I’ve pointed out here at TransGriot why I and many African Americans TBLG/SGL people are angry with rainbow community white liberal progressives over their dismissive and disrespectful attitudes toward President Obama and why you need to chill with that nekulturny behavior.
And white progressives, don’t even think about pouring gasoline on that smoldering discontent in our community and primary challenging the POTUS next year. You can try to hide behind Dr West and Tavis Smiley all you want in an attempt to CYA in organizing that effort, but they long ago lost credibility in the African American community over their personal animus toward President Obama and are drifting dangerously close to becoming pariahs in our community..
Heed my words. If you even dare attempt a primary challenge of President Obama and it is successful in getting the white presidential candidate you seek, the African American community will sit at home on November 6, 2012
Melissa Harris-Perry broke it down in an article she wrote for the Nation articulating those feelings and the perception we have in the African American community about the lukewarm support of the POTUS in white progressive circles which Salon’s Joan Walsh responded to.
A letter appeared in the Salon comments section of Joan’s piece which masterfully breaks it down
me begin in the simplest way. Race and Racism are two different things.
What happens in discourse, especially internet discourse, is that those
two issues become conflated.
This is dangerous for both sides. On
the one hand, you have the dismissive white response that is typical.
“Just because I criticize the president doesn’t make me a racist.”
on the other side, you have an equally troubling trend to classify
something (ex. discourse, comment, language choice, meme, etc.) as
racism without unpacking it or without fully comprehending the term.
is a charge which is a conversation ender. It stops discourse and
should, because of this, be used sparingly and only in the most obvious
and egregious cases.
However, racialized speech, which is speech
that is often dehumanizing, condescending, and aggressive- passively so
quite often, must be examined in terms of who is saying it, and what is
Sounds a little confusing? Let me humor you and Joan with specifics:
1) The President is a coward.
meme exists in the progressive ranks almost as pervasively as the meme
that he is a Muslim and wasn’t born here exists in the GOP Tbag ranks.
do I liken this expression of frustration with two examples of
“Othering” done by the hard right? Because like those examples of
otherness calling the President a coward is racialized speech.
lesson. The first black cadet at West Point was dismissed in his fourth
year for cowardice after being strapped to a chair and tortured all
night by white classmates who couldn’t imagine him graduating.
argument against integration of the military was that blacks were
cowards. That we lacked the fundamental grit to stand up to hard
fighting. All evidence to the contrary in every war fought. From the
black regiments of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII, black
soldiers were some of the hardest hit, used and bravest. A history that
is almost impossible to convince people of, because of the hidden
stereotype of racialized thinking and speech. So calling the president a
coward is like calling an accomplished woman “a chick” or “a girl”. It
is condescending and aggressively so. And it is NOT an accident of
2) His name is not Obama, it is President Obama, and the
number of white commentators on TV, in print, and on the blogs that
refer to him this way is legion. I heard an hour of Fox News where they
referred to President Bush and Obama. Not President Bush and President
Obama. But President Bush and Obama. It struck me that white
commentators didn’t care to afford the President the respect he EARNED
by winning the election.
The Right has spent three years being
casually disrespectful of the President, and instead of rallying around
him and being hyper sensitive to it or hyper respectful, progressives,
White Liberals, have gone right along with the practice. Even one-upping
the right on sites like the Huffington Post where they have even gone
so far as to call him a dick.
3) Women vs Black — starting with Gerry Ferraro the argument has been:
a) Which is tougher?
b) What can women get from the President? And…
c) How sexist is he?
These subtle messages of discontent in the face of all the facts that
refute the claims is part of the larger historical white woman/black man
meme. It is a convoluted but racialized binary and it exists,
pervasively, persuasively, and dominantly in the liberal psyche.
constant chatter of white liberals about a primary challenge aside, it
is the Hillary love and nostalgia that is most offensive to blacks, men
and women. The argument about how “tough, strong and competent” Hillary
is as a juxtaposition to how “weak, cowardly, and incompetent” the
president is smacks of something more than simple political hyperbolic
4) The LGBT community was insane. From the threat to wear
sheets to the first inauguration, to the “Truman integrated the military
with the stroke of a pen,” to the “he should get it because he’s
black,” ism of their entire argument. It has been the wild west out
there and it has come at a cost.
5) By any metric that is
reasonable, the President has been wildly progressive. Wildly. We can
take legislation apart piece by piece, level by level, and he has been
strong on every core progressive metric, including education, civil
rights, health care, energy, unions, women’s reproductive health,
women’s rights, immigration, and core issues like credit card reform,
financial reform, needle exchange, etc.
Let me explain – President
Obama took office in 2009 without 50 locked votes in the senate. I know
everyone thinks we had 60, but not only did we NEVER actually have 60,
those votes we did have were, for a couple of basic reasons, unreliable.
Start with the hyper blue of the Blue Dogs: Lincoln, Landrieu, Dorgan, Conrad, Johnson, Bacchus, Bayh, Lieberman, Tester, Nelson.
senators represented states Obama lost by an average of 10 electoral
votes. For every close state like Montana, there is a blow out state
like Arkansas. Bayh (Indiana) and Lieberman (Connecticut) O won, but
Lieberman’s hatred was personal and impossible to bridge. So, the entire
process of passing legislation is complicated by these ten votes.
Add to that Ted Kennedy was dying and not voting. Byrd was dying and rarely voting. Franken wasn’t seated until June.
begins the President’s term with 45 reliable Dem votes. We’re OK
because the GOP only has 41 republican votes. But those 10 senators had
out-sized power. The President was wildly popular out of the gate but he
had lost many of those senator’s states by double digits. They had no
reason to back his play. So, he started the process compromised and the
only thing that could make it worse was to lose these tough close
Add to that the unprecedented number of filibusters and
why the GOP filibustered. They determined, because Rush told them to,
that it would be better for the country to FAIL than pass anything that
might be good for the citizens. They said it clearly. They booed his
acceptance speech for the Nobel (Peace Prize), they cheered when Chicago
lost an Olympic bid, they violated the Logan Act, demonstrably, by
engaging in negotiations with Israel to the detriment of the US Foreign
Policy of the President of the United States.
Through all of this
the progressive wing was silent or was half hearted in their defense.
They had a list of must haves that was insane and unreasonable, and any
deviation from that was treasonous.
I understand clearly why the
average progressive didn’t get this, didn’t understand this. But my
question to you all is why didn’t the pundits, the people paid to
observe and write about politics, why didn’t they get what was happening
and fight back? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
the people who would normally lead this kind of charge, spent three
years savaging the president instead. Rich, Krugman, Dowd, etc., savaged
him. Add to that the progressive blogs, likewise, spent almost every
column inch attacking the President rather than supporting progressive
policies or attacking the GOP. Part of this was because they had all
been so completely (with the exception of Dowd) in the bag for Hillary.
But part of this was racialized thinking. Robert Reich has been
particularly insane as has Glenn Greenwald, but Greenwald’s attacks are
principled in that he is a purist and true believer and he can’t be
swayed no matter the president or person. Reich isn’t that, he is a
critic for the sake of profile it seems, and he is the least reasonable
person of the entire bunch.
Finally, blacks are a key constituency
in the Dem party. We are taken for granted, however, and there are long
term consequences for that. O won this last time because Donna Brazile
halted a coup by women and Hillary supporters. She said, plainly, that
blacks would flee the party. It worked, and it had real consequences.
are quiet for the most part because we got the girl here. We won and
we’re taking yes for an answer but the anger and frustration the black
community feels towards white progressives is real, and it is major. It
is a game changer and perhaps even a coalition ender.