Friday, March 2, 2012

In the best traditions of the Founders...

I encourage every reader of Marxist Update to subscribe to the We Are Respectable Negroes blog. Here is the latest post, to indivate the flavor you are missing:

(Non)Racist Federal Judge Says that "Mutt" Barack Obama's Mother Had Sex With a Dog

"Normally I don't send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine.
"A little boy said to his mother; 'Mommy, how come I'm black and you're white?'" the email joke reads. "His mother replied, 'Don't even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you're lucky you don't bark!'"
And folks wonder why black people don't trust the police and the courts?
The news media have caught the vapors over Chief U.S District Judge Richard Cebill's suggestion that President Barack Obama's now deceased mother was a lustful white woman who was so drunk that she had sex with a dog and conceived the country's first black President. Some have dressed this "joke" up by using the language of "bestiality" to describe the implied sex act, an effort at humor which suggests that sex across the colorline is akin to coitus between different animal species. Let's be clear: Cebill found it funny to argue that Ann Dunham was such a drunken wanton slut that she would allow a dog to put his penis inside of her vagina to the point of orgasm, and said canine would ejaculate and conceive President Barack Obama.
Despicable. And let's not make prettier this ugliness in order to make it slightly more palatable.
As I alluded to regarding the high school students who made a Youtube video rant disparaging black people, much of the real action in regards to white supremacy in the colorblind age is in "the backstage." Emails, private jokes, humor, comedy, social media, and the Internet are at present some of the primary terrain(s) upon which post-civil rights era white racism is circulated. As one of modernity's greatest inventions, white supremacy is adept at using technology to advance itself--radio, postcards, magazines, film and TV have all been vehicles for teaching, learning, and reinforcing the notion of a racial hierarchy in which whites are dominant and non-whites are naturally subordinate.
The defense, "I was just kidding" is one of the first layers of white victimology and deflection that colorblind racists deploy in the Age of Obama. As an object lesson in this strategy, and the twisted logic that reactionary conservative white supremacists use to run away from their bile--as opposed to owning it (a move that I respect)--Cebill stated the following in defense of his misogynistic attack on Barack Obama's mother:
The judge acknowledged that the content of the email was racist, but said he does not consider himself racist. He said the email was intended to be a private communication."It was not intended by me in any way to become public," Cebull said. "I apologize to anybody who is offended by it, and I can obviously understand why people would be offended."
"The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan," Cebull said. "I didn't send it as racist, although that's what it is. I sent it out because it's anti-Obama."
Apparently, racism is secondary to political intent. Cebill does not realize that his brand of conservatism is inseparable from white racism. This is not a surprise. As Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul have demonstrated, racist appeals are expected from the Tea Party GOP in the 2012 election cycle, and racism is inseparable from "normal" politics for the reactionary populist Right. Nevertheless, this pattern ought to remain troubling for decent minded and reasonable citizens.
He is in good company. There are many United States Justices and Judges who have openly shared their white supremacist bonafides and disdain for non-whites. For example, my favorite is Justice Taney's decision in the Dredd Scott decision where he observed:
"Yet the men who framed this declaration were great men… high in their sense of honor, and incapable of asserting principles inconsistent with those on which they were acting. They perfectly understood the meaning of the language they used, and how it would be understood by others; and they knew that it would not in any part of the civilized world be supposed to embrace the negro race, which, by common consent, had been excluded from civilized Governments and the family of nations, and doomed to slavery.
They spoke and acted according to the then established doctrines and principles, and in the ordinary language of the day, no one misunderstood them. The unhappy black race were separate from white by indelible marks, and laws long before established, and were never thought of or spoken of except as property, and when the claims of the owner or the profit of the trader were supposed to need protection.
A close second is Justice Sutherland in the Thind case that established the limits of American citizenship as (almost) uniquely limited to "whites" where he decreed that:
What we now hold is that the words 'free white persons' are words of common speech, to be interpreted in accordance with the understanding of the common man, synonymous with the word 'Caucasian' only as that [261 U.S. 204, 215] word is popularly understood. As so understood and used, whatever may be the speculations of the ethnologist, it does not include the body of people to whom the appellee belongs.
It is a matter of familiar observation and knowledge that the physical group characteristics of the Hindus render them readily distinguishable from the various groups of persons in this country commonly recognized as white...It is very far from our thought to suggest the slightest question of racial superiority or inferiority. What we suggest is merely racial difference, and it is of such character and extent that the great body of our people instinctively recognize it and reject the thought of assimilation.
Cebull should either resign or be removed from the Court. Yes, the notion that justice is blind has been exposed as a lie many times before, as race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality have all been empirically demonstrated to be variables that impact decisions of "guilty" or "innocent." But ultimately, following this reveal, Cebull he has no credibility as a neutral arbiter of the law.
But, while many have suggested that Cebull should step down because there is no way that a person of color could come before him and expect equal treatment, my objection is a broader one. White supremacy, as well as racism, prejudice, and bigotry more generally, are part of a larger worldview and cognitive schema. A "judge" who holds beliefs like Cebull is also quite likely to be a person who has many other parochial, retrograde, and prejudicial views regarding matters of public concern. This reality should give any citizen cause, pause, worry, and concern, before entering his court.
White racism hurts people of color. It also hurts white folks too. We compartmentalize these shortcoming at the risk of hurting the public good. Cebull should step down not because he is a racist; rather, he should resign because he has demonstrated a shocking lack of the wisdom, vision, and forethought worthy of a public servant. Racism is not a narrow problem. It is a general defect of character which suggests that many other ethical deficiencies are bubbling beneath the surface. The sooner we start thinking of white supremacy in those terms, the sooner our society will see it for the evil and social ill that it is.

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