Comments: It's All About Race

Except for the thing where white liberals are also frequently smeared as unpatriotic terrorist-lovers, and the thing where any politician's wife that doesn't stand around grinning vapidly like an overmedicated Stepford wife will also be attacked as an angry ballbreaking secret dyke, you're exactly right.

Posted by Worzel Gummidge at July 16, 2008 02:07 PM

I have been as dismayed as I have been amused by the straining, straining I observe around me of people trying to find a reason, any reason, for not voting for this black man other than his race.

I have been paying attention to the posts here and recognize he is no paragon. But we are not hiring a handyman to repair our house, or even a manager for our business, but a symbol for a generational shift that needs to occur this year.

It boggles the mind that anyone would consider voting for a man who is very candid about his intent to continue the folly of the present leadership, though we all know that Obama probably will not "change" things as much as we would like.

But such is the present state of race prejudice. One almost longs for a George Wallace approach - more direct and honest - almost.

Posted by Ignatius at July 16, 2008 02:12 PM

Isn't it possible to focus on race in America without bringing in the German Jews, a strikingly assimilated and successful group unable and unwilling to understand the horrors waiting for them, ready to emerge from the European psyche. The story of Blacks in America is horrible enough without dubious comparisons and examples from another horrible enough experience. The examples you cite (the blood for Matzos etc) don't illuminate what race relations are in America, and why.

Posted by donescobar at July 16, 2008 02:15 PM

Now I understand what they mean by "post-racial." Our world is post-racial every bit as much as a blind man's world is post-visual.

Nicely put, Bernard.

It boggles the mind that anyone would consider voting for a man who is very candid about his intent to continue the folly of the present leadership, though we all know that Obama probably will not "change" things as much as we would like.

Hear, hear, Ignatius.

Posted by Mike of Angle at July 16, 2008 02:37 PM

I just can't get behind all the outrage over the New Yorker's cover. It was titled, "The Politics of Fear," and while I think it's true that there's an underlying racism being deployed against Obama, I think that the fist thingie kinda covered the racism angle in the cartoon.

The cartoon said, "Look, this is what the fearmongers want people to believe."

There seems to be a lot of handwringing that the FOXers won't get it, or will misuse it, and sure enough, they don't and they did. They're putting up billboards of the collapsing World Trade Center and using it somehow as an advertisement against the Democrats. Go figure.

What's funny in our world? My earliest recollection of political humor was that "First Family" record and the only thing I now remember is how the Kennedys mipronounced their "r's." How daring was Steinberg's Nixon?

This year the H. Clinton campaign seemed to be based on one level of being forever offended by something or someone while on another level continually generating racist controversy. This is not the way I want to live.

I just do not know what the big deal about the cartoon is besides that the Right doesn't get it, or worse, uses it as if it doesn't get it.

The New Yorker could get itself out of this by rerunning the cover as a thought balloon over a caricature of Bill O'Reilly and a couple others. But the question arises: What is funny?

A recommendation: Roy Zimmerman answers the question, "What Would Tom Lehrer Do (if he were still doing what he did)?"

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at July 16, 2008 02:59 PM

I just can't get behind all the outrage over the New Yorker's cover. It was titled, "The Politics of Fear," and while I think it's true that there's an underlying racism being deployed against Obama, I think that the fist thingie kinda covered the racism angle in the cartoon.

The cartoon said, "Look, this is what the fearmongers want people to believe."

There seems to be a lot of handwringing that the FOXers won't get it, or will misuse it, and sure enough, they don't and they did. They're putting up billboards of the collapsing World Trade Center and using it somehow as an advertisement against the Democrats. Go figure.

What's funny in our world? My earliest recollection of political humor was that "First Family" record and the only thing I now remember is how the Kennedys mipronounced their "r's." How daring was Steinberg's Nixon?

This year the H. Clinton campaign seemed to be based on one level of being forever offended by something or someone while on another level continually generating racist controversy. This is not the way I want to live.

I just do not know what the big deal about the cartoon is besides that the Right doesn't get it, or worse, uses it as if it doesn't get it.

The New Yorker could get itself out of this by rerunning the cover as a thought balloon over a caricature of Bill O'Reilly and a couple others. But the question arises: What is funny?

A recommendation: Roy Zimmerman answers the question, "What Would Tom Lehrer Do (if he were still doing what he did)?"

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at July 16, 2008 02:59 PM

By the way, the repeats. It's not me, it's your blog comment thingie.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at July 16, 2008 03:01 PM

I agree that to vote for a candidate who is so open about continuing Bush foreign policy is certainly crazy.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

--Obama

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/14/opinion/14obama.html?em&ex=1216267200&en=693dcfabffcdace0&ei=5087

I fully realize that I am straining to find any reason other than Obama’s desire to continue with Bush policy by ramping up the slaughter in Afghanistan, widening the war to Pakistan, his support of unconstitutional surveillance and his desire for a more authoritarian fatherland in order to vote for Daffy Duck but there you go. I do ever so hope that it continues to amuse you.

Posted by Rob Payne at July 16, 2008 03:39 PM

No, the New Yorker should get itself out of this by doing a cover where Hitler is sipping a latte while reading a new yorker with the Obama cover, except in the cover-on-the-cover Obama also has a monkey tail and devil horns and a hammer and sickle rug and is holding a watermelon and Michelle has a forked tongue and her foot on a white baby's head. THAT would be satire.

Posted by homunq at July 16, 2008 04:41 PM

That the New Yorker cover was in poor taste is an understatement. That racism is rampant is beyond any doubt. If only 34% of whites think there is a problem with race relations compared with 60% of blacks, it only goes to show total lack of awareness on the part of the white community, how its attitutedes and behaviours towards the blacks are perceived by the black community. Very depressing. Many on C-SPAN call-in programmes and PBS programmes have said, without any hesitation, they will NEVER VOTE FOR A BLACK presidential candidate.
It will be a sad day for this country if a candidate can not be elected to the highest office in the land because of the colour of his skin or religion. The alternative is a disaster.
I just have to share a little different perspective of an outsider. I hope, we can share in her optimism and it will be justified.
http://www.agenceglobal.com/Article.asp?Id=1649

Posted by Rupa Shah at July 16, 2008 04:54 PM

So we all agree. Americans will vote for Obama because he is black and cool. Others will vote against him because he is black and cool. So on the pro-Obama side can we cut the talk about social programs and ending the war and all these lies? And on the anti-Obama camp, please spare us the Muslim, terrorist, unpatriotic crap. You don't vote for blacks. We get it.

Rob You missed my cool post on Basie???

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 16, 2008 04:56 PM

Hey Bernard, I did read your post on Basie and enjoyed it very much. Jazz isn’t exactly the most popular music in the States so it is always a pleasure to come across someone who enjoys it as much as you do.

Posted by Rob Payne at July 16, 2008 05:29 PM

No, we don't all agree.
Say Barney Frank were running instead of Obama. I'd vote for him because I like a lot of what he's saying. I don't give a shit about his "sexual orientation."
I don't think most of what Obama says means anything. He's slick (as was Willie)but much more a piece of the establishment/corporation palace than is Frank. Black? Doesn't matter. More of the same. Maybe less of the same if Frank were it. Maybe, always maybe. Not everything is about race, gender or ethnicity. All of America is not the campus of Brown, and some Americans are more nuanced--if not articulate--than you can imagine.

Posted by donescobar at July 16, 2008 05:34 PM

RACISM IS THE POLITICS OF AMERICA AND BIGOTRY HER SOUL.
Establishment rags such as TNY are meant to keep U&I missinformed (left and right rags) and under control. Yes the cover is racist, of course, as EVEN the liberals keep the Black Man down. Voting for Obama or not because he is black(or half black)IS racist either way. OBAMA IS A TAXPAYING CITIZEN and should be treated as such and ONLY as such. I won't vote for him as I'm voting for Michael Meyer. Vote for whomever YOU like BUT one should at least pay attention to what he says and does, very many more sellouts of this nation and NOTHING will be left to sell.

Posted by Mike Meyer at July 16, 2008 05:52 PM

@Bernard:
Thanks very much for the clip from Kansas City. I missed a lot of things during the 1990s, and that film was one of them. It's now on my Netflix list, and thanks to you for that.

Posted by Nell at July 16, 2008 05:57 PM

"Communist" was also used as a racist smear, above and beyond its use against non-rightwingers. MLK was accused of being communist, as were many other black civil rights leaders, without reference to their actual political goals. What I mean is, unlike a smeared Democrat, when the term was used against blacks, the right-winger didn't reference the target's beliefs at all. This still gets used from time to time.

Calling Obama "exotic" does the same thing. There are fewer white millionaires in the U.S. than mixed white-black individuals, so the pundits are "exotic" by their own logic. But don't expect them to apply said logic even-handedly.

By the way, the racists-won't-vote-black meme is being spread about more than is justified. There is an advantage here: once thousands upon thousands of voters have their opportunity to vote stolen via illegal tactics, unconstitutional laws, and out-and-out fraud, the media will need a cover story. Millions will call for investigations: how do we explain McCain's upset victory? After all, exit polls, and every poll before them, will show Obama in the lead, and exit polls are even more reliable than the votes themselves due to illegal vote managing methods and deliberate incompetence in the voting system. Racism is a great excuse.

Do realize that we wouldn't have even seen reporters interview anyone in Florida in 2000 if white, Jewish people hadn't had their votes stolen. I believe it was Brokaw who insisted that blacks simply screwed up their ballots in record numbers, failing to notice that the machines used in black neighborhoods had their error-checkers turned off, unlike those in white neighborhoods.

So expect more of the same.

Obama will win the election, but well may lose the presidency.

And every channel in America will blame the secret army of liberal, racist, McCain lovers rather than investigate.

Posted by No One of Consequence at July 16, 2008 06:10 PM

Sorry to intrude on your side conversation Bob and Prof Chazelle but jazz is popular in my city. We have a jazz festival every summer on the lakefront in Millenium Park. And yes, I have heard Count Basie and his orchestra perform in my city and it was amazing. I do not pretend to be knowlegeable about many names of performers or different genres of jazz but when I hear good jazz, I enjoy it!

And Prof Chazelle, to me, it is not as simple as you put it "we all agree". It is not so black and white ( no pun intended ). The whole electoral process with only two major party system and which does not offer diversity of political point of view, and electoral college where one's vote may not even count in electing a candidate of one's choice, one is either resigned to not voting or voting for a candidate who will do the least damage. SO, Sen Obama will have my vote, not withstanding his flip-flops because there is no way I would vote for Sen McCain.

Posted by Rpa Shah at July 16, 2008 06:27 PM

Sorry about the previous post-- not good at typing.

Posted by Rupa Shah at July 16, 2008 06:31 PM

Thanks, Nell. My pleasure, truly.

Rob: I thought the lack of comments meant you had been kidnapped by aliens. I always look forward to your thoughts about jazz ("about" in a nonexclusive sense, of course).

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 16, 2008 07:14 PM

Rupa: I agree with you (it's becoming an agreementfest around here). Obama is the lesser evil. But many will vote for him with excitement because he is black. And many won't vote for him also because he's black. But the point of my post is that no one will deny him their votes because of any Muslim connection. Muslim is codeword for black.

When Limbaugh plays Barack the Magic Negro, one does not need to know much American history to understand what's he's up to.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 16, 2008 09:10 PM

Thanks for saying that Bernard and sorry about not leaving a comment, just had a lot of things on my mind lately. Your remark about Basie being percussive is interesting as I have always thought of him as a master of understatement like Miles Davis though their styles are quite different. Technically the piano is considered to be a percussive instrument and I think you are correct about Basie. Interestingly some of have said the same about Bird, that he played the sax in a percussive manner likely due to his ability to accent any note in any part of a phrase, something not all players do or can do but then Bird was technically amazing though I think that takes second place to his astonishing musicality. Speaking of modern players I am surprised you have not mentioned Michael Brecker who recently passed away at the age of 57. I believe Brecker and Sonny Rollins were the two most phenomenal contemporary tenor players today at least until Brecker died which leaves Sonny Rollins and he must really be getting up there age-wise. The last time I saw Sonny play he wasn’t feeling well, seemed to have trouble with his feet, but he played one of the most amazing jaw dropping solos I ever heard. Sonny Rollins never stopped advancing and changing probably one of the few players you can say that about.

Posted by Rob Payne at July 16, 2008 09:35 PM

"Muslim is codeword for black."

Naw. "They" or "them" is one of many codewords for black. Even the dumb redneck gulping down a Bud in a tavern in West Virginia knows the difference. He may not like either and consider both a threat to "his" America, but he can tell the difference.

Posted by donescobar at July 16, 2008 09:50 PM

So sad about Brecker. I saw Sonny Rollins here at Princeton two years ago (?) and he was amazing! Benny Carter (died a few years ago) was unbelievable, too. He was a giant.

Well, we still have BB King!


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 16, 2008 10:07 PM

@ Prof Chazelle
I agree with you that Sen Obama, his being a black person will have enthusiatic supporters and detractors but cosidering the way the current administration has cosistently vilified Islam by using the word "Islamofascism" and a certain segment of the population still has misconceptions about Sen Obama's connection to Islam, it may become a factor in his getting votes. Below is a report from Al-Jazeera related to TNY cover and some numbers regarding public's perceptions.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ad1_1216167646

Posted by Rupa Shah at July 16, 2008 10:27 PM

Darkness at Noon.
No humor, no humanity.
Left, Right, Progressive, Reactionary. Alles Quatsch. Wir sind National Lampoon, on vacation from reason and decency.
Tschau.

Posted by donescobar at July 16, 2008 10:52 PM

I was with you until you slagged the New Yorker. Pointing out how absurd it is the first step to unmasking it. Simply accusing them of racism without more would simply play into their hands.

Albert Einstein shocked his friends when he wrote a newspaper column satirizing the anti-Semites in Germany who were bashing the theory of relativity. They thought it was beneath him.

But satire can often draw blood in ways that self-righteousness cannot.

Posted by Jack at July 17, 2008 08:25 AM

I 'spose by now people have noticed that you can't actually see the cover of the magazine at most newsstands, owing to the fact that the New Yorker uses a wrap-around cover that half covers the cover.

This half-cover has a text listing of the contents of the magazine. It completely covers the left half of the magazine. Cuddly-dangerous "Michelle" Obama is not visible.

Then, of course, there's the right half of the magazine -- the half with Muslim-Obama, the burning US flag and the portrait of Osama. This is also not visible on newsstands, owing to the way magazines are generally displayed in an overlapping manner to maximize shelf space.

All you can really see as you glance at the newsstand is that, mixed in with everything else cultural and political, there is a new issue of "The New Yo," with contents that include an article by Ryan Lizza on Obama in Chicago, Elizabeth Kolbert on lawn, Benjamin Wallace-Wells on physics and genius and David Denby on Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight.

Oh, yeah and A-ROD THE MYSTIC by Ben McGrath.

In short, nobody outside a pretty goddamn self-selecting group ever was going to pick up this magazine and see this cover, barring a ridiculous tempest in a teapot.

Well done all round!

Posted by Slim at July 20, 2008 02:44 PM