Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dear Paul Begala and Chris Matthews...

Thank you.

Thank you for your clarity.

Your unvarnished truthfulness.

Your bigotry-spawned “going to ground” over what this election is truly about for yourselves and I'm guessing the majority of your co-horts in the nattering chattering class.

I thank you gentlemen for at the very least, exposing yourselves for what you are and letting the world and me know just what the twisted, fear-crafted movement inside you is that makes you tick-tick-tick.

You sirs, and your fellow travelers have removed all doubt for me. At last I know where I stand with you—or rather, five steps behind you .

From Chris Matthews last month:

MATTHEWS: Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri is an Obama supporter. Senator McCaskill, did you advise Obama to go out and try to bowl the other day?

McCASKILL: Well, listen, I grew up in a small town where you learned to do two things: You learned to bowl and you learned to roller-skate. I can’t wait to challenge him to a game of bowling.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me ask you about how he — how’s he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?

And this from the revelatory Paul Begala during the heat of last last night's rollercoaster primary coverage:

BEGALA: When people say things — I love Donna and we go back 22 years. We’ve never been on different sides of an arguments in our entire lives. But if her point is that there’s a new Democratic Party that somehow doesn’t need or want white working-class people and Latinos, well count me out.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Paul, baby, I did not say that.

BEGALA: We cannot win with egg heads. Let me finish my point. We cannot win with egg heads and African-Americans. OK, that is the Dukakis Coalition, which carried ten states and gave us four years of the first George Bush.

President Clinton — reached across to get a whole lot of Republicans and Independents to come. I think Senator Obama and Senator Clinton both have that capacity. They both have a unique ability—well it’s not unique if they both have it. They both have a remarkable ability to reach out to those working-class white folks and Latinos. Senator Clinton has proven it; Barack has not yet, but he can. And I certainly hope he is not shutting the door on expanding the party.

(CAMPBELL) BROWN: OK. Let — egg heads and African-Americans? That’s the new coalition?

BRAZILE: First of all, Paul, you didn’t hear me right. Maybe I should come and cook you something because you’ve got a little hearing problem. I was one of the first Democrats who were going to the white working-class neighborhoods, encouraging white Democrats not to forget their roots. I have drank more beers with “Joe Six Pack,” “Jane Six
Pack” and everybody else than most white Democrats that you’re talking about.

In terms of Hispanics, you know Paul, I know the math. I know Colorado; I know Nevada; I know New Mexico. So that’s not the issue. I’m saying that we need to not divide and polarize the Democratic Party as if the Democratic Party will rely simply on white, blue collar male—you insult every black blue collar Democrat by saying that. So stop the divisions. Stop trying to split us into these groups, Paul, because you and I know both know we have been in more campaigns. We know how Democrats win and to simply suggest that Hillary’s coalition is better than Obama’s, Obama’s is better than Hillary’s — no. We have a big party, Paul.

BEGALA: That’s right.

BRAZILE: Just don’t divide me and tell me I cannot stand in Hillary’s camp because I’m black, and I can’t stand in Obama’s camp because I’m female. Because I’m both.

There is nothing that warms my African American heart more than being told that I am not a “regular person”—whatever that is, or that my vote is some sort of statistical anomaly, or simply having my vote flat-out discounted.

Hey, let me show you a picture.

It's a bit blurry and you've probably never seen it before, but here are some details on it. It was captured on film on June 12, 1963—the year I was born. What does it show? A two-tone '57 Chevy Sedan parked in a Jackson, Mississippi home's carport. There's a stain on the ground trailing away from the driver's side and ending in a pool at the far left. I grabbed this from a video chronicling that night.

Let's look at it a little closer, shall we?

I've highlighted that “pool” area so you can understand what it is.

That's blood.

Starting in a thin stream and then gouting from a gaping wound in a man's back courtesy of a Ernfield 1917 30.06 rifle bullet. Said man dragged himself about 25 feet from where he was struck initially and then collapsed near his front door where that pool collected.

That man's name was Medgar Wiley Evers. And he was assassinated for fighting for civil rights and most importantly near the time of his murder, voting rights for African Americans.

Yes. People put their lives on the line and sometimes—too many times—saw their lives snuffed out for fighting to obtain and maintain that right. So, when I hear the likes of a Matthews and revealingly, a Begala flushing the votes of nearly 14 million African Americans down the crapper because they don't like where those votes are being cast and for whom, I think of Medgar Evers on that night, getting out of his car, taking custom-made T-shirts reading “Jim Crow Must Go!” out of the back seat, and then a cowardly sniper's bullet ripping through his back and him bleeding out on his front steps as his wife and kids opened the door to see him there, life ebbing away with every millisecond.

Guess what? Medgar Evers was “regular people”. We are regular people. And these weak-assed attempts to chump off the Black vote when it doesn't play to conventional wisdom or fit a desired template pisses on the memory of those who fought the hardest and sacrificed the most for it. We make up 13.5% of the electorate. You court us when you need votes for “X”, then diss us when we vote for “Y” and “Y” ain't what you're down with.

“Regular people.” “African Americans and Eggheads.”

Let me ask a simple question here. If Black folk only make up 13.5% of Americans, and college educated folks make up 29% (allowing for overlap between the two groups, as well as overlap between college educated voters and GOP-inclined ones), where in the name of Dr. George Washington Carver is the rest of this nettlesome, apple-cart upsetting vote coming from? Or has the dreaded Black Genius Camp and the MIT-educated numerical wizards from the movie “21” banded together in cahoots to unfairly freaknomic-ize this year's primary results? Trotting out this patently racist sour grapes bullshit would be maddening if it weren't so sad and revealing about the people perpetrating it.

And whether you're a hard-core member of “Obamanation” or a pom-pom waving “Clintonista”, common sense should prevail and allow anyone with eyes to do the simple math and realize how specious, divisive and destructive this framing is.

The numbers don't support it. Silly people's fears and naked spite do.

““Regular People” are turning out in record numbers this year just in the primaries not as some statistical blip. It's clear that something is up in America. Gas down the block from me is $3. 91 a gallon for Regular. They're tacking foreclosure notices to houses like they were cellophaned copies of “Pennysavers”. This asinine war has infuriated people beyond belief and trust in the way “things have been” has eroded mightily. Habeas Corpus is under siege, and a government that promised to be hands-off has been revealed to be totally “hands-in”, as in up our asses judicially via manipulation of US attorneys and privacy-wise in terms of FISA. These seven and a half years of Bushian presdiential awfulness is what's driving things change-wise.

But you don't want to look at that.

That's too big a thought for your walnut-sized, political bronto-brains to digest. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no.

It's the “elites” who have fucked this thing for you. “The Creative Class”. Eggheads. And of course, the n*ggers.

I'm one of seven kids, born to North Carolinians with a family tree going back to and fading out at Pre-Emancipation. I'm also a writer, actor and visual artist as well as a former college boy. I suppose that makes me the magic and dreaded electoral trifecta of evil according to these two clowns and their co-conspirators in piss-pot punditry.

And apparently, I don't fucking count. Me, the great-great -great grandchild of slaves. People who built this country under a whip of leather and second-class citizenship. My vote and the votes of people like me don't matter a whit. A vote Medgar Evers took a bullet in the back for. Whose vote counts? Ones from the likes of those who shot him down for daring to assert personhood for 13.5 million Black folks. And if not them, then those who quietly have no problem with his murder and what it represented.

“Regular people” “Real America” The mother-fucking “Heartland”.

Thank you Paul Begala. And thank you Chris Matthews. For coming clean on how you really feel. I'm no sage, and while I may not know exactly what America herself is or is not ready for, I know what you two and your ilk are clearly not ready for. You've spent your adult public lives playing at high-mindedness, but've come clean.

The mask is off and I see you for what you are. What's that old saying about “The devil you know vs. the devil you don't know”?

I know you now. Benefit of the doubt shielded you before. But no more.

“Desperation is the flashing, trembling hand that snatches away the veil of false propriety.”

Who said that?

Why, I just did.

Just your typical, discounted, influential-beyond-my-wildest-dreams, and might I say, educated Black person.

At last, I know where I stand.

And because of that, I will fight that much harder. Against injustice. Against a corrupt and twisted system. And yes, against you. Because you see, as well as knowing where I stand...I also know, and will never forget...

...where Medgar lay.