Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
WACO — Baylor University officials said they are investigating an apparent noose hanging from a tree the day Barack Obama was elected the nation's first black president.I'm sure some of these folks thought themselves to be "good Christians" - after all Baylor does have a reputation of being a good Christian school - and of course they're located right on the edge of where McCain and Palin received their most vigorous support. To their credit, the Baylor University officials seem to be saying what they needed to say.
Campus authorities also responded to a barbecue pit fire where several Obama campaign signs were believed to have been burned, interim president David E. Garland said.
"These events are deeply disturbing to us and are antithetical to the mission of Baylor University," Garland said in a statement Wednesday. "We categorically denounce and will not tolerate racist acts of any kind on our campus."
On Tuesday afternoon at the world's largest Baptist university, some students notified officials that a rope resembling a noose was in a campus tree, Garland said. Campus police took the rope and are investigating.
"We believe that the incidents on our campus yesterday were irresponsible acts committed by a few individuals," Garland said.
No students had been taken into custody as of Wednesday afternoon, Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said.
At PoliTex, here's another bit of a news roundup:
More video is now available of student clashes Tuesday night at Baylor University, where Obama-Biden signs were burned in a firepit at the Brooks Village dorms and a rope noose was found hanging in a tree.As they say, developing...
The university's interim president, David E. Garland, already issued a statement calling the events "deeply disturbing."
KWTX TV has video of students exchanging insults and one Anglo student acknowledging that he told African-American students, "Y'all are in Texas and y'all's vote really didn't matter that much."
The Baylor Lariat already posted video of the campaign sign bonfire. (Double-click the window.)
An Arlington student, Emmanuel Orupabo, described racial slurs and threats.
The event comes on the heels of last week's "Anti-Obama Carnival" at Texas A&M, where eggs were tossed at Obama's photo and a Halloween mask of Obama's face was posted on a stick.
Update: on a related note, here are a few other stories I've ran into around blogtopia from elsewhere around the country:
NAACP files complaint over Craven County voter intimidation:
The North Carolina NAACP filed a complaint with the United State Department of Justice yesterday regarding alleged voter intimidation that involved a white man (the letter identifies him as a former Craven County commissioner) placing a casket near an active polling station with two pictures of Senator Obama on it.
Obama Effigy Lynched in Indiana (h/t Black News Junkie). Ah, the joys of the Halloween season. The guy's son took down the effigy once it started drawing crowds. I like what the guy at Electronic Village says:
Villagers, we have another American citizen who thinks it is good politics to show Barack Obama being lynched from a tree in his front yard.By the way, when reading about lynched effigies of Palin, my immediate thought was to think of the days of witch burnings - which of course were a regular form of torture, intimidation and murder of primarily women that was most rampant during the Renaissance and of course in Puritan New England in the late 17th century. I'm a bit pressed for time to find the appropriate linkage, but if you check Arthur Silber's blog, Once Upon a Time (look at my blogroll on the left column - you may need to scroll down a bit), one can find some excellent writing on the subject of demonizing strong women.
School children, neighbors and others in Clarksville, Indiana can plainly see the Obama effigy hanging by a noose in the front yard of Kirk Deddo. Deddo called it a Halloween decoration, saying it was the most frightening one he could find.
Deddo said the effigy had nothing to do with race, and he put it up because he doesn't like Obama's stance toward the military.
Someone should tell Deddo that he can VOTE to express his opinion. Lynching an image of an American citizen ... whether it is Sarah Palin or Barack Obama ... is wrong. Period. Doesn't anyone remember how horrific it was in America when lynching was a regular form of torture, intimidation and murder in this country?
Finally: Gang angry at Barack Obama win beat me, says Staten Island teen.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The first map simply presents the counties where McCain-Palin gained a greater proportion of the vote than Bush-Cheney in 2004.
The second map adds to that the counties where Obama-Biden gained compared to their predecessors, Kerry-Edwards in 2004.
One thing that jumps out is the coastal areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, which experienced a massive ethnic cleansing in the wake of the 2005 hurricane season. Not surprisingly, those areas went substantially more "red". We might also note how much more "red" parts of the Southeast US became, including northeast Texas, eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, northeast Mississippi, northern Alabama, the Florida panhandle, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky became. These areas are largely rural, mountainous (Appalachian and Ozark regions) parts of the old Confederacy - with the exception of Oklahoma, whose eastern portions are culturally very similar to the South. The Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, part of my region, barely changed one way or the other - I'm not sure we could really get more "red" to begin with, and given the influx of Hispanic peoples in our region, I'm going to guess as that more Hispanics become registered voters, the "redness" will probably diminish a bit. Culturally, our region has more in common with eastern Colorado, New Mexico, and southwestern Kansas, and we're in transition. Did race play a role in the results in the southeastern regions that reddened? I wouldn't be surprised, given what I know about a few of these areas (in particular, northeastern Texas and eastern Oklahoma). I'm reasonably sure that McCain and Palin were banking on the Southern Strategy. If nothing else, some the rhetoric of that particular campaign and its surrogates fanned a few flames. The culture warriors are making their last stand in this region.
Finally, I would have been shocked if Alaska and Arizona hadn't reddened a bit, given that the GOP candidates for prez and veep came from those states. That said, notice how the Arizona-Mexico border area continues to become more blue or barely changes from the previous election, along with the area including parts of Navajo Nation and Flagstaff. I wish I knew more about Alaska to comment on the changes occurring in that state.
I'm sure that folks will be studying this election for a while. I'm sure that one thing that will come out of the electoral fallout is the question about whether the GOP is still a national party, or if it is increasingly a regional party whose base is to be found in the Ozarks and Appalachian Mountains. Finally, whatever misgivings I might have about the Dems (which I've shared here time and time again), I'm not alone in celebrating the prospects of the GOP withering away - heck, for years libertarians of various stripes have said plenty about just how awful the GOP has been relative to the Dems on all manner of civil liberties matters.
Lest We Forget Who Got Us Here
Fannie Lou Hamer (October 6, 1917 - March 14, 1977)
Fannie Lou Hamer was born in Ruleville, Mississippi, the last of 20 children in a sharecropping family. She was workng the fields at 6 and left school after the 6th grade. When she was 12, her parents had saved enough money to rent a farm and buy some mules. A white neighbor poisoned their mules and her family was forced into deeper debt.
( http://tinyurl.com/64foyh )
In 1942 she married. Though Fannie Lou wanted children, unbeknownst to her she had be sterilized without her consent in an effort by the State of Mississippi as part of a program to reduce the population of poor black people in the state. Fannie went on to adopt two chldren.
Hamer attended several annual conferences of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) in the all-black town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. The RCNL was led by businessman, Dr. T.R.M. Howard, and was a combination civil rights and self-help organization. The annual RCNL conferences featured entertainers, such as Mahalia Jackson, speakers, such as Thurgood Marshall and Rep. Charles Diggs of Michigan, and panels on voting rights and other civil rights issues. Without her knowledge or consent, she was sterilized in 1961 by a white doctor as a part of the state of Mississippi’s plan to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state.
On August 23, 1962, Rev. James Bevel, an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and an associate of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a sermon in Ruleville, Mississippi and followed it with an appeal to those assembled to register to vote. Black people who registered to vote in the South faced serious hardships at that time due to institutionalized racism, including harassment, the loss of their jobs, physical beatings, and lynchings; nonetheless, Hamer was the first volunteer. She later said, “I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been scared - but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they [white people] could do was kill me, and it seemed they’d been trying to do that a little at a time since I could remember.”
On August 31, she traveled on a rented bus with other attendees of Rev. Bevel’s sermon to Indianola, Mississippi to register. In what would become a signature trait of Hamer’s activist career, she began singing Christian hymns, such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and “This Little Light of Mine,” to the group in order to bolster their resolve. The hymns also reflected Hamer’s belief that the civil rights struggle was a deeply spiritual one. By the next day, she had been harassed by police, fired from her job, lost her dog, and received a death threat from the Ku Klux Klan.
Hamer’s courage and leadership in Indianola came to the attention of SNCC organizer Bob Moses, who dispatched Charles McLaurin from the organization with instructions to find “the lady who sings the hymns”. McLaurin found and recruited Hamer, and though she remained based in Mississippi, she began traveling around the South doing activist work for the organization.
On August 31, 1962, Mrs. Hamer decided she had had enough of sharecropping. Leaving her house in Ruleville, MS she and 17 others took a bus to the courthouse in Indianola, the county seat, to register to vote. On their return home, police stopped their bus. They were told that their bus was the wrong color. Fannie Lou and the others were arrested and jailed.
After being released from jail, the plantation owner paid the Hamers a visit and told Fannie Lou that if she insisted on voting, she would have to get off his land - even though she had been there for eighteen years. She left the plantation that same day. Ten days later, night riders fired 16 bullets into the home of the family with whom she had gone to stay.
On June 3, 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights workers arrived in Winona, MS by bus. They were ordered off the bus and taken to Montgomery County Jail. The story continues “…Then three white men came into my room. One was a state highway policeman (he had the marking on his sleeve)… They said they were going to make me wish I was dead. They made me lay down on my face and they ordered two Negro prisoners to beat me with a blackjack. That was unbearable. The first prisoner beat me until he was exhausted, then the second Negro began to beat me. I had polio when I was about six years old. I was limp. I was holding my hands behind me to protect my weak side. I began to work my feet. My dress pulled up and I tried to smooth it down. One of the policemen walked over and raised my dress as high as he could. They beat me until my body was hard, ’til I couldn’t bend my fingers or get up when they told me to. That’s how I got this blood clot in my eye - the sight’s nearly gone now. My kidney was injured from the blows they gave me on the back.”
Mrs Hamer was left in the cell, bleeding and battered, listening to the screams of Ann Powder, a fellow civil rights worker, who was also undergoing a severe beating in another cell. She overheard white policemen talking about throwing their bodies into the Big Black River where they would never be found.
Released on June 12, she needed more than a month to recover. Though the incident had profound physical and psychological effects, Hamer returned to Mississippi to organize voter registration drives, including the “Freedom Ballot Campaign”, a mock election, in 1963, and the “Freedom Summer” initiative in 1964. She was known to the volunteers of Freedom Summer - most of whom were young, white, and from northern states - as a motherly figure who believed that the civil rights effort should be multi-racial in nature.
1964 Democratic Convention
n the summer of 1964, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, or “Freedom Democrats” for short, was organized with the purpose of challenging Mississippi’s all-white and anti-civil rights delegation to the Democratic National Convention of that year as not representative of all Mississippians. Hamer was elected Vice-Chair.
The Freedom Democrats’ efforts drew national attention to the plight of African-Americans in Mississippi, and represented a challenge to President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for reelection; their success would mean that other Southern delegations, who were already leaning toward Republican challenger Barry Goldwater, would publicly break from the convention’s decision to nominate Johnson — meaning in turn that he would almost certainly lose those states’ electoral votes in the election. Hamer, singing her signature hymns, drew a great deal of attention from the media, enraging Johnson, who referred to her in speaking to his advisors as “that illiterate woman”.
Hamer was invited, along with the rest of the MFDP officers, to address the Convention’s Credentials Committee. She recounted the problems she had encountered in registration, and the ordeal of the jail in Winona, and, near tears, concluded:
“All of this is on account we want to register [sic], to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings - in America?” In Washington, D.C., President Johnson called an emergency press conference in an effort to divert press coverage away from Hamer’s testimony; but many television networks ran the speech unedited on their late news programs. The Credentials Committee received thousands of calls and letters in support of the Freedom Democrats.
Johnson then dispatched several trusted Democratic Party operatives to attempt to negotiate with the Freedom Democrats, including Senator Hubert Humphrey (who was campaigning for the Vice-Presidential nomination), Walter Mondale, Walter Reuther, and J. Edgar Hoover. They suggested a compromise which would give the MFDP two seats in exchange for other concessions, and secured the endorsement of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the plan. But when Humphrey outlined the compromise, saying that his position on the ticket was at stake, Hamer, invoking her Christian beliefs, sharply rebuked him:
“Do you mean to tell me that your position is more important than four hundred thousand black people’s lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote. I had to leave the plantation where I worked in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help the MFDP, everything will be all right. God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination] this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you talk about. Senator Humphrey, I’m going to pray to Jesus for you.”
Future negotiations were conducted without Hamer, and the compromise was modified such that the Convention would select the two delegates to be seated, for fear the MFDP would appoint Hamer. In the end, the MFDP rejected the compromise,but had changed the debate.
In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
from : http://tinyurl.com/576zyu
From 1968 to 1971, Fannie Lou Hamer was a member of the Democratic National Committee for Mississippi.
In 1968, The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party took on a new name - The Mississippi Loyalist Democratic Party, to reflect its broadened membership which now included sympathetic white members. When Fannie took her seat in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, she took it to a standing ovation
from : http://tinyurl.com/576zyu
Her 1970 lawsuit, Hamer v. Sunflower County, demanded school desegregation. She ran unsuccessfully for the Mississippi state Senate in 1971, and successfully for delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1972.
She also lectured extensively, and was known for a signature line she often used, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” She was known as a powerful speaker, and her singing voice lent another power to civil rights meetings.
Fannie Lou Hamer brought a Head Start program to her local community, to form a local Pig Bank cooperative (1968) with the help of the National Council of Negro Women, and later to found the Freedom Farm Cooperative (1969). She helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971, speaking for inclusion of racial issues in the feminist agenda.
In 1972 the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring her national and state activism, passing 116 to 0.
Suffering from breast cancer, diabetes, and heart problems, Fannie Lou Hamer died in Mississippi in 1977.
Her epitaph was her signature quote, :I;m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Writings about her life inclued her autobiography To Praise Our Bridges: An Autobiograpy in 1967. June Jordan published a biography of Fannie Lou Hamer in 1972, and Kay Mills published This Little Light of Mine: the Life of Fannie Lou Hamer in 1993.
To set the stage briefly: My wife was having a conversation with an acquaintance - not anyone from our exact locale, for any of my local readers who might be speculating - when the acquaintance made a statement along the following lines:
...honestly, I wait for the day when [Obama] is assassinated.No shittin'. That's what my wife heard (or rather read). She was flabbergasted, but I do have to say that it sounds like a common sort of theme in right-wing extremist circles. I can only wonder what the difference between religious fanatics or political factions of various strips really is. Are the extremists among the Christian crowd really all that different from the folks who join movements like al-Qaida? If you've ever wondered where my disdain for culture warriors comes from, that above is just one example.
Update: by the way, here's a piece in the Guardian (with a video clip of an interview with a neo-Nazi leader, Steven Boswell, who resides in Columbia, MO; note that he comes right out and says that there is talk in his circles that Obama will be assassinated) that should be read.
Here's what I wrote last year. See also, Three Lessons from Guy Fawkes Day. Of course, as tradition warrants, I do at least one subversive thing today (which I suppose really isn't all that remarkably different from the rest of the days of the year, come to think of it!).
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
The popular vote will turn out to be pretty close, so for those wanting to use terms like "landslide" or "mandate", I'd say "mandate, my ass." I doubt that Obama or the now-solidly controlled Democratic Congress will take the initiative to actually end any of the damned wars that got started earlier this decade, but rather will do some shifting of troops and perhaps even expand into some other parts of the world. This will not be good news to anyone who is antiwar. Basically what an apparent majority of those voting have asked for is a competent manager of the empire. Don't get too excited about hope or change. I know I won't be. Rather, there is still one hell of a struggle a head of us, and as radical journalist John Ross might say, that struggle continues, and continues, and continues.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Obama's opposition, on the other hand, is not generational but calls upon the authority of God. It is self-reinforcing, self-replicating, and allows for no direct challenge. "God said, and that's the end of the story." Oh, "understandings" can be adjusted, interpretations of the Bible can change, but the idea of "god said" remains.Of course there has also been the misuse of evolutionary theory in order to serve the same purposes. The eugenics movement that had its origins in the writings of Galton, and which spawned some rather ugly legislation in the US and one of the most horrific genocides of modern humanity (i.e., the Nazi extermination of Jews, Poles, gays, Roma, etc.), was premised on the inherent "defects" of the various "untermenschen" who were targeted for elimination. Interracial marriage was prohibited in many states across the US on the basis that interbreeding between those of European (and in particular Aryan stock) and those of African or American Indian stock would lead to a decrease in the overall intelligence of the US citizenry, and with that increase any of a plethora of societal ills. If anything, according to eugenicist reasoning, not only should interracial marriage be prohibited, but those belonging to the supposed "inferior" races should be sterilized - forcibly if need be. Of course, that particular secular reasoning did resonate with entrenched religiously-inspired prejudices in the US - especially the Calvinist strain that has haunted the American Zeitgeist since the Puritans first landed on the North American continent.
What is particularly outrageous about this is that Obama knows, he knows, he even referred to it, that at the time his parents got married in 1961, that act would have been illegal in a number of states. In fact, in 1883 the Supreme Court had upheld the constitutionality of "anti-miscegenation" laws, a ruling that was not overturned until 1964. And it wasn't until 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, that SCOTUS finally shot down the last laws barring interracial marriage.
In fact, according to one source, as recently as 1987, fewer than half of Americans thought it was appropriate for whites and blacks to date each other.
Why are interracial dating and marriage relevant here? Because, again as I believe Obama must know, Biblical authority was cited in support of those laws, just as it is cited now to justify discrimination against same-sex couples. Numerous passages were cited to "prove" that god intended for various races to remain forever separate. Those arguments did not appear in political tracts and campaigns, they were reflected in court decisions.
For example, the original trial judge in what became Loving wrote in his decision thatAlmighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.Even more explicitly, in 1955 the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld the constitutionality of state law banning interracial marriage.The Virginia Court cited precedent that marriage is "an institution established by God himself" and a "civilizing, Christianizing institution" and that a ban on interracial marriage is "clearly divine."We have been down this road so many times before. Biblical quotes have been used across the years in defense of bigotry and hatred. To justify slavery. To justify the oppression of women. To justify banning interracial relationships. And now to justify banning same-sex marriage. We simply refuse to learn the lesson that "god said" can perhaps be a fair guide to personal morality, it is a singularly lousy, even dangerous, guide to public policy.
Not to worry, it is safe to say that there is a confluence of these same basic eugenicist and religious-based prejudices at work when it comes to any discussion about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. On the religious side, just spend some time reading or listening to the pronouncements of any of a number of evangelical leaders or politicians - Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), who's set to win re-election in a landslide (which by the way does not surprise me), once contended that same-sex marriage would lead to men marrying box turtles. Don't forget former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), raises the usual bogeymen of pedophilia and bestiality when discussing the issue of same-sex marriage. Both of these men, by the way, love to play up their religious zeal. But not to worry, there are at least a few good eugenicists out there, including my own field, psychology, who are kindred spirits when it comes to homosexuality. J. Michael Bailey comes readily to mind. Steve Sailer, who usually likes to harp on a lot of the same racist drivel that characterized the first generation of eugenicists a century ago, also likes to offer his pronouncements on homosexuality, spreading a "gay germ" theory initially concocted by Gregory Cochran. It's worth keeping in mind that just like right-wing religious folks, adherents of eugenics pseudoscience aren't going away, and will continue to advocate (and practice) prejudicial social practices as a means of controlling those members of targeted groups and excusing unjust treatment.
The whole thing should be read. Whatever issues I've ever had with my locality's school board, at least getting caught up in something like the above is one of them. There's plenty to be said for playing it cautious when it comes to investing taxpayer money. I agree with Schwarz that this is one of those WTF moments:
On a snowy day two years ago, the school board in Whitefish Bay, Wis., gathered to discuss a looming problem: how to plug a gaping hole in the teachers’ retirement plan.
It turned to David W. Noack, a trusted local investment banker, who proposed that the district borrow from overseas and use the money for a complex investment that offered big profits.
“Every three months you’re going to get a payment,” he promised, according to a tape of the meeting. But would it be risky? “There would need to be 15 Enrons” for the district to lose money, he said.The board and four other nearby districts ultimately invested $200 million in the deal, most of it borrowed from an Irish bank. Without realizing it, the schools were imitating hedge funds.
During the go-go investing years, school districts, transit agencies and other government entities were quick to jump into the global economy, hoping for fast gains to cover growing pension costs and budgets without raising taxes. Deals were arranged by armies of persuasive financiers who received big paydays.
But now, hundreds of cities and government agencies are facing economic turmoil. Far from being isolated examples, the Wisconsin schools and New York’s transportation system are among the many players in a financial fiasco that has ricocheted globally.The Wisconsin schools are on the brink of losing their money, confronting educators with possible budget cuts. Interest rates for New York’s subways are skyrocketing and contributing to budget woes that have transportation officials considering higher fares and delaying long-planned track repairs.
When did America become this kind of country? Where little midwestern school boards think it's a fine idea to use their money allocated for scissors, paste and teacher pensions for speculating in the international bond insurance market? And where all the most prestigious colleges send a third of their graduating classes to Wall Street so they can learn how to fleece these little school boards most effectively?I can't help but think that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our society is structured and in terms of its priorities. My guess is that school boards would become vulnerable to such scams because their schools have been put on the back burner and they get desperate to find a way out of making some terrible decisions that end up adversely affecting the very people whom they are supposed to serve: the kids. The lure of the easy buck was just too tempting under the circumstances, and once the scheme fell apart, the circumstances became even more dire for the ones who fell for it (and more importantly for those who rely on such necessary services as public education and public transit).
It'll give you a good idea of his life and work, perhaps it'll help communicate my appreciation of his work in a way that my words fail me. By the way, the video comes by way of Richard at American Leftist under the title, He Gave Voice to the Voiceless, who adds the following commentary:
Studs Terkel created a body of work that constitutes a bridge to an earlier time, a time when the US valued production instead of finance, manufacture and service instead of speculation. He related the experiences of those who labored to create the world we see around us. Even though he retained his hope that this country could be rendered more fair, more just, indeed, more socialist, he must have been saddened by the introversion that has so personified the working class of this country in recent decades. His insistence upon recording the lived experience of working Americans was in marked contrast to the elitism that has historically colored our media and educational system. He never lost contact with the humanism of his childhood and the Great Depression.See also this editorial in the Chicago Tribune on why Studs Terkel mattered. Given that our words and deeds can outlive us, something tells me that thanks to the body of work left behind, he will continue to matter for some time to come.