Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Maddow’

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Republicans Blocking International Disabled Rights Legislation

March 30, 2015

This is another piece of news from America, which is also relevant over here. In it, the left-wing news anchor and political commentator Rachel Maddow discusses the Republicans’ refusal to ratify an international treaty promoted disabled rights and accessibility worldwide. The treaty is itself based on legislation, which George Bush SNR signed was back in 1990. Maddow describes it as making the American laws stipulating public access for disabled people the ‘gold standard’ around the world. It had large, bi-partisan support, and was being promoted by the both the leaders of the Democrats and Republicans. This included John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, who addressed the senate from his wheelchair.

It was, however, turned down and blocked by the Repugs for what Maddow describes as ‘tin-foil hat’ reasons, that she said she wouldn’t dignify by repeating. If it’s like other international legislation that has been voted against by the Republicans, then my guess is that it involved fears about loss of sovereignty. Almost a decade ago, when the American Right was loudly denouncing Islam for the practice of Female Genital Mutilation, they refused to support an international motion in the United Nations to ban it around the world. Why? The reason appears to me to be the same reason that America has never signed up to the Human Rights court to try war crimes in the Hague. There’s a deep, pernicious fear amongst Republicans of allowing foreign nations reciprocal rights over the US. It contravenes the deep feelings of American exceptionalism in the party. This demands that America should have the freedom and power to enforce its moral standards around the world, but should never have to submit to legal constraints or judgements from other countries. This piece of news shows how far this attitude seems to go, right up to the point where it actually contravenes an American initiative to promote their standards as that of the world’s on a social issue.

I also decided to put this up because of the brief background information it gives on the disability rights movement in the US. Or at least that part of it, which campaigned for mandatory access to public transport. It came from a group called ADAPT – Americans Disabled for Access to Public Transport, which was set up in Denver in 1983. They staged a series of campaigns where they tried to get on buses en masse, despite being turned away and arrested, as the video shows. Colin Firth and Anthony Arnove include a piece by the Bristolian disability activist, Liz Crowe, ‘Catching Buses’, in their anthology of radical historical texts, The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport. In it, Crowe describes her campaign to get disabled people access to public transport. The piece is from 1999, nine years after George Bush made it law in America.

Rachel Maddow on the Republican’s ‘Southern Strategy’ and Fox’s Demonisation of Blacks

March 27, 2015

Rachael Maddow is an American left-wing news anchor and political commentator on American television. I found this extremely interesting video from her show on Youtube. In it, she talks about the Republicans’ ‘Southern Strategy’. This was formulated in 1970s by Kevin Phillips. Phillips believed that after desegregation, the Republicans would get no more than 10 to 20 per cent of the Black vote. He advised the party that this should not concern them, and that they shouldn’t even try. Instead, they should target White voters, playing on their fears of Blacks and that they would be disadvantaged and discriminated against in their favour.

She shows a 1990s Republican party political broadcast which featured a pair of white hands clenched in rage and despair over a job rejection letter. The White man in the broadcast had been turned down for the job because of ethnic quotas introduced to give more jobs to Blacks and supported by a named politician. The job then urges Whites opposed to this new form of discrimination and fearing their own displacement and victimisation to vote for the Republican candidate. She then goes on to discuss Kevin Philips’ invention of the strategy before moving on to report its latest manifestation in Fox News.

She gives for examples of the way Murdoch’s American network deliberately demonised and played on White fears about individual Black politicians and organisations in order to get White votes. Fox News boasts, and has even copyrighted, the slogan ‘fair and balanced reporting’. It’s anything but. In the four cases she discusses, the broadcaster actually lies to smear its victims.

It attacked Obama’s czar on renewable energy, Van Jones, claiming that he had been jailed for waving a club around during the Rodney King riots. He hadn’t. She talks about how it presented ACORN, a scheme which promoted mostly ethnic minority causes, as one long festering morass of corruption. The scheme has long since collapsed, but in other videos she shows how the Republicans were still mentioning it in order to scare and drum up support from White voters long after its demise.

They also attempted to create political capital out of the New Black Panther Party shouting at and haranguing voters at a local polling station. This was presented as a new form of Black militancy targeting and intimidating White voters. In fact, they weren’t. Maddow herself states that far from being a new, terrifying political force, the New Black Panther Party was ‘a couple of whackjobs’. They certainly look aggressive and extremely intimidating in the footage Fox showed of them. The federal authorities investigated them, however, and found that they weren’t. The other news agencies didn’t bother with this non-story. Fox was one of the exceptions.

And then there was the supposed case of a Black federal official, Sheren Sherad (sp?), who supposedly was found guilty of discriminating against White farmers. That was another lie.

Among the faces repeating these barefaced lies and propaganda were the usual offenders against truth, decency and a genuinely moral, civil society: Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and the original, archetypal swivel-eye loon himself, Glen Beck.

Maddow concludes by saying that this isn’t about the victimisation of Black per se, it is about the use of the fears of the supposed threat from Black to get Whites to vote Republican. Here’s the video.

I’ve posted it here, as although it deals with American history and political issues, this tactic has cross the Atlantic. Anti-racist legislation here in Britain and the fact that we don’t have a written constitution defending freedom of speech means that such blatant fear-mongering is simply impossible over here. Nevertheless, the Tories and Farage’s UKIP have tried something very similar. Despite it’s claims to be a non-racist, non-sectarian party, UKIP is full of racists, Islamophobes and, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, bigots with a bitter hatred of Roman Catholics. It has the full backing of groups like Britain First, and its members also support other far right organisation like the BNP and EDL. It is a party, which is founded on White fears of Blacks and Asians, and particularly Islam. It is also fiercely misogynistic and homophobic. As for playing on White fears, remember the poster they put up showing a builder in hardhat and high-visibility clothing? This was put up on hoardings up and down the country with a slogan about how British people were being laid off in order to employ cheap immigrant labour. It’s a line that goes all the way back to the British Brothers’ League and the fears about Jewish immigration just before the First World War.

And the Tories very definitely are no better. I’ve blogged before about how they too have used an approach very similar to the ‘Southern Strategy’, but of necessity less overt. The Daily Mail has been running pieces attacking ‘affirmative action’, positive discrimination quotas and other forms of ‘political correctness’, since these first appeared in the 1980s. Other Tory papers and magazines have also repeated this line. In 2004 the Spectator published a piece that stated that the only section of the demographic not welcome in London were White males. It also ran a piece ‘Blackened Whites’, attacking the way anti-racism campaigns portrayed Whites as evil and racist. It’s the same approach the Repugs ran under Dubya attempting to play on the fears and hatred of ‘angry White men’. And it’s significant that for all the more liberal verbiage with which Farage comes out, he attended the CPAC Republican convention.

Maddow shows what’s going on in America. But it’s also only the most extreme and overt manifestation of what Cameron, Farage, and their media friends, like the Dirty Digger and Richard Desmond, are doing over here.