Geschrieben am 21. November 2012 von für Kolumnen und Themen, Litmag

U.S. Presidential Campaign Diary: Entry #10 (final)

Der amerikanische Autor und Edgar-Gewinner Thomas Adcock hat in den vergangenen Wochen exklusiv für CULTurMAG in einer wöchentlichen Kolumne den US-Wahlkampf begleitet. Nun ist die Entscheidung gefallen, Präsident Obama wird eine zweite Amtszeit das Land regieren. Zum Abschluss seines “Campaign Diarys” wirft Thomas Adcock noch einmal einen Blick auf die Verlierer des Wahlkampfes: Mitt Romney und seine Unterstützer.

The South Shall Rise Again

Destiny, as often portrayed, requires a man and a moment. These dramatic elements were in coalescence last week in the United States, thusly:

• Willard Mitt Romney, high-ranking leader of a church that until 1978 banned African Americans from its priesthood, was overheard by a California newspaper reporter informing his fellow Caucasian billionaires that losing to Barack Obama in the recent election was due to the incumbent president’s successfully bribing his fellow African Americans with “stuff” and “gifts,” thus yielding ninety-six percent of that segment of the voting public.

• Petitioners by the tens of thousands, primarily from the South and undoubtedly of Mr. Romney’s genetic pool, have now re-demanded secession in the wake of the North’s audacity in reëlecting a black man for a second term in the White House—a building constructed between 1792 and 1800, courtesy of unpaid labor by African slaves.

We are reminded, again, that southern vexation on losing this nation’s nineteenth-century civil war—fought over the South’s determination to perpetuate the evil of slavery—remains at the root of that which is the curse of America: racism. The same can be said of Mr. Romney’s vexation.

The curse was in shameful evidence throughout this now blessedly completed political season, long before Mr. Romney’s complaints to moneyed pals. In their genteel form of racist parlance, a manner bred in the bone, Mr. Romney and his Republican Party comrades gave joy to the undead heart of slave master Jefferson Davis (1808-1889), leader of the southern rebellion.

I am further reminded of the curse by the renewed popularity of Johnny Rebel, the pseudonym of Louisiana vocalist-lyricist Clifford Joseph Trahan. His song “The South Shall Rise Again!” was routinely played at Republican campaign rallies in states chock full of neo-secessionists. It is one of a very few titles in Mr. Rebel’s œuvre that spares use of the most scurrilous pejorative in the American lexicon. Others tunes are replete with the hateful obloquy, among them: “Nigger Nigger,” “Move Them Niggers North,” “Nigger Hatin’ Me,” and “Who Likes a Nigger?”

Mr. Rebel’s song sheets have been proudly performed by Landser, the outlawed German neo-Nazi rock band originally known as Endlösung (Final Solution) founded by members of Die Vandalen-Ariogermanische Kampfgemeinschaft (The Vandals-Aryan Germanic Combat Association).

Mr. Romney—and his running mate for the vice-presidency: Congressman Paul Ryan, a greasy-haired acolyte of the fascist libertine Ayn Rand (1905-1982)—do not consider themselves bigots. Never mind the synonyms they employ as a means of sowing a sanitized contempt for black and brown people suitable for quotation in the polite press. And never mind the acts and utterances of Republican colleagues and supporters—a gallimaufry of blunt-spoken and ethereal racism unequaled in modern American political history, virtually none of it challenged by Messrs. Romney and Ryan.

The Los Angeles Times of November 15th reported Mr. Romney’s candid notions on political bribery of black people—at turns disingenuous and racially coded, though affably stated in language suitable for privileged white ears:

“The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community,” Romney told hundreds of donors during a telephone town hall Wednesday.

“Obamacare was…highly motivational to African American voters,’ said Romney. “You can imagine for somebody making $25,000…a year (€19,630) being told you’re now going to get free healthcare—particularly if you don’t have it, getting free healthcare worth, what, $10,000 a family (€7,852), in perpetuity, I mean this is a huge gift.

“With regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for the children of illegals—the so-called Dream Act kids—was a huge plus for that voting group…[Democrats] always characterized us as being anti-immigrant, being tough on illegal immigration and so forth, so that was very effective with that group.”

Four things:

• In speaking of “stuff,” Mr. Romney references the president’s hard-won Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Obamacare”), adopted by the Congress with zero support from Republican members.  It is applicable to Americans of all ethnicities, inclusive of “those groups,” and is justifiably mentioned as a signal achievement of the Obama administration; indeed, this is vintage “playbook” politics, employed by Mr. Romney himself during ceaseless mentions of his successful management of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

• Low-income Americans will of course benefit under “Obamacare,” a term the president accepts as a badge of honor. So will everyone. And in point of fact, not all low-income Americans are black; considerably more are white. And in fact, no one of any color is likely to be awarded “free” health insurance under Obamacare, which takes full effect in 2014.

• Human existence is not “illegal.” The term is common coded racism among Republicans, and accepted as somehow inoffensive by America’s notoriously stenographic mainstream media. The “Dream Act” refers to an executive order by Mr. Obama under which young adults brought to America as infants or toddlers during parental emigration inconsistent with the law—young adults who know no other country but America—may enjoy legal status while studying in U.S. universities or serving in the U.S. military.

• Congressional Republicans forced executive order for the Dream Act because they obstructed conventional legislation, principally by filibustering the measure in the Senate. The Democratic characterization of Republicans as anti-immigrant is accurate. Mr. Romney advocates a self-titled national policy of “self-deportation,” by which everyday life for the mostly Latino “illegals” who take menial jobs Americans decline is made utterly miserable. Mr. Romney said he would reverse the Dream Act, muy rápido, if elected president. Others of Mr. Romney’s party were not so dainty in their disregard for the country’s largest minority group. For instance, Herman Cain.

Mr. Cain, a blustering pizza magnate who sought the Republican presidential nomination won by Mr. Romney, proposed erection of a gargantuan fence along the 1,969-mile (3,169 km) U.S.-Mexican border; such a structure, following the pathway of the Rio Grande, would surely be the envy of Soviet engineers who once divided Berlin with a comparatively puny wall of ninety-six miles (155 km). As quoted in the New York Times in October of 2011, Mr. Cain made the following pledge of Republican-style border fortification:

“It’s going to have barbed wire on the top, it’s going to be electrified, and there’s going to be a sign on the [Mexican] side saying, ‘It will kill you.’” ¡Atención, los mojados!

‘Do not revive!’

Lest anyone believe that we have won post-election respite from Republican bigotry, we have now—besides the secessionist movement—a flood of new contributions to the party canon of coded racism. A plethora of party poobahs have volunteered their polite (and deathly) vituperations. Among this number: Congressman Ryan, Charlie Webster of Maine, Chip Rogers of Georgia, and the recently deceased Michael Cossey of Florida.

During an interview last week with a television station in his home state district, Mr. Ryan engaged in the standard Romneyesque excuse for loss at the top of the ticket: pesky African Americans incapable of seeing the light and the truth and the way of contemporary Republicanism. Due to his fluency in Republicanspeak, Mr. Ryan nimbly substituted “urban voters” for “black voters.” (He was not asked by the TV reporter in Janesville, Wisconsin, about the mystery of voters in virtually all-white rural districts of predominantly white states—Iowa, for instance, and New Hampshire and Maine and Vermont—who cast ballots for the “urban” incumbent.)

As chairman of the Republican Party of the cream-hued state of Maine, Mr. Webster was flummoxed by election returns from the all-white hinterlands that favored President Obama over Mr. Romney. He told WCSH-TV of Portland, “In some parts of rural Maine, there were dozens—dozens—of black voters who came in and voted on Election Day. But nobody in town knows anybody that’s black (sic).” Hours later, he amended that estimation in an interview with the Portland Press; now it was “hundreds” of mysterious black voters. Not that he was a racist, Mr. Webster begged to explain. “I play basketball every Sunday with a black guy,” he said.

The Portland newspaper noted that in August of 2011 Mr. Webster alleged that two hundred ineligible college students and an unspecified number of “illegals” from Canada had registered to vote in this year’s statewide referendum on same-sex marriage. This, averred Mr. Webster, was just the tip of the iceberg in the unthinkable fraud on November 6th that saw in Maine approve of gay and lesbian unions. An investigation of Mr. Webster’s accusations found him to be incorrect.

Republican state legislators in Georgia attended a four-hour closed-door briefing in the run-up to Election Day, at which time they were informed that President Obama was using “mind-control” to increase turnout among black voters. The briefing was organized by State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, according to a secret video recording made by an Atlanta group called Better Georgia, a nonpartisan organization that tracks Republicans of the Rogers stripe, along with other lunatics.

Mr. Rogers introduced his lawmaker cohorts to a fellow Georgian by the name of Field Searcy, whose behavior is sufficiently over-the-top to have caused the state’s extreme right-wing Tea Party to cancel his membership. Minus the Tea Party imprimatur, Mr. Searcy proceeded to explain exactly how the wily black president was using the “Delphi technique” of mind control. He said the technique was alternatively known as the “consensive process,” and that it was developed by the enigmatic Rand Corporation during the Cold War era as a way for left-wing government bureaucrats to guide a “targeted group of people to a pre-determined decision” while maintaining the illusion of neutrality.

Black voters, in Mr. Searcy’s view, are especially susceptible to mind-control, although the United Nations is currently employing the Delphi technique to encourage “socialistic practices” by the American government.

For four hours, the Republican legislators of Georgia listened to Mr. Searcy and his ominous revelations. After the fact, no Republican was willing to acknowledge that Mr. Searcy is a crackpot.

Michael Cossey’s case verges on black humor.

The owner of a Florida tanning salon, of all things, Mr. Cossey was apparently so exercised by the horror of President Obama’s reëlection that he killed himself late last week—presumably by ingesting a cocktail of booze and psychotropic drugs, although results of an official autopsy are still pending. According to the Keynoter newspaper of Marathon, Florida, police officers found a copy of Mr. Cossey’s will in the bathroom death scene. Scrawled across the document was the dead man’s hand-written medical instruction, along with a decidedly partisan message: “Do not revive! Fuck Obama!”

‘I’m learnin’ to say y’all, see’

Mr. Cossey’s demise is proof, to some, of mental instability on a mass scale by those who have redefined “conservative” to mean a reliably ornery and occasionally comical amalgamation of gun fanatics, climate change deniers, fetus fetishists, war jingoists, tin foil hat wearers, misogynists, furtive pederests, “creationists” who talk of Jesus Christ’s travels through early America on the obliging back of a dinosaur, and au courant Ku Klux Klan types.

Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, a Democrat beloved for her sassy incisiveness as a commentator for the liberal television network MSNBC, put it this way during a recent broadcast: “I’m absolutely, unequivocally convinced that Republicans have lost their ever lovin‘ minds.”

Madness is made from the natural despair of a man who has not measured up to himself; a naturally fearful man, stricken by poverty of mind and wherewithal. He has been taught that poverty is unequal, that despairing poor folks outside his tribe are beneath even his own self-contempt. He does not recognize a sorry fact of life: poverty is not the opposite of wealth, it is the opposite of justice for all.

As a young newspaper reporter in Detroit in the 1960s, I learned of such men, and of their despair—though I did not, at first, fully understand.

I learned my lessons in the course of my maiden voyage into gonzo journalism: I adopted an alias, and joined the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. My aim was to put names and faces to the Klan’s violent forays at an explosive moment of American history: forced busing of schoolchildren for the purpose of racial integration.

I spent months undercover, ingratiating myself with Klansmen by posing as one of them. The charade hardly taxed my modest acting ability: my face is a map of the British Isles, my family roots are deep in the white working class, I lived at the time—and still do—from paycheck to paycheck.

Once I gained trust among the men of the Klan, I became their Judas Iscariot. I recorded home addresses, telephone numbers, and workplaces. Besides those coördinates, I compiled a catalogue of each Klansman’s individual magazine of pistols, revolvers, rifles, and automatic weaponry.

I made notes of the goings-on at every Klan meeting I attended: who said what about expeditionary bombing plans, cross-burnings outside the homes of “uppity niggers,” and exactly which police officers could be considered simpatico. I persuaded my newspaper’s bravest photographer to hide on rooftops near buildings in advance of where the Klan meetings were variously held; from this birds-eye position, and with powerful telephoto lenses, he snapped the Klansmen’s mug shots, one by one upon entry and exit.

My notes, along with the photographs, became a six-part exposé that rendered a bit of local fame—and prison time for some of the Klansmen.

A few weeks after publication of the last installment of the big story I thought was ended, I heard about a gala public cross burning scheduled at a farm about a hour’s drive from the city. Being young and under the assumption that I would live forever, I decided to attend, and once again persuaded my intrepid photographer to accompany me. Our editor, along with the newspaper’s lawyer and insurance agent, forbade us to go. We disobeyed orders, of course.

As soon as we strode across the farm field toward a giant cross ablaze on an autumn night, I was recognized by several of the Klansmen I had tricked. I froze as two of them approached me, their peaked hats removed so that I could clearly see their familiar faces—ruddier now in the glow of flames.

They were smiling. They shook my hand. One of them said, “We never thought we’d be important enough to have our names in the paper.” The other nodded his head in agreement.

I matured by many years on hearing this, for the Klansmen provided me an instant education in the madness of hate: how it festers in powerlessness; how poor white men yearn so terribly for potency and self-respect that they can be induced to violent notions that mask their pain, for awhile. They are attracted to men with good teeth in well-tailored suits who at least pretend to respect their anger, if nothing else about them.

They can be induced to engage in violent talk, and violent acts against others the same as them, save for skin color.

I would soon come to realize that men of wealth and social privilege—men whose entire lives are insulated from the crime of poverty—may perpetuate their station through elective politics. They avoid the high cost of justice by promoting the fears of desperate white men, the ones they pander to by imitating their way of speaking and deigning to eat the poor-people food they eat.

These rich men—not all rich men, but many—have educated me on the subject of political cynicism.

“Mornin’ y’all,” said Mitt Romney, by way of greeting white, working-class men assembled for a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, early this year. “I’m learnin’ to say y’all, see.”

Candidate Romney—scion of his father’s fortune, Harvard-educated, owner of unknown millions kept in the numbered bank accounts of off-shore tax havens—was further quoted by Politico, the online news outlet:

“I got started right this mornin’ with a biscuit and some cheesy grits,” said Mr. Romney. “I tell yah—delicious! I like cheesy grits.”

Mr. Romney won Mississippi in the November 6th presidential election. He won other similarly impoverished states of the Deep South, the region that sparked the Civil War by declaring itself the Confederated States of America. The war’s death toll of 750,000 remains today the nation’s highest in warfare.

Desperate petition signers of the old Confederacy—in Texas, they number 100,000 more than soldiers slain in the Civil War—now call again for secession. Their motivations were celebrated in this year’s Republican campaign oratory, particularly the locution, “We want to take our country back”—a vomitous phrase regularly spewed from the lips of Messrs. Romney and Ryan.

Perhaps the Republicans, and most assuredly the secessionists, want a country “back” to a time before small steps toward justice began combating at least some despair and poverty. Small steps such as adoption of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution at the conclusion of the Civil War, giving African American men the right to vote—or adoption of the nineteenth amendment in 1920, giving voting rights to all women.

Would the sort of Mississippi men who listened to Mr. Romney’s paen to biscuits and grits feel better about themselves atop the old timey social order of the Confederacy?

Is the secessionist drive their vehicle of the moment on a route to self-respecting manhood?

Could Mitt “cheesy grits” Romney be their man of destiny, he of good teeth and nice clothes who talks of “taking back” the land? Could he be a twenty-first century Jeff Davis and see to it that certain folks ought not get uppity?

Mr. Romney isn’t doing anything just now, and has demonstrated great flexibility in political conviction. He isn’t doing anything besides mouthing off, that is, about things he will never understand.

Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Adcock

THOMAS ADCOCK is a novelist and journalist based in New York City. Winner of the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award, given by Mystery Writers of America, his books and articles have been published worldwide. Writing as Tom Dey, he is currently completing a new novel titled “Lovers & Corpses.” Mehr zu Thomas Adcock hier und hier.