim WiseDespite realizing that, as she put it, “tragedies on a massive scale are not easily dealt with or recovered from,” and that “pain is stored in places where great social ills have occurred,” DiFranco insists that her intentions were noble. Rather than utilizing Nottoway so as to forget the past, she was utilizing it so as to remember, because, and these are her words: “I believe that people must go to those places with awareness and with compassionate energy and meditate on what has happened and absorb some of the reverberating pain with their attention and their awareness.”

Sure, like Dachau, where I’m quite certain she would never have thought to schedule a writer’s retreat, even if she were in the middle of a European tour at the time, such that getting there would have been a cinch.

That not only DiFranco, but indeed most white people, would flinch at the analogy between Dachau and Nottoway is predictable and largely suggestive of the problem with white people, or at least our propensity for blinkered historical memory. That we cannot recognize the similarities between a forced labor camp in the U.S.—which Southern plantations were, by definition—and a forced labor camp like Dachau (which, unlike the more deliberative death camps operated by the Nazis, was mostly a site of detention rather than extermination), indicates our inability to squarely face the genocide, physical and cultural to which our people mostly assented for hundreds of years on this soil. We do not allow for the pain of black peoples to equate in our minds—or the larger national imagination—to the pain of European Jewry, no matter that the transcontinental slave trade resulted in the deaths of millions (on the forced marches to the African coast, at sea, and once in the so-called new world), and no matter that the system of white domination that was central to enslavement still operates, albeit in a different form, and that the legacy of slavery itself is still evident in patterns of wealth accumulation (and its opposite) very much operative in the 21st century.

While Germany has long confronted the horrific truth of its history, we still have not, principally because most white folks aren’t, by and large, up to the task. Indeed, in one of the most deliciously repulsive ironies in curricular history, one is far more likely to find an American classroom ruminating on the tragedy of the European Holocaust than its American counterparts, be they perpetrated against black folks or indigenous persons. In fact, and as I’ve noted elsewhere, one isn’t even allowed to equate these things, or even use the same words, like “Holocaust” (with a capital H, no less, and perhaps even a trademark symbol) or “genocide” to describe them, unless one wishes to face the wrath of American apologists, who equate nicely with the current operators of Nottoway, all of whom insist upon how humanely the slaves owned by John Hampden Randolph were treated.
Glamming Up Slavery: Ani DiFranco's Plantation Paradise

By Jessica Ann MitchellFeminist folk singer Ani Difranco has enraged fans by hosting her upcoming “Righteous Retreat” at Nottoway Plantation in Louisiana.

As someone that grew up in Georgia, I’ve seen that a lot of White southerners and northerners view plantations as glamorous vacation hubs. For many, plantations are serene settings for family gatherings, weddings and retreats. There are even housing communities that are presented as high class by adding “plantation” to the name.

The gruesome realities of plantations are almost non-existent in their minds because the pain is not tied to their historical framework. There is almost always a careful removal of a realistic identity of masters, their descendants and the privilege that comes along with the erasure of history. So when people like Thomas Jefferson are discussed, the excuse for his participation as a slaver owner/rapist is, “He was a man of his time.”

The focus now turns to his legacy as a founding father rather than as a racist, enslaver and sexual abuser. This history is often avoided or shunned which leads to the cloaking of actual events. It allows for privileged groups to remain unbothered by very meaningful lived experiences on terror filled plantations.

The focus on the lavish and decadent lifestyles of the plantation owners trumps the fact that patrons are directly basking in the riches accumulated from the mass enslavement of African American people. Some would like to think that times weren’t so hard for “the slaves.” The Nottoway Plantation’s website specifically states, “It is difficult to accurately assess the treatment of Randolph’s slaves; however, various records indicate that they were probably well treated for the time.”
DiFranco "apologizes"

Ani DiFranco’s faux-pology: White privilege and the year in race

With most white people not having to confront the true history of plantations, honesty about race remains elusive

By Brittney Cooper
We ended 2013, the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation—a year in which one of the most popular movies, “12 Years a Slave,” chronicled the horrors of slavery in Louisiana—with Ani DiFranco huffily canceling her plan to host a “Righteous Retreat” for artists at Nottaway Plantation in New Orleans. That, ladies and gentlemen, sums up your year in race. I understand that most white people never have to think beyond notions of the idyllic and pastoral when it comes to plantations. That these places continue to represent sites of untold horror, violence and humiliation for black people is the very kind of knowledge against which white privilege inoculates.

The whole point of being white is that you are never supposed to feel uncomfortable in space. To the moon and back, the world is yours. This past year, “pure” white space has been procured and subsequently sanctified through the precious spilled blood of black bodies—Trayvon Martin, who got no justice; Jonathan Ferrell, who asked for help in the wrong neighborhood; Renisha McBride, who did the same.

In her faux-pology, which doubled as a notice of cancellation, DiFranco claimed to “get it.” But from her passive aggressive chastisement and her choice to accuse her naysayers on social media of engaging in “high velocity bitterness,” she obviously doesn’t really get it. She acknowledged that “the pain of slavery is real and runs very deep and very wide,” but saw as “very unfortunate” “what many have chosen to do with that pain.”

No doubt, Ani discovered this week, that social media is no country for white women’s foolishness on race. Unfortunately for her, she chose to launch this retreat at the same time that another unfortunate white feminist soul launched a twitter campaign called #stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity. And after a year of looking at Miley Cyrus’ non-twerking ass, everyone has had enough.
And a broader look at what white feminists like DiFranco are doing:

A Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2013In honor of the #stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity hashtag (started via this Huffington Post article penned by the delightfully clueless Adele Wilde-Blavatsky) I’ve decided to put together a top ten honoring the many interesting methods white feminists employed this year to promote unity between themselves and feminists of color.

From refusing to defend feminists of color against attacks from the patriarchy (or from other white feminists for that matter), to deriding feminists of color for not being feminist enough, to blaming feminists of color’s oppressions on their own cultures (instead of, you know, patriarchy) white feminists sure have a funny way of expressing their desire for unity with feminists of color.
Even though this posting is mainly about white privilege as it relates to blacks, it applies to Native issues as well. The same power and privilege is behind Thanksgiving pageants, Halloween costumes and parties, and Indian team names and mascots. It's about reinforcing the American mythology of the benevolent European "settlers" who tamed the "wilderness" and brought civilization to the "New World."

Charlie Hill dies

Comedian Charlie Hill Walks OnCharlie Hill, a legend of standup comedy who has influenced virtually every Native comic who followed, lost his battle with lymphoma earlier today. As the news spreads through Indian country, condolences and tributes to a man who touched the lives of many are pouring forth. Here are just a few.

Actor Gary Farmer, via Facebook:

My sincere condolences to family, friends, and fans for my long time friend, Charlie Hill who passed on early this morning. We met in Oneida, WI in the early 80's and remained friends throughout until our last gig together in Minnesota to roast Dennis Banks...when he introduced me and the band. It was a memorable introduction...and my last funny memory of a great comedian.

Comedian Roseanne Barr, via Twitter:

Charlie Hill revolutionary stand up comic /wordsmith vagenius has vac8d ths realm

Photographer Thosh Collins, via Facebook:

We never lose great people.... we get to enjoy their guidance from the spirit world. Our time with them is just delayed until our spirit entities meet again in another place. ... [Charlie Hill] was the first successful Native American comedian appearing on shows like Richard Prayor, Jonny Carson, David Letterman and Jay Leno. Charlie was not only a funny man but was a very kind and loving man to his family and those around him. ... Your journey touched all.

Thanks for the Laughs: 8 Must-Watch Clips of the Late Charlie HillStandup comedian Charlie Hill lost his battle with lymphoma yesterday morning. But as Indian country mourns a pioneering performer, it's also important to remember what he was all about: laughter. As the "first" Native comedian -- Hill himself pointed out that Will Rogers and Jonathan Winters were more deserving of the title--he made a lot of American Indians laugh over a career that stretches back to the 1970s. In fact, he made everyone laugh, and in doing so helped change preconceived notions about what Natives could and couldn't be. This was no stoic Indian crying about pollution--this was one funny guy, which is how every comedian hopes to be remembered.Pow Wow Comedy Jam Farewell Letter to Charlie Hill From Marc YaffeeYou worked and rubbed elbows with the biggest comedy stars and you still stayed Charlie from the Rez. You were savvy enough to avoid being stereotyped but smart and strong enough to share you culture and uniquely Indian perspective. You made strangers feel like friends and newer comedians feel like equals. You were just you, whether onstage at The Comedy Store in Hollywood or drinking a coffee in Tuba City. You could have (and should have) been as famous as Leno or Carlin or Cosby (and you are in Indian Country). Except, you weren’t about the fame and money. You were about making people laugh, sharing stories and living life on your terms. You always stayed true to yourself, your culture and your family. It is a sad time to see you go but you left us a lot of great and funny memories that will live on for a long, long time.

December 29, 2013

Hill Valley in Back to the Future III

In an early scene in Back to the Future III, Marty McFly drives the DeLorean through a mural of savage Indians beneath a drive-in movie screen. He materializes in the past in Monument Valley where an actual band of savage Indians (seemingly) pursues him.

Marty hides from them in a cave. Then he sees an army troop riding after them. The implication is that the Indians weren't pursuing Marty. They just happened to be fleeing in Marty's direction.

I don't quite buy this. The Indians are whooping and waving their weapons as if they're attacking. You don't waste that kind of energy when you're fleeing someone.

What impression would most viewers have of this bit? There's no way to know, but I'd guess most would think, "Savage Indians on the attack!" Few would think, "Innocent Indians fleeing from an unjust pursuit." No one would think, "These Indians could put on suits, take a train to Boston, enroll at Harvard, and get an advanced degree." Which was theoretically possible at the time.

Where is Hill Valley?

I think I made these points once before, long ago. But I recently watched the movie and noticed something else. Its problems go beyond the Indian chase scene.

Here's my running commentary on the movie:

Watching Back to the Future III. Plains Indians on the warpath in Monument Valley? That's racist!

So the McFly "farm" is a short distance from where Marty emerged in the past? That would put it square in the middle of the Navajo reservation.

I don't think much farming takes place in that arid region. And the McFlys wouldn't have had title to the land. Awkward!

Don't you hate it when your great-grandfather pees on you? Yep.

So Hill Valley is supposed to be in Northern California? But Marty walked to it from the McFly farm in what seems to be a few hours.

Either Hill Valley is in northern Arizona on the Navajo rez, or this is a huge continuity error. The town should be roughly where Kayenta is, and mostly populated by Navajos.

Are there any significant hills or valleys within walking distance of Monument Valley? I don't think so. The whole concept of this town is flawed.

Marty and Doc retrieve the DeLorean, which confirms that they're still near Monument Valley...on the Navajo rez.

Still haven't seen a single Navajo. Odd considering the town is in the heart of Navajo country.


What this movie does is whitewash US history. White folks have "settled" the land and treat it as if it's theirs. There are no conflicts over land rights or other treaty rights in this phony version of the West.

Indeed, white persons, places, and things are the only ones that exist. Not only are the Indians vanishing, they've vanished (except for a few stragglers on horseback).

In short, the white filmmakers assure the white viewers that America belongs to them. Whoever owned it before, they're gone.

December 28, 2013

Playing Indian in Lassie

The Land Grabber episode of Lassie (airdate: November 22, 1959) opens with Timmy playing "Indian." He wears a headband with a single feather. He has spots on each cheek, two stripes on each arm, and a V on his chest.

He does a fake bird call to summon Lassie. Then he "stalks" his father Paul, shooting a suction-cup arrow into the truck Paul is loading.

The following exchange ensues:PAUL [raises hands]: Me surrender.

TIMMY [dances around Paul]: Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp!

PAUL: Okay, me surrender!

RUTH [approaches, laughing]: Listen, you cowboys and Indians. You'd better watch the time.

PAUL: That's right! We've got the church supper tonight.

TIMMY: Oh, boy! A church supper!

PAUL: I'll be in as soon as I get these tomatoes loaded. I've gotta get 'em ready to get to market tonight.

RUTH: Oh, Paul, do you have to drive them in tonight?

PAUL: We've got bills to pay, remember?

RUTH [chuckling]: I wish I could forget.

RUTH [to Timmy]: All right now, big chief. Uh, please put'um heap big bow and arrow away and wash'um dirt from face.
Comment:  You can see several Tonto-style stereotypes here. This is what people thought Indians were like in 1959.

And not much has changed. I doubt the average American would object to this, or even notice anything wrong, in 2014.

December 27, 2013

Carter Camp dies

1973 Wounded Knee Warrior Carter Camp has Walked On

By Levi RickertAmerican Indian Movement warrior and Wounded Knee ’73 veteran Carter Camp walked on Friday, December 27, 2013 in White Eagle, Oklahoma on the Ponca Indian tribal land. He was 72.

Carter, a tribal citizen of the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, died of complications of cancer which he suffered from for about a year, according to his brother, Dwain, who spoke with the Native News Online on Friday night.

Camp was thirty-two years-old and a major participate during the siege of Wounded Knee in 1973.

Prior to the 1973 Wounded Knee, Camp headed the Oklahoma AIM chapter. He participated in the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, DC in November 1972.
In Memory Carter Camp, Ponca

Below:  "Carter Camp on right with Russell Means and Nicole Panter at Wounded Knee in 1993." (Nicole Panter)

December 26, 2013

Educating DMarks about systemic racism

Once again, correspondent DMarks disagreed with one of my postings: The Myth of Reverse Racism. Once again, he's wrong and I'm right.

DMarks wrote:There is no reverse racism. It is all racism, and it does indeed include instances such as affirmative action denying white people of jobs just due to their skin color.Tim Wise addressed your affirmation action "argument" in the passage I quoted. Go ahead and dispute his points if you can.

Simply declaring that he's wrong--that affirmative action is racist--isn't an argument. It's an assertion of your beliefs. It's the opposite of what I'm looking for and a waste of our time.

DMarks also disagreed with the cartoon I posted:

The final comic, by the way is completely invalid, since it doesn't look at people as individuals, but only generalizes on race.No, this cartoon is completely valid as a generalization about the ongoing racism in America, which is perpetuated by institutions that no one person can change. Your ignorance of this structural, systemic racism doesn't change the fact of it. You obviously can't touch it with anything resembling an argument, so you simply wish it out of (your) existence.

As a white man, you're a perfect example of white privilege in action. You don't experience racism against your entire social group, so you can't imagine such a thing. You can't imagine laws or policies that discriminate against an entire race. The only racism you recognize is on the individual level.

Poor whites, rich blacks?Downtrodden, poor whites almost outnumber Blacks... a reality ignored in this comic.Tim Wise talks about the "downtrodden, poor whites" in many of his essays on race. As he's noted many times, blacks face discrimination beyond that faced by poor whites.

Again, your ignorance of his arguments, despite his making them repeatedly, says more about your obtuseness than anything. You're literally ignoring anything that doesn't fit your white worldview.

And who's trying to help poor whites as well as poor blacks? By extending unemployment benefits, food stamps, and other parts of the social safety net? Liberals, that's who.

Conservatives don't care about poor whites much more than they care about poor blacks. They'd be okay if the world's poor people shriveled up and died. That way, rich people wouldn't have to deal with them.

Rich and upper middle class blacks exist in large numbers, another reality ignored.Which numbers would those be? Quit making fact-free assertions and provide the evidence to back your claims.

I've addressed the idiotic claim that Obama proves we're in a post-racial world many times. Mostly recently, in The Obama/Oprah Myth.

Go ahead and address the myth if you can--again, using facts and evidence to support your claims. Your faith-based belief in the goodness of white-majority institutions doesn't interest me.

Returning to the cartoon, my basic response to you Poor whites need help despite the lack of racism against them. Rich blacks don't need help despite the racism against them. And...?

What does the existence of these two groups have to do with racism against the third group: poor blacks who don't have the means to overcome racism? Nothing whatsoever?

It's like saying, "Dogs have fleas, but cats also have fleas, and fish don't have fleas. Therefore, dogs having fleas isn't a valid concern." Apparently you don't realize how ridiculous your "argument" sounds.

Systemic racism > individual racism

This posting is a typical example of how you conservatives deny, defend, or excuse the racism in our midst. Talking about how individual whites discriminate against individual blacks is missing the forest for the trees.

For every example of "individual" racism you could come up with, I could come up with several of institutional, structural, or systemic racism. By seeing only one kind of racism and ignoring others, you're missing most of America's racism.Any individual denied opportunity due to skin color is a victim of real racism.Yes, and any group denied opportunities due to skin color is a victim of real racism also. Institutions such as governments, businesses, and universities discriminate against racial groups as a whole, dummy, not just against individuals.

Are you even aware of these laws and policies? Was the South's Jim Crow legal structure just a matter of individuals discriminating against individuals? How about corporations such as the Washington Redskins, Urban Outfitters, or Victoria's Secret that use racist marketing techniques? How about Supreme Court decisions that refuse to recognize tribal sovereignty because white Christians "discovered" America? How are any of these racist examples a matter of denying opportunities to individuals?

They aren't, obviously. They're all example of institutional racism against groups. You've seen such examples in this blog--thousands of them--yet you don't understand them. Worse, as this posting proves, you ignore them. Hence the proper use of the term "ignoramus" to describe you.

P.S. to Anonymous: No, I'm not going to ban DMarks. But I may set some of my postings on racism to "no comments"--including this one. Any content-free comments that amount to "I disagree" or "You're wrong" are a waste of everyone's time.

If anyone wants to respond to this, you can e-mail me. If you come up with a valid argument--one I haven't addressed and dismissed already--I'll post it.

December 25, 2013

Long Shadow in Justice League Unlimited

Someone told me about the cartoon character Long Shadow a while ago. Last year, I saw the three episodes of Justice League Unlimited in which Long Shadow appeared. Here's the story on him:

Long ShadowLong Shadow was a former member of the Ultimen. As with the rest of the team, he was genetically engineered by the U.S. Government to be a powerful team of superheroes obedient to them, unlike the Justice League.

Background information

Like the other members of the Ultimen, Long Shadow was based on an original character from the old SuperFriends show. In that respect, Long Shadow was a reference/update to Apache Chief, another giant-sized superhero of Native American origin. However, as an artificial human, Long Shadow has no genuine Native American background beyond his implanted memories. Also unlike his SuperFriends counterpart, he requires no phrases to activate his powers. (Apache Chief would shout the magic phrase "Inukchuk" to activate his power and grow to fifty feet tall.)


Notably unlike his teammates, Long Shadow was more cool-headed, humble and didn't let superhero fame go to his head. He still retained his admiration of the heroes of the Justice League, considered them as his role models and continued to desire an alliance with them.

Long Shadow wanted his team to join the Justice League, but the other Ultimen, despite some of whom originally also admired the League, were against it. Unlike the rest of the group, who had been enjoying their newfound fame, wealth, and popularity, Long Shadow earnestly wanted to join the Justice League to help more people and be a better hero. Long Shadow's efforts were constantly rebuffed and mocked by his teammates.

After helping the League, Long Shadow developed somewhat of a crush on Wonder Woman. While the attitudes of the rest of the Ultimen and the Justice League were at odds with each other, Long Shadow's humility and admiration earned a good friendship with Wonder Woman, who became a sort of mentor figure to him.
Comment:  There's a lot to like about Long Shadow. For instance, his name evokes the natural world without using a cliché such as "Big Bear." His costume is futuristic but still Native-style in color and design.

As the "History" section indicates, the best part is his refreshing personality. He wasn't the stoic or savage member of the Ultimen. In fact, he was the opposite: friendly, helpful, and open about his desire to be a hero.

That doesn't seem like much, but it's surprising how often a Native character is some variation of stoic and savage. It's the 21st century, people. Indians are extroverts and peace lovers like everyone else.

For more on the subject, see Ty Longshadow = Apache Chief? and Apache Chief.

December 24, 2013

Season's greetings!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Ecstatic Eid, Krazy Kwanzaa, and a Wondrous Winter Solstice!


Native aspects of Duck Dynasty controversy

There are a couple of reasons for addressing the Duck Dynasty controversy in a Native-oriented blog. Educator Debbie Reese points to one in her American Indians in Children's Literature blog:

Phil Robertson: "The Almighty gave us this." Debbie Reese: "No. He didn't."In the many excellent critiques of Phil Robertson's comments about gays and African Americans, I haven't seen anything that pushes back on his "The Almighty gave us this [northern Louisiana backwoods]."

I read that line in the GQ article and, of course, thought "No. He didn't."

That land belonged to Native people.

Does Robertson (like those early Europeans who believed their god had a hand in disease that devastated Native peoples, rendering them and their homelands vulnerable to Europeans who wanted that land) think his Almighty rid the land of the Indigenous peoples of Louisiana so Robertson and his family could have it?
Also, there's a more general reason to discuss the issue:

I'd say these issues are fundamentally related. Dehumanizing Muslims = dehumanizing Indians = dehumanizing gays. It's all about maintaining white, male, Christian power.

Challenging one act of oppression--I mean Robertson's hate speech, not the response to it--means challenging all acts of oppression. The conservative white power structure is equally discomfited when gays marry, Indians oppose fracking and pipelines, and liberals oppose defense boondoggles (aka wars against Muslims).

As with most of the cultural issues I flog, I'm not saying Robertson's opinion matters. I'm saying it's an example of a deep-seated cultural mindset that pervades this country. That mindset matters, even if specific instances of it don't.

In other words, Duck Dynasty has given us another chance to debate the shape and direction of the country. Will it remain white/male/Christian/heterosexual, or can we share the power with others? And that debate affects pretty much everything: from violence against women to poverty on the rez.

For more on the subject, see Phil Robertson "Wrong with Honor"?! and Duck Dynasty Star is a Bigot.

December 23, 2013

Dixie Chicks show conservative hypocrisy

Another Facebook exchange with "Tom" on the free-speech aspects of the Duck Dynasty controversy:

So the GOP wants to get into "free speech" in defense of a ZZ Top lookalike? They will climb down into the muck in defense of a homophobic bigot's right to his religious point of view and his right to shout it from the rooftops. Never mind that Martin Bashir was not allowed his "freedom of speech." Never mind that freedom of speech is only supported if they LIKE what is being said. Just ask the Dixie Chicks about "freedom of speech." Hypocrites. Absolutist hypocrites. I have never gotten over what happened to the Dixie Chicks because I absolutely love their music and I despise what was done to them.Do you agree, Thomas? Are the Dixie Chicks and Dynasty Duck cases exactly equivalent? Because both groups lost business opportunities because of what they said? And so conservatives are freakin' hypocrites for denouncing free speech in the first case and "defending" it in the second?

Again, on a scale 1-10, how goddamned hypocritical are your fellow conservatives? As with the Raul Castro handshake, a perfect 10?And which network or recording company fired the Dixie Chicks?I said loss of business opportunities. Canceled or curtailed tours, less radio air play, and the loss of at least one sponsor is the same as having your TV show taken off the air. Companies are "censoring" your free speech, according to the asinine conservative position that's completely false and hypocritical.

You're not seriously defending Robertson's right to be free of criticism for uttering his racist and homophobic remarks, are you? Even you aren't that dumb. (See Phil Robertson "Wrong with Honor"?! for more on that subject?)

Conservatives are hypocrites

Here are the economic sanctions you stupidly forgot or ignored, Tom:

“Free speech” hypocrites: Dixie Chicks, “Duck Dynasty” and America’s pointless shell arguments

Just admit it: Your view on items like free speech or the filibuster depends on whatever policy position's at stake

By Matthew Bruenig
When media reports about the concert got back to the United States, all hell broke loose. Their record sales plummeted, they fell down the Billboard charts and a full scale boycott swept through their largely right-wing country music fan base. Country radio stations across the U.S. pulled them from circulation, with radio network giant Cumulus banning the Dixie Chicks from its more than 250 local stations. Former fans gathered to burn previously-purchased CDs and even, in one media spectacle, crush them with a giant farm tractor.

Unsurprisingly, conservatives welcomed this effort to economically discipline political speech. President Bush himself said of the debacle: “The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say … they shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out. … Freedom is a two-way street. ” For Bush and other conservative cheerleaders of the war, you can speak your mind all you want, but you should be subject to private economic disciplining if you say something unpopular. That’s just the dialectic of freedom working itself out.

This is all well and good except conservatives don’t actually believe this. Their support for economically coercing the speech of popular entertainers is curiously contingent upon the content of the speech in question.

Take the firestorm surrounding the comments “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson made to GQ this week. Among other things, Robertson explained that blacks in the Jim Crow south were contented with American apartheid and that homosexuality is both sinful and utterly disgusting. The cable network that runs his hit television show responded to these comments by putting him on hiatus. So we have here a perfect analogue to the Dixie Chicks spectacle: a popular entertainer said something offensive and outrageous to many, and an economic actor punished him for doing so.

Strangely enough, conservatives found the economic disciplining of Phil Robertson to be a kind of unjust censorship that is antithetical to the spirit of free speech. Bobby Jindal said the TV network’s disciplining ran counter to the free speech protections of the first amendment to the constitution. Sarah Palin also expressed dismay at the threat this poses to free speech, and called opponents of Phil Robertson intolerant haters. Herman Cain described the suspension as “crap” that is “out of control.” And on and on it goes.

It is not mysterious why conservatives think the Phil Robertson disciplining is rights-infringing but think the Dixie Chicks disciplining was not. They support what Phil Robertson had to say, but oppose what the Dixie Chicks had to say. Despite their pretensions to the contrary, conservatives, and most people in general for that matter, do not care about content-neutral procedural fairness. They care about winning their stuff and beating the other’s side stuff.
Another comparison is how people responded to Martin Bashir's outburst against Sarah Palin vs. Phil Robertson's outburst against gays. Again, the conservative response was hypocritical.

In short, Tom, you lose. If there was any doubt, this controversy proves that conservatives are hypocrites.

For more on the subject, see Phil Robertson "Wrong with Honor"?! and Duck Dynasty Star is a Bigot.

Conservative ignorance about Benghazi

I know! Egypt = pyramids. Iran = Iraq. Cuba = cigars. Syria = okay, I don't know that one. North Korea = Kim something...Kardashian? Liberia = Gaddafi. Benghazi = all of the above.

Facts, people! Read the Koran! Muslims are out to get us!

More poll questions:

How many Benghazis is Obama responsible for? 28% said 10 or more.

Is Benghazi still happening, or is it over? 37% said still happening.

Did Obama pass a law making Benghazi legal? 42% said yes.

Is Benghazi an abstract word that scares you because it sounds Muslim? A whopping 89% said yes.

In conclusion: Facts, people! Numbers are facts! Believe what I tell you because it "makes sense"!

For more on conservative ignorance, see Black Columnist Excuses "Redskins," Genocide and Miss America Sparks America's Racism.

December 22, 2013

Redskins try to buy approval

Redskins owner Dan Snyder makes visits to Indian Country amid name-change pressure

By Theresa Vargas and Liz ClarkeHope arrived in a private jet. By the time the aircraft with the Washington Redskins’ Indian-head logo on its tail landed in New Mexico, the tribal council of the Pueblo of Zuni was ready to greet its prominent visitor.

Daniel Snyder, the owner of one of the NFL’s most profitable football franchises, had asked to see firsthand the struggles of the tribe living amid red-hued mesas. To do that, he needed to see this: A cracked indoor swimming pool that had teemed with children and the elderly before it was condemned about three years ago. A swath of reservation land that had been set aside for hotels and restaurants that were never built because the funding didn’t match the dream. A wellness center where a Zumba class was about to start—one way the community is fighting an alarming diabetes rate.
And:The team’s strategy to address the issue, however, goes far beyond its few public statements, according to interviews with team executives, people who know Snyder and Native Americans across the nation. Behind the scenes, Snyder and team officials have taken more than a dozen unpublicized trips to Indian Country, Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie acknowledged. They wanted to see for themselves what some people view as an issue far more pressing than the name of a football team: a population struggling with poverty, disease and substance abuse at rates higher than any other group in the nation.

The team could soon make a financial gesture to address some of these problems, including selling popcorn from a South Dakota tribe at the games. The move, like the name debate itself, promises to draw praise and criticism from the community that has the most at stake: Native Americans.
Snyder's visit to Native Americans not enough

By Chris KormanThe post says Snyder is contemplating a business deal to sell popcorn manufactured by a Native American company, and could donate in the future with a focus on fighting rampant issues like unemployment and alcoholism. And he should do those things.

He should also issue a release that says: “After meeting with this proud and noble people, I realize that we minimize their contributions and make their lives more difficult today by calling our team Redskins, which is a racist way of supposedly paying homage to only the narrowest part of this group’s history. Switching the name will send a clear message that we must stop seeing Native Americans as painted warriors and instead as an integral part of our country. Voting for a new name will begin shortly.”

No one's buying it

Why Jews Are Calling on Snyder to Drop 'Redskins'

By Stanley HellerWhy a Jewish letter? Two reasons. First, because the owner of the Dallas Cowboys claimed that Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington team could not be "insensitive" in keeping the name "redskins" since Snyder was a Jew. Second because the Ray Halbritter (Oneida Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, parent company of Indian Country Today Media Network) asked Jews not to buy products bearing the current Washington name or use the team logo. We wanted to respond to the Oneida call and to criticize Snyder for using Jewish suffering as an excuse to humiliate others.

On the Move On petition site where the statement was housed there was this further explanation for the statement:

The "R" Word is the Same as the "N" Word and the "K" word.

We Jews are appalled that fellow Jew Dan Snyder is blind to the fact that the name of the Washington football team that he owns is racist and deeply offensive to Indian peoples. As Indian leader Clyde Bellecourt said recently the “R” word is no different than the “N” word. We’d add that it’s also no different than the “K” word that has been used to taunt Jews for centuries.

Words matter. They can hurt and humiliate. They can help turn people into targets of hate.

The name of the team has led to other practices that promote humiliating stereotypes like fans wearing “headdresses” of chicken feathers or the mass tomahawk chop or cries to “scalp” opposing teams.

It is especially wrong to be shaming Indians, who have suffered so enormously from mass killing, land theft, treaty breaking and attempts to eradicate their cultures.
Redskins May Try to Buy Indian Cover for Racist Name

By John F. BanzhafAlthough virtually every American Indian organization–as well as civil rights, black, Latino, and Jewish organizations–have in no uncertain terms condemned the team name as derogatory and racist, Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder may be trying to provide cover from growing protects by using his vast wealth to help persuade a few Indians to rally behind the name, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf, one of those helping to lead the movement to change the team’s name.

Team owner Daniel Snyder recently made several trips to Indian areas. Although the trips were supposed to be kept secret, team insiders admit that they are part of a strategy to address the issue of a name many now concede is racist. They suggest that the trips will result in the team paying off cooperative Indians, and even entering into sympathy contracts–e.g. selling popcorn from a tribe at games. The trips, by the way, were arranged by a lobbyist, and were described as “odd” by at least one tribal leader.

Snyder apparently is trying to persuade some Indians, especially those who may be the beneficiaries of his munificence, that Indians have far more serious problems than a racist NFL team name.

That’s obviously true, says Banzhaf, but hardly the point, and is simply an effort to distract attention.

Blacks had much more serious problems than Paula Dean using the n-word in private, or Dan Imus describing black hair as “nappy” or using thee word “Jigaboos,” but even a single use of the words led to condemnation and punishment, although some Blacks says they don’t really mind the use of the word.

Gay people have far more important problems than what a backwoods patriarch says about their sexual practices, but they quickly and strongly condemned his remarks–even though they were allegedly based on the Bible–about their sexual practices.

Fortunately, says Banzhaf, using his vast wealth to try to buy friends for the team’s name is likely to backfire. A former Redskins vice president of public relations admits that Snyder is in a difficult position. He says that using money to woo Indians would not help much, and could be “misinterpreted as a payoff.”

Even a recent ceremony, supposedly to honor Navajo Code talkers, was denounced, with the several Indians participating being called “props” for Snyder. One Navajo Nation Councilman condemned what he called team officials’ “antics to use our beloved and cherished Navajo heroes as pawns in their public relations battle to perpetuate this indignity and ignorance.”

“N*gger, W*tback, Ch*ink, W*p, J*p, etc. are racist insulting words, even though many of each ethic persuasion may not object, or feel that their people face more important issues. No reasonable person would use or repeat a team name like the C*nts, the F*ggots, or the R*tards, although each group faces more serious problems, and some no longer get upset by the use,” argues Banzhaf.
Below:  The Redskins "honor" Navajo code talkers with purchases so fresh the tags still dangle from them.

Phil Robertson "wrong with honor"?!

This article:

Mike Huckabee: Phil Robertson holds same position on same-sex marriage as Obama

sparked a debate with "Tom" on Facebook. It begin with my take on Huckabee's claim:

I'm pretty sure you're wrong, Huckster. Obama didn't imply gays were sinners, unnatural, violating God's will, etc.

I wouldn't swear to it, but I doubt anyone has been fired for saying, "I support full and equal rights for gays, but I'm not comfortable with same-sex marriage." Which is about what Obama said and not close to what Robertson said.

Liberals = panderers?Obama was against gay marriage in 2008 to maximize his vote among younger evangelicals. It was a position of pure convenience.Maybe, but 1) Obama wasn't against gays, and 2) liberals criticized him for his wishy-washy stance. There's no point of comparison between 2008 Obama and Robertson except the most basic one: against gay marriage.

I've criticized Obama hundreds of times for pandering to conservatives. Do you have a point here? I mean, other than "Rob isn't a hypocrite but conservatives are"?Conservatives who oppose gay marriage do so on principle. Liberals who oppose it do so for votes.If the "principle" is homophobia, okay.

That's not a joke or an exaggeration, it's a fact. The Prop. 8 case proved it.

Opponents of gay marriage literally had no persuasive argument against legalization. All their arguments amounted to "We don't like gays because of the Bible," or homophobia.

Your statement may have been somewhat true in 2008. Now it's 2013 and liberals, including Obama, are mostly for gay marriage. Because the liberal principle of equality under the law easily outweighs the conservative "principle" of homophobia.

And as I said, we liberals pointed out Obama's failure to understand which principle was the greatest. Unfortunately for you, dumbass conservatives like Robertson still haven't learned the lesson. And partisan shills like you aren't willing to call him on it.

Hating gays = bravery?I have supported making same-sex marriages legally enforceable for going on 20 years now. I respectfully disagree with other rightists who do not. I am a divorce lawyer. The LGBT community has nothing on my profession when it comes to destroying traditional marriage. Phil Robertson and, for that matter, Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathey probably think I am the devil. So what? Neither man had anything to gain by coming out against same sex marriage but they did so anyhow. They're wrong but they're wrong with honor."Respectfully" means not calling liars "liars" and hypocrites "hypocrites." In other words, giving them a free pass. In other words, providing cover for their bigotry by "disagreeing" in the meekest and mildest terms. Which you do only when *I* post something about gay marriage.

Robertson had plenty to gain in his own mind. Like other bubble-dwellers who listen to Fox News, he thought he was reaching out to the great silent majority of "real Americans." He thought he'd get a parade down Main Street for speaking truth to (liberal) power.

Instead, he learned he's in a dwindling minority of intolerant ignoramuses. So I don't give him credit for being delusional about reality. He thought he'd be a hero and instead he's a goat.

And "wrong with honor" is a pathetic joke. Robertson called homosexuals "evil" and "God-haters." He advocated statutory rape (i.e., marriage for 15-year-old girls). Where's the "honor" in hateful claims, not to mention immoral behavior? Why aren't you denouncing him as wrong, period?

"Honor" in debate means using only arguments based on solid facts and evidence. Such as the fact that there's no reason sex or relationships have to be limited to opposite-sex pairs. If you don't understand this, you're not honorable, you're a stupid idiot who has no business opening his mouth.

Pretending heterosexuality is "logical" when it isn't isn't "honorable," it's a blatant lie. Uttering lies is execrable. And calling a liar "honorable" is basically defending him. Which is what you've done throughout this debate.

Straights love "gay sex"

Let's note that you and Robertson are confusing the issues. Robertson rejected gays and "gay sex" more than gay marriage. Obama did more or less the opposite. He (initially) rejected gay marriage while not condemning gays or "gay sex."

Let's also note that there's no necessary connection between gays, "gay sex," and gay marriage. You can be gay without having "gay sex." You can have a gay marriage without "gay sex." You can have "gay sex" (aka anal sex) without being gay. You can have it without being in a gay marriage.

Would any homophobes allow gay marriage if the partners declined to have sex? Would they ban anal sex among married or unmarried heterosexuals? No? Then conservatives are the rankest kind of hypocrites.

So to claim that Obama and Robertson said the same thing is completely false. Not only that, it demonstrates a remarkable level of stupidity confusion about the differences between gays, "gay sex," and gay marriage. They're three related but different subjects, morons.

For more on LGBT issues, see Duck Dynasty Star Is a Bigot and Two-Spirits Celebrate DOMA Ruling.

December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty star is a bigot

I tried to avoid the Duck Dynasty as long as possible. But Phil Robertson made it impossible with his asinine utterances.

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Suspended Over Remarks About Gay People “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson has been suspended from filming the A&E reality series following his remarks about gay people where he called homosexuality illogical in a recent interview with GQ magazine.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina–as a man–would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me,” Robertson stated. “I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
Homosexuality is illogical? Almost every aspect of nature (natural disasters, mass extinctions, etc.) is illogical. So what's your point...that everything God created is horribly flawed?

Humans do tons of things that aren't "logical." Getting tattoos...smoking...skydiving...gambling...praying...hating people because of their skin color...etc. And these are choices, unlike homosexuality. So you're saying you oppose homosexuality, but not an infinity of other human activities, because it's illogical? And you think that position is logical?!

The excrement really hit the fan when people began noting Robertson's racism:

Well, thanks for clearing that up. Out in the fields, with no businesses, schools, or voting booths around, Robertson didn't see any mistreatment. The crows and the flies treated everyone equally.

In related news, Megyn Kelly insisted that members of Duck Dynasty have been and always will be white.


Many people ripped Robertson for his homophobic and racist views. Here are a couple of them:

What The ‘Duck Dynasty’ Scandal Tells Us About Race, Homophobia, And The Media

By Alyssa Rosenberg“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” he said. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans—and Americans—who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”Evangelical church’s ugly truth: “Duck Dynasty” and Christian racists

Many people of faith have rushed to denounce Phil Robertson's homophobia—but his racism is a different story

By Brittney Cooper
Liberal-minded folk, some Christians included, have been outraged at his homophobia, while conservative Christians of all races jumped to defend his right to free speech. Many of these Christians feel particularly threatened by what they call “censorship” of Robertson, because the belief that homosexuality is a sin, and the right to declare that belief freely without recourse, has become for many of these people a defining marker of their identity as Christians.

A reluctant evangelical, I reject conservative theological teachings on homosexuality; the violence that the Church does to gay people in the name of God is indeed one of the primary reasons for my reluctance. But I am also ambivalent about the Church because of its continued subjugation of women and its failure to be forthright about its continuing racism problem.

Conservatives love racists and homophobes

Did conservatives speak out against Robertson's repugnant views? If you've lived in America since the Reagan years, you know they did not.

Conservatives rally around suspended ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson“Phil Robertson is a new American hero,” said broadcaster Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, in a series of Twitter posts. “He said exactly what the great majority of Americans believe. Phil Robertson is right. It’s a simple matter of plumbing. Easy to figure out what is supposed to go where. And where not.”

Sarah Palin, a reality show star herself, also weighed in.

“Free speech is endangered species; those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ & taking on Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing personal opinion take on us all,” Palin tweeted.
Yeah, he's the greatest hero since Paula Deen and George Zimmerman. Or so many conservatives would claim.

With Phil Robertson, Paula Deen, Ted Nugent, Joe the Plumber, and George Zimmerman, Republicans don't need governors or senators. They've got a whole lineup of potential presidential candidates.

You want someone from outside the Beltway? These clowns are barely members of society.

Like mother, like daughter:

Bristol Palin explains how you should feel about freedom of speech about having not-vagina sex

By TBoggTo sum up: freedom can sometimes be uncomfortable (see, The Book of Kelly: ““Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change.”) but, when someone says things that make you feel uncomfortable, you should shut the hell up and not criticize their words with your own words because that is what freedom of speech is all about….

Finally, this piece of garbage:

Camille Paglia: Duck Dynasty suspension 'utterly fascist, utterly Stalinist'On Thursday, we said that A&E's actions against Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson shows that liberalism is an ideology of intolerance and tyrannical oppression. Those sentiments were echoed Thursday by dissident feminist Camille Paglia, who told radio talk show host Laura Ingraham the move is "utterly fascist" and "utterly Stalinist," the Daily Caller reported.Facebook friend Brad responded:What a joke. First of all, is just people's blogs--no journalistic training or even writing skill required. Just sign up and get paid by the click. Second, Stalin was a fascist? Someone needs to retake high school world history! And third, there couldn't be anything MORE capitalist about this guy's suspension. It's a major corporation firing someone to protect their brand image and profits. What's not for conservatives to love about that?Right. If a corporation fired someone for any other "free speech" activity--organizing a union, revealing a scandal, claiming sexual harassment, etc.--conservatives absolutely would say "It's the corporation's right" and "That's how capitalism works."

Same for A&E, morons. So conservatives are stupid and obvious hypocrites.

First time a conservative defends any of the speech examples I gave, please lemme know. It hasn't happened yet.

As for Paglia, I don't think it matters that published this. What matters is that Paglia is a "dissident feminist" turned right-wing loon. I'm not sure she has any credibility anymore, and who cares what one person thinks?

When she says:I think that this intolerance by gay activists toward the full spectrum of human beliefs is a sign of immaturity, juvenilityshe apparently means the tolerance of racist or homophobic rants. Damn straight we aren't going to tolerate them anymore. We also aren't going to tolerate the defenders of racism and bigotry and their asinine misreading of the US Constitution.

If you don't like how America works, dumbasses, you can get the hell out of the country. Move to Saudi Arabia, Duck Dynasty and other friends of bigotry, where you can stone gays, women, and other "sinners" to your heart's content.

The right to be bigoted?

2013: The year in whiteness

From Phil Robertson to Megyn Kelly, peddling white grievance became a bigger, crazier, more lucrative racket

By Joan Walsh
The next week, “Duck Dynasty’s” Phil Robertson also became a martyr for the white right, after A&E briefly suspended him for holding forth on the nastiness of gay sex while insisting African Americans were happy in the Jim Crow South.

The new hysteria and hypocrisy was crystallized by one surreal fact: While paranoid white righties were fighting for their allegedly endangered right to celebrate Christmas (with their white Santa), they could watch a “Duck Dynasty” Christmas marathon on A&E, underscoring that there’s neither a war on Christmas nor on bigoted pseudo-Christians like Robertson. But there’s a lot of cash to be made, and fear to be stoked, by claiming both.

Kelly and Robertson and kindred spirits like Sarah Palin charted a bold new civil rights frontier in 2013: fighting for the right of white people to say false, stupid and bigoted things without facing criticism, let alone paying any real penalty. Palin has long made herself out to be a victim of mean liberals, but this year her anger-mongering took on a more explicitly racial tinge. She bashed Jeb Bush for casting aspersions on the fertility of white people—Bush did make an admittedly stupid remark about immigrants being “more fertile,” but if you thought that would get him in trouble with immigrant groups, not whites, you thought wrong—and later in the year declared her inviolable right to equate the federal deficit she wrongly blames on our first black president with “slavery.” She closed the year announcing she stands with Phil Robertson, even though she had to confess to Fox’s Greta Van Susteren that she hadn’t read the GQ interview that got him in minor temporary trouble.
Conservatives are trying to paint the criticism as an attack on traditional Christian values. They're cloaking it in such weasel words as Paglia's "full spectrum of human beliefs."

Not a single person would have protested if Robertson had talked about God, angels, Satan, hell, Genesis (creationism), the Flood, the Ten Commandments, the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection, the Rapture, or any other Christian doctrine. We're objecting to his bigotry, not to the Bible.

Proving the point, we would've protested exactly the same way if he had based his homophobia on science--which he actually tried to do. If he hadn't mentioned the Bible at all.

Again, his bigotry is the issue, not the religion or the science from whence he got his bigoted beliefs. We've denounced many homophobes who did not invoke the Bible and we'll continue to do so.

More conservative bigotry

Robertson quickly proved that his racist and homophobic were not misquoted or taken out of context. In fact, the context is clear. He's a typical fundamentalist fanatic who thinks gays are evil and women are property.

Phil Robertson demonized LGBT people in 2010 sermon: ‘They invent ways of doing evil’[T]he recently publicized sermon, which was delivered almost two years before “Duck Dynasty” first aired, adds even more context to Robertson’s comments and his beliefs about same-sex relationships.

“Women with women, men with men, they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions,” Robertson said. “They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil. That’s what you have 235 years, roughly, after your forefathers founded the country.”
He keeps getting misunderstood! In his heart, he loves the gays and the blacks!

Duck Dynasty star: Girls should carry a Bible, cook and marry ‘when they are 15′At a Sportsmen’s Ministry talk in 2009, Robertson had some advice for a young man.

“Make sure that she can cook a meal, you need to eat some meals that she cooks, check that out,” he said. “Make sure she carries her Bible. That’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road. And if she picks your ducks, now, that’s a woman.”

“They got to where they’re getting hard to find,” Robertson remarked. “Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait until they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket.”

The Duck Commander company founder added: “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that of course.”
Oddly, Biblical literalists like Robertson have nothing to say about the real Sodomites:

I wonder why not?

For more on LGBT issues, see Rick Perry Bashes Gays and All Bigotries Are Similar.

December 20, 2013

White democracy depends on exterminating Indians

Richard Slotkin on Guns and Violence

By Bill MoyersAhead of the one year anniversary of the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 school children and six educators, Bill speaks with cultural historian and scholar Richard Slotkin about the role of guns in America’s national psyche.

Slotkin has spent his life studying and writing about the violence that has swirled through American history and taken root deep in our culture. In his works of history and fiction, Slotkin tracks how everything from literature, movies and television to society and politics has been influenced by this violent past including the gun culture that continues to dominate, wound and kill.

Slotkin talks about Lanza’s apparent obsession with violent video games and mass killings—as outlined in a November report issued by Connecticut’s Division of Criminal Justice—and examines the roots of violence in America. “The lone killer is trying to validate himself or herself in terms of … what I would call the historical mythology of our society. He wants to place himself in relation to meaningful events in the past that lead up to the present.”
The heart of Slotkin's argument:BILL MOYERS: You write in one of your books, "In American mythogenesis," the origin of our national mythology, "the founding fathers were not those eighteenth-century gentlemen who composed a nation at Philadelphia. Rather they were those who … tore violently a nation from implacable and opulent wilderness." Talk about that.

RICHARD SLOTKIN: Well, first of all I have to say that every nation, every nation state requires a historical mythology, because a nation state is a kind of political artifice. It pulls diverse peoples together. And so you need an account of history that explains that you're actually all the same kind of person or that your different natures have been blended through experience. So what--

BILL MOYERS: We the people?

RICHARD SLOTKIN: We the people. And the United States is a settler state. And this begins with colonial outposts in the wilderness. And our origin has a story then, has to be how did we go from being these small outposts to being the mightiest nation on planet earth? Well, we did it by pushing the boundaries of the settlement out into Indian country. We did it by ultimately fighting wars against Native Americans, driving them out, displacing them, exterminating them in some cases.

And in the process of pushing our boundaries out, we acquired certain heroic virtues--an ability to fight cleverly both as individuals and cooperatively, and a connection with nature which is particularly critical. As a country really develops you get a kind of American exceptionalist notion of progress which is that American progress is achieved not by man exploiting man, but it's achieved by conquering nature, by taking resources from nature, farmland originally, timber resources, ultimately gold, minerals, oil and so on. In the American model, in order for it to work, you have to say that Native Americans, Indians, are not quite human. And therefore they, like trees in the forest, are legitimate objects of creative destruction. And similarly blacks, African Americans, are legitimate objects of exploitation because they are considered to be not fully human.

So what you get in this, the evolution of the American national myth, really up through the Civil War is the creation of America as a white man's republic in which, different from Europe, if you're white, you're all right. You don't have to be an aristocrat born to have a place in the society. You don't absolutely even have to be Anglo-Saxon, although it helps.

But so among whites you can have democracy. But the white democracy depends on the murder, the extermination, the driving out of Native Americans and the enslavement of blacks. Both of those boundaries, the western frontier, the Indian frontier, and the slave frontier, are boundaries created and enforced by violence, either literal or latent, potential violence.

BILL MOYERS: So that's why you wrote something came from this mythology, something about "the land and its people, its dark people especially, economically exploited and wasted, the warfare between man and nature, between race and race, exalted as a kind of heroic ideal."

RICHARD SLOTKIN: Yes. That is the frontier story. That's the western movie in a way. That's “The Searchers.”

BILL MOYERS: The movie, “The Searchers,” yeah.

RICHARD SLOTKIN: The movie, “The Searchers.” Yeah. That's James Fenimore Cooper. That's Buffalo Bill. In a curious way you can even take it to outer space, but--


RICHARD SLOTKIN: Well, space, the final frontier. "Star Trek" was originally going to be called “Wagon Train to the Stars.”

BILL MOYERS: You mentioned Buffalo Bill. Didn't Buffalo Bill say "the rifle as an aid to civilization?"

RICHARD SLOTKIN: Yes, but that's exactly the American myth. Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett's rifle, killing the bears, killing the game, killing the Indians is what makes the wilderness safe for democracy, if I can paraphrase Woodrow Wilson.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indians Don't Fit American Myth and Indians Are Inconvenient to Americans.

December 19, 2013

Educating DMarks about conservative Santa

Reader DMarks didn't like the Santa cartoon I posted in Conservative vs. Liberal Santa.

He wrote:The sack Santa carries is a pack of lies.No, your response is a pack of lies, DMarks. Or a pack of stupidity, if you prefer. Let's break it down.

Tax breaks for the 1%The Bush tax plan, the typical conservative one promoted and preserved, was not a tax cut for the 1%. Most of the people affected by lower taxes were middle class, and they saved most of the money too."Tax breaks for the 1%" doesn't refer to the Bush tax cuts. Which weren't wholly for the rich, but were skewed toward the rich compared to previous tax cuts. This is a point you've never been able to grasp.

It doesn't even refer to the Republicans' abject refusal to raise taxes on millionaires. This refusal is the best proof that you and your fellow conservatives are lying hypocrites when you say you want to reduce the deficit. It's all we need to prove that conservatives do indeed care only about helping the rich.

No, it refers to things like this, dummy:

Top 1% get big bang from tax breaksThere are more than 200 tax breaks in the U.S. tax code, and the top 10 for individuals are by far the most expensive. How expensive? They will cost federal coffers $12 trillion over the next decade.Big Tax Breaks Equal Big Cash for the Top 1%The top 10 tax breaks–which total more than $750 billion this year–heavily benefit the top 1 percent of earners.The Top 10 Tax Breaks--And How They Help The Wealthy The Most

Nice try to change the subject from the Republicans' present defense of their wealthy donors to the Bush tax cuts of a decade ago, but no sale. Read what the cartoon says, idiot, rather than making up an almost unrelated argument.

Big money politics"Big Money Politics"... Obama is the one that ran and won the most expensive campaign ever."Big money politics" refers to spending throughout the political system, not just in one presidential race. Are you seriously going to raise this subject but mention only a single exceptional race? Incredible.

Here, educate yourself on another topic, dummy:

2012 Election Spending Will Reach $6 Billion, Center for Responsive Politics PredictsOverall it appears Republicans will end up collecting $1.1 billion, or 55 percent of the money raised by congressional candidates in 2012. In 2010 overall, Republicans outraised their Democratic counterparts by 15%.Big Money Breakdown: Why 2012 Is the Most Expensive Election EverIn the broader election, an estimated $577 million, or 69 percent, of outside super-PAC and nonprofit spending supported conservative causes, and $237 million went to liberal candidates and causes, CRP reports.Election Spending 2012: Post-Election Analysis of Federal Election Commission DataBusiness Money to Super PACs

While it is likely that much of the business money coming into the elections was funneled through dark money sources such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spent at least $36 million on races nationwide according to the Center for Responsive Politics, business corporations remain the second largest source of Super PAC money, accounting for $71.8 million, or 11% of all Super PAC funds.

Some of the largest and most active Super PACs receive a significant portion of their funding from businesses: pro-Romney Restore Our Future received 20% of its funds from for-profit corporations.
If you seriously think liberals are spending more than conservatives overall--if you seriously think they're driving "big money politics"--you're a flippin' idiot.

Corporate subsidies"Corporate subsidies"... something the Dems tend to favor and conservatives tend to oppose (TARP, bailouts, auto industry, green scam, etc). Bank bailouts? Obama is and was gung-ho on these. The Tea Party strongly opposes them.I thought your previous points were dumb as a box of rocks, but this one is even stupider, if that's possible. Let's see how stupid:

Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector that was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008.More Americans think Obama, Not Bush, Enacted Bank Bailouts, Poll ShowsNearly half of Americans incorrectly think President Obama started the the bank bailout program, otherwise known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), a new poll shows.

Just 34 percent of Americans surveyed by the Pew Research Center correctly said that TARP was enacted by the Bush administration. Almost half--47 percent--think Mr. Obama started the bank bailout, according to the survey, conducted July 1-5. There was no partisan divide on the issue.
Automotive industry crisis of 2008–10In September 2008, the Big Three asked for $50 billion to pay for health care expenses and avoid bankruptcy and ensuing layoffs, and Congress worked out a $25 billion loan.[84] By December, President Bush had agreed to an emergency bailout of $17.4 billion to be distributed by the next administration in January and February.The Tea Party opposed these bailouts? When? Not while Bush was in office.

The Tea Party didn't exist until Obama took office. There were no large-scale protests against Bush's bailouts ("There was no partisan divide on the issue"). These protests didn't happen until Tea Party racists decided to demonize the black president as a Kenyan Muslim socialist.

No protests against white president; protests against black president. I'm still waiting for you or any conservative to explain this. Go ahead, dumbass...explain why Tea Party fanatics didn't demonstrate against Bush but did against Obama for continuing Bush's programs.

Green scam?

As for Solyndra (aka your "green scam"), let's take a look:

Fact check: Romney misses mark on Solyndra claimTHE FACTS: Romney is right that taxpayers are on the hook for the $528 million loan to Solyndra and other losses from the loan guarantee program. But the Obama administration said such losses were expected when Congress created the high-risk program, which is intended to boost cutting-edge projects that would have trouble obtaining private financing.

An independent review indicates that the government could lose nearly $3 billion on green energy loans—just under one-third of the $10 billion Congress set aside.
So we have Bush's corporate bailout programs for the banking and auto industries. Like most brain-dead conservatives, you stupidly and wrongly attributed them to Obama. But I won't count them since they had bipartisan support.

We have Obama's reinvestment act, which may lead to $3 billion in losses.

And we have this:

Corporate Welfare Grows to $154 Billion even in Midst of Major Government Cuts

Corporate Welfare in the Federal BudgetBudget experts and policymakers may differ on exactly which programs represent unjustified corporate welfare, but this study provides a menu of about $100 billion in programs to terminate.Government Spends More on Corporate Welfare Subsidies than Social Welfare ProgramsAbout $59 billion is spent on traditional social welfare programs. $92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. So, the government spent 50% more on corporate welfare than it did on food stamps and housing assistance in 2006.So that's $100 billion or more every year in other corporate welfare--most of it championed by conservatives.

$100 billion or more every year vs. a one-time loss of $3 billion. Which number is bigger, you flippin' idiot? Which problem area should be the biggest concern among Republicans who claim to be fiscally responsible?

To be fair, many Democrats also support these corporate subsidies. But I'd say it's relatively rare for Democrats to seek a corporate subsidy that Republicans oppose. In most cases, Republicans are leading the charge to protect their wealthy donors, again.

In short....better luck next time, loser. You haven't made a single valid argument about economics since you began reading Newspaper Rock. And your asinine comments on this cartoon haven't come close to breaking that record.

For more on the subject, see "Defund Obamacare" = "Nigger, Nigger" and Where Obama Went Wrong.

P.S. No, we aren't debating the conservative worship of the wealthy in my blog. Post a response in your own blog if you want. But I'm not wasting any more time educating you on the basics of government spending.

December 18, 2013

Republicans hate government aid for minorities

As Obamacare Improves, Republicans Just Become More Enraged

By Paul is running much better. It's not running as well as, say,—but remember, the government is mainly trying to give people money, namely subsidized insurance, rather than to sell them something, so it doesn't have to match commercial performance right away. There are still serious problems with the back end—the delivery of information to insurers. But the site is no longer a laughingstock, it's going to get better, and a lot of people are going to sign up by the time open enrollment ends on March 31. In short, the crisis is over—for President Obama and the Democrats.

It's just beginning for the Republicans, who won't be able to let go of the notion that the program is a criminal scandal, and that mobs with pitchforks will march on the White House if only they can find the right words. They'll try everything. They'll hold endless hearings; they'll get the usual suspects to publish many op-eds. Maybe they'll get "60 Minutes" to do a report that has to be retracted. And yes, maybe Republicans will gain some seats in the midterm elections, although those are a long way away. But health reform is, almost surely, over the hump.
And:The hysteria over Obamacare is well documented, of course; a recent online article by Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo on "Obamacare McCarthyism"—the instant purging of any Republican who offers any hint of accommodation to the law of the land—is getting a lot of well-deserved attention. One thing Mr. Kapur did not emphasize, however, is what I see a lot in my inbox (and in my reading): the furious insistence that nothing resembling a government guarantee of health insurance can possibly work.

That's a curious belief to hold, given the fact that every other advanced country has such a guarantee, and that the United States has a 45-year-old single-payer system for seniors that has worked pretty well all this time. But nothing makes these people as angry as the suggestion that Obamacare might actually prove workable. And it's going to get worse.
The Return of the Welfare Queen

Republicans see class warfare as a winning message, but they risk hurting the blue-collar whites the party depends on.

By Beth Reinhard
[A]ll of this opposition carries an unmistakable undertone of class warfare, a theme easy to exploit in states such as Kentucky, packed with low-income white voters who have a strong distaste for the federal government. To hear the rhetoric coming from Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, Medicaid and food-stamp recipients are a bunch of shiftless freeloaders living high on king crab legs and free health care, all on the backs of hardworking Americans.

Medicaid expansion is "the principal reason your kids' college tuition is going up," Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky charged at a press conference here.

New Medicaid recipients "have no personal responsibility for their health," said state Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, in a memo from the state capital.

And in Louisiana, Senate candidate and Republican Representative Bill Cassidy hypothesized about a single woman forced to pay high premiums under Obamacare who thinks her neighbor could make more money. "But he would rather work fewer hours or work for cash or, perhaps, live out of wedlock so that he and his girlfriend both qualify for the taxpayer-provided free insurance," Cassidy wrote in a newspaper column.
And:To understand Kentucky's conflicted relationship with the federal government, 50 years after hosting President Lyndon Johnson's launch of the "War on Poverty," is to meet Terry Rupe. The 63-year-old widower can't remember the last time he voted for a Democrat, and he's got nothing nice to say about Obama. He's also never had health insurance, although he started working at age 9. Since his wife's death four years ago, he's been taking care of their 40-year-old, severely disabled daughter full time. She gets Medicaid and Medicare assistance.

"I don't have any use for the federal government," Rupe said, even though his household's $13,000 yearly income comes exclusively from Washington. "It's a bunch of liars, crooks, and thieves, and they've never done anything for me. I'm not ungrateful, but I don't have much faith in this healthcare law. Do I think it's going to work? No. Do I think it's going to bankrupt the country? Yes."

Rupe sounds like he could be standing on a soapbox at a Tea Party rally, but he happens to be sitting in a back room at the Family Health Centers' largest clinic in Louisville—signing up for Medicaid. Rupe, who is white, insists that illegal immigrants from Mexico and Africa get more government assistance than he does. (Illegal immigrants do not, in fact, qualify for Medicaid or coverage under the Affordable Care Act.)

He's not alone in thinking this way. A majority of whites believe the healthcare law will make things worse for them and their families, according to a United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.

"President Obama's idea is taking from the working people to give to the people who won't take care of themselves. It's redistribution of wealth," Rupe said. "I've always taken care of myself. You got these young girls who go out and get pregnant and then they get $1,500 a month for having a kid, so they have two."

Obamacare = welfare = helping minorities

Reinhard barely mentions race, but it's the elephant in the room. Terry Rupe explained what he really hates above:Rupe, who is white, insists that illegal immigrants from Mexico and Africa get more government assistance than he does.Yep, it's all about a fear of minorities getting something at the expense of whites. I.e., the white man losing his historic power and privilege.

This fear is fueled by the right-wing media even though it's unmoored from reality. As the article states, illegal immigrants can't get Obamacare and most welfare recipients are white.

But Tea Party Republicans have learned that openly expressing their racism earns them only scorn from the mainstream public and media. So they've invented ways to talk about race without talking about it.

An article explains how terms like "states' rights" and "welfare queens" became code-words for "keep the black man in his place."

How the GOP became the “White Man’s Party”

From Nixon to Rand, Republicans have banked on the unerring support of Southern white men. Here's how it came to be

By Ian Haney-Lopez
Over the next week, the nation reacted. More than 100,000 telegrams and letters flooded the office of the Alabama governor. More than half of them were from outside of the South. Did they condemn him? Five out of every 100 did. The other 95 percent praised his brave stand in the schoolhouse doorway.

The nation’s reaction was an epiphany for Wallace, or perhaps better, three thunderbolts that together convinced Wallace to reinvent himself yet again. First, Wallace realized with a shock that hostility toward blacks was not confined to the South. “He had looked out upon those white Americans north of Alabama and suddenly been awakened by a blinding vision: ‘They all hate black people, all of them. They’re all afraid, all of them. Great god! That’s it! They’re all Southern. The whole United States is Southern.’” Wallace suddenly knew that overtures to racial resentment would resonate across the country.

His second startling realization was that he, George Wallace, had figured out how to exploit that pervasive animosity. The key lay in seemingly non-racial language. At his inauguration, Wallace had defended segregation and extolled the proud Anglo-Saxon Southland, thereby earning national ridicule as an unrepentant redneck. Six months later, talking not about stopping integration but about states’ rights and arrogant federal authority—and visually aided by footage showing him facing down a powerful Department of Justice official rather than vulnerable black students attired in their Sunday best—Wallace was a countrywide hero. “States’ rights” was a paper-thin abstraction from the days before the Civil War when it had meant the right of Southern states to continue slavery. Then, as a rejoinder to the demand for integration, it meant the right of Southern states to continue laws mandating racial segregation—a system of debasement so thorough that it “extended to churches and schools, to housing and jobs, to eating and drinking … to virtually all forms of public transportation, to sports and recreations, to hospitals, orphanages, prisons, and asylums, and ultimately to funeral homes, morgues, and cemeteries.” That’s what “states’ rights” defended, though in the language of state-federal relations rather than white supremacy. Yet this was enough of a fig leaf to allow persons queasy about black equality to oppose integration without having to admit, to others and perhaps even to themselves, their racial attitudes.

“Wallace pioneered a kind of soft porn racism in which fear and hate could be mobilized without mentioning race itself except to deny that one is a racist,” a Wallace biographer argues. The notion of “soft porn racism” ties directly to the thesis of “Dog Whistle Politics.” Wallace realized the need to simultaneously move away from supremacist language that was increasingly unacceptable, while articulating a new vocabulary that channeled old, bigoted ideas. He needed a new form of racism that stimulated the intended audience without overtly transgressing prescribed social limits. The congratulatory telegrams from across the nation revealed to Wallace that he had found the magic formula. Hardcore racism showed white supremacy in disquieting detail. In contrast, the new soft porn racism hid any direct references to race, even as it continued to trade on racial stimulation. As a contemporary of Wallace marveled, “he can use all the other issues—law and order, running your own schools, protecting property rights—and never mention race. But people will know he’s telling them ‘a nigger’s trying to get your job, trying to move into your neighborhood.’ What Wallace is doing is talking to them in a kind of shorthand, a kind of code.”
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Rage of Angry White Men, Republicans Want to Restore Confederacy, and "Defund Obamacare" = "Nigger, Nigger."

December 17, 2013

Chamberlain rejects Lakota honor song

Chamberlain board again rejects Lakota honor song

It may be performed at an assembly, superintendent says, but not at graduation

By Nick Lowrey
The Chamberlain School Board for a second time has voted against allowing a Lakota honor song to be played during the district’s high school graduation ceremony.

The seven-member board voted 4-2 with one member abstaining for conflict of interest.

District Superintendent Debra Johnson said that she and Chamberlain High School’s principal, Allen Bertram, have been working to devise an all-school assembly to be held each spring that will include an honor song for seniors.

“We will have an honor song at our school, but it won’t be at graduation,” Johnson said.
OUR VIEW: Arguments thin against honor song for IndiansAfter students this May petitioned the board anew on the question, trustees rejected the proposed three-minute song, 6-1. Board president Rebecca Reimer argued that most schools with large Indian populations allow either a “feathering” ceremony (where graduates wear ceremonial feathers) or an honor song, but not both, and that the district has done and continues to do more for Indian students than any other minority group over the years; and board member Casey Hutmacher said he did not see how a song not in English “honors everybody.”

Then, in November, the board revisited the issue and again rejected it, this time 4-2, citing language differences and length of the existing graduation program, as well as concerns that authorizing the song would give the appearance of favoring one culture over another.

None of these arguments seems particularly germane or compelling.

“Because we have never done it” is a cliché non-argument. The feathering ceremony, new this year, was held for Indian students earlier and separate from Chamberlain High’s baccalaureate, so it should not be linked to this discussion. Worry that an added three-minute song would cause the graduation time schedule to become unwieldy seems thin. And, finally, to imply that the Lakota language is somehow a foreign tongue that has no place in a Western American school, even in a wholly positive application, is, at best, petty. Lakota was spoken here before whites arrived; it is an inescapable, and valuable, part of the American historical experience. Surely, we can find it in our hearts to be enriched and not threatened by a Lakota honor song.

Possibly the most pertinent statement in this entire controversy was from board president Reimer, who said the issue is not about students, academics or even the song. “It’s about control and power. It’s about control and power,” she said, twice. “I’m extremely disappointed in a handful of people.”
Is Racism Behind Banning of Honor Song From Graduation Ceremonies?

By Christina RoseA history of racism lurks in the shadows of Chamberlain, South Dakota’s past, and many see the Chamberlain School District’s refusal to allow the Honor Song to be played at graduation (again) as evidence of that continuing disrespect.

A letter from 1954 has resurfaced, written by then Mayor Herschel V. Melcher, who wrote that the people of the city of Chamberlain are opposed to “having Indians in our schools or living in the unsanitary conditions about the city.” “We have no intention of making an Indian comfortable around here, especially an official,” Melcher wrote.

Attached to the letter is a resolution refusing to allow tribal offices in the town. The resolution was signed by Commissioners O.L. McDonal, Frank G. Knippling, Willard A. Wilin, and R.C. Martin. The letter was in opposition to relocating the Indian Office from Fort Thompson, South Dakota to Chamberlain.

No one involved in the quest for the Honor Song believes that the entire town of Chamberlain is as blatantly racist as it was more than half a century ago. However, there is a prevailing assumption that the tug-of-war over a song to honor all students is at least partly due to the racist history of the town.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Crow Creek Sioux Boycott Chamberlain and Tribe Threatens Boycott Over Honor Song.

Below:  "Students and supporters of last year’s Honor Song gathered outside the Chamberlain Armory in front of the graduation procession and played the Honor Song for the graduates. They will do so again this year." (James Cadwell)