Thursday, February 09, 2006

The funeral scandal

The mobster Republicans just can't help themselves. You have to give them credit that they know how to inflame the crowd, but in another sense they have a tin ear. They just don't know how they sound, though it must be said in fairness, that they don't care. What matters to them is the perpetual Republican miracle of creating a dense and swirling smoke where there is no fire, calling the fire department as they cry once again that they are victims of arson, meanwhile carrying out, in the confused low-visibility environment they have created, a brutal mugging. They have a gift for this.

Specifically, the funeral scandal. They descend headlong into a pit of racism, and have no idea that's where they have gone. Their feelings are hurt when you point it out. Never mind that the new Republican party was _created_ with a broad, implicit, obvious, but always denied appeal to racism, although the southern strategy, which created the modern Republican Party, is misnamed--it was not just pursued in the south. And it has worked, and worked again.

What is astonishing, to anyone with a molecule of integrity left in his or her soul, is that they continue to deny it--but to Republican political operatives, it is second nature, automatic, a reflexive firing like the nematocysts in a jellyfish, hardly personal at all, and so I suspect the reason for the veneer of denial and the pretense of outrage when they are accused of racism is that they consider racism to be something in the way of personal loathing. They don't loathe black people--they simply consider them useful for stirring up the Base, which they must do periodically, or the Base will subside into undirected grievance, or worse, perhaps would begin to put two and two together as to why their lives, of two jobs for a 60 hour week and no health insurance, suck.

So Bush goes to a funeral, and pays his--respects? A man who is arguably the most dangerous enemy to African Americans since Jefferson Davis pays his respects to Coretta Scott King? Yeah, right. But what happens? An elderly preacher, an actual personal friend of Martin Luther King and Coretta King, a man who has fought for racial justice and against the enemies of civil rights all his life stands up and speaks a few words of truth...and all hell breaks loose.

"How dare this man...say such words! In the presence of Bubble Boy! It hurt his feelings! It hurt his wife's feelings. How rude. How...uncouth!" The Wurlitzer cranks up to full volume. The talking suits go wild! All over the rightwing talkshows, the punditocracy becomes righteously indignant. There needs to be a verb for this. "Indignificates" is my candidate, but I doubt if it will catch on. So they indignificate on tv and radio and across a certain part of the blogosphere, as this week's see-how-they-wrong-us issue. "See how we, who have run the country with an iron hand for five years, with absolute and ruthlessly exercised control over the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the White House, are victims, god bless my soul, of an elderly African American man who spoke a few true words in an, ahem, inappropriate setting." That setting would be a funeral where lifelong friends and associates of the deceased speak some heartfelt honest words in earshot of bubble boy, which automatically makes him get all huddled down in his chair like a scolded truant, and then, wow! man, the long knives are out. They have been for three days now, stabbing repeatedly.

Now you have to ask, how is it that they get to indignificate all over this elderly, and rather grandfatherly and eloquent minister who talked about real things, without their getting called to task for the colossal racist presumption that informs their rending of garments? Essentially, they have said--in fact shouted-- that this man is not the house Negro they felt he should have been. This is jaw-dropping in its brazenness, like a motorcycle gang dragging a minister off his pulpit, beating him up, and claiming self-defense.

It's astonishing. What's even more astonishing is that it works.

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