Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega
Chicago, Illinois, USA
September 11
A (Sometimes) Respectable Negro
Editor and Founder of the blog We Are Respectable Negroes He has been a guest on the BBC, Ring of Fire Radio, Ed Schultz, Joshua Holland's Alternet Radio Hour, the Burt Cohen show, and Our Common Ground. His essays have been featured by Salon, Alternet, the New York Daily News, and the Daily Kos. The NY Times, the Daily Beast, the Utne Reader, Washington Monthly, Slate, and the Week (among others) have featured his expert commentary and analysis on race, politics, and popular culture.

Chauncey DeVega's Links

MARCH 30, 2010 5:41PM

How Low Can You Go: Barack Obama, Rapist of Freedom?

Rate: 15 Flag


When I saw this cartoon, I shook my head. If there ever was an example of a simultaneously "neutral" and "provocative" editorial cartoon that stinks of racism then this is it.

Rape allusions? Check. Allusions to the myth of the black rapist? Check. Intentional provocation? (and denial...check out the comments section on the site that posted it) Check. Denial of racist intentions while all the while wallowing in racial provocation? Double check.

What has become more and more evident in the response of the mainstream media to the Tea Party brigands, as well as to the racially infused animus against Obama on the Right, is that Conservatives have won the Language Wars in this country. Quite smartly, the Right-wing made "Liberal" into a dirty word in the 1980s. Offered up "new-speak" such as "reverse racism." They, with the help of the Right-wing propaganda machine, have redefined "Progressives" as "fascists." And of course, the Right co-opted the language of colorblindness to serve a radically conservative agenda that reinforces the status quo of white privilege and white power. In the height of their absurdity, if one is to believe the logic of the Right-wing echo chamber, in the Age of Obama it is white men who are now victims of Jim Crow 2.0.

In total, these views embody an understanding of reality that is more than dumb. Quite frankly, it is both pitiable and stupid. Nevertheless, this bubble is comforting and intoxicating for those who live within it.

The coup de grace to this genius play on the part of the Right-wing in the Language Wars was the introduction of the concept, "the race card." Now,  any discussion of racial inequality is itself racist. Those who call  out obvious racism--see the Tea Party and their behavior as of  late--are in fact "racists." If one is to pursue this logic, I am in  fact a racist for daring to interrogate the ugliness and racial  invective present in the Obama as Rapist of Liberty Cartoon.

I have given up in trying to understand those Conservatives who defend  the Tea Baggers, who are unwillingly to denounce the bigots in their  midst, or play the game of deflection and reversal ("well maybe there  were a few bad apples in the bunch, but you libs are the real racists  for calling it out!" or my favorite "prove that John Lewis was called a  nigger! Prove it! You are just trying to discredit us! We Tea Baggers  are the real victims of racism in this country!").

In total, the mental gymnastics that many Conservatives have resorted to in defense of the Tea Parties is a sign of a deep psychopathology.

Racism is their illness. It comes in many forms and varieties, but racism is nonetheless a sickness of the mind and of the soul. To understand their illness we must categorize and study it. In the genealogy of white racism there are the deniers; those who just don't see people of color as equals (we are quite literally invisible to many of them); those who are angry and resentful; those who traffic in the soft-bigotry of low expectations; and the willfully ignorant. The Right-wing populists and their enablers (with their know-nothing ethos) have members that are sick in all of these ways. In total, the idea of a Black man in the White House sickens them on an existential, psychological, and spiritual level. For Black Conservatives who defend the Tea Baggers, there sickness is also a profound one that is one part racial Stockholm syndrome enabled by a deeply internalized white racism.

Do not commit the common error in reasoning that this is "just about "race." No. Those who are sick with racism make  poor choices generally--and are willingly to sacrifice the common good  politically, socially, economically for all Americans--as a function of  their illness.

A suggestion: listen to noted psychologist Dr. Na'im Akbar and reflect on the protests, language, and vitriol of the Tea Party, Palin brigades. Tell me, do his observations on the nature of white racism not fit their behavior perfectly?


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Thank you for alerting me to this sick, mentally ill "cartoon". I watched the video and it was spot on. These people are living in another time; another world. It is unreal what people still think.
It just goes on and on...

Here we go again.

And it doesn't even look like the man. Just any black man will do, huh?
Hello Chauncey, your title made me want to come over here and rip you a new one. Then I read the post and listened to the good doctor. He's very clear and I think absolutely accurate. I don't think anyone owes anyone any patience anymore. Every fact that could be published and clearly explained has been. Sometimes folks just have to wake up their own damned selves. Sometimes ignorance is intentional, and thereby, malevolent. No patience for those self-determined asshats as far as I'm concerned. They need to get themselves busy educating themselves and resurrecting their hearts and souls.
Mark Anthony, where are you when we need you.
And if you let your weariness for all the crap inhibit you from speaking out or fighting back then the bastards win. But God, it gets so damned tiring to have to constantly fight the battles that get in the way of the real war.
I hadn't seen this cartoon yet. Thank you writing about this. The video was excellent. Anyone who is outraged by this needs to speak up and not just shaking our heads.
Morons. Unfortunately, they are dangerous morons.
"We the Ignorant, of the Divided States of America"
"In total, these views embody an understanding of reality that is more than dumb. Quite frankly, it is both pitiable and stupid. Nevertheless this bubble is comforting and intoxicating for those who live in it."

Boy, oh boy! Do I know the truth of what you said on this issue!I spent some time in my latest blog trying to talk with two 'baggers. It was like trying to argue with kindergardners
Chauncey, very well said. Thank you for this excellent commentary.