Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It’s Time for a Congressional Housecleaning

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

It's Time for a Congressional Housecleaning

It's become increasingly obvious that simply taking away control of congress from the GOP wasn't quite good enough to disengage the corpo-congressional alliance. Self-service has now become an entrenched way of life for politicians of both parties, so the only way the American people are going to ever get the kind of representation we deserve is to do a complete housecleaning of the old congressional guard, both Democrat and Republican, in both houses of congress.

The political establishment in this country has become corrupt all the way to its bone marrow. The people who we thought we were sending to congress to represent OUR interests have become a class unto themselves, and their primary interest is in feathering their own nests.

Dedication has become a radical concept in congress, so it's time to get rid of all but the most statesmanlike of this group, and replace them with new politicians who understand that their primary role is to serve the people, not themselves.

What's most disgusting about this group is that they have no true political philosophy or loyalty to anything but themselves. The only concern that they have for political philosophy is as a convenient hook upon which to hang their demagoguery while manipulating the people.

They have absolutely no qualms about sending young Americans to die for the benefit of war profiteers, passing laws designed to protect big business as they poison our environment, and blocking our right to legal recourse after we've been harmed by one of their many campaign contributors. Truth and justice is meaningless to these people. It's all about dollars and sense - their dollars, and our lack of sense.

Their very survival depends on creating turmoil, distraction, and confusion, and their favorite method of operation is through distortion, misinformation, and division. Thus, the American people will never have the prosperous, tranquil, and productive nation that we all yearn for as long as we allow people of such moral depravity to occupy the highest offices in this land. They simply can't allow it.

Republican politicians have become so transparent that even though we clearly see them reaching under the table for the rabbit to pull out of their hat, they keep us so distracted by their divisive non-issues that many Republicans don't care that they're cutting their our own family's throat, "just as long as we don't do anything to benefit 'those socialist-leaning liberals'" - and the tragic humor in that is that most of them can't even define either socialist or liberal.

Take national healthcare, for example. Many people in this country have been convinced that it's a bad thing to ensure that they and their families will have affordable healthcare if they lose their jobs, or that their policies can't be cancelled simply because they have an illness that's deemed too expensive to treat. They see it as socialism. So in essence, just through the use of the word "socialism" they've been trained like Pavlov's dog to protect the very industry that's cutting their throats.

But the Democrats are no better. They've convinced their constituents that they're "the party of the people." But we mustn't forget that they're being funded by the very same people who are funding the Republicans, and now that they have a huge majority in congress, their efforts on our behalf just don't seem to be passing the sniff test.

What's the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? A lot of flowery rhetoric.

After all of the fancy speeches, promises, and flowery rhetoric over the past fifty years, now that the Democrats have the votes and everything is in place to provide the people of this country with universal healthcare, all of a sudden, the Blue Dog Democrats have discovered fiscal responsibility.

Where was their sense of fiscal responsibility when they voted for every crony-enriching scheme that Bush and Cheney could conjure up?And where was their sense of fiscal discipline when during the closest thing we've had to a full blown depression since the thirties they voted themselves and every member of congress a $93,000 raise in "petty cash?"

They seem to have temporarily lost their way, but now that we want to do something to benefit the people, they've put their foot down - saying, "It's intolerable!"

We have a problem here. We've become so apathetic over the past thirty years or so that we've allowed a political culture to spring up in this country that is a clear and present danger to our national security. They represent everything that the founding fathers of this nation was dead set against. They've become royalty - a class unto themselves. Clear evidence of that is even though the Democrats and Republicans are mortal enemies, the Democrats are protecting their Republican predecessors against charges of war crimes.

I'm hoping that President Obama is taking these issues into account, because in the final analysis, it doesn't matter how well he does as president if he doesn't adhere to certain standards. History, and his constituency, is going to judge him on the following issues: Was Bush and Cheney held accountable for looting this country and committing war crimes in our name? Did he protect the integrity of the United States Constitution? And did he promptly address the issue of bigotry within the military? Those would be changes we can believe in? Anything short of that will be business as usual.

The president should consider as he's looking towards 2012 that he has a problem that the Republicans don't share. His constituency are not mindless zombies. They're thinking people - thinking people with long memories. So if he doesn't hold fast to his promises, as much as they love him, they're going to be intellectually immune to his charm. In fact, the polls are beginning to show that it's wearing thin as we speak. So he needs to stop worrying about the Republicans and start thinking about his own base of support.

As for congress - ladies and gentleman, that is up to us. If we do what we need to do in 2010, we'll get everybody's attention - including the president's.

 

Eric L. Wattree


Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to Protect Yourself When You Suspect Racial Profiling

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

How to Protect Yourself When You Suspect Racial Profiling

Well, racial profiling is in the news again.

Prominent Black scholar and Harvard professor Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. was recently arrested after a forced entry into his own home. Dr. Gates alleges that he was arrested for spite after he'd presented his identification, then repeatedly insisted that the officer provide his name and badge number.

Racial profiling cannot be defended. It is a horrible affront to the constitution, the rule of law, and to every law-abiding citizen, but I'm not addressing that issue here. The one issue that is at least as important as racial profiling itself, is how to best protect yourself if you suspect you're the victim of racial profiling. After all, that could become a matter of life and death.

Many of the tragedies that stem from racial profiling, regardless to whether the profiling is the result of blatant racism, or simply gross ignorance, is greatly assisted by the blind outrage of the victim. So if you suspect that you're the victim of racial profiling, it is imperative that you keep a cool head. It could save your life.

When racial profiling is due to pure racism, there's very little that you can do other than make sure you don't allow it to escalate. A good rule of thumb is, whatever the situation, never give your enemy what he wants, and in the case of racial profiling, what the enemy wants most is for you to become enraged. That gives him carte blanche to carry out his agenda.

But in some cases racial profiling is a result of ignorance. It's not that the officer is a blatant racist, but he's acting on his stereotyped image of Black men - and in those cases he's often scared to death. If that's the case, you also need to control your rage, because you'll not only protect your well being, but it gives you the opportunity to take advantage of an educational moment, where you can demonstrate to this man that his stereotyped image of Black men may be less than valid.

It's all about thinking instead of giving in to knee-jerk emotionalism, because it is that very unthinking emotionalism that leads to racial profiling in the first place, regardless to whether it's motivated by racism or ignorance.

While it was well within Dr. Gates' right to respond to his situation with outrage, I would have handled it differently. Dr. Gates indicated the following in an interview with The Root:

The officer asked, "'Would you step outside onto the porch.' And the way he said it, I knew he wasn't canvassing for the police benevolent association. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I realized that I was in danger. And I said to him no, out of instinct. I said, 'No, I will not.'"

Although Dr. Gates was clearly within his rights, what's within your rights is not always the smartest thing to do - the graveyard is filled with people who were right.

By responding as he did, he not only injected a confrontational tone into an already tense situation, but he also challenged the authority of a man whose authority as a police officer might have been the most meaningful thing in his life. In addition, by repeatedly demanding the officer's name and badge number, he backed the man into a corner. He could have gotten that information later from the police report.

But again, Dr. Gates had every right to do everything that he did, but as I mentioned above, what is within one's rights is not always the smartest thing to do. What Dr. Gates didn't do was think. If the officer was indeed a racist, it might have felt good to imply that I'm a world renowned Black scholar and you're nobody, so I'm about to crush you like a grape, but it was a very dangerous thing to do.

On the other hand, if this was just a cop trying to do his job but had a misguided and stereotyped attitude towards Black men, Dr. Gates missed a prime opportunity to change that attitude. Instead, he became a catalyst to pushed the officer from simply misguided, to true racist - in which case, the next Black man that the officer runs across, who don't have the clout of Dr. Gates, may have to pay dearly.

Had I been in Dr. Gates' position - and I have - when the officer asked me to step out on the porch, I would have said, "Absolutely." And as I was coming out the door I would have said the following:

"Officer, I'm Dr, Henry Gates, and I'm a professor at the university. I just returned from China to find my front door jammed, so I had to force entry. I know this looks suspicious, and I'm sorry you had to come out, but it does give me an opportunity to personally thank you for being so conscientious in protecting my property while I was away. I have several more pieces of identification showing this address if you need them."

That way, if the officer had a racist agenda he wouldn't have anything to act on. But if the officer was simply misguided and acting on a stereotypical image of Black men, Dr. Gates' gracious behavior would have challenged that image, and given the officer something to think about in his interactions with Black men in the future.

While we should continue to vigorously address racial profiling, we can't defeat it through the courts alone. We've got to address the root of the problem, and that root is deeply embedded in the mind of man.

We've got to address the problem of racial profiling on several fronts. Turn on your television and look at how we allow Black men to be portrayed in the media. Corporations pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for 30 second commercials to influence our minds. Now consider that there are entire networks beaming videos around the world, and around the clock, declaring that the Black man is a gangsta and Black women are whores. So is it the world's fault that they believe us?

The fact is, the Black community is not only promoting, but financing racial profiling. So who should we really be mad at?

 

Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

I Had a Dream

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

I Had a Dream

I dreamed that I opened my eyes one morning and all of America was wide awake. I could hear the echoes of the Bush/Cheney consortium desperately proclaiming their innocence from deep within the Hague, but the world had long since stopped listening. I dreamed that Rush, O'Reilly, and FOX News had imploded into a metaphor for latter-day McCarthyism, and the phrase corpo-congressional alliance was a new vulgarity that had become a part of the American lexicon.

I walked through the hood (which had been redefined "the community"), and the only crooked caps and untied sneakers I saw were worn by two-year-olds, and the only pair of saggin' pants I observed was due to an unattended diaper. Yes, there was still hip hop, but the lyrics were literate, and the new message proclaimed the way to be hip, was to hop into a book.

I saw young Black families sitting in the park, with proud and respectful Black men fawning over beaming young women. These young men took pride in opening doors and standing when their women entered the room, teaching their young sons by example what it really meant to be cool.

Michael Jackson was still remembered as an icon, but his significance to the Black community was very carefully placed into perspective. While he was held up with great esteem for being the very best at what he did, what he did was never confused with the best that the Black community had to offer.

It was clearly understood that Michael's greatness was based on his excellence, and to be excellent in any endeavor deserved recognition. But it was also understood that while he was an excellent entertainer, entertainment represented the toy department of life.

The Black community had totally reassessed its priorities. We rewarded our children for the ability to think above all else. Instead of waking young Johnnie to show Uncle Willie how well he could sing and dance, he was awakened to show his uncle how well he could do calculus, even as sleep still clung to his young eyes. And instead of crowding into basketball courts to see Johnnie's three point shot, the community crowed into science fairs to applaud the brilliance of his electromagnetic propulsion system.

Johnnie was a genuine superstar in the community, and the young girls flocked to his side. They'd been raised to understand that Johnnie represented the future of America. And they'd been taught to see right through the few swaggerers who were left and professed to "keeping it real." They saw the swagger for what it was - a farcical mask designed to hide ignorance and insecurity, and a prelude to deadbeat parenthood and irresponsibility.

These young girls were under no illusion. They understood that all of them wouldn't be lucky enough to fall in love with a young man of Johnnie's brilliance, but it wasn't brilliance alone that would insure their future - character was the key.

They understood that happiness wasn't based on materialism, and that swagger, flashy cars and bling was a blazing red flag that screamed of a young man's misplaced priorities. They were taught from birth that swaggering flamboyance was a sure sign of frivolity. What impressed them was a young man willing to catch the bus with a sack lunch in order to feed his family.

This epiphany in the community came about almost by accident. After buying into the conservative scam of educational vouchers, the exodus from the public school system resulted in its near collapse. It would have been a complete calamity had the private schools not overplayed their hand.

About three years into the voucher program, the private schools thought, prematurely, that they were comfortably entrenched. So they began to raise their tuition far beyond what the poor and middle class could afford. In addition, many of our children came home speaking in tongue, and spouting fundamentalist dogma. As a result, many of the overburdened and horrified parents tried to return their children to the public system. But due to three years of under-funding the public system couldn't handle the number of returning students. That led to a crisis that opened the public's eyes to how they'd been misled and manipulated by their so-called representatives.

That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however. While it caused the community to become enraged, it also caused them to become engaged in their own welfare. So the first thing they did was followed the example that America had made of congress, and purged all but the most community oriented incumbents from office, and replaced them with a group of politicians who clearly understood their role - to serve the people, not feather their own nests. These new politicians clearly understood that if they failed to serve the people, no campaign war chest would be great enough to save them from the people's wrath.

In order to assist the public school system, parents pledged to take an active role in the education of their children. Then, as a result of their effort to help their kids with their homework, they found that they were being reeducated themselves. And those parents who lacked the education to help their children found that their children gained a renewed motivation for learning through the opportunity to educate them. In many cases the parent and child truly bonded for the very first time.

With this new sense of empowerment, the community began to insist that BET and other businesses, organizations, and individuals who had preyed on the dysfunction of the community, begin to contribute to the community's new sense of empowerment. So now, instead of the BET Awards repeatedly rewarding the same old entertainers swaggering up to the stage indulging their egos, the entertainers were assigned a secondary, but more appropriate role - as entertainment for the young scholars and community leaders who were being honored for their positive impact on the community.

And the fact is, it became a much better program, because now, when the entertainers were even allowed to speak, they were forced to search for something intelligent to say in order to be in tune with the environment. And on that rare occasion when one did think that ignorance was cute, the resulting contrast and deafening silence that he'd get in response became an excellent object lesson for the young people. It demonstrated first hand that there was nothing hip about being stupid - it simply leaves one looking silly.

Then finally, the community did another thing that was long overdue - it insisted that all of the poverty pimps and photo hogs stop trying to speak for the Black community, unless they'd been specifically elected to do so.

Oh, what a dream!

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everybody who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

America: Are We Really that Exceptional?

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

America: Are We Really that Exceptional?

Well, there's that arrogant, xenophobic, and divisive phrase again - "American Exceptionalism."

President Obama is being roundly criticized by many conservatives for refusing to go around the world promoting the conservative vision of American superiority. Their shortsighted idea of effective American diplomacy is for the President of the United States to trot around the globe telling the people of the world that we're better than they are.

Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, has been all over the media complaining that "We've now seen several different occasions where he's [Obama] been on international trips where he's not willing to say, flat out, 'I believe in American exceptionalism.'"

I expect such nonsense from GOP demagogues - they consider the Republican rank and file stupid, so they say whatever comes to mind to appeal to their unthinking emotions. But now I find that thoughtful conservatives have bought into this ridiculous concept, and frankly, I find it not only shocking, but frightening, how easily the minds of highly intelligent people can be manipulated through their emotions. It goes a long way towards explaining how millions of God-fearing German people could just stand in silence while Hitler carried out the holocaust.

Ari Noonan stated the following in his article, The President's Difficult Relationship with His People at Home:

"Consider that President Obama, the most powerful multiculturalist in the history of the world, truly believes that the United States did not have a manifest destiny, that we are no better, no worse, the utter equal, of Bulgaria, Cuba, Hungary, Venezuela, Belgium — pick any land on the globe."

I couldn't believe that I was reading anyone in the 21st Century actually glorifying the manifest destiny. I thought the doctrine of Manifest Destiny was discredited in the 19th Century. If it is indeed possible for us to still have people among us who actually believe that it was God's will for Europeans to come to America and slaughter an entire civilization of people because he wanted the Europeans to have the land, then the horrors of the holocaust is far from behind us, and another one is just waiting in the wings for the next demagogue.

While I love this country, I love it in spite of its shortcomings. I love it because of its potential - because of the vision of its founding fathers, and the documents that they left behind outlining the American ideal. But I am under no illusions. America has never lived up to those ideals, and I have a fundamental problem with anyone who says it has.

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny is, in fact, the most profound argument against American exceptionalism. What took place as a direct result of that doctrine clearly documents that America has been any and everything but exceptional.

The only way that one can believe in American exceptionalism is to view the missteps of every other country in the world through a magnifying glass, while turning a blind eye to all the atrocities against humanity that the United States has committed. The fact is, America has committed more atrocities against mankind in its short 233 year history, than it took many other countries millennia to accomplish.

For example, while we demonize Nazi Germany for the extermination of 6 million Jews, we have very little to say about the 8 million Native Americans that the United States exterminated just to establish the nation. The fact is, the Nazis' could have taken a lesson from the United States, because there is still a thriving Jewish culture left, while the Native Americans have been all but wiped out as a people.

Then there's the issue of slavery. American slavery was one the most brutal atrocities of one culture against another in the entire history of mankind. The effects of slavery are still being felt by the families of its victims close to 150 years after it came to an end.

Then there was the Jim Crow environment that took place once slavery ended. Even in my lifetime, I remember standing up in school reciting the Pledge of Allegiance - 'One nation under God with Liberty and JUSTICE for all' - even as children younger than myself were being blown up in church, and people in the South were bringing picnic baskets to watch Black men being tortured and lynched in the town square after church.

Then there was the humiliation of Black war heroes. The Tuskegee Airman were among the most effective fighter pilots during WWII. They never lost one bomber that they were charged with escorting across enemy lines. At first the White Bomber crews refused to fly with them, but by the end of the war, those same White crews said that they didn't want anyone else to escort them to their targets - they wanted to make sure they got home safely. But after the war, as these Black heroes traveled by train through the South, they were forced to give up their seats to Nazi Prisoners of war.

Then there's the issue of terrorism. While we maintain that terrorism is when a malevolent group kills innocent noncombatants for political purposes, we turn a blind eye to the fact that we dropped not one, but two atomic bombs on the innocent men, women, and children of Japan. We try to justify it by saying that it saved thousands of American lives. The only problem with that argument is that it suggests that terrorism is justified under certain conditions.

Then when we consider the millions of people that we killed, mutilated, and displaced in Vietnam, then during "Shock and Awe" (translated: terrorism), when we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq for no other reason than monetary gain and a photo op, by our own definition, we're the most prolific terrorist state in the history of mankind.

The only difference between the United States terror under George W. Bush and Al Qaeda terrorist is that we have a more efficient delivery system. We've made Hitler look like a wannabe. The only difference between Hitler and what the United States has done over the years is that the people Hitler killed were White, so it was considered more horrendous.

So tell me about American exceptionalism, but pay no attention to my gritting teeth, because by telling me that America is exceptional, you're also telling me that the annihilation of Native Americans, the brutal enslavement of African Americans, the killing of Black children in church, the lynching of Black citizens, the humiliation of Black American war heroes, the incineration of Japanese men, women, and children, and the slaughter of millions in Vietnam and Iraq should all be fluffed off as simply, growing pains.

Yes, America is exceptional all right - it's been exceptionally brutal in its hypocrisy throughout its short 233 year history. But, believe it or not, I still love this nation. My eyes still grow moist when I hear the Marine Corps hymn. But I certainly don't love what it's been - I love it for what it's striving to become. For that reason, I've dedicated my life to fighting the Cheneys of this world, who yearn for, and even cherish, the illustrious brutality of our past.


Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Should Black People Try to Own the Rights to the Word Nigga?

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
 
Should Black People Try to Own the Rights to the Word Nigga?
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While I generally refrain from the frivolous use of what has come to be called "the N-word," I only do it in deference to the sensibilities of Black people who have made the abolishment of "The N-word" (I feel silly even writing it) a major issue in their lives. Personally, I find the effort totally superficial and silly, since if you refer to "the N-word", you might as well say it. After all, it's not the word that's disparaging, it's just a word, it's the concept that it describes that's vulgar.
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If your child said, "F you, dad," are you going to give him a pass because he didn't actually say the word? Of course not - you're going to come down on him like a ton of bricks, because you know what he meant. The same is true of "the N-word" - we can start referring to it as grapefruit, but in the final analysis, it still means nigga. So, when we say "N-Word," it's just another silly way of sublimating an issue that needs to be addressed head on.
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Thus, by trying to abolish a word - which has never been accomplished, to my knowledge, in the entire history of mankind - you only serve to give the word more power. By trying to demand that the word is never used, you're not only acknowledging a unique association with the word, but you're giving your enemies a more powerful weapon to use against you. First, your effort alone tells your enemy that it's use is painful to you, so do you think that's going to make your enemy less likely to use that weapon, or more likely? More likely, of course. When have you ever heard of an enemy refraining to use a weapon because it hurts the other side's feelings? Never! And secondly, now that you've told him that you don't like the word, you've it even more potent as a weapon. Because now when he uses the word against you, he's not only saying to hell with you, but also, to hell with your sensibilities, and your campaign to abolish the word, so the insult is magnified.
A more constructive way of approaching this problem is to first define exactly what a nigga is, then teach your children to live above that definition. That way you turn a negative into a positive.
My definition of a nigga is any person of any race, creed, or color, who takes pride in his or her ignorance, and/or stupidity. After I had a working definition, I made sure that my kids understood that definition, then taught them to carry themselves in a way where they wouldn't associate the word with who and what they are as individuals. In short, if you're not a nigga, the word should be meaningless to you.
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I taught my son, for example, that there might come a time in his life where some racist might point at him and tell his son, "See that guy over there, that's a nigga." But while warning him that he should be prepared for such a event, I also used it as an opportunity to instruct him on why it's important for him to always strive for excellence.  I taught him that he should always carry himself in a way that if that should happen, he should make sure that he's invested enough in himself where the racist's son will look at him, and then look back at his dad, and say, "Daddy, I want to be a nigga when I grow up." I assure you, that's what the sons of racists all over America are saying right now, after seeing the grace, dignity, and intelligence of Barack Obama - that's what's driving Rush Limbaugh, and many others, crazy.
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That's the way you fight negative aspersions - you don't put all your energy into saying don't call me names, you invest your energy into making the names they call you both remote, and irrelevant to who, and what you represent. So if a racist calls Barack Obama a nigga, he now has to prove that he's superior to our president - and if he's sittin' in a beat-up pickup truck with a pack of Marlboro's rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve, he's going to find that an extremely daunting task.
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I adopted that philosophy quite by accident early in life. The only reason that I'm sitting here with the ability to write this article today is one night, as a high school dropout, I was talking to my mother about the dreams that I had for myself in life, when my step-father - a drunk, a gambler, and philanderer - started laughing, and said, "Nigga, all you gon ever be is just another nigga standin' on the corner dealin' drugs - until you get your brains blown out."
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He did more for me with that one remark than all of the counseling and juvenile facilities combined. He was a big hulk of a guy, so at 16 I still wasn't able to kick his ass, as I truly wanted to, but with that remark he planted a seed that spawned one of my primary philosophies in my life - never let anyone else define you or your capabilities. And just as importantly, always use negativity as a slingshot to enhance who you are.
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It's a gross waste of time putting all of your energies into a campaign begging people to be nice and not call you a nigga, because it's a campaign that's dead on arrival. A much more productive use of your time and energy would be in initiating a campaign against being a nigga. I mean, wouldn't your time be better served in trying to get young men to pull up their pants, straighten their caps, educate themselves, and become responsible fathers? I think it would.
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Common sense should tell you that if a person hates you, the most valuable weapon in his arsenal is what you've told him causes you the most pain. But the only way a word can cause you pain, is if you embrace it. Thus, if you're not a nigga, why do you feel that you own the rights to who can use the word?
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So, as much as I want to accommodate the sensibilities of my brothers and sisters in this matter, as a writer, words are the tools of my trade, and I have absolutely no intention of giving away any of my tools - especially one as graphically expressive as the word nigga. Because the fact is, there's a lot of niggas in this world - both Black and White. If you're a White man who's not supporting your kids, you're a nigga. If you're a forty year old Black man walking around in untied tennis shoes, with your cap on sideways, calling women bitches and whoes, and your kids wouldn't recognize you if they passed you on the street, you're a nigga. If you're a preacher who's pimpin' your flock, and preachin' a sermon that you're not livin', you're a nigga. If you're a politician who's putting your career ahead of the people you're suppose to be representing, you're a nigga. And finally, if you're a president or vice president who lied a nation who trusted you into a senseless war for profit, you-are-a-nigga.
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So there are far to many niggas walking around here to be talking about abolishing the word. Words are to thoughts what notes are to music. Would you have asked John Coltrane to go through his entire career without playing B flat, or a painter to never use the color blue? In the same way, by abolishing words, you also abolish a writer's ability to fully express his thoughts. How could I have related the thoughts that I just have without using the word nigga?
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And finally, here's a question directed exclusively at Black people - and please, answer it honestly. Is there any way that I could write a perfectly accurate portrait of Clarence Thomas without using the word nigga? Sure, I could manage to crank something out, but without the word nigga, an indispensable element of his character would be missing.
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Thomas sat perfectly mute through the wholesale disenfranchisement of Black voters during the 2000 Bush v. Gore debacle. He never uttered a word. Then after the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, he took the virtually unprecedented action of lobbying his colleagues to accept a case challenging the constitutional legitimacy of the first Black man to ever be elected President of the United States. There's only one word appropriate for such cultural treachery, and that word is nigga - and we all know it.
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Black people refer to Thomas as a nigga in private all the time, because in the Black vernacular the word has an entirely different meaning. So, the word does have its place - in fact, the doctrine of political correctness, along with the word's racial associations, prevent us from using it enough. Perhaps if we'd used the word nigga more liberally relative to previous acts of cultural treachery, Clarence Thomas might have avoided becoming its poster child.

Well, in any event, so much for my little excursion into the realm of raw truth. I'm sure I won't be applauded for my stance - even though I'm just as certain that many of you secretly agree with me. But as we all know, hypocrisy trumps truth in polite society, so I should have known better than to even broach the subject. But I just can't seem to smooth out those rough edges - you know, that overwhelming need to call a hat a hat. I guess it's a throwback to the street in me - but at least I'm not dealing drugs.
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And speaking of which (the irony of ironies), my son that I was telling you about, he grew up to become a federal agent with the DEA (the Drug Enforcement Administration). And while we're on the subject, I went by my mother's house one day about ten years after my step-father made the remark about my dealing drugs. Naturally, he and his friends were in the garage drinking, laughing, cursing, and gambling. When I walked through the door one of his friends said, "My man! I want to be just like you when I grow up." Then without even looking up from his cards, my step-father said, "Man, you ain't gon never grow up enough to be like him . . . you have to be born that way."
.
I guess that was his way of apologizing.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

American Exceptionalism and Christian Charity

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE


American Exceptionalism and Christian Charity

Larry,

I'm sorry if it's beginning to seem like every time you send me a piece of e-mail I always repond with something negative, but I've become very cynical over the years, and you're one of the few people that I like, so I want you to understand me. So the fact is, while I love the artistry of Sam Cook, I just can't stand most hymnals. They only serve to remind me of how thoroughly brainwashed our people have become. I'd like you to read a couple of things. The first is a response to a minister who invited me to become part of his Bible study, and the second is a little thing out of my book, "A Message from the Hood", about how Black people became Christians:

Reverend,

Thank you so much for the invitation to become a part of your Bible-study group, but I'm more spiritual than I am religious. I seek God from within. I consider religion - ALL RELIGION - a form of bigotry. The fact that the Southern "Bible Belt" is the most racist part of America is no accident. Religion is a form of mind control. Graphic evidence of that is that we were taught to love thy neighbor while they had us tied next to the mules.

So I seek God from within, not from a user's guide - especially one written by man. I know God by what he has created, not by some nonsense about Moses parting the Red Sea. The creation of the universe is miraculous enough for me, so I don't require God to jump through hoops and do magic tricks (like bringing Jesus back from the dead) to get my attention.

Thus, while the Bible might be a great book, I consider it the greatest work of pure fiction ever written. God made birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think - not to simply "have faith" in the words of other men. When man asks us to have faith, he's not asking us to have faith in God, he's asking us to have faith in what he's telling us about God.

The entire concept of faith is meaningless unless there's doubt, and I have no doubt about the existence of God. How can any man look out into the night sky, then have to rely on a book to confirm the existence of God? Based on that philosophy, the Bible should have been written in braille.

From my point of view, there's a name for people who have to rely on a book written by man to know the existence of God - blind. They have to be blind, because they have more faith in what man says, than what God has done.

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.


Eric L. Wattree

THE CONVERSION

ACome here nigga and let me teach you=re crazy, animal ass about the Lawd. The first thing you got to learn is to Love thy NeighborBespecially me."

AYes sir, Massa. Why would anybody not love you, Sir? You so good to me, Massa. Anybody don=t love you needs to have they ass beat real good, Massa.@

AShut up nigga. I'm talkin'."

Listen, you been blessed already, and you don't even know the Lawd. The Lawd made it where you don't have to worry 'bout a thing. I feed you, I put clothes on yo nasty ass, and I give you a shed to sleep in, and all you have to do is what your told. Do you know how blessed you are?"

"Oh yes in deed, Massa. You take good care of me. I's so happy."

"Now, listen real good 'cause dis impotant. God said, thou shalt not steal from me, thou shalt not kill (unless I tell you to), thou shalt not stick another coon's wife (unless we tryin' to make some mo niggas), and nigga, whatever you do, thou shalt not even look like you want to stick a white woman, or we gon lynch you black ass. You here me, nigga?"

"Oh yes, Massa. We know dat! But Massa, I thought you said thou shalt not kill?"

"Dat means people, fool! Real people--dat don't go for niggas. God wants us to keep you in yo place."

"Dat's right, Massa. We sho gotta keep niggas in dey place. No tellin' what a happen if we let these niggas git loose. God so smart."

"I said shut up, nigga, and listen to the word."

"The next thing you got to learn is, whatever happens on this plantation is God's will bein' done.

And if you listen to me, you=ll get to live like I do, when you die and go to heaven.@

"Live like you, massa? A nigga ain't got no business livin' that good. What a Po nigga like me gon do with all this? You know I ain't got sense enough to run nothin like this."

"Just shut up, nigga!" When you dead you gon get some sense - the lawd gon give it to you. The Lawd can do anything, even give sense to a nigga. And he gon give you all the other niggas you gon need to help you in the fields, too."

"Massa, you so good to me! Thank you for tellin' me all dis. I'm gon be a good nigga - the best nigga you ever seened. Look, I'm gon pray for you right now, and thank the Lawd for givin' me so good a massa."

"Shut up and get up off your knees, ya dumb nigga! The fields need tendin'! You pray to the Lawd on your own time. God don't won't you talkin' to him when you s'pose to be workin'."

"A couse, Massa. What I been thinkin'? I's so dumb. I don't know why you put up with me, Sir."

"How many times I got to tell you to I shut up, nigga!"

"Yes Sir, I's a shuttin', Massa. I's a shuttin', right now."

"Now get yo ass out there in that field and let's get some work done around here . . . Oh, and Toby, have yo woman meet me in the barn. I need to tell her 'bout the Lawd too . . . and since this is sorta like chuch, tell her to put on dat pretty dress I like."

"Yes sir, Massa."

"And another thing, Toby, if my moma come a lookin', tell her I'm playin' in my tree house."

"Why you gon go fibbin' to yo moma, Mr. Tommy? She knows you like to sit wit Lou Ann."

"Just shut up, nigga, and do what I said!"

"Yes Sir, Mr. Tommy . . ."

"Whaaaaaaat a friend we have in Jeeeeesus . . ."

 

"ONE NATION UNDER GOD,

WITH LIBERTY,

AND JUSTICE,

FOR ALL."

Hmmmmmmmm . . . No shit?

Toby's dead, Homeboy.



Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.
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