May 2, 2008
From a nice piece in The Economist about the Obama/Wright situation:
“But there is also something deeper here: a generational struggle for control of black politics. Mr Wright belongs to a generation of activists—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are other prominent members—who thrived in part by playing to the resentments of their black supporters. Mr Obama belongs to a much more pragmatic generation, people who want to get beyond racial polarisation and enter the political mainstream. Mr Wright’s generation is not about to leave the stage quietly. So much the worse for America.”
This article is not the first to make notice this distinction. I think Shelby Steele also captured this point perhaps a bit better in another piece he wrote in Time Magazine not too long ago about “Bargainers” and “Challengers”:
“Bargainers make a deal with white Americans that gives whites the benefit of the doubt: I will not rub America’s history of racism in your face, if you will not hold my race against me. Especially in our era of political correctness, whites are inevitably grateful for this bargain that spares them the shame of America’s racist past. They respond to bargainers with gratitude, warmth, and even affection. This “gratitude factor” can bring the black bargainer great popularity. Oprah Winfrey is the most visible bargainer in America today.
Challengers never give whites the benefit of the doubt. They assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise. And whites are never taken off the hook until they (institutions more than individuals) give some form of racial preference to the challenger. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are today’s best known challengers. Of course, most blacks can and do go both ways, but generally we tend to lean one way or another.”
So again, Obama is a pragmatic bargainer and Wright is a rash and relentless challenger. But I don’t know to what, if any, extent this fiasco should be labeled a generational disagreement between older (Civil Rights era) and newer (post Civl Rights era) black Americans regarding race relations. After all, pragmatic bargainers have always existed to some degree throughout US History.
April 21, 2008
I came across an article on Yahoo! News earlier today about the increased number of felons being allowed to participate in the Iraq war. Given that the USA is fighting a war on two fronts that are very unpopular and given that there won’t be a draft anytime soon (hopefully), the Army has become more open with its recruiting tactics. Various articles have talked about the growing presence of street gang members in the military as well.
Here are some other articles/links that talk about the situation regarding street gangs in the military:
Government report about gang activity in the military.
Link to a video talking about gang affiliated soldiers.
It should be noted that in December 2007, Congress passed a bill that was intended to ban members of street gangs and other unsavory organizations. It’s been called The 2008 Defense Authorization Bill and it calls for the Pentagon to put membership in a criminal street gang on the list of prohibited activities for service members.
The language of the bill prohibits membership “in any organizations that ‘espouse supremacist causes; attempt to create illegal discrimination … advocate the use of force or violence; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.'”
Some YouTube clips about the situation:
March 20, 2008
“[George W. Bush] is incredible. He’s a gangsta… I wanna meet [Bush], just shake his hand and tell him how much of me I see in him… I would have voted for [Bush].”
– 50 Cent, in a 2005 interview in GQ Magazine.
I stumbled upon an old but fascinating article earlier today about rappers and Republicans. Some interesting points were made about the similarities in the ideals rappers express and the ideals of the GOP. The shared Rap and Republican values listed in the article are:
– A vigorous support of private ownership and corporate activity
– Stark opposition to homosexuality
– A belief in the right to bear arms
– The principle of preemptive attacks to protect one’s way of life
– Support of strong family associations
– Promotion of the value of individual hard work, i.e., anti-affirmative action
Let me add that Republicans have a reputation for loving to earn and spend heaps of money, just like many of the most prominent emcees.
March 16, 2008
I stumbled upon this on a message board. Props to whoever made it, because it’s pretty funny.