Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tuesday Corral

MillerIn today's Huffingtonpost, Mark Cesca interviews Mark Crispin Miller (at left, photo from orwellrollsinhisgrave.com), the media critic par excellence who for years taught at Johns Hopkins University and now is on the faculty at NYU. Miller has repeatedly written about the threats the right wing poses to our democracy, and focused on vote fraud in a great August Harper's article. In this interview he discusses the vote fraud and anomalies of 2004 that our mainstream media have dismissed as "conspiracy" fantasies and so on, but which really should concern all of us, no matter what our political perspectives (unless, of course, you're a fascist and could care less about even the semblance of democratic principles and the republican system enshrined in the Constitution). One quote on the hapless Democrats:

Why do they keep fleeing the issue? Unless the Democrats get into it, they'll simply vanish as a party, just as Paul Weyrich and Grover Norquist and Karl Rove intend. The reason why the Democrats avoid the issue, even though the party's very existence is at stake, appears to be a bone-deep inability to face the very frightening implications of what really happened in 2004. The Democrats don't want to know that the United States is clearly not a democratic country, or that the Bush Republicans are dangerous extremists, intent on building a one-party theocratic state-so that the opposition now must go beyond the usual horse-race strategizing, and get re-acquainted with this nation's revolutionary heritage. Which means, I reckon, that the opposition has to move beyond the Democratic Party.

And of course the Democrats don't want to go there. The problem is compounded by the press, which has consistently sidestepped the issue, or even ridiculed those who have tried to talk about it. And by "the press," I mean not just the likes of CNN and Newsweek and the New York Times, but even the left/liberal and progressive media, which, by and large, have also basically concurred with the Republicans in claiming that last year's election
was essentially legitimate.

And talk about prescience! No sooner did Cesca post his interview than voting machine company Diebold head Wally O'Dell, a Republican supporter who once said he'd ensure a win for W (and did!) resigned effective immediately as his company faces class action securities fraud charges. Now if only more people would wake up about Diebold's voting machines....


Molly Ivins writes one of her usual great columns, this time concerning the homeless problem in the US, which has completely fallen off the media's radar and out of public discourse. Today it reached the high 20s in New York, which, as Ivins points out, has an estimated 50,000 homeless people, and similarly chilly temperatures are forecast for much of the rest of this week. There's been so much hysteria of late, whipped up by right wingers and their opportunist friends like hypocrite and liar Bill O'Reilly, about the nonsectarian greeting "Happy Holidays" being a war on Christmas. This campaign, as Steve Gilliard and others have pointed out, carries more than a whiff of anti-Semitism--but I have to wonder why all these "Christian" blowhards don't pay more attention to the Gospels their Holy Book, which is pretty clear on how to treat those who have no home (or food or job, etc.). Yep, I know. Like they even give half a damn...


Marlo ThomasSo some of the "white" Australians rioters have said that the Lebanese in Australia (or some peole of Lebanese ancestry in Australia) aren't "white" and, as part of their rampaging, call for an Australia for white Australians. Interesting to compare the US perspective, in which, according to our historical process of racial construction and formation, Lebanese-Americans are considered "white." I assume they consider themselves white as well. Some famous Lebanese-Americans: Danny Thomas, Marlo Thomas, Senator George Mitchell, John Elway, Doug Flutie, Jeff George, Ralph Nader, Donna Shalala, Helen Thomas, Governor John Sununu, Senator James Sununu, Senator Spencer Abraham, Neil Sedaka, Casey Kasem, Kathy Najimy, Frank Zappa, Paul Anka, Kristy McNichol, Jimmy McNichol, Yasime Bleeth, Sammy Haggar, the Maloof brothers, Harold Ramis, Tony Shalhoub, and Tiffany? Marlo Thomas, who as the star of "That Girl" was an icon of a certain kind of liberated (white) American femininity in the early 1970s. Also, Salma Hayek, from Mexico, has a Lebanese father, and singer Shakira is a Lebanese-Colombian. In those cases, the "Latina" or "Hispanic" and "national" affiliation (Mexican, Colombian) seem to trump all else. How do we establish hierarchies of race and ethnicity? How does Australia? Who's going to tell John Elway he's no longer white?


Finally, a few days ago, Shankar Vendantam penned a Washington Post article on whether "extreme bias" might be considered a psychological illness. Duh! But seriously, the article is pretty fascinating, with arguments on behalf of this proposal as well as skeptical views on the attempts to classify as a coherent, systemic diagnostic disorder the behavior of some of the individuals profiled. One of the nuts, er, people discussed feared that Jewish people "were diseased and would infect her," while another, a waiter, was "so hostile to black people that he flung plates on the table when he served black patrons and got fired from multiple jobs." The article says very little about societal contexts and social relations, and nothing about white supremacy; the races of the individuals described are not mentioned, but as I stated in a prior post, since "white" is normative, I assumed all were white. So what role did white supremacy and prevailing views of race and power relations play in these individual's psyches with regard to particular groups? Perhaps I'll write Vendantam to inquire about a follow-up piece.

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