On the eve of her Super Bowl 50 half time show performance, Beyoncé released “Formation,” a video full of references to Black Lives Matter tropes and propaganda, including “Hand Up! Don’t Shoot!” (You can view it here. The earlier version of this post had an unofficial version: I apologize for the error.) Then in her portion of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, the pop star gave the sold-out stadium and world-wide audience a live version of the video, including backup dancers wearing Black Panther berets who formed an X, apparently alluding to black Muslim activist Malcolm X, and raised their fists in the “black power” salute. African-Americans activists wrote that they saw the performance as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary, not of the Super Bowl, but to the Black Panthers.
The halftime show was part of a marketing plan messaging across multiple platforms, from social media to mainstream media. Once the show was seen in the context of the more explicit video, a controversy emerged, just as Beyoncé ‘s marketing geniuses hoped it would. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was among the vocal critics, calling the show “outrageous” said telling Fox News,”This is football, it’s not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.” Protests are planned at NFL headquarters.
What’s going on here?
1. Stipulated: Beyoncé’s sole intentions are to sell, make money, and get buzz. If she has a genuine political motive, and I doubt it, it is secondary to the good ol’ profit-making motive that has made her a mega-millionaire. She and her husband Jay-Z have been linking their brand to Black Lives Matter because they see profit in it, that’s all. Is it crass and ethically inert? Sure it is…just like the music business and the rest of show business. Is it particular disgusting, at a time of dangerous racial division in this country heightened by liars, crooks, complicit activists and cynical politicians, to try to make money by glamorizing it? Yes indeed, but the Julie Principle needs to be applied here. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, and if you are paying any attention to people like Beyoncé, you can’t be shocked or overly angry at them when they show that their motives are purely non-ethical at all times. Yes, Beyoncé’s conduct was culturally irresponsible and unethical. “This is my shocked face:”
2. That said, hijacking the Super Bowl halftime show to make a race-baiting, divisive, anti-police demonstration out of what is supposed to be a unifying, fun, family-friendly cultural event, by extolling the racist Black Lives Matter, the criminal and racist Black Panthers, and destructive lies like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” is indeed outrageous. The stunt deserves every bit of criticism it has recieved and more.
3. If Beyoncé wants to be an ignorant hate-monger and extol a racist group like BLM, that’s her right, but promoting their bile without warning to the entire nation is irresponsible, disrespectful and despicable. She probably doesn’t know enough about the Black Panthers to realize how vile it is to celebrate them; maybe this perspective will help:
“Rape was an insurrectionary act,” Eldridge Cleaver wrote in Soul on Ice of transitioning from sexual assaults on black women to whites. “It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man’s law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women—and this point, I believe, was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman.”
Black Panthers leaders Cleaver and Huey Newton were brutal criminals, as were the Panthers in multiple episodes. Like Al Capone’s mob and other populist thugs through the ages, the Panthers did community service to sanctify their ugly politics and uglier acts of violence. Some critics have compared using the Super Bowl show to honor the Black Panthers as the equivalent of using it to wax nostalgic about the KKK. That’s fair. Both were racist terrorist organizations.
4. Primarily accountable, however, are the NFL, and CBS, which broadcast the game. It is their responsibility to vet what occurs during the game and the broadcast. This was inappropriate content, offensive and hateful, and should have been blocked from the start.
5. Yet I have no sympathy at all for anyone watching the Super Bowl or its broadcast anyway. The game and the sport itself is unethical: Beyoncé’s juvenile and tasteless ode to liars, race-baiters, killers and terrorists was just unethical frosting on a really unethical cake. Why did you trust the NFL, Rudy which was killing young men before your eyes? Why were you helping CBS sell its ads, when it was profiting from brain damage?
6. Just to know what it feels like to have your head explode, do read this disturbing praise of the show by one of CNN’s resident race-baiters, Roxanne Jones. Here’s a sample:
Unapologetically black, that is the attitude that Beyoncé’…brought to Super Bowl 50. And as a lifelong NFL fan who’s attended more than 15 Super Bowls, Bey and her perfectly timed, bold, Black Panther-inspired halftime tribute was a beautiful thing to behold. It was everything.
Without asking for permission, Beyonce redefined what it means for a celebrity to command the stage while the whole world is watching. Going beyond the game and the glitter, the 34-year-old pop icon used her star power to shine a light on the problem of race in America. Singing a cleaned-up version of her new single release, “Formation,” Beyonce dared to use the nation’s most-viewed event as a platform to shout #blacklivesmatter.
7. I guess I somehow missed the point where being “unapologetically black” came to mean being racist, double-crossing one’s employer by springing an embarrassing performance attacking the majority of the unsuspecting audience, saluting murderers, and trying to worsen the problem you are supposedly “shining light on.”
36 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance”
I agree that her performance was racist and inflammatory. However, I guess I’m not as offended as I should be because her diction was so horrible I only understood about 3 out of every 25-30 words, and also, it was BORING. And, since I’m writing this after reading your excellent post and the recording of the performance is still running, ENDLESS.
Since the NFL is defending its sport despite the horrific long term effects on its players, I am not at all surprised that others out there are defending Beyonce. Both are interested only in money — not in ideas or facts. The bad thing is that you can just write off Beyonce as a misguided singer or faux-activist, but you can’t (or shouldn’t) write off the football players who are dying for our own entertainment.
The video you posted with this is not the official video. It is merely a collection of dancers dancing the dance in the video. Here is a link to Beyoncé’s website: http://www.beyonce.com/ There are two versions of the song/video. The clean version downplays references to her man satisfying her, but not by much. I read reviews of the videos. I must say, I missed most of the subtle commentary (assuming the imagery was intended to convey a message), especially the metaphor of the conjurer woman with her eyes covered up by a big hat. There is a line in the song where she declares that she is the Black Bill Gates – good for her. The US has been pretty proud of her. She is talented, bright, and very successful. That should be her rallying cry.
Points 3 and 4 are the most important to me.
As for Point 3, I see the pining for the Black Panthers as part of the larger nostalgia for the late ’60s and early ’70s, as if our country is so much better off as a result of the free love, hippy, “Tune in. Turn on and Drop Out” era. The good things that came out of the civil rights movement somehow get lumped into counterculture nonsense. Yet, it seems that the gains made in race relations have been kicked back 60 years. Race relations are more tenuous than ever before. “Black Lives Matter” is not a rallying point but a weapon to use against the power structure, even though it is based upon a false narrative of “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot”. BLM forced a presidential candidate to concede a microphone to protesters, which was shameful. BLM demonstrations have forced closures of highways. BLM demonstrations have been at the forefront of riots, looting, and destruction of private property. That, as a legacy, is disgraceful. In the context of her music and the web, the videos are not objectionable; they are well made, and in same parts, thought-provoking. As a Super Bowl Half Time show, they are quite different.
Point 4 is spot on: If the NFL did not bother to watch either video to get an idea about what the song is about, then they failed (once again) to do the proper leg work to deal with the media onslaught. The videos are very political. The lyrics are less so, but coupled with the jarring images of New Orleans, “Please stop shooting us”, and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the militarized dancers. the NFL should have realized that there was a direct commentary on Black experience in American history, mostly promoting/criticizing slavery, segregation, racism, and bigotry. Where was their discernment? Why didn’t someone at the NFL ask, “Is this appropriate for the Half Time Show” (yeah, I know, silly question). Lest you think I am a curmudgeon, I would have been annoyed if Rush (my favorite band) had done something like this.
Don’t get me wrong. Music, literature, and art should be challenging. They should make us question things. They should be provocative. If the point of the Half Time Show is entertainment, then I am not sure I want a bunch of dancers preening around simulating intercourse, and lip synching to the song. I get annoyed when I see Steven Tyler from Aerosmith do it, too.
I’m not sure if that was a deliberate choice or not, but the above video is a “fan-made” video, not the original Beyoncé video. That can be found here: http://www.vulture.com/2016/02/roundtable-discussion-beyonce-formation-blackness-feminism.html
If you watch the video, you can see more things to be outraged about, at your leisure. She makes some references to Katrina, Tamir Rice/Trayvon Martin, “baby hair”, Black Lives Matter, and Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.
Beyoncé, and her husband, as quiet as it is kept, have actually been pretty active in several social movement, including Black Lives Matter. They have bailed out, en masse, all the protestors during Ferguson and Baltimore. She has shelled out millions to build housing in Houston for people displaced by Katrina.
As for Elridge Cleaver, this is what Wikipedia has to say about feminism and the Black Panthers:
its beginnings, the Black Panther Party reclaimed black masculinity and traditional gender roles.A notice in the first issue of The Black Panther, the Panthers’ newspaper, applauded the Panthers—by then an all–male organization—as “the cream of Black Manhood…there for the protection and defense of our Black community”. Scholars consider the Party’s stance of armed resistance highly masculine, with the use of guns and violence affirming proof of manhood.In 1968, the Black Panther Party newspaper stated in several articles that the role of female Panthers was to “stand behind black men” and be supportive.
By 1969, the Black Panther Party newspaper officially stated that men and women are equal and instructed male Panthers to treat female Party members as equals, a drastic change from the idea of the female Panther as subordinate. That same year, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois chapter conducted a meeting condemning sexism.After 1969, the Party considered sexism counter-revolutionary.
The Black Panthers adopted a womanist ideology in consideration of the unique experiences of African-American women,affirming that racism is more oppressive than sexism.Womanism was a mix of black nationalism and the vindication of women, putting race and community struggle before the gender issue. Womanism posited that traditional feminism failed to include race and class struggle in its denunciation of male sexism and was therefore part of white hegemony. In opposition to some feminist viewpoints, womanism promoted a gender role point of view that men are not above women, but hold a different position in the home and community, so men and women must work together for the preservation of African-American culture and community.
From this point forward, the Black Panther Party newspaper portrayed women as revolutionaries, using the example of party members such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Erika Huggins, all political and intelligent women. The Black Panther Party newspaper often showed women as active participants in the armed self-defense movement, picturing them with children and guns as protectors of the home, the family and the community.
This had direct implications at every level for Black Panther women. From 1968 to the end of its publication in 1982, the head editors of the Black Panther Party newspaper were all women. In 1970, approximately 40% to 70% of Party members were women, and several chapters, like the Des Moines, Iowa, and New Haven, Connecticut, were headed by women.
During the 1970s, recognizing the limited access poor women had to abortion, the Party officially supported women’s reproductive rights, including abortion. That same year, the Party condemned and opposed prostitution.
Many African-American women Panthers began to demand childcare in order to be able to fully participate in the organization. The Black Panther Party responded to the women by establishing on-site child development centers in multiple chapters across the United States. “Childcare became largely a group activity”, the children would be raised collectively during the week. This was following the Panther’s commitment to collectivism and an extension of the African-American extended family tradition. Childcare allowed women Panthers to still be able to embrace motherhood, while at the same time allowing them to fully participate in the Party. Creating Childcare to the Party allowed women Panthers to not to have to make the choice between motherhood and activism.
The Black Panther Party experienced significant problems in several chapters with sexism and gender oppression, particularly in the Oakland chapter where cases of sexual harassment and gender division were common. When Oakland Panthers arrived to bolster the New York City Panther chapter after twenty one New York leaders were incarcerated, they displayed such chauvinistic attitudes towards New York Panther women that they had to be fended off at gunpoint. Some Party leaders thought the fight for gender equality was a threat to men and a distraction from the struggle for racial equality.
In response, the Chicago and New York chapters, among others, established equal gender rights as a priority and tried to eradicate sexist attitudes.
By the time the Black Panther Party disbanded, official policy was to reprimand men who violated the rules of gender equality.
As far as terrorism goes, you can also reference the same article as a start for Cointelpro and the Black Panthers. The US government literally assassinated many members of the Black Panthers. There is absolutely no comparison between the KKK and the Black Panthers. I know people grasp for false equivalency, but a group formed primarily to defend it’s 2nd Amendments rights you would think would be celebrated amongst the right-wing circles. There is a documentary that debuts on February 16 that details the Black Panther Party if anyone is interested in learning more about it.
1. I read Cleaver’s book, deery. A long time ago, but he was a criminal. I don’t care about any of that: he raped women as a political statement. Huey Newton was a murderer. Now you’re calling the Black Panthers as the equivalent of the NRA? I’m old enough to remember them, you know. Peaceful and law abiding they were not.
Go ahead, tell me that they are worthy of celebration at the Super Bowl.
2. Re: the video—I can only post YouTube videos, and that was what I got. Since I never saw the original, I don’t know what it looks like. I’ll use your link—thanks.
Oh sure, I am no fan of Elridge Cleaver. I find him loathsome, and his explanations of “political rape” as completely repugnant and transparently self-serving. But he is not the Black Panther Party. He was a prominent member at one point, but was repudiated. He is now a prominent Republican and a Mormon (go figure).
The Black Panthers, and the only reference to the Black Panthers, it must be noted, was the black berets the dancers wore, are just fine as a reference point/allusion in a show. They were quite iconic, and were formed 50 years ago, the same as the Superbowl. It was a nice tongue-in-cheek tie-in.
I am quite positive that the Superbowl officials reviewed Beyoncé’s performance before she performed it live. It isn’t the kind of show you can spring on someone out of the blue.
As far as the Black Panthers and the 2nd Amendment:
OPPOSITION TO GUN CONTROL was what drove the black militants to visit the California capitol with loaded weapons in hand. The Black Panther Party had been formed six months earlier, in Oakland, by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Like many young African Americans, Newton and Seale were frustrated with the failed promise of the civil-rights movement. Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were legal landmarks, but they had yet to deliver equal opportunity. In Newton and Seale’s view, the only tangible outcome of the civil-rights movement had been more violence and oppression, much of it committed by the very entity meant to protect and serve the public: the police.
Inspired by the teachings of Malcolm X, Newton and Seale decided to fight back. Before he was assassinated in 1965, Malcolm X had preached against Martin Luther King Jr.’s brand of nonviolent resistance. Because the government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of blacks, he said, they had to defend themselves “by whatever means necessary.” Malcolm X illustrated the idea for Ebony magazine by posing for photographs in suit and tie, peering out a window with an M-1 carbine semiautomatic in hand. Malcolm X and the Panthers described their right to use guns in self-defense in constitutional terms. “Article number two of the constitutional amendments,” Malcolm X argued, “provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun.”
Guns became central to the Panthers’ identity, as they taught their early recruits that “the gun is the only thing that will free us—gain us our liberation.”
That’s legit, I know Cleaver was eventually repudiated by the group, just as Malcolm X was repudiated by the Black Muslims. But Cleaver was the face of the group, and along with Newton, the only one remembered by name. Do you think Beyonce is aware of these distinctions? That’s another thing I hate about it—this is just imagery to her. But the images have important and complex meanings, and shouldn’t be trivialized, especially in public.
But Cleaver was the face of the group, and along with Newton, the only one remembered by name.
Angela Davis? Assata Shakur? Stokely Carmichael? CHAKA KHAN?!!
lol. There were some rather famous Panthers back in the day.
But the images have important and complex meanings, and shouldn’t be trivialized, especially in public.
I agree that images are complex and iconic. Art, good art, often invokes such imagery to create new meanings.
Well, wrong. Davis was a Communist and a black power figure, and supported the Black Panthers, but she was not a member. Stokely was famous long before his version of black power and SNCC was brought into the Panthers as a part of the consolidation of the whole movement. He was independently famous, and a speaker with the PB…in fact, I seem to recall his title was “honorary.” Chaka Khan was a joke.
You can’t seriously be arguing that anti-police race-baiting is one of those new meanings that belongs in the Super Bowl half-time show. Please. I don’t care what crap she puts in videos, though anyone and anything that continues to portray Hands up! Don’t Shoot (or the slander that black residents of New Orleans were allowed to suffer intentionally by the Bush administration) deserves nothing but contempt.
Just running down a list of famous Black Panthers, people who are historically closely associated with the group in the popular mind.
Angela Davis – In 1961 Davis enrolled in Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. While at Brandeis, Davis also studied abroad for a year in France and returned to the U.S. to complete her studies, joining Phi Beta Kappa and earning her B.A. (magna cum laude) in 1965. Even before her graduation, Davis, so moved by the deaths of the four girls killed in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in her hometown in 1963, that she decided to join the civil rights movement. By 1967, however, Davis was influenced by Black Power advocates and joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and then the Black Panther Party. She also continued her education, earning an M.A. from the University of California at San Diego in 1968. Davis moved further to the left in the same year when she became a member of the American Communist Party. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/davis-angela-1944-0
You can’t seriously be arguing that anti-police race-baiting is one of those new meanings that belongs in the Super Bowl half-time show. Please.
I think art can make a statement, no matter where it is. I personally don’t mind a thought-provoking show. It beats all the memes about Left Shark. And for the record, I didn’t see anything anti-police at all in the Superbowl show.
No, there wasn’t. But the video of the same number released the same day is indeed anti-police. That’s an intentional, disguised message. But it is intentional, and it is an insult and a provocation, and neither was a fair addition to the Super Bowl show.
The difference being that Malcom was repudiated after he called out Elijah Mohammed on having sex with 16 year girls and had denounced the Nation of Islam. That is why they killed him.
Wait–“some say” he was killed by the US government. So he must have been.
A 1968 memo from the Cointelpro program run by the FBI:
For maximum effectiveness of the Counterintelligence Program, and
to prevent wasted effort, long-range goals are being set.
1. Prevent the COALITION of militant black nationalist groups. In
unity there is strength; a truism that is no less valid for all its
triteness. An effective coalition of black nationalist groups might be the
first step toward a real “Mau Mau” [Black revolutionary army] in America,
the beginning of a true black revolution.
2. Prevent the RISE OF A “MESSIAH” who could unify, and
electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have
been such a “messiah;” he is the martyr of the movement today. Martin
Luther King, Stokely Carmichael and Elijah Muhammed all aspire to this
position. Elijah Muhammed is less of a threat because of his age. King
could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his
supposed “obedience” to “white, liberal doctrines” (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.
3. Prevent VIOLENCE on the part of black nationalist groups. This
is of primary importance, and is, of course, a goal of our investigative
activity; it should also be a goal of the Counterintelligence Program to
pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they
exercise their potential for violence.
4. Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from
gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community. The goal of discrediting black nationalists must be handled tactically in three ways. You must discredit those groups and individuals to, first, the responsible Negro community. Second, they must be discredited to the white community, both the responsible community and to “liberals” who have vestiges of sympathy for militant black nationalist [sic] simply because they are Negroes. Third, these groups must be discredited in the eyes of Negro radicals, the followers of the movement.
This last area requires entirely different tactics from the first two.
Publicity about violent tendencies and radical statements merely enhances
black nationalists to the last group; it adds “respectability” in a different
5. A final goal should be to prevent the long-range GROWTH of
militant black organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to
prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed. […]
Primary targets of the Counterintelligence Program, Black
Nationalist-Hate Groups, should be the most violent and radical groups and
their leaders. We should emphasize those leaders and organizations that
are nationwide in scope and are most capable of disrupting this country.
These targets, members, and followers of the:
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM)
NATION OF ISLAM (NOI) [emphasis added]
Offices handling these cases and those of Stokely Carmichael of
SNCC, H. Rap Brown of SNCC, Martin Luther King of SCLC, Maxwell Stanford of RAM, and Elijah Muhammed of NOI, should be alert for counterintelligence suggestions. […]
Specifically about Malcolm X:
And there’s complicity aplenty to be admitted. The FBI has said — bragged actually — that its COINTELPRO operation of the 1960s and 1970s was instrumental in creating the Elijah Muhammad-Malcolm X feud that all but forced the latter out of the NOI. Karl Evanzz, author of “The Judas Factor: The Plot To Kill Malcolm X” and “The Messenger: The Rise and Fall of Elijah Muhammad” contends FBI files reveal the agency had an informant placed so high in NOI’s leadership ranks that as of January 1968, the person was second only to Elijah Muhammad’s son Herbert Muhammad.
“According to the FBI,” Evanzz wrote in “The Judas Factor,” “Herbert was the only obstacle in the way of its high-level informant from taking control of the Nation of Islam.”
Three years earlier, this informant was within the upper echelons of an NOI leadership that actively encouraged the death of Malcolm X. Evanzz says that FBI files show that as early as July 1964, the bureau knew of an NOI plot to kill Malcolm X. Rather than use its police or investigative powers to thwart an assassination attempt, the FBI continued to fan the flames of the NOI-Malcolm rift.
I know this is a small point, but is “Nation of Islam” too hard to say? I only mention it because “Black Muslim” is not only overly-broad but, in the case of the Nation, also doesn’t apply. There isn’t a single mainstream Muslim organization in the world which recognizes them as a legitimate expression of Islam — and that was true in the 60s.
Also, an even smaller point, but Mr. X repudiated them first. There was already bad blood on their end over his “chickens coming home to roost” comment, but after the debacle with Elijah Mohammed, Malcolm was the first to officially break ties.
“… the only one remembered by name.”
H. Rap Brown
Mumia Abdul Jamal
… and these are just the obvious ones. I could go on longer if you include the SNCC chapters which eventually morphed with the Panthers. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I went to a radical space that didn’t have a poster of George Jackson somewhere. The kids are far more adept at and educated on leftist politics than you think. Not the mention the nostalgia factor.
It is a good point that “Black Muslim” is both overly-broad and improperly applied. The Nation of Islam isn’t a religion, but an anti-white and anti-Jew hate group.
You’re buying into his narrative. He raped women because he was a violent, arrogant thug who’d been raised (or raised himself) in an environment where the only things worth having had to be taken. None of this justifies, excuses, or makes light of anything he did..But, calling his acts of rape a “political statement” is like arguing that Hinkley was simply starstruck.
“Peaceful and law abiding they were not.”
Nor was the system they attempted to combat. Again, not making excuses, but it was a corrupt time with evil on all sides — singling them out as somehow “worse” seems a tad unfair. Granted, I’m (thankfully) not old enough to remember them and am only familiar through books so I’m more than a little out of my depth.
“Go ahead, tell me that they are worthy of celebration at the Super Bowl.”
It is. Anything is worthy of the Super Bowl because, as you’ve said, it’s an ethical black hole. In such an environment, politics is just something else to buy and sell — an almost literal “marketplace” of ideas. The Super Bowl isn’t meant to “bring people together;” it’s meant to sell, and Beyonce’s product is hot right now. Mission accomplished.
1. CLEAVER called rape a political statement.
2. “Go ahead, tell me that they are worthy of celebration at the Super Bowl.”
It is. Anything is worthy of the Super Bowl because, as you’ve said, it’s an ethical black hole.
Point made. My point referred to what the Super Bowl purports to be and symbolizes, a national family party celebrating a sport. But you are correct.
Yes, and Hinkley said he wanted to meet Jodie Foster. Does that in any way go towards explaining his real motives? It was an excuse to make his violence seem more palatable. Cleaver was a looney toon; after all, this was a man who could Jerry Rubin seem coherent (which he eventually became, after the drugs wore off). Even the Algerians eventually kicked him out.
The equivalency that can’t be denied is that both the KKK and the Panthers are race-promoting organizations that endorsed violent methods and hostility toward another race. One of the points of “black privilege” is that black racists like Beyonce can get away with racist, hateful junk like Beyonce’s song and show and not get fired, picketed or tarred and feathered.
Amen and amen, Jack. I can’t believe there are memes being posted that say if you have a problem with black culture and equality you are part of the problem. It’s just indicative of how far the ability of this country to reason or have an intelligent discussion has fallen.
While we’re on the topic of the Black Panthers, what are your thoughts on the idea that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter?” Among the black community a lot of the Panthers are still thought of as heroes who took the violent action that was needed to get the system’s attention, the same as Roger Casement, Michael Collins, etc., are thought of as saints by the Irish.
The bogus assumption often made is that the hippy/counterculture movement somehow brought about civil rights, since those two things happened at roughly the same time. This is wrong and those people should feel bad. It was decades of hard work by a whole lot of “squares” and a lot of stoically religious people, and the type of nonviolent and extremely effective form of resistance and racial healing preached by Dr. King that got the job done, at great personal cost. The stoner crowd and the violent, revolutionary factions like the Black Panthers were almost entirely counterproductive, but a lot sexier. So they are the ones romanticized today. Beyonce isn’t going to do a nostalgic dance number with Black women dressed as Baptists in flowery hats.
You can say the exact same thing about women’s lib, with the counterproductive and recklessly violent Suffragettes now being immortalized by a feature film, when in reality they set back the cause and mostly made fools of themselves while a whole lot of less angry, less showy, but more inwardly-powerful suffragists quietly labored for decades doing the hard work that actually paid off.
In both cases the ones who did all of the work have been forgotten in favor of the poseurs with cool costumes and catchphrases; the hangers-on and the attention-seekers, the SJWs of their time. Even the most famously effective of civil rights leaders, MLK himself, has fallen out of favor with today’s progressives, since his “judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” doesn’t square with the new Black Lives Matter/progressive mantra that minorities can’t be racist. Now we’re back to race wars for some reason. Women and minorities whose parents are worth millions, who attend elite schools, who have never known anything but privilege, are erasing the decades of progress that made their sheltered lives possible, for the most selfish reason imaginable: to feel cool and important.
Revolutions and culture wars are sexy; working hard and doing the right thing with good motives and an eye towards reconciliation and healing are not.
Comment of the Day. Thank you.
The bogus assumption often made is that the hippy/counterculture movement somehow brought about civil rights, since those two things happened at roughly the same time. This is wrong and those people should feel bad. It was decades of hard work by a whole lot of “squares” and a lot of stoically religious people, and the type of nonviolent and extremely effective form of resistance and racial healing preached by Dr. King that got the job done, at great personal cost.
To be polite, this is bullshit. MLK was considered quite the radical in his day. He has been scrubbed clean and sanitized in the decades since his death, but he was once described by the FBI as “the most dangerous man in America” for a reason, and it wasn’t because he was just a guy working quietly in the background. He broke laws repeatedly, went to jail, and was repeatedly abused and harassed, both by the federal and state government.
The government saw the Malcolm X’s and the Black Panthers as one end of the spectrum. They reluctantly acceded to civil rights legislation because they represented an unwelcome alternative, and did not want African-Americans seeing them as viable alternative and becoming further radicalized. In that sense, they were a useful contrast. The government was threatened enough by the Panthers that they assassinated their leaders. Many people also believe the government paid for the assassination of Malcolm X as well. It is not a very simple answer to that. Reactionaries resist change, sometimes violently.
Today King is viewed as something of an American saint. A recent Gallup Poll discovered that 94 percent of Americans viewed him in a positive light. His birthday is a national holiday. His name adorns schools and street signs. In 1964, at age 35, he was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Many Hollywood films — most recently Ava DuVernay’s brilliant Selma — explore different aspects of King’s personal and political life, but generally confirm his reputation as a courageous and compassionate crusader for justice. Politicians, preachers, and professors from across the political spectrum invoke King’s name to justify their beliefs and actions.
In fact, King was a radical. He believed that America needed a “radical redistribution of economic and political power.” He challenged America’s class system and its racial caste system. He was a strong ally of the nation’s labor union movement. He was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, where he had gone to support a sanitation workers’ strike. He opposed U.S. militarism and imperialism, especially the country’s misadventure in Vietnam.
This is Dreir, an extreme left wing scholar at an extreme left wing institutions, trying to raise his own stock using cognitive dissonance. I remember King well, and as an observer in a moderate community, I can assure you that he was regarded as a liberal, but hardly a radical. Malcolm X was a radical. That Hoover’s FBI found him dangerous is appeal to a lame authority. The FBI thought John Lennon was dangerous. Dreir’s game seems to be making current radicals—like him—seem benign by whitewashing their equivalents of the past (he has obscured Pete Seeger’s Communist sympathies) while making more moderate figures, like King, seem more “radical.” Icons start taking on a life of their own post mortem, but this assessment of King won’t stick.
What part about King as a radical do you specifically disagree with?
All of it. Supporting unions? Opposing the war and “imperialism”? Civil Rights? The economic reforms? He sounds like 80% of my classmates in college. That wasn’t radical in the Sixties. That was the culture.
The radicals were the anarchists, like Bill Ayers, Davis, Fonda, the Panthers, the Weathermen and the Communists.King was no communist.
Lol. He sounds like 80% of your classmates at Harvard? You do realize that isn’t exactly a comprehensive measuring stick, correct? I would gently suggest that the typical 60s Harvard class would probably be far to the left of the average American back then. So “moderate” to them would be pretty radical.
King eventually realized that many white Americans had at least a psychological stake in perpetuating racism. He began to recognize that racial segregation was devised not only to oppress African Americans but also to keep working-class whites from challenging their own oppression by letting them feel superior to blacks. “The Southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow,” King said from the Capitol steps in Montgomery, following the 1965 march from Selma. “And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than a black man.”
When King launched a civil rights campaign in Chicago in 1965, he was shocked by the hatred and violence expressed by working-class whites as he and his followers marched through the streets of segregated neighborhoods in Chicago and its suburbs. He saw that the problem in Chicago’s ghetto was not legal segregation but “economic exploitation” — slum housing, overpriced food and low-wage jobs – “because someone profits from its existence.”
These experiences led King to develop a more radical outlook. King supported President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the War on Poverty in 1964, but, like his friend and ally Walter Reuther, the president of the United Auto Workers, King thought that it did not go nearly far enough. As early as October 1964, he called for a “gigantic Marshall Plan” for the poor — black and white. Two months later, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian “democratic socialism.” He began talking openly about the need to confront “class issues,” which he described as “the gulf between the haves and the have-nots.”
In 1966 King confided to his staff:
You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.
Harvard was less extreme than many, many campuses. I repeat:The radicals wanted to kill people and blow the system up. Burn baby burn. Off the pigs. The 60’s activists wasn’t the US out of Vietnam. The radicals wanted North Vietnam to win.That wasn’t Harvard—the protesters just didn’t want to be drafted— and that wasn’t King.
(gentle reminder: LOL is banned here.)
Since Jack brought up the subject of the Vietnam War, it is time for some truth.
I wish this truth was known more often.
It’s buried by the media and the left, just as the other reasons Iraq was invaded are buried. It’s all consequentialism…you heard it from Bernie last night.
Thanks Michael. My parents hosted a Vietnamese refugee family after the war. Our dentist is a neat Vietnamese young man. My favorite law school teacher (Commercial Transactions) was Vietnamese. Her husband was the provost of the university. She was so grateful to the military guys in our class for what the U.S. had tried to do for her country. She and her husband had been sent to Da Nang by the Thiu government to open up a law school there as a sort of stake in the ground to defy the North Vietnamese. A great people whose lives there are still being made miserable by their ‘revolutionary’ overlords. It’s very sad to see the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war always condemned as something evil. Amazing how the Soviets were able to write that “narrative” in the U.S. with complete success and impunity.
To be fair, it’s not like any of the South Vietnamese regimes we supported were models of Western enlightenment either (though they generally weren’t as brutal as the Communists were). That said, the most telling irony is that, like in China, circumstances ended up forcing Vietnam’s Communist victors to adopt an economic model that was fairly similar to that of the losers (exported-oriented state capitalism), the only real difference being that they’ve been much more resistant to political reform than the American-aligned Cold War dictatorships were.
Now, we both know you have a special dispensation. Don’t make him feel bad.
“You can say the exact same thing about women’s lib, with the counterproductive and recklessly violent Suffragettes now being immortalized by a feature film, when in reality they set back the cause and mostly made fools of themselves while a whole lot of less angry, less showy, but more inwardly-powerful suffragists quietly labored for decades doing the hard work that actually paid off.”
Pure truth. People forget that for the vast majority of history, no one had the vote, and then in various districts around the world, as democracy was finding its way, more and more people were allowed the vote. It started with wealthy landowners (of both genders) and then to groups like soldiers. It was only in very recent history that the franchise of the vote was given to all men, and the reason it was given to all men in America, specifically, was in exchange for signing a selective service agreement. 52 years later, women’s suffrage got them the vote without military service.
You have to look at the papers from back then…. Most women didn’t want suffrage because they were afraid of selective service. This might be inconceivable now, but back then the draft was real, and I’m pretty sure that today, if there was a real draft looming, and men could give up their vote if it meant they could dodge, there’s a healthy chunk of them that would. This isn’t a radical idea.
But some did want the vote. And that was enough to try. The suffragist movement who had had success in getting men’s suffrage was now aimed at the women. Again, going back to the papers at the time, you can tell that they were annoyed at the tactics of the suffragettes, opposition to women’s suffrage used the actions of the suffragettes as platforms to show that women couldn’t be trusted with the vote, and it’s very possible that the suffragette movement actually slowed down the movement as a whole. When you look at other districts, the timing between universal men’s and women’s suffrage was usually closer. The UK and Sweeden were only ten years, and Canada’s was immediate.
Given the lunacy surrounding Bernie Sanders these days, I think Tex’s (?) proposal that we disenfranchise college kids needs to be seriously considered.