Yes, we did.
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Black History Month comes early this year, as Barack gets sworn in on January 20. Before we get look back at some relevant but perhaps random history, let's all remember that the Great Molasses Flood occurred 90 years ago on January 15.
Marian Anderson sings
A nontrivial question... seventy years ago, Marian Anderson sang to a protest audience of more than 75,000 in front of the Lincoln Memorial. What were they protesting?
A view of the Marion Anderson's audience
Born in 1897, Marian Anderson had a classical contralto voice that conductor Arturo Toscanini said was "heard once in a hundred years", so maybe her replacement will soon turn up on American Idol. At the height of her career, the Daughters of the American Revolution denied Marion the use of their Constitution Hall in Washington DC because of her color. Remember, Washington DC was officially segregated until after WW II. By the way, my daughter is eligible to join DAR, enabled by some distant relative's boat ride in the 1600's, but hopefully the righteous old ladies aren't holding their breath, considering who would have to pay the membership fees...
When Eleanor Roosevelt found out what the DAR had done, she found a way to get Marion an alternative venue. She convinced Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes to let the singer borrow the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a recital on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939. Mrs. Roosevelt and thousands of other blueblood American women resigned their DAR memberships in protest. Thanks to our forefather radio engineers, millions of people heard Marion's voice "live" across the country!
My Country Tis of Thee
Listen to Harold Ickes introductory speech here. For Marion Anderson, the story didn't end in 1939. For years afterward, she was banned from singing in Washington DC high school auditoriums because she was black. She died in 1993.
Racial humor versus racist humor
It is possible to create racial humor that isn't racist, but it's a tricky tightrope. Rush Limbaugh's parody of Puff the Magic Dragon hit the radio waves in March 2008. Apparently his listeners think that Barack the Magic Negro this is really funny stuff, and that it's not racist humor. Decide for yourself:
Barack the Magic Negro
Below is Mr. Limbaugh defending the tune he created, telling listeners it's "one of the most creative and funniest thing they ever heard", a classic example of groupthink that makes his program so successful. Mega-dittos to all!
Rush the Rascist Gasbag
Maybe it isn't really humor, but there is a way to prove it's racist. Here's how. Just paste a link to it into an interoffice email, and mail it to some of your "negro" friends. If you are a Rush Limbaugh listener, maybe you don't know any black people, so just copy it to the head of human resources and tell him/her to forward it to some random black people for their opinion. Here's an example email you can use so you don't waste too much company time on this experiment:
To: Negro coworkers
Subject: Too funny!
I saw this funny video about Barack Obama on youtube and wanted to share it with you. Click here!
I'm sure you'll find it so funny, you will be doing "jazz hands" while listening to it!
Your Main Man
Big Rush Fan
Let us know how that works out for you!
While we're on the subject, what's an example of "racial humor" that is not racist? How about the following:
Little known to the people of the Union States, Abraham Lincoln had an enormous taste for wine that often got him into big trouble. Historians recently uncovered audio tapes of some of his private meetings in the Oval Office. On the morning of January 2, 1863, he awoke with a massive hangover. In his cabinet meeting later that day he was heard to say...
I did what? I freed the who?
Trying to defer a dream
The year 2008 was like no other in modern history; the thin crusts of civilization and capitalism both showed some major cracks. The former is illustrated in a video of attendees at a Sarah Palin campaign event. The latter is illustrated in your 401K account which we won't review here.
Palin around with imbeciles
In the least proud moments of a political party since McCarthy, while Ms. Palin told her followers that Barack was "palling around with terrorists", they screamed "kill him". When did the party of Abraham Lincoln become the party of bigots and bailouts? We'll cover that in a moment, after a little poetry from the second poet cited on this page if you count Rush.
A Dream Deferred*
* also know as "Harlem"
Langston Hughes, like Barack Obama, was born from a racial mixture of black and white. His writings explore the interracial relations of the twentieth century. Pick up a copy of Hughes' The Ways of White Folks to learn more.
Now then, what man or men can be held singularly responsible for ensuring that the Republican Party is the official party of bigotry? The culprit was actually the team of Democratic president John F. Kennedy followed later by president Lyndon Johnson. When the Great Society initiative became the law of the land in the 1960s, Good Old Boys who were democrats for generations had to pick a new party rather than associated with social reformers. Vietnam was not the only reason Johnson didn't run for a second term in 1968. As for the party of bailouts, certainly Republicans have not been immune to pork for many years, evidenced by their failure to pass the Contract with America's Fiscal Responsibility Act when they owned Congress. But the title "Party of Bailouts" was more recently awarded because of the 43rd President and his esteemed Executive Branch.
Over time, we're gonna get a lot of the money back
Certainly the Democratic Party is just as bad at managing your money recently, and this may get worse in 2009. The Troubled Asset Relief Program only became law only when pork was added:
Sec. 503: Exemption from excise tax for wooden arrows designed for use by children. This shameful pork comes from Oregon senators, and is worth $200,000 to Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Oregon
Sec. 317: Seven-year cost recovery period for a car race track
Sec. 308: Increase in limit on cover over of rum excise tax to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands
Sec 502: Incentives for films to be shot in the United States, including those for adults
Sec. 211: Bicycle commuter benefits that allow employers to pay for employee bike repair
Sec. 325. Duty suspension on wool products and wool research fund and wool duty refunds
Sec. 201. Changes in bonus depreciation for biomass ethanol plant property
A good-bye song for George Bush fans
George Bush has a -6 dB approval rating on the eve of his exit; and that one-out-of-four individual who still likes him might no longer admit it in public to save face. Here's a proposed litmus test to out a Bush lover. Ask him/her to watch the Pete Seeger video below. If they enjoy the video and don't see that Seeger is using sarcasm, you have found a Bush fan. Be a good friend, help them get into a recovery program.
What Did You Learn in School Today? by Pete Seeger
Finally, here's a quote from someone who remembers that Marion Anderson broadcast...
Sandberg's six-volume history of Lincoln provides plenty of evidence that the Rush Limbaughs were present, even in those days.....some things that they said about Lincoln are almost unbelievable. But, thankfully, the Limbaughs will fade in time, leaving only the Lincolns.
Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for a couple of hours or more!