January 14, 2008
During Bill Clinton's first run for
President, I appeared on a New York radio panel with some of
his black supporters, including Paul Robeson, Jr., son of the
actor and singer. I said that Clinton had character problems.
They dismissed my comments and said I didn't know anything about
politics and should stick to writing novels. (Clarence Page,
who has monopoly on the few column inches and airtime made available
to black columnists by the corporate media, said the same thing
about me. I should stick to creative writing and leave politics
These criticisms didn't deter
me. Writing in The Baltimore Sun, I was the first to identify
Clinton as a black president as a result of his mimicking a black
style. (I said he was the second, since Warren G. Harding never
denied the rumors about his black ancestry.) As a result of his
ability to imitate the black preaching style, Clinton was able
to seduce black audiences, who ignored some of his actions that
were unfriendly, even hostile to blacks. His interrupting his
campaign to get a mentally disabled black man, Ricky Ray Rector
executed. (Did Mrs. Clinton tear up about this act?) His humiliation
of Jesse Jackson. His humiliation of Jocelyn Elders and Lani
Gunier. The welfare reform bill that has left thousands of women
black, white, yellow and brown destitute, prompting Robert Scheer
to write in the San Francisco Chronicle, "To his
everlasting shame as president, Clinton supported and signed
welfare legislation that shredded the federal safety net for
the poor from which he personally had benefited." (Has Ms.
Clinton shed a tear for these women, or did she oppose her husband's
endorsement of this legislation?) His administration saw a high
rate of black incarceration as a result of Draconian drug laws
that occurred during his regime. He advocated trade agreements
that sent thousands of jobs overseas. (Did Mrs. Clinton, with
misty eyes, beg him to assess how such trade deals would effect
the livelihood of thousands of families, black, white, brown,
red and yellow?) He refused to intervene to rescue thousands
of Rwandans from genocide. (Did Mrs. Clinton tearfully beseech
her husband to intervene on behalf of her African sisters; did
Ms. Gloria Steinem, whose word is so influential among millions
of white women that she can be credited by some for changing
the outcome of a primary, and maybe an election, marshal these
forces to place pressure upon Congress to rescue these black
women and girls?)
Carl Bernstein, appearing on
"Air America Radio," January 9th, described Clinton's
New Hampshire attacks on Obama as "petulant." His behavior
demonstrated that regardless of Bill Clinton's admiration for
Jazz, and black preaching, he and his spouse will go south on
a black man whom they perceive as being audacious enough to sass
Mrs. Clinton. In that respect, he falls in the tradition of the
southern demagogue: grinning with and sharing pot liker and cornbread
with black folks, while signifying about them before whites.
Though his role models are Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F.
Kennedy, he has more in common with
Eugene Talmadge ("The Wild Man From Sugar Creek,"),
Louisiana's Huey Long, and his brother, Earl, Edwin Edwards,
who even hinted that he had black ancestry to gain black votes,
Alabama's George Wallace, Texas's Pa Ferguson, and "Kissing
Jim" Folsom, who wrote, "You Are My Sunshine."
He employs the colorful rhetoric of the southern demagogue, the
rustic homilies ("till the last dog dies), the whiff of
Having been educated at elite
schools where studying The War of the Roses was more important
than studying Reconstruction, the under educated white male punditry
and their token white women, failed to detect the racial code
phrases that both Clintons and their surrogates sent out- codes
that, judging from their responses, infuriated blacks caught
immediately. Blacks have been deciphering these hidden messages
for four hundred years. They had to, in order to survive.
Gloria Steinem perhaps attended
the same schools. Her remark that black men received the vote
"fifty years before women," in a Times Op-Ed
(Jan.8) that some say contributed to Obama's defeat in New Hampshire,
ignores the fact that black men were met by white terrorism,
including massacres, and economic retaliation when attempting
to exercise the franchise. She and her followers, who've spent
thousands of hours in graduate school, must have gotten all of
their information about Reconstruction from Gone With The
Wind, where moviegoers are asked to sympathize with a proto-feminist,
Scarlett O'Hara, who finally has to fend for herself after years
of being doted upon by the unpaid household help. Booker T. Washington,
an educator born into slavery, said that young white people had
been waited on so that after the war they didn't know how to
take care of themselves and Mary Chesnutt, author of The Civil
War Diaries, and a friend of Confederate president Jefferson
Davis's family, said that upper class southern white women were
so slave dependent that they were "indolent." Steinem
and her followers should read, Redemption, The Last Battle
Of The Civil War," by Nicholas Lemann, which tells the
story about how "in 1875, an army of white terrorists in
Mississippi led a campaign to 'redeem' their state--to abolish
with violence and murder if need be, the newly won civil rights
of freed slaves and blacks." Such violence and intimidation
was practiced all over the south sometimes resulting in massacres.
One of worst massacres of black men occurred at Colfax, Louisiana,
in 1873. Their crime? Attempting to exercise the voting rights
awarded to them "fifty years," before white women received
theirs. Lemann writes, "Burning Negroes" met "savage
and hellish butchery.
"They were all killed,
unarmed, at close range, while begging for mercy. Those who tried
to escape, were overtaken, mustered in crowds, made to stand
around, and, while in every attitude of humiliation and supplication,
were shot down and their bodies mangled and hacked to hasten
their death or to satiate the hellish malice of their heartless
murderers, even after they were dead.
"White posses on horseback
rode away from the town, looking for Negroes who had fled, so
they could kill them."
Elsewhere in the south, during
the Confederate Restoration, black politicians, who were given
the right to vote," fifty years before white women"
were removed from office by force, many through violence. In
Wilmington, North Carolina, black men, who "received the
vote fifty years before white women," the subject of Charles
Chesnutt's great novel, The Marrow of Tradition:
"On Thursday, November
10, 1898, Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell, a Democratic leader in
Wilmington, North Carolina mustered a white mob to retaliate
for a controversial editorial written by Alexander Manly, editor
of the city's black newspaper, the Daily Record. The mob burned
the newspaper's office and incited a bloody race riot in the
city. By the end of the week, at least fourteen black citizens
were dead, and much of the city's black leadership had been banished.
This massacre further fueled an ongoing statewide disfranchisement
campaign designed to crush black political power. Contemporary
white chronicles of the event, such as those printed in the Raleigh
News and Observer and Wilmington's The Morning Star, either blamed
the African American community for the violence or justified
white actions as necessary to keep the peace. African American
writers produced their own accounts-including fictional examinations-that
countered these white supremacist claims and highlighted the
heroic struggles of the black community against racist injustice."
Black congressmen, who, as
a rule, were better educated than their white colleagues were
expelled from Congress.
Either Gloria Steinem hasn't
done her homework, or as an ideologue rejects evidence that's
a Google away, and the patriarchal corporate old media, which
has appointed her the spokesperson for feminism, permits her
ignorance to run rampant over the emails and blogs of the nation
and though this white
Oprah might have inspired her followers to march lockstep behind
her, a progressive like Cindy Sheehan wasn't convinced. She called
Mrs. Clinton's crying act," phony."
Moreover, some of the suffragettes
that she and her followers hail as feminist pioneers were racists.
Some even endorsed the lynching of black men. In an early clash
between a black and white feminist, anti-lynching crusader Ida
B. Wells opposed the views of Frances Willard, a suffragette
pioneer, who advocated lynching.
"As the president of one
of America's foremost social reform organizations, Frances Willard
called for the protection of the purity of white womanhood from
threats to morality and safety. In her attempts to bring Southern
women into the W.C.T.U., Frances Willard accepted the rape myth
and publicly condoned lynching and the color line in the South.
Wells argued that as a Christian reformer, Willard should be
speaking out against lynching, but instead seemed to support
the position of Southerners."
Ms. Willard's point of view
is echoed by Susan Brownmiller's implying that Emmett Till got
what he deserved, and the rush to judgment on the part of New
York feminists whose pressure helped to convict the black and
Hispanic kids accused of raping a stockbroker in Central Park.
After DNA proved their innocence (the police promised them if
they confessed, they could go home), a Village Voice reporter
asked the response of these feminists to this news; only Susan
Brownmiller responded. She said that regardless of the scientific
evidence, she still believed that the children, who spent their
youth in jail, on the basis of the hysteria generated by Donald
Trump, the press, and leading New York feminists, were guilty.
Feminist hero, Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, offended Frederick Douglass--an abolitionist woman attempted
to prevent his daughter from gaining entrance to a girls' school--when
she referred to black men as "sambos." She was an unabashed
white supremacist. She said in 1867," [w]ith the black man
we have no new element in government, but with the education
and elevation of women, we have a power that is to develop the
Saxon race into a higher and nobler life."
Steinem should read. Race,
Rape, and Lynching by Sandra Gunning, and Angela Davis's
excellent Women, Culture, & Politics," which
includes a probing examination of racism in the suffragette movement.
The Times allowed only one black feminist to weigh in
on Ms. Steinem's comments about Barack Obama, and how he appealed
to white men because they perceive black males as more "masculine"
than they, an offensive stereotype, and one that insults the
intelligence of white men, and a comment which, with hope, doesn't
reflect the depth of "progressive" women's thought.
Do you think that the Times
would offer Steinem critics like Toni Morrison Op-ed space to
rebut her? Don't count on it. The criticism of white feminism
by black women has been repressed for over one hundred years
(Black Women Abolitionists, A Study In Activism,1828-1860,by
I asked Jill Nelson, author
of Finding Martha's Vineyard, Volunteer Slavery
and Sexual Healing, how she felt about Gloria Steinem's
use of a hypothetical black woman to make a point against Obama.
"I was offended and frankly,
surprised, by Gloria Steinem's use of a hypothetical Black woman
in her essay supporting Hillary Clinton. I would have liked to
think that after all these years struggling in the feminist vineyards,
Black women have become more than a hypothetical to be used when
white women want to make a point, and a weak one at that, on
our backs. It's a device, a distraction, and disingenuous, and
fails to hold Hillary Clinton - or for that matter, Barack Obama
and the rest of the (male) candidates - responsible for their
On the second day of a convention
held at Seneca Falls, 1848, white suffragettes sought to prevent
black abolitionist Sojourner Truth from speaking. The scene was
described by Frances Dana Gage in Ms. Davis's book:
"Don't let her speak!"
gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly
to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her
great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation
above and below. I rose and announce 'Sojourner Truth,' and begged
the audience to keep silence for a few moments."
Many minority feminists, Asian-American,
Hispanic, Native-American and African-American, contend that
white middle and upper class feminists' insensitivity to the
views and issues deemed important to them persists to this day.
Their proof might be Ms. Steinem's
lack of concern about how Ms. Clinton's war votes affect the
lives of thousands of women and girls--her brown sisters--in
Iraq and Iran. One hundred and fifty thousand Iraqi people have
been killed since the American occupation was ordered by patriarchs
in Washington D.C., patriarchs who were responsible for the welfare
With this in mind, I recently
asked Robin Morgan, who was editor of Ms. magazine, when
I was called the worst misogynist in America, whether she still
held those views. I replied to this accusation that I should
be accorded the same respect given to the men who ran the magazine
at the time, Lang Communications. It was made by Barbara Smith,
a black feminist whom I debated on television and whose bitter
comments about the white feminist movement make mine seem timid.
She also criticizes the white Gay and Lesbian movements. She
said that when she tried to join the Gay and Lesbian March on
Washington, the leaders told her to get lost. That they weren't
interested in black issues. That they wanted to mainstream. About
me, she wrote in The New Republic magazine, edited by
a Marty Peretz, a man who once said that black women were "culturally
deficient," that my black women characters weren't positive
enough. For running afoul of this feminist "blueprint"
for writing that she tried to lay on me, her views and those
like hers were repudiated by Joyce Joyce, a black critic who
deviates from the party line.
I also reminded Ms. Morgan
that the Ms. editorial staff reflected the old plantation
model, even though its founder, Gloria Steinem, said that she's
concerned about the progress of black women. White feminists
had the juicy editorial Big House positions, while women of color
were the editorial kitchen help as contributing editors. A few
months later, Ms. Morgan resigned as editor and was replaced
by a black woman, but not before taking some potshots, not at
misogynists belonging to her ethnic group, whose abuse of women
has been a guarded secret, according to feminists belonging to
that group, but at Mike Tyson and Clarence Thomas (incidentally,
when the white women who ran for office as a result of Ms. Anita
Hill's testimony against Clarence Thomas arrived in Congress,
they voted with the men).
Robin Morgan had her secretary
respond to my recent letter and from the letter I gather that
Ms. Morgan hasn't changed her mind. I'm a worse misogynist than
the men in the Pentagon, and those who passed Clinton's Welfare
Reform bill. I guess that bell hooks, another black feminist,
who won't be invited by the men who run the Times to respond
to Ms. Steinem, was right when she wrote in her book, Outlaw
Culture, that white feminists are harder on black men than
white men, but like other black feminists, from the 19th century
to the present day, her point has been ignored by the mainstream
media, who, when they view feminism, and just about every other
subject, all they can see is white! (Except when
it's crime, athletics, and having babies out of wedlock!)
Feminists are harder on Ishmael
Reed, Ralph Ellison (yes, him too), and even James Baldwin, that
gentle soul, than on Phillip Roth and Saul Bellow. Harder on
Barack Obama than on Bill Clinton, to whom Gloria Steinem, a
harsh critic of Clarence Thomas, gave a free pass when he was
charged with sexual indiscretions by various women. She said
that Bubba was O.K. because when he placed Kathleen Wiley's hand
on his penis and she said no, he withdrew it. That when other
women said no, he also halted his sexual advances. A letter writer
to the Times challenged Ms. Steinem's double standard
for white and black-men:
"Bob Herbert (column,
Jan. 29) writes that Gloria Steinem said that even though Paula
Jones has filed a sexual harassment suit against President Clinton,
Ms. Jones has not claimed that the President had forced himself
on her. ''He takes no for an answer,'' Ms. Steinem intones.
Lest we forget, Anita Hill
said no to Clarence Thomas. And her accusations nearly derailed
his appointment to the Supreme Court.
Patricia Schroeder, the former
Congresswoman, did not claim that ''somebody may be overstating
the case'' when Ms. Hill accused Judge Thomas of sexual misconduct,
but Ms. Schroeder claims that now in Mr. Herbert's column. Again
the left inadvertently exposes its sliding scale of moral indignation."
San Rafael, Calif., Jan. 29, 1998
Black feminists also charge
that white feminists deserted them during the fight against Proposition
209, which ended racial and gender hiring in the state of California,
even though Affirmative Action has benefited white women the
They charge that white women
were missing in action during the fight against the welfare reform
bill. It seems that the cheapest form of solidarity with which
they can express toward their minority sisters is to join in
on the attack on Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant, and Clarence Thomas
and Mr., a character in The Color Purple, who, for them,
represents all black men.
Though Steinem accuses men
of being mean to Mrs. Clinton, she expressed no outrage about
surrogate Bill Shaheen painting Obama as drug dealer, or the
innuendo promoted by Senator Bob Kerrey. Senator Bob Kerrey,
who, apparently having made up with the Clintons, was recruited
to associate Obama with what the
Right refers to as "Islamo fascists."
He said, "His name is
Barack Hussein Obama, and his father was a Muslim and his paternal
grandmother is a Muslim." He added that Obama "spent
a little bit of time in a secular madressa."
You'd think that the New School
of Social Research would have fired Kerrey when he admitted to
committing atrocities in Vietnam. Now this.
All of these attacks must be
what Hillary Clinton meant when she warned her opponents,"
now the fun begins."
One of the charges made by
some black feminists is that white women middle class movement
figures embezzle their oppression.
In the New York Times, Gloria Steinem's using a hypothetical
black woman to do a house cleaning on Obama was what these women
must have had in mind. (Phillip Roth does the same thing; uses
his black maid characters to denounce black history and black
studies: "Missa Roth, dese Black Studies ain't doin' nothin'
but worrying folks. Whew!) Her using a black woman as a prop
must have annoyed Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison who made blistering
comments about Ms.Steinem during an interview conducted by novelist
Cecil Brown and carried in the University of Massachusetts' Review,
where Ms. Morrison made the harshest comments about Alice Walker's
novel, The Color Purple, to date, even harsher than those
made by black feminist Prof. Trudier Harris, who, as a result
of her essay, published in African American Review, faced
such a hostile backlash from white feminist scholars that she
stopped commenting about the novel, which has become a sacred
text among white feminists, who are silent about how women are
treated among their ethnic groups. Steinem said that had Obama
been a black woman, he would not have made as much progress as
a presidential candidate and added that white men would prefer
voting for a black man over a white woman because they perceived
black men as being more masculine than they.
I wrote a response to the Times:
Even Dr. Phil would probably
snicker at the level of pop psychology employed by Gloria Steinem
to explain the attraction of many voters to Senator Barack Obama.
For example, she believes that the preference for a black male
candidate over a white woman by some white males is based upon
their admiration for the black male's "masculine" superiority.
"Masculine superiority?" All four of the current heavyweight
champions are white as well as last year's MVPs of the NBA were
Moreover, Ms. Steinem is a
long time critic of black men as a group. She said that the book,
The Color Purple, in which one black man commits incest,
told "the truth" about black men, the kind of collective
blame that's been used against her ethnic group since the time
of the Romans."
I also made a reference to
her abandonment of a tearful Shirley Chisholm's presidential
candidacy after supporting it. If she's so concerned about the
political fate of a black woman's presidential bid, why did she
desert Ms. Chisholm in favor of the man?
She also said that "Gender
is probably the most restricting force in American life."
The fact that when white women received the vote, they experienced
little of the violence that accompanied black men being awarded
the right to vote, fifty years earlier, suggests that some groups,
black men, black women, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and American
Indians face more restrictions than white women, whose college
enrollment is far higher even than that of white men. ( Steinem
said that women are never "Front Runners. How many white
women senators are there? How many black?)
Cecil Brown, author of the
bestselling Hey, Dude Where's My Black Studies Department,
"I grew up in North Carolina,
where I often heard my mother and my aunts speak of the racism
of white women against them. Their experience is that of millions
of black women who were and are discriminated by white women.
In the Bay Area, where I now
live, a professor friend told me, recently, that a white female
student told him that she found the use of the expression, "white
woman" in his lectures offensive, and asked that he not
"Like this student, Ms
Steinem avoids the phrase "white woman," because it
historicizes their gender. While she lectures to us about black
men, white men, and black women, she can only think of her white
women as women.
"It's time to take pride
in breaking all the barriers," Ms. Steinem ends her remarks.
We have to be able to say: "I'm supporting [Hillary] because
she'll be a great president and because she is a woman. But do
we dare say that we should support her because she is a white
Our letters were not published,
but one written by a black feminist exposed the divide between
black and white feminists, one that is rarely aired since white
feminists have more access to the media than black ones and in
their books report, falsely, a solidarity between them and black
Among letter writer Karin Kimbrough's
"As a black woman and
a feminist, I find it depressing to see Gloria Steinem set up
this tired, false debate as to whether a black man or a white
woman is more disadvantaged in national politics.
She cites as evidence that
'black men were given the vote a half-century before women of
any race were allowed to mark a ballot.' So what?
My parents (who are Ms. Steinem's
age) vividly recall racism in the Deep South, including barriers
to voting as well as the barriers to many other supposedly granted
rights like eating in restaurants, staying in hotels and using
public facilities. These were all rights white women actively
Camille Paglia also weighed
"Hillary's disdain for
masculinity fits right into the classic feminazi package, which
is why Hillary acts on Gloria Steinem like catnip. Steinem's
fawning, gaseous New York Times op-ed about her pal Hillary this
week speaks volumes about the snobby clubbiness and reactionary
sentimentality of the fossilized feminist establishment, which
has blessedly fallen off the cultural map in the 21st century.
History will judge Steinem and company very severely for their
ethically obtuse indifference to the stream of working-class
women and female subordinates whom Bill Clinton sexually harassed
and abused, enabled by look-the-other-way and trash-the-victims
An example of the problems
that Barack faces as a result of there being few blacks having
jobs in the old media occurred during an appearance by a white
woman reporter on "Washington Journal,"Jan.14. So pro-Hillary
was this reporter, Beth Fouhy, that one woman called and said
that she thought that this woman was a Hillary spokesperson,
before noticing that she was from the
Associated Press. Obviously the media have been infiltrated by
Scathing comments about the
white feminist movement by black feminists are included in The
Feminist Memoir Project, edited by Rachel Blau DuPlessis
and Ann Snitow. Timesperson,Maureen Dowd also challenged Steinem,
who is hard on black guys, but once confessed in the Times
that she becomes embarrassed when a male of her ethnic group
becomes involved in a scandal. Challenging Steinem's argument
that "she is supporting Hillary [because] she had no 'masculinity
to prove.'" Dowd wrote, "Empirically speaking, her
masculinity is precisely what Hillary
has been out to prove in her bid for the White House. What else
was voting to enable W. to invade Iraq without even reading the
National Intelligence Estimate and backing the White House's
bellicosity on Iran but proving her masculinity."
Desperate, when the campaign
moved into New Hampshire, the Clintons launched the brass knuckles
attack on Obama that commentator William Bennett predicted would
happen after Mrs. Clinton was upset in Iowa.
His voice shaking with rage,
a livid Bill Clinton said that Obama's positions on the war in
Iraq was a "a fairy tale," and that nominating Obama
was "a roll of the dice."
Writing in The Washington
Post, Jan.13, Marjorie Valbrun, voiced the reaction of many
blacks to Clinton's performance:
"If anyone needed any
proof that the mean Clinton machine is alive and well in this
campaign, all they had to do was watch Bill Clinton deliver his
angry diatribe against Obama in New Hampshire last week just
before the primary. His red-faced anger was clear and a little
scary, too. It wasn't what he said but how he said it. His tone
was contemptuous of his wife's main challenger, whom he described
as a political neophyte who for some reason was being granted
a honeymoon with the national media.
This is the same Bill Clinton
who took on Sister Souljah, a young and, at the time, controversial
black rapper who made incendiary racial remarks after the Los
Angeles race riots. Many people accused Clinton of using the
rapper, and an appearance before Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition,
as an opportunity to distance himself from Jackson, the ultimate
race man. The move helped reinforce his white moderate bona fides."
On Jan.13th, when Tim Russert
interrogated Mrs. Clinton whether the attacks on Obama by her,
her husband, and her surrogates were racist, she filibustered
and dismissed such concerns as the one made by Ms. Valbrum and
other blacks in a patronizing manner. She falsely accused Obama
of comparing himself with JFK and MLK. He didn't. He invoked
their names to make a point about hope. How some hopes, considered
false by cynics, can be fulfilled.
So offended by what he considered
a black man getting "cocky" with his wife, Clinton
blew his top. "Cocky" was the word that nuns educated
Bob Herbert used to admonish Obama. Herbert, one of three blacks
whom the Times views as unlikely to alienate their readership,
pointed to an exchange between Obama and Mrs. Clinton. When Mrs.
Clinton, during a debate, commented that voters found Obama more
"likeable" than Mrs. Clinton, Obama said that Mrs.
Clinton was "likeable enough." Obama's reply prompted
an Ante Bellum white man, Karl Rove, to refer to Obama as "a
smarmy, prissy little guy taking a slap at her." He said
that this exchange threw the primary victory to Mrs. Clinton.
Notwithstanding the irony of Karl Rove referring to someone as
"smarmy," if a reply as mild and innocuous as Obama's
leads to his being flogged by Clinton and reprimanded by one
of the Establishment's Black tokens, Obama is going to be restricted
in his ability to take on the political brawlers and hit persons
aligned with Clinton like Don Imus's buddy, James Carville, a
man who sneers at people who live in trailer parks, and who practices
a no-holds-barred political strategy.
Both CNN and Carl Bernstein
said that Clinton, in the midst of giving this uppity black the
required flogging (Clinton's a Jeffersonian. Flogging blacks
was Jefferson's idea of recreation), had misrepresented Barack's
record. Also, those who commented about Hillary Clinton's tearful
breakdown missed the commentary that accompanied this calculated
attempt at seeming human and personal, which occurred, as Jesse
Jackson, Jr. noted, in The Daily News, when her advisors
told her that she appear to be more human. "Why didn't she
cry for the victims of Katrina?" he added.
She said that she didn't want
to see the country "go backwards," or "spin out
of control," the kind of vision of black rule promoted by
D.W.Griffith's Birth of a Nation, and Neo-Confederate
novelist Tom Wolfe's "A Man In Full." (Unfortunately
for Obama, this was during a week that saw post election violence
in Kenya where Barack's father was born.) Hers was the kind of
rhetoric that was used by the Confederates whose rule was restored
by Andrew Johnson. Give the black man governing powers and no
white woman will be safe. This was Mrs. Clinton's Willie Horton
Bill Clinton's orchestrating
his wife's being more personal, was a brilliant stroke. One that
might doom Obama's candidacy, but will doom the Democrats' chances
to win the 2008 election as well. As a southern demagogue, Bill
Clinton calculated that no black man can compete with a white
woman's tears, a left over from Old South thinking. Black men
have been lynched as a result of the tears of white women. While
Jesse Helms, another southern demagogue, used a black man's hand
in an ad that criticized Affirmative Action, Feminist Bill Clinton,
who exploited a young woman, who held him in awe, and cost Al
Gore an election, used his wife's tears, so desperate was he
to achieve a third term and redeem his being impeached. But judging
from angry black callers into C-Span's "The Washington Journal,"
the day after the New Hampshire primary, and the following day,
and my own non-scientific survey, many blacks finally get it.
That they have been snookered by the Clintons. One angry man
said that blacks supported Clinton during his marital problems
and this is what they get for it. Another man said that he was
going to vote for McCain as a way of protesting the Clinton's
treatment of Obama. On Jan.11, an irate black woman called in
and said that she had been devoted to the Clinton's since the
1990s, but after his attack on Obama, which she likened to "
a knife in my chest," and which she described as "low
down" she said that if Hillary were nominated, she'd either
"vote Republican, or stay home." Calling into the Journal
on Jan.13, a black woman from Ohio said that many of her friends
were upset with the "subliminally racist" campaign
against Obama that the Clinton's were conducting. These callers
expressed the disgust that thousands of blacks feel about the
Clintons dirty tricks campaign against Obama, which included
sending out mailers making false statements about his view about
abortion, and deceptively attributing another mailer, critical
of Obama, to John Edwards. This black backlash against the Clintons
provides the Republican Party with a golden opportunity to recruit
black voters for McCain, but I doubt whether they will seize
upon it. After all, while Clinton might have an office in Harlem,
McCain has a black daughter!
A black Ph.D. caller said that
he found blacks in a barbershop to be more prescient than he.
They said that once whites entered the voting booth, they'd vote
for the white candidate no matter what they said to the pollster.
Some commentators recalled treatment that Howard Gant and Tom
Bradley received. Both were considered shoo-ins by pollsters
for Senator from North Carolina and Governor of California because
whites misled pollsters about how they really intended to vote.
Later in the day of Jan.8,
Larry Sabato of The University of Virginia , appearing on The
Chris Matthews Show, commented about a previous segment during
which Dee Dee Meyers and Pat Buchanan opposed Michael Eric Dyson's
argument that white racism was a factor in Obama's New Hampshire
defeat. He said, "I think its very naïve, given American
history, to automatically dismiss the racial voting theory before
it's investigated. There is some evidence that race is one of
several factors involved in this upset." Chris Matthews,
who, apparently, has taken a new look at racism in the United
States, after the Imus debacle, and a couple of other white commentators,
including NBC News Political Director, Chuck Todd, agreed with
this sentiment that race was a factor. But most white commentators
agreed with Pat Buchanan, and Dee Dee Meyers, former Clinton
press secretary, who said that the difference between the polling
that showed Obama with a double digit lead and the actual outcome
had nothing to with white voters telling pollsters one thing
and voting the opposite. For people like Pat Buchanan, nothing
has to do with race, unless he can use race to stir up votes
in one of his campaigns.
Predictably, The New York
Times also followed the line that the racial attitudes of
whites had nothing to do with Obama's narrow defeat in New Hampshire,
not surprising since the line of The New York Times, on
the opinion page and elsewhere, is that we have entered a "post
Such is the rage of blacks
against the Clintons after Iowa and New Hampshire that If Hillary
Clinton is nominated, she will not be elected president. Obama
and his "Joshua" generation will inherit a party that
has lost its way. This would be a new development for the progressive
movement since, from the abolitionists to the progressive movements
of the 20th century, black progressives were the followers and
not the leaders. When Frederick Douglass, Richard Wright and
Ralph Ellison got out of line, the progressives replaced them
with another more obedient black spokesperson. After he broke
with his progressive sponsors, Richard Wright was assaulted (The
God That Failed by Koestler, Silone, Wright).
An uninformed Times
Op-Ed writer, a CMD, said that Obama had gotten farther toward
the nomination than any other black. Not true. When Jesse Jackson
won the Michigan primary, there was an eruption of panic among
the party elite. Ben Wattenberg and others were brought in to
smear Jackson with the charge of Anti-Semitism and out of this
emergency arose the white conservative wing of the party, The
Democratic Leadership Council, whose founder, Al From, still
brags about how he put black people in their place. Clinton was
the DLC's candidate for president.
The reason for the 1960s rift
between the Black Power people and the New Left was because when
the black nationalists arrived at Freedom Summer, the northeastern
liberals were giving orders, while the blacks were taking the
risks. The black nationalists took control of the movement and
dragged Stokely Carmichael, who was devoted to non-violence,
kicking and screaming into their ranks, and into their philosophy
of armed self-defense, according to Askia Toure, whom Mary Snow
in her book, Freedom Summer, accuses of purging the Northern
Liberals from SNCC. The progressive white women left SNCC, but
not before borrowing the SNCC manifesto and using it as it their
own, according to Snow. They changed the pronouns and this became
the beginning of the modern feminist movement. The reason that
much of the feminist movement's fire is aimed at the brothers
is because some of these women went away mad (Going South
by Debra L.Schultz). Based upon Stokely Carmichael's remark that
the position of women in SNCC was "prone," they accused
the black men in SNCC of misogyny. According to black women,
who were members of SNCC, the white feminists, led by Casey Hayden,
took Carmichael's comments out of context. Their views about
their clashes with white feminism are printed in The Trouble
Between Us by Winifred Breines, a book ignored by Mark Leibovich,writing
in The New York Times,Jan.13. He repeated the charge about
Carmichael made by white feminists without asking black feminists
what they thought. Typical of a member of the Old Media, which
takes its cues from those whom the patriarchy has appointed to
lead the movement.
If Cynthia McKinney is nominated
for president by the Green Party, a test for corporate feminists
like Gloria Steinem, so concerned about the lack of opportunities
for their black sisters, black voters will flock to McKinney
by the thousands, which might tip the balance if the contest
is close between Ms. Clinton and her Republican opponent. Others
will leave the line for president on the ballot, blank. This
rage against the Clintons will go unnoticed by the segregated
old corporate media, which has more information about the landscape
of Mars than trends in the Black, Asian-American and Hispanic
communities. They rely upon their hand full of colored mind doubles,
who tell them what they want to hear.
Modern day Indian scouts. When
they're not available, all white panels instruct each other about
who is a racist and who is not, how black people feel, how they
are going to vote, continuing what some blacks regard as the
white intellectual occupation of the black experience, an attitude
that dates all the way back to a letter written by Martin Delaney
to Frederick Douglass, 1863, in which he complained about the
favorable treatment Douglass gave to Harriet Beecher Stowe's
book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, while ignoring his Blake,
or the Huts of America, 1859. "She can not speak for
us," he wrote.
Clinton will still receive
some support from some black democratic loyalists, and celebrities
although some of them are beginning to distance themselves from
the couple after Iowa and New Hampshire smears against Obama,
but a large number of black people, who helped elect Clinton,
twice, will defect.
Representative James E. Clyburn,
a black Congressman from South Carolina, told the New York
Times (Jan.11, 2008) that "he may abandon his neutral
stance in his state's primary, based in part on comments by Senator
Hillary Rodman Clinton about President Lyndon B.Johnson and the
Rev. Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr." He
and other blacks interpreted Hillary Clinton's remark about the
two as implying that Johnson did more for the cause of Civil
Rights than King, who, like Obama, made great speeches.
Also one wonders whether Henry
Louis Gate's Jr., media appointed leader of the Talented Tenth
(a phrase that W.E.B DuBois used to appoint the black elite as
the true leaders of the Negro masses, an insult to grassroots
leaders like Fannie Lou Hammer), will follow suit. While smearing
a number of black male writers as misogynists, in the Times
and elsewhere, when Bill Clinton was caught with his pants down,
Gates, Jr. said. We will "go to the wall for this president."
Are the Clintons new in a south
where husbands like George Wallace extended their power by getting
their wives elected? Hardly. Take the Fergusons.
In Texas there was a couple
called the Fergusons, affectionately called "Ma and Pa Ferguson."
Miriam Ferguson was a quiet,
private person who preferred to stay home in her big house in
Temple, Texas, and take care of her husband, raise her two daughters,
and tend to her flower garden.
But in 1923 she was elected
governor of Texas, the first woman governor elected in the United
Her husband, Jim Ferguson,
served two terms as governor, but during his second term he was
impeached, which meant he could not run again for public office.
So Miriam agreed to run to clear his name and restore the family's
She served two terms as governor:
from 1925 to 1927 and from 1933 to 1935. She and her husband
became known as 'Ma' and 'Pa' Ferguson. Her campaign slogan was,
'Two Governors for the Price of One'.
Remind you of anyone?
Ishmael Reed is a poet, novelist and essayist who
lives in Oakland. His widely-accalimed novels include, Mumbo
Jumbo, the Freelance
Pallbearers and the
Last Days of Louisiana Red. He has recently published a fantastic
book on Oakland: Blues
City: a Walk in Oakland and Carroll and Graf has recently
published a thick volume of his poems: New
and Collected Poems: 1964-2006.
He is also the editor of the
online zine Konch.
Copyright 2008 Ishmael Reed