Elongated Thoughts: Why, when you're critiquing Mitt Romney's half-truths, is it necessary to attack Obama as well?
(The Root) -- When I sat down to write this article about the "Say Anything" election, I wondered if I should give examples of President Obama participating in #SayAnything2012 to even out my critique. I thought of it because in today's climate, in order to call BS and not have the core of my argument dismissed, I have to give out equal critiques. But that creates its own issue that we see in media all the time: the false-equivalency trap. To make a point, we have to attack everybody because "both sides do it!" If we don't show both sides doing something, we have a bias!
I disagree with this idea. I believe that both parties have their own problems, but they don't engage voters the same way in the same areas. If Fox News simply reported on issues with the Obama presidency -- all backed up with proof and facts -- it wouldn't be the joke it is today. Fox News' malicious framing of stories and use of what The Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead refers to as the "wondering aloud" news technique -- when you don't have facts and just wonder on air about a topic -- that's their problem. MSNBC, on the other hand, has a liberal slant but doesn't engage in reframing entire narratives. Oftentimes they allow Fox News and conservatives to frame the argument.
Just recently we watched the media's false equivalency when dealing with the ad wars of the presidential campaigns. The majority of MSNBC anchors claimed that Romney's hit on Obama concerning taking work out of welfare was a lie, but added that Obama said Mitt Romney killed a woman! See! Both sides are negative!
I'd argue that there are some serious differences. An ad from a super PAC (which, as we learned from Mitt Romney during the GOP debates, a candidate can't control and is legally barred from conversing with) about a woman dying because of a lack of health insurance is different from a Romney 2012 campaign ad that claims Obama did something he simply did not do and stokes the very resentment that led to the questionable welfare reform of 1996.
Bottom line: Everybody can be guilty of #SayAnything2012, but that doesn't mean it's at the same levels for both sides. Creating a false equivalency to dilute the issue doesn't fix anything.
Elongated Thoughts: Fifty-nine percent of New Yorkers believe that police in the city treat whites better than blacks, according to a survey.
(The Root) -- BREAKING: According to a New York Times survey, 59 percent of New Yorkers believe that whites are treated better than blacks by police in New York City. Overall, 64 percent of the people surveyed said the police favored one race over another. Also -- fire is hot. How will this new information change everything?!?!
Maybe I shouldn't be so flip about this survey. Yes, as a black dude living in NYC, I am very much aware of the difference in treatment. It's been this way since I've been alive. But now that the New York Times has published its survey results, maybe it'll be real, as opposed to a figment of my overactive, problematic Negro mind. New York City has come under intense scrutiny because of its stop-and-frisk policies. The numbers show a clear bias. But that makes sense right?
From the New York Times:
"But some New Yorkers, while conceding that the police show favoritism for one race over another, said the stop-and-frisk tactic's ends justified the means.
"If that's what it takes, I find it acceptable," said Jani Kipness, 58, a special-education teacher from Brooklyn who is white. She said that she thought that officers "single out minority groups," but that "if you look at the crime in New York, it's less white people; that's just the way it is."
"I wouldn't want to be stopped and frisked," she added. "But if you look at cities like Detroit and other cities that have a way higher crime rate than New York, I think New York has to be doing something right." "
The fact that the majority of those stopped are completely innocent? That doesn't matter. The fact that the police target certain areas? That doesn't matter. Obviously the Negroes are doing the crime, so they just have to be stopped, right? Stop committing so many crimes, blacks!
Quick question: What if they stopped and frisked down on Wall Street?
I know white folks who casually talk about drug use, and they know they most likely won't be stopped or questioned. When some of my white friends were ticketed by police recently, they were absolutely shocked. They complained to me about getting a ticket for drinking alcohol in the park. I asked, "Well, were you drinking alcohol?"
They replied, "Yes, but everyone around us was!" I shared this story with some of my black New Yorker friends, and we all laughed and laughed. We know the situation too well. When so many of us are stopped for doing nothing wrong, we aren't surprised by a ticket for actually breaking rules.
The stop-and-frisk policies in NYC are problematic. Police don't have the numbers to justify the practice. Recently I was frustrated enough about this problem that I reached out to Pittsburgh MC and advocate Jasiri X about creating something to highlight the injustice. I pitched him the idea of flipping legendary Brooklyn MC Biggie Smalls' classic "The 10 Crack Commandments" to "The #10FriskCommandments." I told him if he wrote it, I'd shoot and direct it. Check it out and also check out ColorOfChange.org's petition to stop stop and frisk.
Elongated Thoughts: The "legitimate rape" thing isn't a talking point. It's real political ideology.
(The Root) -- So this happened: Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who is currently running for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill, was talking yesterday about abortion in cases of rape and said, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child."
Whether you agree with a woman's right to choose or not, you have to see how troubling this commentary is. And by "troubling" I mean "completely and utterly effed up." Twitter has been having fun with the #SayAnything2012 hashtag, used to express the idea that conservatives say anything to win. But this is more than that -- this is actual political ideology. A woman's body fights off pregnancy when she's legitimately raped -- not when it's illegitimate: you know, when the rapist doesn't file the proper paperwork or get the right signatures?
"Oh, I'm sorry. This rape isn't legitimate. There's no raised seal. Oh, and you forgot to sign the back." -- A woman's body.
This is horrendous. As much as Todd Akin is trying to backpedal, we have to remember that this isn't a random comment. Rep. Akin co-sponsored the infamous No Tax Payers Funding for Abortion Act -- which initially attempted to redefine rape -- with vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. This is a pattern that seems to pop up within the right wing way too often.
I realize that I find this conversation gag inducing because this isn't just theoretical for me. I know someone who got pregnant through rape. We talked about this issue way before Akin's ridiculousness, and she told me that she didn't tell anyone because she was raped by someone she was dating. She genuinely thought no one would believe her.
Now I know why. Apparently her rape wasn't legitimate.
Elongated Thoughts: Black social media influencers come together to educate about voting laws through dialogue and engagement.
(The Root) -- "They're trying to take our vote!"
I could hear my mother's fear over the phone. While trying to vote during a Democratic primary this year, she was told that she wasn't on the voter rolls at her local polling station in New York City. She hadn't gone to the wrong polling station. She wasn't registered as a Republican or an independent, thereby disqualifying her to participate. She just wasn't on the list.
My mom, like many of us, has heard about the voter-ID laws and other policies being implemented across the country. The laws and policies -- which are affecting the poor, the elderly and people of color disproportionately -- have been identified as an attempt to disenfranchise key demographics of the Democratic base. I tried to explain to her that I didn't think this was part of the broader disenfranchisement campaign, but that didn't soothe her. She has voted in every election for decades and now wasn't listed, and she feared what this meant for her and for others who may not attempt to vote until November.
Her fear is justified.
The disenfranchising of likely Obama voters is real. Civil rights organizations such as the NAACP, ColorOfChange.org and the National Action Network have all been fighting for months to halt what Attorney General Eric Holder has described as "a poll tax." My mom's fear wasn't based in conspiracy theories she heard from the black Israelites on 125th Street in Harlem. Republicans have flat out said that these laws will actively help Mitt Romney win the White House. And with the disheartening legal ruling in Pennsylvania, we realize that the game has been set for November. We can -- and should -- continue to yell and fight, but the most important thing we can do at the moment is educate.
Enter social media.
Twitter -- the blackity-black social media network where 28 percent of blacks who are online participate -- is known as a space to drum up support and outrage for various issues. But just as it can be used to enrage, it can also be used to inform. A great example is a Twitter conversation that's taking place at 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 -- hosted by Twitter personality and sex-positive blogger @FeministaJones. She's joined by ColorOfChange.org, IMPACT and other influencers choosing to use their social space to engage. The goal is to educate people about the myriad changes in registration, ID requirements and much more. Using the hashtag #voteready, Jones hopes to inform and allow anyone to ask questions and follow the overall conversation.
"It's important that we get this information out there, especially to young people who might not be aware of the changes," said Jones through her YouTube announcement of the talk. "We want to make sure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities when it comes to voting."
As we count down to the biggest, nastiest presidential election we've had in decades, informing and engaging young people of color is of great import. Organizations play a role in the fight to protect the vote, but grassroots advocates like Jones and others are where true change lies. If more people take up the fight to educate, no matter where they are, we will have our say in November, whether Republicans like it or not.
Elongated Thoughts: Suddenly Romney's campaign is upset over coded language?
(The Root) -- So apparently Barack Obama's presidential campaign is the campaign of hate.
That's according to Mitt Romney, who came out swinging after he caught wind of some commentary that Vice President Joe Biden made while on the campaign trail.
Man, that was hateful. That wasn't a rhetorical flourish or anything. That was the Obama campaign telling black people, who Romney cares so very much about, that they're gonna be slaves again!
Let Romney explain:
" ... Romney said Obama's "campaign and his surrogates have made wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the Presidency. Another outrageous charge came a few hours ago in Virginia. And the White House sinks a little bit lower."
"Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago," Romney said.
Yeah, Obama. Take that hate elsewhere! Now, if you'll excuse Mr. Romney, he has a fundraiser hosted by Donald Trump to attend, thank you very much. And don't forget to speak with Newt Gingrich about his endorsement. Oh, and stop the hate!
For the Romney camp to jump on what could be called, at worst, a poor phrasing of words, is something I would find hilarious if it weren't so ridiculous. Now the Romney campaign recognizes coded language? Anglo-Saxon heritage, blacks and their free stuff, Obama doesn't want welfare folks to work? That's not coded at all! That's all smiley-happy-joy-joy-ice cream-style facts! Calling Obama angry and hateful? That's not playing up any racial stereotypes or anything.
One more magical quote from Romney:
"He demonizes some. He panders to others," Romney said. "His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces."
I ... but ... that's what you've been doi -- ... how can you claim ... I ...
I'm sorry. I'm currently choking on the fakest, most tone-deaf outrage we've seen this year.