In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

The Mask Slips, A Continuing Series

Every now and again, the mask slips and you see the real person underneath. And that person is quite often a racist or misogynist, despite protests to the contrary. Take Mel Gibson.

Now we have Senator George F. Allen of Virginia and his America:

“MY FRIENDS, we’re going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas,” Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. “And it’s important that we motivate and inspire people for something.” Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent — a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present — and proceeded to ridicule him.

Let’s consider which positive, constructive or inspirational ideas Mr. Allen had in mind when he chose to mock S.R. Sidarth of Dunn Loring, who was recording the event with a video camera on behalf of James Webb, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Mr. Allen holds. The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say “Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!” to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it? (So insisted Mr. Allen’s aides.) Or perhaps the idea that bullying your opponents and calling them strange names — Mr. Allen twice referred to Mr. Sidarth as “Macaca” — is within the bounds of decency on the campaign trail?

“Macaca” is indeed a strange name, but it’s one well-known to a certain type of person — you know, the kind who runs around in bedsheets:

The term ‘macaque’–also pronounced ‘mukakkah’–is a commonly used racial slur on par with the word ‘nigger’ in the united states.

In Europe, the word ‘macaque’ is largely a racial slur used to insult people of North African descent. It is roughly synonomous with ‘dirty arab.’

Most of the results that came back in these searches took me to well known white supremacy websites–and to posts from the past two or three years. So this is a phrase that is still in use.

Also returned where hundreds of ‘ethnic slur’ dictionaries online, all of which list this term as a ‘Belgian’ racial slur.

Not that Allen, who had staunchly opposed a state holiday honoring MLK, acknowledged that this was his intent. No, he was just making fun of Sidarth’s haircut and somehow this obscure term used on Stormfront just popped out of his mouth:

Reached Monday evening, Allen said that the word had no derogatory meaning for him and that he was sorry. “I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he’s offended by that. That was no way the point.”

Asked what macaca means, Allen said: “I don’t know what it means.” He said the word sounds similar to “mohawk,” a term that his campaign staff had nicknamed Sidarth because of his haircut. Sidarth said his hairstyle is a mullet — tight on top, long in the back.

Ah, the weasel-word apology: I apologize IF he was offended. Otherwise, not.

However, Sidarth got the message loud and clear:

But the apology, which came hours after Allen’s campaign manager dismissed the issue with an expletive and insisted the senator has “nothing to apologize for,” did little to mollify Webb’s campaign or Sidarth, who said he suspects Allen singled him out because his was the only nonwhite face among about 100 Republican supporters.

“I think he was doing it because he could, and I was the only person of color there, and it was useful for him in inciting his audience,” said Sidarth, who videotaped the event for the Webb campaign. “I was annoyed he would use my race in a political context.”

Allen plans to run for President in 2008. Welcome to America, indeed.

New Tactic: Make the Target of a Smear Prove It’s Not True

Oh, Ohio, You crazy, crazy place:

Here’s a bizarre postscript to the story we brought you last week about the Republican operative who was fired by the Ohio GOP for sending out an email questioning Ted Strickland’s churchgoing record and floating speculation that Strickland and wife are gay.

Ted Strickland is the Democratic nominee for Ohio governor; Ken Blackwell (who’s also the secretary of state and therefore, as he was in 2004, in charge of overseeing the election) is the Republican nominee. Blackwell has been running on the “values” thing.

Now we’re hearing from one Reverend Russell Johnson, a prominent Republican pastor who happens to be the e-mail author’s old boss at the conservative Ohio Restoration Project. Rev. Johnson still isn’t satisfied.

Rev. Johnson is insinuating that if the Stricklands really weren’t gay, why, they’d file a lawsuit and go to court so they could prove it and clear their good name. Until that happens, Johnson says, he’s “withholding judgment” on the Stricklands’ sexuality.

Pam Spaulding has a whole archive on the homophobia in the Ohio GOP’s campaign, which is focused on God, Guns and Gays.” Johnson and Talibangelist Rod Paisley are part of the Patriot Pastors Movement and have been backing Blackwell for years. I had just finished an article in the recent New Yorker about this Unholy Trinity and the way they’re stirring up so-called “values voters” who care more about who’s fucking whom than about social justice — or, for that matter, making sure that black voters are not disenfranchised like they were in 2004, with predominantly black and Democratic districts given far too few voting machines and voter registration forms rejected because they were not printed on a certain kind of card stock that even Blackwell’s office didn’t have.

Check out the smears and allegations and the involvement of good Christian folk in spreading them:

The Ohio Republican Party’s newly hired “social conservative coordinator” e-mailed an undisclosed group of “pro-family friends” this week, offering a 10-point introduction to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.

His message attacked the church attendance, work ethic, and voting record of Mr. Strickland, a southeast Ohio congressman and ordained Methodist minister. It alleged Mr. Strickland and his wife of nearly 20 years live in different states – and linked to an Internet posting that questions whether Mr. Strickland is gay.

The e-mail’s author, a Christian home school headmaster named Gary Lankford, signed the note with his Ohio Republican Party title below his name. “Pass this information along,” he concluded.

Don’t you love it? This impugning of the commitment to church of a METHODIST MINISTER comes from some nitwit who is too stupid to hide his name and affiliation and who cites Internet rumor that Strickland is gay. Someone was not studying his Karl Rove playbook — Turdblossom knows the secret of a whisper campaign is to be sure that nobody knows for sure the information is coming from you.

Of course, the idea that an ordained minister could be attacked on his churchgoing shows a few things: number one, the contempt that the Christian Right has for liberal denominations; number two, that the Republicans have pretty much locked up the language of values and defined them in the most narrow, hateful way possible; and number three, that maybe someone *is* studying the Karl Rove playbook, at least the sections that deal with taking one of your opponent’s strength and turning it into a weakness.

And it also shows that rumors that candidates are gay still gain a lot of purchase with voters, though how much remains to be seen.

Congressmen Fail the Middle Class

But Congresswomen don’t.

According to the Drum Major Institute’s middle-class scorecard, Congress in general failed the middle class — but congresswomen faired far better than congressmen.

While only 16% of the House is female, 32% of those who scored A’s on the 2005 Scorecard were women- and, astonishingly, 40% of women in the House got A’s, compared to just 16% of men. In the Senate, which is only 14% female, 22% of Senators who scored A’s were women, and 14% of female senators got A’s, compared to 8% of male senators.

Congresswomen still aren’t doing well enough. The average grade that congresswomen earned in both the House and the Senate was just a “C”- but that’s still a significant improvement on the congressmen and Congress as a whole, whose overall average was an “F”.

One more argument for more women in Congress. And it’s worth noting that women are severely underrepresented in all elected offices in the United States — and this country ranks 68th in the world in terms of women’s representation in the legislature (just a thought for those people who would argue that American women have achieved equality).

Thanks to Elana for the link.

Pro-Choice Organizations Endorse Lieberman

I have a lot of respect for Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, but I have to ask: What the hell are you thinking?

Both groups have endorsed Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, before the Democratic primary. Both groups are apparently willing to ignore the fact that Joe isn’t exactly the most pro-choice candidate in the world, and that his opponent is much better on women’s and reproductive rights issues. Both groups are ignoring the fact that Lieberman supported Alito’s appointment to the Supreme Court — an appointment that will surely have a detrimental effect on gender equality and reproductive freedom for decades to come.

I’m really, really disappointed in NARAL and Planned Parenthood today. I realize they have to make political decisions, and perhaps they feel it’s in their best interest to support an incumbent who they think has a better chance at winning. But this should be about standing up for women, and backing the candidate who will do the most to support our rights and liberties. In the Connecticut race, Joe Lieberman is not that candidate.

At least NOW got it right.

Thanks to Matt for the links.

Why Not Lieberman?

Why have so many mean lefty bloggers abandoned establishment Democrat Joe Lieberman, opting to support his opponent, Ned Lamont, instead? Well, there’s his position on the Iraq war, for one. But that’s hardly the nail in his coffin. Check out, for example, his ideas about women’s rights.

Unfortunately, the establishment democrats are turning out to campaign for Joe, despite the fact that his opponent’s views are much closer to the ideals of the Democratic party and progressives in general. Joe Biden, Ken Salazar, and Barbara Boxer (!) are all heading to Connecticut to lend Joe their support.

And right here, my friends, is the trouble with the Democratic party.

Support Ned Lamont.