Friday, November 26, 2004

"Red" States Part II

Five people e-mailed to say the "red" states went for Bush so what's the big deal? This series isn't about whether the count is accurate (Randi Rhodes has serious questions about the Florida count which she's addressing on her Air America Radio show and often links to articles on this subject, and others, on the show's blog
Nor is about the serious issues that Bev Harris ( is raising.

Those and other issues are very important ones. What the "Red" states series is attempting to address is a generalization that is resulting in many people feeling they are being personally attacked and how this stereotype is not going to help anyone but the RNC.

"Red" States Part I contained an e-mail that really captured the problems the stereotype is causing. I'm guessing that having read all the e-mails that have been coming in on this subject I didn't properly set up what was going on. The five readers who e-mailed today were confused as to what the issue was. So let me do the set up that I should have done in part one instead of assuming that everyone would get the points the e-mailer was making or why the e-mailer even wrote the e-mail in the first place.

After any election, there's an autopsy in the popular press of what went wrong. (There's no serious exploration of what went right for the winning side. Those on the winning side can make a comment and no matter how outrageous, the press runs with it with little or no questioning.)

We're now performing the autoposy on the presidential election of 2004. You have people rushing to offer their theories of where the Kerry campaign failed and people attempting to cover their own rears by shifting the blame. The e-mail I posted in Part I dealt with the 'cover their own rears' aspect and hopefully the NY Times story referred to in that e-mail will be discussed later in this series.

But we're seeing the usual "Guns, gays and God" talk of why Kerry lost. This will be addressed but added to that (and the reason for the series) is this hatred (that's the only word I can think of for some of the remarks I've heard and that have been sent on to me) that's being focused on the "red" states. Not on the people who in the "red" states voted for Bush, but on everyone who lives there.

If you've missed some of the remarks or articles about how the "blue" states should secede from the "red" states (some go on to suggest that the "blue" states then join Canada), you've missed part of the dialogue that's going on now. With e-mailers, I've referred to these statements as "jokes" which isn't an attempt to excuse them but I have a hard time believing anyone saying or writing secede comments is serious. I may be wrong. Some of those people may seriously think that's an option. If so, they've got more problems than than telling bad "jokes." I can't imagine this "option" being something that the adminstration would go along with or, for that matter, that Canada would. (I could be wrong.)

There's a web site that I'm going to offend some of the e-mailers by linking to. Before I link, this is not an endorsement of this web site. And WARNING this web site contains curse words. The title gives that away "F--- the south." It's listed under "political humor." So I will assume the author intends it to be humor. Okay, I'm not going to link to it. Because the only way I know how to do a link is to copy the web address and paste it in here and "f" is in the address. Again, I don't want anyone who reads this site at work to risk getting into trouble for viewing "objectionable" language in the workplace. (Which is what the friend I spoke of in an earlier post was written up for.) You can find it by typing the "f" word in full and "the south" into a search engine. Again, this will take you to a word that may or may not get you in trouble for viewing online (depending on your work guidelines) so consider yourself warned.

Here's an excerpt (and "___" indicates a swear word has been removed):

____ the South. ____ 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.
We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep. And now what do we get? We're the ____ing Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really? Cause we ____ing founded this country, ___holes. [. . . .]
Get the ____ out. [. . . .] Who do you think those ____ing stripes on the flag are for? Nine are for ____ing blue states. And it would be 10 if those Vermonters had gotten their ___ing Subarus together and broken off from New York a little earlier. Get it? We started this ___, so don't get all uppity about how real you are you Johnny-come-lately "Oooooh I've been a state for almost a hundred years" _____. ____ off.

Again, this is meant as political humor.

And it's been very popular on the web.

Some people who've mentioned it in e-mails (and most e-mails mention it) feel that it's not only stereotyping the south but it's also anti-immigrant and, as Tonya wrote, "overlooks that slavery didn't come along with the addition of the south to the colonies and, this really gets me mad, overlooks what was done to Native Americans to 'found' this country in the first place." Roberto in California notes that he's originally from Honduras and when he reads ___ the South he feels that it "has an anti-immigration tone with comments about get out and who started the country." ZP from Georgia notes that a print out of ___ the south was placed on his desk by "a smug woman who's lived in Georgia for over a decade but thinks she's exempt because she was born in New Jersey!"

___ the south isn't the end of it. Similar statements have led to RS no longer listening to Air America "and I love it but I'm just so sick of being slammed." Lucinda says she'll only listen to Randi Rhodes because "Randi gets it, she really gets it, maybe because she's lived all over the United States, but she gets it, she knows that we're not all Bush lovers, she knows that some of us down here are working really hard . . ." Trey offers a similar reason for listening only to Mike Malloy's Air America show. Diana in Denver says, "I thought it was safe to listen again cause it was the weekend and then I get bummed out while listening to Marty [Kaplin host of So What Else Is News?] and all I can think as I stop [W]indows [M]edia [P]layer is, 'Et tu, Marty, et tu?'" Another writes, "As a loud and proud lesbian I listen to Rachel [Maddow, co-host of Unfiltered on Air America] and am thankful that we have representation but when she starts repeating this nonsense it's like 'Hey sister gal, you're attacking one of your own right here.' you know?" Troi writes, "Laura Flanders is real left. The shows' da bomb. But I'm spitting out my soda when this dude from the New York Times is just running off at da mouth bout how I'm living in Jesusland and bout what I believe in and what I stand for. Dude don't got a clue. And no one's going put up or shut up he just keeps spewing." Meshelle writes, "I'm done with them [Air America]. Really. Janeane [Garofalo, co-host of The Majority Report] is always going on about how Log Cabin Republicans shouldn't be in the Republican party because their party hates them. Well this Air America listener in the south is sick of being hated. And Archie Bunker didn't go to church! And if Air America wanted to make things better in the south, why didn't they get some stations down here!"

I received no e-mail regarding Ring of Fire, The Al Frankin Show, Eco-Talk, The Kyle Jason Show, The Revolution Starts Now or Morning Sedition. Either those listners aren't visiting this page or those listeners felt there was nothing to write about (good or bad) regarding comments on the "red" states. In addition, some listed local radio shows. Air America comments are noted above because they have an archive and I listen to most Air America shows. (Eco-Talk is one I want to check out but it's on so early Sunday and there's never time for me.)

[I'll also note that The Al Franken Show broadcast from Arkansas during the ceremonies for the Clinton library.]

The Laura Flanders Show had a guest on who was with The New Yorker (not the New York Times) and is the magazine's cartoon editor. It should be noted that as this episode progressed Laura Flanders did read, on air, an e-mail from a listener namded Martha who objected to what she saw as stereotyping by the New Yorker cartoonist. (Martha identified herself as an African-American living in the south and stated she was used to being stereotyped but now she was being stereotyped two times over.) Flanders and the other guest (Todd Hanson from The Onion) did address this issue. (And Hanson stated that he was bringing up similar points as they were going to a commerical break.) I'll also note that both of the guests were humorists and this wasn't an attempt on Flanders part at seriously addressing an issue but a look at the humor that was coming out of the recent election.

As for The Majority Report, Janeane Garofalo usually clarifies that she's not speaking of everyone living in the "red" states but of the "Archie Bunker types" during an episode. There was no reference to a specific episode so I wasn't able to go to the archived shows and listen to what Meshelle had heard. (And e-mails to her at present are answered with an "on vacation" automated reply.) I do listen to The Majority Report most of the time and there are segments where Garofalo doesn't specifically state "I'm referring to the Archie Bunker types only" but she's usually said that at one point during the show. It should also be noted that Garofalo is improvising off the top of her head and were this a scripted show, she'd probably make that point more often. Meaning, when we're talking (or in my case blogging) we often assume that everyone knows exactly what we mean. (That wasn't the case for the five e-mailers who were scratching their heads and wondering why I was beginning a series on the "red" states. Hopefully this clears that up for them.)

With regard to Marty Kaplan, one person I've been corresponding with had actually e-mailed Kaplan about this and he wrote back. Kaplin's e-mail was forwarded to me, not sent to me, so I won't quote it. But I do think it's fair to note that Kaplan wrote a sincere note explaining that he hadn't meant to offend and that he had been "short handing" to make a larger point, not to hurt anyone. (He also stated that he'd be more precise in the future thanks to the heads up.)

I'm currently listening to the archived broadcast of Unfiltered so I'll comment on it (if it needs additional commenting) at another point. (I've also e-mailed the author of ____ the South to see if he would like to add anything.)

As for the issue of Air America stations in the south, it should be noted that it hasn't even reached it's one year mark. In addition the following southern stations (according to their web site) feature Air America programming:

Phoenix, AZ - KXXT 1010 AM
Riverside, CA - KCAA 1050 AM
Sacramento, CA - KSQR 1240 AM
Santa Barbara, CA - KTLK 1340 AM
San Diego, CA - 1360 AM KLSD
San Luis Obisbo, CA - 1340 AM KYNS
San Francisco, CA - 960 AM KQKE
Albuquerque, NM - KABQ 1350 AM
Santa Fe, NM - KTRC 1260 AM
Asheville, NC - WPEK 880 AM
Atlanta, GA - WWAA 1690 AM
Chapel Hill, NC - WCHL 1360 AM
Key West, FL - WKIZ 1500 AM
Miami, FL - WINZ 940 AM
West Palm Beach, FL - WJNO 1290 AM
Santa Fe, NM - KTRC 1260 AM

If I've missed listing a southern state, please blame it on my sense of geography and post a reply or e-mail me. (The above was a southern state listing, not a "red" state listing which would require dropping off California, which went to Kerry, and including, for instance, Anchorage, AK - KUDO 1080 AM since Alaska was a "red" state in the 2004 election.)

This is not meant to "rescue" (in the sense the term is used in the recovery movement) Air America or ____ the South, but I will state again that my understanding is that people were attempting to be funny not hurtful. (There was a complaint regarding The Daily Show but I can't find the segment online so I'm leaving it out. Not being able to hear the local broadcasts some e-mailers were complaining about is the reason I'm leaving them unlisted.)

That said, there's another issue at play here. It's as important to me as the people who are being hurt by these attempts at humor and it was referenced in the e-mail that was posted in "Red" States Part I. The humor, whether you think it's funny or not, is leading to some people in south and some people with families and friends in the south being hurt. The e-mails to this site demonstrate that over and over. But there are other people who are using or may use this stereotype as well and they're not trying to be funny (and, I'd argue, most know better).

I'm not talking about the person at your office who repeats it as a joke or someone tacking it up on the bulletin board. I'm referring to people who should be taking responsibilty for the results of the election and are not doing it. Instead, they are using the stereotype as an excuse to say the Democratic Party needs to move to the right. (Or, as some e-mailers note, further to the right.) I'll address that in Part III of this series.

But I want to close on Air America because some people are stating that they will no longer listen to it while adding that they wish they could. Those people are going to have to make their own choices. But I doubt everyone who reads this site agrees with all of it. I know I love The Daily Howler ( but I don't always agree 100% with everything Bob Somerby writes. I can understand what he's saying but I might disagree on a point here or there.

Short of cloning, no one's going to agree 100% with someone 100% of the time. (That's not an endorsement of cloning!) We should be able to disagree and still continue the dialogue. (That's absolutely not an endorsement of the Democratic Party moving right!) There are three people who've e-mailed this site that they agree with everything on this site but that I shouldn't link to Democracy Now! and added their thoughts on Amy Goodman. Regarding agreeing with everything on this site, I'm not sure even I do -- I'm thinking it up as I type even when I'm pulling from the NY Times/CBS News poll or the e-mails for this blog entry or whatever. And I usually don't know where I'm going with even a sentence until I've typed the period to it.

As for Democracy Now!, I think it's a great source. I'm sure that Amy Goodman is not as left as the e-mailers and I can respect their feelings on that. But she is of the left and probably more left than I am. But the point is we tend to be looking for heroes and finding people. When that happens, instead of saying, "Well we all make mistakes, but _____ is useful to me because s/he provides me with ____" we want to turn them off or stop reading them or whatever.

Now let me be clear, this Nation subscriber wasn't pleased that Christopher Hitchens was brought back to the magazine for one column recently to weigh in on the election. Both because of Hitchens' writings in the last few years and also because the space he took up could have been (my opinion) better utilized by presenting someone else's voice.

But I'm not going to stop reading the Nation because of that. I find so much that I enjoy in each issue. And I'm probably close to hero-izing Naomi Klein which I know I shouldn't do. But what I can do, what we can all do, is take from the sources that are working towards the larger issues we are all attempting to work on. If something or someone has ticked you off so much that they are no longer of use, by all means give up on that person or publication or whatever.

And there is nothing "hateful" about holding people or organizations accountable for their own actions. Whether it's the New York Times or those who those who understand the policies of the Bush administration and support those policies. Or in expecting that someone who is a reporter (or an ombudsman or the host of a program or an elected official, etc.) lives up to their responsibilties.

I fully understand the hurt that comes through in so many e-mails on this "red" state issue. If that's a breaking point for you, then you need to act on it. I know I have breaking points (anyone saying the Democratic party needs to stop being pro-choice is going to lose my ear).

But if it's a disagreement that's not a breaking point for you, if it's something that you can leave on the plate and just not eat it but still sit down, continue joining the table. Register your objection, if you feel comfortable doing so, and stay for the meal because I think we all really need to be talking to each other right now.

I'm not suggesting that out of some need for common ground we should move to the right. (Believe me, I'm not suggesting that.) But I am saying that we came together in large numbers this November. Kerry's turnout was a record turnout. If the vote count is correct, it wasn't enough to gain him the White House. That doesn't, however, change the fact that he received the second largest amount of votes ever in a presidential election.

I don't think that turnout resulted from top-down actions on the part of the Democratic Party. I think people outside the party structure (which includes radio hosts from Air America, and the people who put out The Nation or In These Times or other magazines as well as average everyday people like you and me) made the difference. And I'm not going to write off or hate anyone who voted for Ralph Nadar or Peter Camejo or, for that matter, the almost forty percent plus of eligible voters who didn't vote.

I also don't think that we should be so quick to write off all the people who voted for Bush. We'll get into that in Part III so please wait for that part before e-mailing me "Why are you suggesting we move to the right?" I'm not suggesting that at all. I am referring to a problem we have with getting out the message and, as a result of that problem, losing voters that might have indeed agreed with our positions but didn't know it or didn't realize it for various reasons.