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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Attack on Sotomayor: White Nationalist Outrage!!!!

The election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States may have defeated white nationalism in the body politic but the election did not defeat the white nationalist ideologues. On November 4, 2008, America became a lot bluer. The New York Times demonstrated that Obama’s election showed Republicans to be almost a regional party, with the rest of America trending bluer. Profound changes that have taken place with regard to racism since the days of Jim Crow. Overwhelmingly, older Black Americans never thought they would see the day when a Black man would become president. In the face of America’s white nationalist legacy, the changes have been profound.

Scott Simon on NPR reminded us that May 30 was the birthday of Benny Goodman. Important among his achievements was that he was the first to perform at Carnie Hall in 1938 with a black musicians, almost ten years before Jackie Robinson broke into Major League Baseball. Today, it is taken for granted that artists perform without regard for race. Will Smith, Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters and so many other Black public figures have become major marketing icons. While still a very small percentage, marriages across racial lines are no longer a novelty. The acceptance of African Americans into the hearts and minds of most Americans is certainly supportive of the idea that white nationalism is no longer hegemonic. The election of Obama is indicative of that.

On the other hand, it should not have been expected that white nationalism that is deeply embedded in America’s history would die without a fight. Having been defeated at the ballot box, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor has given the white nationalist ideologues some “meat” for a fight back. Judge Sotomayor is being attacked because she recognizes and gives legitimacy to her existence and experience as a Latina. She is being opposed on the basis that she does not a priori legitimize white nationalism. A fraud like Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, she is not! She is qualified. Led by the white nationalism of Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gringrich, Tom Tancredo, and Joe Scarborough, among others, the racist attacks on Judge Sotomayor have been nothing short of outrageous. Unabashed white nationalist, Patrick Buchanan, accuses Judge Sotomayor of discriminating against white males. The racists have made her nomination the ideological battle to promote white males as the victims of “reverse discrimination.”

This attack on Sotomayor is an attack by the white nationalists to maintain their hegemony. It is time that these racist arguments be beaten back. The election of Barack Obama was a direct challenge to the hegemonic character of white nationalism. The nationalist campaign against Sotomayor is an attack on the rights of people of color and to re-establish the acceptability of the norm of racism in America.

We must resist allowing the media and their right wing pundits to set the agenda in this debate. We must fight back. When it comes to the Supreme Court, it must be exposed for what it has been. The question must be asked as to whether Chief Justice Roger G. Taney’s being a slaveholder had any relevance in the Dred Scott case? Why is it ok for Associate Justice Alito can take into account to discrimination against his Italian immigrants when he is deciding a case and not for Judge Sotomayor. This hypocrisy and racism is an attack on us all.
Media Matters exposes of these vicious attacks. RGN

POTUS picks "bigot" "liberal" "radical" "racist" "reverse racist" "activist" "socialist" "Marxist" "anti-constitutionalist" "affirmative action" nominee for SCOTUS

Be sure to bookmark Judicial Matters for the latest on conservative misinformation in media coverage of President Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

On Tuesday morning, President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. In the four short days that followed, understandably, most of the media's attention has centered on the nominee, though much of that attention has been riddled with conservative misinformation.
Yesterday, Media Matters released a special report noting that in coverage of Obama's announcement, the media have advanced numerous myths and falsehoods about Sotomayor. In some cases, the media assert the falsehoods themselves; in others, they report unchallenged the claims of others.

The report suggests that in addition to evaluating these claims on their merits, the media should also consistently report that conservatives were reportedly very clear about their intentions to oppose Obama's nominee, no matter who it was. Their attacks must be assessed in the context of their reported plans to use the confirmation process to, among other things, "help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats."

As documented in the report, the myths that have emerged or resurfaced since Sotomayor's nomination was announced include:
• Sotomayor advocated legislating from the bench
• Sotomayor said, "Latina judges are obviously better than white male judges"
• Sotomayor's Supreme Court reversal rate is "high"
• Liberal judges like Sotomayor are "activist[s]"
• Sotomayor was "[s]oft on New Jersey [c]orruption"
• New Haven firefighters case shows Sotomayor is an "activist"
• Sotomayor lacks the intellect to be an effective justice
• Sotomayor is "domineering" and "a bit of a bully"
• "Empathy" is code for "liberal activist"

Be sure to read the entire report for a detailed breakdown of the facts dispelling these right-wing myths and falsehoods.

In all, this week, Media Matters released more than 100 research items, blog posts, video clips, and columns surrounding media coverage of the Supreme Court and Sotomayor's nomination.

As the week went on, it became clearer that Sotomayor would be a victim of attacks from conservatives in the media reminiscent of those on Obama:
• MSNBC's Pat Buchanan called Sotomayor a "lightweight," "an anti-white, liberal judicial activist." He and his sister Bay both claimed that Sotomayor's nomination was the result of "affirmative action."
• Media Matters' Eric Boehlert went head-to-head with former Rep. Tom Tancredo on CNN over the context of Sotomayor's past comments. During the segment, Tancredo claimed Sotomayor was a member of the "Latino KKK," earning the right-wing former congressman the mocking of MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
• Jeffrey Kuhner, filling in for right-wing radio host Michael Savage, claimed Sotomayor believes "that America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist society."
• Fox News' Glenn Beck said Sotomayor's appointment was more evidence of a Marxist "hostile takeover" of the United States. He also called her a "racist," who "is not that bright" and "divisive."
• Savage described Sotomayor as "Chairman O's pick for the Supreme Court" and a "radical activist."
• Radio host and conservative movement leader Rush Limbaugh called Sotomayor "an angry woman," "bigot," and "racist."
• Mark Krikorian, over at the National Review Online, had an issue with the pronunciation of Sotomayor's name, writing that "it sticks in my craw."
• Fox News' Sean Hannity claimed Obama turned "his back on Mainstream America" by nominating "the most divisive nominee possible," a "radical."
• Politico's Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin initially reported that Sotomayor was "a Latina single mother" despite the fact that Sotomayor has no children.
If media coverage of week one of the Sotomayor nomination is any indication, it's going to be a long, hot summer. Fear not, though -- Media Matters will be there through it all.

Other major stories this week:
Is there something in the water at Fox Nation?
Back in March, while promoting its newly launched website,, Fox News ran advertisements telling viewers that "[i]t's time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." In the weeks since the website's launch, Media Matters has documented more than 50 instances where Fox Nation failed to come close to the bias-free, "fair play" standard set out by Fox News.
This week has been particularly awful. Case in point:
• Fox Nation is just asking: "Sotomayor Argued Death Penalty Is Racist... Is She?"
• With picture of burning WTC, Fox Nation wonders if Obama has "Pre-9/11 Mindset"
• Fox Nation: "Need Another Tea Party? National Sales Tax 'on the Table' "
• Fox Nation baselessly claims Sotomayor "Wants to Ban Guns"
• Fox News still trafficking in birth certificate theories
• Continuing to be "bias"-free, Fox Nation calls Obama "Cocky Barack"
Be sure to check out the Media Matters archive on Free Republic ... er, Fox Nation.

Rush Limbaugh's Failure-palooza
By now, everybody watching the Obama administration remembers Rush Limbaugh's well wishes for the new president the day before his inauguration -- that's when El Rushbo said, "I hope Obama fails." The comment picked up a head of steam in the press, provoking Limbaugh to elaborate two days later, saying, "We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black." A month later, Rush let us all in on "the dirty little secret," as he described it, that "every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so; I am willing to say it."
Since then, Rush has been quick to wish failure on all kinds of things. For example, back in February, Limbaugh said, "I want the stimulus package to fail." In March, he strangely compared his hope for Obama's failure to a Steelers fan wanting the Cardinals' QB to fail in the Super Bowl. The same month, he seemed to offer up some reverse psychology, claiming, "If there's anybody who wants America as it was founded to fail, it's Barack Obama."

And so, Rush Limbaugh's failure-palooza marched on this week as news of Obama's selection of Sotomayor for a seat on the Supreme Court was reported. Without skipping a beat, Limbaugh said of the president's nominee: "Do I want her to fail? Yeah."

To give you an idea of how completely warped Rush's thinking is, two days after his Sotomayor "fail" comments, Limbaugh claimed, "This country is failing because President Obama is succeeding."

So, was it Sasquatch or Chupacabra driving the Chrysler?
Another week, another bizarre conspiracy theory from the right. Eric Boehlert brings us the story of the budding Obama scandal that's been hatched this week within the right-wing blogosphere, which has all the hallmarks of previous failed Obama conspiracy theories. The latest centers on the idea that Obama's White House, as part of the automaker's restructuring, personally selected which Chrysler dealership would be closed. Not only that, but the Obama White House punished dealerships whose owners gave campaign contributions to Republicans. The horror!

Conservative bloggers excitedly claim that their research proves a massive conspiracy's afoot. Their research? A laundry list of names of dealers who have indeed given money to the GOP and have indeed been closed down as part of the GM restructuring. So why doesn't that prove Obama has a hit list? First, because nearly 800 dealerships are being closed down, yet bloggers detail campaign contributions for less than 10 percent of those dealership owners. Second, all the bloggers actually prove is that a lot of dealership owners are Republicans. Does that surprise anyone?

Statistician Nate Silver demolishes the theory with actual research, noting, "It shouldn't be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote -- and donate -- Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don't own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can't think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party."
This week's media columns

This week's media columns from the Media Matters senior fellows: Eric Boehlert asks why Washington Post columnists didn't call Cheney a disgrace; Jamison Foser looks at how suddenly it's OK to call a judicial nominee a racist; and Karl Frisch discusses the Right's supremely flawed opening argument against Sotomayor.
Don't forget to order your autographed copy of Eric Boehlert's compelling new book, Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press (Free Press, May 2009).
Do you Facebook or Twitter?
If you use the social networking site Facebook, be sure to join the official Media Matters page and those of our senior fellows Eric Boehlert, Jamison Foser, and Karl Frisch as well. You can also follow Media Matters, Boehlert, Foser, and Frisch on Twitter!
This weekly wrap-up was compiled by Karl Frisch, a senior fellow at Media Matters. Frisch also contributes to County Fair, a media blog featuring links to progressive media criticism from around the Web as well as original commentary.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Mom on Mother's Day: The World Loves Her!!!

President Barack Obama may be cool but Michelle Obama has taken the world by storm. Moreover, she has done it wih grace and authenticity. What a beautiful person she is through and through? Below is a piece that pays tribute to Michelle by Melissa Harris-Lacewell. RGN

From the Nation
Michelle Obama, Mom-in-Chief
posted by Melissa Harris-Lacewell on 05/05/2009 @ 1:46pm

With Mother's Day approaching I want think about Michelle Obama's assertion that her primary role as First Lady is "Mom-in-Chief."

Many progressive feminists were distressed with Michelle's assertion of motherhood as her primary role. They hoped she would seek a more aggressive policy agenda.

After all Michelle Obama is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She spent her career as an effective advocate for urban communities in their fraught relationship with powerful institutions. She is smart, capable, and independent. She maintained her own career and ambitions throughout Barack's early political career and even during his election to the U.S. Senate.

Truth is, some of us who were in the orbit of the Obamas ten years ago believed Michelle, not Barack, was the real star of the couple. So while I don't think anyone expected her to commute to a 9-to-5 job in D.C; many hoped that she would take on an independent political role in the Obama administration.

Instead, Michelle has crafted a more traditional role for herself. She is highly visible, but she has taken on relatively safe issues like childhood literacy, advocacy for women and girls, and support of military families. Even her White House garden is framed more as an initiative for healthy eating and quality family meals than as a statement of commitment to local foods as an effort against global climate change.

Early in the primaries Michelle's gentle teasing of her "rock star" husband made him seem more human and led many to believe that the Obamas would be models for gender equity in the White House. While the mutual respect between the couple remains evident, these days Michelle is more frequently photographed with her head on Barack's shoulder, grasping his hand at public events, or evading reporters by stealing brief, romantic walks on the White House grounds. The outspoken Michelle Obama that made many bristle with anxiety during the campaign has been replaced by a woman who makes us collectively say, "aaaaahhhhh" when we see her with her husband, children, and even her new dog.

Over the past several months I have received many press inquiries from reporters and scholars who are anxious about the ascendance of this kinder, gentler Michelle Obama. They worry that Michelle is being manufactured and handled in a way that thwarts her authenticity and undermines the efforts of feminist movements committed to the notion that women can and should have both family and career.

This is a potentially fair criticism, but I want to complicate this easy narrative a bit by encouraging us to remember that as an African American woman the stereotypes against which Michelle is struggling are distinct from those that seek to limit and inhibit white women.

White, middle-class, gender norms in the United States have generally asserted that women belong in the domestic sphere. These norms have limited white women's opportunities for education and employment. But the story has been different for women of color and women from poor and working class origins. These women have faced the requirement of employment and the shouldered the extreme burden of attempting to effectively parent while providing financially for their families. Black women were full participants in agricultural labor during slavery, the backbreaking work of sharecropping, and the domestic services of Jim Crow. Even middle class and elite black women have typically worked as teachers, journalists, entrepreneurs, and professionals. At every level of household income and at every point in American history, black women have been much more likely to engage in paid labor than their white counterparts. Even Claire Huxtable worked full time!

So when Michelle Obama makes a choice to focus on supporting her daughters through their school transition and providing companionship to her husband as he governs she is not really conforming to norms. She is surprisingly thwarting expectations of black women's role in the family and representing a different image of black women than we are used to encountering in this country.

As mom-in-chief Michelle Obama also subverts a deep, powerful, and old public discourse on black women as bad mothers. Enslaved black women had no control over their own children. Their sons and daughters could be sold away from them without their consent, or brutally disciplined without their protection. So when a black woman claims public ownership of her children she helps rewrite that ugly history.

In the modern era, black mothers have been publicly shamed as crack mothers, welfare queens, and matriarchs. Black single motherhood is blamed for all manner of social ills from crime to drugs to social disorder. And black mothers are often represented in popular culture and the public imagination as domineering household managers whose unfeminine insistence on control both emasculates their potential male partners and destroys their children's future opportunities. These public images of black motherhood encourage the state not to assist black mothers as women doing the best they can in tough circumstances, but instead to blame them as unrelenting cheats who unfairly demand assistance from the system.

Michelle Obama is an important corrective to this distorted view of black motherhood. She and her own mother, Grandma Robinson, are kind, devoted, loving, and firm black mothers who challenge the negative images that dominate the public discourse on black motherhood.

There is a potential danger here. Michelle Obama's public persona of traditionalism could be used as a discursive weapon against women who do not conform to this domestic ideal. The majority of black mothers are working women who struggle to raise their children without husbands and often without adequate financial support from partners or the state. It would be easy to use the Obamas to reassert that black women's salvation can be found in submission to patriarchy. This is a narrative that could undercut support for public policies focused on creation of a just and equal political and economic structure, by focusing us instead on"marriage" and "family values" as solutions to structural barriers facing black communities.

But these conservative discourses have never needed any particular excuse to exist. They have been the dominant frame for discussions of racial inequality for nearly 40 years, long before Michelle Obama began to rewrite the script on black motherhood.

Therefore, despite that rhetorical dangers, I must admit to reveling in Michelle Obama as mom-in-chief. I am a divorced, single mother who adores my work, but I am moved to see a black woman in a loving, egalitarian marriage who finds herself enjoying the privilege of focusing on her children and serving her country. There is something powerful, subversive, and new in Michelle Obama's traditionalism.

On this Mother's Day I will celebrate my sisters, my aunts, my mother, and my friends who are mothers. Some of these women are white and some are black. Each woman was shaped by the powerful social, political, and economic forces that framed her life and her choices as a parent. I celebrate the creative ways they responded to those challenges and how their choices made possible the world I now encounter as a woman and mother. This year I will also celebrate Michelle Obama and the new world of possibilities that she creates by her dignified embrace of her role as "mom-in-chief."