Racism Is Not Over, Bob Dylan Getting Sued

Yesterday, the Republican National Committee sought to honor the memory of Rosa Parks with a tweet which read:

Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.

While the mistake inspired its own hashtag #RacismEndedWhen, a collective Scooby Doo “EURP?” from the vast majority of Americans, and a correction– it also likely comes as news to Bob Dylan who is currently being sued in France for “racist” remarks made in a September 2012 Rolling Stone interview.

The remarks in question- when considered in light of the RNC’s gaffe and recent reports indicating Americans don’t trust each other anymore- offer insight into the messed up priorities of “post-racial” America.

During Dylan’s Rolling Stone interview he was asked to draw parallels between America today and America in the 1860s to which he said:

Mmm, I don’t know how to put it. It’s like . . . the United States burned and destroyed itself for the sake of slavery. The USA wouldn’t give it up. It had to be grinded out. The whole system had to be ripped out with force. A lot of killing. What, like, 500,000 people? A lot of destruction to end slavery. And that’s what it really was all about.

This country is just too f***** up about color. It’s a distraction. People at each other’s throats just because they are of a different color. It’s the height of insanity, and it will hold any nation back – or any neighborhood back. Or any anything back. Blacks know that some whites didn’t want to give up slavery – that if they had their way, they would still be under the yoke, and they can’t pretend they don’t know that. If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood.

It’s doubtful that America’s ever going to get rid of that stigmatization. It’s a country founded on the backs of slaves. You know what I mean? Because it goes way back. It’s the root cause. If slavery had been given up in a more peaceful way, America would be far ahead today. Whoever invented the idea “lost cause . . . .” There’s nothing heroic about any lost cause. No such thing, though there are people who still believe it.

The bolded portion above, specifically the reference to Serbs and Croats, two groups with a long-standing and bloody conflict, is the basis of the lawsuit filed in December of 2012 in France by a Croatian Community Center.  Europe’s strict free-speech laws are such that Dylan can be sued and fined if charged despite not being a citizen of France.

Now I’ll admit, Dylan’s sentiments are a bit cringeworthy, but it’s important to remember that despite being a huge proponent of the Civil Rights Movement he remains a man of that era.  You don’t call people “blacks” anymore and the concept of one group being able to sniff out another group’s blood is “poetic”, sure, but also pretty cynical.

What it isn’t is racist.

Racism isn’t over.

We’re far from the point of being “post-racial” in part because there’s a perpetual sense of distrust hanging over all of our rhetoric, as well as an instinct to call lots of things racist.  I don’t think Bob Dylan meant to say something disparaging of Croats.  And while the RNC is definitely responsible for advocating on behalf of policies that are harmful to people of color, I don’t think their Rosa Parks tweet was intentionally striving to fan the flames.

That doesn’t stop everyone from being on edge, and while public shamming has its place, what does it accomplish?

We don’t trust each other to the point where it’s reflected in our rhetoric and by what dominates our attention.  Controversy sells!  How often do good things get covered?  To what scale?  We’re inundated with the sideshow in a circus with no main act.

What do we actually stand for?

Ender’s Game: Orson Scott Card Gets Even Crazier, More Hateful

Orson Scott Card is the homo-hatin’ author of Ender’s Game who is also a producer of and presumably profit-taker from the eponymous film due out in November from Lions Gate.  He has proven himself to be an equal opportunist disliker of non-white people and a loony-toon nutter in this May 9, 2013 essay, originally published in something called The Rhinoceros Times. Card spins a paranoid (admitted) fantasy about Obama becoming a dictator, and at one point gets all sandy-pantied about

young out-of-work urban men

who he speculates will be recruited as Obama’s jackbooted personal militia:

Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.

Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people “trying to escape” — people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama.

Card cloaks his racism and paranoia in speculation

 as a science fiction writer and a student of history

(because since he, like, studied history, he knows stuff) as he proceeds to spin what he calls a

a little thought experiment

involving Obama running Michelle Obama for President (one of his earlier columns in The Rhinoceros Times claimed that the First Lady’s appearance on the Oscars was a warm up for her 2016 run, so this is a recurring fear/theme for Card) so Barack Obama can stay in power forever as a Hitler-esque dictator who will put his young urban male troops in armored vehicles as they ride the streets enforcing Obama-laws against Obama-enemies.  Part of Obama’s power plan, according to Card:

Barack Obama needs to have a source of military power that is under his direct control. Like Hitler, he needs a powerful domestic army to terrify any opposition that might arise.

Obama called for a “national police force” in 2008, though he never gave a clue about why such a thing would be necessary. We have the National Guard. We have the armed forces. The FBI. The Secret Service. And all the local and state police forces.

Actually Obama called for a

civilian national security force that is just as strong and well funded…

and Salon points out the excerpt Card quotes was used by Obama

to describe how he’d “expand AmeriCorps to 250,000 slots,” “double the size of the Peace Corps,” and “grow our foreign service.” That was five years ago, and he actually failed to do it.

Orson Scott Card is a card-carrying, tin-foil-wearing wacko whose “speculation,” while unpleasantly crazy, is his to spew as he wishes. And his loathing of gays, anger over marriage equality, funding of NOM, and urgings to overthrow the United States government over marriage equality and liberal thought will be underwritten by any profits made from the film Ender’s Game, its merchandizing, and sequels. Card has written this following not as speculation:

Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Skip Ender’s Game.

H/T Back2Stonewall

Late Night FDL: “Playboy Club,” Buhbye!

NBC has cancelled The Playboy Club, the sexy melodrama–set in the mid-1960s Chicago and centering around the flagship key club–which was one of the most subversive series on network television. TalkAboutEquality explained why:

The two characters who they try to make us believe are a young attractive married couple happen to be gay. And not only that – they are running a meeting of the Chicago chapter of the Mattachine Society!

The characters in the Playboy Club (a lesbian Playboy Bunny and a gay man) are in what was referred to as a “lavender marriage.” This was a common occurrence and still exists today when someone feels the need to hide their sexuality by marrying someone of the opposite gender.

Plus, openly gay Sean Maher plays the male half of the lavender marriage, while Amber Heard, who stars as the blond Bunny-in-training with a deadly secret, has been dating a woman for three years:

To say I came out implies that I was once in. Let me be straight about that—no pun intended—I never came out from anywhere. I’ve always lived my life the way I’ve wanted and have been honest with myself and everyone around me. It didn’t really affect anything in my career. I don’t think the producers and directors I’ve worked with care one way or another … I don’t want to be labeled as one thing or another. In the past I’ve had successful relationships with men, and now I’m in this successful relationship with a woman. When it comes to love I am totally open. And I don’t want to be put into a category, as in ‘I’m this’ or ‘I’m that.’ … [Gay marriage] is an important issue, and I’m fighting for the right to get married. For other people.

The Parents’ Television Council targeted advertisers, upset over what they perceived as a mainstreaming of pornography and the objectification of women; and Gloria Steinem, herself once a Playboy Bunny, both called for a boycott.

I watched the show and thought it was a fun morality play, complete with politics, America on the brink of change, murder, secrets, love, intrigue, and great costumes. Plus it showed the strides being made in civil rights for African Americans.

Regarding the Parents Television Council calling the whaambulance: seriously, it was on after 9pm, and as parents, it’s your responsibility to monitor what your kids watch. And you don’t like it, don’t watch it!

Rap Group Odd Future Kill the Cupcake Dead

If  you ever needed evidence beyond the absurdist creations on Cupcake Wars–Cheeto topped cupcakes, anyone?—that the gourmet cupcake craze is over, rap group Odd Future have proven without a doubt that the frosted, twee fad food is absolutely dead.

Before Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA)–a foul-mouthed Los Angeles based rap group signed to Sony Records, fond of the usual conjugations and variants of that four-letter f-word; tired, overused, crude terms for women;  expressions of violence including kidnapping, rape, and murder; sexual epithets; as well as  expounding anti-gay sentiments–played Chicago’s Pitchfork Festival in what music critic Jim DeRogatis called

the most controversial booking in the seven-year history of the Pitchfork Music Festival

the band, accompanied by their publicist, passed out cupcakes to volunteers manning the festival’s outreach booths for LGBTQ awareness, domestic violence resources, and rape victim advocates– groups whose message was specifically geared

to counter what they [the organizations] saw as dangerous expressions of hate, violence and homophobia in Odd Future’s music.

DeRogatis called Odd Future an

unexceptional live hip-hop act, no better or worse than a hundred other mediocre ones you’ve seen before, albeit even more than usually foul-mouthed,

while Chicago Sun Times’ Thomas O’Connor recounted that

the 45-minute set was a very average hip-hop show…nothing radical.

In a break between songs (which O’Connor described as)

hate speech…more like listening to Oi! (a racist punk subgenre) without guitars

replete with plenty of

f–k you bitch…f–ckin ‘ho…smack you, bitch

ad nauseum, lead singer Tyler the Creator acknowledged the recipients of his cupcake diplomacy with

“A big shoutout to the domestic violence groups out here”

then launched into one of the group’s masterpieces “I Got a Gun (You Better Run).” I guess that passes as humor? Irony?

As Odd Future closed with “Pidgeons,” with its chorus of

Kill people, burn s—, f— school

Tyler the Creator dedicated

this beautiful song to everyone who don’t like me, every protester … everyone writing a faggot-ass review of this show.

And what did Tyler tweet to fans along a photo of himself holding a box of cupcakes out to a volunteer?

Went And Gave The People Who Don’t Like Us Some Cupcakes.

Yes, the cupcake is dead, its final death throes not cause by perky bakers with squeaky, childlike voices and frilly aprons squeezing swirls of rose-scented, pink sparkly butter cream onto variations of red velvet bombes; but by crass performers who shallowly grandstanded the treats as calculated sop for the ignorance they spew.

[HT: Pop N Stuff/WBRZ.org, Thomas O'Connor]

photo: screenshot from the Food Network show Cupcake Wars


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