Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

No Party or Group Within the American Polity
Has- or Has Had- a Monopoly on Racism

Monday, May 31, 2010

by Ken Stremsky

Ken Stremsky (kstremsky at live dot com) writes:

I am not a member of the Tea Party: I have voted for Democrats and Republicans.

I do not think most members of the Democratic Party are racist: I think many are.

I do not think most members of the Republican Party are racist: I think many are.

I do not think most members of the Tea Party are racist: I think many are.

Remember to discuss the "sordid taint" and "veritable stink" of the Democratic Party because of its very racist history especially after the Civil War dealing with the "Jim Crow" Laws. You might also want to discuss how the War on Drugs has been fought in a racist way for decades.

Ignoring the racist history of the Democratic party accomplishes what? Do you think most members of the Tea Party are racist?

I think most of the people who have joined the Tea Party have done so because they are angry at how the federal government is spending money, how it passed health care legislation, and the health care legislation it passed.

Congress has the power to ban discrimination by businesses via its power to regulate Commerce "among the several States" if a business operates in more than one state - Article 1, Section 8, clause 3: Congress has the power to make "necessary and proper" laws banning discrimination by businesses because of its power to "provide for" "general Welfare."

Do you think it is necessary and proper for the Federal Reserve to keep secrets from members of Congress? Do you think it is necessary and proper for the Federal Reserve and NOT members of Congress to have the final say on our currency?

It is pretty clear to me that Congress has the power to "coin money" and "regulate the value thereof" because of Article 1, Section 8, clause 5. How is Congress supposed to regulate the value of money" when the Federal Reserve is keeping secrets from it?

The Federal Reserve should not be keeping any secrets from Congress: Congress should have the power to veto decisions made by the Federal Reserve; Congress should have the power to fire members of the Federal Reserve whenever it wants for any reason it wants.

Do you think Congress has the power to make "involuntary servitude" (which is from Amendment Thirteen) within commerce take place "except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted"? Do you think the power to regulate Commerce gives Congress the power to force people to buy health insurance and other things which may cause people to go into debt?

Think about Amendment Ten and state government spending. Do you think the Federal Government or state governments should have the say dealing with how state government money is spent? I think state governments should decide how state government money is spent because of Amendment Ten.

Do you think it makes sense that Congress and state governments make it hard for people to buy catastrophic health insurance? Do you think one of the main reasons health insurance costs so much is because Congress and state governments require health insurance companies to cover so many things? The more money a person has to spend on health insurance the less money they have to spend on quality foods, exercise equipment, and health club memberships that impact quality of life and how long a person may live.

Does it bother you that the national debt is now more than 12 trillion dollars? Though, yes: I do realize much of the national debt was accumulated under Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43.

What do you think is most likely to get more jobs created in the private sector? More jobs are likely to be created in the private sector if the federal government has tax cuts on people and businesses.

The federal government and state governments would likely encourage a lot more investment by Americans and foreigners in our country that would help small businesses and other businesses create jobs if the federal government and state governments stop taxing interest, dividends, capital gains, and estates. Middle class people and others who have 401(k) plans, pension plans, IRAs, and investment accounts would likely see their investments increase in value over time.

It makes more sense for the federal government to have low sales taxes on many products to help pay for the military, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, infrastructure, energy transmission, energy development, passenger rail, freight rail, buses, education, and other things than it does to tax savings and investments. The sales taxes need to be low because if they are high consumption might decrease and unemployment might increase. Rich people, middle class people, and poor people would help pay for the military and other things when they buy products made in our country and products made in foreign countries.

If the federal government reduces taxes on people and businesses, state governments will be better able to increase their taxes on people and businesses to pay for education, police officers, infrastructure, and other things. I think 50 state governments spend money a lot better than the federal government.

Has Congress passed a law that bans the sales of any NEW mortgage backed securities based on no money down mortgages? Why do you think Democrat members of Congress and Republican members of Congress allowed mortgage backed securities to be sold based on no money down mortgages especially after the Savings and Loans Crisis which you may read about on the FDIC website under S&L Crisis: A Chrono-Bibliography?

[NOTE: Ken Stremsky was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate from NEW HAMPSHIRE in 2002.]

Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:

Ken Stremsky's points above are all well taken.

I will here only comment on his comments as regards racism per se (since this was one of the differences between myself and Phil of TheRightSideOfLife.com as regards the motivation behind at least more than a few of those still questioning President Obama's eligibility for the Presidency as regards his status as a "natural-born" citizen [re: a recent 'vox Populi']):

Ken is correct: no Party or group within the American polity has- or has had- a monopoly on Racism (capital 'R' [which I'll get to in a moment] here). It should be noted, however, that the "Jim Crow" Democrats of the old South were populist State's-Righters whose (negative) racial attitudes were intertwined within their populism; this, however, does not mean that all who might argue today for what, in a different time, would have been classified as "State's Rights" are racist: Ken's own comments above make it rather clear that he is someone well concerned with the protection of State Power vis a vis that of the Federal Government and, in all the time that he has contributed 'vox Populi' to this very website (going on eight years now), I myself have seen no evidence that Ken is at all racist.

However: much of the Tea Party movement- along with much of the Birther movement with which the Tea Parties seek "unity"- is well fueled by that same populism which once produced "Jim Crow"; even though it is most unfair to argue that this kind of thing is at the very core of the Tea Party movement, it is all too present therein and my observation that many within the Tea Party leadership simply "look the other way" on the basis of seeking some sort of "unity" with this uglier element within that same movement is, indeed, fair comment.

It is perfectly OK to criticize, as well as most vehemently oppose, the policies of the Obama Administration in particular and those of the Democratic Party in general and there need not be anything racial about any of this. As I myself have already noted, considering any criticism of President Obama's job performance as being largely, and especially solely, motivated by racial considerations is just as foolish as pretending that those who don't like Barack Hussein Obama even being President because he is African-American, or even because he has a Muslim-sounding name, don't at all really exist.

The problem comes when people say (as I myself have overheard them say) not only that, for instance, President Obama's health care program is costly and dangerous but that they also wonder if there is now a lot more watermelon stored in the closets and pantries of the White House (I only repeat this one example of what passes for humor in order to better make my point here): what exactly is the direct political efficacy of a comment such as this last? Surely it does not at all further advance any cogent argument against the Obama Administration's health care reform policies!

Back to that "Racism with a capital 'R' ":

We tend to fall into the trap (and I myself have done so) of using the term 'Racism' (again, capital 'R') as something of a catch-all for what are really three rather different things:

Racism (small 'r'- capitalized here only because it begins a sentence) is best defined as unfair judgment of someone based on their race: in this sense, it is principally done by individuals and small, informal groups. Those who joked about 'watermelon in the White House'- as noted above- would fit into this category. They may sincerely believe that Barack Obama is a bad President, but they also gratuitously imply that he is a bad President principally because he is at least part Black (when, instead, being a bad President because of what that President might be doing- or not doing- is a far more important issue, as well as a far more useful argument against that President by those who so think he is doing a bad job): this is small 'r' racism.

Racial Discrimination is best defined as unfair treatment of someone based on their race. One can be a racist (again, small 'r') and yet not at all discriminate (indeed, a racist may not even have the resources with which to so discriminate! [I don't think that "watermelon in the White House" group had any means of actually doing anything about their so feeling, other than venting/ranting]); but if one has power and/or authority over another (or seeks power and/or authority over another, directly or indirectly [I'll come back to this, too]) and then uses (or attempts to acquire and then use) said power and authority in such a way as to unfairly hold a person to a higher standard because of racial attitudes towards that person, then that is racial discrimination. A supervisor regularly promoting workers over which he has authority of one race while never ever similarly promoting someone of a different race who is otherwise just as, if not even more, qualified to be so promoted is an obvious form of such racial discrimination in the workplace (it is that which Ken Stremsky himself decries in his comments above where he writes about the Commerce Power of Congress per Article I, Section 8, clause 3 of the United States Constitution in relation to the banning of discrimination [of any type-- religious, ethnic, etc.-- not just racial] by businesses which operate in more than one State of the American Union) but, as I'll soon show, racial discrimination can take other forms.

Finally, Racialism (a word that has seemingly fallen into disuse, further muddying the waters already muddied by so loosely applying the term Racism [with a capital 'R'] to any and all of this) is unfair treatment of someone based on their race either through governmental policy enshrined in Law or within a political philosophy that motivates those charged with making and/or executing and/or applying Law. "Jim Crow"- referred to above by both myself and Ken Stemsky- was an obvious form of just such racialism; apartheid in the old, pre-1994 South Africa was also a form of racialism-- but so, too, was négritude: an anti-colonial ideology (more usually intertwined with Marxism) that first emerged amongst French-speaking Black intellectuals between World Wars I and II and then became a predominant political philosophy of State in much of newly independent Africa as the 1950s became the 1960s (with which these African Nation-States thereafter had to wrestle: as, indeed, at least a few are still so wrestling!).

In a sense, then, I miswrote when I opined that much of what drives the Birther movement is Racism, for it is far more racial discrimination: much of the questioning of President Obama's eligibility for the Presidency of the United States based on his circumstances of birth in relation to the requirements of Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution is, above all else, an unfair treatment of him based on his race- hence, racially discriminatory (the "power and authority" here sought [albeit indirectly] by the Birthers is having the constitutional language of that provision adhere to an interpretation that is inaccurate, not only on its face, but also historically [as I've already demonstrated elsewhere on this website, so I need not do so again here]).

In short: President Obama is being held to a higher standard than would be I (who, as I've also discussed on this website, am in the same 'Birth Certificate limbo' as the President himself: Phil of TheRightSideOfLife.com noted- in his critique of my position on this score- that I could, if necessary should such a question arise, always produce my original in order to "independently confirm the additional details" found on my later, currently legal Birth Certificate-- never mind the fact that I shouldn't ever have to do so, as my currently legal Birth Certificate is just that: my legal Birth Certificate [!] and, in addition, so utilizing my original Birth Certificate would itself constitute a criminal act [the equivalent of someone producing an expired Drivers' License at a traffic stop])...

but, once more I'll say, that I would not have been at all asked to so "independently confirm the additional details" surrounding my own birth in the first place had *I* been a serious contender for a Major Party nomination for President of the United States two years ago, primarily because of the complexion of my skin as compared to that of Barack Hussein Obama!


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