Race, Racism and the 2008 Election Campaigns




I have been both amused and frustrated with the discussions about a black man running for the presidency of the United States.  The charges and countercharges concerning the issue of race in the election campaigns proves not just how far we have come in terms of racial blindness, but rather that race is such a divisive issue still in 2008, more than 50 years after the Montgomery bus boycott of Martin Luther King, Jr., that we can't even discuss race (except in politically correct diatribes against those who mention race no matter how subtly or even correctly).  Things for everyone but the rich have gotten worse since 1964.  The civil rights legislation that was passed aroused a hug massive resistance among a majority of whites and these whites have been so reactionary that the United States under President George Bush came to endorse many elements of fascism.  The whites have voted in Republican after Republican in to the presidency and the legislatures.  With this power, the elements of reaction have destroyed the gains in equality that were obtained by the great sufferings of the Great Depression.  Income equality is as bad now as it was before the Great Depression.  Very few if any commentators on television ever mention this huge revolution in American life.   (They would rather talk about who is the "elitist", a virtually meaningless concept for social and political analysis, than about class conflict.)  The less fortunate whites who voted Republican are in a sense cutting off their noses to spite their faces.  These whites are more concerned about the blacks (and to a less extent Hispanics) being given more assistance to break the chain of poverty and racism that keeps them down socially, politically and economically than they are about the wealthy getting a great deal more wealthy.  They don't seem to care that they have created in the United States, a caricature of the old white South where there was basically a one-party system that was thoroughly corrupt, thoroughly backward and thoroughly racist. 

No, even the liberals both black and white don't want to acknowledge the reactionary revolution in the USA.  They are too busy trying to stifle any real discussion of race in the USA by over-monitoring everyone's daily speech to make sure they are sticking to the speech script provided by the liberals.  They are too busy pretending that if everyone speaks politically correct language, there won't be any real conflict.  But isn't it conflict when a majority of the whites turn back the gains in equality to before the Great Depression?  Liberals refuse to acknowledge what is going on.  It's not correct speech that will make progress, but an honest assessment of just how bad things are going in the area of race relations.  Anyway, most everyone publically lies about their real feelings about race anyway.  (They follow the script.)  I think the conservatives deep-down know what they are up to, but are happy to play the politically correct game because it so effectively hides the truth about their bad intentions and our still serious, and getting worse race relations. 

Maybe humorous is not the way to describe the American discussion of race in the election campaigns.  Perhaps "ludicrous" is the better word.   Now I like Barack Obama because he is the most liberal of all the candidates.  (I like Hilary Clinton too, but just want a new approach.)  But the supporters of Obama and others have helped squash any real discussion of race.  Bill Clinton mentions that Jesse Jackson won South Carolina when he ran there just like Obama did.  Now the meaning of that is a demographic reality that more blacks will vote for the black Obama than the white Clinton.  That should be elementary political demographics.  But somehow the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party said that it was a racist remark by Bill Clinton.  What idiocy.  What voter doesn't know that Obama is black?  And that black voters will vote more heavily for him?  And so what?  Is it a crime to be black?  And is it a crime for blacks to vote more heavily for the black candidate?  Of course, not.  Why can't we talk about the 800 pound gorilla in the room?  Precisely because race is way too great of a problem to be faced and discussed seriously in this reactionary country.  Whites and blacks, conservatives and liberals have all agreed to avoid the issue rather than admit that everyone is too afraid of the political explosions that would probably occur if the role of race was honestly dealt with.   

I remember back in graduate school in sociology in the early 1970's when I would tell the radical and radical liberals that the political spirit is reactionary in the USA and going to get much worse.  They just could not accept that idea and would laugh at me and consider me a conservative.  But now that we have gone almost to fascism in the United States, it would appear that I was right on the mark.  But liberals in America don't really want to admit their short-sightedness or the reality of what is happening in this country. 

Another example of the ludicrousness of the discussion of the issue of race in the USA is all the flack that Obama is taking over his comment that many of the rural whites vote Republican because they are bitter about the economic injustices of their government.  Well, this problem of why so many not-well-off whites vote Republican has never really received an adequate explanation by anyone.  Obama's explanation is not correct, but he is at least on to the right question.  I will put it more straight-forwardly, because I am not-stopped by social, political or economic pressures:  Why are white rural voters (and the voters in the states of the old Confederacy) so likely to be red-necks?    They don't believe in evolution; they don't believe in more enlightened education; they tend to put their children in all white schools (Christian? schools/academies); they believe in old-time, evangelical religion that has always been associated with white supremacy and racism; they don't politically support attempts to lessen the inequality between whites and blacks; and I could go on and on with negative descriptions that are true.  What fool does not see that Republican Party support comes primarily from wealthy people, white Southerners and white people living in rural areas?   What a terrible political coalition that is!  A deal made with the racist devil.  (The media is a joke when they refer to these red-neck areas as the "heartland", another totally misleading and wrong-headed label.)  The current red-neck is the inheritor of that whole tradition of racism during the days of slavery.  They are the sons and daughters of the defenders of slavery and apartheid such as John C. Calhoun and the early George Wallace, Governor of Alabama.  It's an old story and nothing really ever seems to change in the realm of race relations in the United States but around the edges.  This is a bit of an exaggeration, but our current racist system can continue without any whites really being prejudiced against blacks in the sense that they think they are inherently inferior.  Poor people are multi-problem people because of their economic situations and since such a high percentage of blacks are poor, they tend to have multi-problems.  More affluent and not-so affluent whites will avoid promoting multi-problem people and so on and on it goes.   And nobody wants to really face the fact that most white voters do not want to spent any money or even any energy in trying to break this cycle of poverty that is so closely associated racism.  No, all too many whites think it would cost whites too much money to help break the cycle of racism and poverty;  better to ignore it and not talk about it by using the politically correct script the liberals have provided. 

I am so frustrated by the refusal to discuss what really goes on in America, that I have cut back on my cable news viewing.  (And I can be a real news junkie.)  It seems to be all the same inane material analyzing every little sentence of a candidate's speech and not giving them any wiggle room or any credit for perhaps trying to discuss a banned public subject that should be discussed.  But no, we are doomed to go on arguing about certain words used by candidates and not what is really going on and why is it that candidate speech so little resembles the real America, the most unequal and most prejudiced country among the advanced industrial societies.   


Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. d.

April 18, 2008


P.S.  Another example of media silliness.  They blame Obama for not being able to to attract white blue collar workers.  Did it ever occur to the commentators that many of those white blue collar workers are rednecks and racists (the two concepts are intimately interrelated) and that's why they prefer Hilary over Obama, white over black?  Did it ever occur to anyone that Hilary is winning the more redneck sections that the Republicans usually attract?  Apparently not. And that's a problem with the mass media.  In the end they are just part of a business.  They can't afford to offend either the South or the white blue collar workers.  So they can't really ever be objective for it is precisely that region and that segment of the population that deserve a lot of criticism for their racism It is so funny it is ridiculous that the white blue collar workers would support a party that is making the rich extremely rich rather than vote for a black man.  I can criticize these sectors of the American population because I don't have to fear the loss of income from my commentary. 


Voting as Primarily a Totally Selfish-Act and White Blue Collar Workers as Class Traitors

Most Americans know that, at least at the national level, to be a racist is regarded as socially terrible thing.  But all too many harbor feelings of racial antipathy.  You can't usually see this reflected in polls, because most will deny that they are motivated by these feelings and attitudes.  So, in a sense, they lie to the pollsters and present a better picture of themselves than they deserve.  But when it comes to voting, people vote along very selfish lines.  For instance, a higher percentage of blue collar workers vote for the Democrats than the Republicans.  This is very reasonable.  But a high percentage of blue collar workers are redneck in their attitudes and will vote for the Republicans, a party primarily representing the white race with their heartland in the South, so the blacks will not improve their situation.   So, if you want to see the strength of racism at work, you have to carefully watch how various groups of people vote.  The closer to the blacks (and therefore the more likely to feel threatened), the more likely groups will vote for the Republicans (or prefer Hilary over Obama).  The wealthy class in America takes advantage of this racism in America to keep voting in the racist Republican Party and then they reap the benefits of a near fascist country by having the Republicans vote them extreme tax cuts. 

I don't know about you, but I can't feel that much sympathy for many in the group "white blue collar workers".  All too many of them have cooperated to create a country as unequal as before the days of the Great Depression.  And perhaps these terrible economic times we face may remind them of the dangers of supporting a class and race driven political party that lets the rich get richer and richer and richer.   


Swiftboating Obama:  The Case of Rev. Wright

The racists and those who oppose further progress in civil rights are having a field day with the Rev. Wright controversy.  They know they can't publicly come out with their racist views, but now they can use Rev. Wright fully to express their animosity and hatred in a way that won't get them criticized publicly.  How typical of the United States.  A man says something controversial and the American red neck tradition tries to make sure the person and his or her supporters are punished.  There is actually very little real freedom of speech in the United States, because of this type of atmosphere in the country.  It's the attitude that we constantly see: in the Palmer raids, Japanese-American internment camps, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, McCarthyism and 9/11 hysteria.  In this case the media are not directly being racist.  They are just up to their old tricks of bloodlust for profit.  They help fan the controversy that helps further poison the country with the hateful vitriol of the rednecks/racists. 

If one is opposed to a woman as president of the United States, you can't come out and say that publicly.  But you can describe Hilary Clinton in terms so harsh and  repeat the terms so often that one can tell the person has a problem with the issue of sexual equality.  The same applies to the case of Rev. Wright and Obama. 

I myself would not say "God damn America!"  I would shout "God please help America!"  Please help America fight this disease called racism that has been getting worse since 1964 and the passage of the civil rights legislation. 

I talked to a black fellow on the phone once and he told me that in this country "they won't give the black man a break" and I agreed with him.  I agreed with him so much that he thought I was black. He was shocked when I told him I had been educated at an all white high school.  "You were the only black person?"   No, I'm white.  I attended high school in the days of separate but equal racial segregation.  It's just that his statement is so true.  And the election campaign now illustrates the point.  They won't give Rev. Wright or Obama a break either.  They are painting Rev. Wright and Obama as two radicals that will favor the black race over the white race if Obama gets into office.   And this will be the next example of right-wing "swiftboating" in American elections. 

As I said, I wouldn't personally have phrased my discontent with America's racism and red-neck attitudes the way Rev. Wright did, but I am certainly not becoming apoplectic about the man.  I'm not foaming at the mouth over the issue.  It is almost a stereotype to speak of "the angry black man", but the fact is that a lot of black people are angry at the racism that still dominates America.  It's something that a white person does not have to accept, but should realize that black people are often angry (unless they are like Clarence Thomas and blame the blacks themselves for their problems) and not go crazy and become hostile.  When I first met the black aviator Chauncey Spencer he gave me a very rough time.  He launched into a virtual political diatribe about how he still believes in integration and not this multicultural segregation that has been pushed lately.  Most whites probably would have been offended, but I wasn't.  I just figured he was very passionate about civil rights.  I did not take it personally.  When he finally slowed down, I just simply told him that I agreed with everything he said.  That totally disarmed him and we then went on to have a good talk about the Rev. Vernon Johns and his mother the poet Anne Spencer.

America is reacting to Rev. Wright and Obama like they react to Rev. Vernon Johns, the father of the American civil rights movement.  They don't want to hear about him (unless he is given a whitewash treatment as in the movie "The Vernon Johns Story").  And it is this censorship of Johns that is so typical of the still predominantly racist attitudes in the USA.  And today you can see it fully in action. 

In election coverage, it seems to be a norm in American life that you cannot attribute the causes of the vote in terms of racism.  I got the impression that the liberals in the mass media seemed happy when Obama first campaigned and no one really talked about his race.  But attacks like this wouldn't come in this form.  It would have and is coming in the form of racism as expressed through vehement denunciations of a black radical among Obama's friends and supporters.  It's o.k. to destroy Obama this way, as long as you don't pretend that the attack is really because of racial animosity. 


I just got my copy of Newsweek with some pieces of arugula and a beer on the cover.   This is just so stupid and just so wrong.  How come the red necks among the white blue collar workers feel closer to the extremely wealthy people in America who really can be considered "elitists" than they do to blacks, who certainly are not arugula eaters?   No it's not culture that's the difference; it's race and racism.  But apparently that's not permitted to be said.  Please some black speakers who can be heard, blow the lid off this ban on speaking of racism as the real cause of crucial differences between blacks and white blue collar workers.

April 18, 2008

Patrick Louis Cooney


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