Thursday, August 20, 2015

It's bad enough that racist whitefolk lie about "Black Lives Matter" -- but to drag MLK Jr. into their lies?


Seriously, "Minister Mike" Hucksterbee imagines himself as a custodian of the teachings of "the moral leader of our nation," as he's described aptly in the clip above, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.? Friggin' unbelievable.

by Ken

I can't be the only one who has been taken aback by the widespread frenzy with which race-baiting whitefolk have responded to the Black Lives Matter phenomenon. Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised, but for cripes' sake, it's a frenzy that is 100 percent without foundation, and while surely scads of people have pointed this out, the race-baiting whitefolk continue to screech -- to whitefolk susceptible to race-baiting, of course -- that the phrase "black lives matter" means that black lives matter more than other lives, when no such thing is said, implied, or hinted at, except in the warped minds of race-baiting whitefolk.

Here, for example, is "Minister Mike" Hucksterbee, the preacher-turned-pol-turned-pundit :
When I hear people scream 'Black Lives Matter,' I'm thinking, of course they do. All lives matter. It is not that any life matters more than another. That's the whole message Dr. King tried to present.
I confess that I'm not intimately familiar with every in and out of the ravings of Minister Mike, and so it's possible that somewhere along the line the Arkansas Huckster has said something that might be considered vaguely in line with, or at least not entirely antithetical to, the beliefs and teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. But man, I have to say, the effrontery of him appointing himself the custodian of Dr. King's message boggles my mind.

The text I'm working from here is from ThinkProgress's Kay Steiger:
Huckabee Says Civil Rights Icon Dr. King Would Be ‘Appalled’ By Black Lives Matter Movement

By Kay Steiger | Aug. 19, 2015

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on Tuesday that the civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be “appalled” at the Black Lives Matter movement, saying it was wrong to “elevate” some lives above others.

In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, the Republican presidential candidate commented on the ongoing civil rights movement, which tries to bring attention to police shootings and racial disparities in policing, as well as greater racial inequalities. The CNN host asked about Clinton’s private meeting with the activists, and what he thought about her remarks that laws needed to change.

Huckabee said it was more of “a sin problem than a skin problem” in his experience dealing with racial issues. Huckabee went on to say, “I’ve dealt with race issues my whole life … as a governor and before that, as a pastor when I integrated an all-white church and did so against death threats. I understand how people have great passions,” he said. “But I understand the way you begin to resolve them is you do it by loving people and treating people with dignity and respect and you don’t do it by magnifying the problems.”

“When I hear people scream ‘Black Lives Matter,’ I’m thinking, of course they do. All lives matter,” Huckabee concluded. “It is not that any life matters more than another. That’s the whole message Dr. King tried to present.”

Civil rights icon was certainly an advocate for nonviolence, but Huckabee’s remarks may be a deliberate misreading of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. In fact, the reverend received numerous hate threats that closely resemble the kinds of criticism that the Black Lives Matter movement receives today.

Other presidential candidates have received criticism for saying “all lives matter,” including former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who later apologized for the remarks. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that O’Malley shouldn’t have apologized, and that such criticism against him was ridiculous. “We’re so uptight and so politically correct now that we apologize for saying lives matter?” Bush said.

The movement has begun disrupting political events and directly confronting presidential candidates as a means of making their concerns a national issue.


You could argue that it's not racism but a stupefying level of ignorance that has clouded Huckster Mike's mind. Ignorance so encompassing that he has apparently never in his life experienced a moment of actual sentience, and so he is unaware that at no second in the history of this country has it been accepted that all lives matter. For much of our history, of course, the fact that black lives do not matter was a foundation of both the politics and the slave-based economy of the United States. And since then, there hasn't been any time when black people in America did not have rights exclusively at the sufferance of whitefolks. I would be gratified to have Minister Mike share some of his apparently extensive ministry in support of the proposition that all lives matter.

In particular, the Hucksterman has apparently been in a coma in the year-plus since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, during which we have been treated to an almost daily demonstration that as far as white America is concerned, it's a simple matter of fact that black lives don't matter -- except under precise conditions set out by whitefolks in which black people may grudgingly be allowed to live their lives. Still, if Minister Mike's problem is a stunning degree of ignorance, then its ignorance in the service of his racism, and racism in the service of his ignorance. Either way, it's nothing to brag about -- and certainly no cause to open your filthy lying piehole.

My goodness, the gall to invoke of all names that of Dr. King! Is it humanly possible to not know that the most crucial part of his mission, from the violence of his movement's beginning to savagery of his own end, was establishing in the minds of black people first and then of whitefolks that black lives matter. There's no point asking the Hucksterbee, "Have you no shame?" If he had, he could never have made such an utterance.

This is profanation, pure and simple. Yet I wonder if it isn't still more offensive to have a loathsome toad like Jeb! Bush prattling on about all lives mattering. This is a malignant life form whose entire existence, every breath he has ever drawn, has been a staging ground for the most exclusive form of white privilege. Sorry, folks, but I truly have no words.

Instead, by way of a parting word, let me offer Jelani Cobb's "Comment" piece from the current (August 24) New Yorker, which argues that at an even deeper level than many of us properly considered, and in an assortment of ways, race is the first defining factor in American society -- and the definition includes the reality that black lives don't matter.

In April, 1927, after spring thaws and weeks of heavy rain, dozens of swollen tributaries poured into the Mississippi River, pushing it beyond its boundaries and initiating the twenty-seven-thousand-square-mile catastrophe that came to be known as the Great Flood. The river breached levees, funnelling as much as thirty feet of water into the surrounding areas; swept away homes; and wrought devastation unfathomable even in a region long accustomed to cyclical flooding. Bessie Smith etched the memory of the disaster into popular culture with “Backwater Blues,” a song written during the turbulent season that led up to the flood: “When it thunders and lightnin’ / and the wind begins to blow, There’s thousands of people / ain’t got no place to go.”

The waters wound through a South that was still defined by agricultural labor and debt peonage. Like the Mississippi itself, tumbling along a route constructed for it by a primitive levee system, the disaster followed a path that had been engineered beforehand, disproportionately affecting the poor, mostly black laborers who were anchored to the land by sharecropping contracts. In some instances, Red Cross supplies were disbursed to landlords, who sold them to tenant farmers. Tent encampments (then known as concentration camps) allowed entry to blacks fleeing the storm but required that they obtain special passes in order to leave. The black labor force was already diminished by the Great Migration, and the main concern was to insure that blacks would not use the flood as an opportunity to flee North. Herbert Hoover, the Secretary of Commerce, was appointed to head the recovery effort. In response to allegations of racism and mistreatment, he appointed a commission led by Robert Moton, a protégé of Booker T. Washington’s, and his successor at the Tuskegee Institute, to examine the charges. That report was not issued until 1929, safely after the 1928 election, in which Hoover had feared losing the traditionally Republican black vote, but the damage was inescapable. In 1932, African-Americans deserted the G.O.P. to support Franklin Roosevelt, beginning a major realignment in American politics, and Hoover’s handling of the catastrophe was part of the reason for the shift.

As Richard Mizelle writes, in his history of the flood (also titled “Backwater Blues”), what happened in 1927 is “part of a much longer narrative of how race, class, gender, and questions of social worth are framed through an environmental disaster.” That pattern has grown only more apparent. History, social science, and common sense have made it increasingly difficult not to consider the term “natural disaster” as a linguistic diversion, one that carries a hint of absolution. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods are natural phenomena; disasters, however, are often the work of humankind. The earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010 was two orders of magnitude weaker than the one that struck off the coast of Japan in 2011, yet it resulted in fifteen times more fatalities. The disparity was largely due to the relative geopolitical and economic standings of the two nations, and the corresponding standards of housing.

A decade after Hurricane Katrina, the images that it produced remain fresh in memory: bodies floating by major thoroughfares, the horrorscape of the Superdome, people stranded on rooftops like urban castaways. Official estimates hold that eighteen hundred and thirty-three people died as a result of the hurricane and the subsequent breaches of the levees. There is a temptation to say that the storm also swept away a particular kind of innocence about American poverty, but, in the days afterward, polls showed stark disparities in how blacks and whites viewed the federal government’s tardy response to the crisis and the role that race played in it. Sixty per cent of blacks said that the response was slow because of the race of the storm’s primary victims; only about twelve per cent of whites concurred. Sixty-three per cent of blacks felt that the response was slow because the victims were poor, a sentiment shared by just twenty-one per cent of whites.

Katrina didn’t usher in a new narrative about race in America as much as it confirmed an old one. In 2006, Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native, released “Georgia . . . Bush,” an indignant screed in which he claimed that the hurricane should have been named for the President who had presided over the mismanagement of the calamity. In the song, Wayne repeated a commonly held belief that the levees in the Lower Ninth Ward didn’t fail but were detonated, so that the more valuable white neighborhoods would be spared—a rumor that also spread about the flood that engulfed the city after Hurricane Betsy, in 1965. The past haunts at the peripheries. For one set of people, Katrina was a tragedy compounded by ineptitude; for another, it was a recasting of a drama that stretched back at least eight decades and suggested that, if the past is prologue, the disaster was not just predictable but possibly inevitable.

Residents of St. Bernard Parish, who blocked the roads in order to keep black residents leaving the city from coming through their community, were playing a part similar to that of those who, nearly eighty years ago, refused to allow blacks to leave the relief camps. In 2013, the Parish paid $2.5 million to settle lawsuits, one filed by the Department of Justice, alleging that it had contrived ordinances to prevent African-Americans from moving there after the storm. The population of New Orleans went from being sixty-seven per cent black, in 2005, to fifty-nine per cent, in 2013, which literally changed the color of the electoral politics in the city.

The ghosts of the past remain discernible in at least one other way. Media reports often referred to New Orleanians displaced by Katrina as “refugees,” a word that, in a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, seventy-seven per cent of blacks, and just thirty-seven per cent of whites, took exception to. The term, with its connotations of foreigners crossing borders to seek asylum, cut closer to the bone in a population whose citizenship has so frequently been challenged. Katrina can be viewed as the first of a series of crises that seem to have become a referendum on black citizenship. The poll respondents were asked if they were “bothered” by the word “refugee.” The presumption was that many took issue with a loaded term being applied inaccurately. A decade later, it’s worth wondering whether they were “bothered” by a fear that “refugee,” not “citizen,” had been the most apt description all along.

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At 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for Cobb's "Comment" piece and for yours. The denial is so many layers deep, and the cultural including religious mindwashing so thoroughly insidious, most Americans will never escape from under their self-interested illusions, nor will most of the people who will be their descendants down through the generations. We live in a racist country far worse than South Africa ever was and just as much in denial as was Nazi Germany, among others.

At 10:24 AM, Blogger KenInNY said...

"A racist country far worse than South Africa ever was"? Huh??? And I don't get the Nazi Germany point. (Certainly when it comes to racism, Nazi Germany wasn't in denial at all -- could the Nazi theorists have been any more straightforward about their rankings of the races they acknowledged on their superiority-inferiority scale?)

Yes, we have a serious racism problem that goes largely unacknowledged. (We also have a serious class problem that goes largely unacknowledged.) I don't see that comparisons to South Africa and Nazi Germany help us acknowledge or understand our race problem, and they also seem to me an injustice to the victims of South African apartheid and Nazi oppression.



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