THE JOY OF RACE! Pseudo-liberals pleasured themselves with dumb, feel-good tales about race: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2005
THE SUMMER OF 99: Before the unqualified Michael Brown, we had the unqualified Joseph Allbaugh—Bushs first director of FEMA (and the inept Browns college roommate). In the past week, pundits have been asking how these men were ever chosen to head up FEMA; as theyve done so, our thoughts have drifted back to the press corps first puppy-love for Allbaugh, expressed in the summer of 99. At the time, the mainstream press was punishing Gore because Bill Clinton had gotten ten blow-jobs. (What explains the harsh coverage and punditry directed at Gore, Howard Kurtz was asking in the Post.) Meanwhile, career liberals were brilliantly looking away, pretending that this wasnt occurring. But over at the Washington Post, love was in bloom for the wonderful Allbaugh. Predictably, it was Ceci Connolly whose heart was a-flutter. In a pair of front-page stories about Gores alleged crazy spending, she offered this anecdote about the big lug, then the Bush campaign chief:
CONNOLLY (7/17/99): Aside from a candidate himself who is notoriously tight-fisted, Bush campaign officials said the designated "Dr. No" on spending is campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, an imposing man with the build of a football linebacker.Awww! That was fun! (Needless to say, Connolly had no way to know if this story was true.) As noted, this anecdote comes from Day 2 in a pair of back-to-back, front-page stories about Candidate Gores wild overspending (contrasted with Bushs wise money management). This ridiculous theme was so blatantly fake that even the Post eventually dropped it; indeed, these articles (co-written by Susan Glasser) may have been the fakest stories published by the Post during Campaign 2000—and thats really saying something. To see Allbaughs introduction to the public—and to remember how much the Post would lie in order to punish Vile Clinton through Gore—see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/19/99, with a link to our previous report. Connolly was baldly dissembling—and career liberals were all standing silent.
Those front-page stories do explain how Bush found his way to the White House. They explain how losers like Allbaugh and Brown ever headed FEMA to begin with. Today, career liberals wail about their tenure. But when it mattered, they played it safe. When it mattered, they looked away. It was the summer of 99—and career liberals knew not to notice.
THE JOY OF RACE: Kanye West knew it, and Imus did too. George Bush doesnt care about black people, West said on NBCs celebrity gala last weekend. (Would that FEMA could move as fast as the nations self-pimping celebrities!) He doesnt care [about blacks] enough, Imus said, over and over again, Tuesday morning. (He continued this line of critique the next day.) According to West, that was why it took five days for relief to reach New Orleans. Indeed, if you doubted the Bush Admins callousness, you only had to watch Aaron Broussard, Jefferson Parish president, on Sundays Meet the Press:
BROUSSARD (9/4/05): Let me give you just three quick examples. We had Wal-Mart deliver three trucks of water, trailer trucks of water. FEMA turned them back. They said we didn't need them. This was a week ago. FEMA—we had 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on a Coast Guard vessel docked in my parish. The Coast Guard said, "Come get the fuel right away." When we got there with our trucks, they got a word. "FEMA says don't give you the fuel." Yesterday—yesterday—FEMA comes in and cuts all of our emergency communication lines. They cut them without notice. Our sheriff, Harry Lee, goes back in, he reconnects the line. He posts armed guards on our line and says, "No one is getting near these lines." Sheriff Harry Lee said that if America—American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis.Moments later, Broussard described the Friday night drowning of an aides mother; shed been stuck in a nursing home, without help, for five days. But through no fault of Aaron Broussard, theres a problem with the larger story-line here; Jefferson Parish—just west of New Orleans—is about 70 percent white. The apparent ineptitude which bedeviled New Orleans left Broussards parish lacking help, too. If George Bush was trying to take down blacks, he was willing to take white folk down with them.
Indeed, over at the Huffington Post, New Orleans semi-resident Harry Shearer seemed to be (quietly) making this point in a set of posts called, Its Not Just New Orleans. Here was Shearers first such offering, posted last Friday. It concerns St. Tammany Parish, north of New Orleans—a parish which is 87 percent white:
SHEARER (9/2/05): The (do I need to say this? white) emergency official in St. Tammany Parish just was seen in a taped piece on WWL TV issuing a blistering, profanity-laden denunciation of FEMA, accusing agency officials of turning away needed vehicles and fuel from the badly damaged parish (county) because of the need to fulfill arcane (my word, not his) regulations. Then he said he'd heard word that FEMA was going to "seize" some of the county's own vehicles and he added, menacingly, that if they "try to take any of my stuff, they'd better bring weapons".On Saturday, Shearer offered a follow-up post about assistance to St. Bernard Parish. St. Bernard is east of New Orleans—and its 88 percent white:
SHEARER (9/3/05): WWL TV just interviewed Mike Sanders of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Office. He said the Parish has received no Federal assistance as of yet. He was emphatic about it.Did New Orleans get left for dead because George Bush doesnt care about blacks? For pseudo-liberals, the story has been pleasing, leading up to those Imus remarks. But white jurisdictions were left for dead too, all across the New Orleans area and all throughout the larger gulf region. If New Orleans was dying because Bush doesnt care about blacks, why then were elderly women drowning in neighboring parishes, which were heavily white? Everyone knew not to notice the logical problem. Everyone knew not to ask.
Indeed, the pleasures of race were apparent last week as Americas pseudo-liberals began to churn the types of pleasing stories they like. Was there any story so dumb that they wouldnt pleasure themselves with it? Apparently not, to judge from the consummate nonsense which (basically) started at the Eschaton site, then spread wherever pleasing stories are sold. A single photo caption from Agence France Press failed to use the naughty term looting—and a pair of white people were portrayed in the photo! To Atrios, a college professor (!), this single, unexplained example seemed to display a troubling race bias—and the stupid story quickly spread around the liberal web (ending up in a stand-alone story in the New York Times). As it turned out, the photojournalist had a very good reason for saying this couple found bread and soda from a local grocery—he said he had literally seen them do it! But pseudo-liberals were outraged by this one example—and when pseudo-liberals start to pleasure themselves, one example is all they need to establish a troubling principle. Their well-trained professors (!) play along.
But then, so it has gone as pseudo-liberals have pleasured and flattered themselves about race, attempting to reason about this topic. Last night, the hapless Chris Matthews presented his latest hour of Hardball; he offered utterly unfocused questions as he pretended to examine events along the gulf coast. At one point, he interviewed the Posts Gene Robinson and our own congressmen, Elijah Cummings. He asked Robinson a question about crime—and the Post scribe knew how to play it:
MATTHEWS (9/7/05): Gene, let me ask you this about that. Do you feel that that is a big part of this story, as a reporter, the guy—you read about these 100 guys running around with guns in the Superdome, gang leaders?As well see, others have played this scripted card much more stupidly. But Robinson knew the correct answer to Matthews question—there was less crime than has been reported, he said. But uh-oh! Just two hours later, Eddie Compass, New Orleans chief of police, appeared on Larry King Live—and to our ears, he told a quite different story. Here was its first iteration:
COMPASS (9/7/05): You have to understand the situation down here. For six days we worked 20 to 24 hours a day, no food, no water, no transportation in waist-deep water, no radio communication because our towers were knocked down, no electricity. So I put my commanders on the street because that was our way of communicating with each other.Say what? The NOPD was involved in running gun battles? And what exactly did Compass mean about holding people off at the convention center? Moments later, Compass went into more detail about the situation good pseudo-liberals all know they must dumbly deny:
KING: Chief, what do you make of people shooting at cops, why?Compass is an interested party; its always possible that he is exaggerating about what he calls the real story. And by the way: None of this changes what Congressman Cummings (whom we greatly admire) told Matthews about the New Orleans flood victims: I got to get you on this one, Chris. Most of these people, probably 99 percent of these people, are wonderful folks, law-abiding. Indeed, as we watched the horrors unfold last week, we thought we were watching superhuman acts of patience and forbearance from the crowds of suffering people at the Dome and the Center. But what exactly makes Robinson think that there was less crime than has been reported? Compass—whose city has a high crime rate even when there isnt mass disorder—seemed to be telling a quite different story. But all across the world of pseudo-liberalism, good pseudo-liberals knew their scripts on this matter: No black person would commit a crime—and when the press corps dared suggest otherwise, they were engaged in the worst kind of slanders! How dare they suggest that such things could occur? In Sundays Post, Lynne Duke and Teresa Wiltz wrote a lengthy, script-heavy essay on race, an essay straight from the pseudo-lib Bible. They too were appalled on the subject of crime—appalled by the unconfirmed reports:
DUKE AND WILTZ (9/4/05): The image of the ghoulish Other arose in natural disasters more than a century ago. In the Chicago Fire of 1871, the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, minority groups (Germans, African Americans and Chinese) were rumored to be preying on white women by chewing on their fingers to steal their jewelry. It's not such a stretch to see parallels in the unconfirmed reports of roving bands of rapists in New Orleans.Duke and Wiltz enjoyed the greatest pleasure of race—the pleasure extracted from the suggestion that everyone else is a racist but me. According to Duke and Wiltz, when people spread those unconfirmed reports, they were acting like the historical racists who demonized minorities back in 1871. (It isnt such a stretch to think so, they said.) But were last weeks rape reports really unconfirmed? Since Duke and Wiltz were careful not to specify what reports they meant, its hard to contradict their heartfelt assertion. But were people being raped in New Orleans? Duke and Wiltz werent in the city, so they had no apparent reason to care. But again, lets turn to Chief Compass, who didnt seem to have the time to recite the appropriate pseudo-lib scripts. James Dao reported in the New York Times, two days before the Duke-Wiltz essay:
DAO (9/2/05): A weeping young woman held out her dehydrated-looking child and pleaded for help. ''This is not about rich people or poor people,'' she said. ''This is about people.''So how about it, readers: Has a crime report been confirmed when the fucking chief of police reports it? On the same day, the Times Joseph Treaster quoted Compass about rapes in the streets of New Orleans:
TREASTER (9/2/05): Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals ''preyed upon'' passers-by, including stranded tourists.Once again, that was the chief of police. He had made these statements on September 1—three days before the Duke-Wiltz essay appeared. And by the way—Duke and Wiltz quoted that weeping young woman from Daos report, suggesting that they themselves had actually read Compass statement about the rapes. But so what! Duke and Wiltz knew much, much better—they knew much better than the black police chief—and they wanted you to know better, too. Three days later, they were still complaining that the rape reports were unconfirmed. But then, all pseudo-liberals knew to say such things. Instead of saying what was so plainly true—that most of these [flood victims], probably 99 percent of these people, are wonderful folks, law-abiding—and instead of saying what was also true—that most of the victims were showing superhuman patience in the face of this vast disaster—Duke and Wiltz had to make up tales in which no crime exists in New Orleans, even after normal order has broken down. Instead of praising the many who soared, they covered up for the few who had fallen.
Before well tell you why we despise these pseudo-liberals so much, lets make sure that we note one more part of their endless self-pleasuring tales. Lets revisit the worlds fakest man as he played one more card last evening:
MATTHEWS (9/7/05): Some people have been pretty brutal in their commentary about the people left behind [in New Orleans]. Let me start with Gene Robinson on that.Really? Have you heard the commentary, usually from white people, that the victims were too stupid to leave...or its their fault? For ourselves, we havent heard anyone saying such things (and Matthews, like Duke/Wiltz, knew not to name names); indeed, we just returned from a bagel joint where we heard white people denouncing Barbara Bush for making snide comments about the flood victims. (Matthews, of course, would never mention such comments. Too dangerous.) Indeed, all over America, white people (and people of other colors) have been sending money, plane tickets and supplies to help the victims of this disaster. Meanwhile, cheap, phony punks—cheap punks like Chris Matthews—know to take their greatest joy from this misery. They know to pretend that theyre better by far—more pure, much more pure, than these unnamed white people. Other people are saying these things. But Im not, their stupid script says.
We know, we know! Were supposed to appreciate the pseudo-liberals intentions—the pureness of spirit that drives these people to utter these age-old, dumb, stupid tales. But we have seen, for decades now, where their self-indulgence takes us. For decades, weve heard them tell their dumb-ass tales about low-income kids in our public schools—their bogus, stupid, phony tales about how low-income kids can do just as well if we simply raise our standards and if we fix the (imagined) hole in the roof of their school. They tell these tales for an obvious reason: Because theyve never set foot in an urban school, and because they have no plan to do so—because they have no plan to dirty their hands in the ongoing struggle about race and poverty—they like to conjure up a tale in which they turn out to be the good people. Sorry: In our book, theyre disgusting people, who cure the hollow core of their souls with pleasing tales in which they are the moral stars. So Matthews knew to tell the world that he was purer, much purer, by far. Meanwhile, in the past eight years, when has Chris Matthews ever done a show about some poverty topic? The question answers itself, and so we express our full contempt for the pseudo-liberals whose endless indifference has helped to keep this bit of the status quo in place for the past forty years:
HERBERT (8/29/05): An education task force established by the center and the institute noted the following:Yep! Thats how it was when we started teaching fifth grade in Baltimore, back in 1969—and thats how it seems to be today. Thirty-six years later, nothing has changed—and weve heard the same stupid pseudo-lib stories over the course of that 36 years! Last week, you heard the same sort of dumb-ass stories from people who dont plan to dirty their hands with the realities of New Orleans. They werent going to get raped on her streets —so they could afford to tell pleasing tales about the way the others—those ugly racists—were simply faking those rape reports. They wouldnt get raped on the streets of New Orleans—so what did they care if the outside world heard the truth and was moved to send help? They cared about reciting their scripts—scripts in which their sorry souls keep assuring themselves of their purity. And what about the actual people who actually faced crime in the actual streets? Those people could go f*ck themselves, these ardent, pure pseudo-libs told us.
Surely there is no crime in New Orleans! How dare the press corps talk about looting? And oh yes—New Orleans drowned because George Bush doesnt care about black people (and I, of course, do)! But folks, Bush doesnt seem to care about anyone, except perhaps for his largest donors, and white folk were suffering and drowning all last week too. But such simple facts got washed away as pseudo-libs began an uprising.
Yes, pseudo-liberals have been out in force, suggesting that, after all these long years, a pseudo-liberal consensus may be building. Before its done, it may end up as phony and fake as the pseudo-conservative pap weve endured overt he course of the past dozen years. Pseudo-lib or pseudo-con, people simply love pleasing stories—and they simply adore fake facts. Tomorrow, well review where facts come from.
HARD TO BELIEVE BUT: Check it out! The headline on last nights Larry King Live is: Celebrity Studded Panel Discusses Hurricane Katrina Disaster
WALSH CONFUSED TOO: On that celebrity-studded program, John Walsh (Americas Most Wanted) also had the mistaken idea that crime had occurred in New Orleans:
WALSH (9/7/05): Well, I've never seen anything like it. I was at the Oklahoma bombing. I was one of the few guys that was allowed at Ground Zero at 9/11 and I've never seen such widespread devastation.Good for Walsh! For being able to distinguish the 99 percent from the one. Pseudo-liberals, of course, took a different approach. Unable to empathize with the massive numbers of decent flood victims, they took an approach that made them feel good. They suggested no crime had occurred.
MORE OF BUSHS HATRED OF BLACK FOLK: Over the weekend, Salon published first-hand reports from other locales. Alicia Crider sent this report from Washington Parish—67 percent white:
CRIDER (9/3/05): Franklinton, La., in Washington Parish is without any federal assistance, and there is only a small Red Cross office open. The entire parish is without food, water and electricity. We are panicking. The citizens here are wondering why no one is helping us. From what we can pick up, FEMA and the rest of the government didn't know we were in need because no one called them and told them. Hello!We think Bushs performance was disgraceful. But white folk were high and dry too.
TOMORROW: The joy of fake facts.
A FULL YEAR OF SCHOOL: In evacuation centers, officials are rushing low-income kids into their new public schools. After all, we wouldnt want them to miss any time there! But how poorly do our public schools serve those low-income and minority children [who] are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills? In 1972-73, the Philadelphia schools had a long teachers strike in which some schools remained open and some schools were closed. What happened to the kids who missed all that school? The Phi Delta Kappan reported:
PHI DELTA KAPPAN (1977): Similar results were obtained from a study following the Philadelphia teachers strike in 1972-73. The strike lasted eight weeks. Some schools were closed and others were open the entire time. At the end of the year, scores of students who attended full time during the strike were compared with those of students who were out the entire eight weeks. No significant differences in achievement were found between the two groups.This, of course, is only one study of only one event. We dont know what larger, planned studies would show. But to urban teachers, the suggestion was obvious when this result was announced—urban schools are so ineffective that low-income kids will gain as much (due to normal maturation) whether they go to school or not! Weve often thought of this study this week—as we see the mainstream press corps assure the public that its very, very, very important to get these kids right back to those schools. After all, we all know that low-income kids—kids who are more likely to start school without having gained important school readiness skills—can do just as well as everyone else. We know this because it makes us feel good to pretend that we know it—and because it helpfully lets us stop thinking about issues of race, class and poverty.