Pam Spaulding

Exhibit A: Pat Buchanan - why we desperately need to discuss race

Filed By Pam Spaulding | March 24, 2008 5:09 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Pat Buchanan, Race

While progressives and average Americans who think Barack Obama's speech presented a difficult challenge wring their hands worrying about appearing to be racist if they broach the subject in any significant way, the depth of the problem at hand is clear when we have folks on the right like Pat Buchanan just laying it on the line with this kind of mind-blower.

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.

Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.

...We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Thanks, Pat. We've gotten the old "lift up" message, all right. How could people like Buchanan listen to the same speech and walk away with this level of vitriol in their heart and purposeful ignorance of history? Our country suffers an incredible sickness when it comes to race relations. The point of Obama's speech is that we all have work to do and share responsibility in opening up an adult dialog. The above does nothing to advance understanding and shows no desire to do so either.

I love Dave Neiwert's comment on Pat's "A Brief for Whitey" essay.

Damn, I'm sure most black people forgot to be grateful for segregation, the lynching era, sundown towns, and the continuing discrimination they face both in employment and in residence. Because the institutional conditions created by those decades of bigotry have in fact gone largely unchanged, though to white guys like Buchanan, that simply isn't a factor:

Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America? Is it really white America's fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?

Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?

Well, I'm sure black voters are convinced by that argument. After all, it's obvious that the matter of continuing discrimination is just an illusion in their heads.

UPDATE: Someone at Pandagon found Exhibit B. Bill Kristol in the NYT on Obama's speech:

The only part of the speech that made me shudder was this sentence: "But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now."

With respect to having a national conversation on race, my recommendation is: Let's not, and say we did.

Well, I'm not sure how he would know the value of having it or not having it since too many people run for psychological and political cover any time it comes up. We won't get anywhere in addressing the problem of implicit and explicit bias with that attitude.

(Also see Melissa's post, "Why is this Racist Superfuck Still on my Teevee?")

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From an excellent diary over at BlueNC by Kosh:

In the inevitable discussions of race that take place in our country one defense routinely brought up by the Right is that America has given up its racist ways, and except for the occasional aberration, such as dragging a black man to death in Texas, or telling blacks in New Orleans that they pretty much deserve to die for being too poor to fly out of the city and check into a hotel, things are pretty good for blacks in America.

Like all conservative viewpoints, this one is completely wrong. While some may argue that the decline in popularity of the Klan and the lack of recent lynchings means White America has mended its race-hating ways, it has really just moved onto different, more socially acceptable tactics. Thus, while police turning fire hoses and German shepherds on blacks is now officially frowned upon, the police now routinely stop black drivers for alleged driving infractions, allowing them to harass, search and if they are lucky, provoke them into some indiscretion that can lead to an arrest, with a tasering and/or beating on the side.

White financial institutions can no longer openly discriminate against black consumers in loans, but they can, and do, build huge numbers of payday loan centers in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods so they can legally rob them blind.

While corporations can no longer run "white only" hospitals, they can, and do, provide substandard medical care for blacks and other minorities.
Blacks are paid 72 cents for each dollar a white man is paid (Hispanics have it worse though, at 58 cents), businesses are more likely to hire a white ex-con, than a black man with a clean record, and it is far harder for blacks to rent an apartment than whites.

Is Pat Buchana swallowing the same drugs Rush Limbaugh is?

Michael Bedwell | March 24, 2008 6:11 PM

This is news? One supposes there is some benefit here for those yet unaware of the racist and neo-fascist scales on snakes like Buchanan and Kristol, but, with apologies for mixing our metaphors, why such shock when a rabid dog barks and bites?

Thanks for the link to Melissa's post, though. That is a far more contructive one in, moving beyond Righteous Indignation which is the political equivalent of erectile dysfuntion, she asks the pertinent question: why are snakes like Buchanan and Kristol repeatedly given mainstream media platforms to spew their venom as if presenting different viewpoints on race is no more morally demanding than discussions of Pepsi versus Coke?

At the same time, there remains a great deal of disingenuousness being exhibited by "Love Me I'm A Liberals" generally and Obamoonies specifically about the no less repulsive comments of Jeremiah Wright and the failure still of Obama to really explain why it took him so long to denounce them—particularly when unlike Wright or Buchanan or Kristol it is Obama who is asking us to make him President and lead us away from such demagogues and divisiveness.

Or, as Christopher Hitchens just put it, Wright is coddled as merely "controversial" or "inflammatory" or "incendiary" when his remarks are, in fact, wicked and stupid and false. And I submit no less so than Buchanan's or Kristol's.

"Sen. Obama has long known perfectly well... that he'd one day have to put some daylight between himself and a bigmouth Farrakhan fan. But he felt he needed his South Side Chicago 'base' in the meantime. So he coldly decided to double-cross that bridge when he came to it. And now we are all supposed to marvel at the silky success of the maneuver.

You often hear it said, of some political or other opportunist, that he would sell his own grandmother if it would suit his interests. But you seldom, if ever, see this notorious transaction actually being performed, which is why I am slightly surprised that Obama got away with it so easily. (Yet why do I say I am surprised? He still gets away with absolutely everything.)

Looking for a moral equivalent to a professional demagogue who thinks that AIDS and drugs are the result of a conspiracy by the white man, Obama settled on [his] 85-year-old [grandmother]."


The sad part is, you really can't make this shit up.

Michael Bedwell | March 24, 2008 6:31 PM

"Excellent diary"? It reads more like a job application for Deacon of Demagoguery at Trinity United Church of Christ.


I agree to a point. However, if we are going to have a national conversation about race, as Barack stated. Then African Americans have to allow Whites, Hispanics and others to share their views without being labeled or called a racist.

If we want to move beyond this conversation, then both sides of the table need to be free to talk without being attacked.

African American were slaves during 1619-1865 in this country. But, they were not the first, the Irish was the first slaves dating back to 1607.

Pam, I've often wondered, what would of happen to those 600,000 African American, if they would have stayed in Africa. Realizing other countries had slavery at the time, Britain, France etc.. Speaking only for our history, what would of happen to those people, had not been sold. Perhaps you know the answer?

Thanks Pam!

Those guys are awful and it's not very surprising that Buchanan would think (and say) such things. He's an anachronism and needs to be retired .
But I wanted to say that for me (a 30yr old gay white boy from Ky) I don't get scared when I see a group of Black men on the street. Let me amend that , I don't get scared when I see a group of gay men on the street , but if I walk up on a group of more than a few obviously straight guys (of any age or race), I get nervous and try to shuffle past quickly . I'm not denying that I likely have some inherent racism in me that I've picked up over the years, but in all honesty, I've never been beaten up by "black men" I've been gay bashed by "straight men" more than once in my life . Anytime I see a group of obviously straight white teenage boys just hanging out, I try to walk past quietly or even avoid them altogether . I think when discussing which groups make us uncomfortable , we also have to take into account personal history , as well as cultural history.
Kristol and Buchanan are jackasses of the hightest caliber, btw.

This kind of reminds me of the argument used by the religious right;

Gays are not barred from getting married, they can marry someone of the opposite sex anytime they want.

Well it is true as far as it goes, but then it ignores the realities of the situation.

The price paid for the "honor" of being brought to america and 'civilized' by their adoring and oh so beneficent masters is one that is still being paid today by their descendants. They may be 'free' in the sense of being no ones property, but they are still chained by economic and social shackles that may have been weakened over the last fifty years, but are not broken.

I think this is an important post. Sure, these people are nutjobs with wacky ideas, but they're getting far more TV time than the rest of us to spout their garbage.

Leave it to Shakes to come up with a title like that. *grins*

If for purposes of this national discussion, racism is defined as only white anti black discrimination, then further discussion is pointless. White anti black discrimination is not a significant cause of the black socioeconomic disparity.

As a regular viewer of "McLaughlin Group" on PBS, I've often been amazed how Buchanan can mix intelligent statements with insipid ones inside the same paragraph.

Above, we see how African descendants in America should be grateful that their ancestors were forcibly abducted, their African identities wiped out and their African religions rubbed into extinction. It may be true that African-Americans make up the wealthiest black population on earth, but this is hardly because white men planned it that way: for the most part, with occasional exceptions, white America did everything it could to "keep the [Negroes] in their place" while advancing and compounding white wealth in every way conceivable.

Any LGBT reader does well to note how Buchanan's doubletalk-doublethink can be applied to issues re homosexuality as well. In a recent McLaughlin installment, Buchanan referred to the Roman Catholic pedophile scandal as being perpetrated by "gay priests" --- as if none of the pedophile victims were female, and as if there is no meaningful distinction between a priest who is openly GLBT-affirming and one who is secretly molesting altar boys (and maybe altar girls, too).

Finally, we must recall how Buchanan foamed at the mouth at the 1988 Republican National Convention. His vitriol at the convention podium against gays and lesbians then was so extreme that even middle America was made to wince. Apparently it is true: you can't teach an old, rabid dog new tricks.


Slavery has been rife throughout all of ancient history. Most, if not all, ancient civilizations practiced this institution and it is described (and defended) in early writings of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. It was also practiced by early societies in central America and Africa.

Africans were subjected to several forms of slavery over the centuries, including chattel slavery under both the Muslims with the trans-Saharan slave trade, and Europeans through the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Even after the abolition of the slave trade in Africa, Colonial powers used forced labor – such as in King Leopold's Congo Free State (which was operated as a massive labor camp) or as libertos on the Portuguese plantations of Cape Verde or San Tome.

To answer your question Logan, what would of happen to those 600,000 transported into our country. Those people would have been sold into another slave trade, to the Spanish, Europeans, Russian, Arabic countries, used in labor massive camps in their own country, or murdered.

The European colonization movement of the second half of the 19th century put an end to slavery in many parts of Africa..." and that "the British turned their attention back to Africa. They moved onto the continent, took control of those governments that were thriving on slavery, and attempted to abolish the institution."

Further "in the 1870's British missionaries moved into Malawi, the place of origin of the Indian Ocean Islamic slave trade, in an attempt to interdict it at its source... In Dahomey the French abolition of slavery resulted in the cessation of ceremonial human sacrifice."

Unfortunately this was not enough for "some parts of Africa and much of the Islamic world retained slavery at the end of World War I. For this reason the League of Nations and later the United Nations took the final extinction of slavery to be one of their obligations. The League had considerable success in Africa, with the assistance of the colonial powers and by the late 1930's slavery was abolished in Liberia and Ethiopia". The problem was such that "After World War II the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights ... proclaimed the immorality and the illegality of slavery. Slavery was abolished in most Islamic countries, although it persisted in Saudi Arabia into the 1960's. It finally was made illegal in the Arabian Peninsula in 1962."

As a footnote to Oliver, it is my understanding that slavery is practiced to this very day in Sudan. The Sudan elite, who are themselves black, have black slaves. This black-on-black slavery is relatively humane: in fact, many Sudanese bushland people offer their children, especially their daughters, up for slave service because the slaves live a more affluent life than the "free" but impoverished tribes-people do in the bushlands.