Tag Archives: Racism

Has Ferguson brought back the 1960s … or the anger thereof?

About Ferguson: The decision of the grand jury has come in and now we are on to the next phase. The next phase seems to be persistent discontent with what is seen as a government that at times is not reluctant to use force. I am not judging the merit of what happened in Ferguson, or in the many other alledged but well documented cases of abuse of police deadly force or abuse of powers engagements, but something has changed .. . something completely unrelated in essence as related to the death of Michael Brown.

Since 2009 we have had one tea party after another that has preached the gospel that government is overstepping boundaries in our lives and that government is inherently evil. Perhaps the chants worked. One popular announced GOP candidate for 2016 has compared the American government to Nazi Germany. As for those chants, the chants now have been taken up by many who have a long history of experience with institutional violence and bias.

For the last five years we have seen the anger of the comfortable white middle class froth about how government cannot be trusted. Facts often did not matter then, and now in the Age of Ferguson they may still not matter for some years to come. People are mad … and when people are mad they really don’t care what the facts are.

We may now be on the verge of a real party.

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8.28 ‘Restoring Honor’ Rally – Washington DC – A Review

The Restoring Honor rally was Glenn Beck’s idea.

It was his concept. Glenn Beck was ever present from beginning to the end of the 8.28 Restoring Honor rally.

Not only did Beck speak throughout but he had prerecorded the voiceovers so that as the rally segued from one presentation to the next his voice was like Morgan Freeman’s, where Freeman narrates as if God was looking down upon the earth and his creation.

Glen Beck - Ever present.

Much thought was put into how to involve, to interest and to keep the 'Restoring Honor' participants attention. Glenn Beck and presenters were always viewable and hearable over a very high quality audio system and large video screens spread throughout the Mall area.

A snippet from the Restoring Honor website as to the day’s theme:

“Throughout history America has seen many great leaders and noteworthy citizens change her course. It is through their personal virtues and by their example that we are able to live as a free people. On August 28, come celebrate America by honoring our heroes, our heritage and our future.”

“Join the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and many more for this non-political event that pays tribute to America’s service personnel and other upstanding citizens who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.”

“Our freedom is possible only if we remain virtuous. Help us restore the values that founded this great nation.”

I will revisit these themes throughout my review and give my critique.

However, simply yes, the event embraced its theme and did not stray. Partisan critics have already written such things about this event as “Anger Floods the Mall Along with Glenn Beck” … this just did not happen.

If you read my review to the end you will find that 8.28 was a instead a day of anti-anger, anti-racism, and anti-status quo.

There was/is indeed an underlying strategy at work by Glenn Beck and behind 8.28.

Warning: if you take left-of-center knee jerk criticism of what happened as reality then woe unto believers of that alternate reality.

Glenn Beck reinvented himself on 8.28, and I believe that this event was intended to be a boomerang rally: If you wish to believe that Beck is merely and simply causing more trouble then you are wrong. Beck is crazy like a fox. And like a fox you had better stop whining about him being crazy and start counting your chickens. Beck is coming for them.

Goodstock?

They came by the tens of thousands.

They came from California and Florida and Idaho and so many different places. The young. The old. One of the networks reported their estimate of 87,000 people coming out for the 8.28 Restoring Honor rally … yes, I can believe that. I came with two cameras and a video camera to document the event.

August 28, 2010 Restoring Honor rally, Washington DC

The Restoring Honor rally - called by some 'Goodstock'

I walked the rally from end-to-end and across the depth.

I have lots of photos of people (many, many more than in my photo album of this event). So many came that there was no choice but to make friends. People filled the walkways, the hillsides, the fields adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial.

People were standing shoulder to shoulder throughout  and between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial … and from there to the hillside of the Washington Monument were large crowds of Americans that also came for out for the rally.

Video screens help the crowds view speakers

Large video screens through the Mall area help the crowds view and see speakers and presentations.

The Participants

“They” were white America. This was a 99.99% white participant event. It would be generous to say that 4 or 5 non-whites (including Latinos) per 1,000 were in attendance, although that number is probably safe within any margin of error on my part.

Restoring Honor Rally participants

In any direction, the crowd extended the length of the Mall and stood shoulder to shoulder.

It would be very wrong however to say that this was an event for white America. Critics of this event that did not come out and experience this event in person will miss that something very unique and important happened on 8.28.

The core message: the real message delivered on 8.28 reached its intended audience: activist white America. The message was simple: Hate and anger and denial about the past will not win for us in the future. You need to go home and think about what makes America great: Hope. Faith. Charity. The core message was that unless these things are openly embraced then America cannot and will not be great again.

Throughout the day, the majority — yes, the MAJORITY — of speakers and presenters on the platform were NOT white Americans. My interpretation is that Beck (and by extension Palin) is trying to move beyond the combative contentiousness of the Tea Party. Such would be a delicate maneuver to be sure as Tea Partyers made 8.28 a huge success. Ultimately, however, the Restoring Honor rally was not a Tea Party event — either in style or in message.

My belief is that 8.28 was a test of the waters for a 2012 campaign theme. For left-of-center you need to study carefully what happened on 8.28 because it was the launch of a strategy: unite conservative and center-right America by purposely reaching out to people of color.

The Strategy – A Theory

It is a fair question to ask how a massive rally made up of 99.99% white participants could be a strategy to reach out to those that were not there.

Here are my key thoughts:

  • An old school standard of teaching and reinforcing concepts was used: Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. Glenn Beck and team managed to keep a major promise: this was not a politicized event. There were no harsh words and I do not believe that President Obama’s name, or even mention of any political issues, was ever brought up. Instead the crowd, many of whom wore t-shirts with the rally’s theme imprinted, were told that 8.28 was all about “Faith. Hope. Charity.” That theme was constantly reinforced by every speaker.
  • Prepare the audience to think different. Whatever story you wish to believe about why the 8.28 ‘Restoring Honor’ rally was held on the anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is probably true.– Beck says that he did not realize the significance of the day until he had scheduled  the event. Maybe. Washington DC is miserably hot during August. Absolutely sweat drenching miserable. If there is going to be a cool day it will be at the end of the month. Beck may well have chosen the last weekend for the same reason that anyone else would. As it turns out, it was an incredibly nice, cool day.

    — If Beck set out to hijack Martin Luther King’s legacy by holding his event on the same date then the calendar makers must also be in collusion. 8.28 rarely falls on a weekend. I am open to believe in coincidence. I am skeptical enough to believe in planning.

    — For Beck’s critics and for those that love a great conspiracy theory, Beck indeed did not waste the significance of the date. The entire event from start to finish explicitly adopted and explored and embraced themes of 1963’s I have a dream. This included Beck et al telling the audience that just as we overcame the wrongs and injustices  of our racist past … STOP! We have racism in our recent past? Beck is telling us that we have a hurtful and wrongful racist past? Didn’t he know that his audience was 99.99% white?

    — The strategy of 8.28: Prepare the minds of potential missionaries and disciples for the direction that you want them to go! If there was indeed a strategy (my conspiracy theory) then Beck would need the audience’s cooperation. Potentially this could be a tough audience for what was yet to come.

  • Show your audience that you mean what you say. Let me repeat that the majority of the presenters and speakers on the stage were not white Americans. Beck did what the GOP and the Tea Parties have not done: he involved the rest of America. Beck involved people that stood at Martin Luther King’s side back in 1963 and now in 2010 they were on the stage with Glenn Beck embracing “Faith. Hope. Charity.” Beck created a very carefully choreographed event that repeatedly and in many gentle but not subtle ways told the white American audience ‘Think different!’ and to those that did not attend but pay attention beyond the 24/7 network media spin: Beck told much of the rest of America you matter and we want you to join us.

August 28th was a beautiful day and tens of thousands of Americans joined each other. Whether you agree or disagree with their politics I will share this one last thought: the battle for 2012 arrived today, and it may be fought differently than many believe.

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Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black, by Tim Wise

by Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure – the ones who are driving the action – we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.


Bill4DogCatcher.com sez: I am friendly to both Coffee and to Tea Partiers. However, Tim Wise puts describes a Tea Party movement in a light that has many valid points. There are those that believe the Tea Party has many racists. I disagree — but would agree that White America would have a cow if the Tea Party were overwhelmingly Black or Brown or …


Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.


Crossposted from Ephphatha Poetry

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