Observations from the National Civil Rights Museum

by Jeff

Last weekend I visited Memphis, TN for a fun weekend full of BBQ, Blues and of course beer. Since we realized that drinking & eating all day, every day was probably a bad idea, we decided to educate ourselves a little bit. We took an hour and a half river boat tour of the Mississippi which was not all that exciting. But, on Saturday we took the trolley a few blocks south of the fun of Beale street and visited the National Civil Rights Museum  located in the original Lorraine Motel (the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).

Seeing the face of the hotel still exactly as it was in 1968, was incredibly moving. We decided to spring for the extra $2 and get the audio tour (very dorky looking). I’m glad we did as the museum was FULL of incredibly interesting information, photos, documents, videos, audio recordings, etc., that without the tour I would have missed some really important information.

What really amazed me about my visit to the museum was all the arguments whites used throughout the 60s to fight equal rights for blacks.  There was one cartoon that really got to me. It was basically a slippery slope argument of what would happen to your perfect little white family if schools were forced to integrate. At first I thought it was a positive message as it showed little kids white and black playing together hand and hand. Then it showed the same kids dating, falling in love, marrying and eventually having babies together (the images were of a white girl with a black man). The final pane of the cartoon showed an elderly white woman with two grandchildren, one pure white, the other pure black (again, white girl, black boy). The final quote said something along the lines of “You never thought it would be possible. With school integration, this could be your family”. Apparently aiming at the fears of white people that having a black grandchild would be the worse thing in the world. AMAZING.

Other arguments I noticed were large signs calling integration, and equal/voting rights for black citizens as COMMUNISM. It amazes me that the same backwards thinking people that were hollering communism 45 years ago, are yelling the same thing today. Why is progressive thinking (gay marriage rights, unemployment benefits, etc.) now being deemed “communism”. Is there some tie between our black president, and these rants of the 60s against blacks? I don’t know, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before Bush, or perhaps I was too young, but I don’t remember the calls of socialism and communism being screamed as loudly before Obama took office.

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Vidiots: when cameras and youtube don’t reach their potential

by John

This is sad. Via PZ Meyers at Pharyngula, sprinkler rainbows as proof that the government is evil:

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Blahgblog: now twice as many writers!

We here at blahgblog are pleased to double the number of writers by adding Jeff. It turns out that I can’t change my user name so I, John, will continue to write under the screen name blahgblog. Jeff actually made his first, still unrefudiated, post last week. Check it out if you haven’t already. Please join the discussion and let’s have serious conversations.

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Teabagger Backlash: ad demands Fiorina denounce the ‘tea party’

by John

Crooks and Liars has a piece up about a Brave New Films release:

The scary music at the end might be a bit much, but it’s a very effective ad. More like this, please.

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Breitbart Lies About Shirley Sherrod: do facts actually matter anymore?

By John

[This post has been edited to correct the spelling of Breitbart and Sherrod]

Update: here’s the full original video from the NAACP site, also via TPM:

Update II: go here to sign a petition to support Sherrod being reinstated.

While the NAACP is receiving death threats over their call for the ‘tea parties’ to repudiate racists elements in their midst, the rightwing republican blogs are getting the vapors over a very deceptively edited tape of an Ag Department official who is made to appear to admit to blatant racism against a white farmer. The conveniently redacted video is of a black woman, Shirley Sherrod, explaining how she encountered racial tension and her own mixed feelings, 24 years ago, before working through the difficulties, helping the white family keep their farm and becoming friends with them.

I first saw the video at redstate, although it was first put out by Brietbart’s Big Government site, the same site that put out the very deceptively edited ACORN videos, which created an equally untrue perception. It was clear that it was strategically cut, literally it stopped Sharrod in mid sentence when it appeared she was going to explain how her first reactions were mistaken.

TPM is working on getting the whole, unedited, tape, which a local production company is holding until it gets permission from the local NAACP chapter to release it.

Sharrod has spoken to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and CNN — Media Matters has the video, which I can’t embed. I’ll put it up here as soon as it’s available in a format wordpress supports.

So, do the actual facts matter here? Or are we just going to accept the false rightwing republican narrative that has counter factually smeared Shirley Sharrod, just as they did to ACORN, Van Jones, Dawn Johnson and countless others?

[From the AJC article] The wife of the white farmer allegedly discriminated against by the USDA’s rural development director for Georgia said Shirley Sherrod “kept us out of bankruptcy.”

Eloise Spooner, 82, awoke Tuesday to discover that Sherrod had lost her job after videotaped comments she made in March at a local NAACP banquet surfaced on the web.

But Spooner, who considers Sherrod a “friend for life,” said the federal official worked tirelessly to help the Iron City couple hold onto their land as they faced bankruptcy back in 1986.

“But Tuesday morning, Sherrod said what online viewers weren’t told in reports posted throughout the day Monday was that the tale she told at the banquet happened 24 years ago — before she got the USDA job — when she worked with the Georgia field office for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund.

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with the farmer and his wife.

“And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

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Sessions refudiates Kagan

By Jeff

No, this post is not going to be about the high intelligence of one former Alaskan Governor, but instead about the few minutes I heard of the Elena Kagan vote this morning. SPOILER ALERT, she was given the nod and will soon join the Supreme Court. However, the approval was not before Senator Sessions (R-Alabama) put in his two cents as to why he could not possibly vote for her.

Since I don’t have his exact quote I’ll have to paraphrase. Basically he used the same old concern that the integrity of the Supreme Court is the most important thing in the Universe, and that the possibility of a judge having some sort of emotions or “political agenda” is ALMOST as evil as two women marrying each other. He believes that Kagan will be an “activist judge” and shove her liberal, socialist, political agenda down the throats of the American people and will completely disregard the laws of the United States.

His nay vote (and he wasn’t the only one on the committee to vote no) is what angers me about politics in general. Justice Roberts has never once decided in favor of the individual against a corporation, you don’t call THAT political activism from the bench? Please! Stop being such hippocrates. And this goes for both the Dems and the GOP, they’re all guilty of it. One party is so concerned and upset about something the other party is doing…but it’s something they themselves did previously! Why can’t they just be REAL and say “Yeah we know she’s more liberal leaning, I don’t like that so I’m going to say no. I’d rather have a conservative judge in there” boom end of story and everyone knows your honest.

Never. Gonna. Happen.

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Teabaggers vs the NAACP: jumping the hooded shark

While I’ve been predicting the teabaggers would come undone this summer, I thought it would mainly be over immigration. I think there’s still time for that, this reaction to the NAACP statement was unexpected:

Tea Party Leader Condemns NAACP For Making ‘More Money Off Of Race Than Any Slave Trader Ever’
WILLIAMS: You’re dealing with people who are professional race baiters, who make a very good living off this kind of thing. They make more money off of race than any slave trader ever. It’s time groups like the NAACP went to the trash heap of history where they belong with all the other vile racist groups that emerged in our history. [emphasis in original]

Palin called the NAACP move ‘regressive.’

This will further endear Palin and the teabagger leaders to their base, but it won’t do much for their standing with the rest of the country.

At redstate, a site which quickly and shamelessly bans commenters who deviate from the party line and erases comments the mods find particularly bothersome with wanton abandon, a very racist comment has been allowed to stand in two threads, with the only complaint being that it was posted almost verbatim on the two threads. Here’s an excerpt and a link:

Is someone a racist because they think Western Civilization is superior to African Civilization? Is that same person “racist” because they can point out that Africans is less intelligent than whites or Asians? Is one racist because they point out that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime? Is a white woman “racist” when she is afraid to walk her dog in a black neighborhood? I, and the vast majority of white Americans agree with me, do not consider myself “racist” because I have such opinions. Perhaps then the label of “racist” is a good attribute and not a bad in the minds of the vast majority of the public subjected to these daily calumnies.

People like this believe that it you’re not an active member of the KKK and you don’t shout the n-word at people, or at least don’t do so very frequently, then you, by definition, cannot be a racist. Needless to say, most people have somewhat different views on the matter.

Many rightwing republican commenters at sites such as redstate and even blogs like The Plumline make the claim that they have been called racist so many times that they are inure, of even consider it a badge of honor or evidence that they have won a debate. Many also seem to crave having the subject of race and racism brouhgt to the fore of our national discourse. They think they will defeat the ‘race hustlers’ like the NAACP.

They are wrong. They are so caught up in their echo chamber that they don’t realize how unpopular their views are with the vast majority of Americans. The same vast majority of Americans who will not be associated with the racial animosity and bigotry exhibited by these reactions to the NAACP statement.

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