Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It Was a Hot and Steamy Day

I was about to say that I don't feel like writing today, but that's not quite it.  I don't feel like thinking today, and writing a serious post requires thinking.

Of course I'm far from alone in this, though I may be rare in recognizing and admitting it.  A former IU student and current Facebook friend said yesterday that the US (and our allies, of course, he added) needs to occupy Pakistan to keep more trouble from erupting in that part of the world.  I replied a US invasion of Pakistan would make things worse, not better; indeed, US aggression is a major source of trouble in that part of the world.  I didn't say we should invade, he protested; I still haven't had the energy to reply that you can hardly have an occupation without an invasion first.  It's my liberal friends who keep reminding me of Molly Ivins's slap at some Texas pol, that if his IQ sank any lower we'd have to water him, and that's what makes me feel like shutting down my brain indefinitely.  I can muster more energy and enthusiasm for slapping down my right-wing friends' howlers -- one of them just reposted this cartoon this morning -- than the complacent babbling of the liberal ones.

So, having said that, let me just refer you to Ta-Nehisi Coates's fine article "Fear of a Black President," which includes these heartbreaking passages:
I asked [Shirley] Sherrod if she thought the president had a grasp of the specific history of the region and of the fights waged and the sacrifices made in order to make his political journey possible. “I don’t think he does,” Sherrod said. “When he called me [shortly after the incident], he kept saying he understood our struggle and all we’d fought for. He said, ‘Read my book and you’ll see.’ But I had read his book.”
In her new memoir, The Courage to Hope, she writes about a different kind of tears: when she discussed her firing with her family, her mother, who’d spent her life facing down racism at its most lethal, simply wept. “What will my babies say?,” Sherrod cried to her husband, referring to their four small granddaughters. “How can I explain to my children that I got fired by the first black president?”
What makes it particularly awful is that Obama fired Sherrod based on the lies of the unlamented right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart, who was already known to be fraudulent.  Sherrod was fired by the first black president for no damn reason except his political cowardice.

Meanwhile, over at The Sideshow, Avedon quotes Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report, and comments:
Dixon recommends getting out of the two-party, lesser-evil box and preparing for something new. I don't know how to do that, but I do know that blacks and whites alike are "more unemployed than we've been in seventy years, and more imprisoned than we've ever been," and I'm horrified at every "progressive" who somehow thought it was more important to defend Obama's presidency than to defend the Democratic Party and the nation against this rightward push, to the point where even primary challenges to bad Democrats were out of the question. Paul Ryan and other Republican Horrors are people who the Democratic leadership actively protected against real challenges in their districts. The only reason there are any Republicans in Congress from New York is that the Democratic leadership makes sure that happens.

Dixon is right: The Republicans are giving the Obamacrats cover to pass a right-wing agenda
The True Pure Centrist commented that the trouble is that people don't know the good things that the Democrats have done: the New Deal, the Civil Rights Bills, Medicare, and so on.  I can't speak for everyone, but I'm fully aware of all Democratic conventions.  It's actually hard to be unaware of those things, because Democratic apologists keep reminding us about them.  So I doubt the general ignorance is as widespread as TPC likes to think.  The trouble is that the great accomplishments he mentions were made a couple of generations ago (Cthulhu, I'm old), and that the last two Democratic administrations have been doing their best to to undo those achievements.

Of course, there are always haters.  This ungrateful Negro, for example, just had to carp and complain and find fault even in the Democrats' glory days:
No president has really done very much for the American Negro, though the past two presidents have received much undeserved credit for helping us. This credit has accrued to Lyndon Johnson and John Kennedy only because it was during their administrations that Negroes began doing more for themselves. Kennedy didn't voluntarily submit a civil rights bill, nor did Lyndon Johnson. In fact, both told us at one time that such legislation was impossible. President Johnson did respond realistically to the signs of the times and used his skills as a legislator to get bills through Congress that other men might not have gotten through. I must point out, in all honesty, however, that President Johnson has not been nearly so diligent in implementing the bills he has helped shepherd through Congress.
Of the ten titles of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, probably only the one concerning public accomodations -- the most bitterly contested section -- has been meaningfully enforced and implemented. Most of the other sections have been deliberately ignored.
I'm sure that most whites felt that with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, all race problems were automatically solved. Because most white people are so far removed from the life of the average Negro, there has been little to challenge this assumption. Yet Negroes continue to live with racism every day.
It isn't we professional leftists who need to be reminded of what the Democrats did in the past: it is the Democratic mainstream that needs to take stock and stop trying to dismantle everything their predecessors (however half-heartedly) achieved.