Nothing to see here, move aside
Standing behind the white guy in any given historical situation is becoming a thankless task, because whatever wider gifts he might have to offer the world, there is always a personal nightmare lurking somewhere in there.
Take Thomas Jefferson. Enlightened forefather, blah, blah, blah, there's always been the Sally Hemmings stuff sitting around and the various interpretations historians and others tack onto it. Now there's new research that has come out about Jefferson, pulling from his own notes and letters and revealing him to be somewhat less than the enlightened man we'd hoped (bit.ly/ODqUvi).
The correspondence reveals a fellow who while initially opposing slavery, suddenly began slobbering at the mouth when he felt firsthand the amount of money that he could make by getting children he owned to work in a nail factory, and how much money he was making each year by each body born into the slave family. Also revealed is that he wasn't averse to hav ing his slaves whipped or punished, that they lived in a shanty and that Jefferson's psy chology seemed such that if he put himself at a personal distance from the inhu man ity, he didn't have to feel guilty about it. Add to that the passages in his letters that revealed this side of him that had been suppressed in our history books since the 1940s -- the deciding historian apparently felt this information could be ignored in favor of a fig urative and literal white wash -- and we have a big conspiracy on our hands to perpetuate the myth of the benevolent slave master.
Sorry, Mr. Jefferson, but I'm tired of giving you the benefit of the doubt in this matter.
Republicans attending a funeral
Besides, white men are having their own problems nowadays, thanks to Mitt Romney, the first candidate I've seen to elicit public scorn from his own party. This clip (bit.ly/WjVARI) de monstrates as good as any the kind of reception Romney in vites. Watch as he takes offense to the crowd chanting his running mate's name, tries to commandeer the chant and then is forced to nervously laugh while the crowd -- a crowd at his own presidential rally, purportedly there to support him -- end up ignoring Romney. Then watch as the pundits who are there to prop him up are caught unawares and instead bury their heads in their laps. They try to spin it later on, but as in all the cases involving Republican reactions to Romney, it's too little, too late.
So what does it mean when the National Review takes Rom ney's entire campaign down a few pegs and flat out says that Bush is the reason for our economic nightmare and Romney needs to stop blaming Obama for it (bit.ly/QXWq34)? This really is a strange election year.
Those on the progressive left, don't get too comfortable. There's always work to do, and just because the cities aren't thronging with bodies in quite the high publicity way as they did last year, doesn't mean you can just sit back and wait for Obama to be re-elected.
The Occupy movement has lost much of its front page sex appeal, but that should scare its opponents rather than be a reason to dance on its non-existent grave. Like the evangelical movement before it, which quietly festered in the body of a nation until its power was unmatchable, so the Occupy movement is forging ahead like a beneficial virus, and when you least expect it, expect it, as the saying goes.
This article (bit.ly/UcNBZv) lays out some of that activism in the form of squatting, and how its directly related to the foreclosure nightmares that have infected the country. There were already a lot of unused buildings and displaced people before, and this kind of activism is demanding that letting buildings sit empty and allowing people to wander homeless are not acceptable as concurrent practices, despite what a bank's ledger might tell them about profits and property.