Tag Archives: Democrats
Guest Blogger: Sam Fulwood III
In almost every discussion of race in this countrywhether private conversations among friends and family or public debates between political antagoniststhose engaged tend to talk past one another. Passions often displace reason; facts disappear like smoke in the wind, blown aside in the rhetoric of extreme beliefs. Who among us, having lived any appreciable time in the United States, lacks an awareness of our nations intractable racial frictions? And, after rubbing against the rough edges, who eschews the seemingly hard-wired opinions shared by peers of the racial others? Ripped from the recent headlines, an example is the gag reflex kerfuffle kicked up by The Washington Posts Richard Cohen, who included a passing line in a column that suggested that some white people want to throw up at the sight of an interracial family such as the one of New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. Judging by my personal and extensive conversations, a good number of black people consider such comments as a fool-proof indication of white racism. To them, its a short walk from the Tea Party to a Republican caucus to a guy with a pickup truck sporting Confederate flags to a conclave of the Ku Klux Klan. To them, theyre all fungible identifiers of resurgent white supremacy. I appreciate where theyre coming from, given this nations racial history. Black Americans have long, painful memories. The rise of white nationalism is nothing new to those who remember or have closely studied American history. Roughly a century ago, in the shadow of the Reconstruction Era, racist, white politicians such as Benjamin Ryan Tillman Jr., the governor of South Carolina and U.S. senator at the turn of the 20th century, appealed to the lost masculinity of white men after the Civil War and the immediate political empowerment of former black slaves to reimpose white supremacy across the South. In his 2000 book, Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy, Stephen Kantrowitz, an American history professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, describes Tillmans role in the Hamburg Riot on July 8, 1876, which resulted in the cold-blooded murder of black militiamen who paraded through Hamburg, South Carolina, to celebrate Independence Day. Kantrowitz points out how Pitchfork Benso named because he went to Washington, D.C., with the promise to stick a pitchfork in that bag of beef Grover Clevelandrose to political celebrity by supporting the lynching and mass murder of black people and appealing to rural, white men of the South to reclaim what they had lost through emancipation and the experience of Reconstruction: their sense of independent, unfettered manhood. Is history repeating itself? I dont think so. Moreover, I fear some African Americans who suspect the worst of all whites are succumbing to the same trap that befuddles those narrow-minded white Americans who tend to think of African Americans as all the same. Indeed, an increasing number of studies are revealing that, like the wide ranges of political and social thought among African Americans, all white folks arent of a single mind about race in America. Charles Blow, a perceptive op-ed writer for The New York Times, captured this dilemma perfectly: There are different perceptions of racial realities. What some see as slights, others see as innocent opposition. But there are some objective truths here. Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real. But these realities can operate without articulation and beneath awareness. For those reasons, some can see racism where it is absent, and others can willfully ignore any possibility that it could ever be present. Unpacking all this is hard work, too hard for many Americans who, as Blow describes some of them, have simple understandings of complex concepts. Yet the evidence is out there for those who dig deep to find it. A case in point is Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, a recently published book by Stony Brook University sociology professor Michael Kimmel.
Kimmel has made quite a name for himself in gender studies circles by focusing on white-male masculinity issues instead of the more common feminist theories. His new book attempts to explain why downwardly mobile white men are so angry and prone toward far-right views that lead to hate, violence, and suicide. In an extensive excerpt of the book, posted at Salon.com, Kimmel draws bright line distinctions among white Americans. He argues that they are not a racist monolith: On the extreme Right, by contrast, race is a proxy for class. Among the white supremacists, when they speak of race consciousness, defending white people, protesting for equal rights for white people, they actually dont mean all white people. They dont mean Wall Street bankers and lawyers, though they are pretty much entirely white and male. They dont mean white male doctors, or lawyers, or architects, or even engineers. They dont mean the legions of young white hipster guys, or computer geeks flocking to the Silicon Valley, or the legions of white preppies in their boat shoes and seersucker jackets interning at white-shoe law firms in major cities. Not at all. They mean middle-and working-class white people. Race consciousness is actually class consciousness without actually having to see class. Race blindness leads working-class people to turn right; if they did see class, theyd turn left and make common cause with different races in the same economic class. Where Kimmel dives deep into the psyche of angry, white men, my colleague and Center for American Progress Senior Fellow John Halpin takes an empirical plunge, beyond anecdotal, into nearby waters. Writing on ThinkProgress earlier this week, Halpin makes the convincing argument that there is really not such thing as white opinion anymore. Drawing from a poll conducted for the recent CAP/PolicyLink study, Building an All-In Nation, Halpin notes that the results should be studied more, but the conclusions are nonetheless striking. White liberals think far more like the bulk of African-Americans, Latinos and Asians than white conservatives on the countrys biggest ideological questions. Thats particularly true on diversity questions.Perhaps, our collective attention might be better served on those disaffected whites that dont buy into the extremist, far-right ideology of white supremacy. They are ripe for conversion about progressive political thought, if the serious effort is made to demonstrate common cause with the growing empowerment of racial and ethnic minority Americans. To be sure, the hardcore racists that Kimmel describes so well are, as Halpin acutely observes, a significant if declining bloc of voters, [and] the real outliers on issues of race in America. They are a dying breed, soon to be as dead as old Pitchfork Ben and his brand of racist politics. This is the significant fact to keep firmly in mind because it points us all toward the hopeful, progressive direction of our nations future.
Sam Fulwood III is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Director of the CAP Leadership Institute. His work with the Centers Progress 2050 project examines the impact of policies on the nation when there will be no clear racial or ethnic majority by the year 2050.###
Novemeber 22, 1963 was a tragic day in our nation’s history. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assasinated and Friday we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of that event. We have been inundated with specials that take us through that fateful day. We have heard eyewitnesses chronicle their rememberances, and we had heard journalists share their thoughts. So many of the key people involved have passed on and Generation X and Y don’t seem to share the same level of interest as their parents and grandparents. This is probably the last gasp of the age of Camelot. The golden age of that featured a handsome president and his beautiful wife. A wife who set the fashion standard. Last night as we watched footage of the First Lady in her pink suit and pillbox hat I told my husband that my mom had a suit and hat like that back in the day, and he said everybody’s mother did and he was right. It was a time when America idolized what we later learned was a false reality. We never knew the president was physically limited or that he was a womanizer who included Marilyn Monroe among his conquests. Yes it was a magical age. An age when journalists looked the other way, and age when television cameras dared not show us a president that wore a harness so that he could stand straight. It was a true fairy tale. So often people yearn for the good ole days, but what are they truly yearning for? Camelot could not have survived our time. Information is instantly shared via blogs, tweets, and instagrams. There are no secrets, and sadly there will never be another age of Camelot. We have become wiser and more cynical. We believe our goal is to reveal the truth at any cost and in doing that we have eliminated any future Camelots from our existance.
The widow of Rep. Bill Young, Beverly Young has sent a note to former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist a note telling him that he will not be welcome at the memorial service for her late husband. she has also advised other local politicians that their presence will also be unwelcome. What do you think, and would you ever consider leaving this type of directive for your relatives to follow?
President Obama was explaining the healthcare website glitches when a woman standing behind him almost fainted. He caught her before she went down and proceeded with the event, but what could he really say to explain the website debacle? Yes, we know the website is new and there are going to be glitches, but this is ridiculous. The President has been talking universal healthcare since he came out the gate. This is his second term and in the time spent watching the opposition fight the plan there should have been a team insuring that when this rolled out it would have been ready for primetime. As the old folks say “this is a shame and a disgrace”. It’s not the end of the world and this will get fixed but this is bad and it is going to take more than a peptalk to fix this.
Read the linked article and share your thoughts.
Over the past few weeks we have witnessed a dysfunctional government. We have seen both parties draw lines in the sand and dare the other party to cross it. The Democrats will defend Obamacare with their dying breath, and Republicans will fight Obama care with equal vigor, but to take the country to default is a road too far. There comes a point in a fight where both parties have to stop. The President has said he will not negotiate, but he will talk. The traditional Republicans have steadily moved away from their tyranical Tea Party wing. This is a crucial week. Both parties are going to have to give something. If the country defaults we all lose. This fight is not the one we should have to prove party loyolty. This is far too important. As a parent I have witnessed my children fight. When the shouting stopped I would ask each of them what happened and what should have happened. As you would expect I would get two very different stories and two very different plans for resolution, but through coversation and parental intervention we were always able to resolve and move on. I know our Country’s problems are more complex than the problems of children, but over the past few weeks we have witnessed adults acting like children. There is no mom to come to the rescue, so over the next few days we can only hope that the people we elected will start acting more like legislators and less like children.
Guest Post: Dr. Linda Miles
I am openly dismayed and disillusioned by the behavior of many of our Congressional officials. Our politicians are exhibiting almost every serious problematic behavior Ive dealt with as a Marriage Counselor and Family Psychotherapist for over 35 years. In the scramble for political advantage, keeping score has become more important than the welfare of our country. I think its time they started dealing with our national problems as mature adults and true professionals. The behaviors we are seeing match the seven classical hallmarks found in dysfunctional families everywhere:
1. Shame and Blame; 2. Scapegoating; 3. Contempt; 4. Defensiveness; 5. Gridlock; 6. Stonewalling; 7. Show Downs.
Finger pointing has become more important than solving the real problems. There is no respect being given and no meaningful exchange of ideas. Our politicians resist flexibility and are unwilling to try and reach synergistic solutions together. Energy is devoted primarily to staying in Attack Mode. Have we not yet learned better strategies for conducting our political life? What is it going to take? I believe that political leaders can solve the nations problems if they take a deep breath and agree to use the same techniques used by healthy families to overcome conflict everywhere. Healthy families deal with conflict by facing the issues and fighting fairly. We must demand our leaders conduct themselves civilly, and conduct and maintain healthy relationships with each other. We must demand effective leadership and honest, open, sincere authentic and meaningful communication.
We must demand that our elected officials leaders work together to solve problems, prevent harm, and provide mutual respect, even when they do not agree on ideas.
We need people to cool things off and take action to remove the immediate threat of the crisis, we need to see cool heads prevail and keep others from turning on one another. We need people on all sides of the controversies to be willing to listen to each others pain and be willing to help one another.