Showing posts with label RACE RELATIONS IN US. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RACE RELATIONS IN US. Show all posts

29 Apr 2010

NEWSWEEK: Black blogs cover a far more diverse range of stories than the rest of the media. Just ask Sandra Bullock. While Sandra Bullock's post-Oscar split from husband Jesse James may be the biggest celebrity news in the last month (or two), it's probably not surprising it's the adopted brown baby that really got the African-American blog sites going. The funny thing is, black Web sites such as, Bossip, and Young, Black and Fabulous have been following Bullock for years. Part of the reason is her connection to the black community. "They know about her support for victims of Katrina and Haiti so they care about what happens to her, which we thought about when we gave her coverage," says Fred Mwangaguhunga, owner of the black entertainment site But part of it is that black blogs look at the world differently than the often segregated mainstream.

22 Jul 2009

Riot police have broken up a tense standoff between black and white protesters in a town in Texas.

The conflict began with a march by 100 mostly African-American activists, who were unhappy at the stateĆ¢€™s handling of the case of 24-year-old Brandon McClelland who was run over and killed by a vehicle.

Speaking to US television network ABC, Brandon's mother Jacquiline said: "The reason for today's rally is to let everybody know how the justice system around here is really doing things."
When the protesters reached the town square, the crowd of black demonstrators ballooned to around 200 people on one side of the street.

Approximately a dozen white supremacists, including four skinheads carrying Nazi swastika flags, gathered on the other side.

A skinhead and another white man were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, before the protesters separated peacefully.

No blows were exchanged.

SOURCE: Yahoo! News

26 Jun 2009

On Nixon Tapes, Ambivalence Over Abortion, Not Watergate


WASHINGTON — On Jan. 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But the next day, newly released tapes reveal, he privately expressed ambivalence.

Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases — like interracial pregnancies, he said.

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”

Nine months later, Nixon forced the firing of the special prosecutor looking into the Watergate affair, Archibald Cox, and prompted the resignations of Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus. The next day, Ronald Reagan, who was then governor of California and would later be president, told the White House that he approved.

Reagan said the action, which would become known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” was “probably the best thing that ever happened — none of them belong where they were,” according to a Nixon aide’s notes of the private conversation.

Those disclosures were among the revelations in more than 150 hours of tape and 30,000 pages of documents made public on Tuesday by the Nixon Presidential Library, a part of the National Archives. The audio files were posted online, as were a sampling of the documents.

The tapes were recorded by the secret microphones in the Oval Office from January and February 1973. They shed new light on an intense moment in American history, including Nixon’s second inauguration, the Vietnam War cease-fire, and the trial of seven men over the break-in at the Democrats’ headquarters at the Watergate complex amid mounting revelations about their ties to the White House.

The tapes also capture more mundane details of life in the White House — conversations about what to pack for a trip, when to schedule a trip to the barber, whether the president’s wife would enjoy going to Trader Vic’s for dinner.

Most segments of the tapes relating to the Watergate scandal, which would lead to Nixon’s resignation 20 months later, have already been released. But there are some new materials that were previously held back because the audio quality was so poor that archives officials could not be certain whether they contained discussion of any classified topics. Improvements in audio technology have allowed archives staff to clear additional ones.

They include a Jan. 5, 1973, conversation between Nixon and his aide Charles W. Colson in which they discussed the possibility of granting clemency to E. Howard Hunt Jr., one of the Watergate conspirators, according to a log compiled by archives staff. Scholars say the same topic was addressed in several other tapes that were previously made public.

The documents also include nine pages of handwritten notes by a domestic policy aide about plans for what the White House would say about the dismissal of the Watergate special prosecutor, Mr. Cox.

The tapes also provide new material about the circumstances surrounding the Paris treaty to end the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam.

A call between Nixon and Mr. Colson just after midnight on Jan. 20 showed that Nixon anticipated, when the treaty was announced, that he would be vindicated for continuing to bomb North Vietnam. He especially relished the hit that he believed members of Congress who opposed the war — whose public statements he pronounced “treasonable” — would suffer.

Several conversations center on the pressure Nixon placed on South Vietnam’s president, Nguyen Van Thieu, to accept the cease-fire agreement. Ken Hughes, a Nixon scholar and research fellow at the Presidential Recordings Project at the University of Virginia, said he was struck by listening on one of the new tapes to Nixon’s telling his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, that to get Thieu to sign the treaty, he would “cut off his head if necessary.”

Mr. Hughes said the conversation bolstered his view that Nixon, Thieu and Mr. Kissinger knew at the time that the cease-fire could not endure, and that it was not “peace with honor,” as Nixon described it, so much as a face-saving way for the United States to get out of the war. In 1975, North Vietnam would violate the cease-fire and conquer South Vietnam.

The tapes also include a phone call from February 1973 between Nixon and the evangelist Billy Graham, during which Mr. Graham complained that Jewish-American leaders were opposing efforts to promote evangelical Christianity, like Campus Crusade. The two men agreed that the Jewish leaders risked setting off anti-Semitic sentiment.

“What I really think is deep down in this country, there is a lot of anti-Semitism, and all this is going to do is stir it up,” Nixon said.

At another point he said: “It may be they have a death wish. You know that’s been the problem with our Jewish friends for centuries.”

The documents also include three newly declassified pages from a National Security Council brief discussing secret Israeli efforts to build a nuclear weapon.

SOURCE: The New York Times

23 May 2009

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18 Apr 2009

15 Apr 2009

The Obama administration has issued a chilling warning to US police forces about the threat of a rise in violent rightwing extremist groups fuelled by recession, the return of disgruntled army veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, and hostility over the election of the first black president.

The internal report, which was not meant for publication, was drawn up by the department of homeland security, set up after the 9/11 attacks to co-ordinate internal security.

A leaked copy says: "The economic downturn and the election of the first African-American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalisation and recruitment."

It adds that the threat posed by "lone wolves" and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.

The report generated criticism from Republicans and military veterans' groups, who resented the implication that returning troops presented a danger. The American Legion called it "unfair", "incomplete" and "politically motivated".

Marked "for official use only", the nine-page report was drawn up by the extremism and radicalisation branch of homeland security. A leaked copy initially appeared on conservative websites and was then picked up by the US media.

The assessment contends: "Rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalise returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat. These skills ... have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists, including 'lone wolves or small terrorist cells', to carry out violence. The willingness of a small percentage of military personnel to join extremist groups during the 1990s because they were disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war is being replicated today."

The early 1990s saw a rise in militias and cults that were anti-government and anti-Bill Clinton, against a background of economic recession. Some looked to survivalism; others were motivated by racism or religion. There was a series of incidents and shoot-outs with federal agents, including the Waco siege in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

David Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion, which has 2.6 million members, today protested in a letter to the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, at the implication that troops presented a danger, saying: "I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are. The American Legion is well aware and horrified at the pain inflicted during the Oklahoma City bombing, but Timothy McVeigh was only one of more than 42 million veterans who have worn this nation's uniform during wartime. To continue to use McVeigh as an example of the stereotypical 'disgruntled military veteran' is as unfair as using Osama bin Laden as the sole example of Islam."

The report says that threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups have been largely rhetorical so far, but a prolonged economic downturn "could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists".

It adds: "Rightwing extremists have capitalised on the election of the first African-American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilise existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda." In particular it highlights antagonism at Obama's perceived stance on issues ranging from immigration to social programmes for minorities and proposed firearms limits. Since the election, rightwing extremists have been using propaganda to reach potential recruits.

It cites as an example of potential violence that could have been related to rightwing extremism the shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this month. The alleged gunman was reportedly influenced by racist ideology and anti-government and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Internet chatter by rightwing extremists blames some job losses on a cabal of Jewish financial elites.

SOURCE: The Guardian

19 Dec 2008

27 Oct 2008

WASHINGTON — Federal agents have broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a Tennessee murder spree, the ATF said Monday.

In court records unsealed Monday, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly African-American high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads. Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the two men planned to shoot 88 black people and decapitate another 14. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

"They said that would be their last, final act _ that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama," Cavanaugh said. "They didn't believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying."

SOURCE:Huffington Post

26 Oct 2008

The latest polls say Barack Obama is set to win next month's U.S. election, becoming the country's first black President. But given its chequered racial history, has America finally shed enough of its prejudice to endorse Obama over his white Republican opponent John McCain?

Mail on Sunday columnist Suzanne Moore and David Matthews travelled from Louisville, Kentucky - birthplace of Muhammad Ali - through West Virginia and Virginia on their way to Washington DC. Their mission: to find out - from both black and white perspectives - how much the issue of race will dictate who becomes the most powerful man in the world...


The latest polls say Barack Obama is the clear favourite to win the U.S. Presidential election next month

Saturday afternoon and I am in a sea of people whooping and chanting 'USA, USA, USA'. It's cold but the excitement appears to be keeping most people warm.

We are waiting for John McCain to finally appear at this rally in Woodbridge, Virginia. I had seen a cardboard cut-out of him on the way in. I didn't realise it was life-size.

When he finally makes it on stage, to the theme tune from Rocky, McCain is indeed as small and stiff as the cardboard model.

Never mind, I have the merchandise and I'm wearing a badge that says 'Read My Lipstick. Drill Now' (a slogan for McCain's running-mate Sarah Palin) and holding a 'handmade' sign given to me by the rally organisers.

Country First banners are all around me. Allegiance is sworn to the flag.

Mail on Sunday writers David Matthews and Suzanne Moore. Photographed infront of the Capitol

Odyssey: David and Suzanne arrive in front of the Capitol at the end of their quest

A 12-year-old boy next to me asks why I am not wearing red. I explain that David Matthews and I are not really from around these parts. Can you be a 12-year-old Republican, I wonder? 'Sure, ma'am. My daddy trained me good.'

After all, we are in the VIP arena, with seats right by the edge of the stage. Walking in, a tall, blond man asked if we wanted 'to meet the governor'.

We found ourselves waved through the sweat-panted masses into a hand-picked, ethnically diverse crowd. There are Vietnam veterans, some very pretty girls and many 'people of colour'.

Actually, many colours. When the TV camera swoops down on us, McCain will have all his bases covered.

It doesn't matter that we don't have a vote. Yet this crowd, like everyone we meet, despises 'the liberal media', while passively accepting that this entire event is organised for TV.

'Have you always been a Republican?' I ask the man who pushed us through the lumpen crowd. 'Sure, I can read and write,' he says, winking.

Had he not been hustling us into the good seats, it seemed to me he would have been smoking his pipe and letting rip about why a 'goddam black terrorist Muslim' can never be let into the White House. He was GOP - the Grand Old Party - personified, and he made me uneasy.

Of course, not all McCain supporters are like that and we met many on our journey from Kentucky through West Virginia and into Virginia.

This election is not all about race. But it's always there - the subtext of every conversation, the prism through which much debate is conducted, the fault-line of American society. It is both ever-present and somehow invisible. This election is about real change. Race is but a factor - but one that is impossible to ignore.

A badge bearing Sarah Palin's slogan

A badge bearing Sarah Palin's slogan

George Bush has been ' disappeared', Vice-President Dick Cheney's heart has had to be restarted. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is nowhere to be seen.

Why isn't McCain running as an independent? Perhaps because, as Obama's adverts forever remind us, this 'maverick' voted with Bush 90 per cent of the time.

At the Woodbridge rally, Joe the Plumber - a worker recently captured on TV confronting Obama - is the symbol of the little guy who will be destroyed by the tax-and-spend madness of Obama.

It would later emerge that Joe was not called Joe and wasn't even a licensed plumber, but at the rally it seems he has become a kind of Spartacus figure.

I chat to Marilyn the Plumber and Phil the Bricklayer. When McCain starts talking about the disgusting idea of 'spreading the wealth', a woman behind me starts yelling: 'No to socialism!'

The mention of Palin brings forth the chants, 'Drill, Baby, Drill'. Where is Dr Freud when you need him? I am feeling more than a little foreign.

Driving here through epic scenery of mountains and forest, David and I heard the Right-wing DJs ranting: 'Do we want to be America or France?' France is the bastion of socialism, apparently. Someone should tell President Sarkozy.

Socialism has replaced communism as the bete noire for decent, hardworking folk, even though they are feeling the pinch and hit hardest by lack of medical insurance. Desperate tactics? Maybe, but they work.

Time and again people tell me there is just something about Obama they don't trust.

They are not all redneck racists. Many McCain supporters are thoughtful and polite. We met only one man, an old black guy whose number plate read 'I liveth', who didn't want to reveal his voting intentions.

John McCain

On the campaign trail: John McCain speaks to supporters in New Mexico

Most people want to chat, though it has to be said that being on the road does involve meeting lots of lonely men in motels. But that's the American dream for you.

Driving from one place to another to flog their wares are the Phils, Jims and Stevens. The ones who are keen to tell David some of their best friends are black; who tell us all Southerners are pretty low down the food chain; the scary taxi driver straight out of the film Deliverance, who says McCain is way too liberal. He is a Christian Conservative, obese in his shorts, his arm in a splint.

Mind you, we then meet a woman, steering her filthy car with tattooed arms, who tells us she won't vote and 'doesn't give a s***'. She doesn't pay tax or expect social security. She has never heard of Sarah Palin. It's easy to forget some of the poorest people in this country are not black but white.

Nothing is clear-cut. At the starting point of our trip, Louisville, Kentucky, we find ourselves in a hip hotel where people just aren't that interested in the election. It's been going on way too long already. Or they have made their minds up long ago.

Louisville is the birthplace of Muhammad Ali and, as I wander around the huge museum built in his honour, I am struck by his words: 'I am America. The part you won't recognise.'

When Ali was growing up in Louisville, black people were banned from many places. This was, as he said, despite the fact that 'negroes had been working for 310 years for America, working 16 hours a day without a pay day, fighting all the wars for America'.

Ali's refusal to fight in Vietnam and his conversion to Islam cost him dearly, though he has since been reincarnated as an unthreatening and ill old man. Who now of his stature would say this about Iraq?

US map

All mapped out: The route Suzanne and David followed

Many times, in many ways, I'm told Iraq and Afghanistan are winnable wars and McCain will protect America in a way Obama won't.

It is often black people who seem to have a different view. Tony, a black driver, tells us American history is black history - and this is in Richmond, Virginia, the centre of the Confederacy.

I read there are now a lot of interracial relationships, but the way people stare at me and David, it doesn't feel like it. Some black women clearly don't like the idea and kiss their teeth - and nor do some white men.

It feels more like suspicion rather than hostility, but still comes as a surprise in this ethnic melting pot.

When we venture into an El Salvadorean bar, the customers can barely contain themselves. All are from El Salvador and no one speaks English.

In their eyes, the fact that I am with a black man clearly makes me fair game, as it sometimes does on the street when we are explicitly looked up and down.

In bars I register the initial shock, often a flicker behind the eyes, but usually the unfailing ethic of 'Have a nice day' service kicks in.

It is still difficult for many British people to understand just how segregated America remains.

Cities such as Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles are physically divided. One crosses from a 'nice' - i.e. white - area into a ghetto or just a different kind of neighbourhood. If you're in a car, the driver locks the door.

Of course, there is a large black middle class, but there are many areas of this vast country where the racial divide is rarely crossed, where people live in separate communities and where any infringement of the boundaries is regarded by both sides as deeply undesirable.

In a bar, I meet Sadie, a black woman in her 50s from Philadelphia. I am still slightly reeling from a visit to the Civil War Centre.

This was a war about slavery - I don't think we were taught that in school. The South depended on slavery for its economy. Though Abraham Lincoln said 'if slavery is not wrong then nothing is not wrong', he would have continued it if expedient.

A few days earlier we had been in Hodgenville, Kentucky, where a replica of the log cabin Lincoln was born in is kept in a mausoleum. Very bizarre.

Number plate

The car number plate of one of the Americans Suzanne and David met along the way

In the Civil War Centre, a nice old man explained how Obama could win - because all the minorities ( including women) may come together and overtake 'ordinary Americans'. Anyway, he asks us: 'Why did you get rid of Churchill?'

Sadie has a different take. 'It's just modern-day slavery here. There ain't no unions.' There are places she feels unwelcome. 'Martin Luther King forgot Richmond, put it that way,' she says. She likes Obama because he's a spiritual man.

What she sees as spiritual, others see as too cool. His composure during the third presidential debate was read by some as more ' smirking' elitism, though at the bar where we caught it on TV, we could barely hear his words as most people were watching sport on another channel.

Palin is the opposite, down with normal folk, 'pushing it up' on TV's Saturday Night Live. Days of discussion followed her appearance on the comedy show. Was she showing a sense of humour or should she be displaying more gravitas?

This was hammered home by Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama. It is quite something when it takes a Republican general to make the case for taxation and remind the country of how far it has moved to the Right.

On the road, many had been keen to emphasise that their dislike of Obama was not racially based and told us they would have voted for Powell had he chosen to stand. Still, the Right wing dismissed Powell's endorsement of Obama as being a 'tribal thing', which is out-and-out racism.

In reality though, much talk about race is in code. The 'trust' issues around Obama are sometimes a way of discussing race. But not always. Sometimes people are just afraid of change.

The Bradley effect is another threat to Obama. Named after Tom Bradley, a black politician who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in the polls, it refers to an alleged tendency for voters to claim they are going to vote for a black candidate but then opt for his white opponent when they are in the polling booth.

The suspicion around Obama now, weirdly, is that he has raised too much money, and that he is trying to appeal to the 'regular white guys' and break down the all-pervasive small town mythology Americans hold dear.

This is odd because most actually live in huge and segregated cities, and the rural areas have suffered most from the economic downturn.

Stopping off in Lewisburg, West Virginia, I try to buy a newspaper, but there are no normal shops left. There are art galleries and chi-chi restaurants where you can eat chocolate torte sprinkled with gold dust, but the local shops have been destroyed by a huge out-of-town Wal-Mart superstore.

The economy remains a huge electoral issue but many seem genuinely perplexed by it. After all, they are continually being told - and telling us - they are the best and richest country in the world. Their patriotism is unnerving but binds this diverse nation together.

While David went to church, I sat in a McDonald's restaurant. I was served by Mexicans and had a Peruvian family on one side of me, Ethiopians on the other. I assumed many of these people cannot vote, as they are illegal citizens, though a young professional couple at the McCain rally disagreed.

'The Democrats will bus them in,' they insist. 'You have to understand that Democrats are very angry people.'

They are keen for me to know that being Republican is not PC in their workplaces. Ann Marie says she doesn't really care why people don't like Obama as long as they don't vote for him.

Along the way, the only straightforward conversations about race have been with black people. 'Look at McCain's body language,' they say. 'He don't want to get beaten by a black guy. He won't call him by name but always "the senator".'

Finally we get to Washington, this imperial city that Obama has sewn up. Michaela, a half-Mexican student, tells me how the Hispanic vote has swung behind Obama.

Still, I feel less certain after this trip that Obama has it in the bag. It will be a close call, I think. His victory would give final credence to the American dream, but it's not over yet.

We started our journey in the birthplace of the great Hunter S. Thompson, and I remember at the edge of the mountain, when the caffeine took hold, feeling very anxious.

I really want to be wrong, and the polls tell me I am, but I left America with a sick feeling that Obama could still lose. In which case, we all do.

They talk of 'trust' but they really mean 'black'


We are inside a concrete mausoleum in Hodgenville, Kentucky, when the reality of modern America starts to take hold.

'It's a bit tacky, isn't it?' says Suzanne. I nod. Can they really use a replica wooden shack as a shrine to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln?

'We are due a good President,' says the shrine's attendant, Stephen Brown. He is among the white Americans backing Obama.

'The problem is people around here go to church every Sunday,' Stephen whispers. 'When their preacher says Obama supports gay rights or abortion, and that's sinful, they believe it. These are good people but they listen to what these preachers say.'

If the polls are right, Kentucky is solid McCain territory. But on the ground, things seem less clear.

Over breakfast at the Springs Inn in Lexington, I meet Phil. 'I'm a redneck from Georgia,' says Phil, 'but I don't like McCain. Just because he's a Republican doesn't mean I'm gonna automatically vote for him.'

Phil, a fiftysomething pipe organ maker enraged by the economic meltdown, reveals his admiration for Sarah Palin - She's something else' - and says he would have voted for Colin Powell had he been the Republican candidate.

'He's a war hero, an experienced politician and he has respect at home and abroad. But he don't want the aggravation. Besides, most black people think he's an Uncle Tom, so he wouldn't get their vote.'

Phil is one of the few white Americans prepared to talk to us about race-politics, though, like many others, he claims 'race has nothing to do with it'.

Obama, meanwhile, still provokes fear and distrust.

David Matthews meets a McCain fan in Woodbridge, Virginia

Party time: David meets a McCain fan in Woodbridge, Virginia

'We don't know who he is or where he's come from,' claims Mary, a portly, middle-aged IT consultant, at a Lexington bar. 'He hasn't got the experience.'

While it's true that Obama is no political heavyweight, what experience did George W. Bush have, other than being the son of a former President?

And what about Palin? 'She's a mother of five children,' says Mary, 'and that takes some doing.'

The issues of 'trust' and 'inexperience' come up repeatedly as reasons to be fearful of Obama. Aside from their literal meaning, these words also strike me as extended code for 'black', tapping into a latent fear of 'the other'.

Americans live in constant fear, whether of ethnic differences, foreign attack, illness or financial ruin. No wonder US politics is fuelled by conspiracy theories.

'Obama's definitely gonna win but they'll try to take him out,' predicts George, a black security guard at the Keeneland race track, outside Lexington. 'But Obama's got more security than any candidate in history, so he'll be OK.'

Watching racegoers sip mint juleps, the demarcation lines between blacks, whites and Hispanics is clear. I notice only one other mixed-race 'couple'. In fact, during the entire week with Suzanne, I see just two obvious black-white relationships.

At first, many Americans assume Suzanne and I are an 'item'. We receive the odd stare, though it feels like the result of genuine smalltown curiosity than anything more sinister.

On the face of it, America seems to have moved on from Jim Crow.

Far more crude, though, is the gratuitous attention Suzanne garners from men, simply for being female.

During the Democratic nomination race, I had argued with many female friends that America was more ready for a white female President than a black male one. Judging by Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign and the salacious looks Suzanne receives on our trip, I'm about to eat humble pie.

'Americans are too stupid to care about the election,' warns Jim, a 52-year-old New Yorker on business in Huntington, West Virginia.

'If you're as low down the food chain as most people are around here, you don't give a damn who the President is. That's why they'll vote for idiots like McCain and Palin.'

The following day Suzanne and I stop at Lewisburg, the oldest settlement in West Virginia.

Black Americans are so thin on the ground that for the first time I get 'you're not from these parts' looks. Nevertheless, the open hostility I had anticipated is absent. 'Southerners smile in your face then stab you in the back,' one man explains.

Outside the Civil War Centre in Richmond, black Americans such as driver Tony are more explicit about the deep-seated racial divisions.

'Listen, if you're drowning and a man's holding a life-jacket, do you really care what colour he is? Throw the damn ring! Right now, America is drowning and Obama's the man that can pull us out the water. But a lot of Americans don't see it that way.'

As we reach northern Virginia, the political temperature is at boiling point.

Despite the McCain camp portraying Obama as a 'danger' to US security, the Illinois Senator is still riding high in the polls and drawing crowds of 100,000. In contrast, 5,000 are at a McCain gathering in wealthy Woodbridge.

Within seconds of clearing security at the event, Suzanne and I are ushered through the crowd by a McCain campaigner to our front-row seats by the Presidential candidate's platform - to appear as a publicity-friendly inter-racial couple for the TV cameras.

The following day, perhaps in need of some redemption after my role as a Republican mannequin, I go to the First Baptist Church of Chesterbrook in McLean, another prosperous suburb.

In August, a vandal had daubed the word 'n*****' on the front door of the 19th Century chapel - a reminder that racism is still alive and well in America.

The modest congregation is entirely black and led by a charismatic young preacher, the Reverend Todd Brown. He says that while he would not endorse any particular candidate, 'Senator Obama has shown calm and decorum in the face of personal attacks from the McCain campaign'.

Afterwards, I ask him why so few black Americans support the Republicans. 'When it comes to policy and other matters, Democrats consider the middle class more [where most black American families sit economically] than the Republican Party, which often makes decisions only to the advantage of the upper class in our society.'

By the time I reach the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, where Martin Luther King delivered his famous I Have A Dream speech, the outcome of the election is still unclear.

Many Republicans are still voicing disquiet with McCain; many white Democrats are still smarting over Hillary Clinton's nomination defeat; and many black Americans are still circumspect or too bruised by history to make predictions.

The polls, the pundits, and even the mythology of the American Dream itself favours an Obama victory on November 4. But as one young black voter says: 'If McCain doesn't win, maybe they'll just fix the result like they did in the last two elections. In America, anything can happen.'

SOURCE: Daily Mail

22 Oct 2008

Barack Obama akifanikiwa kushinda urais hapo Novemba 4 atakuwa ameweka historia kwa kuwa Mweusi wa kwanza kuwa rais wa Marekani.Lakini mafanikio ya Obama yanawasumbua wachambuzi wa siasa (hususan za tabia za uchaguzi wa Marekani).Hayawasumbui kwa vile Obama na wao ni wabaguzi.La hasha,bali ni namna hisia kwamba Bradley effect ingemwangusha zinavyoelekea kuwa wrong.

Nilishakiri katika post yangu moja huko nyuma kwamba awali nilitamani Hillary Clinton apitishwe kuwa mgombea wa Democrats.Sababu yangu kuu ilikuwa ni katika hofu kwamba Obama angeshinda nomination basi Weupe wangeungana bila kujali itikadi zao kuhakikisha mtu mweusi haingii White House.Baada ya kumbwaga Hillary,nililazimika kukubaliana na busara za stadi za siasa kwamba lolote linawezekana katika fani hiyo.

Tukirejea kwenye kinachowasumbua wachambuzi wa siasa ni namna Bradley effect inavyoelekea kushindwa kuwa na impact kwa Obama,hasa kipindi hiki ambacho sio tu anapambana na Mweupe bali Mweupe kutoka chama cha weupe wahafidhina (Republican).Kuna wanaoamini kwamba Bradley effect ni uzushi (myth) wa aina flani.I dont.Lakini kama sio myth basi kwanini Obama anazidi kupaa kwenye opinion polls?

Binafsi nadhani hii ni REVERSE BRADLEY EFFECT.Yaani,wapiga kura Weusi hawaonyeshi dhamira zao hadharani (kwa wanaochukua opinion polls) kwamba watamsapoti Mweusi mwenzao.Kwa lugha nyingine,wanashusha matarajio ya support ya Weusi kwa Mweusi mwenzao.Lakini kwa vile Weusi ni wachache Marekani,na hata kama wangefanya nacho-hypothesize hapo juu bado wasingeweza kuifanya hali kuwa kama ilivyo sasa,nachoamini zaidi ni tabia "mpya" ya Weupe kudai hadharani kuwa hawajaamua wampigie kura nani (undecided) au Weupe (hasa wa Republicans) kuongopa hadharani kwamba wanamsapoti McCain ilhali dhamira na sapoti yao ni kwa Obama.

Weusi wa Obama ni issue kwenye uchaguzi huu,nami ni muumini wa hoja kwamba kama Obama angekuwa Mweupe basi muda huu tungeshafuta uwezekano wa McCain kuwa rais hapo Novemba.Kwanini nasema hivyo?Wamarekani wengi wamechoshwa na Republicans na uhafidhina kwa ujumla.Bush ameendelea kuwa one of the most unpopular US presidents ever,na Democrats wanaonekana kama ndio watakaoleta ufumbuzi wa matatizo ya Marekani.Sababu zote hizo ni tosha kumfanya mgombea anayekubalika wa Democrats kuwa mbali sana kwenye kura za maoni.Kwanini Obama anamwacha McCain kwa wastani wa kura 10 tu?Jibu la haraka ni Weusi wake.

Whether Bredley effect ni hype au ndio ujio wa Reverse Bredley effect itajulikana baada ya exit polls hapo Novemba 4.However,no matter what happens to Obama,alipofika ni historia tosha,japo itanoga zaidi akishinda kiti hicho.

14 Oct 2008


12 Oct 2008

IF you think way back to the start of this marathon campaign, back when it seemed preposterous that any black man could be a serious presidential contender, then you remember the biggest fear about Barack Obama: a crazy person might take a shot at him.

Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying,” Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.

Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of “Treason!” and “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.

All’s fair in politics. John McCain and Sarah Palin have every right to bring up William Ayers, even if his connection to Obama is minor, even if Ayers’s Weather Underground history dates back to Obama’s childhood, even if establishment Republicans and Democrats alike have collaborated with the present-day Ayers in educational reform. But it’s not just the old Joe McCarthyesque guilt-by-association game, however spurious, that’s going on here. Don’t for an instant believe the many mindlessly “even-handed” journalists who keep saying that the McCain campaign’s use of Ayers is the moral or political equivalent of the Obama campaign’s hammering on Charles Keating.

What makes them different, and what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama “launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist.” He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is “not a man who sees America the way you and I see America.” Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.

By the time McCain asks the crowd “Who is the real Barack Obama?” it’s no surprise thatsomeone cries out “Terrorist!” The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama’s middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers’s Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.

That’s a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. “Barack Obama’s friend tried to kill my family” was how a McCain press releaselast week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.

We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed “patriotic” martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.

Obama can hardly be held accountable for Ayers’s behavior 40 years ago, but at least McCain and Palin can try to take some responsibility for the behavior of their own supporters in 2008. What’s troubling here is not only the candidates’ loose inflammatory talk but also their refusal to step in promptly and strongly when someone responds to it with bloodthirsty threats in a crowded arena. Joe Biden had it exactly right when heexpressed concern last week that “a leading American politician who might be vice president of the United States would not just stop midsentence and turn and condemn that.” To stay silent is to pour gas on the fires.

It wasn’t always thus with McCain. In February he loudly disassociated himself from a speaker who brayed “Barack Hussein Obama” when introducing him at a rally in Ohio. Now McCain either backpedals with tardy, pro forma expressions of respect for his opponent or lets second-tier campaign underlings release boilerplate disavowals after ugly incidents like the chilling Jim Crow-era flashback last week when a Florida sheriff ranted about “Barack Hussein Obama” at a Palin rally while in full uniform.

From the start, there have always been two separate but equal questions about race in this election. Is there still enough racism in America to prevent a black man from being elected president no matter what? And, will Republicans play the race card? The jury is out on the first question until Nov. 4. But we now have the unambiguous answer to the second: Yes.

McCain, who is no racist, turned to this desperate strategy only as Obama started to pull ahead. The tone was set at the Republican convention, with Rudy Giuliani’s mocking dismissal of Obama as an “only in America” affirmative-action baby. We also learned then that the McCain campaign had recruited as a Palin handler none other than Tucker Eskew, the South Carolina consultant who had worked for George W. Bush in the notorious 2000 G.O.P. primary battle where the McCains and their adopted Bangladeshi daughter were slimed by vicious racist rumors.

No less disconcerting was a still-unexplained passage of Palin’s convention speech: Her use of an unattributed quote praising small-town America (as opposed to, say, Chicago and its community organizers) from Westbrook Pegler, the mid-century Hearst columnistfamous for his anti-Semitism, racism and violent rhetorical excess. After an assassin tried to kill F.D.R. at a Florida rally and murdered Chicago’s mayor instead in 1933, Pegler wrote that it was “regrettable that Giuseppe Zangara shot the wrong man.” In the ’60s, Pegler had a wish for Bobby Kennedy: “Some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in public premises before the snow falls.”

This is the writer who found his way into a speech by a potential vice president at a national political convention. It’s astonishing there’s been no demand for a public accounting from the McCain campaign. Imagine if Obama had quoted a Black Panther or Louis Farrakhan — or William Ayers — in Denver.

The operatives who would have Palin quote Pegler have been at it ever since. A key indicator came two weeks after the convention, when the McCain campaign ran its first ad tying Obama to the mortgage giant Fannie Mae. Rather than make its case by using a legitimate link between Fannie and Obama (or other Democratic leaders), the McCain forces chose a former Fannie executive who had no real tie to Obama or his campaign but did have a black face that could dominate the ad’s visuals.

There are no black faces high in the McCain hierarchy to object to these tactics. There hasn’t been a single black Republican governor, senator or House member in six years. This is a campaign where Palin can repeatedly declare that Alaska is “a microcosm of America” without anyone even wondering how that might be so for a state whose tiny black and Hispanic populations are each roughly one-third the national average. There are indeed so few people of color at McCain events that a black senior writer from The Tallahassee Democrat was mistakenly ejected by the Secret Service from a campaign rally in Panama City in August, even though he was standing with other reporters and showed his credentials. His only apparent infraction was to look glaringly out of place.

Could the old racial politics still be determinative? I’ve long been skeptical of the incessant press prognostications (and liberal panic) that this election will be decided by racist white men in the Rust Belt. Now even the dimmest bloviators have figured out that Americans are riveted by the color green, not black — as in money, not energy. Voters are looking for a leader who might help rescue them, not a reckless gambler whose lurching responses to the economic meltdown (a campaign “suspension,” a mortgage-buyout stunt that changes daily) are as unhinged as his wanderings around the debate stage.

To see how fast the tide is moving, just look at North Carolina. On July 4 this year — the day that the godfather of modern G.O.P. racial politics, Jesse Helms, died — The Charlotte Observer reported that strategists of both parties agreed Obama’s chances to win the state fell “between slim and none.” Today, as Charlotte reels from the implosion of Wachovia, the McCain-Obama race is a dead heat in North Carolina and Helms’s Republican successor in the Senate, Elizabeth Dole, is looking like a goner.

But we’re not at Election Day yet, and if voters are to have their final say, both America and Obama have to get there safely. The McCain campaign has crossed the line between tough negative campaigning and inciting vigilantism, and each day the mob howls louder. The onus is on the man who says he puts his country first to call off the dogs, pit bulls and otherwise.

23 Sept 2008

SOMA STORI HII  halafu cheki clip hiyo hapo chini kwa uchambuzi zaidi.


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