The Racism of Frame


Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Racism of Frame:

On Friday I joked on twitter, the other day, that biggest problem with attempting to write smart is that you end up attracting people who really are smart. And sometimes they write in to tell you you’re wrong. And sometimes, In such cases, your forced to acknowledge their point.

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Security Theater

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Security Theater:

“This is a good piece by Ted Conover pivoting off the arrest of the Oregon bomber, to talk about the convictions of supposed terrorists in Newburgh, New York:

These prosecutions fail the smell test, and lately the odor has washed over my own Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale. Last month, if you missed the news, four African-American ex-cons from Newburgh, N.Y., were convicted of plotting to bomb two synagogues here, one of them half a block from my house. The government released a photo of some of the men casing the joint that our local paper ran the day they were convicted.

One of the men in the photo is an FBI informant, Shahed Hussain. The case seems like a slam-dunk–until you learn more about him. Hussain, driving a flashy Mercedes and using the alias Maqsood, began to frequent the Masjid al-Ikhlas in down-at-the-heels Newburgh in 2008. Mosque leaders say he would meet congregants in the parking lot afterward, offering gifts and telling them they could make a lot of money–$25,000–if they helped him pursue jihad. The assistant imam said the suspicion Hussain was an informant was so great ‘it was almost like he had a neon sign on him.’ A congregant told a reporter that, in retrospect, everyone wished they’d called him out or turned him in. ‘Maybe the mistake we made was that we didn’t report him,’ the man said. ‘But how are we going to report the government agent to the government?’

Hussain bought meals for the group of four men he assembled because none of them had jobs or money. The owner of a Newburgh restaurant where they occasionally ate considered him ‘the boss,’ because he would pick up the tab. Among his other inducements were the offer of $250,000 and a BMW to the most volubly anti-Semitic plotter, the man the government says was the ringleader, James Cromitie. To drive that car, Cromitie would have needed a driver’s license–which he didn’t have.

Another supposed plotter, a Haitian, was a paranoid schizophrenic (according to his imam), which was the reason his deportation had been deferred (according to The Nation’s, and who kept bottles of urine in his squalid apartment (according to the New York Times). The last two, both surnamed Williams, have histories of drug busts and minimum-wage jobs in Newburgh. At trial the government asserted that the plot was driven by anti-American hatred. But in papers filed in court by defense lawyers before the trial began, Cromitie is quoted in government transcripts explaining to Hussain that the men ‘will do it for the money. … They’re not even thinking about the cause.’

Greenwald makes a similar critique of the Oregon case. What scares me is how this sort of crime-fighting, post-9/11, basically justifies itself. So we’re at war with terror. A war means we need to find and isolate the bad guys. So we send agents provocateurs to areas where bad guys might frequent and, essentially, employ a version of buy-bust theory to smoke them out.Then we announce their neutralization via arrest, thus proving that….we’re at war with terror. Rinse. Repeat. Conover writes at the end:

This prong of our nation’s anti-terrorism strategy seems tantamount to sending lots of little devils out into Muslim communities and getting them to sit on people’s shoulders and whisper in their ears. One imagines that there is no shortage of Americans who, with enough money and other enticement, could be lured into crimes either ordinary or political: selling drugs or attacking gay people or racial minorities. But does dangling carrots that reward badness really make us safer? If it hadn’t been for the FBI, I don’t believe the Newburgh Four would have targeted my neighborhood, or anyone else’s.

Indeed, I suspect one could declare war against racism and just as easily employ provocateurs to cyclically ‘prove’ the problem of violent white supremacists. And once such a war is launched, and such a unit is formed, what incentive would such a unit have to declare the war won, essentially justifying it’s own dismemberment? Indeed, there’s always a potential terrorist out there somewhere…

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates :: The Atlantic.)



Full Repost.


“I’ve looked at this clip a few times where King calls Barack Obama ‘very urban.’ I don’t think ‘very urban’ is a slur for black. I think the point is that urban politicians aren’t interested in rural Americans. In this case, Barack Obama is interested in ‘rural America’ because the farmers are black, and it gives Obama a chance to prosecute his nefarious plot to award slavery reparations:

‘We’ve got to stand up at some point and say, ‘We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress,” he said. ‘That war’s been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there’s no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one’s filing that claim.’
There’s a lot wrong here, but let’s stick with the obvious. In point of fact, the black farmers suit is about discrimination during the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, there is no demonstrable movement in the Obama administration, among black legislators, or even among black people to push for damages for slavery. On the contrary, ‘reparations’ is something white populists yell when they want to rally their race-addled base. So for Rush Limbaugh, the way to understand food stamps, unemployment benefits are to ‘think forced reparations.’ For Glenn Beck health care reform is not something that can be debated with facts and figures, but ‘the beginning of reparations.‘ And so it is with Steve King, that a suit brought to remedy actions taken within the last couple decades, are actually revealed as ‘slavery reparations.’
Some further thoughts: First, Beck and Limbaugh are employing a formula that has proven remarkably successful throughout American history–rallying against social investment because it might actually help a despised minority of the population. The cause of public education in the South, for instance, was long hampered by the notion that, however it might help poor and working whites, it might also help blacks too.
Second, it’s been asserted that this recent tactic by white populists to brand those who protest racism as the actual racists, is some new innovation. In fact, as I’ve said before, it’s a time honored tactic of actual racists. All one need do is read the documents of Civil War secessionists, white supremacist to the core, claiming that the real goal of ‘Lincolnism’ was to make the enslavement of whites. Or read Phillip Dray’s At The Hands Of Persons Unknown, where people who collected the fingers, toes and testicles of lynched black men claimed that they were projecting white chastity from black brutes. Rarely does a racist label himself as such.
Third, this is the same Steve King who recently asserted that Obama ‘favors the black person.’ It’s also the same Steve King who will chair the House subcommittee on immigration. Elections have consequences.

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates :: The Atlantic.)

Excellent as always.

Shirley Sherrod’s Contextual Nightmare |

Shirley Sherrod’s Contextual Nightmare |

“We’ve posted no shortage of pieces on political attacks that leave context on the cutting room floor to give the public a misleading impression. An opponent’s statements, cherry-picked and shorn of any language that could provide the intended meaning, can be shaped into a slashing ad. 
Or they can lose a woman her job. The latest victim of the missing context trick is U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod. Her story shows the harm that can result from taking something out of context — or acting before all the facts are in.”


Fox News and Andrew Breitbart (no I won’t link to them) should lose a good amount of credibility. This was malice aforethought.

On Lacking All Conviction – National – The Atlantic

On Lacking All Conviction – National – The Atlantic:

“It’s important to note the shift in argument from ‘elements of racism’ to ‘a racist group.’ Perhaps Biden just answering a question. In any case, he was not at pains to take up the NAACP’s more nuanced point. Nor was he much interested in the question–the notion that Tea Party racism is reducible to people ‘on the periphery’ who have ‘expressed really unfortunate comments’ is a woeful understatement directly at odds with the facts. But that is the administration’s position.”

(Via The Atlantic.)

I missed this.  Coates is right on point.  Shame on Obama for that.

More Reasons Why I’m not Conservative

In the 20th century, it was conservative intellectual William Buckley who defended white supremacy in the South. I hear people talking about how National Review–a magazine that speculated that the Birmingham bombing was the work of a “crazed Negro”– has, of late, betrayed its holy intellectual roots and I wonder what planet they’ve been living on. People mournfully claim that conservatism has “died,” and I wonder if they’ve forgotten what “conservatism” had to say to black people in apartheid South Africa. Meanwhile, conservative intellectuals are attacking gay marriages because it might reinforce “black social failure.” These are the intellectuals.

There is a fundamental problem here, one that can’t be elided by pointing out the differences between “true” conservatism and Republicans. A bias toward time-tested, societal institutions almost necessarily means a bias toward institutional evil. Likewise, a skepticism of change almost necessarily means a skepticism of those who seek to expand democracy beyond property-owning white men. Taken in sum you have an ideology, whatever its laudable merits, that will almost always, necessarily, look charitably upon those with power, or those who control the institutions, and skeptically upon those without power, or those who seek to change those institutions.

As a black person, I find that really hard to take.

via Conservatism And Power – National – The Atlantic.

Exactly.  Even though conservative has it’s purposes in democracy, I prefer loving justice than institutions, than what is.

Villaraigosa shocked at celebration of O.J. Simpson, RuPaul, Dennis Rodman at L.A. Black History Month event | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Unified School District spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry said Supt. Ramon C. Cortines learned about the incident Tuesday and had the teachers, who are white, pulled from their classrooms for the duration of an investigation. The suspension is without pay for the first three days.

via Villaraigosa shocked at celebration of O.J. Simpson, RuPaul, Dennis Rodman at L.A. Black History Month event | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times.

We’re not post-racial yet.