- Brewer Vetoes Birth Certificate Bill In Arizona (pinkbananaworld.com)
- Sarah Palin Defends Donald Trump, Talks 2012 – Fox News (news.google.com)
in Tuscon, AZ
bullets rip through
we all en
blasted across cheek
mistakes trusting the general
store to have
the general public
she smiled at
the little girl
born in tragedy
9/11 seems a long way
crosshairs target the back of
her head gun
powder explosions like
fourth of july
screams and cheers mixed up
in twisted skies
cries of stop
skittering with tears
steaming on sidewalks
judges laying down life
porque estamos aqui?
oops better speak American
or the next
crazy white boy living with his parents
listening to grizzly bears
target me from a helicopter
he’s a lone shooter
who doesn’t like
i want my country back, but
not as much as i want
Christina Taylor Green
Dorthy Morris and
a peaceable assembly
in Tuscon, AZ.
© Reynaldo A. Macias 2011
This is why Sarah Palin is dangerous. Her idiocy masked as “country first” rhetoric is code for poor, white people who are suffering and giving them someone to blame. Today, that blame was placed on Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s 8th district. Representative Giffords has been doing her job, representing her constituents to the best of her abilities by voting for the Affordable Health Care for America Act because she believed it necessary to improve their lives.
Today, she was targeted for assassination and shot in the head, along with members of her staff and constituency. But today wasn’t the first time she was placed in the crosshairs, both literally and figuratively. Governor Palin’s “target map” had a gun scope placed over Representative Giffords’ district. Giffords’ Tea Party-backed opponent placed an ad along which wanted to “remove Gabrielle Giffords shoot an M16”.
Sarah Palin, Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, author and professional idiot Glenn Beck and others have constantly over the last two years (note: Barack Obama was elected President of the United States a little over two years ago) been using imagery and language inciting violence against the political ideas which have proven more popular (by the only measure that matters – elections and legislation passed). The unfortunate reality here is that the chickens are coming home to roost in the henhouses of their opponents.
The language of hate speech, of white disenfranchisement, of poverty as a condition caused by the government, that these particular individuals are getting rich spouting has born fruit.
I pray for Gabrielle Giffords as she battles for life. I pray for those who lost their lives and are battling, and their families. And I pray for our nation, which is lost and wandering in the darkness.
“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A wise Latina once said, before she stepped up to sit down on the bench in the United States Supreme Court, that a person who’s life experience (specifically a female person of color) is fraught with navigation of racial, gender and cultural mazes will render a decision regarding justice that is more just than a person who’s life experience encounters few cultural, racial, gender or economic obstacles. Time and again in the past two years, her words and observations (as well as the words and observations of thousands of others) have been borne true by the elected leaders of the United States government.
Senator Jeff Sessions’ assertions that Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor “shouldn’t bring her personal background into the courtroom” even as he is bringing his is an assertion of rich white male normalcy that he is offended is being questioned. The entire tenor of her confirmation hearings, and those of Professor Leonard Liu who followed her into that Senate chamber, was the questioning of a distinct, colored perspective and American experience because it did not match his.
2012 Republican presidential hopeful, Governor Haley Barbour, recently harkened back to his idyllic boyhood, praising the White Citizen’s Council of Yahzoo, Mississippi where he grew up. Not only did he romanticize a terrorist organization, he sought to negate (because it didn’t match his) the experiences of millions of black, white and brown Americans even while he tried to claim part of it. He recalled attending a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, yet belittled the experience because “he couldn’t hear very well,” and “[he] paid more attention to the girls than to King.”
His privilege, both white and economic, allowed him to bypass the turbulent growth of the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. He attended segregated schools through high school, and the “business community” made sure that the KKK (populated by economically disenfranchised whites) didn’t cause any problems that he could see. His dismissal of integration, segregation, lynchings and the struggle for civil rights as “not that bad” is a perspective that few people in the United States can honestly attest to, and one even fewer experienced.
It’s not his statements, though, which are problematic. It’s his experience (or lack thereof). The rich, white, male, heterosexual cocoon in which he has existed his entire life allows him to negate the experience of black, brown, red, yellow, female, poor, homosexual American experiences that more people than not live in each day.
Senator Lindsey Graham is a study in the absurdity of white, male, wealthy privilege. He has actually taken to the floor of the United States Senate to apologize to his fellow rich, white, male Senator Jon Kyl for having to take the time to work. It isn’t clear what Senator Kyl is supposed to be doing with his time, whether it is leisure or the pursuit of wealth or the accumulation of power, instead of working to negotiate the strategic arms reduction treaty; or voting on unemployment insurance for the 9.8% of Americans who are without work; or having his voice heard in favor of discrimination against gay and lesbian service members; or pushing the button to insure that the most wealthy citizens of the United States are not discriminated against by having to pay their commensurate share of taxes to fund to the government; or denying the opportunity to attain higher education or serve in the armed forces of the United States to adults whose lives are marred by having been brought to the land of opportunity illegally as children; or arguing to prevent the federal government from inspecting and insuring the safety of the food citizens consume. Both Senator Graham and Senator Kyl find it an affront to their experience to be forced to work for their paycheck, to meet their responsibilities to serve citizens (whom their actions show) they believe to be beneath them and unworthy of their efforts or their concerns.
And finally, a study in all of these expressions of domination, Senator John McCain. Himself a heterosexual veteran of the armed forces, he would deny that honor to homosexual Americans without cause. Having stated he would consider ending segregation if the leaders of the military indicated it was warranted, he capitulated to his own homophobia when they did so. Having stated he needed to see a report detailing the military’s ability to incorporate the (already serving) aforementioned soldiers, he then changed his mind after service members were surveyed, sighting “literally thousands” of soldiers he said told him they had a problem with homosexuals. Amazingly, he then stood on the floor of the Senate and proclaimed the end of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the military to be “a sad day.” Spoken like a man who had not for one day of his life, including his incarceration in a North Vietnamese prison, existed in a position of anything less than white, rich, male, heterosexual privilege. Even in his incarceration, he was accorded a position of privilege, according to his own accounts.
These five rich, white, heterosexual men have failed in their responsibilities as leaders because they have perpetuated a system of domination, codified into law what is calcified in their experience, and refuse, stubbornly refuse, to acknowledge that there is more than one American experience. They would rather dance together on their island of privilege than give life to the words and ideals which gave birth to this nation.
What is more amazing (or frightening for those of us who take the spirit of Thomas Jefferson’s poetry to heart) is that in struggling to ascertain their place in American society, there are many who learn the wrong lessons from what Justice Sotomayor has said, who feel that their struggles have given them the only clear interpretation of the the American experience, and attempt to join the landed (rich), white, male, educated class without any realization that their entrance into the “old boys club” is impossible, and that it is indeed the dismantling of that club which needs to occur.
Black men like Michael Steele, who find themselves in possession of some male and/or economic privilege, attempt to stand a few rungs up and climb higher by stepping on the heads and backs of other Americans. White women like Sarah Palin, who realize that by speaking to white, poor fears, they can garner some acclaim, but find that they are still marginalized (both in terms of validation of their experience or longevity of accumulated power) when their fifteen minutes are over. Women of color like Michelle Malkin, who find that they can exist at the fringes but never reach the acceptance of Anne Coulter, or Sean Hannity, or Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck.
The paradigm through which the American experience is viewed continues to be rich, elite, white, male, and heterosexual. That individuals who grow up with all of these privileges have them is not problematic. That they fail to understand them as privileges, or that there are other American experiences that they must take into account in order to be leaders in the United States of America, is egregious and a moral failing on par with knotting a noose, or lighting a cross, or voting to maintain segregation of gay and straight, rich and poor, male and female, or black and white.
The Incoming class of Republican hypocrites who call themselves the TEA Party caucus already have their hands down the pants of Washington lobbyists, trying to pry hard cash from those silk pockets even as they talk out the other side of their faces about fiscal conservatism, debt ceilings, broken Washington politics, and taking their government back.
All of the indignation that fueled their campaigns and lip service to changing the culture of government has evaporated even before they begin serving their brief terms in our nation’s capital. It is sad, not only that their supposed virtue lasted less time than the previous Alaskan governor’s term (she did endorse many of them), or that it’s gone before they’ve moved into their ATMs – I mean offices – or cast their first votes. What’s sad is that the lies they told to get elected played on the fears and anxieties of constituents whose names they forgot as soon as the votes were counted.
Dear Governor Palin,
For a couple of years now, you’ve been mocking community organizers. From your introductory speech at the Republican National Convention to your recent comments about nuclear materials, you’ve taken to task those people who’ve dedicated their lives to rallying disenfranchised and disaffected populations, and helping them achieve ends that they otherwise wouldn’t achieve. It strikes me, though, and please show me the error of my thoughts here, that you have become your own declared enemy – you are a community organizer (since you quit governing, that is).
Today you spoke to a Tea Party rally opposing President Barack Obama, exhorting the crowd to “vote them out in November” and mocking the HOPE and CHANGE that propelled him to the presidency, and relegated you to headlining rallies or co-opting interviews on Fox and claiming them for your own. In your speech, though, you neglected to acknowledge your role as a community organizer. Your reference to “the Alinsky method” failed to pay the debt you owe to him. You are working very diligently to “create [a] mass organization to seize power” in the United States government. Much as you accuse others of doing, you are organizing a community to be a force for CHANGE … or are you?
I know that this may be lost on you, which is unfortunate. It would behoove you to understand and organize your community to be effective and not simply effusive. It would also be good that they know you need private jets and don’t like to give autographs. Perhaps you quit governing because it was actual work, where charging six figures to stand in front of screaming hordes of anxious, frightened, un- and underemployed, slightly xenophobic and constitutionally ignorant people is much easier. It simply requires you to pick some good ideas from the President’s speeches (he is a much better writer than you, after all), and twist them around; or take some of the successful Democratic policies like the stimulus package (which has created jobs) or the health care reform legislation (any death panels yet?) and lie to the very people they are intended to help.
I’ve also heard much lately about your political iq, though I am not personally impressed. But since it’s obvious to most that you are a failure in politics, I’d say that your career iq is pretty high. You’ve managed to parlay a mixed-bag of family situations and lipstick jokes into a ghost-written career as an author and a failed campaign as a maverick into a psuedopolitical twilight as a faux community organizer. I guess my question is, what will happen when the community you’re organizing realizes that you have your best interests, not theirs, at heart?
You’ve tried to give community organizers a bad name in your written and spoken word over the last two years. Unfortunately, your actions speak much louder.
And what he didn’t say . . .the North Won the Civil War. Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. Democrats in Congress won the Health Care Reform battle, and are poised to do the same on energy. Duke won the NCAA Championship this year, as did UConn. While these are all facts, there are literally thousands of people who are not happy about them. Stanford fans are frustrated that their team held UConn to 12 points in the first have but couldn’t win the game. Butler fans are gluing their hair back in from that last desperate half-court miss. Congressional Republicans are planning to “Repeal and Replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. John McCain and Sarah Palin are still out on the campaign trail. And Governor Robert McDonnell of Virginia has proclaimed April to be Confederate History Month in his state.
While it is not for me to dismiss the history and family pride of those who’s forebears believed that this was a nation for white people to own and black people to work, I heartily disagree. And while it is not for me to say that the ideas of states’ rights which were tied to the battle of grey-suited warriors to free themselves from Republican tyranny and federal oppression is wrong, I agree much more with John Jay’s assessment that “Nothing is more certain than the indispensible [sic] necessity of government; and it is equally undeniable that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.” I must, as a mature student of history, acquiesce to the fact that the story of the Confederacy is someone’s grandfather’s or grandmother’s story, and while they disagree (or don’t) with those views, they have a right to represent their history the same way I have the right to represent mine; to find those pieces with which they agree and find pride and cherish and celebrate them.
However, Gov. McDonnell is a one-sided celebrant, and herein lies the problem. He makes no mention of the enslaved victims of the Confederacy, those on whom the burden of states’ rights onerously fell like a crushing weight. He neglects, then, my grandparents in a way which has historically sought to invalidate their humanity by rendering them, as Ralph Ellison so eloquently denounced, invisible. It is this racism of blindness which continues to trouble us in 2010.
Telling only part of the story is a lie of omission which perpetuates and exacerbates many of the current political and social ills of our day. We saw this with the health care debate; we see it with Sarah Palin’s continued uttering; we see this with the Tea Party movement, both in its displays and its coverage; we see it with the stimulus package; on a daily basis, telling only the part of the story that helps us is the accepted norm. Governor McDonnell, though, has just said something very different to the black people in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has just said that they don’t exist, by not including their participation in the Confederacy. Though most of that participation was bad, and should serve as a reminder of the democratic ideals on which this nation was founded, there were black men, enslaved men, who fought in the Confederate army. Are they not worthy of recognition? There were black men and women who greeted the defeat of the Confederacy as liberation, as an entrance into full citizenship and the beginning of their acquisition of the natural rights they’d been denied. McDonnell has said by his omission that the Confederate ideology of chattel slavery of African Americans wasn’t “significant for Virginia.”
Flying the Confederate flag for many southerners is an honoring of their ancestors, a reading of their historical maps as they make their own journeys. But just as Congressional Republicans won’t be able to repeal health care reform, Palin and McCain are going to lose again; Butler can’t take one more shot; Stanford can’t make one more block; and cheering the Confederacy while denying black folks won’t help the South rise again.
For two years of the presidential campaign, from 2007-2008, I lived and breathed politics. Though I didn’t begin Spreading the Word until early 2008, I was reading and talking about the candidates long before then (think 2004 Democratic National Convention’s keynote speech). With the election of Barack Obama, it seemed that I’d be able to go back to my day job, teaching, and be able to leave the day-to-day political awareness and direction of the nation to my elected representatives.
I was wrong.
The election of Barack Obama angered many Republicans, scared some people who are “bitter, clinging to their guns and religion”, gave birth to the Tea Party movement, and generally ginned up even more opposition than I believed possible. I’m not sure why I thought his opponents would understand they LOST THE ELECTION and be a little quieter. But John Boehner and Eric Cantor continue to lie and scream about the president; Lindsey Graham is sitting on Meet The Press complimenting the President on his parenting style while blasting a series of untruths that the President is “governing as an American liberal in a center-right nation” and that the President hasn’t done any “heavy lifting” on legislation; Mitch McConnell is saying that Republicans are going to run in November on “Repeal and Replace”; and Sarah Palin is helping John McCain run further and further into the weeds on the right side of the political spectrum.
While I know politics isn’t flag football, I don’t expect it to be Celebrity Death Match, either. It seems, though, that implementing an agenda which speaks to the best in the American ideals and meets the goals stated in the Constitution is going to be a continuous engagement, because the opponents are galvanized.
“…government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem”
-First Inaugural Address, 1981
Twenty-nine years ago, President Reagan stood up and told American citizens that government is the problem. One day ago, a disgruntled white man committed an act of domestic terrorism, attacking that government because he was required to pay his share to support our country. Surprisingly, he has been embraced for his “heroism” by the very same people who continue to scream that Arab Americans shouldn’t board airplanes in the United States.
The TEA Party, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan, Bill O’Reilly and every person who publicly rants about big government had their hand on the throttle of that airplane as it aimed itself at federal employees in an eerily reminiscent reprise of the foreign terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The difference between having a heated conversation regarding the role of government and berating the existence of government is huge, and it’s unfortunately a difference that these individuals (and Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Eric Cantor, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter) refuse to acknowledge.
It is easier to scream that government doesn’t work than to discuss/debate/argue about how it should work. But the anti-government rhetoric that Rush Limbaugh most vocally purports (“I hope [the President] fails.”) is reaching a head, from suicide-plane attacks to advocating lynching government officials, and the right wing is getting further and further from reality, living in the daily stew of hate, rejection, insecurity and violence.
For putting us on the path, I say thank you, Mr. President.
Having moved to Twitter over the last several months, my political thoughts have become quick and fluid, and easily expressed in under 140 characters each. But I’ve been watching Sen. Olympia Snowe, Rep. John Boehner, ex-Gov. Sarah Palin and others running around lying this week, while President Obama and Greg Mortenson and Richard Clarke are running around trying to accomplish, trying to help, trying to get things done.
That “hopey changey thing” that I voted for is working out for me just fine. Maybe it’s just because I’m such a simple guy.