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February 03, 2012


My personal favorite was this:

Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you were disposed to treat us justly and kindly; and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you.

Deeds, not words, y'all.

I saw that one a while back, I think over at Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog.

I think it's awesome. The back-wages line is really excellent, as is the bit about the treatment of the womenfolk (a reference, I believe, to rape).

I think it was purpose-written for publication in a newspaper, rather than an actual letter written in response to a former master's request to return. And I'm fine with that.

That is some kind of high-quality uppity sarcasm.

If Ken Burns ever does further documentary investigation into Reconstruction, he should hire Chris Rock to voice over the text of the letter with some of those Rock cadences and asides liberally sprinkled throughout.

I think it was sass like that and its later iterations, for example, Brown versus Board of Education and the 1964 Civil Right Act, that finally sent the Strom Thurmonds of the world high-tailing it out of the old racist Southern Democratic Party and into the welcoming arms of Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, James Earle Ray, and Richard Nixon, the latter of whom, not to be outdone in the sarcasm department, began referring to the Republican Party as the Party of Lincoln.

You can still catch Nixon's stand-up routine on FOX, or in the appearances of his former lead joke writer, Pat Buchanan, and let's not forget the Redrum Comedy Club.

In fact, "The Party of Lincoln" schtick is still the opening gag in the Republican debates, kind of like Henny Youngman's "take my wife ..... please" audience-fluffing chestnut.

Some up and coming comedians are doing some creative riffs on the joke. I saw this kid Mitt Romney do a funny bit the other week parodying goofy, wooden, insincere white guys who blurt out things like "I like to fire the poor."

Romney's partner Newt Gingrich throws in followup zingers like "yeah, especially inner city janitors."

Then there's this hoot of a kidder out of Florida .... have you seen him, maybe he'll get an HBO special soon .... Allen West, who
does the Party of Lincoln routine as what Archie Bunker used to call a "menstrual show", which is damnably clever.

I thought I'd do a spit take of my Cheetos when West threatened last week to run the black dude in the White House out of the country and back to Kenya. Funnnnnn-y!

As a source work for the early roots and history of this type of broad comedic sarcasm, even before the former slave's letter cited by lj, read Simon Schama's "Rough Crossings", a corker of a history of England's nearly successful attempt to thwart the American Revolution by offering freedom to all black slaves.

That George Washington -- I don't know how he managed to keep such a bland face saying the sh*t he did. He accused the Crown of undermining freedom and the rights of man and property when it gave sanctuary to slaves behind British lines.

Course, the Crown itself had a few practical jokes up its royal sleeves for the freedmen.

Everyone's a comedian.

If satire and sarcasm aren't your thing, then fall back on a guy who never jokes around in public:

"The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong's moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk."

""We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore" In These Times (26 August 2004)

This from the good Mr. Coates seems also relevant here (the first quote is from a news story to which Coates links):

"[NJ Gov. Chris] Christie last week vowed to veto a gay marriage bill if it came to his desk but said proponents have the option to put the matter on the ballot. He added, 'People would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.'"

Coates notes:

Let me make this as visceral as possible: Many of the actual people who were beaten and killed "in the streets"--Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, for instance--were attempting to secure the very right which Christie, bizarrely, believes they should have exercised. It's almost as if he doesn't know what the Civil Rights movement actually was.


Christie, Christie?

Oh yeah, I saw him on Comedy Central doing Ralph Kramden and Big Daddy impressions, didn't I?

Funny guy.

I understand some in the Republican Party are trying to draft him to MC their Oscar ceremonies in Tampa Bay next August and maybe even open the envelope and read his own name as Best Actor (for the incredibly wide screen).

But he contains multitudes .... well, dozens ... of donuts, all in one sitting.

Rather than entering on foot from back stage, they'll fly him in a sling via helicopter from the Oscars' green room to the microphone front and center.

Here's joke I heard over at redrum this morning:

Knock knock

Who's there?


Mitt who?

Mitt Alinsky.

hyunh hyunh yuh


see the comments to the post.

Actually Coates missed the whole point. Christie WAS noting that they DIDN'T have that right and had to fight and die for it, while proponents of gay marriage do.

He never came close to implying that the civil rights leaders had that option.

So he says, after the fact.

Actually Ugh the sentence quoted says that in pretty plain english.

To be honest, I'm not sure that southern blacks, or any blacks, in the 50's and 60's would have preferred to have their rights secured through referendum rather than through either the normal legislative process, or court decision. Whether they had effective access to the ballot, or not.

It's likely that referenda on the topic would have failed, at that time, in many if not most states in this country.

I agree that Christie's point is being misconstrued, but I don't think that puts his comment in any better light.

If I may speak for them, I imagine the reason gay people would prefer to not rely on a referendum is because, as was the case with blacks 50 and 60 years ago, a lot of people hate their guts. Or, at best, are generally weirded out by them and would prefer that they not be allowed to marry.

So, they would prefer that the legislature pass a law.

The basic dynamic of having laws passed by legislatures, rather than by direct popular vote -- which is to say, representative republican government as opposed to direct democracy -- is baked in at the federal level, and is by far the norm at the state level, for *exactly that reason*. It is intended to prevent popular majorities from running roughshod over the rights and interests of minorities.

Basically, I think Christie doesn't want to sign the bill, but he also doesn't want to come off like the bad guy, so he's claiming to throw gays a bone by offering to get the Republicans in the NJ House to support a referendum.

It's called CYA.

"a lot of people hate their guts. Or, at best, are generally weirded out by them and would prefer that they not be allowed to marry."

Yeah, they're afraid that if gays can marry they'll have a lot of little gay babies. Because no one ever had any gay babies before, right?

Jason Kottke just posted some information about what happened to Jourdon Anderson. He lived to the age of 79; his wife Mandy bore 11 children, of whom at least six survived. Their children and grandchildren were living in the same house until at least 1920, which suggest to me that they may have actually owned it, not just rented.

And all of them could read and write.

Yes, but did they put their hands over their hearts like an exceptional American when reciting the Wedge of Obeisance?


Actually Coates missed the whole point.

Oh, crap. Absolutely not. The whole point is basic human rights should not have to be the subject of a "popular referendum".

"....while proponents of gay marriage do.

What? They have the right to fight and die for their rights? Lucky duckies, them.

I must be slow, because even I haven't accorded the depth of ignorance displayed in Christie's remarks its deserved place in the pantheon of satire, or bloodshed and violence, depending on your hierarchy of methods most likely to split George Wallace's skull open:


I can imagine, prior to 1965 (and after for quite awhile, then a better period, sure, for quite a while, and now the way voter I.D. laws are being axe-handled in the usual locations, today, maybe not so much again), Walker Cronkite announcing the referenda results for whether or not to extend civil rights to blacks in the usual locations on the evening news:

"Exit polls tonight show the referenda losing by landslide margins, in some parishes by votes of 203,332 to zero. Analysts say record turnout (it is reported that three Negroes voted in South Carolina, which is a record) drove the results, particularly in Alabama, where Governor George Wallace hired a teenaged campaign consultant, Karl Rove, to place the referendum on the ballot during this election season to pump up white voter turnout which, it is theorized, I repeat, theorized (be patient, you'll have Dan Rather in this spot soon to tell the real truth about this sh*t) might help Wallace win by even wider margins.

Tomorrow, tune in for our election coverage from North Korea where the interesting questions of whether to name economist Milton Friedman Chancellor of the Exchequer and to replace the North Korean Army with British invasion pop music bands along the DMZ have been placed on the ballot.

That's the way it is and probably always will be. Thank you, and good night."

Then, before the mic is cut, Cronkite throwing his papers over his shoulder and bellowing "Doris, bring me three drinks!"

Seriously, though, I agree with Russell that Christie probably wanted to sign the gay marriage bill, but even Mister Tough Guy with the big mouth that distributes Joisey tongue-lashings to everyone far and wide is a f*cking fairy (see, you've got to talk the politically incorrect talk with these louts, uddawise dey don't capiche) when it comes to telling it like it is to the North Koreans in his own vermin Party.

Sorry, I forgot the fair and balanced part:

"White viewers in many Northern states breathed a sigh of relief tonight when Referenda extending civil rights to Negroes in half a dozen sates below the Mason-Dixon went down to sound defeat.

None would comment on the record."

"Christ, Doris, where are those drinks!"

Also, not for nothing, but is anyone under the impression that gays have not been subject to physical violence for advocating for their own civil rights?

Nobody remembers Stonewall?

Gays are quite often subject to physical violence for walking down the street while gay.

If I may speak for them, I imagine the reason gay people would prefer to not rely on a referendum is because, as was the case with blacks 50 and 60 years ago, a lot of people hate their guts. Or, at best, are generally weirded out by them and would prefer that they not be allowed to marry.

So, they would prefer that the legislature pass a law.

Actually, in New Jersey right now a referendum would probably pass. But it's yet another fight, one that would have its own ugly aspects. It's just ridiculous to obstruct a bill so that a referendum can pass it instead.

In New Hampshire, right now, there's the opposite legal situation: same-sex marriage exists, is popular and would easily win a referendum fight, but the legislature, largely elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, is going to try to revoke it by statute anyway. It's possible they may even override the governor's veto, though it will be a near thing.

Note, they can do this because gay marriage was enacted by the preceding legislature rather than ordered by the courts. So even if legislation is less likely to provoke popular backlash (and I'm not convinced it does), it has its own kind of fragility.

I think most gay people and advocates for their rights will take improvements any way they can get them: court cases, laws, referenda. But opponents, and politicians who are just afraid to support the thing, will obviously push back any way they can as well.

Open thread, so I thought I'd just mention that whatever good fight you think you're fighting, you might want to have this woman on your side:


Have a good rest of the weekend.

Actually Coates missed the whole point. Christie WAS noting that they DIDN'T have that right and had to fight and die for it, while proponents of gay marriage do.

He never came close to implying that the civil rights leaders had that option.

What he did imply was dumber. Does he think civil rights should be put to a referendum? Does he think such a referendum would have passed in the southern states in the 1960's? Does he think that the failure of such a hypothetical referendum would have meant it was OK to deny blacks their rights, because, "After all, we took a vote on it."


A political organization is constitutional to the extent that it "contain[s] institutionalized mechanisms of power control for the protection of the interests and liberties of the citizenry, including those that may be in the minority".[2]
(emphasis Mayan)

What's that phrase, again? Equal projection? No. Equal perfection. That's not it. Oh, well. It'll come to me sooner or later.

I have the nagging suspicion that, if given the chance to turn the clock back, several US states would undo the civil rights act by popular vote. More bluntly: if blacks lacked the legal rights they have* now and it would be put on the ballot, the referendum would imo fail in several states. I would not even consider it a sure bet that women would get equal rights everywhere that way, and let's not even talk about freedom of religion for non-Kristian(TM)s.
On the other hand, I see regions were the introduction of 'metic' and helot' as legal categories would easily win (provided it could be explained to the locals that this has nothing to do with meth and harlots). Iirc we had a 'metic' discussion here** already (even repeatedly) in the past.

*in the sense of 'are able to excercise', if you are of the opinion that they always had them in the first place but were just denied their excercise.
**ObWi not the FRG

...An interesting wrinkle in the NH gay marriage repeal debate is that a substantial fraction of the Republican legislators are libertarians who instead believe that civil marriage should be eliminated for everyone:


I've always regarded that position as an irritating derailing tactic in discussions of legalizing same-sex marriage. Sauce for the gander, I guess.

The joys of reading the papers:

There is recurring talk, mostly from Republicans, about the peril to the polity of voter fraud. So here (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/05/MNEN1N36QG.DTL ) is an account of the highest profie case I have hear of featuring actual voter fraud.

The culprit is the Indiana Secretary of State -- i.e. their top elections official. Who (oh the irony!) happens to be a Republican. Tsk, tsk.

CCDG: Actually Ugh the sentence quoted says that in pretty plain english.

No, not so much. Aside from what byomtov and russell said, who are the "people" he's referring to here?

I have a nagging suspicion the slaveowner, Colonel P.H. Anderson, didn't have the native wit capable of getting his former slave's sarcasm.

The object of satire never change:


I ran into this in another context of the Greek variety at Meghan McArdle's joint, but I don't know what she was doing using footage of Barack Obama's 2009 Presidential Inauguration and the Republican/Tea Party/talk/radio/NRA/FOX/Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh/Redrum/Sarah Palin/Newt Gingrich/Michelle Bachmann/Ron Paul/Mitt (whatever the scum line is, I'm all in) Romney reception accorded to the man.


America, where satire prophecies and precedes its victims, not that they would notice, being, as Mel Brooks felt the need to pint out .... dumb.

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