Mary Jo.

by matttbastard

Amid the overwhelming coverage surrounding the historic passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, one important name from his past has either been reduced to a footnote or, far too often, ignored completely: Mary Jo Kopechne, the civil rights activist and Kennedy aide who perished in a now-infamous 1969 car accident in Chappaquiddick, ME when a besotted Kennedy crashed his car into the ocean. The controversy surrounding these events would follow Kennedy throughout his career.

Melissa Lasky gives the 411:

Mary Jo wasn’t a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan. She was a dedicated civil rights activist and political talent with a bright future — granted, whenever someone dies young, people sermonize about how he had a “bright future” ahead of him — but she actually did. She wasn’t afraid to defy convention (28 and unmarried, oh the horror!) or create her own career path based on her talents. She lived in Georgetown (where I grew up) and loved the Red Sox (we’ll forgive her for that). Then she got in a car driven by a 36-year-old senator with an alcohol problem and a cauldron full of demons, and wound up a controversial footnote in a dynasty.

We don’t know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she’d have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don’t know, as always, could fill a Metrodome.

Liss tries to balance the deserved accolades Kennedy has received for his lifelong work serving his constituents and the US with his despicable actions on that fateful day:

I suspect that Teddy, who knew himself well and could stare his flaws in the face, who carried the shame of his misdeeds in the furrow of his brow that never totally lightened even with a smile, also felt burdened by his own abuses of the privilege he knew he hadn’t earned. It was there; he couldn’t help himself using it, even when he knew he shouldn’t have. And it hung on him, as well it should have.

He’d made a terrible bargain with himself, too.

Teddy’s legacy, then, is complicated. A man of privilege, who used it cynically for his own benefit. A man of privilege, who used it generously to try to change the world. And maybe to salve his own conscience. Even as he believed fervently in the genuine rightness of his endeavors—and certainly would have, even if there wasn’t a scale to balance.

I have no tidy conclusion. It is what it is.

Daisy is far less charitable:

Sorry my dear liberal brothers and sisters, I respectfully sit this one out. Women first.

Further, as an alcoholic, I will not mourn a rich drunk allowed to make a deadly mistake and carry on as if nothing had happened.

I will mourn the working woman who was forgotten, as the actual circumstances of her death were covered up by a powerful family, who then arbitrarily assigned her slut status.

Imagine slowly, slowly drowning, water enveloping you inch by inch as you drown, waiting for the person to rescue you that never arrives.

Sorry, folks. Some things, I do not excuse.

Mary Jo represents all the nobody-women killed (or allowed to die, if you want to quibble over my terms) by all the powerful, rich men, because they were “evidence”–because they got in the way.

During this orgy of remembrance and sentimentality, of course, we won’t be hearing about her…once again, it will be considered somehow “rude” to mention Mary Jo Kopechne’s suspicious and untimely death. Well, let me be RUDE, then, and remind everyone that she existed. That she was a beautiful and lively woman, cherished by family and friends; she was a human being that was considered expendable by the Kennedy clan.

FUCK Ted Kennedy. Purgatory is hot, and he’ll be there awhile.

How this unresolved incident should affect the way we consider his legacy is, as noted by Will Bunch and myself, a difficult question that historians will likely struggle with for some time to come. Kennedy’s undeniably laudable accomplishments should not be allowed to mitigate his responsibility for and the subsequent irresponsibility and lack of accountability displayed following the death of Kopechne. That said, I’m not comfortable discounting a lifetime of tireless social justice advocacy and impactful legislating, no matter how horrible his actions were (should we solely refer to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson as racist slave owners, or Sen. Robert Byrd as a former KKK member at the expense of the overall historical record?)

Ultimately, like most truly great (though not necessarily morally upright) historical figures, an accurate summation of Sen. Kennedy’s life must take all aspects into account, even those we’d prefer to avoid; indeed, to merely indulge in hagiography does an unforgiveable disservice to both Kopechne’s memory and Kennedy’s.

Update: Welcome Feministing readers! Make sure to check out the latest thoughtful posts on Kennedy and Kopechne from Daisy and Bunch (much thanks for the linkage & kind words). [links corrected — mea culpa, is late.]

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QOTD: Sonia Sotomayor and the Unbearable Whiteness of Being a Republican

by matttbastard

[Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama] pre-emptively declared that he would not vote for a judge who uses the “empathy standard” in deciding cases—a reference to the sensitivity toward average people that President Obama said he looked for in nominees, and which has been transformed by the political right into code for favoring blacks or other ethnic minorities over whites. Sessions seemed to predict nothing short of the collapse of American law as we know it if Sotomayor is confirmed: “Down one path is the traditional American legal system, so admired around the world, where judges impartially apply the law to the facts without regard to their own personal views,” Sessions declared. “This is the compassionate system because it is the fair system.”

Undeterred by his gross historical error—had every court in American history applied the law in this manner, schools would still be legally segregated, a woman’s right to earn a living and obtain credit would still be denied, and so on—Sessions went on to attack even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an unusual broadside against a sitting justice, he accused Ginsburg of being “one of the most activist judges in history” even though a glancing look at her record shows she has been part of an almost powerless, left-of-center bloc on the court that included three men, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.

Ginsburg’s affliction, then, is apparently the same as Sotomayor’s: She sees the world differently than does Sessions. This is the key to understanding the unhinged argument about “empathy.”

It presumes that the white male experience is the only authentically American experience, and therefore the only one that could possibly be unbiased. Whatever predispositions or inclinations these men bring to the law are the valid ones. After all, they are not hampered by some silly notions they may have picked up along the way had they lived their lives as women or as members of minority groups.

– Marie Cocco, Closet Racism in the Age of Obama

h/t EileenLeft

Related: Cory Doctorow points to an extensive Flickr gallery commemorating Sessions’ longstanding tenure as a dumbasstastic racist fuckateer. On a more serious note, U.S. News runs down ‘Sonia Sotomayor’s 13 Most Notable Decisions’.

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On Diversity, The New York Post, and Cartoons That Just Aren’t Funny, Man.

by matttbastard

My partner-in-crime, Sarah Jaffe, is on deadly point re: cartoonist Sean Delonas and the now-infamous New York Post race fail:

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post said on MSNBC (at about 3:55 of the video) that the problem might’ve been caught if there was better diversity in the workplace. For example, I’d be willing to bet that many of the people who defended the cartoon on [Newsarama blogger] Caleb’s post [link added–mb] were white. I’m not trying to beat up on anyone for being white–I’m white. But the thing is, being white, we simply don’t deal with racism the same way. This is what diversity does: it provides multiple viewpoints, multiple frames of reference for the same subject. This doesn’t mean controversial subjects should be avoided at all costs, but that fraught images like this one can be examined from different perspectives, and that perhaps a better critique of the stimulus package could’ve been produced.

Exactly so. And it’s not simply mainstream/right-leaning media outlets that could greatly benefit from a more diverse selection of voices.  Check out this wanktastic basket of white liberal fail at Mother Jones (yes, that Mother Jones) from some douchebucket named Daniel Luzer (“It’s pronounced Loot-zer”), who says that Al Sharpton should just, like, STFU “because the cartoon isn’t offensive, unless you’re an ape.”

Luzer digs his trusty shovel in deeper:

This cartoon has nothing to do with the ethnicity of Obama’s father and everything to do with the fact that the stimulus bill is messy. So messy, in fact, that it could have been written by a chimpanzee.

[…]

You many not even get the cartoon at all (stimulus=monkey?), but that’s understandable because it’s not that funny; it’s just not racist either. Sometimes a joke about monkeys is, well, just a joke about monkeys.

And sometimes a privileged hotshot straight outta Columbia J-School is simply a clueless tangle of unexamined privilege and egoverridden certaintude. But, hey, thanks for explaining to us dumb apes what is and isn’t ‘racist.’  If there’s one thing every (needlessly!) aggrieved negro needs it’s a walking whiteboy encyclopedia of TRUE bigotry to calmly and rationally tell us to, um, chill the fuck out, man.

Me and my elevated blood-pressure are simply overcome with gratitude.

DJ rewind:

[B]eing white, we simply don’t deal with racism the same way.

Rewind, my selekta:

[T]he cartoon isn’t offensive, unless you’re an ape.

Yeah, that.

Related: Bil Browning and Erica C. Barnett note that Delonas has a longstanding history of being an “equal-opportunity asshat”, as Barnett aptly dubs him–so much so that GLAAD has compiled an ongoing dossier of his greatest defamatory hits.

Barnett wins the intertubes for the day:

So, for the record, here’s a (presumably noncomprehensive) noncomprehensive list of groups Delonas hates/considers worthy of mockery: the womenz, the gays, the blacks, the fatties, the handicapped, the oldsters, and the blind. Given that list, I’m thinking Delonas’ only audience is, what, angry white male misanthropes with body anxiety and mommy issues?

Yeah, AKA the core subscriber base of the Murdoch Post.

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Kids Say The Darndest Things (White Privilege Edition)

by matttbastard

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Kids Say The Darndest Things (White P…“, posted with vodpod

Aw, isn’t that cute?  Nothing sez “Hallmark Moment” like exploiting a child’s rudimentary grasp of the English language for “un-PC” shits and giggles.  Those lazy sparkling wiggles!

How much you wanna bet mommy and daddy first met at a friendly, totally not-mean-spirited (no, really!“Ghetto Fabulous” party in college?

"No, srsly -- we heart sparkling wiggles!"

Video via Sociological Images, h/t Cara via tweet

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Hey, George–Your Class Privilege is Showing.

by matttbastard

Champagne socialist George Monbiot to North American auto workers:

Drop dead.”

bfp to privileged asshole douchebags like Georgie:

Fuck you!

Related: Mitch Albom (yes, that Mitch Albom) goes off on the same “Republican nutcases” in Congress who have Georgie gushing:

In a world where banks hemorrhaged trillions in a high-priced gamble called credit derivative swaps that YOU failed to regulate, how on earth do WE need to be punished? In a bailout era where you shoveled billions, with no demands, to banks and financial firms, why do WE need to be schooled on how to run a business?

Who is more dysfunctional in business than YOU? Who blows more money? Who wastes more trillions on favors, payback and pork?

At least in the auto industry, if folks don’t like what you make, they don’t have to buy it. In government, even your worst mistakes, we have to live with.

And now Detroit should die with this?

h/t bfp

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On ‘Civility’ (With Apologies to Lenny Bruce)

by matttbastard

Civility is a public discourse between [white] men, allowable because they have the time and personal resources to engage in it.

Q Grrl

Obviously it’s not my place to critique the comment policies put in place by other self-identified progressive bloggers with more delicate sensibilities (and–inexplicably–larger conservative fanbases) than yours truly.

Your house, your rules.

But come on, dude–if you take away the right to say ‘fuck’ then you take away the right to say ‘fuck straight white male privilege!’

Rest assured, dear readers, this progressive venue will continue to be both troll-free and heavily pro-profanity, all part of our nefarious plot to both further deteriorate blogospheric discourse and, in light of these troubled economic times, help spur sales of pearls and fainting couches (who says all Marxist redistributionists have contempt for the marketplace?) This is not a ‘family blog’ (whatever the fuck that means); this is a zone where we try to limit the privileged fetishization of ‘civility’ (aka classist/sexist/ableist/racist/heteronormative silencing practices) and fully intend to keep it that way. So, if you too are *ahem* uncivilized and lack common sense, please feel free to pull up a chair, crack open a cold beverage, and let the unseemly invective fly.

You goddamn fucking right.

(A quick caveat: my tongue-in-cheek observations are not meant to denigrate nor cast aspersions upon the good character and progressive bona fides of Dawg, someone whom I genuinely respect–even if I think he really needs to lighten up about the naughty language.)

Update: More from Renee on gender and the policing of “vulgar” language:

When a woman says fuck you, she is asserting a sense of power that we have socially tried to deny. She is stepping out of the submissive role and assuming an active body which patriarchy finds threatening. The mehnz immediately go into panic mode and try to remind us our place. No No little one, aggression is reserved for those with testicles.

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On Gwen Ifill, White Privilege and Working the Refs

by matttbastard

Yeah, about that *cough* top-secret “pro-Obama” book by notoriously anodyne PBS anchor and longtime Beltway insider Gwen Ifill that has the usual suspects in a histrionic froth: Howie Kurtz quotes from his September 4th profile of Ifill, in which her upcoming book is discussed:

In The Post interview, Ifill said that as the daughter of a minister who marched in civil rights demonstrations, she recognized the historic nature of Obama’s candidacy. But, Ifill said, “I still don’t know if he’ll be a good president. I’m still capable of looking at his pros and cons in a political sense.” She added: “No one’s ever assumed a white reporter can’t cover a white candidate.”

Unfortunately, Kurtz’s post at The Trail doesn’t include the paragraph that originally preceded the quoted statement:

As Barack Obama was claiming the Democratic nomination in Denver, Ifill says, a white television reporter asked her: “Aren’t you just blown away by all of this?” She said she was not.

“Aren’t you in the tank?” the reporter wondered.

As Jamison Foser observes (h/t Steve Benen):

1) The October 7 presidential debate will be moderated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw, who currently serves as NBC’s liaison to the McCain campaign — while spreading pro-McCain misinformation on Meet the Press. In fact, the McCain campaign hand-picked Tom Brokaw to moderate the October 7 debate[…]

2) CBS’ Bob Schieffer moderated one of the 2004 debates, despite the fact that he is a longtime friend of George W. Bush who had previously acknowledged that his personal relationship with Bush made it difficult to cover him. Schieffer’s brother was a business partner of Bush’s before Bush became president — and Bush made him an ambassador.

DJ rewind:

“No one’s ever assumed a white reporter can’t cover a white candidate.”

Bottom line:

To insinuate that Ifill, who’s likely to run a tough debate and ask serious questions, can’t be impartial is insulting to all African-Americans. Because y’know, THOSE people always side with their own.

Oh, and regarding the oh-so-impartial and objective (to say nothing of, um, credible) source of all this manufactured wingnut outrage, WorldNutDaily, Kurtz sardonically notes:

On the World Net site, the “Deal of the Day” is a $4.95 offer for what is described as the “Obama blockbuster: ‘Anatomy of Deceit.'” The Web site says the book “reveals” that “his brand of change is a hostile attack on the Judeo-Christian values and freedoms most Americans hold dear.”

What was that about a “conflict of interest”, Greta?

Related: Steve M has more on The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, which he says, judging by the publishers description, “isn’t hero-worship — it’s analysis” and that even if Obama wins in November the book “isn’t going to be a bestseller — it’s just too poli-sci.”

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