News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
Opinion: Jesse Jackson deserves r-e-s-p-e-c-t
The Buzzflash has asked a question I have wondered about, as well. Why do some people hate Jesse Jackson so much?
My former longterm significant other, a white man from Virginia, refers to the mentality of Jesse Jackson haters as 'whitey's last stand.' I think he, and the Buzz, are on to something. Compared to the outrages perpetrated by powerful white men in politics and industry, Rev. Jackson has done our society virtually no harm. Quite the opposite. His brave advocacy during the civil rights movement helped achieve the access to public places for people of color most Americans take for granted. His so-called 'shakedowns' of corporations have focused attention on their policies of ignoring nonwhite job applicants and joint venturers unless the bright light of publicity shines on them. If it wasn't known that civil rights leaders will raise hell when state college admissions return to their damn near lily white past as they did in Texas, they would have returned to the status quo. The backlash against affirmative action notwithstanding, Rev. Jackson has been a tireless advocate of fairness in college admissions.
Wait a minute, Jackson haters will say. Jesse Jackson has exaggerated his closeness to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. True. But, the relationship is embroidered, not fabricated. And, the detractors will say, he has an out-of-wedlock daughter. True, again. She is a beautiful child. I respect Rev. Jackson's decision to risk having her instead of opting for abortion, as most men in high profile positions would. I don't respect his infidelity. Therein lies the rub. Critics of the man ignore or devalue his contributions to society while overstating their criticisms of him. I do not.
I would be remiss if I did not anticipate the next attack on the best known civil rights advocate in the world. Right Wingers will suggest substituting Jesse Lee Peterson, Larry Elder, Clarence Thomas or some other contemporary handkerchief head for Rev. Jackson. Then, it is time for me to say, 'Gotcha!' Right Wing African-American 'leaders' owe whatever status they have to the white Right. (There really isn't a colored one.) They are groomed by it, popularized by it and paid by it. Their only connection to other blacks is the one they are being used for -- appearance. The reason Rev. Jackson is a legitimate civil rights leader and Peterson is not is that he is opposed to the interests of the very people he claims to represent. Peterson represents the interests of the folks making whitey's last stand, while claiming otherwise. It is apparent in the positions these people take and in the money trail back to their white Right Wing handlers. Rev. Jackson, on the other hand, has not allowed himself to be co-opted -- though there have doubtlessly been many attempts to achieve that goal. He opinions belong to him, not some Right Wing foundation footing his bills.
Rev. Jackson does not really need me to speak for him. He can speak for himself very effectively. And, he has. Read the Jesse Jackson interview at The Buzzflash.posted by J. | 11:45 PM
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
'Christian' secession has neo-Confederate roots
Blogger and activist Natalie Davis has also given some thought to Christian Exodus. It is the secessionist movement rooted in white supremacy that La Shawn Barber promotes on her weblog. Davis' is not a supporter.
If the people involved in Exodus and other secessionist efforts get their way, it will indeed be back to the past, circa 1860. The organization embodies the 'Christian' aspect of the neo-Confederate movement. Michael Hill, the president of the secessionist League of the South, decided on the Christian approach as a way to make inroads and gain control of already established conservative groups and institutions. Smart. Churches are often the most entrenched part of a town, city or state. Furthermore, new 'customers' become available yearly. So far, the neo-Confederate goal of appealing to far Right Christians has been moderately successful. Efforts to literally take over conservative Southern churches resulted in dissension and lawsuits. But, the more subtle approach of influencing them is bearing fruit.
The theological basis for the movement can be traced to apologia for slavery written before and after the Civil War. The Southern theologians included Robert Lewis Dabney, James Henley Thornwell and Benjamin Morgan Palmer. They believed the antebellum South to be an ideal Christian nation. Therefore, if Southerners are to regain God's favor, which they lost when they were defeated in the war, the old status quo must be reestablished. According to them, dominance of society by Christian white men, property ownership as a perequisite to the electoral franchise, exclusion of women from all roles other than wife and mother, and, of course, chattel slavery of human beings, are Biblically mandated. The United States has been living in sin since the Civil War, they say. The only way to reverse that headlong plunge to Hell is for Christians to secede from the benighted nation. Ergo, Exodus and other parts of the 'Christian' secessionist movement.
Hill made his views in regard to slavery clear in a letter to the League of the Souths's members in 1998.
Nor is there any room for doubt that Hill condemns homosexuality. His remarks in an essay attacking virtually all progressive political change as 'cultural Marxism' are typical.
South Carolina, one of the few states to ever have a black majority, has a history of extreme efforts to keep control of its affairs in the hands of a conservative white elite. So, it is not surprising that Exodus selected it as the state its members should infiltrate, in preparation for secession.
The leaders of Exodus believe they will have sufficient strength to win a secession vote within eight years.
Read the rest of Natalie Davis' entry at All Facts and Opinions.
•Blogger Ed Sebesta of Neo, and Euan Hague, have written an academic paper important to understanding the role of Christianity in neo-Confederate dogma. Read "The U.S. Civil War as a Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism and the League of the South" here.
•Also be sure to read Diane Roberts' excellent article "A League of Their Own," an honest look at Michael Hill's organization and its objectives.posted by J. | 4:03 PM
Monday, June 21, 2004
Black blogger loves white Right
I haven't reviewed Edward Jones' novel The Known World, though I read it months ago. So, I must not like the book, right? Wrong. Why would I, the consummate bookworm, someone who would rather read than eat, keep silent? When I like a book as much as do that one, I sometimes read it two or three times before talking about it. I dissect the characters and ideas embodied in the work. Savor them. However, I am going to talk about a character in Jones' book in regard to a blogger whose weblog I've been observing for about a month. Stennis is the human chattel of a thief who absconds with slaves and free blacks in the mid-South and resells them in the Lower South in the 1840s or so. Not only is Stennis his master's slave, he is his best friend. His personality has become merged with the slave stealer's to the extent that he echoes his words, thoughts and behaviors.
La Shawn Barber is an African-American blogger who has become an adjunct of the far Right to the extent that it is eerie to read her blog. Much of its content consists of what I will call black pathology stories. She offers a steady diet of wrongdoing by African-Americans ranging from plaigarism of a speech to the usual Right Wing obsession with blacks' sexuality and supposed penchant for crime. Attacks on the civil rights movement and its contemporary representatives are a staple. Reading this material, one feels as if one is at well-known white supremacist sites such as Stormfront or American Renaiisance. The contempt for African-Americans, other than a few like herself, is that palpable. Meanwhile, whites on the Right, no matter how far Right, are placed on a pedestal and praised. Indeed, if one relied on Barber for information, one would believe white people are incapable of wrongdoing -- unless they are liberals.
Barber's latest love affair is with Michael Savage.
Savage's racist, misogynist and generally misanthropic beliefs are not exactly a secret.
There is a commonality. Savage (actually Wiener) seems just as ashamed of his Jewish roots as Barber does of her African ancestry. However, at least he is not exploiting his Jewishness to curry favor with his conservative white audience, as she does. The comments section on her blog is a collection of Right Wing white folks congratulating her on selling her own people out.
Barber's sycophancy does not stop with admiring the likes of Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh. In a recent entry, she expressed support for a community for far Right Christians to be formed by the white supremacist secessionist movement. Perhaps, the woman believes Exodus will grant her a special dispensation despite the abundance of melanin in her skin.
But, what happens to Stennis in The Known World, you are wondering. A free black man he and his master have kidnapped to resell into slavery tries to persuade him to join him in escaping. Stennis refuses, saying that he prefers his relationship to his master to freedom. Eventually, the duo is caught and put on trial. Not because of the free blacks they have kidnapped and allowed to die or sold into slavery, but because they deprived whites of their slaves. Stennis' sentence is merely to be sold to another master.
Ed Jones says he had some difficulty getting the literary establishment to take his historical novel seriously during the ten years it was a work in progress. One reason for that may be that he makes no excuses for some blacks' role in supporting slavery. Common sense says that no one would fight for the continued dehumanization of himself and his kin, but some people did and will. Stennis and some other black characters in the book do everything they can to help maintain the peculiar institution. They believe as strongly in white supremacy as any white person has. When I look at the work product of La Shawn Barber, I think: Stennis lives.posted by J. | 11:15 PM