You start out in 1954 by saying, “N—-r, n—-r, n—-r.” By 1968 you can’t say “n—-r”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. ~ Lee Atwater
First of all, you need to watch this, and pay close, close attention:
If you’re not familiar with the context of this film clip, this concerns the 2009 attempt by the Wake County (North Carolina) School Board, effectively, to desegregate the county’s schools. Wake County is a pretty prosperous area of North Carolina, which includes the capitol city of Raleigh. They had, for years, enacted an income-related means of school desegregation which, basically, ensured that not more than 40% of any school’s enrollment was eligible for free lunch/textbooks/entitlement/whatever programs.
And this worked swimmingly, as the British would say. From kindergarten through high school, the classrooms exposed local children to diversity as a norm, not an exception. The kids thrived.
But in the 2009 School Board elections, Americans for Prosperity (a Koch front group) funded campaigns for the four determinative board seats up for grabs, a win that could and would change the ethos of the board in its entirety – if all four candidates shared the same goals, diametrically opposed to the previous mindset of the School Board.
Andy Kroll, writing in Mother Jones describes the situation:-
The story starts back in 2009, when elections were held for four of Wake County’s nine school board seats—enough seats to dictate the public school district’s agenda if all four board members wanted the same reforms. That’s where Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, came into play. AFP swooped in to fund and organize on behalf of four candidates who sought to kill the district’s policy of busing to ensure diverse, desegregated public schools. The AFP-backed candidates ran against what they called “forced busing”—a phrase, the film points out, that dates back to George Wallace in the 1970s—and instead stressed that schools should educate only those who lived in the surrounding neighborhood.
Local reporters, some of whom are interviewed in the film, connected the push to eliminate busing with the philosophies of AFP and its funders. “They’re definitely pushing an agenda to resegregate these schools, but there’s also a real push toward privatization,” Sue Sturgis of the Institute for Southern Studies says in the film.
Harken unto the coded language. “Enforced busing,” as is pointed out, is a euphemism from the Wallace era of “Segregation then, segregation now, segregation forever.” But there’s another one: “neighbourhood schools,” which is the concept these people, aspiring to School Board positions, hoped to push.
As Robert Greenwald, the film’s producer emphasizes:-
“The fact that millionaires can put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a local election and essentially deprive people of their rights, in many ways, and mess with their school system,” he says. “It seems to us one of the strongest examples of the really incredible way money takes away our democracy.”
Regarding education, the Kochs want what all real Libertarians want: an end to the public school system as we know it. Pure privatization, which means if you’ve got the money to pay for your child’s education from kindergarten onwards, you win. If not, fuck you, because there’s nothing Libertarians like more than an uneducated or undereducated class of peasants to do poorly-paid scutwork; and in case you haven’t noticed, a couple have states where these sorts have been allowed in the backdoors, especially after the EmoProgs’ collective outburst of poutrage in November 2010, have already sent out testers regarding repealing existing child labour laws, which means all these little urchins, sons and daughters of the hoi-polloi, can be put out to work, flipping burgers and other servile tasks, when they’re as young as 12 years old.
Who would have thought that the 21st Century would see a return to Dickensian values? Child labour – why that’s just a hop, skip and a jump from slavery, itself!
Speaking of which, or – rather – speaking of segregation in another sense, the Kochs and their sheeple, also oppose the Civil Rights’ Act of 1963 as unconstitutional, especially the parts which say that private businesses and landlords cannot discriminate against people for jobs or housing on the basis of race. That’s what lovely jubbly granddaddy-like Ron Paul means when he talks about “property rights,” and that’s a euphemism which goes right back to the Civil War.
So, all you hipster cool kids, hanging out on Bill Maher’s Facebook page stroking Lil’Boy Bill’s cyber manhood in his unabashed love of Ron Paul, who wants everyone to have the right to shoot up on heroin legally (but who opposes the rights of rape or incest victims to get an abortion), Uncle Ron wants these things too: the end of public schools, child labour and segregation.
The other amazing thing about this story is that it never made it past being a local issue. Apart from the network affiliates in Raleigh, the national news media never picked up on this story, and it was monumental. Come on, a county in a Southern state – not only a county which is home to the State capital and a major Souther city, but also a state which went for Barack Obama in 2008 – effectively reverses desegregation and reverts to a segregated school system, after the election of bought-and-paid-for local candidates, funded by a very wealthy and sinister outside force. Even more astounding and newsworthy – and you’d think the media would want to reinforce this positive image – was the fact that the local people, who opposed this enforcement, banded together, black, white and brown, to fight and demonstrate against enforced segregation, against stepping back in time.
And they won. Unlike Wisconsin. They won. Without Ed Schultz, screaming into a microphone. Without Rachel Maddow’s snark. Without Michael Moore’s ubiquitous presence. And without Adam Green’s fear-mongering for money.
The School Board was forced to abandon, albeit temporarily, the plans for resegregation.
Maybe it’s easier for the media to keep the pejorative image of dirty, ignorant, bigoted Southerners in the minds of a certain demographic. Who knows?
OK, this was only a provincial School Board in what is, essentiall, for some people, a provincial state; but this is how the GOP works. Specifically, this is how the Bircher end (read “Koch”) of the GOP works, which is now, more or less, the mainstream of the beast.
They start small. Take a few seats on a school board, enough to cause havoc. Next a town council, or a county board of supervisors. Then a seat in the House of Delegates or State Senate, and then … the big time.
If it takes five years to convince a Congressional district or a state that an ueber conservative needs a specific candidate with a specific agenda to represent your interests, good. But if it takes ten or twenty years to crack that nut, no matter. They’ve got all the time in the world.
What you’re seeing in today’s Republican party took all of 40 years to achieve, and it began in 1970, when the precursors to today’s EmoProgs, led by Mr Supercool Western Dude, Gary Hart (who sported the same haircut as Rick Perry, who was actually a Democrat, himself, then), kicked the Southern and Midwestern working classes and the working class union members of the Rust Belt states to the political curb, left them wandering in the wilderness until the GOP stepped forth to offer them succor.
The people who welcomed them were neighbours, friends, people they’d known all their lives. There were Republican party headquarters set up in most small towns and staffed by people native to the area. The Democrats, on the other hand, only set up shop every four years in such areas and staffed them with wide-eyed and idealistic college kids from out-of-town, hoping to get some sort of political experience in Rubeland. The day after any Presidential election, shutters down, locks changed and people gone. As if they’d never even been there.
I would recommend anyone read Laura Flanders’s excellent book, Blue Grit, published in the wake of the 2006 midterm elections. It’s a short book, but it shows how, incrementally and over a period of thirty-odd years, the Republican party managed, from the bottom up, to turn such formerly Progressive and solidly blue states, like Kansas and Missouri, red. They kept the message simple, they used local people as operatives and they started small and grew.
It’s no wonder that today’s EmoProgs come across as whining self-obsessed, recalcitrant adolescents, deprived of their dose of instant gratification. it’s no wonder that they worship the words of the eternal Peter Pan male, Bill Maher, petulantly name-calling and chucking verbal rocks and running for comic cover.
It’s called learning to live by pragmatism, which is second nature in politics, but something today’s EmoProgs can’t seem to accept. It means that sometimes when you contribute to a politician’s campaign fund, and he gets elected, he might have to look after a lot of other people’s interest in your state or district, as well as your own. A lot of Progressive groups found this out after 2006, when they had contributed to the campaigns of Jon Tester in Montana and James Webb in Virginia, when – instead of promoting a full set of Progressive values, they actually looked after the interests of their constituents. A lot of Tea Partiers, as well, found out the same thing when they effected the election of Republican Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s old Massachusetts Senate seat, and Brown proceeded to cross the aisle to vote.
Politicians are supposed to look after the interests of their district or their state.
I totally agree that if we want to see a more liberal White House, we have to elect more liberal legislators, but sometimes this is a process that has to be done in stages; and ofttimes, this means accepting that some districts and states are more conservative than others and would respond well to candidates of a more moderate political hue. But you need to fit the candidate to the area. People respond the best to what’s most familiar to them, and until we get operatives who at least sound like the people they’re angling to convert to our side, we’re going to have a communication problem, to say the least.
It means engaging. It means talking with and not down to various demographics. And it’s going to take time. And effort. And we could have had a two-year start on that time and effort already, but people got caught up their own assholes being led by other assholes in picking apart the most politically progressive President since LBJ – one whose message of change should be understood to mean that incremental change is the sort which lasts and upon which more change can be built.
There are way too many people in this Country who seem all too willing to buy into the garbage constantly spewed out of the mouth’s of the myriad throwbacks who comprise the right-wing demagoguery ….
After all…. more than half of all American adults (including one in five of those who say they are not religious) believe that they have been protected by a “Guardian Angel” during their lifetime.
Less than 50% of all Americans believe in Evolution.
More than 20% of adult Americans actually believe in “Vampires”.
20% believe that “spells” or “witchcraft” exists.
28% deny the Holocaust.
40% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9/11.
31% of adult Americans truly believe that President Obama is literally the ”AntiChrist” and the same percentage believes that he was not born in the United States..
Nearly 50% believe in Government “Death Panels”.
More than half in F.E.M.A. “indoctrination camps”.
This is a troubling reflection of what is become a serious national illness…. the manipulation of fear… borne of ignorance, morphing into hatred… manifesting into violence.
It’s no real news that the GOP has used institutionalized racism, bigotry, misogyny and homophobia to further their political agenda (just google “southern strategy” and you’ll have enough reading to last you a lifetime) and they are directly responsible for the re-legitimization and “technological upgrades” of those very tactics that have come out of their ilk.. weeping pustules like Rove, Murdoch and Breitbart.
And it’s no mistake that race hatred in the United States has gotten exponentially worse since the election of President Obama.
It is obviously not limited to the deep south by any means…. the only real differences being that bigots in the South seem to be more content to wear it on their sleeves, almost as a matter of ‘pride’… a badge of honor.
The racism in the rest of the country is much more insidious. It’s kept hidden, uses euphemistic language and “code words” cloaked in half-truths and obtuse ‘historical references’… and therefore it is far more dangerous.
The resurgence of all of the tried-and-true, established hate groups like the Klan and the Nazis.. not to mention the staggering growth in the number of new ones like the ‘militias’ and ‘Patriot Movements’ as well as the influx of white supremacists into the military and many State legislatures (see: Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, etc), the “Nativist” Organizations, the roving goon-squads such as the “Minutemen” and other vigilante groups…
All at a rate not seen since the Reconstruction…
And it is everywhere and it is out of control.
In the early 1930s, the very same depressed conditions created the very same xenophobia, the very same bigotry… and eventually, the very same types of phony “populist” personalities the likes of Palin, Bachmann, Brewer, Walker, Kasich, Snyder, Peter King, Paul (BOTH of them) … Glenn Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Malkin, Coulter, Buchannan, Savage, Robert Spencer, David Horowitz…. Pamela Geller, the list seems endless….
All of whom would ride the tide of this ignorance… the racism… the fear… and the hate that they themselves create out of whole-cloth and which gave rise to the likes of Hitler and Mussolini.
Cheered on by a depraved cadre of shills and dupes, all of whom insist on enabling their march back in time.. those all too willing to destroy all of the sacred protections that took centuries of sorrow and millions of lives to create and to protect will continue to try to spread their cancer.
Those on the right as well as those on the left can slough off these the comparisons all they want.. but if they genuinely think that “civilization” has really evolved so much since then..
… if they are aloof enough to opine that it “can’t happen here”..
… blinded by a skepticism which invariably ferments and devolves into an intractable cynicism, it becomes more than just ‘counterproductive’.. it raises our worst fears to a self-fulfilling prophesy.
If there is only one organization that you are able to support (other than the ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center should be that organization.
Marion, thank you so much for posting this! I was completely outraged when I first heard about this…in my own state, no less. It is a perfect example of the rethugs’ strategy to gradually “take the country back” with the help of criminals like the Koch brothers!
I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago and expressed hope that the story would be picked up by the national media. It was covered by Rachel Maddow on her show once, but to this point in time, the issue has not been re-visited. Edit: I believe it was Rachel, but I know it was picked up on MSNBC. Steven Colbert also did a segment on this story.
If I understood correctly, there is going to be another school board election coming up this next month. There is an effort underway to replace the Koch brothers’ members. It was gratifying to me to see both white and black parents come out in support of the school system as it has been. The students have also spoken out loudly in support of continued integration…good for them!
It took the south a long, painful time to come to terms with integration. I was a high school student when it first began and I can remember how terrible I felt for the young black girl who was first in our all-white school as she was shunned and ridiculed. But over time, attitudes changed and the positive results can be seen today in the Wake County schools, one of the best systems in the country. I am incensed at these two “Yankee” men with their billions coming into our state to disrupt and destroy what has been a rousing success…all for the sake of the almighty dollar as well as furthering their RW ideology…namely putting blacks “in their place” and teaching white children to accept inequality as the norm! Shame on them! They should be exposed on every TV network and in every newspaper in this country!
You are right! They are using all the old buzz-words like “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools”, but what they didn’t count on is the PEOPLE who don’t want their miserable brand of intolerance here. I suggest to the Kochs to go back under the rock from which they came! We are doing just fine without them!
But this should be a warning to every person of liberal persuasion in this country…unless we stay awake and alert, they WILL take away our rights, slowly and steadily, one at a time! It’s already happening and we’d better get off the sofa and do something about it!
ADDENDUM: Correction…I believe I am mistaken about another school board election. There is, however, a recent article in the Raleigh News/Observer about the issue of student assignments that has yet to be resolved.
Bravo Marion. In someways this reminds me of the sixties. A time of turmoil and change that moved us forward as a country. Well, it is happening again, but this time the actors involved are corrupt. They want to turn the country back to a time of inequality in civil rights, education, and the list goes on and on.