Race is a mountain in our history—rather, a brutal mountain range. We’ve never even developed a language for discussing the depth of that brutality—for discussing the interaction between European settlers and Native Americans; for discussing the brutal decisions those settlers made about men and women from Africa.
It’s stunning to contemplate the mountains of pain which race has caused—which raced still causes—in so many American lives. That’s why we think it’s so unfortunate when liberal intellectual leaders are willing to play cheap games with race, as Steve Benen did over the weekend in this unfortunate post.
Steve’s post involved John Kasich, the newly-elected Republican governor of Ohio. It may have sent thrills us pseudo-lib legs, but sorry—the highlighted statement just isn’t accurate. Yes, Steve’s claim was good solid fun. But it was also untrue:
BENEN (1/29/11): Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is off to quite a start, isn't he? We learned recently that Kasich, a former congressman, Wall Street executive, and Fox News personality, has picked 22 officials for his cabinet—17 white men and 5 white women.
Though he says he offered two posts to African Americans who declined the offers, the result is the first Ohio governor from either party to have a cabinet lacking any racial or ethnic diversity in a half-century.
A week later, Kasich refused to attend the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Gala—despite being in town—and his office issued a statement on Martin Luther King Day celebrating St. Patrick's Day.
Say what? Did John Kasich (sorry—“his office”) really “issue a statement on Martin Luther King Day celebrating St. Patrick's Day?”
Well actually, no—it didn’t. Steve was having fun when he typed that claim. But what he wrote is untrue.
Steve was getting us rubes fired up—but what he wrote is untrue. And you don’t have to take our word for that; you just have to click through on Steve’s link, to his own original post on this utterly pointless matter. Ten days earlier, this is what Steve originally wrote about this non-event event, in which someone on Kasich’s staff wrote “March 17” instead of “January 17” on Kasich’s official King Day proclamation (the error was quickly corrected):
BENEN (1/19/11): This was obviously an unfortunate clerical error, and I suspect it was an embarrassing, not a deliberate, slight. Accidents happen, and I'm more concerned about Kasich's all-white cabinet than his St. Patrick's Day proclamation on MLK Day.
Duh. Even there, Steve seemed to be having it two different ways as he discussed this pointless event; in the same sentence, he said this was “obviously” a clerical error—and he said he “suspected” it wasn’t deliberate. Those ideas don’t go together real well. But increasingly, Steve seems to exist to stir up the rubes, rather than to enlighten us. For sheer tribal clowning, check his explanation in this recent post about why the CBO’s estimate of this year’s deficit just went up. We’re quite sure Steve is smarter than what he wrote.
To that, I want to add a few things. White people, we are well aware of those of you who do nothing for us (Black people) except scream "Racist!" at people you dislike in order to discredit them and keep them out of office. We are so damn tired of your attempts to use us, our pain, our race.
Bob Somerby's writing about Steve Benen. I've addressed this (not nearly as well) when discussing Amy Goodman. We're sick of it. We're tired of the way you shave the facts and alter them to suit your needs. We're tired of it. We're tired of being your political props.
Let me repeat that, White America, we are tired of being your political props. You clearly have no conception of racism (including your own) or you wouldn't repeatedly trivialize it the way you do. In 2008, we saw it trivialized non-stop. Referring to Barack's lies about his ever-changing stance on the Iraq War as a "fairy tale" was not racism on Bill Clinton's part. But you lied and you whored and you pretended that it was in an effort to whip up anger at Hillary Clinton.
We're tired of it, Crackers. Get it, we're sick of it.
Like Amy Goodman, the bulk of you are never interested in us unless you need to scream racism. We're tired of it. We're not your political footballs. And the historical damages and pain of racism are not acknowledged by the constant efforts of certain Whites (and it's mainly a small section on the left) to harness that pain and damage for their own political purposes.
I think Bob Somerby has written a great post. I've tried to write something like that many, many times but never really managed what he pulled off. I hope people are paying attention to what he was saying but I doubt it.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"