Daily Archive: 01/25/2015

Jan 25 2015

ACM: The Black & White of the Civil Rights Movement Then and Now: Is It About Justice or “Just Us?”

by Geminijen

Finally saw the movie Selma last week, right after the MLK Day march. Found it to be an exhilarating fictionalized rendition of one of the more important moments in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It is, above all else, a reminder that this struggle is primarily of, by and for black folks. And yet, most of the press, even prior to the movie opening, was about how it was historically inaccurate and, more importantly to these critics,  misrepresented and denigrated (I chose my words carefully here) the role of Lyndon Baines Johnson who was president at the time of the struggle.

In Politico’s “What Selma Gets Wrong,” (12/22/14), LBJ Presidential Library director Mark Updegrove charged that the fictional film’s depiction of the epic voting-rights battle in the Alabama town portrayed the relationship between [Martin Luther] King and President Lyndon Baines Johnson as “contentious.” This served, Updegrove scolded, to “bastardize one of the most hallowed chapters in the civil rights movement by suggesting that the president himself stood in the way of progress.” Johnson adviser Joseph Califano struck next in the Washington Post (12/26/14)suggesting that in fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea.” Califano asks of the filmmakers: Did “they” [quotes are mine] feel no obligation to check the facts? You even had Post columnist Richard Cohen (1/5/15) lamenting that Selma is a lie that tarnishes Johnson’s legacy to exalt King’s.

Without getting too much into the details of the controversy and who gets to determine “facts”, the accusation here is that the black female director Ava Devernay (and by implication the black community)was willing to distort the history of the white role in the civil rights movement to promote black biases of black importance in the struggle. In other words, the black community doesn’t care about accuracy, about truth and “justice,” but only about “just us” (i.e.the black community promoting its own importance in history).

There is, in fact, evidence to support DeVernay’s representation of LBJ and I would submit that it is the white supremist myth of white people bringing justice to the poor downtrodden blacks that is the bias that DuVernay is challenging and has caused all the criticism of the film. That the “us” in “just us” is really white folks angered that it is the myth of white moral superiority that is being challenged and that DeVarnay’s film provides a healthy corrective.

It is important to note why the fight about Selma The Movie is so important now.  The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner highlight the increase in police violence in low income nonwhite communities or perhaps it has just increased the exposure of police brutality due to the new technologies of cell phones and social media. Either way, it has increased racial tensions. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 combined with efforts to roll back voting rights with new voter suppression laws in many states, has also contributed to increased awareness of racial inequality. In volatile times, society and the dominant culture are especially interested in how they can control the “story” to maintain the status quo.

While there are many documentaries which present an excellent and accurate record of the civil rights struggle (notably in my mind, “Eyes on the Prize”) this is more about how popular cultural representations shape a society’s perspective. I would venture to say that most Americans’ deepest emotional beliefs about their identity and place in history and the world are formed at least in part, if not wholly, through the cultural representations around them rather than through academic research and factual reasoning. In this context it appears that most white Americans still believe that white people are innately superior to black people by virtue of our role in helping black people escape their oppression and poverty (the cause of which is conveniently vague –oh yeah, there was slavery, but I wasn’t alive then so its not my fault, besides we were the good guys in WW!! saving the Jews from the Nazis–which gets two weeks in most American high school curricula while slavery gets one day).

Of course these days popular and social media far outweigh what you learn in school as the social arbiters so I would like to take a moment here to put Selma in the context of the factual history vs. the other fictionalized media accounts of racial struggle and racial advancement in the last few years.

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Jan 25 2015

Rant of the Week: Larry Wilmore – State of the Black Protests

State of the Black Protest

Al Sharpton calls an emergency meeting to address the lack of diversity in the 2015 Oscar nominations, and Larry takes a look at the effectiveness of recent protests

Jan 25 2015

Spot the African Country

Spot the African Country

Trevor Noah, one of the newest correspondents on “The Daily Show,” hails from South Africa.

As a South African now living in the U.S., he wants to set the record straight about Africa.

Noah invited his new boss and their viewers to see a different side of Africa by playing a game.

Between rampant racial inequality and Ebola outbreaks, South African comedian Trevor Noah admits he hesitated to visit a country as underdeveloped as America.

Jan 25 2015

On This Day In History January 25

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 25 is the 25th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 340 days remaining until the end of the year (341 in leap years).

On this day in 1905, the world’s largest diamond is found. At the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine’s superintendent. Weighing 1.33 pounds, and christened the “Cullinan,” it was [the largest diamond ever found.

The Cullinan diamond is the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found, at 3,106.75 carats (621.35 g).

The largest polished gem from the stone is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.1 g) was the largest polished diamond in the world until the 1985 discovery of the Golden Jubilee Diamond, 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross. The second largest gem from the Cullinan stone, Cullinan II or the Lesser Star of Africa, at 317.4 carats (63.5 g), is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

History

The Cullinan diamond was found by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company in Cullinan, on January 26, 1905. The stone was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the owner of the diamond mine.

Sir William Crookes performed an analysis of the Cullinan diamond before it was cut and mentioned its remarkable clarity, but also a black spot in the middle. The colours around the black spot were very vivid and changed as the analyzer was turned. According to Crookes, this pointed to internal strain. Such strain is not uncommon in diamonds.

The stone was bought by the Transvaal government and presented to King Edward VII on his birthday. It was cut into three large parts by Asscher Brothers of Amsterdam, and eventually into 9 large gem-quality stones and a number of smaller fragments. At the time, technology had not yet evolved to guarantee quality of the modern standard, and cutting the diamond was considered difficult and risky. In order to enable Asscher to cut the diamond in one blow, an incision was made, half an inch deep. Then, a specifically designed knife was placed in the incision and the diamond was split in one heavy blow. The diamond split through a defective spot, which was shared in both halves of the diamond.

Jan 25 2015

Sharecropping

Who does the world belong to? Are we all just sharecroppers, working for the man in exchange for a share of our birthright?

Sharecropping

Sharecropping is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land in exchange for a share of the crop. This encouraged tenants to work to produce the biggest harvest that they could, and ensured they would remain tied to the land and unlikely to leave for other opportunities. In the South, after the Civil War, many black families rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time, the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and how much

High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unscrupulous landlords and merchants often kept tenant farm families severely indebted, requiring the debt to be carried over until the next year or the next. Laws favoring landowners made it difficult or even illegal for sharecroppers to sell their crops to others besides their landlord, or prevented sharecroppers from moving if they were indebted to their landlord.

There Are 85 People Who Are As Wealthy As Half The WORLD, Oxfam Reports

Oxfam’s “Working For The Few” report looked at Credit Suisse’s “Global Wealth Report 2013” and Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires from 2013 to conclude that 1 percent of the global population controls half of the world’s wealth.

The report also found that the world’s 85 richest people own the same amount as the bottom half of the entire global population.

The ramifications of such inequality may be dire, the report suggests:

This massive concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer people presents a significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems. Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown.

Lyrics

Rigged Rules Mean Economic Growth Increasingly Winner-Takes-All

Policies successfully imposed by the rich in recent decades include financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practice, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments and cuts or underinvestment in public services for the majority. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 of the 30 countries for which data are available, meaning that in many places the rich not only get more money but also pay less tax on it.

A recent US study presented compelling statistical evidence that the interests of the wealthy are overwhelmingly represented by the US Government compared with those of the middle classes. The preferences of the poorest had no impact on the votes of elected officials.

Lyrics

Unbalanced: 85 Super-Wealthy own as Much as Half the World’s Population

We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest.”Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam Executive Director, states that a continuation of such policies will contribute to inequality for generations to come.

“In developed and developing countries alike, we are increasingly living in a world where the lowest tax rates, the best health and education and the opportunity to influence are being given not just to the rich but also to their children,” stated Byanyima.

“Without a concerted effort to tackle inequality, the cascade of privilege and of disadvantage will continue down the generations. We will soon live in a world where equality of opportunity is just a dream. In too many countries economic growth already amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest,” Byanyima stated.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled world, already in progress.

Sharecroppers of the World Unite?

Jan 25 2015

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests for Sunday’s “This Week” are: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; and Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA).

The roundtable guests are: Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; Republican strategist Sara Fagen; Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; and ABC News’ Cokie Roberts.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: MR. Schieffer’s guests are: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

His panel guests are: Susan Page, USA Today; Dana Milbank, Washington Post; Michael Crowley, Politico; Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic; and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: The guests on Sunday’s “MTP” are: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; former Gov. Mike Huckabee; and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The roundtable guests are: Hugh Hewitt, host of “The Hugh Hewitt Show“; Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent, The New York Times; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore, MD; and Tom Brokaw, NBC News Special Correspondent.

State of the Union: Michael Smerconish is this Sunday’s host. His guests are: (surprise) White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman; former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL); Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Sir Nicholas Soames, the late Winston Churchill’s grandson.

Jan 25 2015

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

ISIS claims it’s beheaded one Japanese hostage, offers a swap for the other

 

By Jason Hanna and Greg Botelho, CNN Updated 0419 GMT (1219 HKT) January 25, 2015

A picture and audio posted online Saturday purport to show that one of two Japanese hostages held by ISIS has been killed after a deadline for ransom passed. It also appears to relay the group’s new demand for the other’s freedom: a prisoner exchange.

The static image, shown in a video file posted by a known ISIS supporter, shows surviving Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, alone, in handcuffs and dressed in orange, holding a photo of what appears to be beheaded compatriot Haruna Yukawa.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday that the video is “highly credible.” U.S. authorities said they had no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Abe told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the killing was “abominable” and “unforgivable,” demanding the immediate release of Goto.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Asylum seekers forcibly removed from Darwin detention in middle of the night

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

Greece to choose between austerity and change in parliamentary polls

Attention turns to a prisoner named Sajida al-Rishawi as Islamic State makes new demands after killing hostage Haruna Yakuwa

Experts agree, the tide is turning in fight against Ebola

Jan 25 2015

The Breakfast Club (Gangstagrass “All For One”)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Breakfast Tune:  Gangstagrass “All For One” Official Music Video

Today in History

Breakfast News & Blogs Below