Thursday, May 12, 2011


Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes a commenter for whom the right's Common-baiting is the last straw:

You know, normally something this stupid wouldn't bother me, but this story really gets under my skin. If they can try to paint Common as a 'dangerous black man,' what black man is immune? If they think Common is vile, then I know they have no use for my black ass. Common is beyond the pale, Michelle Obama hates whitey, Eric Holder is protecting the New Black Panther Party, Shirley Sherrod is discriminating against white farmers, Barack Obama is giving reparations to black people? Conservatives, do you realize how stupid this sounds to black people? (and I know that black people aren't the audience for that kind of talk, there's no need to point that out to me.) Seriously, you can't find less-threatening black people.

This harks back to something Coates wrote in the aftermath of President Obama's decision to release his long-form birth certificate, and the subsequent killing of Osama bin Laden:

...when broad sections of this country foolishly follow a carnival barker in the ugly tradition of attacking black citizenship rights, when pundits shriek that Obama's successes are simply the result of the misguided largess of white people, they undermine our most intimate war. They undermine the notion that someone familiar to that kid on the corner could legitimately reach the highest levels of the country, that someone like that kid's Aunt could be the First Lady. They undermine this country's social contract, and the "hard work pays" message of my parents. And to that we object.

For if they will not take as legitimate a magna cum laude from their highest institutions, if they will not accept a man who tells black kids to cut off the video games and study, who accedes to their absurd requests one week, and slays their demons the next, who will they accept? Who among us would they ever believe?

And yet as far as the political-media complex is concerned, it may be that it really is OK, or becoming OK, to be an "angry black man," and even occasionally seeming to incite violence ... if you're a Republican.

Think about Congressman Allen West. Just before the tea party-favored congressman took office, he hired as his chief of staff a radio talk show host named Joyce Kaufman who'd once given a speech in which she said,

...I am convinced that the most important thing the founding fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave me a Second Amendment. And if ballots don't work, bullets will.

A black man allying himself with someone who's advocated violent political acts? Can you say Barack Obama and Bill Ayers? And yet while this actually was going to be a much closer political alliance thn the one between Obama and Ayers (Kaufman decided not to take the job), the negative consequences to West were minimal -- after Kaufman withdrew, West walked away essentially unscathed. And that was true even though he's advocated violent intimidation himself:

West, an Army veteran, became a YouTube sensation by criticizing "this tyrannical government" and crying out: "if you’re here to stand up to get your musket, to fix your bayonet, and to charge into the ranks, you are my brother and sister in this fight."

... West encouraged his supporters to use violence in suppressing the votes of opponents, saying, "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house."

The backlash? I'm still waiting for it. It's not just that Glenn Beck says West is his choice for president in 2012, if only West would run ("He's not afraid to pull the trigger," Beck says), and it's not just that "Allen West for President" pages are over the all over the Internet (and attracting mostly white voters), it's that The New York Times recently ran a front-page story on West and made no mention of his violent rhetoric, or Kaufman's.

Scary talk by black people? I guess it's OK if you're a Republican.

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