Wednesday, 30 September 2009

"I'm not a racist, I just wish black people were more white." Listen closely to outrage manufactured over an utterly innocuous NEA conference call and you can almost hear Pat Buchanan regaling the Republican faithful with tales of brave white soldiers taking "back the streets of Los Angeles, block by block." Fearful his symbolism might prove too subtle, he charged the overwhelmingly white audience to "take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country." He never specified exactly who they would be taking back their cities, culture and country from, but he didn't have to—one look at the army that'd be doing the taking said it all. None of the current crop of complaints are explicitly about race any more than Buchanan's speech at the 1992 Republican Convention was, but now as then, one look at the enemy they fear and the forces they align against it and the identity of their antagonists becomes obvious. The question, then, is whether this is a story we want told twice. America, conservatives insist, bought a false sale of goods, and the only way Obama can sustain his popularity is to pull the wool before our eyes via the political equivalent of an atomic wedgie: overt propaganda. Attacking the National Endowment for the Arts comes straight from the '90s script: every dollar the NEA disburses will be tracked by the likes of Andrew Breitbart until the perfect moment to introduce the world to the next "Piss Christ" arrives. They've already begun to remind the troops of all the old tropes, but their attempt to preemptively undermine the institutional credibility of the NEA indicates that this generation of conservative critics might be more media savvy than their '90s counterparts. Tim Slagle's response to a recent MoveOn campaign is a sign of smears to come:It looks like the NEA’s call for artists to promote health care initiatives has been heard by some comedy artists. MoveOn was not a party to the infamous conference call, but because it involves actors, and actors are artists, it's a party to the propaganda agenda established during that call. As a consequence of that call, all artists—whether they shoot a crucifix in urine like Andrew Serrano or urinate on themselves like Will Ferrell—will be seen as complicit in a conspiracy to undermine America so grand even Goebbels would blush. But while they may be savvy, they're far from smart. In the article quoted above, Slagle offers a "prize to anyone who can name all eight [actors in the MoveOn video] without using Google," includes the name of all of them in his tags not once, but twice, and his commenters are still stumped. And the one and odious John Ziegler calls for a return to "the Golden Age of television (the 70's and 80's)," when Americans came together to laugh at black people for the wrong reasons, before he realized—or was told—that he should be laughing at Archie Bunker, not with him. That his list of programs excludes The Cosby Show is no surprise. He prefers Sanford...
That's not a Doctor of Journalism. This is a Doctor of Journalism.* Our arrival was badly timed. Most of the pigs from The American Spectator had already arrived. I saw this at a glance. They were just standing around trying to look casual. It was a terrifying scene. "I thought you should know about this," the boy said finally. "Know? Me? Know about what?" I asked. "Nothing. Nothing at all. Just that this guy . . . this white supremacist guy . . . he says he's you." My brain locked up. I couldn't think. The drugs were taking over. "Is he?" "No . . . I don't think . . . but he did say something about guns and booze." "Guns and booze? Guns and booze? Must be me." Jesus. What a terrible thing to lay on somebody with a head full of acid. Alright, I thought. "Alright," I said. "This Nazi me with guns and gin, where . . ." "No gin . . . he's just talking about gin like you talk about it when you . . ." "Look," I said. "I'm a Doctor of Journalism. If I can't minister to my own sober self, what good am I?" I demanded the boy take me to myself. He led me to a dense thicket of birches fit for Frost and introduced me as Manuel. "Well," I said. "Pleasure to make my acquaintance." That me looked at this me confused. Something there is that loves a wall, I thought, and ain't that bastard something. There he was, talking about my Samoan attorney, and here I was, looking at myself talking about my Samoan attorney . . . but what white power me said made no sense. "Wherever you find guns, cigars and whiskey, good-looking womenfolk are sure to be flocking 'round, and I had my camera handy for the occasion." "Flocking 'round"? Sounds nothing like me. Strange memories of nervous nights on who knows what I can handle . . . but this was an impostor. No . . . a robot. I was being impersonated by a robot. Programmed to say what I say but like I was Rhett Butler. To trick it would require saying something it wouldn't expect me to . . . "All this white shit on my sleeve is LSD," I heard myself say. Shit. I stole a glance at myself and saw his face turn white. I noted the effort it took for him to keep up my façade. Not that he didn't try. "Folks around Sperryville won't go anywhere near the place at Pig Roast time, what with the rumors of cannibalism, human sacrifice, bizarre pagan rituals and so forth." "And so forth?" I asked. "And so forth?" "Wherever you find guns, cigars and whiskey, good-looking womenfolk are sure to be flocking 'round, and I had my camera handy for the occasion." "You already said that you fucking robot!" I threw myself at the robot but must have licked my arm on the way there because the next thing I remember I...

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