Dick Gregory: You Think the Fucking Tea Party Determines Public Policy?

Dick Gregory Salon Interview

I found entertainer and activist David Gregory’s interview at Salon interesting this morning.  Gregory, a longtime Civil Rights activist, was able to cut through the absurdity over the Confederate Flag and also point out who is really standing in the way of racial progress.  A sample:

When you stop and think… It’s like, what do you say when white folks bring up the Confederate flag? We think Hitler was one of the most powerful tyrants — them Nazis one of the most powerful governments that ever existed — but you can’t go to Germany and see a swastika. Not in public. So what does that say about us here?


Who are you mad at? The Ku Klux Klan? Lynch mobs? How many black folks died from lynching as opposed to the effects of public policy? You think Negro-hating rednecks who can’t read or write, you think they determine public policy? You think the fucking Tea Party determines public policy? Let me tell you, if they do shut down the government that’s because the damn Rockefellers in power want it to be shut down. If that one percent didn’t want you to do something they could have tanks in your neighborhood and wipe you out before they’d let you get away with it, you understand?

The people who run this country, who run the world–I’m an old Negro. Coming up I wanted to be white because I thought white folks knew what was going on. Now I find out you white folks are as dumb as we are. Schools only a little bit better than ours. The same game they run on us they run on you.

Gregory also talks about the power of not tolerating discrimination through non-violent means:

By don’t tolerate it, I don’t mean get no gun. I mean organization, boycotts. When white folks say they’re gonna boycott Christmas shopping until they get this change–they get it.

The gays proved that. In March, when the governor of Indiana who was gonna sign a law saying businesses did not have to serve same-sex couples? And then the gays, and the people who were friends to the gays, rose up so bad, and then all at once people started canceling out conventions–and he changed that so fast like he always meant to do it.

Really, the whole interview above is worth reading in full.  Gregory has a unique perspective due to his age and history, and has interesting ideas on what ails America and how to fix it.


People Know Next to Nothing About Reconstruction

Eric Foner

People Know Next to Nothing About Reconstruction

There is a really interesting article over at Salon that deals with the misconceptions about Reconstruction, the period after the Civil War, and what really went wrong.  The article is an interview with esteemed historian Eric Foner.  A sample:

Among other things, it’s a story of attempts at interracial cooperation from below, which ultimately failed by 1900. It’s sometimes argued that the political failure of Reconstruction in the South was due to the fact that Republican support among Unionist whites, which was significant at the beginning, seemed to have disappeared or diminished by 1877. Why do you think that happened?

That’s one of the reasons for the failure of Reconstruction — it’s one reason. Of course, there were some states where they never had any white support, like South Carolina and maybe a couple of other places. Louisiana had very, very little.

The problem of getting poor white support was very difficult and was exacerbated by the difference between the Northern Republican Party and the Southern Republican Party. In some of these states, like North Carolina or Georgia, there were poor whites, Unionists, and so on, who were interested in supporting the Republicans for economic advantages like debtor’s relief.

But the Northern Republican Party was not interested in supporting them. They rejected Georgia’s Constitution because it suspended the collection of debts, and they said, “Hey, I’m sorry, you guys have got to pay your debts.” It’s like Greece, they were acting like Angela Merkel.

I actually think the failure of Reconstruction was not solely or even primarily on that basis. Rather, you have to go to the federal level and look at what was basically a failure to enforce the law. There were these constitutional amendments — the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth — but you get a withdrawal from enforcement after a while, and that reflected changes in Northern society — political, economic, and intellectual. And without a willingness to enforce the law, the power structure in the South — the economic power structure — is going to take over eventually.

It’s possible to imagine continued federal intervention — not, you know, military intervention for forty years, but enough to make it clear that these laws will be enforced. Like what happened in the Civil Rights Movement. There was a social movement, but there was also the National Guard, federal courts, other things just making it clear to people, not that they have to love each other, but that they have to act in certain ways and they can’t act in other ways. That if people act in ways that are in violation of federal law, they will be punished. And if that becomes clear, then people eventually abide by the law.

More Posts On History Include:  Death, Mortality, Abraham Lincoln, and His Secretary Of War

Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Why People Do Horrible Things For Belief

Over at Salon is an article that starts out with Scientology and Going Clear, the book and documentary about it, but then deals in the much broader realm of belief.  It deals with everything from the Rwandan genocide to the Mob and how people, once caught up in a group, use belief to justify the things that they have done.  At a certain point belief in something is more painful than coming to terms with the reality of a situation.  An interesting read.

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

The Best Paul Westerberg Songs You Have Never Heard

If you are a Westerberg or Replacements fan the above article is worth the read.  If you don’t know of either, Westerberg is one of the best rock n roll songwriters America has produced.  I’ve always been a really big fan of his.  The above article covers the solo stuff he put out since 2008.  It begins with the music collage 49:00 and goes on from there.

All of the material they mention is worth checking out.  49:00 is especially interesting.  One song bleeds into the next.  Certain songs even play at the same time.  In lesser hands this could be a disaster, but it is extremely listenable and inspiring.  It really is a sound collage.  Not only are almost all the pieces great in their own right, but the WAY they interact with each other provides a whole other level of meaning.  At one point there is a song about Westerberg’s dad dying.  Another song keeps trying to break into that one, resembling someone’s mental state under duress, like they are trying to block something out, but can’t completely.  The whole record seems to tell the story of his life, though it is impressionistic and interpretive as well. (Though you might have to be a fan to put that interpretation together. The song Something in My Life is Missing features a bit about each of The Replacements, but not by name.)  Westerberg’s love of Faces inspired rock n roll, knack for AM pop radio hooks, beautiful melodic sensibilities, and post-punk roots all come and go at different times.  I’ve long thought it to be a work of genius, but the fact that he put several snippets of covers, that he performs, got it taken down shortly after it was released.  I don’t believe you can still buy it, but you can listen up above on YouTube.

Michael McKean and the American Escape Hatch

Michael McKean: Better Call Saul is About the American Escape Hatch

Here is an interesting interview with Michael McKean about his latest project, Better Call Saul.  As a huge Breaking Bad fan I admit that I am still on the fence about Better Call Saul.  I am still waiting to find a way to connect with it.  There are definitely moments of brilliance as it examines the American legal system and asks bigger questions about the American dream.  However, I find the show to be a bit slow to find its rhythm.  I am a few episodes behind at this point.  I don’t really want to judge it until I have seen all of the first season.  I think creator Vince Gilligan, who also created Breaking Bad, has earned that from TV viewers after creating one of the best TV shows of all time.  Here is a snippet from the interview:

Everything that happens to you in your life can sometimes find the way to make all the difference down the line. But when you’ve got a confluence of stuff here, Jimmy getting involved in these bigger cases, these bigger money cases, getting a whiff of the money anyway — if you’re going to be cheated of the attention and prestige you feel you should have, if you feel cheated of that, you’ll find a way to settle for the money. That’s the American way. If everything else goes off in your face, if your family can’t stand the sight of you, if you can’t hold a job, if you can’t stay away from drugs and booze, well, at least you can make a lot of money and have all this f-you money stacked up. It really is the American escape hatch instead of the American dream.

Netanyahu Speaks to Congress


Salon On Netanyahu Speech

Above is Salon’s take on Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today.  Although I tend to agree with them, my point today isn’t really to focus on this one write up.  At the end of the day it is one write up and you should be reading a bunch of them, mixing and matching, and trying to come to your own conclusion.  However, this is an event that you should be reading about.  A foreign head of state is trying to sway US policy.  This is highly unprecedented in the fact that this head of state actually spoke directly to our congress to try and change our policy.

I have long viewed Netanyahu as a thug and a bully whose intentions do not run in accord with the best intentions of our country.  Nor do I think that his intentions have long term Middle East peace at the heart of them.  I think he is someone that is about self-serving political and military power above all else.

But don’t take my word for it.  Read, read, and read some more.

Jimmy Kimmel Won't Back Down About Vaccines

Jimmy Kimmel Won’t Back Down About Vaccines

The above article at Salon is about how Jimmy Kimmel as been taking on the anti-vaxxers.  This is a subject that’s so stupid that only a comedian could really do it justice.  The link is worth going to just to see the video.  At the end of it there is a PSA featuring Doctor’s telling people to get vaccinated that is pretty hilarious:  “Remember that time you got polio?” another doctor asks. “No, you don’t, because your parents got you f—king vaccinated.”

The Fear of Education

The Right’s Fear of Education

The above article is by a former military man and right winger on why there is a dislike of education by some on the right.  (Most recently put in the news by Scott Walker and his people in Wisconsin.)  I don’t think that all on the right dislike education.  However, there does seem to be a strain of modern conservatism that is doing its best to strip it of anything but the ability to provide people with the skills to be a worker bee.  I think this writer has a plausible theory at least.  Discuss…

How Black People and Art Became Devalued

How Black People and Art Became Devalued

In my last blog I mentioned that culture, in general, seemed in decline.  I asked why.  The above article is from Salon and focuses on the same idea, but from a black perspective.  The writer, Brittney Cooper, starts with Prince’s quote at the Grammys:

“Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.”

And then goes on to talk about the connection between a culture that devalues human lives and arts, hitting upon this core theme:

But under conditions of neoliberalism, which favor the unregulated, unchecked reach of huge multinational corporations into every area of our lives, art and music and the people who produce them all become merely marketable commodities.