Some of you may recognize this from the 1960s. It was the standard moderate-to-liberal White excuse that THEY couldn’t POSSIBLY be racist, because … “one of my best friends is Black,” or, more in keeping with the decade, “one of my best friends is a Negro.”
One of my best friends is a robot!
Negro, in case you didn’t already know it, is the Anglicised Spanish term, “negro” (not pronounced the same way) which means “black.” The new taboo (replacing the F-word) of the N-word, is simply a slang derivative of the Spanish term. And, perhaps I ought to point out that “blacks” are no more “black” than “whites” are actually “white,” in our imbecilic national race dialogue, just as “persons of color” are no more or less “colored” than anyone else, with the sole possible exception of albinos.
And the problem with our entire discussion of race, religion and diversity is that we continually break our differences down into equally extreme concepts that only mask the true problem: exclusionism. We see it today in the Über-rich and their minions, openly sneering at the poor. (OK, “the bottom 50%, ” who “aren’t doing their fair share” in paying billionaires’ income taxes for them.)
Let me give you an example: the vast majority of Angelinos watched the Rodney King Riots of ’92 on television, broadcast via Atlanta- and New York-based reporters and talking heads. And, I suppose, on the East Coast, Black and White are the only racial issues that exist. And the entire spectacle was cast in “Black and White” which — as any Angelino knows, is impossible in LA. There are a LOT of different races, ethnicities, what-have-you, and most of the rioting could not be characterized as “Black on White.”
A large number of Korean liquor store and convenience store owners had their shops trashed. Entirely forgotten by the East Coast Black-and-White media in the 1992 riots was an infamous 1991 case where a Korean liquor store owner had shot a teenaged Black girl on videotape (over a $1.79 bottle of juice) and was convicted only of “voluntary manslaughter” with her defense that she was “afraid for her life”:
ANDREA FORD and TRACY WILKINSON
[Los Angeles] TIMES STAFF WRITERS
In a case that underscored long-standing racial and ethnic tensions, a Korean-born grocer was convicted of voluntary manslaughter Friday in the shooting death of a 15-year-old black girl the merchant had accused of stealing a $1.79 bottle of orange juice.
[Soon Ja] Du, 51, shot Latasha [Harlins] in the back of the head after an over-the-counter scuffle involving the bottle of juice. Du, who said she thought that Latasha was going to kill her and has maintained that the shooting was accidental, remained free on $250,000 bail pending her sentencing Nov. 15….
Soon Ja Du was sentenced to five years of probation. No jail time.
Du’s store was eventually firebombed. Whether this was connected is not clear. But those racial tensions were evident at the time, but discounted in the news narrative.
An LAPD cruiser burns during the L.A. riots. (LA Weekly)
There were a lot of “Hispanic”/Latino boundary clashes, as well. But all that could be seen by the reporters spinning the narrative was Black and White, and I remember sitting with a group of actors at a restaurant just by the “Hollywoodland” stone gates as a Black actor who’d just relocated from Philadelphia was asking the “Race” riots. And each and every actor, of every ethnicity in the rainbow (as LA wonderfully is) somberly intoned the nonsense they’d heard on TV.
The rioting was ACTUALLY about the LAPD, whose goose-stepping history going back to LAPD cops at the California border, turning away Dust Bowl refugees in the middle of the Depression and of the desert. Who guarded the Owens Valley pipes that sucked the fertile farmlands dry when Mulholland built his aqueduct. THOSE LAPD. And a lot of unfocused rage, elsewhere.
But that simplistic formulation (Blacks versus Whites) became reality, which explains Fox News, perhaps, except that the former was unintentional.
It’s sort of like the 2000 RNC Convention in Philadelphia, whose stage looked like a roadshow revival of ‘Porgy and Bess’ but when the cameras panned to the obligatory crowd reaction scenes, it was a sea of White. Or the Sarah Palin rallies in 2008, which were seas of White, excepting the poor undercover Secret Service Detail, who were the only Black men (or Black Persons) in the arena, and must have felt pretty strange. After all, Secret Service are, by nature, undercover, and being the only Black person in a suit in an entire arena of Righty-Whities come to listen to racial code (“palling around with terrorists” et. a.) has GOT to be a surreal experience that few have ever experienced.
Again, with former CEO Herman Cain on the stage, the current “Who Wants To Be President?” Game Show, or, perhaps, “Future American Idol” the stage is Lily-White (OK: Tanning Spray Bronze), with the exception of Herman Cain, the non-politician candidate who gets in, while the former Governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roehmer, is consistently excluded, etc.
Cain, second from right
Why? Because “some of our Best Friends are Black.”
As if that were an excuse. But even Juan Williams, the fired NPR pundit who found that serving his new Master at Fox News was six-figures lucrative, uses the excuse. In his book tour and to this day, he maintains that his comments that Muslims make him nervous, his defense is that he was active in the Civil Rights movement and wrote a book about how Blacks have been discriminated against.
Or, absurdly, “I can’t be a racist, because some of my best friends are Black.”
I offer this as preface, because this absurdist formulation has reared its head in two ugly ways this week. First, and latest, this:
Cain: Black community ‘brainwashed’ into voting for Dems
CNN’s Kevin Liptak
Washington (CNN) – The one African-American running for the GOP presidential nomination said Wednesday the black community was ‘brainwashed’ for traditionally siding with liberal politicians.
“African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open minded, not even considering a conservative point of view,” Godfather’s Pizza executive Herman Cain said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” in an interview airing Wednesday between 5-7 p.m. ET. “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open minded, pure and simple.”
Open minded people who are not brainwashed
Which drew this commentary on CNN today:
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: First of all, do you think you’re going to invite me on the show and then I’m not going to talk about the ridiculousness of that statement? Two things. One is a great way to sort of get people on your side and win voters is to attack their intelligence.
So great job there. Really sensible, Herman Cain.
The second part here is, it’s really a teachable moment. You know, if I came on your show, Anderson, and I said, all Jewish people are brainwashed, I probably wouldn’t be invited back to CNN and I assure you the condemnation would be swift and it’d be powerful and be strong.
What Herman Cain said was a racist, bigoted statement and it should treated like a racist and bigoted person who makes those racist and bigoted statements.
I cannot comment intelligibly on either Cain’s commentary or Cornell Belcher’s commentary ON that commentary, except that I have to reveal that Cain and Belcher are “Black” men. Which is, itself, a sad commentary on our continued national obsession with “race.” Were the attributions to change to, say, “Abdul al-Hazzim” and “Antonio Lopez” (respectively) , we would be obliged to consider the statements differently.
former page on Race
But there is no doubt that the GOP is not a party for “Blacks.” Sorry. They keep claiming, as does Herman Cain, that if Blacks merely understand their POLICIES, then they’d overcome their “brainwashing,” and vote Republican.
I don’t think it’s the Blacks who are brainwashed, GOP. But someone is DEFINITELY brainwashed.
The “9-9-9” (which is just “666” flipped) plan of Cain — a 9% flat tax, a 9% national sales tax and 9% corporate tax* — would devastate the Black community (and, indeed, all of the now 49.5% of Americans who pay no personal income taxes).
Non-racist Tea Partea T-shirt
As a long time observer of Oregon’s endless “sales tax” wars, I can tell you that a sales tax is the most regressive of all taxes. Taxing virtually zero percent of the wealthy’s purchases and taxing the living crap out of the poor’s purchases. And the idea that the large proportion of the Black community in this country that falls below the poverty line and has double the national unemployment, etc. would vote for Mr. Cain’s POLICIES (if they use their heads and think) is delusional on Cain’s part.
[* And while we’re on the subject of ridiculous notions, why does everyone buy the absurd, stupid and idiotic notion that a SIMPLER tax system is automatically a FAIRER tax system? No one sane would say the same about Criminal Law. Here’s simpler sentencing: All felonies, death penalty. All misdemeanors, 20 years hard labor. Period. Is that “fairer”? (I know it would get a round of applause at a GOP debate, but that’s not the question). It’s certainly simpler, but only to a simpleton.
The Tax Code is so long, because tax cheats are so damned clever. Every exception, almost without exception, is based on some clever dodge somebody took to try and get out of paying their taxes. THAT is all that is actually wanted. No taxes. Failing that, let the poor pay Steve Forbes’ tax bill, which is why he started humping this “Flat Tax” notion back in the mid-1990s. I’ve covered this at some length. But: Simpler = Fairer? No. Generally Simpler Fairer. Or, Simpler = -(Fairer) or, Simpler = Unfairer.]
Americans for Limited Government anti-tax propaganda
But it is Oh, so Happy Making among that class of Republicans that love to accuse Blacks of “reverse racism” and living off “government handouts,” etc.
One of their best friends is Black!
Again, as with Juan Williams, this is ridiculous.
Juan Williams, oppressed pundit
Some of Ed Gein’s best friends were women.
Some of Adolph Hitler’s best friends were Jews.
Some of Pol Pot’s best friends were human beings.
Some of Osama bin Laden’s best friends were Muslims.
But none this excuses ANY of that.
We push more deeply into the skewed world-view of the nattering nabobs of N-word-tivity.
Here is the pièce de résistance:
UPDATE (Sept 29, 2011 4:39pm ET): Visit http://YourMoveMorgan.com
Dear Mr. Freeman,
My name is Ali Akbar. I’m a 26 year-old African-American small business owner and a tea party activist. I’m not writing to rake you over the coals in the way that many conservatives have done in the last 48 hours. Heck, I wrote a passionate open-letter refuting many of your claims already, but this is not that. This is an honest and standing invitation. I do believe that you are wrong in what you said about the tea party, but I would rather prove it to you than castigate you for your comments.
I also understand that your reflexive comments came from experience. You grew up in a different America than the one that I was blessed to be born into.
Over half a century since we started voting for Democrat [sic] policies, blacks [sic] in America are worse off than before. Black Americans are more likely to get involved with drugs, go to prison, and die younger than our white counterparts. Over 70% of our children are born out of wedlock. Our abortion rate has never been higher. There are two explanations for these results. 1) Blacks are an inferior race and can’t take care of themselves. 2) Despite the best of intentions, the government has created and implemented “social justice” policies that promote perpetual dependence. I choose to believe the latter. Therefore, I have become a Republican.
Mr. Freeman, I’m not asking you to adopt my political views. You’re in your seventies, and a political shift is not in your future. I’m reaching out to you because I want you to think better of your fellow countrymen. Barack Obama is in the White House, and Herman Cain just won the Florida straw poll. America is the land of opportunity for black Americans like never before…
Rational analysis of that last is confined to a heart-felt “Aaaaaargh!”
It continues in this (jugular) vein.
Evidently 30 years of Republican rule does not factor into 50 years “since we started voting for Democrat [sic = slur] policies.”
But the point is that Morgan Freeman cannot POSSIBLY be right about the Tea Party’s racist elements BECAUSE one Black Tea Partier sez so!
One of my Best Friends is Black. (And, being named “Ali Akbar” we get the Twofer of “One of my best friends SOUNDS like he might be a Mooslim!“)
Therefore: We aren’t bigots!
Ali A. Akbar / Tea Party Brew:
A Tea Party Invitation to Morgan Freeman — My name is Ali Akbar. I’m a 26 year-old African-American small business owner and a tea party activist. I’m not writing to rake you over the coals in the way that many conservatives have done in the last 48 hours.
Ali A. Akbar @ CNN/Tea Party Express debate
Tina Korbe / Hot Air: National Tea Party organizer invites Morgan Freeman to experience a Tea Party rally
Robert Stacy McCain / The Other McCain: ‘It Brought Tears to My Eyes’
Logan Penza / The Moderate Voice: Black “Tea Party” Activist Invites Morgan Freeman To Rally
Robert Stacy McCain / The Spectacle Blog: Tea Party Message to Morgan Freeman: ‘My Name Is Ali Akbar’
Ed Driscoll / Pajamas Media: Tea Party Makes Morgan Freeman an Offer He Can’t Accept
» All Related Discussion
Victor Davis Hanson / National Review: Obama’s Racial Crisis
Jill / Pundit & Pundette: Why Obama can’t help unemployed blacks
Larry Purdy / Pajamas Media: Obama, Our Post Post-Racial President
And, happily, Tin-Tin at Sadly, No! Makes my point from another direction (the last post in the pack, as usual, because Blue Bloggers will almost never take on Red Bloggers, which is what all of the aformentioned are, if you couldn’t tell from their snarky headlines):
Or, Juan Williams revisited.
Some of my Best Friends are Black!
The point isn’t skin color, or religion or economic status. The issue is exclusion, and when you’re as ham-handedly race-obsessed as to put up Herman Cain as the token Black for all Republicans to almost entirely White audiences, or Ali Akbar as the Token Black for all (virtually all-White) Tea Partiers, you DO have a racial problem. As Shakespeare wrote: Methinks the Lady doth protest too much.
Entirely too much. And too weirdly. If you will watch MSNBC, or ofttimes CNN, and definitely Faux Nooz™ you will note the astonishing profusion of Black “political strategists,” which would seem odd, given their actual proportion of the GOP political strategist class. Couldn’t be intentional “image” manipulation could it?
But you turn the outrageous tokenism inside out and it gives you the true color of the (now Southern-based) GOP’s racial obsessions. The invisible hand always leaves a footprint, AND, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Yet another GOP Minstrel Show!
When the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled 5-4 in Bush v. Gore, who did they send out to explain the ruling, in the first public statement by any member of the SCOTUS majority?
Clarence Thomas. Lecturing students. On December 14, two days after the December 12, Bush v. Gore decision, which, in retrospect, stole an entire decade from the American economy and is largely responsible for the mess in which we find ourselves today. Remember that “lock box” for Social Security? Well the lock’s been busted and the box is empty.
This is a CSPAN image of the New York Times article, using the screen capture of a CSPAN broadcast the day before:
Some of you may even recall the hilarity of the early Bush White House photo pages, and AGAIN, especially after Katrina. George and Laura Bush went OUT OF THEIR WAY to be photographed hugging Black children. It was as phony a minstrel show as their nominating convention in Philadelphia in 2000 was, and only seemed to convince George and Laura that they were the most unracist couple to EVER occupy the White House. George even made sure he had TWO Best Black Friends in the White House to buttress his Best-friendiness defense, Colin Powell and Condi Rice.
But I think if you go down to Louisiana, and ask, nobody, White or Black, will suggest that the tokenism of the Rodney Allen Rippy approach to racial relations was ever anything more than that.
And, putting a Black skin on the same old “I’ve got mine, Jack!” social Darwinism of the GOP doesn’t make it any less hateful.
It’s kind of like Bill O’Reilly’s absurd claim the other night that the Great Society liberalism has failed over the last 50 years.
Ignoring the actual data that the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty” were outstanding successes in pulling Americans out of poverty, until Saint Ronald of Reagan, in his magniloquent compassion, screamed that Black Welfare mothers were driving their Cadillacs to the welfare office, and popping out babies for the Federal Subsidies, and the programs O’Reilly sneers at were dismantled, leading the Idiot Akbar to conclude that “Democrat” policies had put Blacks in even worse shape than before.
Really? Click pic for article.
I know. It’s a denial of facts and a denial of reality, but then, perhaps it’s like Ayn Rand’s convincing greedy millionaires that their rapaciousness is actually MORAL that that they are the “Atlases” of civilization who hold the world on their mighty shoulders every time they throw a widow or an orphan into the street to get their hands on another piece of real estate.
In this case, since some of their Best Friends are Black, they can’t POSSIBLY be racists. (But anyone who might accuse them of it, IS. Like Morgan Freeman, or like that AWFUL Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who said some “uppity” stuff that proves he hates all Whites — an assertion that is untrue, BTW)
Alas, accusing a Republican in this benighted age of denial of facts is, alas, increasingly redundant.
But before you accuse me of being unfair to Republicans, I want you to know that this is CLEARLY impossible.
Because some of my Best Friends are Republicans.
A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.