Monday, March 24, 2008

Race and US politics

Malcolm X may have famously said that "Racism is a Cadillac, they release a new model every year," but today Pat Buchanan demonstrated that it would be foolish of us to assume that every Cadillac on the road is the most recent model year.

Yes, I spend a fair amount of time in Ethnic Studies classes talking about "color-blind racism" and "subtle racism" and often have to explain to my students who Willie Horton was and what the Rodney King case was about. Sometimes the texts I use seem awfully out of touch with their attitudes, and the seemingly more complex and subtle racial etiquette of early 21st century America.

But in this post responding to Senator Obama's speech on Race and Racism in America, good old Pat Buchanan shows us that a whole boatload of good, old fashioned racism is still alive and well in our contemporary moment. To summarize, here are a few arguments that Mr. Buchanan makes here, that I really thought we had mostly left behind in our National discourse:

-That Black Americans should be grateful that their ancestors were made slaves and brought to the United States
-That white racism was in no way responsible for the Watts riots and other civil unrest in poor black neighborhoods
-That the Black America is solely responsible for poverty and lack of opportunity in poor Black communities
-That Black people are criminals who prefer to prey upon white victims

The last one really gets me. He trots out crime statistics that claim "black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse" Yeah Pat, because those stats couldn't possibly be influenced by who feels comfortable reporting crimes, who trusts the criminal justice system to take their reports seriously, or who has more property to steal. Nope. Black folks just like crime, and especially like committing crimes against white victims.

Meanwhile he makes the same old plea decrying affirmative action, writing "Let [Senator Obama] go to Altoona and Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for “deserving” white kids." Gee, Pat, did you miss the part of the speech where Senator Obama (who Pat calls "Barack" all through his piece, cause, you know, he apparently gets to pick and choose which United States Senators deserve the honorific) specifically recognized the anger and frustration of poor whites "who don't feel particularly privileged by their race," and admitted that their concerns might be valid and deserved respect - even if the target of their anger might be misplaced? Did you miss the part where he called on America not to think of politics as a "zero sum game" and to try to work towards solutions that might be beneficial to Black and White Americans alike?

And yet this man is not a fringe commentator. He is a first string pundit, called on by all the major networks to give his opinion on matters of the day. So I guess this sort of "old model racism" has gone exactly nowhere and is still front and center in our politics.

To paraphrase a writer over at Daily Kos, thanks for clearing that up, Pat.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!

From YouTube's magnificent collection of sesame street videos.

Kudos to the Children's Television Workshop for not aggressively pursuing copyright enforcement on these. Fans have done a grand job of organizing these old clips and making them accessible.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Computer Countup

My headcount of laptop computers in the room at Larry Lessig's "Change Congress" press conference:

5 Macbooks
1 Macbook pro (Dr. Lessig's)
3 PCs

... I just found this a fun factoid. I'm sure the real journalists and bloggers with reader counts out of the single digits will do a better job writing up substantial facts than I will.

Blogging Right Now!

Pictured here, me chilling in a Washington D.C. bookstore on my way to a Press Conference being held by the great Larry Lessig. I might even get to say hello! Happy day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Its been awhile

Soooo I forgot to update my blog for a month. Sorry JS, MP, MD, and CW I realize this left you without a needed source of reading material. Here's what I've been up to:

-Spent about a week canvassing for Obama. I like to canvass, it gets you out in the world, teaches you about the place you live and who lives there. You learn who lives where, and a little bit about how they live. You meet guys who want to talk to you about Mike Huckabee on their way to wash their truck, and kids smoking weed and playing video games at 2 on a Monday afternoon. You learn the smell of different neighborhoods. You get to feel like a badass field commander as you run through housing developments and apartment buildings in the dark on high speed literature drop runs, barking out target addresses to your friends. Good times.

-Of course, then when your candidate loses, times are not so good. Especially when you spent the day running through the sleet trying to Get Out the Vote. Very depressing. I think perhaps I'm bad luck, since this always seems to happen to me. Maybe I should campaign for the Republicans.

-Meanwhile, I've been wrestling with the Human Subjects Review Board here to get my dissertation approved. I had to reassure them that I will not be administering electrical shocks to wikipedia users, presumably with some sort of shock over IP technology. I wish I had shock over IP technology, I would use it on the people who try to put spam comments on my blog advertising kiddie porn. Very nasty.