The New New Civil Rights Movement

by matttbastard

Is truly inspiring to see so many conservatives take a firm stand against racism. Truly.

Update: Via Antonia, oppressed white male Bill Wolfrum is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it any more:

We must fight. Today, a white male child will be born into an oppressive society where the color of his skin will only be a great advantage, not an incomprehensibly powerful advantage. That child will see that there is now extra competition out there between himself and his dreams. That child will be born into a society that – while understanding his cultural values and belief systems – will no longer automatically fearfully submit to them. That child will be destined for a life of dreams and promises that will only very likely be fulfilled. The guarantee is now gone, and we must get it back.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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What Racists Are Doing Now That Racism is Over

by matttbastard

“I wasn’t thrilled about joining the KKK, but it was the closest bird-watching club to my house.”

Made.  Of.  WIN.

h/t ohthatoldthing in comments @ Jezebel

Related: Ian Leslie wades into some of the more…enlightened UK press coverage of Obama and racial identity: “These bien-pensants from left and right point out that as Obama is “bi-racial” and thus as white as he is black. Then they sit back and wait to be congratulated on their brave insight.”

h/t Norm Geras

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“Real” and “Unreal” Americans

by matttbastard

Well, looks like we’ve finally established where one of those anti-American domestic strongholds that Palin mentioned the other day are located: the Obamabot enclaves of Northern Virginia!

Think Progress:

On MSNBC this morning, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer asserted that “real Virginia” does not include Northern Virginia:

I certainly agree that Northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. … But the rest of the state — real Virginia if you will — I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.

MSNBC host Kevin Corke gave Pfotenhauer a chance to revise her answer, telling her: “Nancy, I’m going to give you a chance to climb back off that ledge — Did you say ‘real Virginia’?”

But Pfotenhauer didn’t budge, and instead dug a deeper hole.

Real Virginia, I take to be, this part of the state that’s more Southern in nature, if you will.

Thorpe ended the segment noting that Pfotenhauer was appearing via satellite from Northern Virginia. “Nancy Pfotenhauer, senior policy adviser for the McCain campaign, joining us from Arlington, not really Virginia.” “Alright, I’m just gonna let ya– you’ll wear that one,” Corke responded.

Ok. Real Virginians don’t support Obama. Gotcha.

But then there’s this, straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak):

My opponent’s answer showed that economic recovery isn’t even his top priority. His goal, as Senator Obama put it, is to “spread the wealth around.”

You see, he believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism.

Socialism–totally un-American, natch. So is all this simply boilerplate campaign rhetoric, or is there a more disturbing subtext at play? Adam Serwer looks at the historical context of the ‘socialist’ smear as it relates to POC (h/t Jill):

Conservatives, now and in the past, have turned to “socialism” and “communism” as shorthand to criticize black activists and political figures since the civil-rights era. In The Autobiography of Malcolm X as written by Alex Haley, Malcolm recalls being confronting by a government agent tailing him in Africa, not long after his pilgrimage to Mecca. The agent was convinced that Malcolm was a communist. Malcolm spent years under surveillance because of such bizarre suspicions. Likewise, J. Edgar Hoover spent years attempting to link Martin Luther King Jr. to the communist cause. King, for his part, welcomed everyone who embraced the cause of black civil rights, regardless of their ideological ties. This included communists and socialists, but the idea that a devout man of God like King saw black rights as a mere step in a worldwide communist revolution was absurd. Malcolm was a conservative. King was a liberal. To their enemies, they were simply communists.

The feeling that black-rights activists were part of a front for communism and socialism was widespread. Jerry Falwell famously criticized “the sincerity and intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations.” Falwell charged, “It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.” For the agents of intolerance, things haven’t changed much. On October 9, a McCain supporter told the candidate that he was angry about “socialists taking over our country.” McCain told him he was right to be angry.

The right wing continues to link the fight for black equality with socialism and communism. At the website of conservatism’s flagship publication, National Review, conservatives like Andy McCarthy argue whether Obama is “more Maoist than Stalinist,” and National Review writer Lisa Schiffren explicitly argued this summer that Obama must have communist links based on his interracial background. Schiffren mused, “for a white woman to marry a black man in 1958, or 60, there was almost inevitably a connection to explicit Communist politics.”


John McCain is no George Wallace, and a direct comparison may not be what [John] Lewis intended. Rather, Lewis was expressing concern that the McCain campaign’s rhetoric could lead some of their supporters to conclude that violence is the only rational response to an Obama victory.

Also keep in mind some of the highlighted right-wing sentiments from this post as Billmon repeals Godwin’s Law, once and for all (h/t pogge @ BnR):

Powerful elements of the Republican Party and the conservative “movement” aren’t just preparing themselves to go into opposition, they’re preparing themselves to dispute the legitimacy of an Obama presidency — in ways that could, if taken to extreme, lead to another Oklahoma City.


I’ve been following politics for going on 35 years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Republican candidate publicly refer to his Democratic opponent as a “socialist” — not even while hiding behind a cardboard cutout like “Joe the Plumber”. This from a man who told the entire nation on Wednesday night that believes an obscure nonprofit group is “perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Likewise, I don’t think there’s ever been an American vice presidential candidate who explicitly referred to entire regions of the United States as “pro-American” — with the clear implication that other regions are something less than “pro-American.” Not since the Civil War, anyway.

We’ve crossed some more lines, in other words — in a long series of lines that have made it increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ultraconservative wing of the Republican Party and an explicitly fascist political movement. And John McCain and his political handlers appear to have no moral compunctions whatsoever about whipping this movement into a frenzy and providing it with scapegoats for all that hatred, simply to try to shave a few points off Barack Obama’s lead in the polls.

To call this “country first” only works if you assume your opponents (and scapegoats) are not really part of that same country. And we all know where that leads.

As Colbert King put it in Saturday’s WaPo, “[t]ell a rabid audience that Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists” (as Palin has done), imply that Obama is friendly with people out to destroy America (as she also has done) and what do you expect?”

DJ rewind:

Powerful elements of the Republican Party and the conservative “movement” aren’t just preparing themselves to go into opposition, they’re preparing themselves to dispute the legitimacy of an Obama presidency — in ways that could, if taken to extreme, lead to another Oklahoma City.

Rhetoric–yes, mere words, Senator McCain–can have consequences.

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More on the Representation of White Perfection

by matttbastard

professor what if has posted the final two installments of the five-part series ‘Consuming Whiteness’, which sets out to explore the all-encompassing notion “that whiteness (in food, bodies, clothing, etc) is ideal”.


Part 4:

In literature, food and issues relating to consumption often allows characters to metaphorically ‘consume’ or integrate their cultural heritage into hybrid identities. For example, in the works of Bharati Mukherjee, characters’ struggles to integrate themselves into the cultural landscape are accompanied by changing eating practices. While some critics suggest Mukherjee is overtly celebratory in relation to issues of assimilation, I would counter that her fiction presents the way in which dominant (white) American culture figuratively consumes ‘exotic’ cultural foods (and cultural Others) in order to destroy and/or “Americanize” them.

Part 5:

While ads have begun to acknowledge that not all bodies are white, the images in advertisements still do not reflect the diversity of the US populace. Ads are still dominated by images equating whiteness with beauty and perfection (as in fashion ads, makeup ads, holiday ads, mortgage ads) and non-whiteness with bodies that are either meant to serve others (as in cleaning product ads) or bodies that need help (as with ads for medicine, hair ‘cures,’ and drug treatment centers). The analysis offered by scholars such as Susan Bordo and Jean Kilbourne that lay bare the ways in which people of color are animalized, dehumanized, and brutalized in advertisements has not translated into substantial changes in the ads we view/watch.

My thanks to the good professor for the thought-provoking series of posts.

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More on the Representation of White Perfection

by matttbastard

professor what if has posted part two of the series Consuming Whiteness, which, as noted in the first installment, sets out to explore the all-encompassing notion “that whiteness (in food, bodies, clothing, etc) is ideal”:

Despite the fact that for the majority of people of color milk is a ‘health disaster,’ the Got Milk ads, (which, for the most part, feature famous white people) set up an erroneous equation between milk consumption and health (not to mention weight loss, athletic ability, beauty, success, fame, wealth, etc). The milk moustache ads, which feature supermodels, actors, musicians, famous athletes, and politicians, imply that drinking milk is the key to opportunity, fame, and fortune. Although the ads portrayed some diversity in terms of race, class, and social background, the people of color that do appear are, ironically, often lactose intolerant. Whoopi Goldberg, for example, appears in a milk print ad- although she has to take lactose intolerance medication to consume milk.

The ads, through their continued focus on milk as a white drink, also often refer to the superiority of whiteness. While some may argue that this is a merely a marketing tactic with no racial undertones, it is problematic to ally whiteness with perfection in a country with a long, ugly past (and present) of racism. Take, for example, the milk ad featuring a young white woman with copy reading “the milk white look.” Not only is the ad equating consuming milk with ‘consuming’ this white woman (and thus sexually objectifying her), it is also claiming that ‘the milk white look’ is desirable, sexy, beautiful, etc. This message that white is better is conveyed in a number of ads. For example, in a milk moustache ad that features country singer Clint Black, the copy reads: “My favorite color? White of course”. Or, as the ad suggests, even those who are named ‘Black,’ really prefer white.

Please, go read the whole thing.

h/t Kevin

Update: Part Three is also up.

A brief sample:

This usage of the term white as something that is good, something that is so powerful it can palliate flaws or conceal crimes, reveals the high esteem ‘white’ holds in the western cultural imagination. As a color it is seen as pure, clean, refreshing. When it refers to people, the same positive associations also apply. White people are seen as ‘purely human’ and not animalized or denigrated in the way people of color are. Or, as Chris Matthews would term it, white people are ‘regular people.’ These associations between whiteness and what is better/normal certainly are readily apparent in advertising.

Again, go.

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Quote of the Day: Half Mast Victories

by matttbastard

The truth about feminism is that we cannot imagine the road to change if it comes back in exclusive dividends. It is meant for the freedom of others who are not here, who have died in vain, in violence, in secrecy, in the dark, and in fear. Feminism, until it thwarts itself from the clutches of materialistic greed, will never liberate anyone. It will succeed in a half-mast victory for a few handfuls of women who’ll erroneously assume the battle was well-fought and won.

– Sudy, LIVE Blogging from WAM: The Truth Out About Feminism (h/t purtek)

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The Universal Fundamentals of Misogyny

by matttbastard

The murder of 16 year old Toronto high school student Aqsa Parvez this past December became an international cause celeb. Despite the lack of concrete information, media outlets from around the globe resolutely declared that Parvez was murdered by her father, an observant Muslim, in what must have been an honour killing (purportedly because Parvez refused to wear a hijab, although this popular line of speculation was later disputed by a close friend of hers). Ignorant opinion scribes quickly untied innumerable bales of straw, binding their hasty preconceptions about Islam into a virtual crusader army of anti-Muslim fallacies.

Yet if one digs deeper than knee-jerk Islamophobic squick, one will see that the practice of honour killings predates and transcends “fundamentalist” (read: contemporary heretical) Islamic practices. Nor is practice of using family or clan ‘honour’ as a justification for murdering women exclusive to Islam, or the so-called ‘Third World’. Though it’s comforting to pawn off deadly misogyny on the uncivilized darkies, we in the oh-so-enlightened West aren’t exactly saintly in our treatment of women.

IOZ puts it better than I ever could:

“[H]onor killings” are the sort of thing that happen in America all the time, with nothing to do with Islam. They’re plotted on prime time. They play daily on Law and Order. The absence of overt religious motivations doesn’t negate the fact that guys kill girls for cheating; husbands kill wives; fathers kill daughters. Intrafamilial and intracommunal violence is horrific and sad, but let us not pretend that it somehow affects the adherents of this or that sect more acutely than some other. Violence and possessiveness are universal frailties of our unfortunate species.

Violence against women must be addressed in a broader context than simplistically labeling it a Muslim problem. But, all too often, when feminists try to expand the boundaries to include men in all cultures, including our own, they are often unfairly criticized by those who would prefer that the “evils” of Islam be the focus of debate, rather than the many, many evils that men of all races, creeds and geographic locales commit on a daily basis. Thankfully, some feminists defiantly ignored narrow parametres of discourse when addressing Parvez’s murder:

We, as a society are bombarded with sexual images, young girls and women starve themselves to death in a deluded attempt for control over any aspect of their lives, we hear loudmouths constantly telling us that some women who are raped, asked for it.

Some would hold lifesaving information and attend disgusting “purity balls” so that their daughters can be handed directly from their father’s to their new owner, the husband.


[Women in the West] still are fighting the battle for control over our own bodies, uphill because there are those that would also not let women and girls know how to not get pregnant.

Boys will be boys, after all. Girls will be quiet and docile. “Girl Power” often is portrayed in such a way as to make damned sure that it includes lots of cleavage and butt shots.



Aqsa Parvez was probably murdered by her father because of some “cultural” battle. (the 911 tape has a man saying he had killed his daughter)

Culture? Yes. The prevailing [culture] of men. The only way to change this? Is to change the prevailing culture Worldwide to a culture of humanity.

This post @ Muslimah Media Watch is also directly on target:

Apart from the role of Islam and culture, we must always remember that, at the end of the day, this was a case of violence against a woman. The result of patriarchy and in its worst manifestation. And although there is some merit in bringing to attention the pressures of clothing among Muslim women, the real issue in this case appears to be something much greater. We should not lose sight of this in the media portrayals of the case.

Of course, the mere suggestion that domestic violence stems from a universal culture of patriarchal dominance (and is not endemic to teh MOOSLIMZ!111) would likely raise the “secularist” (snicker) ire of cultural supremacists like Danielle Crittenden. However, secularism isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the antithesis of observance (nor is integration in opposition to the much-abused concept of multiculturalism, although with that said, I must admit that I’m uncomfortable with recent calls in the UK to recognize–even superficiallysome variation of Sharia law). To paraphrase Holyoake, “Secularism is not an argument against Islam, it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Islam; it advances others.” I really like (and, as a secularist, embrace) the definition of secularism offered by wikipedia: “promoting a social order separate from religion, without actively dismissing or criticizing religious belief.”

To be fair, according to some estimates, 1/5 of honour killings in the year 2000 occured in Pakistan, where the Parvez family originally emigrated from. But putting an inordinate level of focus on Islamic fundamentalism (or supposedly “backwards” foreign culture) as the primary culprit is to place too much stock on a mere symptom, not the disease (ie, the denial of women’s agency in cultures where women are seen as mere property, to dispose of at whim–again I stress that Western culture is not immune, even if the set dressing is different). At some point, Aqsa’s father (and, in the capacity as accessory after the fact, brother) made the choice to kill a female family member.


At this point we really don’t know.

Speculation is fine, yes. But I don’t hear the staunch secularists-as-long-as-the-religion-in-question-isn’t-Christianity raising a single peep when white Western (Christian) women are murdered at the hands of male family members. In fact, in some instances one hears a lot of disturbing apologetics with regards to home grown (middle class) domestic violence (“She was asking for it”; “Why didn’t she just leave?”; or my personal fav, “Oh yeah? Men are abused by women, too!!1”)

These sorts of issues lay bare the base motivations of all involved in the discussion. And, frankly, those who rant the loudest about the inherent evils of Islam–eg, Michelle Malkin and Robert “I hearted Vlaams Belang until I didn’t” Spencer–don’t strike me as the sort who would normally give two shits about uppity wimminz (nor teh queerz).

Quite the opposite, in fact.

Aqsa Parvez almost instantly became the latest prop to be opportunistically appropriated by the usual xenophobic suspects as a crude means of advancing their narrow-minded, nativist Holy War against the Jihadi horde. That so many have quickly jumped to the conclusion that Islam is, by default, complicit in Parvez’s death further highlights the simmering resentment for the ‘other’ that, ever since 9/11, has threatened to boil over here in the civilized West.

Judging by how even Canada no longer appears to be exempt (if we ever truly were), I fear that it soon will.

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John Edwards Drops Out

by matttbastard


(Originally uploaded by by John Edwards 2008)

Earlier today, Jonathan Cohn posted a moving eulogy for the Edwards campaign over at The Plank (while New Democrat dipshit Ed Kilgore subsequently took the opportunity to dance a merry jig on populism’s grave), but it was Aunt B. who highlighted the most ominous consequence of Edwards’ departure:

[W]hite Democratic men will be in the unprecedented position, for the first time in American history, of choosing between their race and their gender!

Hey, at least Hulk Hogan is comfortable stepping outside his comfort zone (h/t Jason Zengerle):

Whatcha gonna do, Kilgore?

Updated 01.31: via the unfortunately despondent skdadl-with-one-‘sk’ (*hugs*), John Edwards’ concession speech, fittingly given at the same place he kicked off his campaign: the 9th ward of the Big Easy.

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Psst–Toni Morrison Was Being Ironic*

by matttbastard


Shorter NY Times: “A couple of black people standing in front of a building in Harlem are still down with Bubba!”

h/t Racialicious

*Ok, read the “first black president” line in context, then check out Sherrilyn Ifill, Elizabeth Alexander, and Melissa Harris-Lacewell. BTW, Morrison just endorsed Obama. Maybe irony really is dead.

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