Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keeping our eyes on the prize as the hate explodes

Several times I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, "normal," chronic state—where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised—to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized.

Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatred and direct physical force remains underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force and hatred waits in the wings, ready to explode.

- Derrick Jensen from The Culture of Make Believe

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you've seen me use that quote before. I believe it captures exactly what we're witnessing in our political culture today. Women, people of color, LGBT folks are threatening the entitlement that for the last 50 years has been masked by "religion, economics and so on." And we're seeing the hate explode in its final death throes.

I felt it today as I traveled around the internet reading stories. For example, the one where the Breitbart group will now attempt to revive the Jeremiah Wright story from 2008 by attempting to smear Professor Derrick Bell, and, by several degrees of separation, President Obama. Sure, their premise is laughable. But that won't stop them from dragging Professor Bell's name through every shade of mud their diseased minds can dream up.

And then there was the cartoon Zandar wrote about at Angry Black Lady Chronicles. Go take a look if you haven't seen it already. It's the worst of Limbaugh's sexist smears with a big dose of racism thrown in.

But it was reading what the folks at Powerline (warning: wingnut link) wrote about the Limbaugh hate fest that really set me off. In a way - its pure unadulterated irony. In the midst of all this, their claim is that its President Obama who is driving the hate.

Millions of Americans voted for Barack Obama in the hope that he would be a trailblazer who would conduct the presidency in a new way. Well, he has: Obama has been the most divisive president in our modern history, unabashedly stirring up hate against not only his political enemies, but against private citizens who exercise their right to participate in our democracy. The most recent hatefest has been directed against Rush Limbaugh, and Obama has personally stirred the pot...

Barack Obama has been a terrible president in many ways, but perhaps his most poisonous legacy is his cynical fomenting of partisan hate to advance his own political interests. After three years, we have learned that “hope” is not the word that we should associate with the Obama presidency.

In the most twisted display I've seen yet, they end that article by posting this graphic (no, its not a link to their site and I WILL NOT post it here on my blog!)

So as the hate explodes amongst their colleagues, rather than call it out - these folks project it onto the most visible object of their own hatred. I can only react by marveling at the ability of the human mind to contort itself rather than face an ugly truth.

I would suggest that we on the left have a very important choice to make in light of this. Do we join them in their hate-fest and give as good as we get? Or do we recognize it for what it is, call it out, and keep our eyes on the prize? I know what those who came before us would counsel.


  1. Good Morning, Smartypants. I hear you, and I agree that the hate will explode even more as we get closer and closer to re-election and Democratic supporters have to stay focused. So I MADE myself watch "Eyes on the Prize" all the way to the end but it was REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to do! Gone to find some camaraderie to lift my spirits. Continue your excellent work, I know YOUR eyes are always on the prize.

    1. Mornin VC.

      What the video reminded me of is that so far we've mostly had to face their words of hate. Those who came before us also had to deal with physical attacks. Perhaps it will come to that this time as well. I don't know. But if they could keep their eyes on the prize in the midst of physical assaults, hopefully we can handle the verbal variety.

  2. Ms. Pants --

    It is indeed a time of trial and tribulation to those of us who desire peace and traquility. It has, however, been worse.

    Well within living memory (1920 to 1965) black people have been worse off.

    In the South they were subjected to constant geurilla warfare tactics of the ruling white. Lynching was only the tip of the pyramid of repression.

    The MidWest from Ohio to Colorado saw some of the most vicious race riots in our history ... and the race rioting was white.

    Conditions in the segregated cities of the NE, were as bad as anything reported in South Africa during the time apartheid.

    This time is bad. But it will get better. The old racists are dying off. The new racists are more interested in other social issues.

    Trust me, it will get better.

  3. As one who lived under segregation and has often been a target of this type of hatred, I will hypothesize that if these purveyors of hate had to live as many years as I have in this country and had been subjected to what I've been subjected to, they'd have been rioting constantly. IMHO, the fact that they cannot face the reality that they are the hate mongers is a prime example of their sense of entitlement--it's okay for them to foment hate, but don't anyone dare call them out for doing it. Most POC of my age have lots of experience in keeping our eyes on the prize in spite of all of the Palins, Limbaughs, DeMented, Joe Walshs, McConnells, Boehners, Cantors, etc that have made it their life's work to deny us full citizenship and participation in this country. We have, and will continue to notice their doings but will not allow them to impede our progress toward attaining our goals. The name of the game is keep on keeping on.

    1. God bless you and fight on I hope to stand with you in the struggle some day Amen someday

    2. Thanks so much for that majii!! Sometimes those of us who are relative newbies to the struggle need a reminder from folks like you who have seen it all before.

      You reminded me of a moment when the hate hit me hard during the 2008 election. Here's what I wrote that time:

  4. The daily displays of racism and hatred break my heart. Seeing PBO, a man with humility and dignity assaulted with hate speech and threats, accused as stirring up hate and division is quite painful. Watching the hope from PBO's election turn into fear and cynicism has been difficult.
    But here's where I take heart: this country has been in denial about the systemic oppression of people of color since its founding. After emancipation, rather than collectively heal as a nation--accepting responsibility for the horror of slavery and demonstrating contrition for our crime against all African Americans--white America settled into denial and revisionism. We (white people) excused our actions and justified our cruelty by convincing ourselves of the inferiority of the African Americans. No one wanted to admit that African Americans were owed something from the country.
    200 years of struggle was necessary just for the right to be considered fully equal by their country. White America did not want to confront the reality of our responsibility to the African American community--a responsibility to enforce true equality of all when one group had a 200 year head start. Somehow, we forgot than in a meritocracy all people start at the same time.
    Somehow all of that denial brought us into current times, in which racism meant KKK. Racial pride had nothing to do with racism--we just like to be among people who are like us. People of color were blamed for their poverty or broken families and criticized for not being as successful as white people. They were accused of waiting for the government to take care of them and being a drain on taxpayers (as if people of color contributed nothing to taxes.) All of the little and big injustices, both personal and collective, are ignored and we can claim to be color blind and all of that garbage. But it was there. Always.
    President Obama was the catalyst for all of the hate and bigotry to be proudly displayed for all to see. As I said, it's so heartbreaking to see and I remained terrified for the safety of PBO--yet, we could never heal the wound that racism has caused this nation until we got some honesty from all. I think it's the only hope for our country's future because the unspoken damage that was the result of our legacy of oppression of a people was destroying us from the inside. We must air it out and finally make our peace together. This is what I see as PBO's greatest legacy and it is the reason he will be celebrated with the rest of civilization's greatest leaders.
    I've got high hopes.

  5. Yes, SmartyPants, I've been thinking about the same things.
    What I want to know is how do we call them out? How do we make the opposite statement so that it is heard?
    My son and I were just talking about the rise in militia groups, (even more now, for fear of PBO's re-election).
    The hate is palpable. Living in the south, I don't see outward signs of hatred, but instinct tells me not to wear my Obama T-shirt, or use the SmartPhone cover I want to buy. My friend was worried when I took the drawstring bag I have to lunch. It has a picture of the Obama family on the cover. She was afraid we might be attacked because of it.
    A little girl at my church took her copy of "Of Thee I Sing" to school. She was so proud, that is until her teacher belittled her and the president. This is no way to have to live in this country.
    African-Americans are very sensitive to danger. We have had to be for generations. Somebody once said, (paraphrasing)" where hatred festers, mischief follows."
    It's the mischief that I fear. The hatred is so dense, so devoid of reason that one does not know how to combat it.
    So, I am left feeling frustrated and anxious- ready to speak out, but to whom and how?
    In the meantime, I pray without ceasing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for giving me an outlet for self-expression.

    1. I can understand. I left Alabama because I no longer felt safe. I lived in the South for 45 years. I'm 6 ft and 210 lbs and not fat. I'm whiter than Wallace was. Hell, I organized unions in Mississippi in '69.

      But I left because I was getting scared. It's much nicer in Massachusetts.

    2. @DerFarm

      I lived in Massachusetts for five years-Framingham and Holliston. I loved my time there.
      By the time I moved there I was 27 years old and the imprint from growing up in the south was stamped into my soul. There were racial incidents in Holliston, so I can't say it was better, but there were enough positives to make me forget them.
      I can imagine your not feeling safe! There are white people who have confided in some of my friends how they voted for President Obama, but dare not let there friends know. That's another form of ugly oppression.
      Stay safe!

    3. I'm not sure I have the answer about how to call it out. I know that I want to name it for what it is. And I don't want to get caught in the vortex of hating back. In between those two is the struggle to keep myself grounded in my own inner wisdom about the right path...which is a day-to-day process.

      But I'm struck by the covert fear you're describing - which is something that I don't experience where I live. That is a powerful statement!

    4. @DerFarm

      Dare not let THEIR...aargh!!!

    5. Eve,

      The best way to triumph is to succeed. That's what I did, and I passed it on to my daughter. I recall something my mom and dad drilled into us when we were young--people can take many things away from you, but the one thing they cannot take is your knowledge, so I educated myself and my child, went on to have a very successful career and retired in 2009. Since I'm also in GA, I understand about being ever vigilant. It has become an inherent feature of some groups living in the South. The racism and/or bigotry is not always covert, either. But whether it's overt or covert, the negative impact and sense of rejection and of being a "lesser child of God" is the same. Jim Galloway was reporting on his blog in the Atlanta Journal Constitution the other day about the internals of the people who voted for Gingrich-primarily tea partiers and evangelicals. As I was scrolling through the comments, I read one that said, with enthusiasm, "GA is still run by white males!" These people have no shame and refuse to acknowledge that blacks, gays, Muslims, Hispanics, and others make very important contributions to the state everyday. They also don't realize that this sort of attitude doesn't make GA a place where many businesses would want to re-locate to. I read an article a couple weeks ago in which it was revealed that GA is one of the states that many businesses are giving a pass to because of the recently implemented horrible immigration law. In their zeal to maintain their sense of superiority, they're cutting off their noses to spite their faces, and they lack the insight to realize how damaging it is for them and our state.

  6. @kcourtsclayton
    This is one powerful statement: "President Obama was the catalyst for all of the hate and bigotry to be proudly displayed for all to see. As I said, it's so heartbreaking to see and I remained terrified for the safety of PBO--yet, we could never heal the wound that racism has caused this nation until we got some honesty from all. I think it's the only hope for our country's future because the unspoken damage that was the result of our legacy of oppression of a people was destroying us from the inside. We must air it out and finally make our peace together."
    This is exactly what has happened; it is where we are. All the ugly that lay festering for years is coming out for all to see.
    It ain't pretty, but it's something we must finally see for what it is. After seeing it, we must finally, once and for all, respond appropriately.

  7. I'm white. I have never loved a President before the way I love President Obama. The hate, the rise of militias, liberalization of gun laws, all of this makes me not even recognize this country anymore. If Obama is not re-elected, I want out of here. Canada, Sweden, Denmark, I'm not sure which is the best. But I am not living the remainder of my life in a place that elects a President who brags how much he will take from the poor and reward the rich.


Sure, Trump is unfit for office. But his agenda would also be a monumental disaster!

For just a moment, I'd like to back off the fact that Donald Trump is unfit for office, is a serial liar, has been found guilty of rape/...