Month: March 2008

White Silence, Illogic, and the Political Prigs

Prig
n.
1. A person who demonstrates an exaggerated conformity or propriety, especially in an irritatingly arrogant or smug manner.

I don’t believe that a Caucasian person could have given a speech like the one Barack Obama did on March 18th.

In fact, it is almost certain that a white person could not have even given a similar speech on race, or any subject pertaining to race in this country without being bent over the social and political knees of the liberal Prigs. I’m speaking of those within the Democratic party who have spent years framing the constitution of “political correctness,” not as a method to enhance dialogue, but as a way to inject fear and panic into the hearts of those not-of-color people who might speak openly and honestly of race and relations in this country.

The Prigs in our party seem to lie in wait for any mention of race made by a politician, nominee, or supporter and then jump dramatically, and often en masse, upon any comment they can twist into an accusation of racism.

The politics of language for white America has become drenched in fear and trepidation, and the political correctness that was meant to cleanse our speech of worn out, bedraggled stereotypes has itself become a ridiculous stereotype.

Witness this exchange between two Huffington post readers, one of whom did not support Barack Obama:

SERFIE: I gave a contrary view to what was expressed in this blog submission and you say that I have no intellect and not heart. Welcome to Obama’s Thugocracy. . .

LOSTONECHAMPION: Serfie, I think the criticism of you is well deserved. You refer to Obama and his supporters as Thugs? Is that supposed to be some comparison to Tupac? Maybe subconciously you are trying to get across that you think that Thugocracy is the political equivalent of Thug Life gansta rap? . . .

The Huffington Post, which has not exactly been subtle in their support of Barack Obama, gave the comment referencing Tupac a seal of approval by making it a “HuffPo Pick“, which only encourages others to use race as bait.

Yes, the Tupac comment may have been employing exaggeration to get (some) point across, but that would only work if the first commenter’s words had contained some reference to Tupac, or rap music, or linked the word thug to race. Instead, this was what “Serfie” wrote (in its entirety) that caused the small firestorm:

SERFIE: Funny, I was sitting in a Starbucks when I heard three old white guys almost go to blows over that speech. Two of the white guys liked the speech, another didn’t. The two guys were ridiculing and mocking the third guy just for having a different opinion. Hmm, just like the bullies at the Huffington Post. Welcome to Obama’s Thugocracy.

Unlike the word “lynch” which has clear and historical ties to racism, the word “thug” has no connection to color outside of the world of the fading and faddish genre of music known as “gangsta rap”. Mafia members, corrupt politicians, and aggressors of all colors, from here to the Middle East have all been called thugs. To say that Obama’s supporters are bullies, and that an Obama presidency would be a “thugocracy” may not be an accurate or even intelligent comment– but it hardly constitutes racism.

Internet posters seem to be following the lead of the professional, major league Prigs, who have used race as a tool of convenience, to stir up a ready-made dispute, freeze dialogue, or to outright silence those they oppose on other fronts.

For instance, let’s look at what Hillary Clinton actually said about Martin Luther King Jr. and Lyndon Johnson:

“I would point to the fact that that Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried,but it took a president to get it done.”

Incredibly, even this simple, factual sentence of Clinton’s was misquoted, truncated, misused, and — yes, purposely distorted — in order to taint her with the toxic brush of racism. The critics, according to the Washington Post, “read (Clinton’s remarks) as playing down King’s importance in the civil rights movement.” Obama, reacting to those Prigs, (black, white, and other), called Clinton’s comments “unfortunate” and “ill-advised.” Yet he also told ABC News that he didn’t believe what Clinton said was “in any way a racial comment,” and that only the way it “played out in the press” made it appear so.

The unavoidable and absolute fact is that as visionary, inspiring, and intelligent as Martin Luther King Jr. was, he did not stand alone. He did not, and could not have, effected changes in federal law on his own. It did, in fact, take a President — and the consensus of a diverse America — to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To accuse someone of diminishing King’s leadership and contributions by pointing out the obvious is ludicrous in itself, but adding the accusation of racism is reprehensible.

According to the Prigs, though, what Hillary Clinton was really saying was that “it took a white politician to fulfill a black man’s dream.” Never mind that it was not just one politician, or one social activist who shared that dream, some for decades prior to its realization — and never mind that the majority of the country, including Hillary Clinton, was invested in that dream — it’s more poisonous and deadly to the opponent to create a political wrecking machine out of one sentence. The kind that got Clinton, who has a long history of supporting civil rights and equal opportunity, booed at an MLK rally.

Edith Childs, a fervent Obama supporter who gave his campaign the slogan “Fired Up! Ready to Go!”, took her complaints of Clinton “racism” to the London Daily Telegraph, where she accused both Hillary and Bill Clinton of making racist statements — Hillary for “downplaying the role” of King in the passage of civil rights legislation, and Bill for his remarks about “a fairytale” when discussing the Obama campaign.

For those who have not seen Bill Clinton’s talk about the “fairytale”, here is the You Tube link.

It defies all logic to imply Bill Clinton’s remarks about a fairytale were racist — they had absolutely nothing to do with race at all. “Fairytale” isn’t in any way a racially charged word. Yet, according to Mrs. Childs, “They (the Clintons) could both have been less racist. It’s not a nice word but there you go.” Childs’ illogical, “not nice” accusations were echoed by Obama’s supporters, black and white.

Asked to respond to the flap, Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones, an Obama supporter, said “They (the Clintons) owe the African-American community — not the reverse,” he said. “Maybe Hillary and Bill should get behind Sen. Barack Obama.”

Jesse Jackson said, “”Regrettably, (the Clintons) have resorted to distasteful and condescending language that appeals to our fears rather than our hopes. I sincerely hope that they’ll turn away from such reactionary, disparaging rhetoric.”

This is how one gets from point A to lockstep racial dogma. By distortion, poor logic, charged responses, and bad intent. It is how Geraldine Ferraro, who has given this country an impressive three-decades of political service, becomes an overnight enemy of so many she has faithfully served.

When Ferraro said “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of any color he would not be in this position,” she clearly was not opining on the superiority or inferiority of any race, but on America’s readiness for a change away from the traditional white male hierarchy. “He happens to be very lucky to be who he is,” Ferraro continued. “And the country is caught up in the concept.” And in fact, aren’t they?

A March 9th article in the New York Times illustrates Obama’s lack of experience, and goes so far as to detail the strategy that led Obama to begin planning for a Presidential run before he had even completed his first year in the U.S. Senate. According to the NYT:

Early on in his tenure in Washington, he (Obama) concluded that it would be hard to have much of an impact inside the Senate, where partisan conflict increasingly provoked filibuster threats, nomination fights and near gridlock even on routine spending bills.

“I think it’s very possible to have a Senate career here that is not particularly useful,” (Obama) said in an interview, reflecting on his first year. And it would be better for his political prospects not to become a Senate insider, which could saddle him with the kind of voting record that has tripped up so many senators who would be president.

Behind the insubstantial voting record was not just a charismatic idealist, but a long-term strategy which involved making the fewest enemies and most friends possible in Washington.

“Hillary and McCain are the perfect examples of this,” Tom Daschle (D) said, “the longer you are here, you take on enemies. And these enemies don’t forget.” Obama has not been in the Senate long enough to earn those enemies — he has not faced any great opposition, or gone head-to-head with the entrenched politicians he often rails about. He has not had to make any life or death decisions on behalf of this country, nor has he been in the Senate long enough to rally for the massive changes he says he wants to make as President. Instead, he spent much of his time in the Senate raising money for other Democrats, garnering support, and grooming himself as a Presidential candidate.

Ferraro, who has said that her own nomination as Vice President was largely due to her gender, is no stranger to the American desire for social progress. When she pointed out that Obama’s lofty place in politics at the moment would not be if he were white or female, she was not speaking as either a sexist or racist, but as a career politician whose finger is very much on the pulse of society.

Ferraro knows that the “Obama = change” equation is very much at play in this election, and that the change goes beyond Obama’s soaring rhetoric and inspirational speeches. It is his combination of hope-filled messages, along with his sex, his race, his “clean slate” in Washington, and his diverse multi-cultural background that has helped generate excitement over his candidacy. It is not — and even his most avid supporters cannot convincingly claim — about Obama’s political experience and readiness to lead.

Obama’s speech on race was eloquent and moving, but I was surprised by the florid overreaction it stirred among Democrats, who hailed it as being on par with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and called it “magic” and “a monumental moment.” Jon Robin Baitz, in a Huffington post article, said “We are finally talking about race. . . Someone running for the highest office in the land finally talked about it — the dark and secret swamp that we Americans dodge at every possible opportunity.”

I do not believe white Americans would dodge the issue of race if the political Prigs were not so intent on poisoning the discussion pool with irrational and scarring accusations of racism when white politicians or speakers so much as dip a toe into the water.

White silence is not caused by a lack of interest in social progress or equal opportunity, or a lack of desire to engage in discussion and be “part of the solution.” Instead, it’s a silence caused by the fear of saying the “wrong” thing in an atmosphere where even a common word like “fairytale” is whipped up to racist proportions, and where even those with sterling records on civil rights are ridiculed in order to create politically expedient and damaging racial tension.

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In Praise of the Elephant Girls

“When an elephant is in trouble, even a frog will kick her.” – Hindu Proverb

1. Strength

ganeshtattooAmong the first things noticed about an elephant girl is her incredible strength. She can shoulder the burdens and carry the weight of many human experiences, and do so with dignity, even when her threshold for pain is made to rise ever-higher.

The strength of an elephant girl is not just an accident of birth. What was innate was her desire to survive. To do that, she had to push beyond the limitations of her own considerable endurance many, many times. She had to develop new muscles and ways to rebirth her spirit after forging through man-made obstacles.

One by one, she had to face her fears and conquer them. When new tragedies brought new fears, she had to teach herself ways to calm her pounding heart and carry on, putting one foot in front of the other, until she had walked through the worst of circumstances and found herself on the other side.

“Strong,” they often called her. And when she was young, the elephant girl took pride in this accolade, perhaps even making it a mantra that assured her passage through a particularly trying time. I am strong, she would remind herself, I will get through this.

In those tender years, the elephant girl might have mistaken strength for invincibility. It is possible that, in the midst of her own turbulence, while filled with the all-encompassing sense of an indomitable spirit, she felt called upon, even obligated, to lift whatever weight she could from the backs of others who did not have her strength, or her strength of spirit, or her survival skills.

“So strong,” she would continue to hear in later years, but by now the elephant girl would recognize these words not as an inspiring accolade, but as a weary expectation. It was almost inevitable that those who would notice her strength were looking to use it in some measure. There was a cause, a want, or a need of some sort, which lacked only the strong back, keen intelligence, and steadfast determination of an elephant girl to carry it through.

2. Loyalty & Temperament

The elephant girls are fiercely loyal. They make friends for life, but they do not make them easily.

Given their intelligence, well-worn hearts, and long and precise memories, the elephant girls are not easily forgiving, particularly to those whose emotional and physical marks were imprinted upon them during their journeys. The scars of the ankus on the skin or the psyche are not resented as much as those who purposely inflicted them, without conscience, and without regard for consequences.

Particularly resented are those who brush away or justify the damage they caused by pointing out the elephant girl’s strength, as in “she’s strong, she can handle it,” or “look, whatever wrong I did only helped make her as strong as she is today.” To them, she will offer no loyalty and give no protection.

Those who have never had to rebirth a spirit many times over have no regard for the pain of that particular labor, or the dangers. A spirit may be broken beyond repair, or crushed beyond the possibility of rebirth. Not even the strongest and most determined of elephant girls are free from these dangers that, although rare, loom as possibilities — especially in later years when the ability to rebound is not as assured.

The elephant girl will use her considerable strength and intelligence to pull a friend up and out of whatever pit she has fallen into, and will expect nothing in return except the continuation of friendship. She finds thankful expressions among her friends unnecessary. What she has, she is often willing to lend or give away, and the only expressions of gratitude she ever requires are the ones she practices herself — loyalty, care, and consideration.

3. A Love of Peace

It is true that elephant girls often participate in or even lead a stampede, but they never do so for weak causes such as revenge or hatred. They do so for the love of peace.

They brook no respect for the fraudulent kind of peace some claim to receive by turning a blind eye to injustices. Ignorance of facts, intentions, and circumstances is not peace, and has no goodness at its core.

The peace of the elephant girls is born from the strength of their convictions, which holds truth, fairness, benevolence, and integrity as most-high. Refusing to fight for a just cause, or at least to stand strong in the face of adversity, are not the actions of peace-lovers — but the baneful responses of those who are weak, and apathetic to all but themselves.

The elephant girl has learned that the barricades to truth and healing are not removed solely upon a peaceful request. The swollen rivers of human malevolence and misdeeds are not parted by mere wishful thinking.

There are times when only the sheer force of strength and a survivalist’s determination will remove the barricades and dam the river, allowing passage to those who wish to reach the freeing fields that lie on the other side.

There are times when the precise and visceral memories of an elephant girl lead her to know more about a particular moment than the moment itself presents. It is not intuition but experience that informs the path of an elephant girl. She recognizes old obstacles even when they appear as new.

There are times when an elephant girl must retreat in order to heal or rebirth her spirit, but no matter how long she might wish to enjoy sanctuary — and even when she declares a desire to make it a permanent state — eventually she will hear a call that speaks to her heart and takes her back to the wilds. The nature of the elephant girl is as much about her love for humanity and justice as it is about the tranquility found when she has an opportunity to repose and reflect.

4. And Finally. . .

The elephant girl is capable of the deepest kind of love and nurturing, particularly when it comes to children, because even when she is very old the elephant girl cannot, and would not wish to, forget her own once-young spirit — which long past childhood and through many rebirths, retains all the radiant hopes, bright wishes, and idealistic dreams of youth.

As a mother, the elephant girl is fiercely protective, but also pushes her young to try new experiences. She lends them her strength while helping them grow strong on their own. She guides and counsels, and rarely dictates, except when necessary to save her children from imminent and avoidable danger.

As a life partner, the elephant girl will constantly surprise you, not only because her loyalty is unwavering and her heart is continuously growing, but because in-between and even in the midst of triumphs and tragedies, the elephant girl has a childlike love of play. Strength alone did not get her through the roughest of times. Intellect and reasoning did not, of their own accord, bring her a sense of happiness. It was the ability to laugh — out loud and with the full strength of her being — that kept her survival instinct strong and helped her soul eclipse even the most painful of journeys.

The freeing fields on the other side of human discord reverberate with her laughter. Her all-encompassing spirit is at its best when roaming freely and without limitation, as it does when she is surrounded by the consonant spirits of those she loves.

There, on the other side, scars are not forgotten, but reinvented as works of art. The pain and tribulation of days past are not buried, but pulled up and transformed into wisdom.

The frogs who would kick her stand not a chance when the elephant girl soars.

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