Friday, July 20, 2012

Republican Racism Example #61: A New York Post Writer Says Call An NBA Team The "Brooklyn Niggers"

It’s not much of a secret that the Rupert Murdoch media empire, including Fox News and the New York Post, is either run by racists or the powers there have deliberately chosen to appeal to the lowest common denominator by demonizing African Americans and Latinos.  But New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick set a new low for the conglomerate May 4.  Angered by rapper Jay-Z’s part ownership of the newly relocated Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association, the writer suggested in his ‘Equal Time” column that the franchise be renamed the “New York N-----s.”


New York Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick suggests that since the Brooklyn Nets basketball franchise is partly owned by an African American rapper, Jay-Z, the team should be re-dubbed the "New York Niggers" and the cheerleaders the "Brooklyn Hoes."  (Photo from http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-J04RSdoihwM/T6k3aPrjOQI/AAAAAAAABNk/ksiNik0NTRI/s1600/mushnick.jpg).  

As is the habit with bigots when they are called on their intolerance, Mushnick later implied that Jay-Z was actually the racist for supposedly promoting stereotypes of African Americans as gangsters, promoting a thuggish lifestyle, and using the “n-word” himself in his lyrics.  The problem is that Mushnick said none of this in his column.  Instead, without proving any context for his remarks, he got in the gutter, wallowing in ugly caricatures of African American culture and hurling racial epithets.   As he wrote:

“As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots -- what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new "urban" home -- why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N------s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B----hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!”  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/04/phil-mushnick-jay-z-nets-racist-new-york-post_n_1477927.html).

Only after being called out on his ugly language, did Mushnick rationalize his outburst. "Jay-Z profits from the worst and most sustaining self-enslaving stereotypes of black-American culture and I'M the racist?" he later wrote. "Some truths, I guess, are just hard to read, let alone think about."
Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is not exactly a hardcore rapper and he owns only a small percentage of the Nets, who just relocated to Brooklyn from New Jersey.  He has been deeply involved in poverty relief efforts in Africa and was highly active in raising money for victims of the Hurricane Katrina disaster in 2005.  It’s hard to correlate Jay-Z’s career with the depth of Mushnick’s rage at the performer’s status as an NBA owner. 



Sports writers like Phil Mushnick think that African Americans like Jay-Z should stay at the back of the sports bus and out of the ownership suites. (Photo from http://static7.businessinsider.com/image/4fa409d169bedd7161000018-400-300/new-york-post-phil-mushnick-brooklyn-nets-new-york-n-.jpg).  
Perhaps Mushnick, who writes for the highly conservative, pro-Republican Party Murdoch-owned Post, doesn’t like Jay-Z’s politics.  The rapper strongly supported President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.   Perhaps Mushnick doesn’t like African Americans moving to the front of the bus in pro sports.  There are 122 professional sports franchises in the United States, as the Philadelphia Tribune reported last year, and just one black majority owner. Michael Jordan, who owns a majority stake in the Carolina Bobcats, is the lone standout.  Sports ownership remains a white man’s club in spite of the fact that 65 percent of players in the National Football League are African Americans and an incredible 80 percent of NBA players are black.  (See http://www.phillytrib.com/commentaryarticles/item/1164-122-teams-one-black-major-owner.html).   At the executive level, Americans sports are almost as Jim Crow as they were in the time of Jackie Robinson.
Or perhaps Mushnick’s racist rant had more to do with the politics of the New York Post’s owner, Rupert Murdoch.  Hostility to African Americans has become a core value in the right-winger’s media holdings.
Witness the March 18, 2009 editorial cartoon in the Post which depicted a police officer holding a smoking gun near a bleeding, dead chimpanzee.  “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” the cop says.  The cartoon appeared soon after an incident in which a pet chimpanzee in Connecticut had attacked the friend of its owner and following a contentious debate over President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill.  The chimp was clearly meant to represent the president.  It also provided a disturbing insight into cartoonist Sean Delomas’ violent political fantasies regarding the nation’s first black president.  Delomas, by the way, has a history of dimwitted, racist and homophobic cartoons at the newspaper. (See http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-40-new-york.html). 



A 2009 New York Post cartoon portraying President Barack Obama as a dead chimpanzee.  (Image from  http://gawker.com/5155855/ten-vile-cartoons-from-sean-delonas). 
Since Obama’s election in November 2008 Murdoch’s Fox News channel has repeatedly hyped stories aimed at frightening its overwhelmingly white audience (only 1.38 percent of Fox viewers are black, according to a 2010 Neilsen survey).  Around the clock, Fox has aired segments about the miniscule New Black Panther Party, community groups with high minority membership like ACORN, and mellow black rappers like Common.  The stories all have a common theme – dark, violent people seeking to corrupt the political process and take the country away from whites.  In one infamous incident, Fox repeatedly aired a misleadingly edited tape of a speech by a black Department of Agriculture official named Shirley Sherrod that made it appear that she used her office to harm white farmers.  The he speech was actually about racial reconciliation.  (See http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/07/27/109823/fox-viewers-african-american/ and http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-17-fox-news.html). 
 Fox primetime host Sean Hannity used to give extended airtime on his radio program to a Neo-Nazi named Hal Turner, without critical commentary. (see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-18-sean.html).  Recently he has extended the same service to George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin earlier this year.  Hannity has not given similar airtime to any African American facing criminal charges.  (See http://www.examiner.com/article/gods-plan-might-include-10-years-for-zimmerman-after-doing-stupid-interview?cid=rss). 
Former Fox host Glenn Beck called the mostly African American victims of Hurricane Katrina “scumbags” (see http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-45-glenn-beck.html).  Finally, Bill O’Reilly in 2007 expressed astonishment, after visiting the famous Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem that among the mostly black patrons there “wasn't any kind of craziness at all . . . There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M.F.-er, I want more iced tea’ . . . It was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb in the sense that people were sitting there and they were ordering and just having fun." (see http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/26/oreilly.race/index.html). 



Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was stunned in 2007 to discover that the mostly black patrons of Sylvia's, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem, don't shout out, "Motherfucker, I want ice tea," but act like polite white people.  (Photo from http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/09/26/oreilly.race/index.html). 
Fox News occasionally presents an on-air black face, like that of reporter Juan Williams to conceal its racism from its reality-denying demographic. But this is mere media minstrelsy.  Want proof?  Mushnick was not suspended or fired for his hate speech.  One must assume that the New York Post endorses the idea of calling the Nets the "Niggers."  Perhaps we should call the Post the New York Klansman.  




Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Republican Racism Example #60: An Arizona Talk Show Host Calls Obama The "First Monkey President"


According to right-wing radio hater Barbara Espinosa, it’s not possible for her to be a racist because she has a Latino last name.

She insists that she is no bigot even though she referred to President Barack Obama as a “monkey” during a radio broadcast. Incidentally, when she compared the first African American president to a lower primate during a June 17 broadcast of her Hair On Fire radio talk show on KFNX, Arizona Republican chair Tom Morrissey was the guest and he never uttered a word of protest.


According to this right-wing talk show host, you can't be a racist if your last name is "Espinosa," even if you call a black man a "monkey. (Photo from http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/19/arizona-radio-host-voted-for-the-white-guy-because-obama-is-a-monkey/).

Fielding a call from a listener who described Obama as “the guy with the rabbit ears,” and who asked why anyone would possibly back the “idiot” in the White House, Espinosa responded, “I call him a monkey.  I don’t believe in calling him the first black president.  I call him the first monkey president.”   She then clarified that, “I voted for the white guy myself.”  (See http://newsone.com/2021269/barbara-espinosa-obama-monkey/).

After receiving a flurry of national attention, Espinosa said that her choice of words was inspired by a cartoon image of Obama as a monkey.  “The comment was prompted by the Google image cartoon that was sent to me,” she posted on her website, American Freedom by Barbara.  “With a last name of Espinosa, I’m anything but racist.”   She also defended her on-air remarks at her blog site:

“To set the record straight I did use the word monkey and Obama in the same sentence. Yes I did say I voted for the white guy. Unless there has been a takeover of America and free speech is no longer allowed and I can be put to death for making a remark, I refuse to take the fifth.” (See http://www.mediaite.com/online/radio-host-barbara-espinosa-stands-by-calling-barack-obama-a-monkey/).


An ad back when Phoenix AM radio station KFNX was proud to broadcast Barbara Espinosa,  They later replaced her with higher-rated racists. (Photo from http://www.mediaite.com/online/radio-host-barbara-espinosa-stands-by-calling-barack-obama-a-monkey/).

As noted, GOP chair Morrissey chose to say nothing during Espinosa’s racist rant, but instead only offered praise for the patriotism of Obama’s opposition.  “Those of us — and I believe this and it’s bias — those of us that do not support Barack Obama and act upon our love of country are motivated by that,” Morrissey said. “That’s why I say we’re patriots. I believe he is as wrong as wrong can be, and I hope that there’s enough people that think like we do — this group — so that we can defeat what I call, it’s like a national sickness.” (See http://www.mediaite.com/online/az-gop-chair-remained-silent-when-radio-host-barbara-espinosa-called-obama-monkey-on-air/).


Arizona GOP chair Tom Morrissey was a guest on the "Hair On Fire" radio show when host Barbara Espinosa called President Obama a "monkey."  Morrissey said nothing about the racist outburst.  (Photo from http://www.mediaite.com/online/az-gop-chair-remained-silent-when-radio-host-barbara-espinosa-called-obama-monkey-on-air/).  

If not a tacit endorsement of Espinosa’s racism, Morrissey’s silence doesn’t exactly represent a profile in courage.  Apparently the public outrage didn’t move Arizona Republicans to denounce her, but it did lead to KFNX to cancel her show.  The station tried to disingenuously suggest that the broadcast in question did not originate in their studios, but evidence suggests otherwise.  Here’s the KFNX statement:

“Barbara Espinosa does not host a show anymore on KFNX 1100, so the information is dated. She has not aired a show at KFNX for nearly a month. She currently hosts an internet show on Blogtalk radio to the best of our knowledge.

KFNX management, staff and sponsors do not endorse or agree with her viewpoints. Ms. Espinoza (like all KFNX Hosts) does have the First Amendment Right to say what she believes, but KFNX Host Contracts includes a clause which prohibits on-air slander of people.

KFNX no longer has a relationship with Ms. Espinosa, and again certainly does not support her comments. If those comments were made on KFNX, we would have terminated our relationship with her. We certainly apologize for our former relationship with Ms. Espinosa and are deeply sorry she said offensives things.

We do not know when the comments were made, but it is possible they were made in the past while airing on KFNX, or maybe could have been said on her current internet show on Blogtalk. We also do not know who posted the YouTube video. It is an edited video (and not dated), so it is unclear what context the improper comments were made.” (See http://jim.tarber.net/?p=220). 

Lest you be moved by KFNX’s act of contrition, the Phoenix station continues to carry other right-wing racist and anti-Semitic hosts such as Neil Boortz, who in 2006 called the mostly black victims of Hurricane Katrina  “just debris” (see http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2006/fall/overheard)  and in 2007 commented that, “Muslims don't eat during the day during Ramadan. They fast during the day and eat at night. Sort of like cockroaches." (See http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2007/winter/overheard).


Right-wing host Neal Boortz, whose show is still carried on KFNX, tries to prove he's not racist by sitting next to Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain before the New Hampshire primary.  Boortz once compared Muslims to "cockroaches."  (Photo from http://www.boortz.com/s/photos/). 

They also carry Michael Savage’s show.  Samplings of Savage’s thoughtful commentary on world events include calling the so-called “Developing” or “Third World” the “Turd World,” describing fellow talk show host Jerry Springer (who is Jewish), a “hooknose,” demeaning inner city residents as “ghetto slime” and charging that Latinos “breed like rabbits.”  Considering the other hosts still carried by the station, one wonders what line Espinosa crossed exactly. (See http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2004/spring/the-rating-game). 


Another KFNX host, Michael Savage, calls Jews like Jerry Springer "hooknoses," and says that Latinos "breed like rabbits."   (Photo from http://media.photobucket.com/image/michael%20savage/lizardjulia/savage-sm.jpg?o=11).

Comparing African Americans to apes and monkeys has been a recurring theme with white racists in the Western world since Europeans first encountered these primates in Africa starting in the 1500s and especially since the publication of Darwin’s evolutionary theories in the mid-19th century.  The comparison is meant to suggest that Africans and their descendents represent a lower stage of evolution that whites.  (For more on this theme in racism, see http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/african/3-coon/6-monkey/index.html).  







Comparing Obama to an ape or monkey has become a favorite theme of the Republican right.  Above is just a small sampling o f images circulating on the internet.  Espinosa, sadly, is not exceptional in today's GOP.  (Above images of Obama from http://thenakedtruthinaconfusedworld.blogspot.com/2011/05/usa-obama-deception-why-cornel-west.html and http://thenakedtruthinaconfusedworld.blogspot.com/2011/05/usa-obama-deception-why-cornel-west.html and http://www.columnpk.com/president-obama-monkey-cartoon/)

Espinosa is despicable and deserves her unemployment.  She is, however, only par for the course on talk radio. And the mainstream Republican Party is happy to accommodate these white supremacists by keeping quiet when these bigots rave.

(For more, see http://wonkette.com/475902/arizona-talk-radio-gal-who-called-obama-monkey-has-excellent-reason-why-she-is-not-racist and http://www.americanfreedombybarbara.com/). 



Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Republican Racism Example #59: Kentucky Tea Partiers Sell, "Yup, I'm A Racist" T-Shirts


As Tommy Christopher points out at the Mediate.com website, Tea Partiers don’t do irony very well.  The Kentucky Tea Party tried very hard to make a tongue-in-cheek joke, though, at rally for the group July 3, 2011 and during this year’s pre-July 4 conclave in Lexington, selling t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Yup, I’m a Racist” on the front.  A list of reasons why the right-wingers feel they are being accused of racism is listed on the back.  

Among the reasons the t-shirt creator thinks the right-wingers are unfairly accused of white supremacist thinking is that they supposedly:

“ . . . support the Constitution
   . . .  support free speech
   . . . support the right to bear arms
  . . .  support the Bill of Rights
   . . . support Capitalism
    . . .  support No permanent bailouts
    . . . support closing borders
   . . . support our military
   . . . support the Tea Party
    . . . support Jesus Christ as my savior”



The Kentucky Tea Party booth selling, "Yup, I'm A Racist" t-shirts at a July 3, 2011 Lexington gathering.  Note the Fox News corporate sponsorship.  (Photo from http://wonkette.com/448772/kentucky-tea-party-sells-patriotic-yup-im-a-racist-fourth-of-july-t-shirts).


There are several goofy things about this list. First of all, as Christopher notes, none of the issues mentioned on the back of the t-shirt has anything to do with why people think Teabaggers are racists (except maybe their highly selective concern about illegal immigration from Mexico).  It was George W. Bush, a Republican, who pushed for the bank bailouts. The first four items repeat themselves – the right to bear arms and the right of speech are mentioned in the Bill of Rights which are part of the Constitution.  Each aspect is mentioned as if they are separate items. I’m hoping that the Tea Party sorts know that the Bill of Rights is in the Constitution, but given some of their other misunderstandings of that document, I’m afraid that’s wishful thinking.

Christopher’s reaction to this t-shirt bears repeating:

“The t-shirt . . . includes a Top Ten Straw Man Arguments for why some accuse the Tea Party of racism, including gems like ‘I support Jesus Christ as my savior,’ a curious inversion of that relationship. The shirts might have some resonance if they included things like, ‘Because some knuckleheads dressed the President as a witch doctor,’ or ‘Because most of us are white…just like a Code Pink rally’ (For more, see http://www.mediaite.com/online/video-interview-with-kentucky-tea-party-yup-im-a-racist-t-shirt-vendor/)



A closeup of man wearing the "Yup, I'm A Racist" shirt at the Kentucky Tea Party Rally in 2011.  (Photo from http://wonkette.com/448772/kentucky-tea-party-sells-patriotic-yup-im-a-racist-fourth-of-july-t-shirts).


Christopher, unfortunately, implies that the left has exaggerated the degree to which the Tea Party is racist.  Christopher chides the left for “tarring the entire movement based on the actions of a relative minority.” Christopher, however, includes in his post a video of a newspaper columnist interviewing the people running the Kentucky booth who admit that they are not worried about preventing illegal immigration from Canada (the point of origin for about 6 percent of undocumented workers), perhaps because Canada is seen as a “white” country, as opposed to Mexico. 

This blog has provided several reasons why the accusation of Tea Party racism is true.  For instance, there’s the extraordinarily high percentage of Tea Baggers who believe, in spite of the mountain of documentary and anecdotal evidence to the contrary that Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, is a secret, illegal alien from Africa.  A 2011 poll showed that 45 percent of Tea Partiers still held on to this ugly racist myth, as opposed to a still-astoundingly high 25 percent of all Americans.  (For more, see http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20056061-503544.html).  

The stubborn insistence that Obama was born in Africa, in spite of the repeated presentation of his Hawaiian birth certificate, even in the so-called long-form, stems from the white supremacist notion that a black man cannot legitimately be president of the United States.  (See my earlier essay, “That Whole Stupid ‘Birther’ Thing at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-29-that-whole_28.html). 

The Republican Party is dominated by the Tea Party in Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi, where a shocking percentage of Republicans believe that interracial marriage should be illegal – 21 percent in Alabama and 29 percent in Mississippi (12 percent and 17 percent of Republicans in those states, respectively, were undecided about “miscegenation.”  See my post “Those White GOP Voters in Alabama and Mississippi” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-35-those.html).

One national tea party leader, a right-wing hate radio host, Mark Williams, suggested in a internet posting that slavery “had been a great gig” and referred to African Americans as “coloreds.”  (See my post, “Making Fun of the ‘Coloreds’” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/03/republican-racism-example-49-making-fun.html).  A Republican Tea Party leader in California, Jules Manson, called for the murder of Barack Obama and his “monkey children” in another blog post.  (See “A California Republican Says Murder The President And His ‘Monkey President” at http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/02/republican-racism-example-25.html).  

And, of course, signs at Tea Party rallies regularly depict Obama as a monkey or an ape, or have the president’s picture decorated with phrases like “Monkey See. Monkey Do.” (See a collection of racist Tea Party signs at http://likeawhisper.wordpress.com/anti-obama-protest-signs/).   This nonsense happens too often, and the other Tea Partiers are too indifferent to this explicit racism, for this to represent marginal sentiment within the movement.

The Tea Baggers selling the “Yup, I’m A Racist” t-shirts also belie their claims of non-racism with other products sold at their Lexington rally booth.  Another t-shirt sold at the Tea Party rally booth stupidly proclaims, ‘Everything I Need to Know About Islam, I Learned on 9/11.”  Which is kind of like saying, “Everything I Need to Know About Christians, I Learned During the Holocaust” or “Everything I Need to Know About Catholics and Protestants I Learned in Northern Ireland” or “Everything I Need To Know About Europeans and Their Descendents I Learned From the Transatlantic Slave Trade.”  You won’t, of course, find those t-shirts at a Tea Party rally because the hostility among Tea Partiers to Islam, a religion with a billion wildly diverse adherents worldwide, has less to do with the religion’s supposed tendency towards violence, but because most Muslims are seen by American whites as people of color. (See http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/07/06/991960/--Yep-I-m-A-Racist-Tea-Party-Tee-Shirts-Now-with-a-side-of-Islamophobia).

That anti-Muslim t-shirt also displays another ugly aspect of the modern Tea Party-dominated Republican Party: its intellectual bankruptcy.  The modern right is astoundingly incurious about the world, whether the topic is science, other religions, or the history of other peoples.  One atypical incident, the 911 attacks, are all the happily ignorant Tea Party crowd needs to know about 20 percent of the world’s population. 

In their heart of hearts, Tea Partiers suspect they can’t win a argument on logic.  Hence, Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin’s constant repetition of the phrase “lock and load” referring to political campaigns (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-kaplan/gabrielle-giffords-shooting_b_806232.html) or another Tea Bagger heroine Sharron Angle’s reference to “Second Amendment remedies” as a “cure” for the “Harry Reid problem” in her failed 2010 campaign against the Senate majority leader (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/16/sharron-angle-floated-2nd_n_614003.html). 

Tea Baggers love talking about using guns against their political opponents because they know they are losing the argument on issues like gay marriage and multi-culturalism on factual grounds and have only violence and bullying left as weapons.  Hence, another Tea Party product sold at the Kentucky rally proves the movement’s pathetically proud anti-intellectualism. 

The same booth with the anti-Islamic and the “Yup, I’m a Racist” t-shirts also sold stickers with a reference to Psalms 109:8, which reads, “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.”  The next verse in Psalms, by the way, reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow.”  Just like Sarah Palin lied, claiming that putting gun sights on the Congressional districts of vulnerable Democrats like Gabby Giffords in Arizona carried no threat or incitement to violence (Giffords was later shot), some Republicans have dubiously claimed that the citation of this verse by right-wing activists just refers to the hope President Obama’s days in office will be cut off because of electoral failure, not death. 


<!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--> The variety of products sold to right-wingers emblazoned with "Psalms 109:8", which some use to pray for President Obama's death.  This verse and the next read: "Let his days be few; and let another take his office.  Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."  (Photo from http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/11/19/70223/pray-obama-psal/). 

That what Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal incredulously claimed when he sent an anti-Obama email blast with the verse in question in January of this year.  (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/20/mike-oneal-obama-email_n_1218601.html).  Teddy bears, t-shirts, and bumperstickers featuring the “imprecatory prayer” have been hot sellers among rightwingers.  (See http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/11/19/70223/pray-obama-psal/).   The argument that is simply an innocent prayer for Obama to lose the election has been thoroughly undermined by the public sermons of Jim Ammerman, a leader of far right-wing Christians who have been praying for the president’s doom, citing the verse in Psalms, since 2008. According to the Talk2Action website:

“Ammerman's more recent statements include a ‘suggestion’ in his September 2008 CFGC newsletter that the four democratic senators who were then candidates for president -- Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and, of course, Barack Obama -- should be arrested and executed for voting against making English the official language of the United States. He has also advocated armed violence against law enforcement officials.” (For more, see http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/3/23/10542/1792/).

Since the Psalms 109:8 bumpersticker is just part of a general right-wing embrace of extremely violent rhetoric, perhaps it is not specifically racist, even if it is aimed at an African American president in a country with a long and tortured history of white violence against blacks.  That doesn’t make this bumpersticker any less scary or the Kentucky Tea Party’s claim that the “Yup, I’m A Racist Bumpersticker” is ironic any more believable.




Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Republican Racism Example #58: A Republican Senate Candidate Flaked for South Africa's Apartheid Regime

Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake, a Republican running for the U.S. Senate, used to be a lobbyist for a company doing business with the racist apartheid regime that ruled South Africa in the 1980s.  At that time, Flake warned that the collapse of the white-run polce state would lead to the spread of communism throughout the African continent.

A fierce opponent, during his Congressional career, of abortion and gay marriage, in 2012 Flake nevertheless has positioned himself as an alleged moderate on immigration issues as he seeks the Senate seat being vacated by Jon Kyle.  Flake has supported granting green cards to undocumented workers, expanding the number of immigrants allowed in the country, paths to citizenship for some of the undocumented, and encouraging immigrants who earn Ph.D.s here to stay in the United States.  (See http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/jeff-flake-immigration-moderate-views).


Jeff Flake, a U.S. Senate candidate from Arizona, once lobbied for a mining company doing business with the racist apartheid regime in South Africa and urged the state of Utah to continue doing business with the white supremacist regime. (Photo from http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/06/27/507059/jeff-flake-lobbied-for-apartheid-south-african-government/).

However, in 1987, Flake worked for a uranium company in Namibia, a puppet state set up by the apartheid government.  Such mining companies essentially used the black indigenous population as slave labor.  By the 1980s, the Namibian mines became infamous for cruel physical discipline, pitiful housing, and poverty wages.  Flake urged support for the authoritarian regime of South African President P.W. Botha, (whose government required blacks to live in segregated “bantustans,” denied blacks the right to vote, required blacks to carry passports to travel through the country, and tortured and murdered black political dissidents.) Flake told the Utah state Senate that if apartheid ended, a leftist government might take over that would deny the United States access to the region’s rich minerals.


In the 1980s, Arizona Senate candidate Jeff Flake lobbied for mining companies operating in Namibia, a puppet government under the domination of the South African apartheid regime.  Workers were often beaten and lived in horrid conditions, as shown above.  (Photo from http://www.bookdrum.com/books/my-traitors-heart/9780099749004/bookmarks-176-200.html).

In the late 1980s, there was an international movement to impose economic sanctions on South Africa because of its racist policies.  The state senate in Utah in 1987 was considering a resolution opposing sanctions against iSouth Africa. Flake testified in support of the resolution.  During his Senate testimony that year, he said:

“If the government of South Africa falls, it depends on how it falls if it did fall. If it fell to radical elements from the left, then this could happen, and that is a fear of many people. We would be deprived of a share of an economic source of these vital minerals. As far as the economic sanctions having a … more direct impact on the black community, I overhear we tend to think of every black South African as a radical stone-throwing protestor who will stop at nothing until the government is overthrown. There are moderate elements there. There have been a lot of polls taken both ways. Most of them come out with about, that there are more moderates, considered moderate, than there are radicals. Those are funny terms and most of them aren’t moderate, they just don’t care one way or another or they don’t know about the situation. [Sanctions have] had a dramatic impact on the black population, the biggest impact is that the companies pulling out, the American companies pulling out …”

The word apartheid derived from the Dutch language and essentially means “apartness” or separation.  The Dutch colonized South Africa beginning in the 1600s followed by Great Britain starting in the 19th century.  The descendants of the Dutch colonizers, who called themselves Afrikaners, forced native blacks off their lands, seized control of farmland and reduced the indigenous population to poverty, exploiting them as low-wage labor.  Broken into four regions, two controlled by the British and two by the Afrikaners, South African would not merge into its present form until the early twentieth century. 

Blacks in the early 20th century already enjoyed no political rights and couldn’t move freely through their native land.  Better-paying, more respected jobs were declared off-limits for the indigenous community. State police enforced strict segregation, similar to that in the American South in the same era.  South Africa plunged into violence and chaos when the Afrikaners revolted against British domination in the Anglo-Boer War from 1899 to 1902 (Boer was another term for the Afrikaners.)  The British prevailed, established political dominance of the area, merged the four regions and in 1910, handed control of the Union of South Africa to the white minority.  


Under apartheid, white South Africans were taught to fear native Africans who supposedly were prone to theft, murder and rape.  (Photo from http://beyond-trauma.blogspot.com/2012/03/apartheid-archive.html).

In 1948, the racist Nationalist Party, dedicated to continued white dominance, won elections and in subsequent decades dominated the country.  After 1948, the party passed more than 300 laws requiring separation of whites, blacks, Asians, and mixed race people (called “coloreds”).    Evan though blacks constituted more than 80 percent of the South African population, native Africans held inferior rights to whites, to Asians, and to coloreds and became fourth class citizens.  These apartheid laws, according to the Postcolonial Studies at Emory University website, included:

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, 1949, and Immorality Act, 1950, [which] constituted the government’s first step in institutionalizing racial differentiation. These acts prohibited sexual intercourse and marriage between Whites and Blacks.  All people over the age of sixteen were required to carry identity cards that grouped the people into various racial categories.
                   
                  The Groups Areas Act, 1950, [which] restricted the entrance of Blacks into the urban, industrial, and agricultural areas, reserving these areas only for the Whites.  Most people who were allowed to be within the reserved areas were workers, housemaids or gardeners, who were given state permission.  Spouses and other family members were also restricted from living with those who were granted permission.  A sign in English and the Dutch-related Afrikans language warns blacks the facilities are for whites only.If Blacks were caught with family members who did not have the permission to be in the area, they were arrested and imprisoned, once spotted by the inspectors.



A sign in English and the Dutch-related Afrikans language warns blacks the facilities are for whites only.  (Photo from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/12/ApartheidSignEnglishAfrikaans.jpg/220px-ApartheidSignEnglishAfrikaans.jpg).  

                  A
                  The Population Registration Act, also in 1950, [which] required that all Africans were classified into three categories according to race.  These were Black, Colored, or White, and the government made these classifications according to a person’s habits, education, appearance, and manner.  Rules were given according to race and had to be followed to prevent dire consequences.
                   
                  The Bantu Authorities Act, 1951, [which] assigned all Africans to their native land.  This stole power away from the Africans, and instead allowed them to vote solely within their homeland.  This allowed the denationalization of Africans possible.  The Bantu Education Act applied apartheid to the educational system.  The education of Whites, Blacks, and Colored was separately administered and financed.
                   
                  The Abolition of Passes and Coordination of Documents Act, 1952, [which] required all Africans to carry a pass-book, similar to a passport.  The pass-book contained all personal information, such as name, photograph of holder, fingerprints, and also gave a detailed explanation on where a person could be employed, and their performance at work.  If Africans did not obey the rules, they were kicked out from the area, and their crime would be reported in their pass-books.  The penalty for not carrying the book at all times was also severe, ranging from imprisonment and fines, to a torturous death.” (For more, see http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/apart.html).

Apartheid laws also required segregated ambulances, hospitals, beaches, cinemas and transportation. Blacks were also not allowed to buy hard liquor.  Spending on white education in South Africa outstripped spending on black education by a 5-1 gap in the apartheid era.  Student-teacher ratios for white schools were one teacher for every 18 students and, at black schools, one teacher for every 48 pupils.  Most blacks never attended school beyond primary grades. 

The South African scholar Tamara Shefer has written about how white schools in South Africa encouraged students to hold blacks in contempt:

“So, to mock a fellow student you repeated his words more slowly, in an affected ‘African’ kind of voice, to make him sound like he didn’t know what he was talking about, as if he were stupid.  That was enough – the mere evocation of a caricatured black voice speaking in English was sufficient to imply someone was unintelligent. Name calling – by using the prefix ‘i’, or using ‘ngi-ngu’ before someone’s name, was enough to associate them with the racist values of blackness (incompetence, stupidity, inability, and so on)……. There were also facial improvisations, flattening one’s nose, spreading one’s lips as wide as possible, making them as thick as possible, sufficed to mimic blackness. By doing this at the same time as mocking a fellow student – sometimes, oddly enough, affectionately (?), one would again set up the association of them as somehow black. In short, a series of racist stereotypes and bodily evocations became part and parcel of the repetitive play of white adolescent boys, vital instruments in the ongoing in-group/out-group identity practices of who was cool and who wasn’t.”  (See http://beyond-trauma.blogspot.com/2012/03/apartheid-archive.html).  

  By 1970, the South African Parliament stripped blacks of their citizenship, assigning them citizenship in 10 artificially created  “homelands.” The South African police and military forcibly relocated blacks from their property to these new areas, also called  “bantustans.”


During apartheid, black families were forcibly resettled in "homelands" created by the white supremacist  government.  In this 1982 photo, children look past the squalor of their resettlement village in KawZuli-Natal.  The resettlement program carried out in the 1970s and 1980s in South Africa represents the largest forced movement of people during peacetime in world history.  (Photo  from http://www.thecultureist.com/2012/05/04/children-of-apartheid/).  

Political resistance brought violent responses from the South African police. During a March 21, 1960 uprising against passbooks in the black township of Sharpeville, police slaughtered 69 people.   Teenaged students started another uprising in 1976 in Sowetto to protest tuition that had been imposed on blacks forced to take classes in the Dutch-related language of Afrikaans  The South African police cold-bloodedly fired into a crowd of young people, killing 600 and injuring 4,000 more.


During the Soweto student uprising in 1976, South African police fired indiscriminately into an unarmed crowd, killing 600 and injuring 4,000.  Here, Mbuyisa Makhubo carries a wounded child, Hector Pieterson, who has been shot.  Pieterson's sister Antoinette Sithole runs beside them. Hector died from his wounds, one of many blacks murdered by the apartheid regime.  (Photo from http://smkhize.wordpress.com/2010/11/09/3-seemingly-popular-south-african-apartheid-tactics-that-are-still-happening-right-now-but-not-in-south-africa/).  

The South African police harassed both black and white opponents of apartheid, subjecting them to lengthy and sometimes violent interrogations.  Authorities arrested black anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko in 1977 and interrogated him for almost 24 hours straight, beating him severely enough that he suffered a major head wound, causing a brain hemorrhage that killed him on September 11, 1977.  Thousands died in the custody of South African police during apartheid.   (See http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~cale/cs201/apartheid.hist.html). 


South African police beat to death anti-apartheid activist Stephen Biko in 1977.  Such human rights abuses did not move conservative Republicans like William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, Jesse Helms, and Ronald Reagan, all of whom supported the violent white racial dictatorship in South Africa to almost the very end.  (Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Steve_Biko.jpg).
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, right-wing Republicans like Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan, North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms (a longtime Southern segregationist) and Ronald Reagan supported South Africa as a bulwark against communism and opposed economic sanctions against the regime.  William F. Buckley's National Review consistently supported the Pretoria  government.  Ironically, American conservatives who usually opposed what they called “big government” saw nothing wrong in enabling a authoritarian state that told its citizens who they could marry, what neighborhoods they could live in, which schools they could attend, which theaters they could go to to see movies, and what jobs they could hold.  Right-wing evangelist Jerry Falwell, who supported Southern segregation earlier in his career, was a reliable friend of the apartheid government in South Africa and ridiculed black Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his fights against the Pretoria government.  (See http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-did-blacks-become-democrats-and_29.html and http://republicanracism.blogspot.com/2012/04/republican-racism-example-52-william-f.html and http://www.nndb.com/people/558/000022492/).  

As ThinkProgress notes,  P.W. Both, the man who headed South Africa’s racial dictatorship in this era, when Jeff Flake was serving as the Namibian uranium company flak ,  supported the Nazis during World War II.   As South prime minister from 1978 to 1984 and president from 1984 to 1989, Botha “oversaw state terrorism, war, and murder, once ordering police to blow up the Johannesburg offices of anti-apartheid groups. Hundreds of thousands of activists — including future President Nelson Mandela — were imprisoned during South Africa’s 40-year apartheid regime. Faced with the kind of U.S. economic pressure opposed by Flake in 1987, Botha’s apartheid regime eventually crumbled as the rand’s value collapsed.  [The rand was the South African currency.}” [For more, see http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/06/27/507059/jeff-flake-lobbied-for-apartheid-south-african-government/).



P.W. Botha ruled South Africa during the 1980s, first as prime minister and then as president.  Prior to World War II, he joined the the Ossewabrandwag, a far-right Afrikaner group that supported the German Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.  His regime murdered and tortured opponents of apartheid, the South African system of racial segregation.  (Photo from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:P._W._Botha.jpg).

No thanks to men like Flake, apartheid collapsed in the 1990s.  Economic pressures brought on by sanctions forced the last Nationalist Party President F.W. de Klerk to release the leader of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela, imprisoned since the early 1960s, and to negotiate with him and end to the nation’s racial laws and arrange the first multi-racial, democratic elections in 1994.  Mandela triumphed in the presidential race that year, becoming South Africa’s first black leader.

Flake perfectly represents the hypocrisy of “family values” Republicans who call for morality in American life, but confine their definition of morality to opposition to abortion, gay rights, and feminist political reforms but ignore human rights, such as freedom of speech, of association, and to vote and run for office regardless of race.  Flake support immigration reform not because he believes in the dignity and the value of Mexican undocumented workers, but because he knows his financial backers see low-wage Latino workers as economic assets, no less that the Namibian minerals and the exploited black workers who mined them long ago during apartheid.  To Flake and the business interests he fronts, people of color represent only a means to a monetary end.




Michael Phillips has authored the following:

White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas, Texas, 1841-2001 (Austin:  University of Texas Press, 2006)

(with Patrick L. Cox) The House Will Come to Order: How the Texas Speaker Became a Power in State and National Politics. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2010)

“Why Is Big Tex Still a White Cowboy? Race, Gender, and the ‘Other Texans’” in Walter Buenger and Arnoldo de León, eds., Beyond Texas Through Time: Breaking Away From Past Interpretations (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2011)

“The Current is Stronger’: Images of Racial Oppression and Resistance in North Texas Black Art During the 1920s and 1930s ”  in Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz, eds., The Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negroes’ Western Experience (New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2011)

“Dallas, 1989-2011,” in Richardson Dilworth, ed. Cities in American Political History (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2011)

(With John Anthony Moretta, Keith J. Volonto, Austin Allen, Doug Cantrell and Norwood Andrews), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips. eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume I.   (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Keith J. Volanto), Keith J. Volonto and Michael Phillips, eds., The American Challenge: A New History of the United States, Volume II. (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2012).

(With John Anthony Moretta and Carl J. Luna), Imperial Presidents: The Rise of Executive Power from Roosevelt to Obama  (Wheaton, Il.: Abigail Press, 2013). 

“Texan by Color: The Racialization of the Lone Star State,” in David Cullen and Kyle Wilkison, eds., The Radical Origins of the Texas Right (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2013).

He is currently collaborating, with longtime journalist Betsy Friauf, on a history of African American culture, politics and black intellectuals in the Lone Star State called God Carved in Night: Black Intellectuals in Texas and the World They Made.