‘They’re the chosen whites’

As much as I’d like to say “how did we get here again?” it’s clear we never left.

America, we are fucked up.

Old news

When my friends Brandon and Amanda moved into their new apartment, they came upon an April 4, 1950, issue of The Commercial Appeal, and they were kind enough to let me get my grubby paws on it. The thing is quite yellowed and brittle, and has a tendency to shed bits of itself as you flip carefully from page to page. It’s fascinating stuff; the pages are absolutely chock full of tiny briefs and stories mixed with ads and cartoons and testimonials and photos of beauty queens.

Check out this masthead (fun fact: “masthead” means the staff credits/info box and NOT the nameplate/flag on the front page and I will remove your kneecaps with my teeth if you argue with me about that):

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Look at those cheap mail subscription rates! A month for a dollar! Crazy!

Look at those phone numbers! So devoid of digits! Crazy!

Look at all those bureau offices! So numerous! Crazy!

Look at this crazy cigarette ad!

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Does your throat feel smooth as a baby’s ass? That’s because you’ve been sucking on a Camel!

Check out this crazy mix of news! A snuff factory! Chilly nights that require topcoats! Topcoats, can you believe it!?? (Also, was “cloudly” a word in 1950 or did I just copy edit this paper FROM THE FUTURE?!)

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Do you think Miss Sanidas was scandalized at being placed so near an ad for a cream that relieves pimple itching?

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It’s all a pretty odd mix, and certainly puts into perspective the idea of some golden bygone era of quality, untouchable, objective journalism.

I mean, try this little story on for size:

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First of all, mad props for a badass and ballsy headline.

But on to the meat of the story: Yes, folks, those poor white motorists who had every right to arrive at their destination unmolested were undone — UNDONE, I SAY! — by those pesky negroes. It is such a foreign thing to see that sort of language used, and so cavalierly because it was just how things were said and done. It just was. What a world. What an awful fucking world. This, more or less, is why I don’t believe in The Good Old Days. Next time some old timer tries to lament the past and how America has gotten away from its true and noble values, remind that old timer that The Good Old Days were shit for a lot of people.

I’m glad I have a little tangible piece as proof.

(More photos of the paper are here. I will probably add more down the line before the thing disintegrates.)

I don’t care about who Russell Wiseman is; I care about what he did

Anyone living outside the 901 might have missed this, but it’s also possible that they might have caught it on the Drudge Report or Huffington Post or any number of widely read sites that picked it up: Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman was pissed that President Obama’s Afghanistan address cut into the showing of the Peanuts Christmas movie and ranted on Facebook about how it was a conspiracy by our Muslim president to suppress the Christian values espoused in the movie. Oh and that the country would have been better off had the Constitution stipulated that only property owners could vote.

That’s real.

That really happened.

First, from the paper:

“Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch ‘The Charlie Brown Christmas Special’ and our muslim president is there, what a load…..try to convince me that wasn’t done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it….w…hen the answer should simply be ‘yes’….”

“A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which first aired in 1965, has become an endearing program for many because of its emphasis on the “real meaning of Christmas,” including Linus’ memorable reading from the Gospel of Luke of Jesus’ birth.

In Wiseman’s extensive thread that attacked the president, his supporters and Muslims, he stated “…you obama people need to move to a muslim country…oh wait, that’s America….pitiful.”

At another point he said, “you know, our forefathers had it written in the original Constitution that ONLY property owners could vote, if that has stayed in there, things would be different……..”

I’d like to see the entire post, if only so I could count the periods vs. number of sentences. It sounds like a note and not a status update, but you never know these days how people can abuse Facebook’s interface. So I imagine there’s a lot more to it. But I can’t imagine that any amount of context would make it any more acceptable for an elected official to have espoused, even if he thought it was private.

And while the whole conspiracy theory that Obama is a secret follower of Islam seems silly to me — what does it matter what religion the ol’ boy practices in this country where we are free to practice what we wish? — the really offensive part of Wiseman’s comments are the bits about who deserves the right to vote. What is he getting at, exactly?

A lot of people (many of whom expressed incredulity in the CA story’s comments) don’t seem to accept that there’s such a thing as coded racism or language that expresses racist thinking without using overtly racist terms. But this is not something that can be denied. This is something that is real. And for an elected official — a mayor who represents a diverse community that no doubt includes non-Christians and non-property owners — to enthuse that property owners as defined by a class of people who still believed black people and women to be technically property are the true heirs to democracy? Well, that’s pretty unbelievably audacious.

If he didn’t mean to imply that black people — who originally could not vote because they could not own property — got this horrible Barack Obama fraud elected, then he should say that. And clarify what he meant. He spewed his rhetoric and retreated when he got the spotlight. But we’re genuinely interested, Mr. Wiseman. What did you mean, exactly?

Of course, there are plenty of people stepping in and saying that Russell Wiseman’s heart is pure and that he is wholesome and completely not racist and how dare people judge him?!!? And while, sure, I’ve never met the guy or contemplated his existence or political future until he brought this shitstorm upon himself, I’m not about to proclaim him a disgusting bigot OR the second coming of Christ, either one. I don’t know the dude. Truth.

But what I do know is that his Facebook rant/petulant behavior toward the president’s address sounds like coded racism. And what I do know is that if you fail to recognize how that can be, that you probably have your own issues with coded racism.

So I would like to pull a Jay Smooth here and request that everyone focus not on Wiseman’s soul and heart (which are unknown to us) or even the quality of the Average Arlington resident based on the caliber of his/her elected leader, but on what Wiseman did, which was to claim that this country would be better if (white male*) property owners were the only ones who could vote.

And when we focus on what Wiseman did, it is crystal clear that he at the very least owes his constituents an explanation and, most likely, an apology. It is supposedly UnAmerican to discriminate against people for their religious beliefs. Unless that tenet of American freedom has changed. Has it, Mayor Wiseman?

*Many people in the comments have cried foul at this interpretation of Wiseman’s comments (“he never said ‘white male’!!!”), but the fact is, Wiseman specifically evoked the attitude of the founders at the time the Constitution was being drawn up, and while it’s romantic to think of our founding fathers as diplomatic, hyper-enlightened supermen in powdered wigs, it’s important to remember that they didn’t mean “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all when they said it, and they did a lot of wrong shit to a lot of people for a long time. There is no such thing as “the good ol’ days.” Ever. Ever ever ever. In fact, I posit that “the good ol’ days” is a bit of coded racism in and of itself.

Pathetic

Did y’all see that story that caused Matt Drudge’s latest scandalgasm? The one where the white campaign worker in Pittsburgh claimed she was attacked by a black man who became enraged when he saw a McCain sticker on her car, and pounced on her, beat the crap out of her, then carved a B into her cheek? Yeah. That story, didja see it?

Well, guess what. She made it up!

HT: Sully, who also calls our attention to what John Moody, the executive VP of Fox News, said regarding the alleged incident:

If Ms. Todd’s allegations are proven accurate, some voters may revisit their support for Senator Obama, not because they are racists (with due respect to Rep. John Murtha), but because they suddenly feel they do not know enough about the Democratic nominee.

As Andrew points out, this is a hugely racist statement in itself, and YES, it would absolutely be racist if people reconsidered their support for Obama specifically over this incident. Oy.

Update: Oh, lol:

fail

HT: Wage