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George Jefferson Demands $20 From Honky Bunker

I recently watched a 35 year old episode of All In The Family. I’m up on pop culture as long as I have  35 years to catch up.

In the episode I saw, Archie Bunker unknowingly passed a counterfeit $20 bill to George Jefferson. Archie was picking up dry cleaning from George at Jefferson Cleaners

(Above you can watch the first segment of the show. Here is the link to next segment.  And here is the link to the final segment.)

File:Jeffersons.jpg

When he saw that the $20 was no good,  George stormed over to Archie’s house, next door to his, and demanded $20 in real currency.

George told Archie that if he did not give him the money that Archie would “be on the list of the ten most sorry honkies.” 

Well—you can just imagine the trouble from that point on.

Life is more complicated than in 1974. In terms of race, America is, in some respects at least, better than it was in 1974.  

While there is little to be said for what race relations were in the era of fights over busing and not long after years of urban rioting, the black and white world of Archie Bunker and George Jefferson did make for better television than much of what is on today. 

As someone who grew up watching All In The Family, I sometimes have to remind myself that race relations are  more nuanced today than in the past.  I’ve never quite gotten the sounds Archie and George yelling at each other out of my mind.

One thing I’m reasonbly certain of–A black President named Barack Obama serving at the same time that much of black America still lives in borderline genocidal conditions of urban (and rural) poverty and despair, would not have been a future people would have imagined 35 years ago.  

July 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama New Yorker Cover—Didn’t Archie Bunker Get The Last Laugh?

This illustration provided by The New Yorker magazine, the cover ... 

The smart folks at The New Yorker don’t feel people will take seriously the cover art on the magazine this week. They say people will know it is satire. 

Well–That may be true with a bunch of annoying know-it-alls. But what they’ve done is hand the McCain folks a new campaign poster. The McCain team will say all the right things about how it’s offensive and all that. Still, you can bet somebody is already figuring out how make the best use of this against Senator Obama.

I have a few seasons of All In The Family on DVD.  All In The Family was intended as satire as well. Archie Bunker was supposed to be part of a dying breed and Meathead was going to be the future. Yet when you watch the show today, you see that what Archie was saying is not so far from what Republicans have been saying for the past 35 years.

Archie Bunker would be plenty at home in the Newt Gingrich/Rush Limbaugh Republican Party of 1990’s and the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Republican party of this decade. Watched in 2008, the Archie Bunker of 1971 seems more prophet than fool. At least he does in terms of the political arguments that have carried the day over the last three decades.    

If we’re going to see Senator Obama in this way, why not have a cover of the violence-loving Senator McCain in a “mock” war trial for all the civilians he bombed in one unjust war 40 years ago, as he supports yet another unjust war in 2008. 

Or better yet, let’s have Senator McCain on the phone with Osama bin Laden in the cave, figuring out what day Osama could attack America that would help Mr. McCain most at the polls. Maybe they could text message each other with cute little bomb and airplane icons.

The folks at The New Yorker live in some sort of insular fantasy land. They think it’s all a big joke. If I were them, I’d not be so certain about who gets the last laugh.

July 14, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rudy Giuliani—A Throwback To The Cold War And To The Archie Bunker/George Jefferson Days Of Race Relations

A recent Newsweek profile of Rudy Giuliani begins its analysis in the right place.

The profile starts with Mr. Giuliani at an unruly rally of mostly white New York City police in 1992. Many of the officers were drunk and some were shouting racial slurs about then New York City Mayor David Dinkins. Some police officers jumped up and down on cars.

At issue was a demand for a new collective-bargaining agreement, opposition to the establishment of a civilian review board for police and a denial by Mayor Dinkins of a request to allow patrolmen to have 9mm guns.

Mr. Giuliani, who would be elected Mayor the next year against Mr. Dinkins, made a profanity-laced speech to the cops that was harshly critical of Mr. Dinkins. Mayor Dinkins later said that Mr. Giuliani was trying to get “white cops to riot.”  

As Mayor of New York, the Giuliani administration was known for aggressive tactics in policing black sections of New York. This led to, along with many other factors, lower rates of crime in these areas. It also led to incidents of police brutality and to much distrust of Mr. Giuliani among black New Yorkers.

Mr. Giluani’s platform for his Mayoral bid was based upon his his time as a high-ranking Justice Department official in the Reagan Administration and as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Giulani’s case for the Presidency is based in good degree on the over-hyped claim of claim of leadership after the September 11 attacks and the assertion that this experience makes Mr. Giuliani uniquely able to deal with terror threats. Mr. Giuliani also often talks about shifting people off welfare in New York and his crime fighting as Mayor.   

This law-and-order, tough-on-blacks, tough-on-welfare, national security strategy strikes me as a throwback to a George Wallace or Richard Nixon Southern Strategy campaign.

Mr. Giuliani can’t appeal to the Republican base as a religious conservative. And the Soviets are gone. But he can still take us back to Archie Bunker/George Jefferson days of racial argument and division under the shadow of a threat to our mortal safety. 

Mr. Giuliani is a retro-candidate. He still lives in the old neighborhood in the good old days of clear divisions between America and the Soviet Union before the New York Yankees finally integrated the team. Is it any surprise Mr. Giuliani rooted for the Yankees of Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin instead of the Brooklyn Dodgers of Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella?   

Mr. Giuliani shows again that Republicans and conservatives often seem to need an enemy to oppose and demonize instead of a goal of progress and justice to work together for and achieve.

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments