Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When Dog Whistles Become Sirens

I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you, that the Clinton campaign has decided that now is the time to move from racist dog whistles to sirens.
"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says, 'Let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world,' you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," she told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, California. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

- Geraldine Ferraro, former VP Candidate for the Democratic Party and current Clinton Campaign finance committee member.

Reading the remarks earlier, I couldn't help but laugh at the irony. I wouldn't be surprised if anti-affirmative action initiatives start popping up all over the country now to drive up the "persecuted" white voters in the fall. Classism certainly factors into a lot of the shafting that people feel in the system, but the audacity of people like Geraldine Ferraro and the like-minded to ignore the racial wars that still rage is amazing to me.

The day our schools are funded at the same levels as affluent white neighborhoods, our drop-out rates are not soaring above the 50% mark, incarceration levels balance out and prisons are not full of black and brown inmates - then, only then can we talk about how the United States has moved beyond the offensive history that has perpetuated throughout the generations.

I think this whole switch from passive to outright racism was calculated to coincide with Mississippi's primary today. The cynical minds behind the trotting out of a former party hack to unleash venom into the narrative was given in the context of a likely Obama win that would surely be attained by overwhelming African American voters. The polls bore out, with Barack receiving something like 91% of the black vote. How convenient for the Clinton campaign that they can now pigeonhole Obama as the black candidate.

The media is licking its chops to make it so, too. We have Pat Buchanan howling about censorship and "political correctness" - which is really just a tantrum that has a purpose to give a green light to the divisiveness he and other hate mongers offer everyday as pundits. The true irony is that many commentators are saying that it's the Obama campaign's problem that he is only yielding something like 30% of white voters in Mississippi.

How did the onus end up on the minority? It seems to me that it should be placed squarely on the shoulders of a society that continues to make assumptions about candidates based on the way they look. Racism has a purpose rooted in oppression. A sense of loyalty among African American voters has no such root - they are not trying to oppress the white people, or any others - it is a statement of solidarity with the possibility that some semblance of equal representation lies on the horizon. Barack Obama has run a brilliant campaign, and to suggest that he has received the wins he has over the past few months based on "luck" is the pinnacle of offensiveness.

The indignation by people like Geraldine Ferraro when she gets called out on racist tripe is reminiscent of the vigilantes the Latino community has had to deal with over the past few years. Their heads explode at the mere mention that they are pushing along a long-standing racist system, but unfortunately they are either too ignorant or too angry at their own concocted sense of being shafted to see that maybe, just maybe, the brown folk are tired of being served platters of mierda - for good reason.

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