Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tragedies, Crimes and Trayvon Martin

How Newt Played the ‘Race Card’ Against Obama’s Decency

By Carl Davidson
United Steel Workers Blog

Every so often an outrage happens that lights up the sky, like when lighting strikes at night, and all of a sudden everything previously hidden in darkness and shadow stands out in sharp, bright relief.


The murder of Trayvon Martin was such an event, even though it took a while for the rolling thunder of its full impact to spread across the country. Slowly at first, and then in greater leaps, the news media, after being nudged, picked it up.


I have one quarrel with most of the reports and statements. This was not so much a tragedy as a crime. It was an old-fashioned lynching dressed up with modern-day ‘gun rights’ being exercised in today’s gated communities.

But put that to the side. Most everyone now has dutifully called it a tragedy, called for an impartial investigation to ‘get to the bottom’ of it and see that ‘justice is served.’ Even President Obama finally spoke up, with the proper caveats against prejudging “current investigations,’ but adding that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon, a point he made to show empathy with the Martin family.

Then we have our former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, who, after deploring the tragedy, came up with this attack on Obama in an interview with Sean Hannity:

“It’s not a question of who that young man looked like. Any young American of any ethnic background should be safe, period. We should all be horrified no matter what the ethnic background," Gingrich said. "Is the President suggesting that if it had been a white who had been shot that would be ok because it didn’t look like him?"

"That’s just nonsense dividing this country up. It is a tragedy this young man was shot," Gingrich continued on Hannity's show. "It would have been a tragedy if he had been Puerto Rican or Cuban or if he had been white or if he had been Asian-American of if he’d been a Native American. At some point we ought to talk about being Americans. When things go wrong to an American, it is sad for all Americans. Trying to turn it into a racial issue is fundamentally wrong. I really find it appalling.”

Newt, I have news for you. There’s something truly appalling here; in fact it stinks to high heaven. But it’s not Obama, and if you want to see the source of it, look in the mirror.

Gingrich fancies himself an historian, even something of an expert on the Civil War and its aftermath. He should then know something about lynching. If so, he would know that when the Reconstruction governments were overthrown, the KKK terror started in South Carolina by lynching nearly as many poor whites as Black Freedmen. The aim was to deeply drive home the wedge of the original ‘Southern Strategy’ aimed at dividing the working class in the South and elsewhere.

But as lynching rolled on over the decades, tens of thousands of Blacks bore the brunt of it. Anti-Lynching laws, also for decades, were promoted mainly by Blacks and a few radical allies, while white reactionaries blocked them.


There is nothing colorblind about lynching. It never ceases to amaze me when Republicans claim to be colorblind lovers of Dr. King, while being ‘appalled’ at what they consider the main racists in high places, who are the African Americans supposedly ‘playing the race card.’

The trade union movement over the years has paid some high tuition to learn that mutual respect among nationalities is not rooted in being ‘blind’ to each other’s distinctiveness. Solidarity with a white top and a Black bottom simply doesn’t get the job done.


But the race card is indeed being played against us. It’s been constantly played by those who would keep us under their thumbs, from Jamestown, Virginia in 1619 up to a ‘gated community’ in Stanford, Florida. If you want to see it in action, for starters, watch Fox News or the GOP campaign any day of the week—then to oppose it, gather up some friends to attend a ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally and work to defeat every candidate and incumbent of the party of the ‘Southern Strategy’ in November.

7 comments:

Jay said...

Bush & Obama, leaders of the bipartisan war party, have killed more Afghan, Iraqi and Libyan kids Trayvon's age in the last 12 years than can be grasped.

Obama is not the lesser evil in 2012.

Those in 2008 who sold Obama as somehow progressive need to be held to account for this.

Carl Davidson said...

Really? You would prefer the GOP guys who, among other things, promise to bomb Iran starting yesterday? I'll mobilize against the wars no matter who's is charge, but I'll give a vote to the 'Food Stamp' guy this round.

Jay said...

The bipartisan war on Iran, Like that on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, has already begun.

Those who promoted Obama as an alternative in 2008, and as a lesser evil in 2012, are complicit in this.

As far as Food Stamps go, Obama put them on the chopping block quickly enough last summer during the debt ceiling debate.

Carl Davidson said...

Jay, if you want to say Obama represents a faction of Empire, you'll get no argument from me. But I'm not indifferent to which faction is in charge, and the difference between the two main ones have never been more pronounced in my 50 years of activism. Besides, a vote does not make one 'complicit'. you can vote for one adversary to defeat another, so long as you tell the truth about them both. Obama is worth a vote on the 'woman question' alone--and my guess is that young and middle aged women, especially minorities, will do so in large numbers.

But if these things don't matter to you, fine, that's your business. Find something else to do on election day. Just don't try to drag those of us with better tactical sense into your cul-de-sac. We know we have little but bad choices, but we make the most of them nonetheless until we can get a different electoral system.

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Leonardo said...

You have two problems Sir,

Calling this murder, how temptingly it may be, is not the right start to solve the problem.
Calling it lynching - well it depends of course of your definition, but it is certainly not my definition.

For the rest I agree with you, and certainly your point with Ginrich: it stinks to high heaven.

Still, I like to add some deviating, dissenting opinion on Zimmerman.
In a certain way, Zimmerman is also a victim. A victim of society's paranoia.
It is because of that that I think that when Zimmerman is called to trial, next to him I like to see the guys of NRA and ALEC, and all those who have "fought" for the stand your ground laws.

PS
It is because of this legislative, constitutive, involvement that I expected from the presidential candidate of the Democratic party, a man of hope and change, a bit more. Because of that I wrote in my Zspace post: I'm not impressed.

(I added this comment als to your Zspace blog)

Leonardo said...

You have two problems Sir,

Calling this murder, how temptingly it may be, is not the right start to solve the problem.
Calling it lynching - well it depends of course of your definition, but it is certainly not my definition.

For the rest I agree with you, and certainly your point with Gingrich: it stinks to high heaven.

Still, I like to add some deviating, dissenting opinion on Zimmerman.
In a certain way, Zimmerman is also a victim. A victim of society's paranoia.
It is because of that that I think that when Zimmerman is called to trial, next to him I like to see the guys of NRA and ALEC, and all those who have "fought" for the stand your ground laws.

PS
It is because of this legislative, constitutive involvement that I expected from the presidential candidate of the Democratic party, a man of hope and change, a bit more. Because of that I wrote in my post: I'm not impressed.

(I added this comment als to your Zspace blog)

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