The Racist Who Wasn’t There

Last night I saw upon the stair
A little man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away

Ever been in a relationship or been friends with someone who was both paranoid and thought they could read your mind? I’m talking about someone who finds sinister intentions and meanings in the most innocuous actions and statements.

From Angry Black Lady Chronicles:

Racism is a charge which is a conversation ender. It stops discourse and should, because of this, be used sparingly and only in the most obvious and egregious cases.

However, racialized speech, which is speech that is often dehumanizing, condescending, and aggressive- passively so quite often, must be examined in terms of who is saying it, and what is being said.

Sounds a little confusing? Let me humor you and Joan with specifics:

1) The President is a coward.

This meme exists in the progressive ranks almost as pervasively as the meme that he is a Muslim and wasn’t born here exists in the GOP Tbag ranks.

Why do I liken this expression of frustration with two examples of “Othering” done by the hard right? Because like those examples of otherness calling the President a coward is racialized speech.

History lesson. The first black cadet at West Point was dismissed in his fourth year for cowardice after being strapped to a chair and tortured all night by white classmates who couldn’t imagine him graduating.

The argument against integration of the military was that blacks were cowards. That we lacked the fundamental grit to stand up to hard fighting. All evidence to the contrary in every war fought. From the black regiments of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI and WWII, black soldiers were some of the hardest hit, used and bravest. A history that is almost impossible to convince people of, because of the hidden stereotype of racialized thinking and speech. So calling the president a coward is like calling an accomplished woman “a chick” or “a girl”. It is condescending and aggressively so. And it is NOT an accident of speech.

2) His name is not Obama, it is President Obama, and the number of white commentators on TV, in print, and on the blogs that refer to him this way is legion.

I heard an hour of Fox News where they referred to President Bush and Obama. Not President Bush and President Obama. But President Bush and Obama. It struck me that white commentators didn’t care to afford the President the respect he EARNED by winning the election.

The Right has spent three years being casually disrespectful of the President, and instead of rallying around him and being hyper sensitive to it or hyper respectful, progressives, White Liberals, have gone right along with the practice. Even one-upping the right on sites like the Huffington Post where they have even gone so far as to call him a dick.

3) Women vs Black — starting with Gerry Ferraro the argument has been:
a) Which is tougher?
b) What can women get from the President? And…
c) How sexist is he?
These subtle messages of discontent in the face of all the facts that refute the claims is part of the larger historical white woman/black man meme. It is a convoluted but racialized binary and it exists, pervasively, persuasively, and dominantly in the liberal psyche.

The constant chatter of white liberals about a primary challenge aside, it is the Hillary love and nostalgia that is most offensive to blacks, men and women. The argument about how “tough, strong and competent” Hillary is as a juxtaposition to how “weak, cowardly, and incompetent” the president is smacks of something more than simple political hyperbolic speech.

4) The LGBT community was insane. From the threat to wear sheets to the first inauguration, to the “Truman integrated the military with the stroke of a pen,” to the “he should get it because he’s black,” ism of their entire argument. It has been the wild west out there and it has come at a cost.

5) By any metric that is reasonable, the President has been wildly progressive. Wildly. We can take legislation apart piece by piece, level by level, and he has been strong on every core progressive metric, including education, civil rights, health care, energy, unions, women’s reproductive health, women’s rights, immigration, and core issues like credit card reform, financial reform, needle exchange, etc.

Let me explain – President Obama took office in 2009 without 50 locked votes in the senate. I know everyone thinks we had 60, but not only did we NEVER actually have 60, those votes we did have were, for a couple of basic reasons, unreliable. Start with the hyper blue of the Blue Dogs:

Lincoln, Landrieu, Drogan, Conrad, Johnson, Bacchus, Byah, Lieberman, Tester, Nelson.

Those senators represented states Obama lost by an average of 10 electoral votes. For every close state like Montana, there is a blow out state like Arkansas. Byah (Indiana) and Lieberman (Connecticut) O won, but Lieberman’s hatred was personal and impossible to bridge. So, the entire process of passing legislation is complicated by these ten votes.

Add to that Ted Kennedy was dying and not voting. Byrd was dying and rarely voting. Franken wasn’t seated until June.

That begins the President’s term with 45 reliable Dem votes. We’re OK because the GOP only has 41 republican votes. But those 10 senators had out-sized power. The President was wildly popular out of the gate but he had lost many of those senator’s states by double digits. They had no reason to back his play. So, he started the process compromised and the only thing that could make it worse was to lose these tough close fights.

Add to that the unprecedented number of filibusters and why the GOP filibustered. They determined, because Rush told them to, that it would be better for the country to FAIL than pass anything that might be good for the citizens. They said it clearly. They booed his acceptance speech for the Nobel (Peace Prize), they cheered when Chicago lost an Olympic bid, they violated the Logan Act, demonstrably, by engaging in negotiations with Israel to the detriment of the US Foreign Policy of the President of the United States.

Through all of this the progressive wing was silent or was half hearted in their defense. They had a list of must haves that was insane and unreasonable, and any deviation from that was treasonous.

I understand clearly why the average progressive didn’t get this, didn’t understand this. But my question to you all is why didn’t the pundits, the people paid to observe and write about politics, why didn’t they get what was happening and fight back? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

The NYTimes, the people who would normally lead this kind of charge, spent three years savaging the president instead. Rich, Krugman, Dowd, etc., savaged him. Add to that the progressive blogs, likewise, spent almost every column inch attacking the President rather than supporting progressive policies or attacking the GOP. Part of this was because they had all been so completely (with the exception of Dowd) in the bag for Hillary. But part of this was racialized thinking. Robert Reich has been particularly insane as has Glenn Greenwald, but Greenwald’s attacks are principled in that he is a purist and true believer and he can’t be swayed no matter the president or person. Reich isn’t that, he is a critic for the sake of profile it seems, and he is the least reasonable person of the entire bunch.

Finally, blacks are a key constituency in the Dem party. We are taken for granted, however, and there are long term consequences for that. O won this last time because Donna Brazile halted a coup by women and Hillary supporters. She said, plainly, that blacks would flee the party. It worked, and it had real consequences.

Blacks are quiet for the most part because we got the girl here. We won and we’re taking yes for an answer but the anger and frustration the black community feels towards white progressives is real, and it is major. It is a game changer and perhaps even a coalition ender.

Angry Black Lady didn’t write the above comment but she posted it with approval. She also blogs at (where else) Buffoon Juice. Here she is quoting John Cole:

Clued in About Race: John Cole

Last week, in response to the outcry at Balloon Juice over my posts about Michael Moore’s racist comments about President Obama (you can read them here and here), John Cole wrote a powerful post and instructive post.

While it is not in response to any of the furor over Melissa Harris-Perry’s posts in The Nation (about which I have written in the three posts prior to this one), it nonetheless should be read by every progressive and/or Democrat, irrespective of color.

He nails it, rips it up, and then nails it again:

As a general rule when a black person or persons tell me something is racist or bordering on racist, particularly people I respect like ABL and TNC, I don’t argue. If I disagreed with them initially or just didn’t notice the racist aspect of something, what I try to do is just be quiet for a minute. Then I try to figure out what it is that made me not recognize something as racist.

This has been a common theme in Left Blogistan lately – if a black person says something is racist then white people should shut up and agree.

I don’t claim to know what black people think. I don’t even know what all white people think. But I do know what I think.

I think the race card chickens are coming home to roost.

First it was Hillary and her supporters. Then it was the people who voted for her. Then it was the PUMAs, the Republicans, the Tea Partiers, and now it’s any white person who doesn’t vote for Obama again.

We won and we’re taking yes for an answer but the anger and frustration the black community feels towards white progressives is real, and it is major. It is a game changer and perhaps even a coalition ender.

I don’t know if that statement is true. I hope it’s not.

But if it is true then the blame is on Obama and the Democrats who made the past four years all about race.

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58 Responses to The Racist Who Wasn’t There

  1. Off topic: FWIW, I posted the “Ex-Girlfriend” and “Schizophrenia” MPs over on the MP thread at Lucky Star Shrine, with a link back to TCH.

    Who knows? Y’all may get some new readers. :mrgreen:

  2. 1539days says:


    If its disrespectful to use a candidate’s last name, how bad is it to refer to women by their first name only or by diminutives?

    The constant chatter of white liberals about a primary challenge aside, it is the Hillary love and nostalgia that is most offensive to blacks, men and women.

    3) Women vs Black — starting with Gerry Ferraro

    I think this is generally referred to as Eeoyreism. “Lots of things aren’t really racist, but all Obama critics are.”

  3. Lola-at-Large says:

    I hope it is true. It benefits the black community to have politicians and voters on both sides of the aisle, just like it benefits women to have the same. Concentrating political capital on one side leads to one thing: being taken for granted.

  4. I wonder how the commenter whom ABL quotes will explain how all citizens who don’t vote for Obummer are r@c!$+ if the GOP nominates Herman Cain for Prez? 😉

  5. I can already see the headlines from Obamaphiles like Michelle Perry-Harris if Obama loses the election: “Racism Succeeds in Taking Down Obama”; “White Progressives Let Obama Down”; “Black Critics Were Obama’s Worst Enemy”; “First Black President Loses Because of Racist Tactics”.

    Note that Obamaphiles will never consider other possible reasons why an increasing number of voters of all races are angry at Obama. Nor will they ever blame Obama for our country’s economic problems. It always comes back to racism and those Clinton supporters who our country’s woes.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I expect more than headlines. Like maybe riots.

      • Monster from the Id says:

        We might get riots if Obummer wins, too. I recall the strange phenomenon of riots breaking out in cities where the local pro sports team wins a championship. I used to think people only rioted if they were angry. 😕

  6. I found a gif of the commenter ABL quoted: 😈

  7. DeniseVB says:

    Racism won’t be blamed for taking Teh Won down, stupidity will. Here’s more proof this WH can’t do a damn thing right, thankfully it won’t cost us money 😉

  8. Mimi says:

    The purveyors of collective guilt are going to have a much more difficult time in 2011-2012 than they did four years ago. It is not going to work this time. I do not think it worked very much in 2008. Everyone was so sick of George Bush that any Democrat with a pulse could have won. The arguments in support of President Obama are reaching the levels of hysteria. The crazier and nastier it gets the more the public will tune it out. The most ardent are supporters who are in a cover their ass mode, people who should have known better because of their education, experience, world view or intellectualism but were fooled because of their own prejudices and laziness. They have a lot to loose, connections carefully built up to be exploited and professional and personal credibility that has vanished. They are going to have to decide if he is worth it. He is not.

    • Monster from the Id says:

      I refuse to participate in collective guilt.

      I achieved all my sins all by myself, dammit! 😈

      • Mimi says:

        The only person who could guilt me was my mom. And only in a very narrow area. Then I would guilt her back. I never have allowed anyone else to do that to me and vice versa.

  9. votermom says:

    I don’t get it.
    I stand by my earlier statement – the USA is flipping insane about race.
    I just tune it all out now, because I feel like trying to understand any of it is just crazy-making.

    • Mimi says:

      I may be wrong, I frequently am, but I think that in most ways the race thing is over. However many voted for President Obama because of race reasons have now expunged their (self identified) sins and do not want it rehashed forever. Those who wrapped their own sense of themselves and what they thought they believed are now realizing betrayal in a false prophet or savior. Sorry for using religious language but so many saw the hollow sham as someone who was going to lead them to goodness and light. Obama is what he is. He is just another crook from Chicago. It is really just that simple and was glaringly obvious in 2007.

  10. Underwhelmed says:

    I was told once that because I’m white I am, by definition, a racist. And that’s when the boat sailed without me. Anyone who lets him or herself be defined by that kind of idiotic bullying needs a smack to the back of the head.

  11. WMCB says:

    I could basically refute everything she says point by point, but why bother? From Kerry being called a coward to the ubiquitous use of “Bush” while he was in office, it’s all easily refutable.

    Here’s the deal. You can’t leverage my emotions anymore with accusations of racism, nor quell my speech with accusations of “racializing”. If a black friend or family member that I know, love, and trust has a problem with anything I say, then I’ll check myself, shut up and listen, try to understand how I gave offense, apologize profusely if I need to.

    But the privilege of engendering that kind of response in me has been revoked for large groups or individuals with a political agenda, who use the very goodheartedness and desire not to offend of Americans as a wedge and a weapon. Once you weaponize that accusation, and start using it for political ends, it’s game over.

    I have taken ownership of my own personal morality. And no one – not you, or a priest, or my nosy neighbor, get to be the judge of my actions and motives. I’ll answer to my own conscience, thanks, and trust in friends and family to jog it when need be. But you, and people like you, no longer engender any guilt in me. Knock yourself out trying – I’m sure you will. You’ll get no response.

    • ralphb says:

      Just think about this much panic, this far our from the election. If the hysteria builds for another 14 months, their heads will explode before next November. I look forward to the screaming and gnashing of teeth.

    • Jeffhas says:

      Not just calling him ‘Bush’… they were able to relegate him to one simple letter of disgust – ‘W’.

      • ralphb says:

        “Bushitler” was also a good one.

      • WMCB says:

        I agree that most commentators now refer to him as “President Bush”, even if they shorthanded his name before.

        But they always do that once a president is out of office. It’s sort of an unwritten rule that once they are out of office, it’s kind of hands off and be respectful. The press has always been much more formal and respectful with former presidents than they are with sitting ones.

      • Monster from the Id says:

        I regularly called Bush Junior, and still call him, “Dubya” and “The Chimperor”. Does that make me r@c!$t against white folks, even though I’m a paleface also?

  12. DandyTiger says:

    If real Democrats are already racist because they wanted democracy in the primaries, if even some new Democrats are already racist because they don’t like Obama’s results so far, if independents are already racists because they don’t like Obama’s results, and if all Republicans are already racist because they’re not new Democrats, then calling them racist again doesn’t really have an effect does it?

    • Monster from the Id says:

      Indeed. If everyone is r@ci$t, then the word loses any meaning or force. It’s like calling someone “doo-doo head”; if the target is an adult, it will provoke amusement rather than anger from the target. 😛

  13. O won this last time because Donna Brazile halted a coup by women and Hillary supporters. She said, plainly, that blacks would flee the party. It worked, and it had real consequences.

    WTF? PREVENTED a coup? Talk about revisionist history! Donna Brazile and the damn Roolz committe pulled off the biggest coup ever- stealing delegates from the experienced, qualified candidate and awarding them to a Chicago hustler.
    And iirc what Ms Brazile actually said was that there would be blood if her chosen one was not awarded the nomination.
    Somebody save us from these fools.

    • votermom says:

      Coup = following the rules?
      Brazile prevented this by breaking the rules and overriding the voters.
      Has karma visited her yet?

    • WMCB says:

      What Brazile actually said was that she would leave the party and there would be riots if O won the popular vote and the thing got decided by superdelegates in favor of Hillary.

      Ms. Brazile was hunky dory with that exact same scenario when it favored Obama, though. She was hunky dory with giving Obama delegates he had not earned, from voters who did not vote for him.

      And she was hunky dory with the first female candidate to ever win the popular vote standing there and not even being allowed a full roll call – a courtesy that even loser Ted Kennedy, who had fucking primaried a sitting president, was given.

      ABL is basically pulling the same crap. “Support Obama no matter what, or we’ll call you a racist and walk from the party.”

      Guess what, ABL? Once I stopped giving a shit what happens to the Holy Democratic Party, I amazingly stopped giving a shit who else (besides me) walks away from it. So have at it. Knock yerself out.

      • DandyTiger says:

        Honk, honk!!

        • WMCB says:

          It’s astounding how everything shifts when you end your tribal party loyalty. All that handwringing angst about “but what will the repercussions be for the party and their elections chances if I take this or that stand?”

          just. fucking. disappears.

          I’m loving being an Ippie!!! (Independent Populist).

      • 🙂 Thanks! Brazile and the Roolz committee- making up rules to fit their needs as they went along.

  14. ralphb says:

    Jonathan Turley… Obama: A Disaster for Civil Liberties

    I’m sure this will be written off as just another racist complaint but this may be my major reason for wanting Obama out of there. ABO!

    Protecting individual rights and liberties — apart from the right to be tax-free — seems barely relevant to candidates or voters. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

    President Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay, continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals and asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. And don’t forget habeas corpus please. I want this crap stopped now!

  15. elliesmom says:

    Is Angry Black Lady any relation to Angry Black Guy? Their powers of persuasion are about equal.

  16. gxm17 says:

    UFB! Is anyone else amused by these fools who called us c***s, told us they didn’t need us and we should just fuck off…who are now threatening to abandon us? You already did that, ya idjits! They threw us out once, now they’re gonna throw themselves out???? It’s bizarre to the point of psychotic. They’re like some strange collection of crazy people talking to themselves. Clue to Obama’s Angry Black Intertoobz Army: Nobody’s listening cuz you already cleared the room.

  17. gxm17 says:

    Oh, and just for the record. “President” is a title. It’s not a freakin’ name. Unless Shrub Jr. actually changed his name to President. Which, sadly, wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

  18. HELENK says:

    my answer to angry black lady. It saves time and breath just to play this when obots whine.

  19. yttik says:

    “….it is the Hillary love and nostalgia that is most offensive to blacks, men and women…”

    Well, that explains why so many are waxing nostalgic about what a Clinton presidency could have looked like, LOL. I guess there are some black people that just like to “offend” their own selves.

    I’ll agree with the parts about how calling Obama a coward or claiming he’s being controlled by others has some racial overtones to it. A couple of major newspapers have done the same thing to Hermain Cain, claiming he’s being “trotted out” and “exploited” by the Republican party. That is offensive because it implies both these men have no will of their own, that they’re easily manipulated and not too bright. They aren’t actual people who can be credited or faulted based on their own merit, they’re somebody else’s puppet.

    • Ugsome says:

      I think the cowardice claim is a stretch. Bartcop for example has been complaining about cowardly “pink-tutu Democrats” for over ten years. I think cowardice is not the issue here. I think it’s magical thinking about Republicans and more than a little sympathy for their ideology.

      What slays me is that business about using only last name being disrespectful. Now let me get this straight,: Teddy, FDR, LBJ, Tricky Dick, Jerry, Jimmy, Ronnie, Raygun, Dutch, Bonzo, Bubba, Big Dog, Dubya, Hillary, Gerry, and Sarah are all unremarkable artifacts of our political culture but anything less than his lord and highness applied to our current sitting president earns the speaker the white hood of shame?

      And nice distancing of HERSELF from the “white woman/black man” meme. History lesson yourself: It was entirely possible to elect Obama without tarring white Democratic women, often the backbone of local parties, as bitter dry-pussy racist old c*nts. All it would have taken was treating us respectfully like a core Democratic voting bloc. If in ABL’s rigid, intersectionally-correct mind the dilemma is “Black Man Vs White Woman,” she decides black man must win, and that wantonly tarring anyone who crosses her path as a racist (and this “racialized speech” feint is just that) is an acceptable tactic, that is her prerogative, but she’s forfeited the right to be shocked when the love isn’t returned.

  20. Three Wickets says:

    By any metric that is reasonable, the President has been wildly progressive. Wildly. We can take legislation apart piece by piece, level by level, and he has been strong on every core progressive metric, including education, civil rights, health care, energy, unions, women’s reproductive health, women’s rights, immigration, and core issues like credit card reform, financial reform, needle exchange, etc.

    Wildly progressive? No single payer, insurer bailouts and sky high premiums, banker bailouts, poverty and wealth disparity, historical unemployment, how has he helped the working class more than the creative class exactly, proposal to overhaul entitlements, four trillion dollar deficit reduction package bigger than the repubs during a deep recession, what?energy policy, deferred taxes on overseas profits, what?financial reform, what?has he done on immigration except make campaign speeches, what?trade policy improvements, what?civil rights progress (dadt that his justice dept is still hedging?), executive order on Hyde, what?women’s rights (the ledbetter law, that’s it?), numerous wars, gitmo, fisa, no transparency. Mainly, he hasn’t done very much. I’d say the writer is a fan and wildly partisan.

  21. Ugsome says:

    The only “coalition ender” here is the fact that the always-thorny Stevensonian liberal / Harold Washington coalition has achieved its final goal: the Presidency. The post-election squabbling was a given, and Obama’s crypto-Republicanism and sexism only makes it worse. The Stevensonian project, 1948-2008, RIP.

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