A discussion of race, politics, media and the like… What I see is what you get.

Posts tagged “New York Times

Drug Bust

Great article from Charles Blow of the New York Times. I couldn’t agree more. To me this just shows how policies wrapped up in racially coded language and executed in a racist manner, where politicians only weigh what is politic rather than what is right leads us to where we are now. Say nothing about the prison-industrial complex and the prison lobby that manages to privatize prisons for profit and pay to influence legislatures.

I guess you get what you pay for…

And no group has been more targeted and suffered more damage than the black community. As the A.C.L.U. pointed out last week, “The racial disparities are staggering: despite the fact that whites engage in drug offenses at a higher rate than African-Americans, African-Americans are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate that is 10 times greater than that of whites.”An effort meant to save us from a form of moral decay became its own insidious brand of moral perversion — turning people who should have been patients into prisoners, criminalizing victimless behavior, targeting those whose first offense was entering the world wrapped in the wrong skin. It feeds our achingly contradictory tendency toward prudery and our overwhelming thirst for punishment. – Charles Blow

via Drug Bust – NYTimes.com.


The Legend of the Persecuted White Guy

If white men are persecuted in this society, what’s the word we should use for what has and is happening to Black men!? Do we even have a word for that??? 

Please stop it…

“The Beached White Male” — this bellowing cover headline from the new issue of Newsweek is only the latest installation of the most resilient parable in American cultural mythology: The Legend of the Persecuted White Guy.

This narrative has been part of the media mix for the larger part of the last few decades, from the 1980s when it was alleged that civil rights initiatives (affirmative action, busing, etc.) were persecuting whites, to the last decade, which lamented whites as “America’s forgotten majority,” to the present political moment in which the first African-American president is accused of caring only about his fellow minorities and harboring “a deep seated hatred of white people.”

Newsweek’s iteration of this Persecuted White Guy story, which claims that the economy is now rigged to make sure white males “don’t have a freakin’ prayer,” follows USA Today’s implication that “older white males [are] hurt more by this recession” than anyone else, and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s (subsequently discredited) argument that “white anxiety” is justified because white working-class students are supposedly among “the most underrepresented groups” at elite universities.

In each version of the legend, the characters and specific events change — sometimes the stars are beefy white guys watching factories leave “real America” for Mexico, other times it’s celebrated “Office Park Dads” in coastal enclaves seeing their jobs offshored to China. Either way, the establishment media’s official story never seems to deviate from the tale of D-FENS in the 1993 film “Falling Down”: Virtuous, patriotic white males are under more intense assault than any other group.

To be sure, many individual white males have been hurt by past recessions, and many more have been hit hard by this one, too. But the obsessive and disproportionate focus on the plight of this particular demographic actually contradicts the underlying theory of white victimhood. Far from being “forgotten,” persecuted or “without a freakin’ prayer,” white men still very much retain their cherished privilege, so much so that their problems are presented by the media as the most pressing national emergency — even when, on the whole, white men still occupy a comparatively enviable position in our economy.

For example, the Huffington Post recently reported that while the March jobless rate for white workers dropped below the overall national average to 7.9 percent, the unemployment rate among black workers increased from 15.3 to 15.5 percent. In case you think that’s some momentary product of recessionary economics, remember the recent Center for American Progress report showing that “the employment rates of African-American men remained stagnant even during the economic booms in the 1980s and 1990s.” It’s also not a product of education levels — as the New York Times recently noted that, among college graduates, the white unemployment rate has been roughly half that of the black unemployment rate.

Indeed, so powerful and consistent is white male privilege in America that a group of respected civil rights groups last year filed a United Nations complaint arguing that “the over-representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in unemployment, underemployment, and poverty” violates the United States’ obligations under international treaties.

In light of all this, how can Newsweek look at the undeniable crisis of black unemployment and then devote a cover exclusively to the economic troubles of white males? How can the Legend of the Persecuted White Guy persist?

Part of it is naked political opportunism. Whether it’s Richard “Silent Majority” Nixon, Ronald “States Rights” Reagan, Pat Buchanan or today’s Tea Party leaders, there’s always a pack of white male politicians screaming about white males being oppressed — and thus rewarded with outsize media attention for their hysterics.

And there’s a reason why the media is eager to cover their antics. A white male dominated elite media is, by virtue of its complexion and its largely white audience, overly responsive to fear-mongering about white males being under attack — no matter how substance-free the fear-mongering may be. This dynamic is only intensified by the fact that after so much repetition, the Legend of the Persecuted White Guy has become a form of cultural shorthand — one of those unquestioned-yet-unsubstantiated tropes like “higher taxes hurt the economy” or “free trade creates jobs” that reporters and editors regularly rely on as a lowest common denominator for content.

The legend’s perseverance is also motivated by a backlash to change — no matter how overdue, slight or circumstantial. Nixon and later Reagan’s versions of the legend echoed the white backlash of civil rights movement successes; Buchanan’s legend found underground traction, in part, as a backlash to cultural bigotry being drubbed out of polite society; and today’s version has emerged as a backlash to the election of the first black president and — as importantly — to the slight reduction of the white-black unemployment gap. As USA Today briefly pointed out, the recession has marginally reduced the traditional “racial gap in unemployment, largely because white men are doing so much worse than usual.”

The “usual” bit is the key point. The “usual” was white males for decades being even more disproportionately insulated from overall economic turbulence than they are now. That meant, as the Bay Area News Group reports, an “unemployment rate for men aged 55 and older (that) averaged 3.7 percent, and reached 7 percent in only a single month — February 1950.”

So, sure, while white males still remain way ahead of and way more financially insulated than most other demographic groups, it’s true — they are just a tad more susceptible to brutal economic forces than they once were. Somehow, though, the fact that everyone else has been subject to those economic forces for decades doesn’t seem to matter, nor does the fact that most other groups still have it worse.

Somehow, the legend of the Persecuted White Guy trumps all. – David Sirota

The legend of the persecuted white guy – Salon.com Mobile.

Losing Our Way

I have nothing more to add…

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

A stark example of the fundamental unfairness that is now so widespread was in The New York Times on Friday under the headline: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year.

As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.”

G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. You can understand how ordinary workers might look at this cozy corporate-government arrangement and conclude that it is not fully committed to the best interests of working people.

Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.

New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed. – Bob Herbert

via Losing Our Way – NYTimes.com.

The Forgotten Millions

I’ve said since the fall of 2009 that the President and the Dems needed to move “progressive/left” and populist. I still believe that. He needs to be the President that ran in 2007-2008. That rhetoric won the day and it is still popular. The fact that our politics now only discuss deficits and spending tells you just how complete the Republican rhetoric is and just how much the Dems need a counter-narrative to fight back. They had, and we voted for, a counternarrative in 2008… Where has it gone Mr President??

More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.

Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.

So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.

It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.

In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care? – Paul Krugman


The Forgotten Millions – NYTimes.com.