Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Hey, you ignorant rednecks! Vote for me!

Rep. John Murtha (D-Racist Part of Pennsylvania) further confirms his idiocy. There is certainly an undercurrent of anti-black racism behind some of the opposition to Obama, just as there is/was an undercurrent of sexism behind some of the opposition to Hillary Clinton and Palin, and much of that undercurrent is concentrated in the Appalachian homeland of (some of) my ancestors, but surely a sitting House member facing reelection could articulate that sentiment in a way that doesn’t insult all of his constituents.

Friday, 25 April 2008

How not to win election to the U.S. House in 2008

Here’s a hint: it involves speaking at a lectern in front of a portrait of Adolf Hitler and with a skinhead wearing a black shirt and red armband to your right (via Megan McArdle).

Incidentally, the guy is trying the “I didn’t know who these people were” defense on for size, but something doesn’t quite ring true:

“I’ll speak before any group that invites me,” [Republican nomination-seeker Tony] Zirkle said Monday. “I’ve spoken on an African-American radio station in Atlanta.” ...

Zirkle said he did not know much about the neo-Nazi group and that his intention was to talk on his concern about “the targeting of young white women and for pornography and prostitution.” ...

The event was not the first time Zirkle has raised controversy on race issues. In March, Zirkle raised the idea of segregating races in separate states. Zirkle said Tuesday he’s not advocating segregation, but said desegregation has been a failure.

Well, as long as he’s not advocating segregation, just proposing it, I guess that’s OK. (I guess that’s of the opposite ilk as denouncing-without-rejection.)

Zirkle is apparently also not a fan of sex toys, using the term “divorce aids” as a term for dildos—apparently unironically, considering he himself is one (yes, I’ve used that joke before). A direct quote from his demented website:

I may also call attention to the fact that one of the biggest commercial frauds is that divorce aids market themselves as being for “novelty purposes only” so that they can avoid all consumer safety inspections; yet ,they then go to court and claim they have a 1st Amendment so called right to privacy to abuse their bodies. Who knows what toxic chemicals these women are inserting into the most intimate areas of their bodies and how many men chase children because they can not find comfort from an adult women. [sic]

This guy’s campaign is the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, 8 December 2005

Thank you, Ross Barnett

Tomorrow, in honor of the last day of class for my intro students, and to wrap up the section on civil rights, it’s movie day: specifically, volume 5 of Eyes on the Prize, entitled “Mississippi: Is this America?”

William Faulkner famously wrote that ”[t]he past isn’t dead; it isn’t even past.” And certainly there have always been those who refused to let the past die, the titular single-term governor of Mississippi, whose name—probably forever—stains the reservoir from which Jackson (70% black) gets its drinking water, chief among them. The poisonous atmosphere fed by Barnett and his ilk led to the riots at the University of Mississippi over the admission of James Meredith to its law school and the murders of the “Philadelphia Three” civil rights workers. He certainly wasn’t the first or the last to contribute to this atmosphere—senators Bilbo, Stennis, Eastland, and (arguably) Lott did their fair share as well—but he has the singular distinction of being front-and-center during the worst of it all.

The political scientist’s question has to be “what was the point of it all?” In retrospect, the end of segregation seems inevitable, and perhaps those caught up in the moment might not have been able to see it, but 1960 wasn’t 1860—secession, not to put to fine a point on it, lacked viability, and several decades of at least limited desegregation outside the South, and in institutions like the armed forces, had enabled African-Americans to prove beyond a doubt that they were the equals of whites. Maybe these messages didn’t filter down to whites in the South, but they clearly did to blacks, who finally had substantial political support outside the region for desegregation for the first time since Reconstruction. Did southern elites just hope that it would all blow over? Were they that out of touch with reality?

The more personal question—to be asked by someone who, for better or worse, considers himself an adoptive Mississippian and is a native Southerner (despite the accent, or lack thereof)—relates to how much we (the South) lost because of that intransigence. Yes, the short-sighted calculus of “how can we elites hold on to power for a few more years?” explains a lot of their behavior—but at what cost? Our parents’ and grandparents’ willingness to put up with the grandstanding behavior of a bunch of pathetic political hacks who were afraid that blacks would turf them out of their privileged positions of power cost us—black and white—years of continued economic stagnation and undereducation, and forever tarred us, our state, and our region.

And, tomorrow, I have to continue doing that. I hope that my students will realize that what happened then isn’t what’s happening now, that Mississippi has truly turned the corner. But many of them will walk out just knowing a piece of the story—that some of us decided, long before I was born, that maintaining their place in the hierarchy was more important than anything else, and anyone who stood in the way of that would have hell to pay. So, Ross, thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, 17 May 2005

Vicente Fox retracts anti-black comments