Saturday, April 17, 2010

RSI Going to Philadelphia

Getting out of town is good! One of my grant application ships came in and now I'll be spending five weeks in Philadelphia this summer doing research.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tea Party in Washington

And I used to like Victoria Jackson.

Happy Tax Day!

Good day for the RSI household. We haven't paid more than 8% of our income in federal taxes for years and our refund went up at least $2,000 this year. Now we're can think about visiting our ancestral homeland in Cancun.

Or is that Bora Bora?

Well, anyway. I'm sure I'm descended from people who were smart enough to be born on a tropical island.

Digby Doesn't Like Teabaggers

The liberal blogger Digby REALLY doesn't like Teabaggers. But then again, most conservatives I know don't like them early. I hear a lot of "Republicans won't vote for Sarah Palin."

Me? I'm pretty sure that my mother, one of my brothers, and one of my sisters have Teabag sympathies. Maybe my dad too.

So, I'm compelled to cut them a little slack.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Note on Carl Paladino's Racist/Porn Convergence

This is a note on the racism/porn scandal that's developing around Carl Paladino, a multi-millionaire Buffalo NY businessman and Tea Party GOP candidate for governor of New York.

Yesterday, ran a lengthy story on the racist and pornographic e-mails Paladino has been forwarding to his friends, cronies, and political contacts in the Buffalo area.

There was plenty of racism and porn to go around.

Two of the racist e-mails focus on representations of Barack Obama. First, there's an African tribal dance pictured as an Obama inauguration rehearsal. In fact, there was a lot of "African" stereotyping of Obama right after his election. For example, some guy in my town walked into a convenience store on election night and announced that "we've elected a monkey for president." Of course, there's been even more "Obama" racist jokes after his inauguration. There is so much of it at my daughter's high school in Kentucky that dealing with racist joking is another reason to "hate" high school.

By the way, the tribal dance video was supposed to have been a big hit on racist web sites.

The second Obama picture involved Obama and his wife Michelle as a "pimp" and a "ho" in a play on blaxploitation movies from the 70's. This kind of stereotyping goes back to the images of "black dandies" in blackface minstrel songs from the 1830's. In relation to African-Americans, the racist idea in the dandy stereotype is to treat black people as absurd, inept, and incompetent for anything but singing and dancing. The stereotype is especially directed against African-Americans who are determined to shine in politics, business, literature, and the arts because it portrays black accomplishment as fundamentally farcical. In this sense, the picture of the Obama as a pimp and whore represents the election of Barack Obama as a racial absurdity.

The final racist item was a video of an airplane landing amongst a group of black people with the caption "run n-word run." There's a certain way in which this image is just as disturbing as the pornography I'll discuss below. Much like the tribal dance video and the pimp and ho picture, the video of the black men scattering is designed to demean and degrade African-Americans. But the airplane video is more demeaning because it portrays black people as being helplessly subject to white people and white people as getting off on their humiliation. It's a little bit like the scene in "Invisible Man" where a group of white men in a Southern town are entertained by watching young black men scramble for coins on an electronically-charged surface. The image was not only an abject humiliation of the black guys, it also involved the pleasures of white power. The same with the airplane scattering the black guys in the image circulated by Carl Paladino.

I find pornography to be traumatizing in the sense that contact with porn leads me to have post-traumatic stress symptoms. So I abstained from looking at it and limited myself to scrolling through. But there's very kinds of graphic sex clips and a bestiality video.

A couple of quick notes:

1. The Racism is not just Paladino's. It's the racism of the people who forwarded the e-mails to Paladino and the racism of those who laughed at the Obama racial send ups. To Paladino, the racist e-mails were "just humor . . . I'm not sensitive to ethnic humor. dago, spic, wap, polack, whatever we hear it every day. I think the oversensitivity to black/white humor is wrong and in itself demeaning." No surprise there. "It's just humor" is the typical response of racist blowhards when they're called out on their bigotry. In the case of Paladino, it's important to emphasize that he's a focal point for an extensive network of racist blowhards.

2. Pornography and Tradition. Hard-core porn has been at the heart of a number of scandals lately, including the sexting of Tiger Woods and the Jesse James/Sandra Bullock mess. Racism and porn have been linked in the United States since at least the 1830's. Paladino's e-mails bring the racism/porn nexus to the surface in the context of Tea Party politics. One of the things that interesting about the pornography angle here is the extent to which Tea Party conservativism is disconnected from Victorian ideas of tradition and propriety.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Last Week's Grading Orgy

Last week I really got it done on the grading front.

Capstone students turned in first drafts on Monday--back on Wednesday. Feminist theory students turned in research proposals on Tuesday--back on Thursday. Thursday night, I started reading all of my take-home essay exams. They were done by Saturday at noon.

And the papers were great. I got a lot of outstanding work--work that would have been outstanding anywhere.

Count me a happy professor at the end of last week's grading orgy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tiger Loses: The World Sighs in Relief

Phil Mickelson won the Masters Golf Tournament today. Good for him. Even better, porn king Tiger Woods lost, therefore enabling us to preserve the idea that there's some justice in the world.