How did DU Primaries become such a racially divisive place? [View all]
This has always been a rewarding but contentious discussion board but now it seems like there are so many threads and sub-threads with racially dividing undertones that it has become kind of an unpleasant place.
I am not against posts that discuss race issues but I feel a lot of what I am seeing here amounts to "when did you stop beating your wife" types of insinuations.
And what is this all for?
To many here I feel like Bernie Sanders supporters have been stereotyped as either outright racist or racially insensitive white males that only care about their own economic hides. In my case, as Sander's a supporter, I feel like that is very far from being true or fair.
As a group, doesn't our early and vigorous support of Obama in 2007 count for anything? Even when the black community at large was still polling more strongly for Hillary Clinton? Look back to then, who materially stood up for voting for the African American who became President before anyone else when the rest had cast their lot with the Establishment Democrat? Who? Who was it in 2008 in Iowa that handed Obama his first win, when he was far from considered a shoe in for the nomination?
Do the following words sound like someone who is insensitive to African American Issues or someone who is antithetical to their cause?
Bread and Circus's Journal
The Democratic Party stands idly by as Obama takes a public whipping
Posted by Bread and Circus in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Wed Mar 19th 2008, 03:12 PM
I'm white, I'm male, and I'm 36. I grew up poorer than most in an economically challenged small Midwestern town on free lunch tokens, AFDC Checks, and food stamps. My mom was single and bounced around from job to job but was most of the time unemployed. When I was 5, we lived in a tent in a campground for about 4 months as we were effectively homeless. After that, we moved to what became "my home town" and I grew up in subsidized housing for low-income people (mainly single moms and their kids) for the next 11 years.
My mom, like Barack's family, instilled in me notion to value an education.
I went to public schools and public universities. My high school grades weren't that amazing but I managed to usually make the honor rolls. I didn't get into my first choice of public university but I got into my second choice. I graduated third in my class at a university of 26,000 (40,000 if you count grad students) with a degree in psychology and a pre-med focus. This gave me a good chance to go to an excellent public Medical University.
From there, I went to residency in the Northeast and as a resident I learned first-hand what it's like to be a second-class citizen. If anyone has watched Scrubs and gets the sense that interns and residents are basically treated like dirt, take note, it's real. There's more truth in that show about the field of medicine than in any medical drama I ever found. And what I learned from those brief intense years is that being systematically treated with disrespect and a proverbial boot on your neck is demoralizing. It degrades your soul. I only see it so clearly now because from the moment I graduated until the current day, the contrast between that hell of 126 hour work weeks and 42 hour shifts and the privileged status I currently have is stark and amazing. One day, I was told what to do by people with a lot less education than me, the next day after I graduate I get the authority to give orders to others that literally hold life and death in the balance.
I've never walked a day in America as a black person, a woman, or as any other group that suffers a minority of social power. I was only subject to a brief and cruel social experiment called a "residency" that is really just hazing disguised as education. But what I learned then was that when your whole world has you by the short hairs and steps on your neck and makes you feel less than worthwhile, there's not a lot you can do. It's a devastating and all-encompassing experience. I'm still angry about it because in my opinion I was abused and I expect to always feel that way.
But somehow between then and now I realized that my experience was to be learned from and the best thing I think I learned was compassion for others that suffer as victims of social injustice. I only got a small taste of what is a pervasive lifelong negative experience for others. It's one of the reasons why I have a special sensitivity for African Americans. In the long view, I can think of no other group of people that have had it worse in the history of our young country.
And all of that leads me to why I'm so damn angry right now at the Democratic Party, the reasons I'd like to further discuss as follows.
It's an undeniable fact that there's a coordinated effort to push the Jeremiah Wright story in a vastly slanted and misleading way. There's two main groups that benefit and they are obvious, the Republican Partisans and the Clinton Campaign. If hard pressed I think this is mainly the dirty work of the Republican Partisans. They want to hamper whoever is the "front runner" in the Dem Race in order to make this go on as long as possible. If they can drive the negatives high and the race ends very late, the Dem nominee will have very little time to recover. If Hillary were on a straight path to the nomination right now (she's not), then there'd be some sensationalized story she'd be confronting. I don't think the Clinton campaign has flamed this story but I'm sure it's not breaking Penn, Clinton, and Wolfson's collective cold heart to stand idly by and do nothing.
But what is really tragic and criminal about all of this is that this story has NOTHING to do with what anything Obama has done, said, or stands for. What he stands for is the very opposite of Jeremiah Wright's approach to White Racism. Rather than fight with anger, Obama seeks to bring understanding, reason, and the reflection that comes when we "see ourselves in others" for a moment and build on the improvements in society that have already been made. This is apparent to me and anyone giving a fair hearing on the topic.
Obama's speech yesterday encapsulates this but it will not put the issue to rest. It will be brought up time and time again and it may very well be Obama's undoing now or in the General Election. But it won't be that Obama hasn't tried to create understanding. It will mainly be because the Democratic Party is essentially turning its back on blacks.
I once read recently by a black person on one of the blogs whose sentiment was this: "we are good enough to vote for you, but apparently we not good enough for you to vote for us." That's a powerful statement and certainly rings true for a lot of Democrats. Unfortunately this dovetails into the Republican Partisan claim that the Democratic Party takes blacks for granted, which is starting to feel more true each and everyday I watch this process unfold. Even sadder is that the Black Community has no reasonable alternative choice. Neither do liberals.
This is further proven by how the Democratic party uses blacks as a cog in the "Democratic Machine". This "machine" concept was explained to me the other day on DU and how it goes is that there are different ways the Democrats turn out votes and one of them is to get the "Black Preachers" to fire up their flock to get into the voting booth. These are the same "Black Preachers" of whom many respect and agree with Wright.
It's that last example that's sticking in my craw because the way I see it the Democratic Party uses the "Fiery Black Preachers" when it is convenient for them but when it looks bad, they leave Jeremiah Wright, and all those like him, out in the wind. For two weeks, all I hear is the Republican echo chamber but not any prominent Democratic leaders fighting back. Though Obama can't disown Wright, the Democratic Party publicly has. If Jeremiah Wright was an exception and a crackpot then I could maybe see the reasoning. But he's not and deep down a lot of what he says, though looking bad, is just plainly true, especially when viewed with a liberal lens.
So yesterday, after my third watching of Obama's amazing speech, I started to get the sense that not only was I seeing a great leader eloquently talking to us as adults and telling us like it is but that I was also seeing Obama take a public whipping for all of us. He had the courage to apologize for Wright's incendiary language as well as apologize for the racism and resentment that exists on both sides. He did it partly for his political career, but I think he also did it because he just plain had to. If he hadn't spoken up in contrition, this was likely to continue to deepen the racial divide and serve as a yet another brick in the wall that separates White from Black. He took the whipping so the rest of us didn't have to.
But the crime of it is that Obama is generally standing alone in the public square while Hannity, Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, and the rest all take out their proverbial lashes on him. The Democratic party has by and large generally just stood by and watched. Even if he becomes the nominee, I expect they will continue to do so. Just like they let the Gore mis-characterizations continue to thrive and how they let Kerry be painted as a traitor to the military.
But Obama in the long run is not going to be the only ones paying the price, we all will. Instead of taking this chance to put the racists back in a bottle and tell them we aren't going to accept what they have to give anymore, we've acquiesced and shrunk away from the challenge in fear. And just like the master riding the horse and whipping it into submission, the master's power grows as long as the horse is afraid.
Jeremiah Wright's approach as seen on the clips is wrong on many levels when viewed through a political lens because when he's yelling and angry he seems threatening and dangerous. However, in reality he has probably done more tangible good for people, in terms of lives saved and helped, than most people on this board put together. He's especially done more public good than the Hannities and Limbaughs of the world. Finally, he is certainly a LOT less dangerous in his rhetoric compared to the poison spewed by Right Wing Hate Radio every day. Anyone who disagrees with that last statement shouldn't be on a liberal discussion board, period.
Furthermore, it's certain that his angry outbursts are an exception to his record which is widely touted and highly regarded by the black church community. And make no mistake, the black church community is the lifeblood of the Democratic Party. We haven't seen much of the "good side of Wright" in the past two weeks even though the videos and records are out there. And the reason being is that the nefarious forces that want to conquer liberalism don't want you to see them. They don't want you to see Jeremiah Wright as a whole man. They don't want you to see him as a good person. They just want to you see him as an angry black man, a crackpot, a demagogue. Mainly, they just want to you to see an offensive image that will short circuit your thinking. And then they want you to associate the negative image with Obama or at the very least make you question Obama's judgment as to to why he could attach him self to "such a bad guy".
It is just plain wrong for people like Edwards, Gore, Clinton, Richardson, Pelosi, and the rest of the talking Democratic heads to just stand idly by as this will no doubt continue to unfold. They can't just leave it to black people and they can't just leave it to Obama to defend themselves. Democrats of all colors have to stand up and say enough is enough, and we are drawing a line in the sand and though Wright may not look pretty at times, he is still one of us. YOU WILL NOT divide us and YOU WILL NOT conquer us. Limbaugh, Hannity, and the rest, you ARE NOW THE MINORITY and if you want to join us then all you have to is open your mind, change your heart, and change your ways. If we don't do this and continue to allow ourselves to be split along racial lines against our own common values and principles, we will continue to lose and we will continue to see more Iraq Wars, more Right Wing judges, and more devastation to the economic interests of poor and middle class.
And before I get a backlash for that post being somehow not "correct" know that I received 272 Recs for it, which is a fairly high number if you were not NanceGreggs, Plaidadder, or Will Pitt. In other words, it was fairly popular and it received a lot of praise. I am not saying it's above reproach but I am saying I meant what I wrote and a lot of people really liked it, especially many of the African Americans who were posting here at the time.
My sentiment has not changed and the past 8 years have only served to show what I said in that post was correct in more ways than one.
It's also the reason I strongly support Sanders as I truly believe in my heart of hearts and know as a physician who deals with the ravages of poverty and an anti-working class rigged system every day that economic issues are fundamental to everyone's well being especially when it comes to African Americans and their health and their lives.
As the original Clinton campaign used to say "It's the economy, stupid". It was true then and it is true now.
I could go on and on how poverty disables, maims, and kills. That is for another post but the stats are easy to find. Just google leading causes of death of Americans in general and then various groups of people. It may not be as sensational as some of the horrible cases we have had to witness in the news but impoverishment is a slow persistent degradation of the soul, the mind, and the body.
Yes we can work on specific things to correct institutional and non-institutional racism in this country and I think all of the three main candidates are becoming wise to addressing this more overtly. But fundamentally, under it all, many of us truly do believe the fundamental problem for everyone, especially African Americans, is an economic one. Even so, this is not an either-or set of solutions, we can work on all fronts.
We can certainly have a debate about how to do that and I would like to. But it doesn't seem as if it would be a fair debate because it feels like the moment you don't overtly and categorically disregard the economic issue as being fundamental to everyone's plight, then you are plagued with the implied meme that you are not really "getting it" or you are not really "racially sensitive" to what's going on. And this is the last thing you want to have applied to you on a left leaning forum board.
But here's the thing, many of us really do feel the underpinning problems are economic, environmental, and campaign finance related. We feel that correcting these things would create a better playing field for everyone, especially the African American community.
And honestly, up until recently I thought this was just an "accepted concept" on the left and especially on DU. I have always seen the Democratic Party as being about economic justice as much or more than anything. This is what everything I heard and read through the years had taught me about being part of the left.
At what point did that not become true? Or was it ever true?
And then in the end... why do I care anymore? I am now a wealthy physician. I make a ton of money. I pay a lot of taxes. I don't really get much personally for my taxes. I'm white thus I experience that privilege. I am male, thus there is an assumption I am competent before I have to "prove myself". Why should I even care? What do I need the Democratic Party for? And these are the things I keep thinking when I read these insulting posts about how Bernie Sanders' supporters are inferred to be these "out of touch white male supremacists".
I honestly really wish I didn't care. But I still do. I can't stop caring. I really care a lot. I think a lot of us do. And many of us really feel we need a fundamental change in direction in the Democratic Party and a fundamental change in the country. We feel we might get that from Sanders. We don't feel, judging from past experience, we will get that from Clinton.
In the end I feel this whole racial bit is a cynical ploy to push the interests of Clinton over the interests of Sanders for the simple fact that one of the linchpins to the Democratic nomination is held by the Democratic African American vote. If Sanders and his side can be saddled with the inference that they are somehow against the interest of African Americans, it further solidifies Clinton's position as the front runner. In other words, they are one of her firewalls. And because you have to be extraordinarily sensitive when dealing with this type of framing, it sort of hampers open and free debate. And I think that is the whole goal. Just end the debate. Just shut this thing down. Just don't even have a robust discussion. Let's coronate the frontrunner and be done with it.
It feels very Rovian and hearkens back to the Bush days when one would not dare speak out against the "War on Terror". Hillary's IWR vote is the very proof of the effect of such tactics.
Well I don't want to be in that kind of Country, I don't want to participate in that kind of Party, and I don't want to participate in that kind of forum board. I'm not ready to leave but I am getting weary. Why even try, why even go vote? For what? To stop the Republicans? I feel like if the Democratic Party can't even have an honest true argument with itself to make it a better Party, what good is saving it? It feels like a corrupted form of itself and one that I am becoming not to like. And anyway 4 to 8 years isn't that long and most of the time the Democrats just cave in to the Republicans anyway so... yeah... there's that.
Then I think of the Supreme Court. The one and only true reason to pull that lever no matter what. This one thing that I just can't just walk away from. Sigh. Because yes, I don't want to see the terror that will get ravaged upon this nation with more "Citizen United" decisions among other such horrors.
So then what, am I basically held to this Party now without a voice because of this one reason?
What a dilemma.
In the end I believe Clinton is going to win the Nomination and honestly probably the Presidency. I just don't think the Party or the Country is quite there for a Democratic Socialist no matter how straightforward and reasonable he may be. Not to mention, when you get down to it, people agree with him more on the issues that anyone.
I also believe Clinton will be better than any Republican even though she is miles from where I would want her to be as a President. My grievances with her have been well articulated elsewhere on DU.
But until Sanders concedes I will also continue to criticize her and her supporters on DU whenever I recognize they are not being truthful and honest, when they are not being fair, and when they are not elevating the debate. Being racially divisive is not elevating the debate and I am calling this out.
Being racially divisive is what Republicans do, it's not what Democrats do.