History can make for strange bedfellows.
As Yearly Kos '07 came and went—successful, and unflinching— much to the consternation of one William James Patrick Francis Aloysius McFalafel O'Reilly (Hee-hee-hee!)— one of the truly amazing elements about it was the main thing that O'Reilly allegedly was trying to scuttle. That main thing was the attendance of, and willingness of every one of the Democratic Presidential Candidates to face and interface with the convention's Netroots attendees (Thank you— albeit a tad late Senator Clinton). It jumps out as doubly amazing when you consider how nearly every one of these candidates also opted to stay the hell away from the recent DLC "gathering", where I've been told that Joe Lieberman and Harold Ford were the lone participants in that convention's three-legged race and roll-over-on-your-back-like-a-punk-ass-bitch competition at its all-day picnic.
Richardson and Biden, Kucinich—Dodd and Edwards, and perhaps most notably, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the nominal front-runners—apparently all had their faces in the place, and that's a good thing. But let me get this out right up front before you as we say, "get it twisted"—here at The Group News Blog, we're not gonna play the "this site endorses 'x' person, so go, ye mindless minions, and and do our bidding", thang. This ain't fucking "Clownhall". There are four unique individuals here, each with his or her own opinion and parameters insofar as what makes one or the other person "dig" a particular candidate over the rest. You're gonna hear a lot of different viewpoints here as far as "who's rockin' who's world." And with that said, quite frankly—I don't really have a favorite for '08 just yet. There are elements of Edwards and Obama I like very much. There are less of those things for me to like quite honestly with Senator Clinton. I'm still figuring out Bill Richardson. It's early yet, and I'm open to be swayed. One could say that I'm of the Jay-Z hit single "school" right now whan it comes to these folks..."Show 'me what'cha got".
But there is one thing I am watching verrrrry closely right about now in this campaign season, and that thing is how our enemies are reacting to this undeniably much stronger field of candidates on the Dem side of the ball. I'm watching that shit like a cat, down on his haunches, waiting for that mouse to dare peek his head outta the hole—as we all should be, because if we don't...the "powers that be" will run all the age-old okey-dokes on us that after the fact, we will want to slit our own fucking throats for being stupid enough to bite at.
There's one being run right now, if you haven't noticed. Right in front of your eyes, and it's being pimped like a ho' working the midnight-to-six shift at the Adult Video Convention in Vegas.
It's the whole Obama vs. Hillary flap-kerfuffle-dozens-brouhaha-smackdown-dissfest.
"Oh yeah...I heard about that. Yeah...Chris Matthews, and Wolf Blitzer, and whatshisname...Brian Williams? They were all in an uproar about it”.
Which is the problem right there, holmes.
The people most twisted out about the idea of this...well, "feud" are the ones closest to, and most likely to wetly fellate the aforementioned "powers that be". Yes, the people sitting there on your TeeVee going "Ooooh! A fight! A FIGHT!, are directly fomenting the idea of that "division" for their masters, the entrenched power elites for whom a change in the status quo would be...ohhh, just about the worst thing in the fucking world.
Keeping "that uppity n*gger" and the "grasping, man-hating bitch" at each other's throats is in their best interests. And it wouldn't be the first time these folks have pitted an "uppity n*gger" and a "grasping, man-hating bitch" against one another to blunt their potential combined impact on the body politic.
Oh, the things you can learn when you're not even trying.
In my geekier, teen bookworm years, I found myself at the Public Library on Merrick Blvd. in Jamaica, Queens after many a school day, and it was on one of those afternoons when I stumbled across a book I can no longer remember the name of—but can still remember the juicy tidbits of knowledge it imparted, with one casual flip-open.
Before The Civil War, the most prominent spokesman for equal rights for Blacks—runaway slave, and self-taught scholar Frederick Douglass, and the most famous and fervent advocate for Women's rights, Susan B. Anthony, would become friends, and eventually alllies against the racist and sexist mores of the day—and against those who supported those disgusting, life-limiting tropes.
Those, as in...you know, scared, retrograde White dudes of means. The "Man", if you will. Douglass, a true Progressive of his time, was the only man to attend the first Women's Rights Convention headed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an Anthony mentor in 1848, and was the driving male force in the then nascent Women's movement. Anthony would become a loud and leading voice in the steamrolling Abolitionist movement when she joined the Anti-Slavery Society of New York State. In fact, speaking at the Womens Conference a decade later, she would say, "Where, under our Declaration of Independence, does the Saxon man get his power to deprive all women and Negroes of their inalienable rights?"
I remember reading that and thinking to myself, "Wow...that must've been a wild-ass time, with those two working the double-team against discrimination and what-not!"—although on deeper consideration now, I'm guessing it came out sounding a lot more like "Oh, snap!"
It was what followed in my reading—the "what-not" part, that was really interesting.
You see, Douglass and Anthony became friends. Close enough friends that he delivered the eulogy for Anthony's father upon his death in 1862. But that friendship would never be quite the same after 1869 when the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were up for ratification. The 15th Amendment would have given Black men the right to vote, but not women just yet, which infuriated feminists, and Susan B. Anthony particularly, moving her to rally hard and heavy against it. And that angry rallying against it put her in close quarters unfortunately with some of the most vehement anti-Black demagogues of that time. This was even after the Equal Rights Association, a coalition that fought for the right for Blacks and Women to vote, and in which Anthony was a member of some prominence, opted to back the 15th Amendment.
The two friends, and compatriots in arms for the struggle against discrimination saw their friendship damaged in ugly ways. Susan B. Anthony would pretty much abandon her vocal support for equal rights of Blacks after the 15th Amendment passed, to push exclusively for Women's rights and suffrage. And in spite of Douglass' return as a strong voice for Women's suffrage after the Constitutional change (He called for another amendment that would give women the vote the following year and would write editorials advocating for it—one entitled “Women and the Ballot”), the Women's movement's time had seemingly peaked, and passed.
That "peaking and passing" was key, because it happened to coincide with the "Holy shit! What have we done?" head-shake and re-focusing of state-sanctioned hate that was Civil War Post-Reconstruction, where Blacks would again get the back of the hand of hard, naked racism, after getting a helping hand upward to quasi-equality. This duo—Anthony & Douglass, working in tandem was an F-5 strength, potential juggernaut for equality. But once they were pitted against each other, their collective strength was effectively diminished, and the power structure itself was able to buy extra decades of pretty much unchallenged hyper-dominance over both Blacks and women. It's worth noting that there was a great deal of voyeurism and much whipping up of the differences between these two giants of the political stage at that time. You'd almost think that certain people had a, you know... vested interest or something, in busting that coalition to keep shit just...as...it...was...?
"Oh, ho-ho-ho-ho-ho—SNAP!" ZOOOOOOOSSSSSH!
Hey there! Hope the time machine didn't give you too much whiplash hurtling forward those 135 years to right about now. And now that you're here, introductions are in order. "Meet the new "uppity n*gger" and "grasping, man-hating bitch"...same as the "old" uppity n*gger" and "grasping, man-hating bitch".
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, whatever their "differences", are being actively set against each other here in '07 by forces that very much need ...their relative positives and powers stripped away from the Democratic field. Attractive things like Obama's fire, and his injection of excitement and new life into the staid "yawn" that is the "optics" of what we've come to know as a real candidate these days. And other things like Hillary's seasoning and gravitas, as well as her solid "name branding" and unique "optics" as a candidate as well. For all of their wedded-ness to certain elements of the status quo, they represent something new, challenging and in the heart of hearts of the descendants of those shit-stirrers of the mid 1800s, arma-fucking-geddon.
Black man. White woman. Dictating terms? We'll see about that!
Of course, Barack and Hillary are absolutely not the firebrands and apple cart-flippers that Douglass and Anthony were. In their own ways, they are so tied in to the establishment that it's laughable. But it is how they change "optics" of what the President looks like, and how that might empower others who look like them to reconsider their influence on government that is so very dangerous. It's why Matthews, and Blitzer, and the whole passel of so-called entrenched media folk are wearing out their elbow joints in the fevered circle jerk that is the coverage of the largely-pushed-by-them, "spat".
And understanding that, it's why I make a simple request—actually, a two-pronged request based on the rapid, airborne transmission of this virus of mass stupidity.
Request Number One: To you, the reader, the consumers of news, Ms. Nora Nielsen and Mr. Andy Arbitron—please, use your fucking heads and understand what the game is that's being run here. Don't buy into this WWE/Bad Telenovéla-quality, bullshit melodrama. It's as canned as old cocktail franks, and twice as slimy and nasty. Give this shit credence and you do the bought-and-paid for media's job for 'em. Which is to distract you from noticing the dumpster of old chit'lins, rotten eggs, and month-old cooked cabbage that is the GOP's field. That's a hard thing to hide, but as Public Enemy once rapped, "Ahhhhh, the Devil's tryin' it!" Step back and read a little history about those awful, yank-back post-Reeconstruction years where we got clowned after seeing Douglass and Anthony split by the politics of their time, and the manipulators of those politics. Because there really is no witty, or new way to say the old "People who don't learn from history are doomed to, yada-yada-yada" anymore. You'll know it when it happens, and you'll wanna eat ground glass with a salt-water chaser when it goes down again...135 years after the last time you got snookered.
"Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me...oh, fuck it. I did get fooled again."
Request Number Two: To you the candidates—Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton—you're both reasonably intelligent people, so I would have thought that you'd know better than to get sucked in as totally as you have on all this. But Goddammit, you have. I don't know if it's your personal vanity, or blinding ambition or what, but evidently neither of the two of you have read about the Douglass/Anthony situation from that parallel time. I emphatically suggest that you do. Maybe looking at what your candidacies mean in the grand scheme of things, comes across as taking your eyes off the prize you both so crave. Perhaps you think that it weakens you, and turns you into respectively, a dusky and a brassiered pair of latter-day Adlai Stevensons. You'd be wrong. Wrong as all hell, in fact. Nobody's asking the two of you to drop everything and tour the country in road companies of "My Sweet Charlie" and "A Patch Of Blue", but the least you can do is consider that there are people—probably very close to you and advising you who are either so single-minded that they can't see the long-term ramifications of this silly pissing match, or worse...actually do see them and simply don't give a fuck about the damage it can do in the long run. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing on policy. Every candidate is an individual. But when you're on the playground at 3:05 and you're about to scrap with that other kid over shit that seems fuzzy, at best—it behooves you to take a look around at the knuckleheads cheering on the rumble the loudest. If they're the ones who were running to you both with dirt, and then broadcasting that "dirt" to everyone who'd listen...you might wanna think twice about "throwin' bows"..
And if you yourselves are engaging in ramping shit up, and resorting to that old-school divisiveness, and soft-pedaling those inane racist and sexist tropes to further your own ambitions—historical fuck-ups be damned, well...may you both be relegated to a permanent state of Harold Stassen-ness. There are actually other people we can vote for without holding our noses.
I'm gonna put you both on your honor and assume the best—which is ignorance, and that you just weren't aware of the historical precedent.
You are now. Act accordingly.
Differ. Disgaree. Doubt if you must. But cut the dumb shit that demeans the two of you. Because if you don't—neither the results, nor the spyglass of history when it looks back on your actions will serve you in good stead. That is all. Now enjoy your rubber chicken and ill-flipped pancakes as you beat the red, white and blue hustings for votes.
And for you music fans, an added bonus—the video of the song that inspired this post's title. The magnificent Dame Shirley Bassey with The Propellerheads, performing "History Repeating". Enjoy! (To Barack and Hillary—LISTEN!) :)
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
History can make for strange bedfellows.