Today I learned that this is not Brownsville, Texas, but Brownsville, Tennessee, where Sleepy John Estes lived, way on back when. We’re going there tomorrow. While we’re there, we’ll see Tennessee’s oldest synagogue. Among other things.
I’m honestly continually befuddled at the Right’s inability to form a coherent, damaging line of attack against Obama. I mean, I’d like to dismiss it as pure racism, but there are pure racist stereotypes of both thuggish brutes (who want to fuck your white women) AND of suave, cool hepcats (who your white women want to fuck)–the parenthetical asides being obviously left unsaid.
If you’re going to come tar President Obama I think you need to work with cerebral, out of touch, big government liberalism overreach. Not that I agree with these things but they’re rooted in things that are true, they’re the worst takes on real aspects of who Obama is. But the ‘Chicago-style’ break your legs stuff? Please. This plays with the not-racist right and Republicans who, as I said, live in a cult of victimization and paranoia. But President Obama’s most telling trait is the effort to conciliate and convince opponents, not to threaten them. Believe me, a lot of his top supporters wish he was more bullying.
My co-worker actually asked me yesterday why Obama doesn’t go ahead and go all Bullworth on their asses. So, I think Marshall is right, that even people who feel anxious about Obama–unless they’re a subset of Republicans–don’t feel anxious about him because he’s a thug. Accusations of him being a thug just don’t ring true to people who aren’t afraid to almost paranoid levels of him.
And yet, obviously, if you’re just trying to play on non-black people’s subconscious racist fears about black men, like I said, there is a stereotype to plug into and one that actually has some resonance with who Obama is. I really find it befuddling that they don’t use it.
It’s as if the Republican party isn’t just trading in racist tropes, it’s that, in their singular commitment to a specific version of the past, they’ve missed all the ways the rest of us white folks have been othering black people.
Or let me put it another way–all they have is “Birth of a Nation.” They missed all the white people playing Scott Joplin tunes on their pianos who would never let him in the front door of their homes.