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Eunuchs Have A Long History In Government—Though Jackson Is Wrong To Suggest It For Obama

 

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has suggested in the past few days that Senator Barack Obama be castrated.

While I’ve written that I’m standing by Reverend Jackson in the broader sense, I oppose this specific suggestion.

I will say though that eunuchs have long played a role in government. In his classic three-volume work entitled The History of Government From Earliest Times, the late political scientist S.E. Finer made many references to eunuchs. 

( Above is 18th-century eunuch in some type of eunuch robe.)  

I count a total of 14 eunuch references in the index to the three volumes. They served in Rome, China, Persia and in other places.

From Finer—….Eunuchs, wherever we find them–in the late Roman and the Byzantine empires, in the Caliphate and Ottoman Empire, and in Imperial China—are humble menials, but some, more educated and talented then the rest rise to positions of influence….The Assyrian monarchs may have employed eunuchs extensively….If Herodotus is to be believed…Babylonia and Assyria had to supply the court with 500 boy-eunuchs a year….At first the ones mentioned by name are confidential emissaries, but from the time of Artaxerxes I the eunuchs appear in highly influential positions.

Why and how eunuchs could attain such importance is explained by Xenophon…”They are not made any less efficient horsemen…or less ambitious men…rather the contrary, and even if physically weaker ( which he doubts), steel makes the weak equal to the strong.”

Finer continues–“Men would put children, wives, and sweethearts first–Not so the eunuchs, whose chief affection would go to those who could make them rich, protect them, and give them high office. Furthermore, eunuchs were despised by the rest of mankind, hence they were dependant on a patron for protection.”  

Of course, it is also true that slaves throughout history were sometimes punished with castration.

Bottom line—While eunuchs have often held great power, they have not generally reached the top spot. Also, most eunuchs have been slaves or servants of one kind or another. If Reverend Jackson is angry at Senator Obama, I feel that some other expression of that anger would be more appropriate.

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Sticking By Jesse Jackson

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama, the senator from Chicago, has accepted the apology of the Rev. Jesse Jackson for crude comments he made about Obama when he thought a television station microphone was not on. Here, Jackson holds up an Obama campaign sign on Super Tuesday primary night at Obama's party on Feb. 5 in Chicago.

Jesse Jackson made some intemperate remarks about Barack Obama recently. Reverend Jackson made these comments in front of an open microphone.

Jesse Jackson has been out there for a lot of people over the years. He’s had his act on the road for 40 years now. I say that admiringly. Reverend Jackson has no real institutional base, yet he keeps going.

The great A. Phillip Randolph ran the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters for many years. He could pick his spots. He knew he had a gig waiting for him at the end of the day. Martin Luther King was dead at 39. But Jesse has had to be out there slugging it out.

Reverend Jackson may not be Mr. Randolph or Rev. King, but he presses ahead.

( Please click here for the best Martin Luther King reading list on the web.)

People forget how groundbreaking Rev. Jackson’s Presidential campaigns were in 1984 and 1988. He won a lot of votes and earned the right to go all the way to party convention in both years.

And the fact is there were elements of truth to what he was saying about Mr. Obama’s campaign. Senator Obama needs to focus on misdeeds by all people.

In 1988, I cast my first vote for President for Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primary. He’s part of the reason I’ll be voting for a black man in 2008 in the general election.

I’m sticking by Jesse Jackson.

(Please click here to read about the history of eunuchs in government.)

July 11, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

People Believe Wild Things Because Nothing’s So Horrible It Can’t Be True

Blogger’s Note—I’m on a Summer Solstice blogging holiday. I’m re-running some posts for the next few days. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal. I’ll be back to regular posting soon.)  

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about conspiracy theories many people believe.  

For example, 30% of black people believe it’s possible AIDS was deliberately manufactured to kill black folks.

This is held out as a crazy thing to think.

I don’t believe it myself.

But if you asked me if many white people and white politicians don’t care if poor urban black people live or die, I would say that’s correct.   

And plenty of black politicians don’t care either.  

In my own experience as a city council aide in Cincinnati, Ohio, I read the files of black cancer patients who had intentionally been given extra doses of radiation to see how they would react.

Get this—They suffered.  

Poor black people in cities, blacks and whites in rural areas, our colonized undocumented labor force, and poor people of all kinds, get inferior hospitals and inferior care.

When you ask black folks if AIDS was the work of government, maybe what you’re really asking if the government would do things that would kill people who look like you do.

“Yes” seems to be a logical reply.  

Mr. Kristoff says it is crazy that 36% of Americans believe that government orchestrated 9/11 or knew about it advance.  

Well—I’ve always thought that was a mistaken belief .

George W. Bush was intent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11. He did not need any provocation. 

What people know is that we lied about why we went to war, we did not give our troops the right equipment to save their lives, we sometimes kill innocent civilians, and that the troops sometimes get terrible care upon arriving back home.   

Did the government or President Bush know about 9/11 in advance? No. Is the government as led by President Bush capable of terrible acts that cause people to die? Sure–All the damned time.  

Mr. Kristoff mentions two other conspiracy theories in his column. 

One is that the levees in New Orleans were opened on purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This is not so.

Yet it had been known for years that the levees might not hold during a bad hurricane and that much of New Orleans was vulnerable. Then, after it was clear the disaster response was poor, President Bush said his FEMA director was doing a “heckuva job.”    

So why not figure that levees were opened by design? Is that much worse than the truth of the matter? 

Another view held by many is that crack cocaine was deliberately introduced into poor neighborhoods.

Now that one is crazy

These communities were already so flooded with alcohol, cigarettes, overpriced grocery stores offering little or no produce, bad schools and a host of other urban afflictions, why would you have to introduce something new to harm people?  

The history books tell us that we won our land in good part by exterminating the native population, and that we built up the land with the frequent and longtime use of slave labor.  

Our own experiences in life show us that our cities are left to rot year after year. And the poor are getting more poor even as the rich get richer.

So when you ask if the people in charge of our country, or others in positions of power, are capable of barbaric or even genocidal acts, why would many give any other reply than “yes.”

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Hurricane Katrina, Politics | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Michelle Obama—She Can Define Herself As She Wishes And All Will Go Well

Michelle Obama is going to be a great First Lady.

How do I know this?

Because I’m going to accept her as the person she is and needs to be to survive and suceed in the role of First Lady. I’m going to let her define herself instead of being defined by Fox News as you see above.

These are things going to be said about any prominent black woman no matter how successful she is in life.

The message is that no black family is “legitimate”— Even one soon to be living in the White House.

The good news is that the voting public is paying attention and they will reject this stuff next November.

First Lady is a hard job and it merits great respect.

Some said Nancy Reagan was too adoring of her husband. But Mrs. Reagan had the right to be the person she was. Or, like anybody in public view, Mrs. Reagan had plenty of reason to put forth the image she wished to project. 

Lady Bird Johnson ran LBJ’s business affairs. Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most famous people in the world for her humanitarian efforts.

Whatever a First Lady—or First Spouse as the case will someday be— wishes to be, that’s fine with me.

All people need to be is who they are. Or who they need to be to survive the attention of being in the shadow of a President and living in the shadow of the physical danger a President always faces.    

Also, I know Mrs. Obama and Mr. Obama are going to rise up the level of people’s hopes and expectations. I’m not sure that the maturity and gravity are there yet. But I have faith it will come.

Michelle Obama is charting a path no one before has charted. I’m fully on board with her as both she and the nation move forward.

 

June 12, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Two Most Important Factors & Issues In The Presidential Race

Here is my view as to the two most important factors and issues in the upcoming Presidential race. 

1. The preexisting partisan preferences of the electorate. 

Most know already how they are going to vote. The old adage is that no matter what, 40% of the country will vote Republican and another 40% will vote Democratic. The rest is up for grabs.

Most people’s votes are set in stone.

2. Will Americans vote for a black man named Barack Hussein Obama for President of the United States?

Personally, I think enough of them will vote for Barack Hussein Obama on Election Day 2008. It might take some folks a bit of thought and reflection to get there—But I think they will.

And what an excellent day that will be. 

For all the hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent, and for all the endless analysis, I feel these two concerns are at least 90% of what will determine this election. 

Maybe 95%.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , | 4 Comments

Democratic National Committee Leaves Black Bloggers Off Convention List

There’s been discussion in the relatively narrow world of political blogging, about the absence of Black-run blogs from the Democratic National Committee’s list of accredited blogs for the Democratic convention in Denver.

One blog was selected from each state. In most cases, though not all, selected blogs were those with high traffic, a specific focus on state and local political issues, and an established Democratic Party partisanship.  

This left a pool of mostly white bloggers. 

Yet many Democratic voters are Black.

As are many bloggers—And this includes many with strong traffic.

Burnt Orange Report will be the Texas blog in Denver. All right—They’ll do a good job I’m sure.

Here is the full Denver blogger list.

Houston’s There…Already wrote about this issue in a recent post.   

The Francis L. Holland Blog is leading the way in posting abut this concern.  ( I’ve got Francis on my blogroll. I think he needs to integrate his blogroll and give me a listing.)

The Dallas Morning News wrote an article on the subject. 

The blog Dallas South discussed the topic.

Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis posted from the perspective of being one of the selected blogs. This woman is a good person seemingly doing her best.

For my part, if I were selected for credentials by a major political party, I’d feel that I had lost my way. 

When I started blogging, it never occurred to me that blogs had “official” relationships with the parties. I suppose that’s because I never read any blogs before I started one. I figured blogging was an organic inclusive process. ( You can see I gave it little thought.)  

If someone slipped up and gave me credentials to the convention, I’d blog about how Black folks and many other folks in cities vote Democratic every election, and still our cities get worse. I’d ask why urban policy does not seem to exist as an issue for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Then I’d ask why neither Senator Obama or Senator Clinton has made the world food price crisis an issue. I’m sorry it costs $4 a gallon to fill up your SUV, but many people in the world can’t afford a bowl of rice. I support the party of the left because I feel that all people matter no matter where they live.  

But that’s just me.

At the same time, I’d advocate for the nominee of the Democratic Party in my posts.

That’s the trap. I’m not going to be voting for a Republican. 

To get the illusion of being listened to, it seems I need to be a working-class white voter in Pennsylvania who can’t fully face the idea of a Black president.  

I’m white and I work, so I guess I’m half way there.

The majority opinon I’ve read explaining the absence of Black bloggers from the convention list is a flawed process and/or some level of neglect.

That’s worse than purposeful exclusion. It speaks to an ingrained pattern of taking people for granted. Inclusion is a habit.

The good thing is that it’s a habit that can be picked up at any point.

Here’s hoping the Democratic National Committee gets with the program. It was a given that the selection criteria used was not going to pick a list of bloggers representative of the many different people who vote for Democrats.   

( This is cross-posted at the Houston Chronicle where I’m one of eight featured political reader-bloggers.)  

( Please click here for my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list. It is first-rate.

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

War Hero Dorie Miller

The above poster is of Dorie Miller.

Here is what it says about Mr. Miller in Portrait of a Nation–Men and Women Who Have Shaped America

” At the outbreak of World War II, the armed services practiced a rigid discrimination against African Americans that included a stubborn reluctance to acknowledge black capabilities, no matter how obvious. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller was stationed there on the West Virginia. ….By the time he abandoned ship, he had braved enemy fire to carry his wounded commanding officer to safety and, thought not trained for combat, had manned an antiaircraft gun, possibly downing at least one enemy plane. His bravery initially went unrecognized, however, and only after much pressure from the nation’s black press did Miller finally receive the Navy Cross. But once acknowledged, Miller’s heroism became a means, through posters such as this one, for rallying African-Americans to the war effort.”

Mr. Miller was killed when the ship he serving on was sunk in 1943. This was in the Battle of Tarawa.

Mr. Miller grew up in Waco, Texas.

A navy ship was named after Mr. Miller in 1973.

Here is additional information on Cook Third Class Miller from the the Navy Department’s Naval Historical Center .

The artist of the poster above was David Stone Martin who lived 1913-1992.

Mr. Martin drew posters, magazine covers and album covers. This link to the blog LP Cover Lover is of many creative covers Mr. Stone drew for jazz albums.

The Portrait of a Nation book is first-rate. It was produced by the National Portrait Gallery.

May 18, 2008 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Three Books About Being Black In America In 1900

I’ve recently read, or am in the process of reading, three books about being Black in America in the years leading up to and following 1900.

A book I’ve finished is Sport Of The Gods by Paul Laurence Dunbar. (Drawing above.) This is a novel. It is the story of a black family in New York City at the beginning of the last century. It is bleak.

Sport was published in 1902.

The book is short and reads like the history of a time and place. It is worth the reading.  

Here is information about Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Here is an excerpt from this profile—  “Paul Laurence Dunbar was the first African-American to gain national eminence as a poet. Born in 1872 in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of ex-slaves and classmate to Orville Wright of aviation fame.  Although he lived to be only 33 years old, Dunbar was prolific, writing short stories, novels, librettos, plays, songs and essays as well as the poetry for which he became well known. He was popular with black and white readers of his day, and his works are celebrated today by scholars and school children alike. His style encompasses two distinct voices — the standard English of the classical poet and the evocative dialect of the turn-of-the-century black community in America. He was gifted in poetry — the way that Mark Twain was in prose — in using dialect to convey character. ” 

I’ve also been reading Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey Ward. This is a life of Jack Johnson. Johnson was the first black heavyweight champion.  

Here is a review of Unforgivable Blackness.

It was published in 2004.

From an ESPN article about Johnson—

“He transformed himself from the docks of Galveston, Texas, to early 20th-century glitterati. He had his own jazz band, owned a Chicago nightclub, acted on stage, drove flashy yellow sports cars, reputedly walked his pet leopard while sipping champagne, flaunted gold teeth that went with his gold-handled walking stick and boasted of his conquests of whites — both in and out of the ring.

Johnson was also a fugitive for seven years, having been accused of violating a white slavery act with a woman who would become his third wife. ”

I’m about a third of the way through this book. I feel it could be shorter. Once you get the idea that white champions were reluctant to fight Mr. Johnson, you don’t need to read about every detail of that resistance.

Still, the book is holding my interest well enough and I enjoyed learning about Mr. Johnson’s youth in Galveston.

Everybody should should visit Galveston, Texas.  

The last title is The Souls Of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois.

Souls was written in 1903.

Here is a little bit about Mr. Du Bois—

“William Edward Burghardt DuBois, to his admirers, was by spirited devotion and scholarly dedication, an attacker of injustice and a defender of freedom. A harbinger of Black nationalism and Pan-Africanism, he died in self-imposed exile in his home away from home with his ancestors of a glorious past—Africa.

Labeled as a “radical,” he was ignored by those who hoped that his massive contributions would be buried along side of him. But, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote, “history cannot ignore W.E.B. DuBois because history has to reflect truth and Dr. DuBois was a tireless explorer and a gifted discoverer of social truths. His singular greatness lay in his quest for truth about his own people. There were very few scholars who concerned themselves with honest study of the black man and he sought to fill this immense void. The degree to which he succeeded disclosed the great dimensions of the man.”

I’ve only reached up to chapter three in Souls. In chapter three, Du Bois is going to discuss Booker T. Washington and others.

The famous line from the book—“The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line”–is the first sentence and the last sentence of chapter two.

Du Bois says this ongoing issue is a “phase” of the same issue that was the cause of the Civil War.

Isn’t a bottom line of our 2008 campaign the question of will America elect a Black man named Barack Obama President?

The “race question” goes on and on.

At least so far.

Chapter two is in full a history of the Civil War years and Reconstruction efforts up until 1872.

Du Bois talks about the way the Freedman’s Bureau was doomed to fail from the start in the effort to help Black Americans gain some measure of equality after the Civil War.

I look forward to making it past chapter two and writing more blog posts on this great work of our American history. 

May 9, 2008 Posted by | Books, Galveston, History | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Noriega & More—Texas Political Notes And Thoughts

Some political notes and thoughts from Texas and Harris County—

(Above is the harbor at Palacios in Matagorda County. George Bush won 65% of the nearly 12,500 votes cast in Matagorda in 2004. But I’m certain that four years of calm seaside reflection has given the good folks of Matagorda a new view of things for 2008.) 

Noriega Senate Race

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega of Houston is polled by Rasmussen as running only 4 points behind far-right incumbent John Cornyn. In this polling snapshot, the race is seen as 47% for Mr. Cornyn and 43% for Mr. Noriega.  

Mr. Noriega is a Texas State representative.

I recall early numbers from 2002 that had former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk running ahead of then Texas Attorney General Cornyn. At the time, Mr. Kirk’s favorable name recognition in the Dallas metroplex was a source of his strength.  

Mr. Cornyn won that race 55% -43% in a Republican year. 

This time around, it may be that some Texans are reconsidering allegiance to Republican party ( As well they should.) and that demographic changes in this majority-minority state are finally catching up to the ballot box.

Mr. Noriega’s 51% showing in the Texas Democratic primary was not impressive. Yet, Mr. Noriega will no doubt establish himself among Texas Democrats as November approaches. If the broader climate in Texas is moving towards Democrats, than Mr. Noriega may have a shot.  

Here is Mr. Noriega’s campaign web home.   

Harris County Races

Recent reports on racial disparities in application of the death penalty in Harris County, and reports from Dallas county about long-term inmates being set free after being proved innocent show the importance of a new justice team in Harris County.   

The new Democratic District Attorney in Dallas County has made such a positive difference in that part of Texas.   

Electing C.O. Bradford as District Attorney and Adrian Garcia as County Sheriff would be a good start towards the more fair practice of justice in Harris County.   

The Harris County Democratic coordinated campaign will be led by Bill Kelly.

I’ve seen Democratic coordinated campaigns in other parts of the country that involved walking around money for local pastors and others, and mailings into minority communities featuring white politicians linked up with black politicians.

These mailings were meant to aid white politicians by associating them with black candidates in areas where many black voters live. Yet it never seemed to work the other way of mailings into mostly white areas as a way to boost black candidates.    

One of the many reasons I’m glad to hear about the appointment of Mr. Kelly is that I know it portends real change in Harris County.    

Change for the Harris County Democratic Party as it moves to full inclusion of the voters who are the backbone of its local support, and, after success at the ballot box, changes in public policy such as the immediate need for a better justice system.  

In addition to the $500 breakfast listed on the web page of the Harris County Democratic Party, I look forward to a more broad based campaign kick-off event to generate excitement about the November ticket. 

This post is also at my Houston Chronicle blog where I’m one of eight featured political bloggers.

(The Houston Ship Channel is a big deal in Harris County. Harris County voted 54% -46 % for George Bush in 2004. There were just over 1.05 million votes cast. 2008 may be a more successful year for Harris County Democrats. ) 

   

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Identity Can Barack Obama Choose That Will Be Both Sincere And Successful?

What identity could Barack Obama choose that would be both sincere and successful?

Not long ago, people were asking if Mr. Obama was “Black enough.” Somehow maybe even Bill Clinton was more Black than Senator Obama.

Once Senator Obama established his color, he then had to figure out how to present himself as a candidate who is also a Black man in a nation with a rough racial history.

He’s not a self-styled centrist like former U.S. Representative Harold Ford of Tennessee.

He’s not a careerist in a safe district like Representative Charles Rangel of New York.

He’s not an old-style activist like Jesse Jackson.     

So who and what will Senator Obama be?

He is, like all of us, a work in progress.

My hope is that Senator Obama continues up a curve of personal maturity as he comes to fully understand how important his campaign is to the nation, and to people who never thought they’d see someone like Barack Obama running for President.    

Some heat and gravity where Senator Obama is currently cool and light might help.

Still, Senator Obama is doing well so far. He is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination and leads John McCain in polls. 

Senator Obama is at this point successfully navigating uncharted waters.

   

May 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I Had Hoped Pastor Wright Would Be A Man Of Vision And Discipline—I Was Mistaken

I was at first very open to Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

I felt some of the clips playing over and over on TV made sense.

I felt in some respects Pastor Wright was mirroring Martin Luther King in asking if America was in many ways a wicked nation that possibly merited judgement.

(Please click here for a Martin Luther King reading list.)

Beyond the public issues, Pastor Wright also reached me on a personal level.

At least according to family lore, I’m descended from people who were on the Mayflower.

People on the Mayflower were not at home with the society they were born into.

In my late teens and and early 20’s, I was a 1980’s Midwestern hardcore punk rocker.

Without exaggerating the bent of people who—for the most part—lived as others do, this was a crowd that had little affection for the tone and temper of American society.

There was definitely a Puritan tendency among punk rockers—A rejection of what was taking place around them.

I have a measure of sympathy for homeschoolers and Black Muslims.

They look around and are repulsed. Why wouldn’t they be?

So I welcomed Pastor Wright. I thought he might be a new voice. I thought he might have the discipline and personal austerity to reject the culture and add a new and needed dimension to the public discussion.

Nope.

Jeremiah Wright is just another Andy Warhol ( photo below) 15 minutes-of-fame media hog. He says he hates the culture, but really he loves it. He found himself in the glare of lights cast by the bigots and idiotic cable channels, and he could not resist the starring role.

Not only that, he acted out of anger at Barack Obama instead of simply making his case for good or ill in a calm and disciplined way.

Pastor Wright has no obligation to help Barack Obama. But it is hard to see how he is serving his God or anybody else with his current conduct.

Please see the picture of Pastor Wright at the top of this post with another man who lacks discipline and self-respect.

Below is Jeremiah Wright’s secular idol along with Jimmy Carter. After a rough Presidency and rejection at the polls, Jimmy Carter made a patient step-by-step case that he was in fact a man of decency and vision.

Pastor Wright could still follow that better course–final judgement is not up to me–but he sure does not seem like a prophet or a leader of any kind at this point.

April 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Which Is More Frustrating—Bitter White Working Class Or Do-Nothing Black Middle Class?

Which is more frustrating? Those who are bitter in the white working class, or the do-nothings within the black middle class?

It’s a close call.

While Senator Barack Obama must do his best to win over all potential voters, there is a point where you say about some that if you’ve not gotten the idea of the harm done after years of voting for Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes, than maybe you’re just not going to be reached.

For our black middle classes, when will we see political and social action on the behalf of the urban and rural black poor and others need in help? It took political action to create a black middle class in the first place. The need for activism did not stop just because some were able to do well.

There are people of all kinds who do good things every day. Many working class whites vote Democratic and many middle class blacks do a lot to help others.

Yet it’s also the case that many in our society are going to have to make the call to put aside their anger and assume a greater role in the lives of people who could use some help.

April 28, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Black Run Politics Blog In Houston—Where Are Other Such Blogs In Texas?

A fine Houston blog I’ve recently discovered is There…Already.

Here is the link.

This is a blog with a lot of political content that is run by Black folks.

I’ve long thought that Houston and Texas have a lack of Black-run blogs with some focus on politics.   

Dallas South is, you might guess, out of Dallas. Dallas South is a good blog.

Dallas South is mentioned in this National Public Radio report about Black bloggers focusing on the Jena Six issue. 

Liberal and progressive blogging in Texas does not seem fully demographically representative of the people who hold liberal and progressive views in Texas. 

The AfroSpear is a loose association of a number of Black bloggers across the country.

If there are other politically orientated Black bloggers in Houston and in Texas, I’d like to know. I’m sure I’ve missed some people.

If my new friends at There…Already would like me to buy them a beer, I’d be happy to do so.

Here is a history of African-American newspapers in the United States

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, History, Houston, Politics | , , , , , | 5 Comments

People Believe Wild Things Because Nothing Is So Brutal Or Crazy That It Can’t Be True

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about conspiracy theories many people believe.  

For example, 30% of black people believe it’s possible AIDS was deliberately manufactured to kill black folks.

This is held out as a crazy thing to think.

I don’t believe it myself.

But if you asked me if many white people and white politicians don’t care if poor urban black people live or die, I would say that’s correct.   

And plenty of black politicians don’t care either.  

In my own experience as a city council aide in Cincinnati, Ohio, I read the files of black cancer patients who had intentionally been given extra doses of radiation to see how they would react.

Get this—They suffered.  

Poor black people in cities, blacks and whites in rural areas, our colonized undocumented labor force, and poor people of all kinds, get inferior hospitals and inferior care.

When you ask black folks if AIDS was the work of government, maybe what you’re really asking if the government would do things that would kill people who look like you do.

“Yes” seems to be a logical reply.  

Mr. Kristoff says it is crazy that 36% of Americans believe that government orchestrated 9/11 or knew about it advance.  

Well—I’ve always thought that was a mistaken belief .

George W. Bush was intent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11. He did not need any provocation. 

What people know is that we lied about why we went to war, we did not give our troops the right equipment to save their lives, we sometimes kill innocent civilians, and that the troops sometimes get terrible care upon arriving back home.   

Did the government or President Bush know about 9/11 in advance? No. Is the government as led by President Bush capable of terrible acts that cause people to die? Sure–All the damned time.  

Mr. Kristoff mentions two other conspiracy theories in his column. 

One is that the levees in New Orleans were opened on purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This is not so.

Yet it had been known for years that the levees might not hold during a bad hurricane and that much of New Orleans was vulnerable. Then, after it was clear the disaster response was poor, President Bush said his FEMA director was doing a “heckuva job.”    

So why not figure that levees were opened by design? Is that much worse than the truth of the matter? 

Another view held by many is that crack cocaine was deliberately introduced into poor neighborhoods.

Now that one is crazy

These communities were already so flooded with alcohol, cigarettes, overpriced grocery stores offering little or no produce, bad schools and a host of other urban afflictions, why would you have to introduce something new to harm people?  

The history books tell us that we won our land in good part by exterminating the native population, and that we built up the land with the frequent and longtime use of slave labor.  

Our own experiences in life show us that our cities are left to rot year after year. And the poor are getting more poor even as the rich get richer.

So when you ask if the people in charge of our country are capable of barbaric or even genocidal acts, why would many give any other reply than “yes.”

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Hurricane Katrina, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Time I Was Mistaken For A Black Man

One time in my life I was mistaken for a black man.

I once worked in the office of a black member of the Cincinnati City Council.

In late 1992-early 1993, my boss, current Ohio State Representative Tyrone Yates, was critical of racial comments made by former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.

This did not sit well with right-wing bully Bill Cunningham at Cincinnati radio station WLW. 

This is the same Bill Cunningham who made news not long ago at a John McCain rally leading up to the Ohio primary. 

Mr. Cunningham and other WLW programmers encouraged listeners to call Councilman Yates and voice their displeasure about his views on Mrs. Schott’s comments.

We took many hundreds of calls.

Because of death threats our office received, a Cincinnati police officer was posted in our council office for three days.

One caller said to me that because of comments made by Mr. Yates and because I worked in his office, he was going to come to City Hall and “hang you by your black balls.”

I told the caller I was Italian.

He did not miss a beat. He said—“I’ll hang you by your spaghetti.”

Did the caller hate only black people or was he a hater in general? Likely it was a close call.

Often when a black person who speaks up, whether the comments are valid or not—and Tyrone’s comments were valid— that black person is demonized.

Forces of “respectable” conservatism sit back while the shock troops do the dirty work.

We see the pattern today with John McCain silent as Barack Obama is portrayed as some kind of militant. ( The burden is on any black politician to establish that he or she is not some kind of “militant.”)  

We see this in my current hometown of Houston just this morning. The Houston Chronicle reports that Jeremiah Wright has canceled three planned sermons in Houston due to death threats.

Is it any wonder why many black folks, and people of all kinds, don’t see American society as fundamentally decent? 

March 26, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Houston | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments