September 1st, 2012

Harriet Vane

The empty chair & coded muted racism at the Republican National Convention

Dear friends and readers,

Caroline suggested at the Democratic National Convention, someone put on stage a bag of money (inanimate object) and address it in place of Romney. I was thinking the empty chair could easily stand for all the people who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. They are no longer there. It could stand for all the black men put in prison. They are made invisible. The women who died from inadequate health care, especially maternal.Someone could set out a row of chairs, each standing for some group of people Republican doctrines and vetoes destroy. Then have someone dress up like Ronald Reagon and greet the empty chairs with a hearty "good morning!"

To continue with the Republican determination to win by suppressing the popular vote: I was just stunned  the overt shameless racism of the Republican national convention audience -- and speakers. I watched the Clint Eastwood mockery of Obama as a chair. Eastwood had merely to mention one of Oprah's views to induce hilarity. It's absurd a black woman professing to have a view. I must suppose they think only by bringing overt racism back can they defeat Obama.

It's not the words, the tone and the laugh at her: what a hypocrite and fool was the implication. he whole scene, The chair. I could send along this too: really reeking this time.

This connects to their suppression of the vote. The coming to the surface of this racism is the underlying the "rationale" of stopping black and hispanics from voting. One remark I heard from Ryan struck me here: Obama who "throws money away." That was a reference to all the money he may have spent on social programs. To these Republicans to spend money on social programs is to throw it away and any money re-distributed for black and hispanic people is throwing it away.

The idea is only whites are Americans. I began to understand this when I read the surrounding commentary to a remark about the suppression of the vote in Pennsylvania. I can't repeat the context but there the remark that catches the eye is "this allows Romney to win" as if he had a right to and was being wrongly thwarted.

The Romney add about vote America for Americans is racist. It's the new code language. I've been thinking how much more insidious this is than the "Willy Horton" approach, which helped Bush beat Dukakis, and how there was an attempt at the time to insinuate Dukakis as Greek Christian was foreign not American. People are fooled: I saw one woman at the convention say she was voting Republican to protect her access to social programs!

Here's an essay which works out the logic and ramifications: This one works it out. The lie that Obama has dropped the work requirement to get any welfare, brings back the idea that many women get welfare. The program is dead. Why do this? to bring race into the ads and play on racism as apparently many Americans cling to the idea blacks get most of the food stampas and are the majority on welfare (never true and certainly not now):'s interesting to me that my previous comments on Facebook as well as my blog where I critiqued Republicans as a group or individually or Romney or Ryan got little comment, and less adverse but tell a truth about racism and people get offended. That's why it's so necessary for the Republican strategists who want to use the race card (knowing how racist the US is as a whole - stop and frisk laws just for colored men, mass incarcareration for black men and thus disenfranchisement, re-segreation of schools all proceeding apace) have to find a muted coded set of signals. I thought Eastwood meant to show utter contempt for Obama and that was partly from a sense Obama had no right to be president, was black, was not worthy of respect in and of himself, but for some (not all) it backfired and he looked like a foolish old man ranting & stumbling on at an inanimate object (as Jon Stewart put it)

Last: Lots of Americans are racist. I am here characterizing the mood and pre-suppositions dominating the Republican convention. They really hate having a black president. For me my personal emotion here is my realization of how very painful for the person who is so stigmatized as part of a "other" group and automatically marginalized and feared, and I identify and enter into their resentment, anger at being treated this way. I just had some renewed experiences of this -- not because I'm identified as not black but as not something else.