Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Economy, McCain, and White Privilege

Bush's claim, just a few days ago that - despite the obvious economic meltdown -that the economy is still strong.  He is obviously delusional:

If anyone watched CSPAN this morning, NO ONE supports the $7, 000, 000, 000 bailout package as it is now.  Actually, the Democrats attacked the idea of a bailout with no strings attached, even if there is a bailout of some form, and the Republicans didn't even mention the bailout.

Bush administration economic principles stemming from Republican philosophy is what made this mess in the first place.  It therefore makes no sense that Republican party members would not now try to help get us out of this mess.  

Bipartisanship needs to come from everyone, not just John McCain.  He should be working harder within his party to push for reforms that will truly be beneficial.

As it stands now, THERE ARE NO STRINGS ATTACHED TO BUSH BAILOUT.  No oversight, no regulation, just handing the (taxpayer's) money over and hoping for the best.

The Bush Administration wants to just HAND OUT $7, 000, 000, 000 to Wall Street.  And pass it off as a 'rescue package'.  

Since when do CEO's who throw away other people's money, get fired, and earn disgustingly enormous severance packages for being fired and messing up the economy in the first place?

However, for the rest of the American people:

Paychecks today are $300 less than 4 years ago
Healthcare is up more than $2000
Mortgages are up by over $800


For people who earn between $25,000 and $50,000, which often to cover expenses for more and sometimes many more than one person, these fees are outrageously unaffordable.  And if the economy gets worse, its going to get infinitely harder for everybody.

Lets not build slums in our cities.  McCain economic policies would weaken programs and institutions originally intended to strengthen American citizens into waste dumps, while giving enormous tax cuts and more money to people for whom 'money ain't no thang'

And the majority of people reading this do not have to be reminded of the fact that THE BAILOUT DOES NOT APPLY TO US.  If it goes through, alllll these expenses will skyrocket.

If it goes through unregulated, we may quite see another Great Depression.  And WHY would we do that to ourselves?

Senator McCain does not know much about the economy.

He believes that if you earn $5, 000, 000 a year, you are MIDDLE CLASS

Here is a question that someone can provide an answer for, if they have any ideas:

How is it CONCEIVABLE that that someone who (it is documented) has voted 90% of the time with Bush can be expected to run the economy any differently than this past administration??

How is it even CONCEIVABLE that someone who (it is documented) has voted 90% of the time with Bush can possibly have the level of popularity that he does?

Here's one explanation that's a twist from what you might have expected.

According to Tim Wise, the answer is White Privilege. 

The following is an article entitled "Your Nation on White Privilege," written by Tim Wise, a (White) blogger who has taken up arms against racism and White privilege, since he argues that it is keeping us locked in a box to nowhere.

September 13, 2008, 2:01 pm

By Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), you're a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives near Russia, you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36-minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected. 

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and Harvard Business School (George W. Bush), and still be seen as an "average guy," while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then Harvard Law, makes you "uppity" and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks. 

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.), and that's OK, and you're still cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office. 

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you then go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly 20 years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you may have sold drugs at some point. 

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you dangerously naive and immature.

White privilege is being able to say that you hate "gooks" and "will always hate them," and yet, you aren't a racist because, ya know, you were a POW, so you're entitled to your hatred, while being black and noting that black anger about racism is understandable, given the history of your country, makes you a dangerous bigot. 

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain…

White privilege is, in short, the problem.


(Red Room Editor's Note: This online community of writers welcomes all the new members who have found us by way of Tim Wise's thought-provoking entries and who have taken the time to comment. We encourage you to read Tim's follow-up here, and to discover all the other great writing on other Red Room blogs and original articles.)


Ada Anele says:

Thank you Tim, for being our

Thank you Tim, for being our mouthpiece, and for saying everything many of us have always wanted to say, but just never had the working definitions nor the vocabulary to do so. You are truly a modern-day prophet. Thank you.

mary ellen pleasant says:

to Ada Anele

white (male) privilege is getting to be deemed "a modern-day prophet" by your peers just because you are white and can understand basic fundamental truths of how society works...the historical and contemporary power dynamics and how it ties to race and class (still).........and are willing to speak out about it.....

people of color know and say the things Wise lays out above everyday......thats not to take away from Wises writings....but thats to point out your use of the word prophet.

my dear Ada.....it is not the work of a prophet to say the things..the obvious truths that Wise points out........it is his duty...and the duty of any other white person that wants be a part of a larger movement of people attempting to change the fate of humanity diseased by the dynamics of white patriarchal capitalist imperialism.............to take it one step further....it is not only ones duty to point out these truths.....it is ones duty to actively act against it.

Ada Anele says:

My dear Miss Mary Ellen...

My dear Miss Mary Ellen... Correct me if I'm wrong, but your response sounds quite condescending. Maybe you misunderstood me. Firstly, I am a 26-year-old black female (hardly Tim's "peer"). Secondly, you stated: "people of color know and say the things Wise lays out above everyday", which is exactly what I was referring to when I said he is our mouthpiece—saying the very things that many of us black people have always known and tried to express, but didn't always necessarily know exactly how to put into words for other races to understand.

Many times I find myself nodding my head in agreement and amazement after reading some of the essays on Tim's web site...because a lot of the things he says in his essays are EXACTLY how I've always thought and felt...but just never had the working definitions to express. THAT is what I was talking about in my comment; sorry if you took it the wrong way.

The only white privilege in this is that when black leaders say the EXACT SAME things as he does, they don't have as much credibility with white community—a fact that I'm sure Tim would readily admit. But that wasn't even the point of my initial comment.

So YES, Tim is a modern-day prophet to me because, like you stated "he can understand basic fundamental truths of how society works..." Not because he's white, thank you. I know of many other people who I also admire and consider to be prophets, such as the late Khallid Muhammad, who is black, and Pearl Cleage, who is ALSO black.

Frederic Christie says:

To Be Fair...

A lot of this is partisanship, Tim. While I would say that the reason they have an old white male running for the Repubs and a younger black man running for the Dems does have to do with race (since even a lot of white Dems apparently can barely stomach voting for a black man), it strikes me that if Obama were white the same things would be happening and if McCain were black the same things would be happening. What I would say is different is the public ACCEPTANCE of these views. Of course MoveOn and pro-Obama supporters will say he is experienced (and liberals in the MoveOn/Daily Show/NYT vein have responses to all of the arguments you're citing that conservatives launch), but I think the general mainstream media tacit approval that Obama is unexperienced does stem from race.

Of course, the fact that even very liberal people view Wright's speech in a particular way IS race, 100%. Ditto for the boyfriend issue. But I think that part of the confounding causal source is the unmitigated savagery of the Republicans no matter the target, which of course is amplified by race but stands alone from it too. After all, McCain had no problem saying that Chelsea Clinton was Janet Reno's son...

Kenneth White says:

Flip the script...

It is difficult to visualize the current reactions of the public and of the media being the same if the ethnicities of the candidates were flipped and the issues and platforms remained the same. Let's try to picture what it would look like.

Here's the Republican McCain/Palin ticket.  McCain is a short, white-haired 70+ year old Black senator, wealthy, war hero, 4-time cancer surviver, who regularly demonstrates that he is out of touch with working-class Americans.  He not-so-honorably divorced his first wife and married a tall, classy, rich rodeo queen.  He has a vile temper, joked about bombing Iran, once said Chelsea Clinton looked like Janet Reno's son, and on a daily basis is showing a penchant for attacking his opponent with bold-faced lies.  It appears that he will say anything to win the presidency.  He has voted with George Bush 90% of the time and has continually repeated the Bush mantra that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" while American financial institutions are shrinking and collapsing every day because of the deregulation that he has supported for years.  Now include as his hand-chosen running mate, Sarah Palin - a 44-year-old Black woman whom McCain only talked to for maybe an hour on the phone before he selected her to be his fill-in for President... just in case.  She is a pretty mother of 5 kids including a baby son with Down Syndrome.  But, she's a neophyte in politics with a questionable record as mayor of a small town of 5,000 residents and a number of very questionable leadership decisions during her 2 years as Governor of a small state.  And... it was discovered just days before the Republican convention that her 17-year old daughter is pregnant and will marry her boyfriend who is a hip-hop thug and proud of it and says he isn't ready for marriage.  Her oldest son recently deployed to Iraq.

At the top of the Democratic ticket is Obama, a 47 year old tall, dark-haired multi-racial Senator who, though he looks White, was raised by his Black mother and grandparents after his White father left the family when he was a child.  He is the former editor of the Harvard Law Review, an active athlete, who turned down high-paying opportunities in law to work as a community activist for little pay helping working class Americans improve their life.  He was also a constitutional law professor and is a geat speaker who can elevate, encourage instill the belief needed for people to hope for, to strive for and to be more.  He's married to bright, outspoken, admired working professional White woman and they have 2 charming, young daughters.  They are the epitome of the American Dream, both coming from typical American families and achieving success through education and hard work.  They are religious people who attend a large, active White church that once was led by an old White pastor who occasionally delivered controversial sermons.  And Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, is a well respected, 60+ year old Black senator who - with over 30 years of experience in the Senate - is Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee after also having served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.  He has endured and overcome personal tragedy and has a son heading to war in Iraq.

Just take a minute and picture it.  If only the racial identities of our candidates for the highest office in the land changed, would the reaction of the media... and the public... and you be the same?  I doubt it.  I think the 2008 Presidential race would be over.  McCain and Palin would be waving a White flag... and wouldn't that be ironic.

Frederic Christie says:

Let's Examine Your Reasoning...

You claim that, in essence, saying that a country should be bombed out of sheer sadism, arguing for capitalism while it's consequences smash the poor, marrying a rich woman, and so forth are routinely impediments to being elected barring a black man running.

Frankly, I couldn't think anything displays more naivete, and I doubt you believe that. Because of the emptiness of American electoral politics, people who say these things and worse, and people who actually COMMIT war crimes, routinely win.

Then I should point out that your account of McCain and Obama is incredibly one-sided and could come directly from a MoveOn piece of propaganda (yes, I subscribe to MoveOn and am a member, but the propaganda is still just that). For example: McCain is a very experienced Senator with a lot of actually commendable things to his name, not least the McCain-Feingold electoral reform. I find it amazing how quickly supposed politicos are to dismiss all the experience they were commenting on. (Just to be absolutely clear: I despise McCain and will vote Green in California, but would vote Obama in a swing state). Meanwhile, Obama has honestly likened the "hope" of a Vietnam veteran to the hope of MLK Jr. and is a staunchly pro-corporate, pro-jingoist, pro-statist, reactionary candidate.

In short, you seem to believe that, say, a white man who earned Purple Hearts in Vietnam with political experience stemming the moment from the moment he came home to the day he was running (e.g. John Kerry) would not be savaged by the Republicans. Of course he was, brutally, with vicious lies and irrelevant personal attacks (like, the fact that maybe the situation in which he earned the Purple Heart wasn't THAT impressive, which matters so much when the person you fought against dicked around with planes in the same time period then got addicted to cocaine while his opponent fought for justice).

Don't get me wrong, there is an additional twisting of the knife, an additional public acceptance, an additional powerful LAYER added on by racism. But it is not alone, and I think we do ourselves a disservice when we attribute everything to race pure and simple when race is, as Tim frequently comments upon, integrated with state, gender and capital to form a complex system of oppression.

Dwayne White says:

Not quite what I though...

I don't think he was trying in any way to belittle John McCain or his service.  I think what he was saying, and I think it's valid, is that while each candidate has positives each also has some baggage and that being black outbaggages (yes, I said it!) any other baggage either candidate does or even could have.  I found his comparison illuminating.  Once I tried to think of McCain as a black man, even with his many qualifications, I realize that many people would never accept him with the other baggage he has and the um, baggage multiplier of being black.  On the other hand, with Obama's qualifications it seems almost impossible to imagine him not winning in a landslide if he were white.  It's like the scene in the movie "A Time to Kill" where the lawyer asks the jury to imagine that the victim of the rape had been a little white girl instead of a little black girl and somehow that makes what had been a close decision one sided.    And it's not all about the Republicans who certainly would have savaged him anyway.  But I can't imagine so many other people voting against Obama (like the supposedly disenchanted Hillary Clinton fans) and voting against their best interests (like many poor and middle class whites) if Obama were white.

Frederic Christie says:

Not Just Baggage, But Also Roles

I would add something else, Dwayne, a comment that occurred to me when I was looking at people pointing out that some of the criticism of Palin does express classist contempt for the white poor.

McCain and Palin have the option to play the game, to make political moves, to pander to different groups. Palin can try to express how great of a mother she is, or how much of a gun lover. McCain can express that he's a POW and a tough bastard, or he can use that same experience as a way to express sensitivity and kindness. They can choose from an array of strategies, an array of ways to sell themselves.

Obama, though, pretty much has one. He must strike the Robert Kennedy and the Martin Luther King, Jr. tones. He has to seem progressive, has to seem to avoid playing the game (while somehow ALSO seeming politically savvy to satisfy the traditional politico observers), has to give inspiring speeches. There's all sorts of ways that he can't proceed. He can't even discuss the racism that I'm sure he has seen and perceived as a black man because doing so would alienate so many more whites that he would kiss his Presidential ambitions goodbye. And so forth.

Dwayne White says:

Yes, roles....

I think that's an apt summation. And it saddens me that Obama cannot, or feels that he cannot, speak on race. Because I think you're correct, that there are so many whites that would refuse to vote for him if he even mentioned the fact that maybe, just maybe, white people have some responsibility on the issue. He has to walk a very fine line whereas McCain can throw all kinds of different strategies at him, and has.

Tim Wise
  • Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S., and has been called, "One of the most brilliant, articulate and courageous critics of white privilege in the

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