has riffed on this theme in a number of
previous commentaries. African slavery and Indian extermination
gave birth to a white society that was constantly in conflict
with reality, itself. “The Bubble” is the social space in
which whites daily convinced each other that the lies they
told about Indians and Blacks were facts, thus making mass
murder bearable – even glorious. As we wrote in our March
13 commentary, “Racism
and War – Perfect Together”:
arrived with criminal intent - and brought wives and children
to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To
justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially
cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into "savages"
deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed
lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white
Americans, a fact to be acted upon
by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became
a singular people confronting the great "frontier"
- a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against
a darker, "savage" people marked for extinction.
of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding
American nation. "Manifest Destiny" was born at
Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase
Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua,
etc. Little children were taught that the American project
was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the
way were "evil-doers" or just plain subhuman, to
be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American
identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never
saw a red person.
is no wonder, then, that “an exhaustive international survey
shows conclusively that the planet has a great deal to fear
from the people of the United States,”
as we stated last week. A
BBC-coordinated survey of 11,000 people in eleven nations
showed clearly that “What
the World Thinks of America” bears little resemblance
to what America thinks about itself. (Opinions were solicited
in Australia, Britain, Canada, Brazil, France, Indonesia,
Israel, Jordan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.)
four centuries after the founding of the Jamestown and Plymouth
colonies, white America floats above the globe in a monstrously
armed “bubble,” neither hearing nor respecting the opinions
of mankind. Some examples from the BBC survey:
Between 70 and 80 percent of
Americans heartily applaud the general military role played
by the U.S. in the world….
key questions relating to world security, only Israel and
three other nations can be considered part of the American
political conversation: Britain, Canada, and Australia. One
is the “mother country,” the other three began as European
Is the U.S. a “beacon for hope for the
world?” Positive answers: U.S. 85 percent, Israel 51 percent,
Canada 46 percent, Britain 20 percent, Australia 14. Every
other country registered negatively.
Is the U.S. “reaping the thorns planted by its
rulers in the world?” (A question Americans must have found
unfamiliar and disturbing.) Every country tallied majorities
in agreement – except the U.S….
It requires only a few minutes of reading the
non-security-military responses to the survey to conclude
that supermajorities of Americans believe the U.S. is superior
in all aspects of material, cultural and spiritual life.
poll showed that Americans worship themselves in overwhelming
numbers, and appear to believe that most other peoples of
the planet admire them – or should. “At the other end of the American
spectrum,” we noted, “is the lonely 15 percent or so of Americans
who refuse to join in the national boosterism. No racial breakdown
is available, but experience teaches us that at least half
of these Americans are Black.”
is here that Beth Call enters the conversation, with a thoughtful
I find your commentaries refreshingly truthful. As
a white Progressive, I dare to hope that more than 15% of
the American people realize that the US government these days
is the very opposite of a beacon of hope to the nations we
dominate, either militarily or economically - witness the
millions who turned out to oppose the war in spite of government
officials and the media doing everything they could to discourage
and downplay the demonstrations. And the 360,000 who
participated in MoveOn's candidate selection process.
You have to consider who's taking the polls that indicate
70% of Americans consider the US the "light of the
world". I agree with the black caucus more often
than any other political group. The overwhelming majority
of our local Democratic party. of which I am secretary, also
usually share their views and passed a nearly unanimous resolution
against the Iraq War last September. This is quite remarkable
considering that Walla Walla [Washington] is traditionally
a conservative little town. Still I must admit that
there are also huge numbers of SUV's with flags waving.
Thank you so much for being there. We shall overcome!
Call deserves a clearer presentation of our views.
do not believe that the "lonely 15 percent or so
of Americans who refuse to join in the national boosterism"
is an actual measure of the "progressive" population.
This 15 percent group can more meaningfully be called "rejectionists,"
comprised of a number of "tendencies" - some of
them not "progressive" at all! If the survey reflects
ethnic America, the core of the group is certainly Black,
and "rejectionist" for very good historical reasons.
But a large part of the Black population, although essentially
progressive, tends to "shade" its opinions when
asked "soft" questions. This group, like an even
larger proportion of Hispanics, attempts to respond to
polls in as "positive" a manner as possible.
(See Harvard Prof. Michael Dawson in our Nov 21 article on
the Black Consensus.)
it comes time to pull the voting lever, Blacks pull the right
one 90 percent of the time in national elections. However,
African Americans vote/act in the knowledge that
they are the targets of the Right, which probably
has the effect of exaggerating the actual character of the
Black political worldview. Maybe only 80 percent are "progressive."
DLC-favored pollster divides Hispanics between "pro-opportunity"
and "pro-government" tendencies. Based on the questions
and answers, one could conclude that Hispanics are 65 - 70
percent "progressive" - but that doesn't jibe
with Hispanic voting patterns, even when Cubans are excluded. We
don't pretend to fully understand the complexities of Hispanic
or immigrant perceptions, but 60 percent sounds like
a good "progressive" guess.
on lifetimes of close, working journalist observations of
many elections involving a myriad of circumstances
and issue/candidate configurations, ’s
publishers agree that no more than 20 percent of white Americans
can be meaningfully described as "progressive."
The proportion varies by region, and gets very tricky depending
on the presence of race as an overwhelming issue. (Or the
perception of race as an issue.)
out "others," it appears to us that less than one-third
of Americans can be counted on to consistently vote/act
like "progressives" - and about half of
these are white. (We avoid the word "liberal,"
because it is almost always based on a white American
"norm," skewing the criteria to the right of the
American spectrum, thereby creating more “liberals” than actually
than one-third is not good, but it's not hopeless, either.
Active minorities win elections in America. But that's
Daniels is an example of how a progressive American might
in good faith answer “Yes” to the question, Is the U.S. a “beacon for hope for the world?” Daniels writes:
W. Bush, the featureless preppy figurehead for a gang of puppeteering
leeches, isn't our country. Nor are his cronies. Nor are his
country is where Sojourner Truth and Martin Luther King and
Patrick Henry were born. It is a country where millions of
people have struggled and will continue to struggle to uphold
decency, honesty, compassion and creativity. It is a country
where we are able by law to speak together freely in
order to learn to live together. The United States of America
is the Bill of Rights (no matter who wrote it), a Constitution
that can be revised if the people desire it; it is the music
of Aaron Copland, and it is the music of John Coltrane.
love your site. I've been reading 100% of every issue for
the past three months, and have been checking the archives
all along for things I've missed. Many have died for the truth
that you so ably and compassionately uphold, and you seem
incapable of forgetting that fact. You and your collaborators
are erecting a monument to human decency, and I salute you.
You are one of the things that is right
with our country. Keep up the good work.
Zahran finds our logic easy to digest.
This is a great article. It is amazing how things are so
simple and clear – for
those outside the bubble.
of the bubble, on the other hand, are capable of infinite
delusion. They are eager to absolve active racists and supporters
of mass murder, as hapless victims of cabalist indoctrination.
I basically agree with your premise about the stupidity of
Americans in the unquestioning acceptance of the right wing
extremist policies of this administration, but to blame it
on whites is – well – racist. After all, Condoleezza Rice
and Colin Powell, both African Americans, are feeding us this
replied (to the writer who shall remain
white Americans feast
on the "crap." They invented the "crap."
They built a worldview and culture based on the "crap."
And now you want to minimize four centuries of "crap"
by citing two Black Bush hirelings? You are full of "crap."
glad Illinois State Senator Barack Obama has directed the
Democratic Leadership Council to remove his name from their
Democrats Directory,” and hope it will have disappeared
from the noxious columns before the DLC holds its “National
Conversation” in Philadelphia, July 26. (See “Obama
to Have Name Removed from DLC List: Says “New Democrats” acted
“without my knowledge.”)
is a very serious candidate for the U.S. Senate, with a solid
progressive legislative and activist history.
presented him with three questions on NAFTA, national health
insurance, and the October 10 Iraq War Powers resolution,
“bright line” issues that reveal the DLC leadership’s corporate-Republican
innards. Last week,
are undoubtedly correct that these positions make me an unlikely
candidate for membership in the DLC. That is why I am not currently,
nor have I ever been, a member of the DLC.
As I stated in my previous letter, I agreed to be listed
as “100 to watch” by the DLC.
That’s been the extent of my contact with them.
It does appear that, without my knowledge, the DLC
also listed me in their “New Democrat” directory.
Because I agree that such a directory implies membership,
I will be calling the DLC to have my name removed, and appreciate
your having brought this fact to my attention.
Cohen has been following our columns on the “New Democrats.”
for taking on the DLC in such an upfront way. Nobody
else is doing it. Too many "progressives"
are confused about this, hamstrung by understandable but undeserved
nostalgia for DLC member Bill Clinton and desire for the DLC's
money. Sure, I'd take Clinton over Bush any day of the
week and twice on Sunday, but I'd do so with eyes wide open
and not without taking note of his myriad weaknesses.
Democratic Party's biggest problem is that their largest funding
source has interests diametrically opposed to those of its
voters. They can't forever play the game of "punish your
friends, reward your enemies". That's political
suicide (as in NAFTA, as you point out) and it's never talked
about by Clinton's apologists. This issue has to be
talked about and you are providing a valuable service by doing
Sure, they need funds to compete, but the
cost of those funds in voter support has to be factored in.
The message-trimming they have to engage in to keep the funds
rolling in is, in the final analysis, not worth the price.
agree that the "message trimming"
is not "worth the price." In fact, that string has
played itself out, and there is no longer any room to dance
with the "practical" men and women who are selling
the Democratic Party. Progressive Democrats will either
revolt, or be mooted. That's why we offered the "bright
lines" - for the purpose of finding a place to stand.
Sam Hamod, editor of Today’s
Alternative News and a wise man of the Left, posted our
Obama piece on his excellent site, and offered these remarks:
Good piece on Obama; I too wondered about his DLC inclusion.
As is usual with that group, they are frauds and practice
lying when it fits their needs. It is heartening to know
that he has thrown them off his back. They are a scurvy lot,
wolves in sheep's clothing, Republicans in Democratic name
tags only (and supporters of fascism at that).
Oakland, California, Leutisha Stills offers some candidates
for probing examination.
on your effort to expose those African-American members of
an organization that serves to undermine everything our ancestors
fought for. It is due to efforts like Black Commentator’s
that we stay informed.
Might I suggest similar "outings"
of African-American members of Congress who are taking the
African-American vote for granted? It's time they learned
we will not vote for them just because they are African-American,
especially if they are not serving the best interests of the
people. (A certain congressman from Tennessee comes to mind
In San Francisco, the African-American
voters learned that lesson the hard way. Da Mayor [Willie
Brown] served his own interests while the African-American
community got royally screwed and will continue to be screwed
for decades to come. All candidates, regardless of ethnicity,
must earn the right to serve in public office, and be held
Thanks, Black Commentator, once again,
for "keeping it real."
Stills is referring to Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, one
of the “Four Eunuchs”
among the Congressional Black Caucus that voted last October
to empower Bush to make war against Iraq. Three of them are
DLC, and two – including Ford – are Blue Dog Democrats. (See
“Rep. Harold Ford:
Mess of the Blue Dogs,” October 17.)
McKinney’s voice seems to resonate from any podium. Last week
we presented her speech, “Up
Close – Zimbabwe,” delivered to the First African Presbyterian
Church in Lithonia, Georgia.
In George Bush’s New World Order, all roads lead
to Washington, DC. And it is only in Washington, DC
that we can effectively deal with our problems and those that
plague Africa. The Bush cabal is planning regime change
operations all over the world. They’re currently threatening
Iran and Syria; rattling sabers at North Korea and China.
They’re unhappy with Russia and Germany. But if we don’t
organize ourselves carefully in this country, and reach across
the oceans to our African brothers and sisters, and they reach
back, this could truly be the twilight of our freedoms.
Patrick Webb directs our attention to other sources of McKinney-related
There is an article on www.alternet.org concerning
Rep. Cynthia McKinney (she still represents me and always
will) that may be of some interest to you. It is entitled
Screwing of Cynthia McKinney.”
Greg Palast unmasked several lying corporate
rags and their slobbering, mealy-mouthpieces, including Lynette
Clemetson of the New York Times. It is certainly strange,
and makes you go hmmmm, why she wasn’t fired when the NYT
was doing its housecleaning.
I am so very heartened by Cynthia’s decision
to reclaim her seat after she was BUSHwacked by number two
skeeza and great white hope Denise Majette and her Zionist
Thank you for being a beacon of light in these
has another staunch ally in Leona Heitsch, of Bourbon, Missouri.
as usual is right on, and tells things so people can understand
them. She said she'd never shut up and I am glad
she hasn't. Blessings on her energy to keep going! If
those of us who are white don't smell the stench in D.C.,
then, we will all ride the waves of the sewer together. It’s
time we support our black brothers and sisters here and in
Africa. Nobody better than Cynthia to explain what white
wealth has robbed from that continent and this one,
while enjoying what they can pull off by perpetuating in their
quiet, clever machinations, the divisive and soul wrenching
mess that is racism.
bell the hook
Franciscan Joseph Anderson started a discussion in these pages
about Black male-bashing, with his June
12 Guest Commentary lambasting author bell hooks. “Hooks feeds into the smug and superior fascination
that white media programs…seem to have with cataloguing everything
that is supposedly pathological or deficient with Black people
- especially with Black males,” wrote Anderson. “Under this
analysis, Black males are, at root, not only fundamentally
different, but uniquely pathological, uniquely predatory (especially
sexually) and misogynist - in Hooks' words, sexually immature,
traumatized and dysfunctional.”
State University composition instructor and graduate student
Trineka D. Greer wrestled
with Anderson’s argument in our June
26 e-Mailbox column – and found it insufficient.
Perhaps he could have discussed why so many Black
men mimic the unsavory behaviors and attitudes of their white
male counterparts (i.e. good old boy clubs, sexual harassment,
etc.). Whatever the case, more Black men need to be
taking the issue of sexism and gender-based oppression more
seriously. As a Black Feminist, it unnerves me how oblivious
some Black men and women for that matter are to these problems.
Look, Black women have been feminist or infused feminism into
their every day and ordinary actions (i.e. Sojourner Truth,
Anna Julia Cooper, Angela Davis, etc.) long before white feminists
ever invited "us" to speak at one of their meetings.
week, Tray Bailey wrote to expand on Ms. Greer’s remarks.
Bailey even provided a title for his letter: “Black Feminism and Adopted Myopia”:
Bishop found himself in our archives, read our December 5
2002 commentary, “College
SATS Incompatible with Black Mobility: Abolish the tyranny
of the tests” – and got the whole piece wrong. We’ll let him speak first:
I agree with the principle of diversity and temporary assistance
to address historical disadvantage, I take offense to a key
assumption you make.
The article assumes that the gap between
white and black SAT scores is permanent, inevitable and due
to some intrinsic feature of black people. What nonsense,
and what a pity that even African-Americans who claim to be
enlightened could accept such racist ideas!
Black kids are not failing the SATs because
they are born to fail them, but because people (including
your writer) tell them that they are supposed to. Good
grades, SAT scores and other measures of academic success
have become identified in the culture with "trying to
be white" rather than being "real". Try
looking at some other population of black people (yes there
are other African-origin people other than African-Americans),
to see that the growing grade gap is not about being black
but about growing up in today's Black America.
I don't think the SATs are necessarily
fair, nor that they should have such a prominent place in
college admissions. But the conclusion that "The logic
of the numbers is inexorable: Blacks must categorically reject
SAT-type tests as criteria for college admissions, or accept
that they will disappear from the elite regions of academia"
is a huge excuse, and says to our children that there are
some things they just can't do.
If you want to be helpful, try campaigning
for college admission criteria that are more predictive of
graduation rates and final GPA. And in the meantime use your
forum to say things that encourage our children to succeed
at whatever test they are put to.
"Let no one tell us what we can't do."
good to learn that you have been exploring 's
archives. Here is what we said:
student bodies [at elite universities] are destined to whither
away unless the relative weight of standardized testing
is drastically reduced or eliminated. There is no other
is why we said it:
of Blacks in Higher Education:
a race-neutral competition for the approximately 50,000 places
for first-year students at the nation's 25 highest-ranked
universities, high-scoring blacks will be buried by a huge
mountain of high-scoring non-black students. Today, under
prevailing affirmative action admissions policies, there are
about 3,000 black first-year students matriculating at these
25 high-ranking universities, about 6 percent of all first-year
students at these institutions. But if these schools operated
under a strict race-neutral admissions policy where SAT scores
were the most important qualifying yardstick, these universities
could fill their freshman classes almost exclusively with
students who score at the very top of the SAT scoring scale.
As shown previously, black students make up at best between
1 and 2 percent of these high-scoring groups."
The JBHE further reported that:
the average combined score for whites of 1036 was 189 points
higher than the average score for blacks. In 2002 the gap
between the average white score and the average black score
had grown to 203 points. In the past year alone the black-white
scoring gap on the SAT increased by two points.”
Bishop begins with an oppositional idea in his head, grafts
it onto ours, and proceeds to argue against his own conjure.
He then thinks himself smart to advise us to “try campaigning
for college admission criteria that are more predictive of
graduation rates and final GPA.” That’s exactly what is meant
by our call to reduce or eliminate “the relative weight of
standardized tests.” Obviously, other criteria would be accorded
both a practical and principled standpoint, the most effective
way to press for significant reduction of the weight of SATS
in college admissions is to make the case that these tests
are fatally flawed on their face, consistently empowering
identifiable strata of society (white, and especially upper
income whites) while just as predictably marginalizing Blacks
of all incomes. (Asians are another group, altogether, whose
high scoring on SATs cannot be related to low scoring among
Blacks; that’s apples and oranges.) When a test compounds
harm to a group of citizens, the onus must be placed on the
women (or men) failed driving tests in huge disproportion
to the other sex, creating a social mobility crisis, no one
can doubt that the tests would be changed. The effect of SATs
is to diminish Black social mobility.
Mr. Bishop and others are apparently embarrassed by
low Black SAT scores. His own doubts about “American” Black
people – that parents and students somehow share the blame
for low scoring – render him incapable of taking on the “intelligence”
industry and the beneficiaries of their tests. This is timidity
masquerading as race pride. He’d rather confront us with a
misdirected letter than go up against entrenched mechanisms
of white privilege.
of entrenched, they lowered ol’ Strom into his trench, this
week. Hundreds of celebrants visited
to read our December 19 Reprint of the article, “Strom
Thurmond’s Black Daughter: Common knowledge about a special
relationship,” by Ken Cummins (1996). The alleged daughter
is Essie Mae Washington, now reportedly living in California.
Thompson II, of Southern Pines, North Carolina, has a family
connection to the story.
the wake of Strom Thurmond's recent death, I spent a little
time searching the WEB for a story that had been told in my
house all of my life. My parents, Robert & Elsie
(Livingston) Thompson, were students at South Carolina
State College during much of the same time that Essie Mae
Washington was. In fact, Mrs. Washington pledged Delta
Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. "under" my mother.
reading Ken Cummins' "Strom's Secret" on your website,
I was astonished to find out just how closely his accounts
of Thurmond's campus visits and monetary support confirm what
my parents often spoke of. Thank you for publishing
the accounts that CNN, NBC, ABC, and FOX have obviously found
to be non-relevant in the details of Senator Thurmond's venomous
so this edition of e-Mailbox comes full circle. We began with
a discussion of realities that white America cannot or will
not recognize – and end at the same place.
gratefully acknowledges the following organizations
for sending visitors our way during the past week:
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