The Schmidbauering

Joe Schmidbauer cranked up ye olde Altpress machine to excrete this.

A young lawyer comes to town from the Boston area and with great hubris brands himself the Buffalo-pundit all the while living in suburban (white bread) Clarence and thereby gains entrance to the lucrative networking game called local politics.

WOW! That’s the best opening paragraph, ever! I came here to take over your internets, Buffalo!

The truth is that I arrived here fifteen years ago(!) one of those rare “newpats”.  In 2003 I started a blog to get out the word for a local Presidential race I volunteered with. When that guy dropped out, I blogged about national politics. It wasn’t until 2005 that I used “Buffalopundit”  because that’s what bloggers did – they adopted noms de plume. I switched focus to local issues, especially in light of the red/green budget fiasco. That’s how it started. I was writing about Buffalo – not just the city of Buffalo, but the metropolitan area of Buffalo. It was my daily letter to the editor, and to an extent remains that way.

I never blogged in order to “gain entrance to the lucrative networking game” called local politics. At my work, our firm represents Erie County in a very small number of matters, and I was honored to be appointed to the board of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.

It doesn’t matter that I live in Clarence. I spend most of my waking day in Buffalo; I work in Buffalo, I spend my money in Buffalo, my taxes go to pay for things in Buffalo. Buffalo is a place I care deeply about. After all I chose to come here. 

The irony has not been lost on many people. Complaints about his white suburban roots are old but very real. In his political commentaries on local politics, he has taken on the role of being the white knight of “liberal” political reform.

I wouldn’t say that living in Clarence since I was 33 is my “roots”. Fuck you for the insinuation, by the way. My roots are far more complicated and complex than that, and I’m not going to recite them to defend myself against a hateful and false allegation. Just – fuck you, Joe.

The phrase getting Bedenkoed was coined by the answer-lady (a University Heights blogger) during a blogging feud with Belenko over his legitimacy in calling himself the Buffalo-pundit while living in Clarence.

Who’s this “Belenko” character? Anyhow, if “Buffalopundit” is a misnomer because I live in Clarence, “Answer Lady” was a misnomer because she didn’t answer some very basic questions, allowing herself to use her anonymity as a sword rather than a shield as she picked fights with people.

The reason there was a feud with Beth Bradley, the SUNY system librarian and state employee who blogged as the “Answer Lady” is that, in attacking me, she said that the kids waiting to catch buses at Clarence schools were an “Aryan Youth Parade“. Seldom had I ever encountered such vicious hatred directed at schoolkids, and Bradley’s online behavior became as combative as it was cowardly.

She recalled her experience of being bullied and laughingly referred to being Bedenkoed. But it got serious for her. She felt her job was being threatened. At one point when her boss asked her about her blogging and expressed disproval. (At the time she worked at a local college.)

Too bad for her. Don’t call little kids nazis. 

Lots of folks have gotten Bedenkoed over the years: Pigeon, Jack Daves, Chris Collis, Crazy Carl. They usually are the enemies of the present Democratic Party leadership.

No, they’re palpably bad actors. Is socialist paragon Joe Schmidbauer going to defend the likes of these people? Paladino? Collins?

And now poor BMHA rep and Fillmore common council candidate Joe Masica is getting Bedenkoed. Masica is the focal point of a bizarre conversation about race in the local mainstream media to the point where Sandy Beach, Buffalo’s local right-wing anti-union anti-liberal attack dog is wrapping himself in a blanket of racial harmony and equality. He denounced Masica when he called his show.  Masica was taped by a former friend, Mr. Christopher, in an off the wall racist commentary on all things political during a private conservation, calling various black politicians racist names.

It’s Mascia. He called black political leaders with whom he works “ni**er” and “tizzun”. I criticized him for that. Fuck me, right?

Mr. Christopher is rumored to have ties with Joel Gambria and cash may have changed hands.

Rumor! This Paul Christopher is getting the Schmidbauering!

Writing in a series of commentaries on the Public site, Bedenko has out done himself. He listed Joe Masica’s financial and moral failures. The only unanswered question is Joe still beating his wife and kicking the family dog? In the list of Joe’s tale of business and moral failures and tax liens is one amazing fact. The honorable DA Frank Sedita, a man not known for his enthusiasm for the enforcement of New York State election laws especially around campaign financially laws prosecuted Joe for failure to file his campaign expenses. Joe pleaded guilty.

Totally a guy worth defending, not to mention electing.

Who would have thought a guy living in Public Housing would have business failures, bad credit and hard times, a fact that describes half the folks living east of Main Street and just about everyone living in the Fillmore District?

Ah, so “living in public housing” – in this case, Marine Drive, which is the public housing for the well-connected rather than for the genuinely poor – patronage housing, if you will – is an excuse for being a deadbeat! Hey, folks, move to Marine Drive and stiff your creditors – it’s ok! Then RUN FOR OFFICE, TOO BECAUSE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY!

The DA’s failure to enforce New York State Election laws for various political players is note worthy since the Public covered the issue many times. Masica’s prosecution by the DA should be a red flag that the powers that be, wanted Joe Masica gone.  Joe was a pain in the ass at the BMHA, not playing ball with the current administration around issues of police brutality, privatization and generally asking the wrong kind of questions. He is clearly a man with political ambitions whose his hair is presently on fire.

Here’s what one of Mascia’s observers have to say about that:

If Mascia’s mission is so important, perhaps the people interested in these issues might find a better spokesman.

It seems that Zellner and the boys at the Democratic Party HQ as well as Bedenko have judged Masica unfit for political office. (No question he is stupid, and has a street mouth and maybe is a con man) But the real question is who is fit, Dave Franczyk?

Hold the fucking phone just a minute. Mascia calls black politicians the most vicious racist slur available, and “maybe is a con man”, but hey, let’s elect him anyway?! Yes, thank the sweet Lord Jesus that Zellner has deemed Mascia unfit for public office. Anything less would be unacceptable.

The guy doesn’t understand the codified words like his mentor, Carl Paladino, who speaks the same vulgar truths in a more codified style, the mainstream media and the local elites forgive King Carl because he is just being Crazy Carl. Besides he has money and his agenda and theirs are the same.

I don’t think that Paladino’s and Mascia’s vulgarities are “truths”. They’re what Paladino calls “blurts” and they’re, at best, racially insensitive and underscore an unwillingness to work with others. More importantly, they display a mindset that treats some people in our society as something less than human.

But poor Masica, the media feeding frenzy will not let him be forgiven. He apologized and begged for forgiveness. No redemption for Joe. His racist rant foolishly spoke to the vulgar racist truth of the political gangs of Buffalo and Western New York in a private conservation with a “friend” who sold him out.

Mascia is a victim! The Schmidbauering!

Is Joe Masica a bigot? Yes he is and that reflects the unspoken third rail of Western New York, and Buffalo politics, and its culture of political ethnic and racist tribalism. Joe by mouthing-off in a racist street rant has pulled up the rug on Buffalo’s racial and tribal political system.

Yes, it has. But not in a good way.

These political associations (grassroots, go south to name a few), are all fighting for the influence and a piece of the cash pie, be it the non-profit industrial complex or patronage. It is an institutional political corruption and it is racist, oligarchic to the core be it a Pigeon, Zellner, Lord Byron, Bill Max, Sedita and the legion of political hacks waiting for a piece of heaven to fall to them.
It is a system that exists to serve the wealthy of the local elites who control the political process and who are happy to let the rabble fight over the table scraps. Who got that Buffalo billions deal? To quote beloved Beverly Gray (Council-person at Large who died of cancer), “Billions and billions dollars of economic development money has been spent by the government, I look and I don’t see it my community”

Yes. It is. I’ve written about that on countless occasions. So what does this have to do with me?

In no way does this justify Joe’s stupidity. Is he a valid candidate that is for the voters to decide if he has the balls to stay in the fight?

Sure! Maybe he can kick a baby, too! After all, he’s saying really important things about the mismanaged BMHA! Who better to right its financial ship than a deadbeat bankrupt?

Here we get to the meat of the matter:

Bedenko and the mainstream media feeding frenzy about Masica has taken the media focus off Fillmore councilmen Dave Franczyk’s leadership in the Fillmore district for the past 29 years. Franczyk’s district funding policies are geared more toward defending the remaining elements of old Polinia, (Matt Urban Life Center, Adam Mickiewicz Library, St. Stan’s, and the Broadway Market) than any real attempt at advocacy for economic development such as numerous projects being developed by PUSH on the westside.
The past three mayoral administrations have let the people of the district sink under the weight of red lining, divestment, poverty and crime. The primary government redevelopment program is knocking down buildings and creating vacant land for future cattle ranching. The census tracks for zip codes in Fillmore are some of the worst in the nation, for unemployment, incoming inequality, and quality of housing.

To clarify: my crime here is to have written four pieces about Joe Mascia (here, here, here, and here). Schmidbauer actually left a comment. He omits that fact, and my responses.

There was also this:

That was in response to a piece about a Family Court candidate who’s hired a bunch of people under state and federal investigation to help her out. Fuck me, right?

The Schmidbauering excuses racist deadbeat Joe Mascia and condemns a writer who lives in the suburbs and writes a blog under a name that Joe thinks is obnoxious.

Poverty and hopelessness are powerful engines of voter suppression, and the Fillmore district has the lowest voter turnout in the city. Gerrymandering for white voters (First Ward, Allentown) has been the Franczyk strategy for maintaining his continued stay in power.  Advocacy and hope are always threats to the political status quo.

So, get rid of the Polish white guy and replace him with the racist white Italian guy!

Dave Franczyk’s greatest success over the years has been selling himself to the white liberal community (like Bendenko) as a “progressive.” He has supported numerous resolutions on national issues through the common council, issues that have little direct bearing on the lives of people living in Fillmore. He supported Dennis Kucinich and other progressive democrats. These issues have put him in high esteem as a “progressive politician” fighting for social justice as he represents the very system that creates the injustice. He is a living example of the hypocrisy of the liberal left in Buffalo and Western New York. They organize bus tours in the eastside to see the poverty, homeless and despair, looking out at that world seated in privilege, like wealthy Christians standing on the shoulders of the poor to get closer to God.  Real causes of institutional racism are of no interest because they challenge the system of power, and privilege. (I have had numerous conservations with “white progressives” over the years regarding poverty and conditions eastside. They all turn a blind eye to the reality of Dave Franczyk’s role in maintaining the political situation.)

Fucking hell, if you can find a single positive thing I’ve ever written or said about Franczyk, knock yourself out. I don’t follow closely what Franczyk does in the common council, and I’m not swayed by his appeals to liberals. If you don’t like him, get rid of him. Just find a viable, responsible candidate first, you know?

I can summarize in Franczyk’s own words. When confronted by members of the common council on his two track race baiting campaign literature, Franczyk, said, the greatest local Orwellian political statement on record, “I will not be a victim of racial McCarthyism,” just wow!

Is this media frenzy really about Joe Masica’s foul racist words or is it about distracting from foul racist policy?

 

tl;dr: Joe Schmidbauer viscerally hates David Franczyk, so he’s willing to forgive quite literally everything in order to replace Franczyk, no matter who it is. And even though I’ve never taken a side in a Fillmore District Race, it’s largely my fault because Clarence.

The Buffalo Tea Party on “Race”

Not that angry, not that mobby - Flickr - Photo Sharing! 2015-07-01 07-11-40

In the wake of the vicious, racially motivated mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, we have seen quite a spectacle—even longtime conservative supporters of the treasonous Confederate Flag have denounced it. Only the far fringes of the racialist right-wing movement have made excuses for what the shooter did, and why he did it.

Have you heard people accuse the shooter of being a “leftist“? White supremacy is an ultra-right-wing mindset because it takes something healthy, like patriotism or nationalism, and contorts it into hatredoften genocidal or nihilist. Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin were communists, but they weren’t nationalists. On the contrary, their ultra-left-wing ideology called for an international revolution of the proletariat in order to bring about what they perceived to be a just economic order.

By contrast, fascists such as Francisco Franco, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler took some of the bits of Marxism—that the rights of the individual must be subsumed by the needs of the collective (in Marx’s view, that collective had to do with class—in fascism, it was the “nation” or the “fatherland” or the “volk”). Fascism was a corporatist system that also incorporated some form of ultra-nationalist xenophobia and hatred—national supremacy. Hitler’s Naziism was the purest and most evil distillation of that.

On the political spectrum, Naziism and fascism are ultra-right-wing, while communism is ultra-left-wing. After all, the fascists did to capitalism what they did to nationalism, and contorted it into something evil. Their only common threads were violence, dictatorship, and totalitarianism.

Therefore, when we are discussing ultra-nationalist white supremacists here in the US, not only do the true believers like this kid who shot up the Charleston church self-identify as hard right, but that’s just where it sits on the spectrum. Ultimately, ultra-nationalist, white supremacist, nativist thought is a perversion of conservatism itself. They take the notion of maintaining the status quo and distort it into spreading hatred of some “other”—usually a historically oppressed or powerless minority that can easily be demonized. In Germany, they perverted their nationalism into a virulent and genocidal hatred of Jews, Roma, Slavs, etc. In Serbia a hatred of Croats, and vice-versa. In Russia, a hatred of the West.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter was a Republican—just that he was a neo-Confederate ultra-right-wing genocidal monster.

No reasonable person on the left wants the Confederate flag banned because you can’t ban it—it’s political speech. It would be stupid to try, as the 1st Amendment protects the rights of people to be neo-Confederate racists and fly that flag.

Pointing out that someone made up Clinton/Gore badges with the battle flag on it back in 1992? We don’t know that it was sanctioned by the campaign, but if people are pointing out that the Clinton’s tolerance of that flag is different now than it was 30 years ago. That’s great! We should encourage people to assess the facts and alter their opinions accordingly. I’ll note that Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Lindsey Graham supported that flag flying on State grounds two weeks ago, and have recently changed their minds. Good for them.

I’ll note that, as far as I’m concerned, anyone who voices support for that flag or its continued flight over any state property anywhere—and that includes several state flags of Southern states—is voicing support for slavery, sedition, treason, and white supremacy. You can shout “heritage” all you want, but the heritage that flag represents is one of genocidal racism.

So it should come as a shock that a local leader of the tea party—a supporter and lackey of Carl Paladino and a vicious, unprincipled liaraffirms some of the hatred that the Charleston mass-murderer Dylann Roof espoused.

In a speech that she delivered—as a Grand Island resident, taxpayer, and voter—to the Buffalo Board of Education (on which Paladino sits), she said this:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

Holy. Shit.

Now, you can allege that I took this out of context. Here’s what preceded it:

I am personally very disturbed by the demand for a black superintendent.  Imagine the outrage if some were to insist upon only a white superintendent. Apparently, the reasoning being “No one can understand the needs of our children like a black person can.”  What, black children are different than white children?  How so?  Are they less capable?  Not as intelligent?  Does poverty affect their ability to learn?  I can tell you from experience, with proper structure and support, it doesn’t.  We believe the answer is NO, children do not have special needs based on the color of their skin, and children in Buffalo Public Schools do not belong to the black community alone.  We ALL care deeply about raising the level of achievement and providing a better future for ALL children stuck in failing schools.  To think otherwise is not logical.

So, within the context of some members of the Buffalo schools community preferring an African-American Buffalo schools superintendent, a Grand Island interloper wants the school board to know that racist mass murderer Dylann Roof made an “insightful” observation in his own semi-literate “Mein Kampf”.

The difference, in case it needs to be repeated, is that white people used to own black people, and that history of institutional, legal white supremacy and racism remains baked into our body politic. Yes, poverty does affect kids’ ability to learn, and countless scientific studies confirm that fact. From this article,

  • Children living in poverty have a higher number of absenteeism or leave school all together because they are more likely to have to work or care for family members.
  • Dropout rates of 16 to 24-years-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out than those from families with higher incomes.
  • A higher percentage of young adults (31%) without a high school diploma live in poverty, compared to the 24% of young people who finished high school.
  • 40% of children living in poverty aren’t prepared for primary schooling.
  • Children that live below the poverty line are 1.3 times more likely to have developmental delays or learning disabilities than those who don’t live in poverty.
  • By the end of the 4th grade, African-American, Hispanic and low-income students are already 2 years behind grade level. By the time they reach the 12th grade they are 4 years behind.
  • In 2013, the dropout rate for students in the nation was at 8% for African American youth, 7% for Hispanic youth, and 4% for Asian youth, which are all higher than the dropout rate for Caucasian youth (4%).
  • Less than 30% of students in the bottom quarter of incomes enroll in a 4 year school. Among that group – less than 50% graduate.

So it’s not a question of lack of capability, but it’s untrue to suggest that poor inner-city minority kids are coming from the same environment as white kids from well-to-do homes. The schools aren’t necessarily failing because of the teachers or the curriculum or the superintendent—you have to attack systemic racism and the plague of poverty.

But this isn’t a course in sociology or neuropsychology, so let’s re-examine this amazing statement:

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

No. Nothing about “Dylann Storm Roof” (and I question why the author used his full name here) is “insightful”. He was a homicidal maniac, and a neo-Confederate white supremacist, at that. In his mind, he was fighting for that racial collective of supposedly oppressed white folks, and used his words about racial awareness in an effort to spark a race war. To the extent that “black people are racially aware almost from birth”, that’s because being black in America is different from being white in America. The buzzword nowadays is “white privilege”, and it’s simply outrageous for some middle-class white woman from a tony suburb to come to Buffalo to lecture black people on their behavior and mentality.

What the author is doing is not only excusing Roof’s actions, but endorsing his thoughts and words. She agrees with his motive—to her, it makes sense what Roof does because of “race riots”, presumably the anti-police-brutality demonstrations in Ferguson and Baltimore, and she even manufactures some sort of “calls for violence against all Whites”.  I’m not saying some irresponsible protesters didn’t say such things, but that sort of inciteful language is no more outrageous than, for instance, a positive endorsement of the race hate manifesto of a mass murderer.

This is like your old German uncle reminding you that Hitler fixed the economy and saved Germany.

She concludes,

PLEASE stop telling our children from the time they are young that they are going to be treated differently simply because of their skin color.  PLEASE stop focusing on skin color and start focusing on the need to achieve.  Continuing this multi-generational failure is simply not an option anymore.

A black child in Buffalo’s inner city doesn’t need to be told that he’ll be treated differently because of his race. As a black person in America, she’ll live it almost every day. She’ll be faced with signs of white supremacy and racism every day—whether it’s overt or closeted; shouted with a Hitlergruß, or spat in whispers. Whether it’s being racially profiled as a shoplifter in a store, pulled over while driving prudently through Kenmore, or listening to the misguided and tone-deaf condescending speeches from white suburban tea party loons, a black person’s racial identity and self-awareness isn’t something that he has some responsibility to tone down; it’s not a disease, but a symptom of a wider, more pervasive disease.

The disease is white supremacy and racism, and no approving recitation of a mass murderer’s Buffalo News comment posing as a “manifesto” is “insightful” enough to quote, or to change that.

Quoting approvingly from a murderer’s regurgitation of a white nationalist hate group’s ideology isn’t the way forward for poor black kids in failing schools.

All These Racists

FRAT (1)

It’s 2015.

Last week at a commemoration of the march on Selma, President Obama said,

We do a disservice to the cause of justice by intimating that bias and discrimination are immutable, or that racial division is inherent to America. If you think nothing’s changed in the past fifty years, ask somebody who lived through the Selma or Chicago or L.A. of the Fifties. Ask the female CEO who once might have been assigned to the secretarial pool if nothing’s changed. Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago. To deny this progress — our progress — would be to rob us of our own agency; our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.

Of course, a more common mistake is to suggest that racism is banished, that the work that drew men and women to Selma is complete, and that whatever racial tensions remain are a consequence of those seeking to play the “race card” for their own purposes. We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true. We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much.

Look at Ferguson, Missouri. The Michael Brown shooting did a great job in dividing Americans along racial and partisan lines. The Justice Department investigated and issued a report on the city. While it found that there was no utterance of “hands up, don’t shoot”, and cleared Darren Brown of any wrongdoing, there were bigger, structural, endemic racial animus and discrimination in Ferguson that went far beyond one tragic episode on a city street.

Anyone with even a passing interest in the notion of justice should be appalled at what was going on in Ferguson, Missouri.

As it turns out, Ferguson was a shakedown racket. The conservative response to this governmental overreach, incidentally, is anemic. If the issue had to do with, say, the ability to buy a particular type of bullet that can pierce body armor, conservatives would be screaming bloody murder about Obama’s totalitarian dictatorship. But when an investigation reveals that a city had devolved into a corrupt, oppressive banana republic, there’s almost complete silence. Either you believe in your central political ethos, or you’re a disingenuous liar. Or worse.

Because Ferguson is run like a white mafia that exploited its largely Black citizenry with petty harassment and excessive fines for things like jaywalking and parking violations. It is a domestic kleptocracy. If you wonder why its citizens might have erupted in violence and anger in response to the Michael Brown shooting, consider that these people were being treated by their government as an occupied colony.

Ferguson officials repeatedly behaved as if their priority is not improving public safety or protecting the rights of residents, but maximizing the revenue that flows into city coffers, sometimes going so far as to anticipate decreasing sales tax revenues and urging the police force to make up for the shortfall by ticketing more people. Often, those tickets for minor offenses then turned into arrest warrants.

Police officers were judged not only on the number of stops they made, but on the number of citations they issued. “Officers routinely conduct stops that have little relation to public safety and a questionable basis in law,” the report states. “Issuing three or four charges in one stop is not uncommon. Officers sometimes write six, eight, or, in at least one instance, fourteen citations for a single encounter.” Some officers compete to see who can issue the most citations in a single stop.

In one email, the police chief, who also oversees the municipal court, brags to the city manager about how much revenue it is generating. Ignoring that conflict of interest is a recipe for a justice system that bleeds the powerless of their meager resources.

The city’s judge was evaluated by the city council that appointed him, and they found that he was really bad at the whole “justice” part of his job, but he was outstanding at the “shakedown” part of his job.

He’s gone. So is the city manager. So is the police chief. So are a bunch of cops who sent Paladinoesque racist emails around. The city is a powderkeg, and somebody shot two cops last night. It goes without saying that violence is not the answer, but when America’s gun nuts go on and on about how the 2nd Amendment is about fighting governmental tyranny (it isn’t), I half expect the NRA or tea party to come out in defense of the shooter.

That sort of rhetoric, of course, is as dangerous as it is wrong.

But what’s going on with racism in this country? We’ve had a barrage of “nigger” coming out of white people’s mouths lately. A notable recent example came from some young idiot at the University of Oklahoma. It was heartening to see the rapid, strong, unwavering response from the school’s administration and the fraternity’s national governing body. The frat was shut down within hours, the students in question were expelled, and the school implemented its no tolerance policy properly.

What about locally? In the last year, we had the woman screaming “nigger” outside a dollar store, and the truck driver yelling that word at a woman who called him out for improperly using a handicapped spot. But this mentality isn’t rare in our segregated region.

Look no further than the WBEN Facebook page. Open and public, Operations Manager and Director of “Digital Strategy” Tim Wenger unapologetically encourages his station’s racist listeners to display their ignorance. Stuff like this:

or this

It can more subtle and easy to miss, of course, than the public rantings of WBEN’s oppressed white listenership. It can be blatantly obvious to the point of parody

What role, if any, did racial politics play in Bennett’s demise? School Board member Carl Paladino is sure it did. Peoples-Stokes, Heastie and Collins are all African-American, but that alone doesn’t prove anything. Bennett and many of his supporters are white and no one has claimed a racial component there. Still, race does seem to be playing a more dominant role in education, at least in Buffalo. It’s an important issue to resolve.

…like the Buffalo News taking cues on race relations from notorious forwarder of racist images and videos Carl Paladino.

I suppose we should be grateful, in a way, that all of this previously sub rosa racism is becoming more public. We can no longer pretend it doesn’t exist, or that it’s a problem that’s been rectified. It’s most definitely a serious problem in western New York, which is very segregated along racial and class lines. It’s hard to change people’s hearts and minds on these sorts of things. The comments at WBEN’s Facebook page or on Buffalo News stories are replete with racism – some anonymous, some from people who aren’t ashamed of their own ignorance. Social media seems to be an important factor in bringing episodes like Janelle Ambrosia or Oklahoma’s SAE racist bus song to light. In the past, it would have been rumor. Now, we have proof. The racism can be fleeting, like a casually thrown “nigger” during a parking lot dispute, but it’s the tip of an iceberg that the Ferguson report laid bare.

Racism remains not just a personal problem for many people, but a systemic one that does actual harm under color of law. We’ve come a long way in 50 years, but we still have a long way to go.

David Bellavia on “Pigment Whores” : Counterpoint

I am a well-off white male with a graduate degree and a professional license. Some of this I owe to hard work, some of it I owe to luck, but almost all of it is due to extremely generous and brave parents who came to this country with nothing but an education. 

Because of who I am, and the America that I experience, I fail to see the need to lecture women or minorities on, for lack of a better term, proper behavior.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman in America, or black, or Asian, or American Indian, or anything other than what I am.

100 years ago, women couldn’t vote. 150 years ago, women were considered to be their husband’s property – chattel. Black people were brought to this country against their will to be bought and sold as slaves. For 100+ years after that, they lived, (in many cases, still do), as second-class citizens, and we struggle as a society with issues of race and class to this day. 

I’m sure there’s a great deal of woman-on-woman crime, but we become especially outraged when, for instance, some bemuscled cretin beats his girlfriend to within an inch of her life. It’s upsetting because there’s a long and sordid history of our society condoning male brutality against women. Rape still goes underreported, as victims find themselves subject to withering cross-examination by defense attorneys about their every sexual experience and article of clothing. “She dressed like that, she deserved what she got”. It was a joke when, 50 years ago, Ralph Kramden threatened to send Alice “to the moon”.  

We don’t lecture women about what they should be upset about when, say, a feminist decries abuse and inequality. Well, sometimes we do – for instance, men often tell women to shut it when the idea of equal pay for equal work is raised. Suffice it to say that female-on-female crime and abuse happens all the time, and is reported and prosecuted. But when a man abuses a woman, it calls for a special response, partly because of centuries of male subjugation of females, and because the idea of women being people is relatively new to our society, and not yet adopted by others. It is about power and rights. It’s about liberty. It’s about humanity. 

But for some reason, white males feel perfectly comfortable lecturing black people about how insignificant their concerns are. Somehow, it’s perfectly reasonable to hector black leaders that they should STFU about police brutality or systemic racism because black people hurt black people all the time, and why don’t you talk about that, huh?

Black people have endured centuries of subjugation and racism.  Between Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education – about 60 years – the Supreme Court of the United States (all white males) declared that black Americans could be subjected to “separate but equal” public accommodations. The reality was a postbellum century of two Americas – white and black; the accommodations for black Americans were separate and palpably unequal. The country that, in 1776, declared that “all men are created equal” didn’t just omit women, but the definition of “man” did not include black people. 

It’s 2014 and there’s still a lot of work left to do. 

This country never bothered to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, which stood for the radical notion that women were equal to men, and should be treated thusly. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that the country codified legal equality for racial minorities. But that didn’t magically make racism and racist attitudes disappear. 

It’s become chic among the contrarian, reactionary American right to dismiss any grievance that blacks or women might have. The most fashionable argument is to dismiss leaders in the black community in part because they supposedly don’t criticize the right things

I’m not a black man in America, so far be it from me to lecture black people about what they should and should not be concerned. 

Batavian conservative commentator and former Congressional candidate, David Bellavia, wrote an article for Michael Caputo’s PoliticsNY entitled, “Say Hello to the Pigment Whores”.  The tl;dr: national leaders and commentators in the black community have no moral authority to comment on what’s up in Ferguson because they don’t say anything about black-on-black crime. 

The issue of white subjugation of black people manifests itself nowadays in many ways. Among them is predominately white police forces made up of non-residents, who patrol black communities in cars as if they’re on safari. That’s not to say I think that black people are animals – that’s simply the optics of what’s going on. This is how it works in Buffalo, too – we don’t have much community policing, we don’t have a residency requirement, and cops drive around instead of walking a beat. This reinforces the notion of “us vs. them”, and that the cops are there to keep the blacks in line – placid and quiet. 

Similarly, Bellavia’s piece is breathtakingly condescending, lecturing black leaders on what they should be thinking and doing, and conveniently concludes that contemporary African-Americans have let Dr. King down. 

… the President can’t take the facts of this case and invent a cause that is noble and just for people to shoot at civilians, police, steal from their neighbors. He also can’t excuse and nullify all the criminality that is occurring every night. 

Ferguson’s Michael Brown, the unarmed black man who was gunned down like a dog in the street by a white cop in a cruiser, was not a thug. He was an American teenager living in a tough neighborhood who was exceeding the expectations that our society settles on for kids like him. He graduated high school. He was going to college. He was creative musically. If every teenager who challenges authority is a thug, then ours is a thug society. 

The cause?  White cops shooting unarmed black kids under questionable circumstances, including (but not limited to) the cop being incommunicado and the department refusing to release the incident report, is something that legitimately outraged people in Ferguson. Theirs is a noble cause. Of course, because there are some violent elements among the peaceful protesters, it’s easiest to simply paint all of the demonstrators with the “looter” brush and dismiss them – and their grievances – as illegitimate and criminal. You could always search Twitter to see images that don’t comport with a media narrative, but don’t question that jerk in your knee, right? 

[Michael Eric] Dyson and Spike Lee are not outraged of the black on black violence in Chicago, Washington and Detroit; why are we all now incensed when a police officer kills a black man? (regardless of the facts that show it was most likely a clean incident)

“Clean incident” is one helluva way to pre-emptively sanitize a homicide. Just like people shouldn’t rush to judgment against the cop and wait for the facts to come out, they shouldn’t rush to judgment in his favor. Any time an unarmed person of any race is shot & killed by law enforcement, there should be an investigation and legal process before any conclusion of purported “cleanliness” is declared. 

And from where do we get the idea that black commentators and pundits do and say nothing about black on black violence? Anyone who says something so ignorant simply isn’t paying attention. Spike Lee focuses on, aptly enough, black male treatment of black females in his films. He has consistently been vocal about “colorism“. The right-wing commentator’s playbook requires equality of outrage in response to unequal and often irrelevant incidents.

Furthermore, what is it about Spike Lee’s alleged silence about black-on-black crime in Chicago that renders invalid his comments about racism? If he argues that black males are victims of government brutality, how about arguing that point with him, rather than pivoting to something completely different. 

Hey! You can’t care about Jim Kelly’s mouth cancer, because you didn’t care about every other mouth cancer, ever!

Michael Eric Dyson is an academic and commentator whose main intellectual focus is on race and class relations in America. You’ll forgive him for not taking career and scholarly advice from conservative WNYers. 

But what about the central thesis here – that black leaders have no right to comment about Ferguson because they’re silent about “black-on-black crime”? 

It’s bullshit. 

Where was Al Sharpton when it comes to Chicago violence? In fucking Chicago

Sharpton made a publicized trip to Chicago in November to focus attention on the city’s chronic violence. Last year, Michelle Obama attended the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old black honor student who was shot, allegedly by a black gang member.

The first lady later returned to Chicago to converse with students at a school that is nearly 100 percent African-American. “In choosing Harper High School for the visit, the White House noted that 29 current or former students there had been shot in the last year, eight of them fatally,” reported the Tribune.

The president also came here, meeting with kids involved in a mentoring program for at-risk adolescent boys, bemoaning gun violence and telling a crowd on the South Side, “Our streets will only be as safe as our schools are strong and our families are sound.”

That’s not to mention the local Chicago-based activists who deal with the crime epidemic on a daily basis. Also, this

It’s no secret that rates of violent crime are far higher among blacks than among whites. What is generally overlooked is that these rates have dropped sharply over the past two decades. The Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that violent crime by young blacks has plunged 60 percent. In 1995, the FBI reports, 9,074 blacks were arrested for homicide. In 2012, the number was 4,203 — a decline of 54 percent. But conservatives don’t labor endlessly to publicize that trend.

So, black-on-black crime is declining. Ta-Nehesi Coats expounds on why violence by – and against – police is treated differently, adding: 

I have said this before. It’s almost as if Stop The Violence never happened, or The Interruptors never happened, orKendrick Lamar never happened. The call issued by Erica Ford at the end of this Do The Right Thing retrospective (link here, ff to 16:31) is so common as to be ritual. It is not “black on black crime” that is background noise in America, but the pleas of black people.

Bellavia continues,  

Like the N word, death is apparently acceptable when it comes from the hands of blacks, but outrageous when it comes from whites. Murder is abhorrent. Dehumanizing a race is un-American. We cannot ignore the culture that cannibalizes its own and blame it on racists in a town elected by the same culture.

The homicide of a black person is not acceptable under any circumstances, barring some legal justification like self-defense, and white people should stop whining about who is and isn’t allowed to call someone else a “nigger”. Because, really

We have an African American President. He was elected by white people in the majority – twice. This president has bent over backwards to elevate young people to dream to aspire to be a part of the American Dream. This president has done more to bring the Internet, exercise and free everything to people in the inner city who have little of their own. Still, Dyson wants to remind us “It is simply not enough.” Nothing is ever enough.

I have to say it’s a tough row to hoe for white conservative commentators – are you blind to race, or are you going to bring it up constantly, in order to lecture black people about the insignificance and invalidity of their concerns? Did you catch that patronizing phrase – “free everything”. This black president has showered black America with freebies, and yet they’re still getting pretty uppity! Gah!

No, it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough until a black kid in a hoodie is no more or less threatening to you than a white kid in a hoodie. It isn’t enough until you stop mistaking a fraternity sign for a gang sign. It isn’t enough until you consider as legitimate and valid the grievances of an America with which you’re not especially familiar, and of which you’re not a member. Instead of dismissal, maybe listen.

To turn the hatred on the President at this time just underlines what the agenda of soulless peddlers in the bigotry industry is and has been all along: To stoke the embers of inequality and promote racial tension.

Sure, there are people who do this. For instance, I am by no means a fan of Al Sharpton, whom I can’t forgive for the palpable crime that was the Tawana Brawley hoax. But what this amounts to is a distraction – whenever there is anything of news import, people will parachute into the imbroglio in order to grandstand or self-promote. Focus on that, and you ignore the underlying, real problems. 

Michael Eric Dyson, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Spike Lee went all in on Michael Brown and lost; you went all in on Trayvon Martin and lost. Double down in your own community. Stop expecting government to save you. The one thing that history has taught us is that we must save ourselves. If you don’t trust the people you elect in St Louis County, elect other people. There’s a process and a schedule for that – it has always been there.

I have no clue what that’s supposed to mean. When it comes to the cherry-picked alleged “pigment whores” (notice the glaring absence of the word “race”) black America is their community, and the treatment it receives by America’s power structure is a valid topic of discussion and, sometimes, agitation.

Bring up Trayvon Martin, and while George Zimmerman was cleared of any crime, the fact remains that he used deadly force against a kid whom Zimmerman was stalking as part of a “neighborhood watch”. 

Bring up Michael Brown, and the fact remains that no one yet knows all the details of what happened, except that Brown was shot six times, with his hands up, and was left to bleed out in the street for hours.

How is outrage over this illegitimate? Martin is dead. Brown is dead. It’s not Jesse Jackson or any other conservative bogeyman who has “lost”. The Martin and Brown families have lost. A strong argument can be made that the Martins did not receive justice, and it’s indisputable that the same is true of the Brown family. 

These men have no problem abandoning the cause when it comes to lining their own pockets, but they now speak to inflame the same people they long left behind. Jackson even tried – and #FAILed – to raise money while fanning Ferguson’s flames.

How many inner city youths attend your Georgetown classes or afford your degrees, Dr. Dyson? How many can afford your racially based films, Spike? How many black community members donate to your coalitions and think tanks, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton?

Talk about missing every available point. 

These men feed at the trough of the rich to remind them of the poor, but what are they doing to save those they claim to represent? They are pigment whores, blinded by a skin color they exploit and agnostic of personal responsibility or character.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s message has been hijacked. And for that, I don’t believe that there is a Hell hot enough for any of them.

Blame the victims. Trayvon Martin deserved to die. He was a thug. He started it.  Michael Brown deserved to die. He was a thug. He may have (but likely didn’t) steal some cigars. He shoved a guy. He was big. Here’s a picture that people spread around that turned out not be him at all. It’s uncomfortable to point out when white people kill black people, because it might mean we need to examine race and class in America again. It’s much easier, and more convenient, to simply treat blacks as, if not inferior, then defective, or congenitally violent – just ask Anthony Cumia.

Consider: 

From the Chicago Tribune: 

There’s another, bigger problem with the preoccupation with “black-on-black crime.” The term suggests race is the only important factor. Most crimes are committed by males, but we don’t refer to “male-on-male crime.” Whites in the South are substantially more prone to homicide than those in New England, but no one laments “Southerner-on-Southerner crime.” Why does crime involving people of African descent deserve its own special category?

The phrase stems from a desire to excuse whites from any role in changing the conditions that breed delinquency in poor black areas. It carries the message that blacks are to blame for the crime that afflicts them — and that only they can eliminate it. Whites are spared any responsibility in the cause or the cure.

Excluding them from complicity is harder to do when the killer is white and the killed is black, as in the shooting in Ferguson. Raising “black-on-black crime” right now is not a sincere attempt to improve the lot of African-Americans. It’s a way to change the subject and a way to blame them.

Just as we blame Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown for their own killings. 

As Ta-Nehesi Coates adds

There is a pattern here, but it isn’t the one Eugene Robinson (for whom I have a great respect) thinks. The pattern is the transmutation of black protest into moral hectoring of black people. Don Imus profanely insults a group of black women. But the real problem is gangsta rap. Trayvon Martin is killed. This becomes a conversation about how black men are bad fathers. Jonathan Martin is bullied mercilessly. This proves that black people have an unfortunate sense of irony.

The politics of respectability are, at their root, the politics of changing the subject—the last resort for those who can not bear the agony of looking their country in the eye. The policy of America has been, for most of its history, white supremacy. The high rates of violence in black neighborhoods do not exist outside of these facts—they evidence them.

This history presents us with a suite of hard choices. We do not like hard choices. Here’s a better idea: Let’s all get together and talk about how Mike Brown would still be alive if Beyoncé would make more wholesome music, followed by a national forum on how the charge of “acting white” contributes to mass incarceration. We can conclude with a keynote lecture on “Kids Today” and a shrug.

White people need to stop the “moral hectoring” of black people. The issues in Ferguson do not exist because of black commentators or “pigment whores”, nor do the occasional outbursts of violence by demonstrators render the underlying grievances invalid. The issues in Ferguson, after all, are not unique to that town.

As an American, I can abhor violence and looting while treating the black community’s anger and frustration as legitimate. As an American, I can demand justice for Michael Brown while simultaneously holding no love for Al Sharpton. As an American, I can recognize that it’s not necessarily my place to lecture black Americans on what they should and shouldn’t worry about, but that it is my place to help identify problems, and fix them. 

There are far more peaceful demonstrators in Ferguson carrying out Dr. King’s ethos of nonviolence than aren’t. 

David Bellavia from rural WNY wants to lecture black America on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Let’s start with Dr. King’s own words, then: 

The Triple Evils of POVERTY, RACISM and MILITARISM are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils. To work against the Triple Evils, you must develop a nonviolent frame of mind as described in the “Six Principles of Nonviolence” and use the Kingian model for social action outlined in the “Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change.”

Anyone who has been paying attention to Ferguson knows full well that poverty, racism, and militarism still exist as forms of violence, and are now brought to the fore, yet again. As an overwhelmingly white police presence appears in Ferguson with MRAPs and guns aimed at men, women, and children marching, let’s consider maybe that this underscores the marchers’ points, rather than disproving them. 

National Review: Collins Has A Problem with Blacks

I almost feel badly for Chris Collins. Almost. 

My Congressman did a good thing this week, slamming proposed FDA rules against aging cheese on wood boards. It wasn’t the regulatory overreach that Collins made it out to be, but it was a horribly stupid interpretation of existing regulations. 

The FDA opined that wood planks weren’t especially cleanable, but wood has natural antibacterial properties and has been used in cheesemaking for thousands of years without a problem. The FDA backed down from any ban on wood

But sheesh, talk about burying the lede. 

Collins has done a lot to become attractive to the tea party set since his time in Washington, but everything about him reeks of corporate country club elite Republican, and that’s now finding him under fire from the right, for the first time. 

No one criticizes him in western New York because of his deep pockets. Washington’s National Review Online bloggers have no such issue. What has he done? He pissed off
an ultra right-wing SuperPAC. 

Heritage Action blasted Congressman Chris Collins, who represents New York’s 27th District, for apparently engaging in textbook cronyism. Collins, a millionaire many times over, is circulating a letter in Congress in support of re-authorizing the Export-Import Bank, from which one of his businesses, Audubon Machinery Corporation, has benefited in the past. Collins is a co-founder of and serves on the board of directors for Audubon.

A Heritage Action spokesman told The Hill, “Here’s Rep. Collins leading the charge of an entity that he’s personallybenefited from. That’s the definition of Washington working for itself.”

Collins responded, “This shows how out of touch Heritage is with how jobs are created in this country. They don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re a think tank. They’re not out in the real world.”

That’s rich. Collins accusing someone else of being out of touch with the “real world”. Which “real world?” To Collins, it’s the “real world” of well-connected multimillionaires getting sweet deals through federally subsidized banks. Corporate welfare. There is nothing stopping Collins or his companies from financing international deals through private banks. 

Whatever. It’s a Washington thing that has very little impact on you or me. This, however, is a blockbuster

I was briefly employed by Collins in 2013 but was terminated after three months and did not leave on good terms with the congressman. My impression was that Collins had a steep congressional learning curve. His staff had to coach him to talk less about himself to constituents, and at one point he asked about “a black” being on a Congressional committee after being told that the committee included several minority leaders.

If true, this is a remarkable insight into Collins’ complete and utter lack of character. No amount of Boy Scout talk (an organization that didn’t eliminate racial discrimination until 1974) can make up for a racial animus or discriminatory character. What difference, in 2014, does it make whether there are Black people on Congressional committees? 

Remember – this isn’t some moonbat liberal making this accusation, this is an ultra-right wing former staffer. She was terminated rather quickly, so maybe there are some hard feelings/sour grapes, but it’s an explosive charge to make so casually. 

Collins also made a conscious effort not to ruffle any conservative feathers, and he does not have a seat on  the House Financial Services Committee. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has called the Export-Import Bank “the face of cronyism.”

Most conservative Republicans do not support re-authorizing the bank. Collins, who almost always votes straight down the Republican line, is one of the few exceptions. A spokesman for the Congressman told The Hill that Audubon has not recently received a direct loan from the bank. Collins regularly touts smaller government, which makes it hard to understand why he would choose to make theEx-Im Bank his one major battle.

I actually support reauthorization of the Ex-Im bank. Not only does it disproportionately help smaller businesses enter the international market in cases where they’re unable to get decent international credit rates, but also because the tea party is out to kill it, which must mean it serves some public good. The tea party exists for one purpose: to destroy America and all she stands for; to create some sort of bizarre hybrid libertarian Christian jihadist confederation where everyone is armed and dangerous. So, yay Ex-Im Bank. 

But Collins’ alleged problem with Black Congressmen being members of committees is something that needs to be addressed and explained. 

The Coopers, Formerly of Lovejoy

Let’s dispense for a moment with the “it’s the people” canard about why Buffalo is great – the City of Good Neighbors. 

The reality is that some people are great and neighborly, and others aren’t. Buffalonians are no more or less great or neighborly than any other Americans. Sorry, but you’re not special. 

This comes into stark view as we find out about the violent racist harassment that drove a Black family out of Lovejoy last week. When you have a lost generation of people who can no longer rely on steady industrial work in now-dormant or departed facilities, you get anger and resentment. Young, angry, and resentful people develop irrational hatreds and sometimes act out on them. 

That socioeconomic fact is, however, no excuse. The Coopers of Lovejoy have every right to live wherever they please, without fear of constant harassment from small-minded racists. The Buffalo News stories (here and here) about the issue were well done and provided extraneous details, such as the muttering of racial epithets within a News photographer’s earshot. 

Neighbors thought the family was a “gang” because, well, the Coopers are a large Black family. 

We shouldn’t be tolerating pogroms in 2012 in Buffalo, and another matter comes into stark view. Where is our political leadership on this issue? Rich Fontana is the city councilman from Lovejoy, and he laid blame on the victims

“The family was originally harassed, but when they called in other family members for protection, they turned the situation upside down, and they became the aggressors by sending two Lovejoy youths to the hospital and robbing fast food delivery people,” Fontana said. “After that, I got involved and told both sides to stop the aggression. It was calm until 4:30 this morning.”

Cooper took issue with Fontana’s assessment.

She said that white youths and adults threw rocks and bricks at one of her sons and a nephew, prompting family members to fight back, adding that it occurred after months of racial slurs. “It wears on you,” she said.

As for the allegations of fast food thefts, Cooper said no one at her home ordered the pizza or Chinese food and that no one on her porch attempted to take it.

But the delivery workers filed police reports late Tuesday night, with one claiming an order of pizza and chicken wings was snatched from him and the other reporting that he managed to flee with the Chinese food before it could be taken.

So, the Coopers certainly didn’t find any help or sympathy from Fontana. It’s their fault someone pranked them by ordering food for them. It’s their fault they fought back against harassment. Yet that contradicts this: 

“I’m telling all the residents and every kid I can pull into my arms to stop the attacks, unless you’re attacked first. You do have the right to defend yourself, but don’t be the aggressor against anyone in the neighborhood,” [Fontana] said.

Well, too late. The Coopers moved away. Mayor Brown got briefly involved, but this was an opportunity for him to use his bully pulpit for good. Seeing no ribbons to cut, he has shown zero leadership on yet another critical issue facing the city. 

Good people are good, and bad people are bad – and they come in every hue, from every nation. One would have thought that, in 2012, we’d all be on the same page with that. And in Buffalo, we reserve our outrage for important matters, like footballers’ criticisms of our hotels and the giggles of a different Cooper – Anderson, of Manhattan.