I am so sick of this.
Embattled Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said he won’t resign despite calls for him to step down amid reports of the group’s excessive spending, adding that he and other African-American leaders such as President Obama have a slimmer margin of error because of their race.
You know, I thought (hoped?) Michael Steele was a promising pick for the GOP’s National Committee Chair. But since he’s been in charge, in a position in which his primary job is to quietly raise money for the party, he’s been anything but quiet or effective. He’s been outspoken and gaffe prone. And indications are (bondage club expenses? Clothing purchases by staffers written off as “meals” and ‘tips”?) his administration hasn’t been the greatest either.
In anyone else it’s a sign of incompetence. Michael Steele chooses to make it a matter of race.
“My view on politics is much more grassroots oriented, it’s not old boy network oriented, so I tend to, you know, come at it a little bit stronger, a little bit more street-wise, if you will. That’s rubbed some feathers the wrong way,” Steele told “GMA’s” George Stephanopoulos.
Yeah, see, that’s not the point, Mr. Steele – you’re a party fund raiser. Your job isn’t to sound off and rub feathers the wrong way. Who is the chair of the DNC and why don’t we hear him sounding off as you do?
And, btw, perhaps it isn’t just the fact that Steele is, at times, intemperate in his speech (he blurts before he thinks and then spends days backing off his blurts) but is ruining the reputation of the organization just at the time it needs strong leadership focused on fund raising for the upcoming midterm elections. Instead the GOP gets this:
Steele is under fire by his own party members for what some people consider lavish spending — $17,000 for private jet travel, $13,000 for limousines and car services and $9,000 for a trip to the Beverly Hills hotel. But the most controversial revelation was that RNC staffers spent nearly $2,000 at Voyeur West Hollywood, a sex-themed nightclub in Los Angeles. The employee who authorized the expense was fired, but then the RNC shot itself in the foot again later, sending a fundraising letter that mistakenly directed donors to call a phone-sex number.
Steele said the spending issue is being blown up “larger than it needs to be.”
“The reality of it is, when I first heard about this behavior going on, I was very angry, and we dealt with it. We got to the bottom of it,” Steele said. “We have been putting great controls in place for the last few months, as a matter of fact, on some of our financing.”
Leaders set the tone. If a leader is austere and requires the organization to be austere in its spending, then that’s normally what is done. If the example is otherwise, staffers usually reflect that as well. The fact that he claims he’s been surprised by this says he’s not monitored what is going on in his own organization. Organizations do what leaders monitor. Most who’ve ever been in charge of any type of organization would deem the present situation to be an indication of incompetence.
And, as I said in the title, incompetence is color-blind. Steele was entrusted with a job and he’s failed to live up to the expectations of that job. That has nothing to do with skin color or “margins of error”.
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There is a growing sense that what happened in Washington DC on the day of the vote in the House on health care reform was an attempt to provoke an incident among Tea Partiers by members of the House Democratic caucus. The Representatives in question usually take the underground tunnel between their office complex and the capital. They certainly never march in lockstep through a hostile crowd to do so. So why did they do it this time?
Well, you’ve all heard the claims and counter-claims. Members of the caucus were called the “N” word and spat upon. The perpetrator of the spitting incident was arrested by Capital police. Barney Frank was called “fag”. Apparently out of all those claims, only the latter one was true and the person who shouted “fag” was rebuked by the Tea Party crowd. However not a single instance of the “N” word is evident in all of the video – both private and network news – shot that day. None. And the spitting incident, which was caught on tape, appears to be a “say it don’t spray it” problem, and not someone intentionally spitting on someone else. Most of the unsubstantiated and unproven allegations continue to be used as “the truth”, by some, despite the lack of any evidence to support them.
So how did the rumors and allegations get spread so quickly? Within 90 minutes, stories were up claiming the allegations were fact (how do you verify anything, edit it and post it on line if you’re a true news organization?). The MSM ran with the story for the next few days and hasn’t yet backed off of it. Yet to this day, not a single verifiable bit of proof – eye-witness, audio or video – has emerged that the “N” word was ever used by anyone during their little parade. However Democrats and the MSM still cite it as proof of the racist roots of the Tea Party movement. The latest attempt at this sort of demoniztion belongs to Steve Cohen (D-TN). Listen to him talk about the Tea Partiers and tell me if this is appropriate for a US Representative to say about other Americans and probably some of his constituents.
The irony here is Cohen, who represents a mostly black district in Memphis, was once compared to a klansman by a Democratic opponent not too long ago. As you might imagine, he found such a comparison highly offensive and was outraged.
Then we’ve had some broken windows characterized as the equivalent of Nazi anti-Semitic pogrom “kristallnacht” in which it is estimated hundreds of Jews were killed. Meanwhile, a brick through a local GOP office with a note tied to it saying “stop the right-wing”? Not such a bid deal. And, speaking of trying too hard, today the NY Times implicitly compares the violent and murderous leftist Weather Underground with the Tea Party protesters by running comparative crowd shots of the WU during the “Days of Rage” protest and a Tea Party protest.
It is and has been an amazing performance. Since day one of the emergence of these Tea Parties, the Democrats have done everything within their power and with the help of much of the MSM to characterize concerned American citizens as anything but. They have invoked the lessons of identity politics with a vengeance and tried their damndest to brand this movement as a malevolent manifestation of racist right-wing America. They often talk about the right’s code words – what do you suppose “Nazi” or “brownshirt” or “kristallnact” really mean? Why note that a crowd is mostly “white” if not to imply “racist?”
Why do I use “FAIL” in the title? Because the people the Democrats are talking about are you and me. One of the reasons independents are deserting the Democrats in increasing numbers is they too identify with this movement calling for the scaling back of government and its cost. They also know they’re not any of these things Democrats accuse them of being. And, like you and me, they’re aghast that their attempts to bring their discontent to the attention of their political leaders – to petition their government – is characterized in such horrific ways and dismissed out of hand.
I often say the Tea Parties represent the tip of the iceberg. Think of talk radio where it is estimated that only 1% of any listening audience actually takes the time and makes the effort to call in. Think of those Tea Partiers as the 1%. While 99% may not call in to a talk show, the vast majority listening agree with what the host has to say. There are a great number of people in America who may not turn out for Tea Party protests for any number of mundane reasons, like the ability to afford to travel or because of their job and family, that agree with most, if not all of what the TP represents. Every time Democrats launch another hateful smear against the TPs, those that identify with the TP but don’t actually turn out for protests internalize the insult. They know what they are and aren’t, and don’t at all appreciate the false characterizations or those making them.
So each time the Steve Cohens of the world make statements like his above, or false (or at least unsubstantiated) smears are launched against these protesters, another bunch who identify with the goals of the TP movement turn away from the Dems.
And, as it is shaping up for November, the Democrats are making it easier and easier through this attempt to paint patriotic dissent as racism, for people to vote against them.
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As the health care debate has raged over the last year, one of the side benefits has been to watch the left make absolute fools of themselves trying to make it all about race. I mean to any impartial observer it is clear which side is obsessed with the issue – to the point of making statements like this:
“The conjunction of a black President and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play.”
That, of course, is Frank Rich. And Mr. Rich has never met anyone who opposes what he supports that isn’t a racist, homophobe or, well, whatever it takes to dismiss them and ignore their arguments.
The proof of this, at least to Rich, is the fact that the majority of those who’ve turned out for Tea Party events are white. Therefore, it must be about race. Not about opposing ideas. Not about freedom. Not about liberty. Race obsessed leftists simply can’t see beyond the predominant color of the crowd. And Rich isn’t the only one, of course. Joan Walsh, infamous for her pronouncement that all who oppose Obama are traitors, has crawled out from under her rock again to add racist to her condemnation. She sort of tiptoes around it, but her intent is more than clear:
The “I want my country back!” rhetoric does reflect a mind-set in which one’s country has been taken away by … others. But in thinking about race this weekend, I got more out of a column by Ron Brownstein, which examined poll data showing that white voters — wrongly — tend to believe healthcare reform helped “other people,” not themselves.
Note the premise – the “I want my country back” isn’t driven by the obvious power grab made by government this year in a myriad of areas. Oh, no – it’s about race. And it’s about whites not being happy with becoming a minority and with seeing “other people helped”. Walsh is pretty sure “other people” is code for, well, you know. Their dissatisfaction couldn’t possibly be government, or politicians, or God forbid – Democrats – could it? And they certainly couldn’t possibly conclude that any help their family might get would be vastly overshadowed by what it will eventually cost them to obtain it where that might not be the case for “others” (regardless of race)?
Oh, no. It has to be about race.
By playing the race card, Walsh, Rich and Brownstein miss the point completely. Health care is only the current reason for the demonstrated dissatisfaction. Government expansion, cost and intrusion are the real issues driving these protests. Protesters are mad at those who are doing the expansion, intruding and the spending. And protesters really don’t care what their race might be. It isn’t about race – its about redistribution, intrusion, more government and more regulation. It’s about the increasingly bigger and more costly federal government and it’s attempt to build a dependent class while billing the rest of us.
One of the reasons the Democrats are losing independents in droves can be seen in statement’s like Rich’s and implications like Wash’s. When independents see a policy they don’t like and they dissent, the first thing they’re accused of is being a racist. It has to be true – the crowd is mostly white and the president is black. The independent knows perfectly well, of course, that race has nothing to do with the reason they’re protesting, yet the Richs, Walshs and Sharptons of the world (and yes, Rich and Walsh belong in the same class as Sharpton – race hustlers) insist that’s their primary motivation. It couldn’t possibly be anything any more noble.
Even though the Obama administration tried to stress the bill’s benefits to all families — insurance for folks with preexisting conditions, restrictions on companies dropping you when you get sick, letting kids stay on parents’ policies until they’re 26, as well as subsidies that will mainly go to middle- and working-class families (the poor are already covered by Medicaid) — a Gallup survey found that 57 percent of white respondents said that the bill would help the uninsured, and 52 percent said that it would improve conditions for low-income families. Only a third of whites thought it would benefit the country, and shockingly, only 20 percent thought it would benefit their family. (Nonwhites polled were more likely to say the bill would help their families.)
I hate to get into word parsing, but read that through carefully. In fact, click on the Brownstein link and read it as well. Note the final sentence above. Nonwhites polled were “more likely” to say the bill would help their families. That means a significant portion of nonwhites apparently said the opposite. So what does that make them?
These are the sorts of convoluted arguments one is forced to make when they’re a professional race-baiter. Well, if a majority of whites are racists if they oppose health care because (pick your reason from those listed in Walsh’s quote), then what are the minority of nonwhites who feel the same way? Or are they instead just ignorant? Misinformed? Stupid? Or could they too be worried about the eventual cost to them of the monstrosity the Congress passed and called “health care reform?”
Anyone who didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night knows the purpose of playing the race card as Walsh and Rich are doing is to stifle debate and discredit dissent (when you can’t fight their ideas, call ‘em racists). It doesn’t take long for such attempts to backfire on those making the groundless accusation. That’s because the people they continue to accuse of racism know quite well they’re not racists and that race doesn’t factor into their dissatisfaction at all. That allows them to reject the argument and those making it. And one by one, independents, many of whom were Obama voters, finally tire of the continued accusations thrown and the dismissal of their dissent and they desert the Democrats.
The funny thing? I expect the Walshs, Richs and Sharptons of the world to characterize their defection as being racist as well. I’ll be interested to see their explanation of how the racists managed, at one time, to overcome their inherent racism long enough to vote Obama into office. That should be quite a treat.
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The apparent answer to the Tea Parties is something called the “coffee party”. Today, it launched itself. In West Palm Beach. At a Panera Bread franchise.
Venting about the conservative tea party movement and talking — at times heatedly — about the need for civility in public discourse marked the debut meeting of a local “coffee party” group today.
About 40 people showed up for the meeting at a Panera Bread restaurant, where organizer George Papison had booked a small room in expectation of a dozen or fewer.
Vintage propaganda – how to make “40” look bigger. Say you expected a dozen or fewer. You have to wonder what the SEIU was doing today.
Here’s the money quote though:
“To me, government is the answer. I’m really sort of perplexed,” said a man named Joe who said he had been a teacher for 44 years.
Yeah, that’ll resonate, Joe. Somehow with that belief, I’d bet you’ve been perplexed most of your life.
Oh, and this too:
“We have to stop the mantra of no taxes, no taxes, no taxes,” said Marcia Halpern of Palm Beach Gardens.
Yessiree, get out there and sell that Marcia – it’s sure to have them packing the next meeting. And, of course, the charge that the Tea Parties are all about “racism” was also made, natch.
Is anyone sure these aren’t really agents of the Tea Party movement doing a little political theater here? Admittedly it is the theater of the absurd but still.
Can’t wait to see the first protests signs: “More New Taxes” ought to be a big hit.
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This is one of the more irrirtating manifestations of the faux drive for “diversity”. See if you can pick up on it:
That historically all-white club known as the U.S. Senate is likely to lose what little diversity it has after November’s elections.
Two white men will be competing for President Barack Obama’s former seat in Illinois, now held by Roland Burris, the chamber’s lone African-American. Appointed by the scandal-tainted former governor, Burris won’t be seeking a full term.
In contests in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, black candidates face daunting challenges to joining the august body, from difficulty raising cash to lack of name recognition to formidable rivals.
Got it? Yeah, no mention of other “minorities”. Apparently “diversity” is now only measured by the inclusion of only one race. In fact, despite the assertion in the article, the Senate is not – let me repeat that – not an “all-white club”.
While 94 members are white, 2 are Asian and 3 are Hispanic and 1 is black. 17 are women.
To make the point that it’s really not diversity that this is about, the article notes:
Blacks comprise 12.2 percent of the nation’s population, but you wouldn’t know it in the 100-member Senate. Come next year, the total number could add up to zero.
“It certainly is not a desirable state of affairs,” said David Bositis, a senior political analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
Bositis noted that blacks don’t make up the majority population in any state and in states where there are large numbers of blacks, as in the South, there are racial divisions that make getting elected difficult.
Apparently democracy and the will of the people are wonderful things unless they don’t yield the results the diversity police think they should. Then it is “not a desirable state of affairs”.
Let’s try this – how many black candidates are the Democrats, the party that positions itself as the party of African Americans, running for the Senate in predominantly blue states? Why is it that the Democratic party has a white guy running for Barack Obama’s seat? Whose fault is that? Why don’t the Democrats have an African American available to contest that and other Senate seats in opposition to Republicans if this is such a undesirable state of affairs?
The implicit assumption made by Bostis is “racial divisons” in the South are the reason a fairly large black population can’t elect a black Senator. It couldn’t at all be the fact that they’re all deep red states, could it? And if we grant him his assumption that the problem in the South is racism, then one assumes that such a problem wouldn’t exist in the North in deep blue states, correct (otherwise why try to make such an implication)? So where are the black Senators then – from Michigan, for instance? Why don’t Washington or Oregon have black Senators? New York? Massachusetts? Afterall, what’s being implied is that race isn’t really an issue elsewhere for blacks – only in the South. Never mind the fact that the deep red South would be unlikely to elect a Democrat to begin whether he or she be white or black.
Anyway, this one just struck me wrong. This is a nonsense story spun as something significant. If the diversity police want to point fingers, Mr. Bostis, et al should be asking the Democrats why members of a constituency they claim is theirs aren’t being put forward as candidates for the “historically all-white club” in deeply blue states where, one assumes, they’d have a great chance as the party’s primary choice.
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Two of the banes of our existence. First the old “race baiter” story. For some out there, symbolism is always more important than substance, or, for that matter, the truth. Instead of focusing on what is important, they make their living in the trivial, the irrelevant and the unimportant. The problem, of course, is they have a modicum of power and attempt to use it in the most absurd ways.
Take Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.)(please!). He’s upset and demanding a person who is doing critical aid work in Haiti and who had the courtesy to brief the Congressional Black Caucus about that relief effort be demoted.
Why? Because he’s doing a bad job? Of course not – because he didn’t have any black faces on his staff when they showed up for the briefing.
“I was alarmed and chagrined to learn that none of the approximately dozen staff he brought with him were African American,” Conyers wrote in the letter. “This is so serious an error in judgment that it warrants his immediate demotion to a subordinate position at AID.”
“Alarmed and chagrined”? A “serious … error in judgment”?
No word on how he felt the team was doing in providing aid to Haitians, of course. This person’s “sin” was not having the proper diversity of staff. And the punishment for that sin is demotion – Conyers being a compasionate bigot didn’t want to see this person lose their job.
Some day, one can hope, this sort of nonsense will all be a thing of the past. But it again points out why attitudes such as this and demands for “numbers” over merit hurt African-Americans more than help them.
So who at NBC thought it would be a good idea for the special today to be, among other things, fried chicken, “in honor of Black History Month”?
The accompanying picture shows the menu (fried chicken, collard greens, etc) topped by a title saying “NBC – In Honor Of Black Historty Month”.
Apparently this just offended the hell out of some black musician who eats there.
Well, you can see it for yourself, below:
Yes friends, the insensitive lout who foisted this offensive menu on unassuming black folks was an African-American cook who had fought for the last two years to be able to present meals in honor of black history month. To quote her:
It’s not trying to offend anybody and it’s not trying to suggest that that’s all that African-Americans eat. It’s just a good meal.
All I have to say is thank goodness she didn’t put watermelon on the menu for desert – they’d have probably rioted in the street. Need more irony? If you were to go to any place that purported to serve “soul food” and fried chicken wasn’t on the menu, you could rightfully question their authenticity.
The whole point is it is time to move past quotas and taking offense at every preceived slight. Now there’s a controversy about saying “retard”. Certainly we should not purposely offend others. And yes certain words should not be used – the “n” word being primary among them.
But it seems like we spend an enormous amount of energy and time looking for reasons to be offended anymore. That speaks to the success of those who’ve made policial correctness such a pernicious force in our lives. Political correctness (and I extend that to the “diversity mix” Conyers is demanding) has literally destroyed tolerance, which is ironic, given it is the PC crowd that is normally demanding tolerance for other issues they favor.
The NBC story is a perfect example of what that intolerance it brings. The assumption is made that the reason fried chicken is on the menu is someone is totally (and purposely) insensitive and the reaction is to immediately choose to take offense. And that’s a key point. It is a choice. It couldn’t just be “a good meal” that the person thought others might enjoy. Nope – the fact that most eating there would enjoy it, and most likely do eat fried chicken by choice when elsewhere must be subordinated to the PC demand that they be intolerant of such a perceived slight and demand the insensitivity be addressed.
This sort of knee-jerk PC stupidity needs to stop. And yes, I’m intolerant of it. So sue me.
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One phrase sure to stir outrage or at least discussion is what I’ve used for the title when referring to the issue of race. But I’m darned if it doesn’t best describe this quote from Jesse Jackson:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday night criticized Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) for voting against the Democrats’ signature healthcare bill.
“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”
When you give race baiters like Jesse Jackson the opportunity to define what it means to be a “black man”, he then gets to define what it means to remain one. And that usually entails towing a particular party line of which he approves – not thinking for yourself, not doing your job (representing your constituency), not being your own person. You see if someone does any of that, as did Rep. Davis did, they threaten the dying power the race warriors hold – that of the legislative “bloc” based in race. The Sharptons and Jacksons of the world have built a career out of making everything about race. Like unions, they once had a purpose. Now, however, with their purpose fading and their time in the media’s light waning, they have to make more and more outrageous statements to get noticed.
I’ll be so happy when those who can’t see past their own skin color on every issue pass from the scene. Then, and only then, will real progress among and within the races be made. In the meantime, blacks certainly shouldn’t let someone like Jesse Jackson define what it is to be anything, much less a “black man”.
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If the mayor isn’t black then that’s unacceptable to the Maryland NAACP. You see the present mayor (who is black) is about to be convicted of seven theft-related charges will have to vacate the office. That has put the state NAACP in a low hover. Apparently they don’t want the governor appointing someone that doesn’t look like them if that’s the case. Marvin L. Cheatham, the president of the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP had this to say:
“Our concern is who would the governor appoint?” Cheatham said. “Here you have a predominantly African-American city. What if the governor appointed somebody white? … Would he appoint someone Irish to be the mayor?”
Oh my goodness – someone white? Heaven forbid! And lord help us all, certainly not someone “Irish”!
Now to the point – let’s replace some words, shall we?
“Our concern is who would the governor appoint?” Cheatham said. “Here you have a predominantly white city. What if the governor appointed somebody black? … Would he appoint someone African-American to be the mayor?”
Anyone – what would that statement be branded as? Here, let me spell it out for you. It would be called r-a-c-i-s-t.
Racist. And it is blatant racism, just like the real quote above it.
Here’s the irony.
The governor has absolutely nothing to do with such an appointment. Nada. The state defers to the city, and the city council president becomes the mayor to fill the term per the city charter. All of this came from Cheatham hearing someone discuss the topic on a talk radio show. It was all nonsense.
But that didn’t stop the state NAACP at the behest of Cheatham from passing a resolution asking the governor to defer to the city in picking the next mayor. As Cheatham says it passed “nearly unanimously” with little debate.
Cheatham also said he worried that a future Republican governor could appoint someone from his party to lead a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 9 to 1. “Would not the Republican governor have the ability to pick a Republican mayor?” he asked. “We just think there are some unanswered questions about the process,” Cheatham said.
We think so too, Mr. Cheatham – like why you use code words like “Republican” when, in fact, you mean “white”, you racist twit.
“Post-racial” my rear end. Time for a little diversity training in MD, wouldn’t you say?
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I must have missed it – when has Al Sharpton ever been a major player in NFL circles?
Yeah, that’s what I thought. So why is Al Sharpton calling on the NFL to reject a bid by Rush Limbaugh to buy the St. Louis Rams? What possible business is it of his?
In a letter sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, Sharpton wrote that he was “disturbed” to hear about Limbaugh’s interest in the Rams and asked for a meeting with Goodell “to discuss the myriad of reasons as to why [Limbaugh] should not be given an opportunity” to purchase the team.
Sharpton argued that Limbaugh has been “anti-NFL” in his comments about several of the league’s players, specifically naming Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb. Limbaugh sparked controversy several years ago by contending that the media want McNabb to succeed simply because he is black.
In addition, Sharpton wrote that Limbaugh’s “recent statement — that the NFL was beginning to look like a fight between the Crips and the Bloods without the weapons — was disturbing.”
Hmmm … as I recall, the remark Limbaugh made about McNabb was he got more media coverage than he deserved, probably because he was black. Limbaugh believed McNabb is/was an average quarterback not deserving of such coverage. I happen to disagree with his assessment of McNabb, but felt his comment was more about the media and our culture than about race. And former Miami running back Mercury Morris finds Limbaugh’s remarks about gangs and the NFL to make “some relative sense.”
But back to Sharpton. I love the “anti-NFL comments” line used by Sharpton who is now, apparently, the arbiter of all things which are “pro-NFL” I guess. Sharpton’s smarter than he acts at times though – he’s picked up on the fact that playing the race card is becoming detrimental to those who play it. So he’s shifted a bit and now features himself as the savior of the NFL, substituting “NFL” for “black”. Essentially Sharpton is asking the NFL to discriminate against Limbaugh because Al Sharpton (whose only real connection to the league is most likely watching football on Sunday) finds Limbaugh to be unacceptable to him as an owner in the NFL.
Yeah, that’s a good reason to turn him down. I’m sure the other owners will weigh that heavily in their decision making process – right after “is it a good bid” and “do they have the money”?
Tell you what Al, the best way to make sure Limbaugh doesn’t get the team is make a better offer. In a capitalist system, that’s how it works. And, truth be told, that’s what worries Sharpton, isn’t it?
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Ann Althouse is watching the propaganda so you don’t have to. Something in her review of the new Michael Moore agitprop, “Capitalism: A Love Story”, struck me as interesting:
The most striking thing in the movie was the religion. I think Moore is seriously motivated by Christianity. He says he is (and has been since he was a boy). And he presented various priests, Biblical quotations, and movie footage from “Jesus of Nazareth” to make the argument that Christianity requires socialism. With this theme, I found it unsettling that in attacking the banking system, Moore presented quite a parade of Jewish names and faces. He never says the word “Jewish,” but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it’s up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains.
Am I wrong to see Moore as an anti-Semite? I don’t know, but the movie worked as anti-Semitic propaganda. I had to struggle to fight off the idea the movie seemed to want to plant in my head.
I may be alone in this observation, but for quite some time I’ve viewed anti-semitism and anti-capitalism as basically one and the same. Said another way, hatred for Jews appears to me to be closely tied to their historical affiliation with capitalist enterprises.
Certainly the anti-semitism found in the Middle East is somewhat different, in that there are religious and historical factors mixed in to that particular bigotry. And Christian Europe was never terribly friendly to the Jews either, with religious rivalry and illogical scape-goating (i.e. holding Jews responsible for killing Jesus, even though it was the Romans who actually did it, and Jesus was supposed to die according to the scriptures) being played out in large part there as well. Even so, I think there is definitely an anti-capitalist element to anti-semitism.
During the Middle Ages in Europe, Jews were often forbidden from owning land, or entering certain professions, which relegated them to doing the work that the Christians wouldn’t do. Lending money for interest had long been considered to be an awful enterprise, so much so that it was forbidden for Christians to engage in it (much as it is still so for Muslims). Therefore the Jews, who had no strictures* against charging interest, settled into those roles (as well as tax collectors, accountants, rent collectors, and other money-centered jobs), and for quite some time were the only lenders around. During the Roman Empire they were both reviled and tolerated for the practice. Of course, being the only lenders in town meant that when defaults happened, it would be a Jew who would looking for his “pound of flesh” and that did not make them any more desirable. Maybe it was during this time that the capitalist enterprises of making a profit from the use of money became closely associated with Jews, or perhaps it occurred much earlier, but before the term “capitalism” even existed there were Jews performing those functions.
With the rise of socialism in the industrial age, especially during the Progressive Era, all those capitalistic endeavors in which Jewish families had staked their claims started to fall into disfavor (even as they were employed with great abandon). Charging interest for money, always historically suspect, and all other occupations concerned with amassing capital were looked upon with increasing scorn. These were anti-social behaviors engaged in by the “greedy” who placed money above all else, and especially human well-being. It wasn’t uncommon for Jews to be treated as the face of these unsympathetic capitalist sorts.
In the age of industrialization vast sums were risked in building factories and the like, and huge fortunes were made, while regular working stiffs found themselves displaced from their idyllic farms and shacked up in dirty tenements, teeming with poverty (or so the story goes). As in medieval times when the Lord came up short on his payments, and couldn’t provide for those who depended on him, the Jewish lenders made for an easy target when industrialists failed. Wealthy bankers such as the Rothschilds and the Warburgs often came under scrutiny (and still do today) because of their Jewish heritage and massive family fortunes, and many conspiracy theories concerning Jewish attempts to control the world through their financial houses flourished. Indeed, during this ironically anti-capitalist period (ironic because of capitalism’s rapid spread during this time, raising the living standards of millions upon millions of people), political parties and community groups were sometimes formed based quite openly on their antisemitism. As an acceptable social prejudice, anti-semitism was often found to be quite politically useful in Europe and here in the United States. At the same time, prevailing political winds were blowing strongly in the direction of scientific socialism, and decidedly against capitalism and individualism.
Again, I don’t know how or when anti-semitism and anti-capitalism became so intertwined, but for at least the last 150 years I think it’s safe to say they share common space. If you were to replace the words “multinational corporations” with “the Jews” in the popular anti-capitalist screeds of today, I don’t think one would see much of difference in coherence (be that as it may) or objection from purveyors of these conspiracy theories.
Bringing it full circle, I think that close connection between anti-semitism and anti-capitalism is why Althouse gets this feeling from Michael Moore’s film:
He never says the word “Jewish,” but I think the anti-Semitic theme is there. We receive long lectures about how capitalism is inconsistent with Christianity, followed a heavy-handed array of — it’s up to you to see that they are — Jewish villains.
In some ways, the bigotries may be inseparable.
* To be sure, the Bible does prescribe certain regulations for lending, one of which has been interpreted as meaning that Jews were forbidden from charging interest to other Jews, while doing so for loans to gentiles was perfectly acceptable. As I understand it, however, these Biblical restrictions treat “lending” as a sort of charity (that may or may not be paid back), in which Jews were encouraged to be free with their money in the service of their tribe, while having no compunction to be so charitable with “outsiders” (although, there too, be charitable when possible is encouraged). In short, it is a “take care of you family” sort of restriction on lending and not a “screw anyone who’s not Jewish” policy that it is sometimes made out to be.
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