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Dec 02 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles: Lester Maddox Edition

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Oh please forgive your Bloguero his excesses and tantrums.

Yesterday your Bloguero was vexed and found himself exploding when Noot Gingrich proposed yet again that poor children (read: poor, urban children of color) work as assistant janitors and that they mop floors and clean bathrooms. These children, Noot told us, don’t have good work habits, and neither do their parents. They need to learn them, he opined, and that dollars must be earned solely by the sweat of their brows and not from engaging in the illegal activities that are so very pervasive in their neighborhoods. Your Bloguero imagines that this “idea” will eventually emerge in Congress as the “Poor, Urban Children’s Mandatory Work Act of 2012,” and that it will void child labor laws and make degrading manual work a pre-requisite to receipt of school nutrition programs if not elementary school attendance itself.

When your Bloguero was a child in Newark, his school didn’t have a course in brooming so that he could be channeled into a life of required, permanent manual work, showing up on Monday mornings for inadequate pay, and submissive obedience to the straw boss. Your Bloguero wasn’t asked to trade his pens and pencils and crayons for brooms and mops. No. Back then, it was a world of upward mobility. For everyone.  And it was fervently asserted, everybody could become President, and the elementary school was everybody’s first station on the trip toward a good life. The good life, your Bloguero was always told, was built on merit. And education. And hard work. And desire. Your Bloguero notes that there could have been far worse things to tell him, including that he should start sweeping now because that was his station in life.

Noot is an experienced politician. He is far from congenitally tone deaf. And he knows how to whistle for the dogs. Let’s recall that he’s from Georgia. And let’s also recall that it wasn’t that long ago that Governor Lester Maddox was passing out ax handles in Atlanta. And so, dear reader, this ain’t no dog whistle. It’s blatant racism.  Just look at Noot’s characterization of the neighborhoods in which poor children are raised. This isn’t code; it’s Noot mashing the black keys on the electoral piano with his elbow.

These neighborhoods and their residents, Noot would have us believe, are dominated by shiftlessness, by drug dealing, by welfare queens, by benefits fraud, by crime, by illegal activities of all descriptions. Your Bloguero spares you a repetition of the litany of historic grievances against the urban poor encapsulated in Noot’s remarks. So Noot’s resurrecting the pre-integration Georgia of 1953. And he’s saying that the children who are raised in these ghetto neighborhoods need to be put in their place because their families won’t do it. And the rest of the populace shouldn’t have to pay for it. And the place where these children belong, less you forget it, is as assistant janitors while they are in elementary school. Who are they to aspire to be president?

Your Bloguero is enraged. He notes in passing that this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time that a presidential candidate plays the race card before November, 2012. Your Bloguero just wonders why there is a storm about Herman Cain’s affair and his serial sex harassments, but so far blatant racism seems to be getting a hall pass.

This Week In The Dream Antilles is usually a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now and for several of the past weeks, it isn’t actually a digest of essays posted at The Dream Antilles. For that you have to visitThe Dream Antilles.

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