During Bill Clinton's first run for President, I appeared on a New York radio panel with some of his black supporters, including Paul Robeson, Jr., son of the actor and singer.
I said that Clinton had character problems. They dismissed my comments and said that I didn't know anything about politics and should stick to writing novels. (Clarence Page, who has monopoly on the few column inches and airtime made available to black columnists by the corporate media, said the same thing about me. I should stick to creative writing and leave politics alone.)
These criticisms didn't deter me. Writing in The Baltimore Sun, I was the first to identify Clinton as a black president as a result of his mimicking a black style. (I said he was the second, since Warren G. Harding never denied the rumors about his black ancestry.)
As a result of his ability to imitate the black preaching style, Clinton was able to seduce black audiences, who ignored some of his actions that were unfriendly, even hostile to blacks. His interrupting his campaign to get a mentally disabled black man, Ricky Ray Rector executed. (Did Mrs. Clinton tear up about this act?) His humiliation of Jesse Jackson. His humiliation of Jocelyn Elders and Lani Gunier.
The welfare reform bill that has left thousands of women black, white, yellow and brown destitute, prompting Robert Scheer to write in the San Francisco Chronicle, "To his everlasting shame as president, Clinton supported and signed welfare legislation that shredded the federal safety net for the poor from which he personally had benefited." (Has Ms. Clinton shed a tear for these women, or did she oppose her husband's endorsement of this legislation?) His administration saw a high rate of black incarceration as a result of Draconian drug laws that occurred during his regime.
He advocated trade agreements that sent thousands of jobs overseas. (Did Mrs. Clinton, with misty eyes, beg him to assess how such trade deals would effect the livelihood of thousands of families, black, white, brown, red and yellow?) He refused to intervene to rescue thousands of Rwandans from genocide. (Did Mrs. Clinton tearfully beseech her husband to intervene on behalf of her African sisters; did Ms. Gloria Steinem, whose word is so influential among millions of white women that she can be credited by some for changing the outcome of a primary, and maybe an election, marshal these forces to place pressure upon Congress to rescue these black women and girls?)
Carl Bernstein, appearing on "Air America Radio," January 9th, described Clinton's New Hampshire attacks on Obama as "petulant." His behavior demonstrated that regardless of Bill Clinton's admiration for Jazz, and black preaching, he and his spouse will go south on a black man whom they perceive as being audacious enough to sass Mrs. Clinton. In this respect, he falls in the tradition of the southern demagogue: grinning with and sharing pot liker and cornbread with black folks, while signifying about them before whites.
Though his role models are Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy, he has more in common with
Georgia's Eugene Talmadge ("The Wild Man From Sugar Creek,"), Louisiana's Huey Long, and his brother, Earl, Edwin Edwards, who even hinted that he had black ancestry to gain black votes, Alabama's George Wallace, Texas's Pa Ferguson, and "Kissing Jim" Folsom, who wrote, "You Are My Sunshine." He employs the colorful rhetoric of the southern demagogue, the rustic homilies ("till the last dog dies), the whiff of corruption.
Having been educated at elite schools where studying The War of the Roses was more important than studying Reconstruction, the under educated white male punditry and their token white women, failed to detect the racial code phrases that both Clintons and their surrogates sent out- codes that, judging from their responses, infuriated blacks caught immediately. Blacks have been deciphering these hidden messages for four hundred years. They had to, in order to survive.
Gloria Steinem perhaps attended the same schools. Her remark that black men received the vote "fifty years before women," in a Times Op-Ed (Jan.8) which some say contributed to Obama's defeat in New Hampshire, ignores the fact that black men were met by white terrorism, including massacres, and economic retaliation when attempting to exercise the franchise. She and her followers, who've spent thousands of hours in graduate school, must have gotten all of their information about Reconstruction from Gone With The Wind, where moviegoers are asked to sympathize with a proto-feminist, Scarlett O'Hara, who finally has to fend for herself after years of being doted upon by the unpaid household help.
Booker T. Washington, an educator born into slavery, said that young white people had been waited on so that after the war they didn't know how to take care of themselves and Mary Chesnutt, author of The Civil War Diaries, and a friend of Confederate president Jefferson Davis's family, said that upper class southern white women were so slave dependent that they were "indolent." Steinem and her followers should read, Redemption, The Last Battle Of The Civil War," by Nicholas Lemann, which tells the story about how "in 1875, an army of white terrorists in Mississippi led a campaign to 'redeem' their state--to abolish with violence and murder if need be, the newly won civil rights of freed slaves and blacks." Such violence and intimidation was practiced all over the south sometimes resulting in massacres. One of worst massacres of black men occurred at Colfax, Louisiana, in 1873. Their crime? Attempting to exercise the voting rights awarded to them "fifty years," before white women received theirs. Lemann writes, "Burning Negroes" met "savage and hellish butchery.
"They were all killed, unarmed, at close range, while begging for mercy. Those who tried to escape, were overtaken, mustered in crowds, made to stand around, and, while in every attitude of humiliation and supplication, were shot down and their bodies mangled and hacked to hasten their death or to satiate the hellish malice of their heartless murderers, even after they were dead.
"White posses on horseback rode away from the town, looking for Negroes who had fled, so they could kill them."
Elsewhere in the south, during the Confederate Restoration, black politicians, who were given the right to vote," fifty years before white women" were removed from office by force, many through violence. In Wilmington, North Carolina, black men, who "received the vote fifty years before white women," the subject of Charles Chesnutt's great novel, The Marrow of Tradition:
"On Thursday, November 10, 1898, Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell, a Democratic leader in Wilmington, North Carolina mustered a white mob to retaliate for a controversial editorial written by Alexander Manly, editor of the city's black newspaper, the Daily Record. The mob burned the newspaper's office and incited a bloody race riot in the city. By the end of the week, at least fourteen black citizens were dead, and much of the city's black leadership had been banished.