Clareified

Where does the good go

THE POLITICS OF RACISM

THE POLITICS OF RACISM

Probably one of the lowest points of my political life was canvassing in Arizona last year for John Kerry. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the door of the last registered Democrat on our hit list. The occupant was an African-American woman. She answered the door holding her son and proceeded to tell pearatty, who lost the stair climbing coin toss, that she wasn’t voting for Kerry.
Tired and fairly confident that Bush was taking Arizona, I started to walk back to our car.
Pearatty was not to be deterred. She started through our checklist of Kerry points, so I made my way slowly back up the stairs.
As I hit the top stair, I heard her accede to pearatty’s pitch.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Bush is bad…but I don’t want no gays getting married. I don’t support that.”
I can tell you that light has nothing…NOTHING…on the speed with which we proceeded to explain that Kerry didn’t want no gays getting married either.
And, forgive me, it has been a year, but I believe the exact sentence out of my mouth was:
“Bush doesn’t want people to know that Kerry has the same position on gay marriage that he does.”
Sigh.
But that’s politics I suppose.
Get the vote, get the vote, get the vote.
Anyone who’s ever worked on a campaign is out there bobbing and weaving, spinning and singing and dancing for votes.
Some literally. (Turn the volume down before clicking.)
And we’ve all had that head hanging moment – (or at least that’s what I told myself as I vigourously washed away my winning ‘but he thinks the same as Bush’ argument that night.)
If you really believe your candidate is best, doing whatever it takes to get your guy in, is perfectly defensible.
“Clareified: trying to get our guy in since 2003.”
But even in that anything goes environment, there should be boundaries – no violence, no theft, no crime — all around no making the baby Jesus cry.
Which is why last week’s Steve Gilliard versus everybody brouhaha was so surprising. He did a stupid, disgusting, idiotic thing by vandalizing the picture of Michael Steele – made even more bizarre by the fact that he’s black (don’t know why he thought his skin color would be some kind of shield there) and got called on it. I tried to link to the picture, but it’s been taken down and changed to a more benign Steele surrounded with money (see? why couldn’t you have gone with that imagery right from the get go? It makes the point much better.)
Sure, he’s not the first person to try to play on stereotypes of black people to bring down a political rival – Jesse Helms’ hands campaign or Bush’s Willie Horton ads come to mind.
But the “once you’re in a hole, stop digging” axiom also comes to mind.
You can’t blame a black person for being offended by that picture, you can’t blame your sponsors for pulling ads — what kind of shitty society would this be if people saw that picture and said nothing? Oh yeah.
If crap like that sambo spoof is received this way every time it’s injected into the political realm we’d never have ads intimating that voters shouldn’t vote for Mccain because he has a black-looking child or have people running pictures of JC Watts with an afro in order to suggest that he must be some kind of black radical.
And hey…who knows, maybe we’d even get to that crazy wacky promise land where a white guy having a black-looking kid or a black radical, could get elected.
I don’t mean to pick on Gillard. I don’t really read his site and I understand that he was pissed at Steele for not criticizing the Governor for belonging to an all white club. But the fact that there are people who still long for the days when the only black people in the public eye were wearing blackface or playing mammies is why those kind of clubs still thrive. Gillard painting that face on a black man that has made his name through the serious world of politics just validates that racist view, hurts his cause and hurts our nation.
There is a larger principle at stake here and maybe the good thing to come out of this episode is that both parties can get on the same page. These tactics will not stand.

15 Responses to “THE POLITICS OF RACISM”

  1. The Commissar Says:

    Dawn,

    Thanks for linking to the tree. And, especially, thanks for not complaining about being stuck in a ‘mostly Right’ column.

    I have a partial screencap of the picture:
    http://acepilots.com/images/racism.jpg
    from this entry:
    http://acepilots.com/mt/2005/10/26/racism-flourishes-in-america/

    Heh. Suspecting this might happen, I have the full image on my hard drive at home. It will be available from my blog tonight.

  2. jason Says:

    Good thinking lady, Bush might be a horrible president, but at least he hate’s gay people.

    I weep for America.

  3. Gib Says:

    Jason – here’s the point —> .

    Here’s you. —> J

  4. jason Says:

    I will not start an argument with a lawyer..
    I will not start an argument with a lawyer..
    I will not start an argument with a lawyer..

  5. William R. Barker Says:

    Well… since you brought up Willie Horton… (*GRIN*)… do you recall who was the first politician to bring old Willie into the public conscienceness? (*SMILE*)

    HINT: It wasn’t a right-wing Republican.

    (*SMIRK*)

  6. dawn summers Says:

    I’m pretty sure Tim Russert read the name in Bob Novak’s column; but I don’t know how Judy Miller got it because it’s not in her notes– but she’s sure it wasn’t from Scooter.

  7. Pearatty Says:

    Wow, you knew then that Bush was taking AZ? I didn’t know for at least another 12 hours. How depressing. Anyway, from my point of view, we were out to educate voters. If that lady was looking for an economic and social progressive who was against gay marriage, Kerry was her boy. I don’t have to like it to let her know that’s so.

    Oh, and yeah, sambo blackface bad.

  8. dawn summers Says:

    yeah, my day with that guy walking through the trailer parks is what did me in.

  9. Karol Says:

    I knew Bush was taking AZ before you left for AZ. I believe my exact words were ‘if I were you I would run (‘run!’ I emphasized) to South Dakota because it’s not looking good for Daschle’.

  10. Karol Says:

    I’m pretty sure Tim Russert read the name in Bob Novak’s column; but I don’t know how Judy Miller got it because it’s not in her notes– but she’s sure it wasn’t from Scooter.

    What does this comment have to do with anything?

  11. dawn summers Says:

    It responds to the comment above it using a device we Americans like to call “humor.”

  12. Ugarte Says:

    Gib – I think the “lady” Jason was referring to was the prospective voter in Arizona, not Dawn or Pearatty, but I could be mistaken.

  13. Gib Says:

    You’re probably right – that makes more sense.

  14. jason Says:

    Of course I meant the prospective voter and not Dawn. The fact that she was letting her own prejudice guide her decision is so ironic.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    “…I understand that he was pissed at Steele for not criticizing the Governor for belonging to an all white club. But the fact that there are people who still long for the days when the only black people in the public eye were wearing blackface or playing mammies is why those kind of clubs still thrive.”

    I guess Mr. Gillard is fine with the democratic party and the democrat opponent also holding fundraisers at the exact same club.

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