If you think the “jokes” by MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry and a panel of fellow knuckle-draggers in re former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s black grandchild are hard to top, think again. A 1,000-word article by Salon’s Brittney Cooper out-stupids anything Harris-Perry et. al. said, partly by dint of its attempt at coming off as a “serious” analysis.
The problem with this would-be cerebral look at the complex issue of race in 21st-century America traces its roots to Cooper’s skin color (black), her ideology (liberal), or some combination thereof. The title, “White supremacy wins again: Melissa Harris Perry and the racial false equivalence,” prepares the reader only slightly for the victimist claptrap that follows.
The essay, if it can fairly be called that, is neatly compartmentalized in terms of its ideas, all of which are as tired as they are predictable. First comes the de rigueur accusation that the GOP (blanket term for conservatives as a whole) is dishonest on questions of race and “averse at the policy level to the social and political condition of African-Americans, and this has been demonstrated in everything from attempts to disenfranchise black voters to the wholesale turn to obstructionism as a primary governing strategy.”
It’s hard to stifle a yawn at this point, partly because of the phony complaint of obstructionism, which is better known as dissent when Democrats are in the minority. But if you stop reading out of ennui, you miss some of the gems that make the piece a must-read. Here are several:
Romney’s black grandson is not responsible for his grandfather’s dubious political views. But he will most certainly be raised in a family where at least one of his uncles once quipped about punching the president in the face. In other words, he will grow to be a black man not only in a politically conservative family with “interesting” views on race, but also in a family that believes in a religion that openly discriminated against Blacks until the 1970s.
[T]hough it is not polite to express … ambivalence about transracial adoption, you can best believe that a whole lot of black folks saw the picture and shook their heads. For good or ill, we care about the lives and livelihoods of little black boys. And we wonder what kind of man Kieran will grow up to be. We know that the lie we are being asked to believe is that the Romneys, despite their politics and religious affiliations, have transcended race so much that Kieran’s blackness is just an accident of birth.
In many ways, baby boy Romney will probably have a very good life full of all the privileges that being adjacent to whiteness and money can buy. But his grandfather will still be out in the world supporting policies that make those same kinds of access to good schools and jobs, safety and nice neighborhoods damn near impossible for other black boys Kieran’s age.
It’s hard to know why Cooper saw the “punching the president in the face” incident relevant, though maybe the fact that the president in question was black seemed somehow compelling to her. After all, Tag Romney’s desire to take a swing at Barack Obama for his gross distortions of his dad’s record during a heated October presidential had to be because the man is a “darky,” and we all know how fond we whites are of putting beatdowns on the “coloreds.” So when white liberals carried signs like the one shown at the left during the presidency of George W. Bush, obviously they were confused by Bush’s southern provenance and drawl and assumed him to be a man of color. (No wonder Bill Clinton was widely considered the first black president or why so many Americans fantasized about decking him.)
As for the Romneys subscribing to a faith “that openly discriminated against Blacks” up until three decades ago, does Cooper consider Obama, who openly opposed same-sex marriage as recently as April of 2012, anti-gay or “homophobic”? Does she have a factual basis for insinuating that Kieran Romney’s blackness is not just an accident of birth, or does she simply prefer to believe the worst about the “whities” who adopted him?
Lest her article be viewed as less-than-scholarly, Cooper throws in the results of academic studies that show how great is the disparity in wealth between whites and blacks. If her judgment were less clouded, she might consider how much that disparity has increased during the five years to date of the Obama presidency.
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