Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Biggest Sundown Town In America

Sara Robinson

Ethnic cleansing has arrived (once again) in Los Angeles -- a city that hasn't gone 40 years in its entire history without somebody trying to wipe somebody else off the map. The Spanish tried to eliminate the natives; the Americans did their best to banish the Spanish; the Mexicans fought back during the Pachuco Wars; the Japanese, of course, were famously sent off to the camps during World War II; and the ghettoization and police harassment of African-Americans erupted into rioting in 1965, and again in 1992.

Palm trees and beaches, sure; but LA has never been a peaceful place. And it has always found ways, in particular, to make its black population distinctly unwelcome.

My father-in-law, an LA native himself, was a professor of sociological statistics at UCLA for two decades. Among his finer achievements (by his own reckoning) was an early 1950s study proving that the LA County courts were deliberately, systematically, eliminating African-American citizens from being summoned to jury duty, thus ensuring that no black defendant in LA could ever stand before a jury of his or her peers. His study became the basis of a lawsuit (at which he testified, at some personal risk), and which brought about signficant changes in jury selection procedures. But that's the kind of crap that used to go on -- and, as anybody who watched the Rodney King trial knows -- still goes on to this day, whenever anybody in power thinks they can get away with it.

In fact, it seems to be getting worse. The growing number of Mexicans in Southern California, and the growing influence of the Mexican mafia in formerly black neighborhoods, have created the conditions for a well-organized and expanding campaign of outright eliminationism against LA's blacks. According to an article posted today by Brentin Mock over at Alternet, the ethic cleansing has in fact already begun.
"The way I hear these knuckleheads tell it, they don't want their neighborhoods infested with blacks, as if it's an infestation," says respected Los Angeles gang expert Tony Rafael, who interviewed several Latino street gang leaders for an upcoming book on the Mexican Mafia, the dominant Latino gang in Southern California. "It's pure racial animosity that manifests itself in a policy of a major criminal organization."

"There's absolutely no motive absent the color of their skin," adds former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michael Camacho. Before he became a judge, in 2003, Camacho successfully prosecuted a Latino gang member for the random shootings of three black men in Pomona, Calif.

"They generally don't like African Americans," Pomona gang unit officer Marcus Perez testified in that case. "If an African American enters their neighborhood, they're likely to be injured or killed."

A comprehensive study of hate crimes in Los Angeles County released by the University of Hawaii in 2000 concluded that while the vast majority of hate crimes nationwide are not committed by members of organized groups, Los Angeles County is a different story. Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations, or "clusters," of hate crimes, the perpetrators were typically members of Latino street gangs who were purposely targeting blacks.

Furthermore, the study found, "There is strong evidence of race-bias hate crimes among gangs in which the major motive is not the defense of territorial boundaries against other gangs, but hatred toward a group defined by racial identification, regardless of any gang-related territorial threat."

Six years later, the racist terror campaign continues.
So this is what it looks like when centuries of anti-black eliminationism comes crashing up against an out-of-control prison system (which experts say is where the Mexican gangs' hatred of blacks is consolidated and spread) and the total collapse of our immigration policies. This is, Mock says, a problem that's been brewing for a decade now. But in the past year, it's ceased being "isolated incidents," and has begun to emerge into a widespread cultural problem.
Anti-black violence conducted by Latino gangs in Los Angeles has been ongoing for more than a decade. A 1995 Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) report about Latino gang activity in the Normandale Park neighborhood declared, "This gang has been involved in an ongoing program to eradicate Black citizens from the gang neighborhood." A 1996 LAPD report on gangs in east Los Angeles stated, "Local gangs will attack any Black person that comes into the city."

But while the Latino gangs' racial terror campaign is not new, gang experts and law enforcement authorities say the intensity and frequency of anti-black terrorism is now escalating, as the amount of turf in Los Angeles claimed by Latino gangs continues to increase rapidly. And, as more and more blacks leave inner-city L.A. for safer neighborhoods, those who remain are more vulnerable.

"I don't see much history left for blacks in Los Angeles," says LAPD probation officer James Lewis, who is himself black and deals specifically with Latino gang members in northeast Los Angeles, including the Avenues. "It plays out not just with the gang members, but also the way things are going [for blacks] throughout Los Angeles."

Since 1990, the African-American population of Los Angeles has dropped by half as blacks relocated to suburbs, and Latinos have moved into historically black neighborhoods. Traversing South Central L.A. today, it's obvious that the urban landscape has changed radically since the Bloods-versus-Crips era depicted in movies like Colors, Boyz N The Hood, and Menace II Society. Not only are there vastly fewer black people walking the streets, there are vastly fewer obvious black gang members. Beige skin and baggy khakis have displaced the red and blue bandannas of the Bloods and the Crips.

The LAPD estimates there are now 22,000 Latino gang members in the city of Los Angeles alone. That's not only more than all the Crips and the Bloods; it's more than all black, Asian, and white gang members combined. Almost all of those Latino gang members in L.A. -- let alone those in other California cities -- are loyal to the Mexican Mafia. Most have been thoroughly indoctrinated with the Mexican Mafia's violent racism during stints in prison, where most gangs are racially based.

"When I first started working the gangs, they would be mixed. You could be black and Latino and be in the same gang," says Lewis, the LAPD probation officer. "But when they went to prison, they had to be Latino instead of from the gang, so their enemies became African Americans."
A few thoughts about this...

First: While Dave's been reminding us what white eliminationists are capable of, it may also be true that the groups with the strongest incentive to engage in eliminationist violence aren't the ones who are securely on top of the social order, but the ones who are second to the bottom, hovering just one rung above their victims. But even so: they only get away with it as long as those on the upper rungs allow it to continue unchallenged. (Fascism is, after all, a marriage of convenience between working-class thugs and the upper classes who use them to control the masses.) If the Powers That Be start exacting a price for this behavior, it stops.

Second: It's galling that the news of this brown-on-black ethnic cleansing can only come as a sweet confirmation to the extremist right, which has been predicting (and raptly anticipating) exactly this kind of race war forever. For them, the Mexican Mafia's apparently successful takeover of LA's black communities will be counted as a first military victory in the alleged "Recolonia." Soon, we'll no doubt be hearing gleeful warnings that the Asian and white communities will be next in their sights -- and that the future they've been dreaming of is finally coming to pass. If we're going to have a snappy comeback ready, we should probably start thinking about it now.

Third: This story vividly illustrates the critical role hate-crimes laws play in controlling situations like this. Mock writes that federal prosecutors, using national hate-crimes law, successfully prosecuted one eliminationist gang that was terrorizing the (really lovely) Highland Park neighborhood. These laws gave the government essential tools needed to put real sanctions on the Mexican Mafia leadership, doling out long sentences in prisons far yonder where their ability to control affairs on the street is now severely restricted.

Unfortunately, since these trials ended, the violence in Highland Park has begun to climb again; and so far, there are no plans to prosecute anyone else. LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa went to Washington at the end of November to ask Alberto Gonzales for an infusion of federal support -- funds and prosecutors -- to keep the pressure on. But it appears (at least from this article) as though the city of LA is still looking at this issue as a matter of stopping business-as-usual gang violence, rather than recognizing that they're now facing a large, coordinated campaign of ethnic cleansing. They're in an emerging situation that has more in common with Bosnia or Darfur than policing and policy as usual, and it's going to require a whole different kind of response. Let's hope they figure that out before the sun sets on the last African-American in LA.

MLK and the right

by Dave

Growing up in southern Idaho among Bircherites, I got an early dose of the visceral hatred that conservatives had for Martin Luther King Jr. The only figure comparable was Muhammad Ali (or Cassius Clay, in the early days), or perhaps, to lesser extent, Malcolm X. I remember how people used to talk about these men through gritted teeth, wishing death on them at the nearest opportunity, and voicing grim satisfaction when it finally befell two of them.

This is why Rick Perlstein's piece in The New Republic last week on conservatives' attempts to claim King's legacy for themselves reveals these efforts to be so ahistorical and factually twisted, since conservatives of the time were the very essence of nearly everything that King stood against.

And more to the point, they still are -- something they prove in the very act of trying to claim him.

Perlstein opens by recalling the great national mourning that was mounted after King's assassination. Some excerpts:
... Others demurred. South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond wrote his constituents, "[W]e are now witnessing the whirlwind sowed years ago when some preachers and teachers began telling people that each man could be his own judge in his own case." Another, even more prominent conservative said it was just the sort of "great tragedy that began when we began compromising with law and order, and people started choosing which laws they'd break."

That was Ronald Reagan, the governor of California, arguing that King had it coming. King was the man who taught people they could choose which laws they'd break -- in his soaring exegesis on St. Thomas Aquinas from that Birmingham jail in 1963: "Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. ... Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong."

That's not what you hear from conservatives today, of course. What you get now are convoluted and fantastical tributes arguing that, properly understood, Martin Luther King was actually one of them--or would have been, had he lived. But, if we are going to have a holiday to honor history, we might as well honor history. We might as well recover the true story. Conservatives--both Democrats and Republicans--hated King's doctrines. Hating them was one of the litmus tests of conservatism.

... The idea was expounded most systematically in a 567-page book that came out shortly after King's assassination, House Divided: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, by one of the right's better writers, Lionel Lokos, and from the conservative movement's flagship publisher, Arlington House. "He left his country a legacy of lawlessness," Lokos concluded. "The civil disobedience glorified by Martin Luther King [meant] that each man had the right to put a kind of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on laws that met with his favor." Lokos laid the rise of black power, with its preachments of violence, at King’s feet. This logic followed William F. Buckley, who, in a July 20, 1967 column titled "King-Sized Riot In Newark," imagined the dialogue between a rioter and a magistrate:

"You do realize that there are laws against burning down delicatessen stores? Especially when the manager and his wife are still inside the store?" ... "Laws Schmaws. Have you never heard of civil disobedience? Have you never heard of Martin Luther King?"

King was a particular enemy of Chicago's white ethnics for the marches for open housing he organized there in 1966. The next year, the Chicago archdiocese released a new catechism book. "One of the leaders of the Negro people is a brave man named Martin Luther King. ... He preaches the message of Jesus, 'Love one another.'" Chicago Catholic laymen, outraged, demanded an FBI investigation of the local clergy.

Roy at Alicublog notes that one of the conservatives Perlstein identifies among the current crop trying to claim King's legacy, Andrew Busch of the National Review, posted a response to Perlstein wherein he tries to explain that he couldn't embrace the whole of King's legacy, but rather the purely "color-blind" and religion-embracing aspects of it. Otherwise, in fact, there was much in King's legacy to be opposed:
Aside from the general dislike that conservatives held (and hold) toward civil disobedience under most circumstances, there are a number of other reasons left unaddressed by Perlstein for why conservatives cannot embrace King without reservation. His late endorsement of racial preferences ran counter to his earlier professions of color-blindness; despite his devotion to freedom at home, his co-option by the antiwar movement made him, like thousands of other misguided Americans, accessory to the Stalinization of Indochina; and his personal conduct was not what one would hope for from a Christian minister. On the last count, no one can doubt that King would be a prime candidate for endless accusations of hypocrisy had his public cause been less satisfying to those most inclined to generate such accusations.

Well certainly, he has been a prime candidate for endless accusations of hypocrisy, as well as deep moral turpitude, from figures on the right, notably those most inclined to generate such accusations -- including Andrew Busch in this piece, as well as the various moral scolds of the religious right. It's also a favorite of the racists who put together sites like this. In fact, for many, that's the almost the entirety of their case against King -- oh, that, and his alleged Communism.

(Oddly, these same figures on the right are more hesitant to impugn the morals of such Founding Fathers as Thomas Jefferson, or for that matter such right-wing lions as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, who might come in for similar scolding. Speaking of hypocrisy.)

Note that Busch is arguing that there was an "early" King who favored color-blind policies, who eventually succumbed to various temptations and ethical depredations to eventually turn about and favor affirmative action. I suppose that this is an improvement on those conservatives who have fraudulently claimed that King actually was opposed to affirmative action, but it is utter bosh nonetheless. As are, for that matter, Busch's subsequent claims to affinity with King, which rest either on this premise or phony characterizations of modern liberalism (i.e., that we are "uncomfortable" with religious talk or moral absolutes).

King was no fool; color-blindness was no mere abstraction for him, but a reality he endeavored to create. And that meant he had to grapple with reality. His attitude about the kinds of solutions needed to deal with that reality never altered significantly.

And reality, in 1965, was that African Americans not only had to struggle out from under the yoke of slavery and its legacy, but they also had overcome a century's worth of racist persecution ever afterward: terrorized by a sytematic campaign of lynching and held in political subjugation by Jim Crow laws in the South; while in the North, they were simply expelled from entire communities and forced to cluster into urban centers where impoverished conditions, fueled by massive job discrimination, reigned. (This "sundown towns" phenomenon, it should be noted, persisted through the 1970s.)

King understood that this was not a semantical abstract, a zero-sum game in which merely declaring the law color-blind would make society so. His goal was not merely an abstract notion of color-blindness, but a functioning color-blind society. He understood, naturally, that you can't simply snap your fingers, declare the laws and the government "color blind," and actually achieve it as a reality overnight.

He understood that one could not, by flipping a switch, overcome decades of acculturation that punished blacks for succeeding -- nothing attracted a lynch crowd, after all, quite like an "uppity" black who improved his lot -- and bred a culture that avoided success on white men's terms. Neither could one simply pass a law and alter decades of social mythology that held black people as innate inferiors and created layers of discrimination that persist even today.

He knew, all too well, that these conditions had created a social infrastructure that could not be changed overnight. That the whole network of connections that are the cornerstone to success in modern American society was built, like suburbs in which they thrive, to favor whites and exclude blacks. And that none of those barriers could be taken down overnight -- indeed, they would not fall without a concerted effort to tear them down, one requiring a good-faith effort on the part of every party, all aimed at creating a truly color-blind society.

As the FAIR piece in the link above observes:
King was well aware of the arguments used against affirmative action policies. As far back as 1964, he was writing in Why We Can't Wait: "Whenever the issue of compensatory treatment for the Negro is raised, some of our friends recoil in horror. The Negro should be granted equality, they agree; but he should ask nothing more. On the surface, this appears reasonable, but it is not realistic."

King supported affirmative action-type programs because he never confused the dream with American reality. As he put it, "A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro" to compete on a just and equal basis (quoted in Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen Oates).

In a 1965 Playboy interview, King compared affirmative action-style policies to the GI Bill: "Within common law we have ample precedents for special compensatory programs.... And you will remember that America adopted a policy of special treatment for her millions of veterans after the war."

In King's teachings, affirmative action approaches were not "reverse discrimination" or "racial preference." King promoted affirmative action not as preference for race over race (or gender over gender), but as a preference for inclusion, for equal oportunity, for real democracy. Nor was King's integration punitive: For him, integration benefited all Americans, male and female, white and non-white alike. And contrary to Gingrich, King insisted that, along with individual efforts, collective problems require collective solutions.

Affirmative action, as conceived and executed, is the antithesis of racial discrimination: It is essentially about creating, for better or worse, a color-blind society, by government fiat -- the idea being that the government can enforce a certain racial makeup within critical social functions (such as college admissions or government hiring) that reflect the racial makeup of the community at large. You can argue against this approach for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it is bound to create certain dysfunctions in the process of moving towards its goal; but you can only pretend that such an enterprise is racist by conceiving of color-blindness as a zero-sum game in which everybody starts with the same opportunity.

The reality today is that King's dream is only partially achieved. The elite, often lily-white nature of the former sundown towns persists at least in part because they have never really been confronted as relics of a racially discriminatory social infrastructure. Instead, the 'burbs are pretty much seen as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Moreover, the underlying racism -- particularly in the form of job discrimination -- persists. Earl Ofari Hutchinson, discussing the attempt to create a racial divide between blacks and Latinos over immigration, observes:
But several years before the immigration combatants squared off, then University of Wisconsin graduate researcher Devah Pager pointed the finger in another direction, a direction that makes most employers squirm. And that's toward the persistent and deep racial discrimination in the workplace. Pager found that black men without a criminal record are less likely to find a job than white men with criminal records.

Pager's finger-point at discrimination as the main reason for the racial disparity in hiring set off howls of protest from employers, trade groups and even a Nobel Prize winner. They lambasted her for faulty research. Her sample was much too small, they said, and the questions too vague. They pointed to the ocean of state and federal laws that ban racial discrimination. But in 2005 Pager, now a sociologist at Princeton duplicated her study. She surveyed nearly 1,500 private employers in New York City.

She used teams of black and white testers, standardized resumes, and she followed up their visits with telephone interviews with employers. These are the standard methods researchers use to test racial discrimination. The results were exactly the same as in her earlier study, despite the fact that New York has some of the nation's toughest laws against job discrimination.

The old stereotypes about black workers persist in large part because the social infrastructure issues have never been addressed. There is only so much that affirmative action can do, particularly when it is constantly under attack from the right.

At some point, we have to start taking seriously the task of breaking down the very real racial balkanization that still exists in this country demographically, with whites still overwhelmingly dominant in the same communities that for years quietly kept nonwhites out. The barriers are beginning to break down somewhat, but it is still a difficult thing for underprivileged people to find low-income housing in these communities, when doing so is one of the first steps needed for breaking down the barriers to the social networking that is a requisite for minority success. More often than not, these communities still assiduously resist such invasions of their turf.

This is why the following paragraph from Busch is like something straight from the Bizarro Universe:
Nor can conservatives refrain from honestly weighing the costs as well as the benefits of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The costs include the danger of legitimizing the ethnic balkanization of America and of crowding out holidays that might better serve as a national glue than a solvent.

Reality check: the ethnic and racial balkanization of America was originated by white people and enforced by them for the better part of a century. It was called "white supremacy," and it led to the extermination of the native peoples as well as the utter subjugation of all other nonwhites, either by slavery or by political and economic disenfranchisement.

This nation legitimized its ethnic balkanization when the Supreme Court issued such rulings as Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. It granted carte blanche to white lynchers in the South and white eliminationists in the North who did not wish to live as equals with people of other colors. For years, government housing policy specifically encouraged racial balkanization in the form of heavily subsidized all-white housing developments and subsidized federal loans. And we continue to legitimize it by concocting excuses for the lingering job discrimination, as well as the lingering exclusion of blacks and other nonwhites from the elite suburbs, where for some reason no realtor will show them homes.

The only things that have ever broken that balkanization down were the Civil Rights Movement, led by Martin Luther King Jr., and the subsequent laws passed in its wake. To even remotely suggest that celebrating their victory somehow underlines our racial balkanization is total nonsense.

Let me rephrase that: It is total nonsense unless you begin from the premise that Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday is not a holiday for white people.

From there we can proceed to perhaps more honest expressions of the traditional conservative view of civil rights, that voiced by Michael Savage, who recently:
called "civil rights" a "con" and asserted: "It's a racket that is used to exploit primarily heterosexual, Christian, white males' birthright and steal from them what is their birthright and give it to people who didn't qualify for it."

He topped that off by adding that "Civil rights are used to steal only from the white male -- no one else pays the price."

Perhaps Busch should just give up and follow the lead of the fellows at VDare: admit that Martin Luther King Jr. stood for everything he and his fellow conservatives stand against -- and have since well before the man began his career.

Into the Belly of the Beast

Sara Robinson
Finally got a minute to check in. My apologies to Dave and the rest of you for my absence: all I can say is that I a) caught a flu at Christmas that is refusing to let go, b) started my new semester, and c) am suddenly finding myself back in the homeschooling business -- which is enjoyable, but a massive distraction.

My school career is taking an unexpected turn this spring. I'm spending a semester in residence (well, as resident as you can be taking classes from 3300 miles away) at -- wait for it -- Regent University. Yes, that Regent University, the one in Virginia Beach, VA; the one started by Pat Robertson himself.

Surprisingly, Regent's in the process of building a strong and lively strategic foresight graduate school, following the same model as the program I'm getting my degree from at the University of Houston. Their program has a few electives that Houston doesn't offer -- specifically, "Religionists and Futurists," a course on various approaches to the prophetic and vision-making role in society; and "Images of the Future," which promises to cover the ways in which people have historically explained and promoted their preferred futures to the masses.

It does feel like going into the belly of the beast again. I had to sign a solemn agreement not to bring tobacco or alcohol products onto campus (I think I can handle that one); and another one signifying my that I understood and accepted that I'd be instructed by teachers who believed in biblical inerrancy and the Second Coming and a bunch of other stuff. (At least they didn't demand that I believe this; just that I was willing to work with teachers who do.)

I was also expecting a dress code, like the one at Bob Jones, that would demand that I wear skirts and hose to class. (In fact, since my usual distance-learning attire is a boho layering of yoga pants, kimonos, and bare feet, I was rather looking forward to the thrill of flouting it.) No such luck, though. Regent's mostly a graduate school serving over-30 adults, and they apparently know better than to try to act like loco parentis.

I've got more stuff I want to blog about than I have hours in the day to get to, but I'll try to start getting to it this week.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Ugly indeed

Speaking of Gerard Vanderleun, ya gotta hand it to TBogg for his precise takedown:
It wasn't just that his comment was stupid and misogynistic; it was ugly, about as ugly as it gets. And that is because Gerard Vanderleun is an ugly man with an ugly soul and to this day he doesn't even deserve the benefit of the doubt because he didn't know what was going on.

Let him live with it and be remembered for it.

FWIW, Vanderleun put that ineffable ugliness on full display again when responding to James Wolcott for his original takedown. Note that Vanderleun declines to employ anything so useless as a fact in attacking Wolcott; he just smears him with innuendo and juvenile scatalogia. A real piece of work.

We also remember Vanderleun as the guy who declared Eminem the "cultural standard bearer" of liberals and then warned, based on an Eminem lyric, that:
Bush Hate, at the rate of festering intensity currently observable, is headed towards only one singular event: An attempt on the life of George W. Bush by an American citizen.

... We expect our enemies to hate the President and to seek to do him harm. We do not expect members of the loyal opposition to allow their rhetoric and their "cultural standard bearers" such as Eminem ("I set precedents and the standards ...") to poison the political system to the level that some of their misguided ilk take it upon themselves to take a shot at Bush "for the sake of the greater good."

Gerard's hand-wringing prophecy, of course, has run the other way: Now, in fact, we have to worry about liberals being targeted by right-wing haters.

Haters whose viciousness, of course, is being stirred up by the hateful ugliness of cretins like Gerard Vanderleun.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Here's to Jane

Dear Jane:

Dunno if you've ever seen My Neighbor Totoro, but there's a scene near the end of it where the two sisters, Mei and Satsuki, sit outside their mother's hospital room and watch her talk with their father, perched high above in the branches of a tree alongside the gigantic magical Catbus that brought them. They don't want to bother her; they're just checking on her to make sure everything's good. And it is.

Think of your fellow bloggers the same way. We're just outside the window, and glad to see you get well.

Here's wishing you the best. May the Ben and Jerry's truck accidentally deliver an entire load to your recovery pad.

Everyone else: Run over to Firedoglake and hit their tip jar.

Oh, and Gerard Vanderleun is now officially the holder of the title "Biggest Turd in the Right-Wing Cloaca".

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tancredo takes his shot

It's not hard to see why no one inside the Beltway takes Tom Tancredo's campaign for the presidency very seriously. After all, he is a one-issue candidate -- immigration, which he euphemistically describes as "securing America's borders" -- and he's a certifiable nutcase. And it's true that he is, in the end, an unelectable extremist.

But before 2008 is out, I'm fairly confident that Tancredo will have made his mark on the race for the presidency -- as well as on the GOP and, for that matter, on the nation generally. And it won't have been for the better, except to the extent that he will divide and weaken the GOP, which is considerable.

Indeed, we should probably expect the Republican field to wind up largely looking like Dick Cheney's hunting partners.

Tancredo, as Matt at Right's Field reports, made his candidacy for the Republican nomination all but official today. At first there was speculation that Wayne Allard's impending retirement might entice him to drop his presidential aspirations and run for the Senate. Instead, he wound up encouraging a fellow Republican to seek the seat.

That's probably astute on his part, since Colorado is rapidly in the process of becoming much more blue. Tancredo probably could win back his current seat, but it's doubtful he could even win a statewide race in Colorado.

So why does he imagine he could somehow win the presidency? Well, probably because he's deluded. After all, the rabid nativist right that he represents declared the last election a referendum in their favor: Republicans lost, you see, because they didn't adhere to "true conservative values." That's why Neil Cavuto virtually endorsed Tancredo immediately after the polls closed.

But it's also because he's on a mission, and more to the point, he has a real strategy that could actually pay off, at least in the short run.

Tancredo already has a Web site up and running, and his Team America site -- which notably includes ads for Patrick Buchanan's nakedly racist book, State of Emergency -- has the following letter more or less adhering to that "conservative values" schtick:
I am writing to you today as a friend, and as a fellow believer in the cause of securing America's borders.

My purpose is to obtain your support as I embark upon a path that may lead to the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States.

The decision to pursue this arduous and undeniably uphill battle is because I, like you, have a duty to do everything I can to keep faith with those who risked their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" to create this wonderful place we call America.

I am considering this campaign because of my commitment to real immigration reform: reform that first and foremost is dedicated to the security and well-being of the citizens of the United States, and to respect for the rule of law in our beloved nation.

I am also considering this campaign because I believe the Republican Party and its leaders must recommit themselves to limited, smaller government; fiscal responsibility; and honesty in public office.

Last November, the Republican Party paid a high price for abandoning those principles; we will not regain the trust of the voters and a congressional majority until we reclaim them. I am proud that I was one of a handful of Republican members of Congress who voted against both "No Child Left Behind," a federal betrayal of local control of education, and the fiscally irresponsible Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit.

When I was elected to Congress in 1998, I made immigration reform my top priority, much to the scorn and derision of the political and business elites who are addicted to the flow of cheap illegal labor into America.

But, as I look at the current presidential candidates, Republican and Democratic, I simply do not see one who reflects the grassroots, majority belief of Americans that our borders must be secured, that employers who hire illegals must be prosecuted, and that no one who has broken our immigration laws should ever be put on a "pathway to citizenship."

After a lot of prayer, and long talks with my wife Jackie and our children, I have decided I am willing to put myself forward as a candidate for president in order, above everything else, to advance our immigration reform agenda, and to reclaim the Republican Party for its core conservative values.

Now, it's nearly a certainty that Tancredo can't actually win the Republican nomination, since he really is being a Tommy One Note. But his campaign's appeal to the ugly nativist sentiment circulating and bubbling upward in the Republican cauldron -- particularly in rural portions of the Midwest and West, whose demographics have been rapidly changing with the influx of Latino workers in the past decade -- will probably have more traction, at least initially, than anyone inside the Beltway suspects.

That's in no small part because a number of the early campaign takes place in states like Iowa, where Republicans are fond of electing raging xenophobes like Rep. Steve King. David Yepsen at the Des Moines Register observes:
By entering the fray, Tancredo joins a list of Republican conservatives like Pat Buchanan, Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes, Alan Keyes or Pat Robertson, who ran strong caucus races in Iowa. They lost, but they had an impact by forcing the leading candidates to speak to their issues - and by energizing new people to get involved in the process.

While Tancredo's critics dismiss him -- he's called "Tancrazy" by some and bigoted by others -- objective observers of caucus politics understand he could be a factor in the race -- if he mounts a credible effort here.

The critical aspect of this lies in whether Tancredo can make a serious appeal to the religious right, which seems to view the frontrunner, St. John McCain, as something roughly akin to an AIDS-infected leper.

And it's worth remembering that a number of leaders of the fundamentalist faction recently broke their silence on immigration and took up a position rather comfortably close to Tancredo's:
A number of leading Christian conservative groups have formed a coalition on immigration and illegal aliens that will push religiously grounded positions that both sides of the current immigration debate will both love and hate.

In letters sent today and obtained by The Washington Times, Families First on Immigration urges President Bush and leaders of the new Democratic Congress to adopt a grand compromise on the divisive issue that includes strong border security, an amnesty for illegals already here who are relatives of citizens and an end to birthright citizenship.

Former Republican presidential hopeful Gary Bauer, Deal Hudson of the Morley Institute for Church & Culture and David Keene of the American Conservative Union are among those who have joined forces to chart a new path on immigration reform, an issue that conservative Christians have generally avoided.

"Our position really is consistent with Christian teachings and with the rule of law," said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference who has corralled more than 30 leading conservatives to enter the volatile debate.

As Pastordan notes, of course, the Christian doctrine on the "rule of law" is really rather secondary to its longtime primary edicts regarding compassion for the poor and acting to help them. But then, fundamentalists are notorious for burning down the forest in defense of a single tree.

The only real hitch in Tancredo's ability to forge a nativist/fundamentalist coalition is his longtime association with the John Tanton faction of the anti-immigrant right, which is also noteworthy for its eugenics-based support of Planned Parenthood. Somehow, I suspect that such minor transgressions will not get in the way of such an alliance if the principals decide to make it.

One can readily imagine a Republican party split between its paleoconservative faction, including the religious right, and its corporatist conservative faction, which runs the show inside the Beltway. It won't be pretty, and it's certain to boost Democratic prospects.

On the other hand, Tancredo's campaign will also give real traction to the ugly nativist impulse that is bubbling up through the conservative movement -- and that, in the end, is bad news for everyone.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Eliminationism in America: VII

[Continuing a ten-part series.]

Parts I, II, III, IV, and V, and VI.

Part VII: After Sundown

I used to wonder why there weren't more black people in places like Seattle -- which, as urban places go, is pretty damned white -- and Idaho, where I grew up, or Montana, where I lived for a several years, both of which make Seattle look positively chocolate in comparison. Like most everyone else, I just chalked it up to the climate and the pre-existing lack of colored folks: they didn't live here, I assumed, because they'd naturally feel isolated.

It was, we presumed, just one of those accidents of history and demographics.

I also would sometimes hear black leaders and community members in Seattle talk about the somewhat hidden, institutionalized nature of racism in places like the Pacific Northwest, where people can be nice to your face and not so nice in action. And they would sometimes phrase it in stark terms, usually something along these lines:
"I would rather deal with Southerners, where the racism is up front and in your face, than people in places like this, where it's all nice and hidden."

Now, granted that hidden racism is buried in our culture everywhere, and that the mask of civility that people around here call "politeness" is often just a cover for ugly personal beliefs and cold-heartedness.

Still, this always seemed slightly illogical to me: Even if you can identify the racism in the culture, isn't a civil mask at least not as intimidating, or frightening, as the ugliness of open racism?

Now, however, after having read James Loewen's remarkable work Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism -- and having further explored the truth of the subject in my own neck of the woods -- I think I'm beginning to understand. At least a little.

Sundown Towns, for my money, is the most significant work on race relations in America written in the past decade. Even the Washington Post review observed that it "deserves to become an instant classic in the fields of American race relations, urban studies and cultural geography."

Unfortunately, the Post (which also ran a separate feature on the book) was one of the very few major media outlets that even bothered to review it. (The Dallas Morning News was another.) None of the New York or Los Angeles media noticed, and at the points in between -- where the subject actually mattered the most -- it went virtually unreviewed. Nor did Loewen show up on any cable programs, except C-SPAN.

The media (and general public) reception for Sundown Towns stands in somewhat stark contrast to the fawning reaction that followed the publication, a decade earlier, of the two books for which it is possibly the most effective antidote: The Bell Curve (which attempted to put nice respectable statistical clothing on age-old eugenicist nonsense) and America in Black and White, the Thernstroms' enormously self-congratulatory (for white people) tome on the state of modern race relations. Both were national bestsellers that happened to find big audiences with suburban readers.

Sundown Towns is an effective antidote to both because, unlike the Thernstrom book, which glosses over such matters, it reveals one of the real continuing racial fault lines in America and explains how we got to where we are; and in stark contrast to The Bell Curve, it explodes much of the mythology of race in America, particularly long-held stereotypes about why we live where we do and why blacks have difficulty succeeding in America.

The American landscape it reveals is not the one we have created in our own minds, one in which the bulk of racial bigotry resides south of the Mason-Dixon line, while the enlightened northern states have, comparatively speaking at least, provided both a racial refuge and social justice. Rather, it reveals that racism is not only woven throughout the nation's social fabric, but that the brand of bigotry practiced throughout much of the North was even more noxious in nature than that in the South.

Specifically, while the South actively oppressed its nonwhite population, Americans in most of the rest of the country chose not to even tolerate their presence, and actively engaged in an ongoing campaign of eliminationist violence to drive them out, forcing them to cluster in large urban areas for their own self-protection and survival. The benign, polite white face of suburban and rural America outside the South is revealed as both deeply deceptive and ultimately lethal.

What exactly is a "sundown town"? Loewen defines the term [pp. 28-30] thus:
A sundown town is any organized jurisdiction that for decades kept African Americans or other groups from living in it and was thus "all white" on purpose.

... Beginning in about 1890 and continuing until 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States for whites only. Many towns drove out their black populations, then posted sundown signs. ... Other towns passed ordinances barring African Americans after dark or prohibiting them from owning or renting property; still others established such policies by informal means, harassing and even killing those who violated the rule. Some sundown towns similarly kept out Jews, Chinese, Mexicans, Native Americans, or other groups.

Independent sundown towns range from tiny hamlets such as DeLand, Illinois (population 500) to substantial cities such as Appleton, Wisconsin (57,000 in 1970). Sometimes entire counties went sundown, usually when their county seat did. Independent sundown towns were soon joined by "sundown suburbs," which could be even larger: Levittown, on Long Island, had 82,000 residents in 1970, while Livonia, Michigan, and Parma, Ohio, had more than 100,000. Warren, a suburb of Detroit, had a population of 180,000 including just 28 minority families, most of whom lived on a U.S. Army facility.

Outside the traditional South ... probably a majority of all incorporated places kept out African Americans.

Moreover, as he details, the appearance of sundown towns occurred in every region, every state:
There is reason to believed that more than half of all towns in Oregon, Indiana, Ohio, the Cumberlands, the Ozarks, and diverse other areas were also all-white on purpose. Sundown suburbs are found from Darien, Connecticut, to La Jolla, California, and are even more prevalent; indeed, most suburbs began life as sundown towns.

These towns formed neither naturally nor accidentally, but emerged well after the Civil War as the embodiment of emerging white supremacist beliefs, particularly eugenicist notions about the evils of "race mixing" and the innate inferiority of nonwhite races.

As Loewen explains, in the first quarter-century after the Civil War, African Americans actually fanned out across the country to resettle and start new lives with their newly won freedom. Outside the South, they lived in rural areas and small towns as well as big cities, filling all kinds of occupations:
[I]n Republican communities, in the period 1865-90, letting in African Americans was seen to be the appropriate, even patriotic thing to do. It was in tune with the times. Many Americans really were trying to give our nation a "new birth of freedom" -- freedom for African Americans -- for which, as Lincoln had suggested, Union soldiers had died at Gettysburg. Opening one's community to black families after the Civil War seemed right -- like opening one's college campus to black families after the Civil Rights Movement a century later. Congress said so: the 1866 Civil Rights Act declared that "citizens of every race and color ... shall have the same right ... to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property." Presidents said so -- James A. Garfield at his inauguration in 1881 ... clearly stated that the nation had granted equal rights to African Americans and that this was fitting and proper. Quakers in particular, abolitionists before the war, now made it their business to welcome African Americans to their communities, hire them as farmworkers, blacksmiths, or domestics, and help them get a start. So did Unitarians, Congregationalists, and some Methodists and Presbyterians. We can see the results in census figures [...]: African Americans went everywhere after the Civil War. By 1890, all across the North -- in northeast Pennsylvania river valleys, in every Indiana county save one, deep in the north woods of Wisconsin, in every county of Montana and California -- African Americans were living and working.

... Northern communities, especially where Republicans were in the majority, enjoyed something of a "springtime of race relations" between 1865 and 1890. During those years, African Americans voted, served in Congress, received some spoils from the Republican Party, worked as barbers, railroad firemen, midwives, mail carriers, and landowning farmers, and played other fully human roles in American society. Their new rights made African Americans optimistic, even buoyant. "Tell them we is risin'!" one ex-slave said to a northern writer, come to see for himself how the races were getting along in the postwar South. The same confidence fueled the black dispersal throughout the postwar North.

But this heyday was short-lived, and by 1890, the beginning of what is known as "the Nadir of race relations" -- which was to last another forty years, until 1930 -- set in. It was the period "when African Americans were forced back into noncitizenship," as Loewen puts it, and it produced what he calls the "Great Retreat" -- the forcible elimination of blacks from rural and suburban communities,from which they fled to larger black communities within a handful of urban centers [pp. 30-31]:
Unfortunately, "the new order of things" was destined to last only six more years. In 1890, trying to get the federal government to intervene against violence and fraud in southern elections, the Republican senator from Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, introduced his Federal Elections Bill. It lost by just one vote in the Senate. After its defeat, when Democrats again tarred Republicans [as they had before the Civil War, and since] as "nigger lovers," now the Republicans replied in a new way. Instead of assailing Democrats for denying equal rights to African Americans, they backed away from the subject. The Democrats had worn them down. Thus the springtime of race relations during Reconstruction was short, and it was followed not by summer blooms but by the Nadir winter, and not just in the South but throughout the country. ...

The Republicans' capitulation on race marked the beginning of a long era of overt racial oppression in America, not just in the South but nationally -- though of course Dixie politics played a special role [pp. 33-34]:
We have seen that the Republicans removed themselves as an effective anti-racist force after about 1891. The Democrats already called themselves "the white man's party." It followed that African Americans played no significant role in either political party from 1892 on. Now regardless of which party controlled it, the federal government stood by idly as white southerners used terror, fraud, and "legal" means to eliminate African American voters. Mississippi pioneered the "legal" means in 1890 when it passed a new state constitution that made it impossible for most black Mississippians to vote or hold public office. All other southern and border states emulated Mississippi by 1907.

In 1894, Democrats in Congress repealed the remaining federal election statutes. Now the Fifteenth Amendment was lifeless, for it had no extant laws to enforce it. In 1896, in Plessy v. Ferguson, the United States Supreme Court declared de jure (by law) racial segregation legal, which caused it to spread in at least twelve northern states. In 1898, Democrats rioted in Wilmington, North Carolina, driving out the mayor and all other Republican officeholders and killing at least twelve African Americans. The McKinley administration did nothing, allowing the coup d'etat to stand. Congress became resegregated in 1901 when Congressman George H. White of North Carolina failed to win re-election owing to the disenfranchisement of black voters in his state. No African American served in Congress again until 1929, and none from the South until 1972.

The deterioration of the status of African Americans was widespread throughout every aspect of society [pp. 36-37]:
Occupationally, blacks fared even worse. Before the Nadir, African Americans worked as carpenters, masons, foundry and factory workers, postal carriers, and so on. After 1890, in both the North and the South, whites expelled them from these occupations. ...

... Indeed, in some ways the North proceeded to treat African Americans worse than the South did. Ironically, segregation, which grew more entrenched in the South than in the North after the end of Reconstruction in 1877, created some limited opportunities for African American workers in Dixie. If the job was clearly defined as inferior, southern whites were happy to hire African Americans to cook their food, drive their coaches and later their cars, be their "yard boy," even nurse their babies. (The term boy, applied to adult male African Americans, itself implies less than a man.) Thus traditional white southerners rarely drove all African Americans out of their communities. Who would then do the dirty work? During and after slavery, this pattern spread to the North, but only to a limited degree. Around 1900, many white Americans, especially outside the traditional South, grew so racist that they came to abhor contact with African Americans even when that contact expressed white supremacy. If African Americans were inferior, they reasoned, then why employ them? Why tolerate them at all?

The models for driving out the "unwanted" blacks from their communities, like the core attitudes themselves, probably originated in the South, where Indian massacres had eventually given way to lynching as the main expression of the eliminationist impulse.

Often the violence was merely a matter of harsh threats and demands that blacks leave, which were usually complied with fully. An illustrative example was the "race riot" that occurred Sept. 30, 1905, in Harrison, Arkansas:
A white mob stormed the building and took these Negroes from jail along with several others, to the country, where they were whipped and ordered to leave. The rioters swept through Harrison's black neighborhood with terrible intent. The mob of 20 or 30 men, armed with guns and clubs, reportedly tied men to trees and whipped them, tied men and women together and threw them in a 4-foot hole in Crooked Creek, burned several homes, and warned all Negroes to leave town that night, which most of them did without taking any of their belongings. ... From house to house in the colored section they went, sometimes threatening, sometimes using the lash, always issuing the order that hereafter, 'no Nigger had better let the sun go down on 'em.'

These attitudes came to prevail not just in the South but throughout the country. As Loewen explains [pp. 37-38], it was clear that by the 1890s, most white Americans had convinced themselves that blacks themselves were "the problem":
How were northern whites to explain to themselves their acquiescence in the white South's obliteration of the political and civil rights of African Americans in places such as Harrison? How could they defend their own increasing occupational and social discrimination against African Americans?

The easiest way would be to declare that African Americans had never deserved equal rights in the first place. After all, went this line of thought, conditions had significantly improved for African Americans. Slavery was over. Now a new generation of African Americans had come of age, never tainted by the "peculiar institution." Why were they still at the bottom? African Americans themselves must be the problem. They must not work hard enough, think as well, or have as much drive, compared to whites. The Reconstruction amendments (Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth) provided African Americans with a roughly equal footing in America, most whites felt. If they were still at the bottom, it must be their own fault.

Ironically, the worse the Nadir got, the more whites blamed blacks for it. The increasing segregation and exclusion led whites to demonize African Americans and their segregated enclaves. African Americans earned less money than whites, had lower standing in society, and no longer held public office pr even voted in much of the nation. Again, no longer could this obvious inequality be laid at slavery's doorstep, for slavery had ended around 1865. Now "white Northerners came to view blacks as disaffected, lazy, and dangerous rabble," according to Heather Richardson. "By the 1890s, white Americans in the North concurred that not only was disfranchisement justified for the 'Un-American Negro,' but that he was by nature confined to a state of 'permanent semi-barbarism.'"

These events were recorded piecemeal at the time, and were rationalized in the press under a number of different theories, the majority of which reflected similar rationalizations regarding lynching: that is, they were only "natural" community responses to the "problem" of African Americans. A New York Times story of July 14, 1902, captures the attitudes fairly well:
Negro Driven Away
The Last One Leaves Decatur, Ind., Owing to Threats Made

The last Negro has left Decatur, Ind. His departure was caused by the anti-Negro feeling. About a month ago a mob of 50 men drove out all the Negroes who were then making that city their home. Since that time the feeling against the Negro has been intense, so much so that an Anti-Negro Society was organized.

The colored man who has just left came about three weeks, and since that time received many threatening letters. When he appeared on the streets he was insulted and jeered at. An attack was threatened ...

The anti-negroites declare that as Decatur is now cleared of Negroes they will keep it so, and the importation of any more will undoubtedly result in serious trouble.

The chief means of driving out nonwhites was what Donald Horowitz calls "the deadly ethnic riot," wherein one racial or ethnic group takes up arms en masse and attacks another group systematically and thoroughly with the intent of eliminating their presence. As Loewen puts it [p. 92]:
Often white residents achieved their goals abruptly, even in the middle of the night. In town after town in the United States, especially between 1890 and the 1930s, whites forced out their African American neighbors violently, as they had the Chinese in the West.

... Towns with successful riots wound up all-white, of course, or almost so, and therefore had an ideological interest in suppressing any memory of a black population in the first place, let alone of an unseemly riot that drove them out.

Whites also tried to "cleanse" at least fifteen larger cities of their more substantial nonwhite populations: Denver (of Chinese) in 1880; Seattle (of Chinese) in 1886; Akron in1900; Evansville, Indiana, and Joplin, Missouri, in 1903; Springfield, Ohio, in 1904, 1906, and again in 1908; Springfield, Missouri, in 1906; Springfield, Illinois, in 1908; Youngstown, Ohio, and East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1917; Omaha and Knoxville in 1919; Tulsa in 1921; Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1923; and Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1929.

Perhaps the most symbolic of these "race riots" was one that occurred in 1908 in the home and final resting place of Abraham Lincoln -- Springfield, Ill. Philip Dray, in his text At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America [pp. 167-169], notes that "when rioting broke out in August 1908, Springfield was in the midst of preparing for the February 1909 centenary celebration of the birth of the Great Emancipator." By then, evidently, Lincoln's legacy was viewed dimly by his hometown:
The riot's underlying cause was white anxiety over an influx of Southern blacks into two Springfield neighborhoods, Badlands and the Levee. The violence began on August 14, when a lynch mob surrounded the city jail and demanded two black men -- one accused of assaulting a married white woman, the other of murdering a white man who'd tried to stop him from outraging his daughter. The sheriff asked the fire department to race its trucks up and down the street to distract the crowd while he spirited the two out of town in an automobile owned by Harry Loper, proprietor of Springfield's best-known restaurant. When the mob realized it had been fooled, it surged toward Loper's restaurant and inflicted considerable damage. Cursing the town's most famous son and his Emancipation Proclamation, and uttering such oaths as "Lincoln brought them to Springfield and we will run them out!," the crowd then moved on to the Levee and Badlands and began setting homes and stores on fire. They also burned shops run by Jews and other known "nigger lovers."

The state militia, summoned from Decatur, thirty-nine miles away, did not arrive until the middle of the night, and so for several hours the crowd roamed virtually unrestrained -- smashing windows, looting and burning black-owned homes and businesses to their foundations. After much destruction of property, the mob targeted the home of a black barber named Scott Burton, who, fearing for his life, fired on the rioters with a shotgun. Whites tackled Burton when he tried to slip out a side door, grabbed a clothesline from an adjacent backyard, and strung him up in a tree. With flames illuminating the scene the mob filled Burton's suspended body with bullets before perpetrating "fiendish cruelties" upon it with pocketknives and shards of glass.

While the lynchers were preoccupied with fighting over the souvenirs from the Burton lynching, a line of militia approached. When an order to leave the area was ignored, the soldiers fired into the crowd, wounding several people. Only after this confrontation did the crowd disperse.

The chaos resumed the next morning, when bands of rioters stormed those black residential areas that had been left unprotected by the militia. ... Once again, the militia restored order, although by the morning of the sixteenth, after two consecutive nights of street violence and arson, Springfield was a smoking shambles. Whole blocks had been leveled. Citizens who'd lost their homes wandered the streets like refugees in a time of war, along with curiosity seekers from Chicago and St. Louis who'd come to view the damage. Many of the visitors went first to the spot where Burton had been lynched, and by noon the tree on which he'd died had disappeared, torn apart by souvenir hunters. Postcard views of the damaged buildings and a photograph of one of the alleged rape victims were selling briskly. Meanwhile, the city's newspapers reminded readers that the trouble had been ignited by the "hellish assault" that had been perpetrated by a "Negro fiend," thus arousing a feeling of righteous indignation among the people of the city. The articles defended the necessity of the riot's violence and praised the "good citizens" who, due to the conditions present in the city, "could find no other remedy" in dealing with black "misconduct, general inferiority [and] unfitness for free institutions."

In addition to the two blacks lynched, four whites had been killed and hundreds of people of both races had been injured, and the costs of the damage were staggering. Much of the worst violence had taken place close to Lincoln's home and his tomb. And although the riot was over, feelings of racial animosity had hardly cooled. A white boycott of black businesses was under way, and black people had been threatened with violence if they dared retaliate for the riot. In a neighboring hamlet, a sign posted at an interurban stop read: ALL NIGGERS ARE WARNED OUT OF TOWN BY MONDAY, 12 PM SHARP. (SIGNED) BUFFALO SHARP SHOOTERS.

Sundown towns were unusually popular in Illinois; Loewen reports that he was able to identify 475 of them. They also enjoyed great popularity in states like Indiana and Oklahoma.

These "race riots" often occurred whenever any black community tried to stand up to lynching violence. When this happened, the "race riot" actually comprised wholesale lethal assaults on black communities by whites. They became particularly prevalent during the "Red Summer" of 1919, when such riots broke out in some 26 American cities.

The most notable of these race riots occurred in 1921 in Tulsa, where a prosperous black population was literally bombed out of existence over two days of complete lawlessness. The rioting was set off by a black youth's alleged assault on a local white girl that later turned out to be harmless consensual contact. The youth was promptly arrested without incident, but the local press played it up with garish headlines that ignored the real nature of the incident, and one Tulsa newspaper publicly called for the young man's lynching.

This attempt, however, met with real resistance from the black community. When a group of local blacks attempted to ward off a lynch mob by meeting them at the jailhouse, the fighting broke out. Soon the entire district was swarmed over by gun-wielding whites who began mowing down black residents at random, setting fire to homes and businesses, and looting, raping and maiming. There are reports that an airplane flew over the black community and dropped incendiary bombs. By the time the violence had subsided, as many as three hundred black people were believed killed, many of them buried in a mass grave, and thirty-five city blocks lay charred. The death toll has never been properly calculated, largely because of the ways the bodies were disposed of, but some counts reach as high as 300 or more. And Tulsa's African-American community, at one time known as the "Negro Wall Street" because of its prosperousness, was never the same. Most of the survivors simply left.

The Ku Klux Klan, which had played a formative role in the lynching phenomenon generally, was closely connected with the formation of sundown towns, especially in their second incarnation as a national organization after 1916. As the Wikipedia entry on the Klan explains:
The second Ku Klux Klan rose to great prominence and spread from the South into the Midwest and Northern states and even into Canada. At its peak, most of the membership resided in Midwestern states. Through sympathetic elected officials, the KKK controlled the governments of Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Oregon in addition to those of the Southern Democratic legislatures. It even claimed to have inducted Republican President Warren Harding at the White House. Klan delegates played a significant role at the 1924 Democratic National Convention in New York City, often called the "Klanbake Convention" as a result. The convention initially pitted Klan-backed candidate William McAdoo against New York Governor Al Smith, who drew the opposition of the group because of his Catholic faith. After days of stalemates and rioting, both candidates withdrew in favor of a compromise. Klan delegates defeated a Democratic Party platform plank that would have condemned their organization. On July 4, 1924 thousands of Klansmen converged on a nearby field in New Jersey where they participated in cross burnings, burned effigies of Smith, and celebrated their defeat of the platform plank.

David M. Chalmers describes the Klan's national political aspirations thoroughly in Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, particularly its brief reign in statehouses scattered across the country [pp. 200-201]:
In 1922, the Klan helped elect governors in Georgia, Alabama, California, and Oregon, and came close to knocking Missouri's Jim Reed out of the U.S. Senate. It was reported that perhaps as many as seventy-five members of the lower house had received help from Klan votes. An undetermined, and unguessable, number of congressmen, veterans, and newcomers, had actually joined the hooded order, and E.Y. Clarke was asking the local chapters to suggest likely candidates for the future. The next year, the Klan continued to expand, with its greatest strength developing in the upper Mississippi Valley and in the Great Lakes kingdom of D.C. Stephenson.

Eventually, the Klan stumbled nationally and crumbled apart, in large part due to the chaotic personalities and paranoiac egos it tended to attract as leaders. But its continuing appeal in the Midwest and elsewhere is reflected in the fact that one of its eventual offshoots, the Independent Klan of America, had its national headquarters in Muncie, Indiana.

It's worth noting that in many sundown towns, there were "exceptions" to the rules. Many such towns had one or two black residents, usually servants of local wealthy landowners, or people in subservient positions (hotel workers, nurses, janitors, shoeshiners) who had longtime resident status.

How did they manage it? As Loewen tells it, there were several survival strategies involved, including an emphasis on their eccentricity and individuality, which played to the way whites often responded to the cognitive dissonance of knowing blacks who were fine, upstanding, individuals, in contrast with prevailing stereotypes depicting them as lascivious criminals and rapists. That is, they made exceptions for them. Loewen cites an interview with a woman Klan member from Indiana:
"You get several of them together and they become niggers. Individually, they're fine people."

There was also a tendency to play to white stereotypes about negroes. All of this was designed to encourage whites to identify them as being on their side:
Overt identification with the white community was another survival tactic. Such blacks became "Tonto figures" -- taking pains to associate with the "white side," differentiated from the hordes of blacks outside the city limits. White workers in Austin, Minnesota, repeatedly expelled African Americans, and Austin became a sundown town, but like many others, it allowed one African American to stay -- the shoeshine "boy." Union member John Winkola tells about him:

And I'll tell you a good one: So one time we had Frank -- I forget his last name -- he was shining shoes in the barbershop and then afterwards he bell-hopped for the bus in town here, and everybody liked him ... He'd never go in the packing house because he knew he couldn't, he didn't want to go there.

So one day I was walking along ... and here came a couple of niggers, and they stood there by the bridge facing the packing house, and ... [Frank] says, "Y'know, John," he says, "when the damn niggers start comin' into this town, I'm gonna get the hell outta here." And he was black! He was black! He didn't want them to come into town either ... But we never had no trouble with Frank at all.

Indeed they didn't; Frank knew with which side of the color line he had to identify if he was to remain in Austin.

... Kathleen Blee, author of Women of the Klan, collected a good example from an Indiana woman in the 1980s: "We didn't hate the niggers. We had the Wills family that lived right here in [this] township. And they were like pet coons to us. I went to school with them." Often they got known by nicknames, such as "Snowball" for the only African American in West Bend, Wisconsin, or "Nigger Slim" for the father of the only black family in Salem, Illinois.

... The Austin, Minnesota, story shows another ideological payoff that allowing one household to stay when all others are driven out can have for whites, as they can claim not to be racist: "We're not against all African Americans after all -- look at Frank!" More accurately, whites can claim to be appropriately racist. The problem lies with those other African Americans -- "the damn niggers." Even Frank -- "and he was black" -- agrees. Thus instead of allowing their positive feelings about George Washington Maddox or Elizabeth Davis to prompt some questioning of their exclusionary policies, whites in Medford, Oregon, and Casey, Illinois, merely emphasized how exceptional these individuals were. In turn, this allowed whites to affirm once more how inferior other African Americans were, in their eyes.

Things, fortunately, have changed quite a bit since all this was true, though we continue to deal with the legacy of these times. Today, minorities who identify with anti-minority interests -- particularly the anti-multiculturalists of the paleoconservative right -- (and this certainly includes gay Republicans) no longer are doing so as a survival technique. Rather, it's a technique that creates all kinds of opportunities, both financial and otherwise.

Likewise, movement conservatives have proven skilled at appealing to sundown-town sensibilities without playing the race card nakedly. The key to the transformation of the G.O.P. from the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Lott lay in its adoption, in the early 1970s, of the so-called "Southern Strategy," which used coded appeals to white racists in the South. But these appeals had a broader effect as well. As Loewen notes [pp. 372-73]:
As a result of such leadership, Republicans have carried most sundown towns since 1968, sometimes achieving startling unaninimity. ... So the "southern strategy" turned out to be a "southern and sundown town strategy," especially in sundown suburbs. Macomb County, for example, the next county north of Detroit, voted overwhelmingly for Wallace in the 1972 Democratic primary. Wooed by Nixon, many of these voters then became "Reagan Democrats" and now are plain Republicans. The biggest single reason, according to housing attorney Alexander Polikoff, was anxiety about "blacks trapped in ghettos trying to penetrate white neighborhoods."

Indeed, the epicenter of the "sundown" mentality shifted over the years from small rural towns to the suburbs, particularly since the latter were so often specifically designed to facilitate white flight away from minorities. Loewen explains [pp. 109-110]:
Suburbs used the largest array of different weapons for becoming and staying all-white, beginning around 1900, although ultimately they too relied on violence. It is important to understand that the whiteness of America's suburbs was no accident. On the contrary, all-white suburbs were achieved. As Dorothy Newman wrote in 1978, "Residential separation rests on a system of formal rules (though no longer worded in racial terms -- the terms are illegal) and informal but carefully adhered-to practices which no amount of legislation has been able to penetrate."

... Elite suburbs that were built by a single developer were especially likely to begin life all-white on purpose. Tuxedo Park, New York, perhaps the richest of them all, may have gone sundown first, even before 1890. Affluent whites founded it "as a club community and maintained that discipline for nearly 50 years" ...

As the twentieth century wore on, Americans continued to build planned communities. Every planned town that I know of -- indeed, every community in America founded after 1890 and before 1960 by a single developer or owner -- kept out African Americans from its beginnings. Chronologically, these included Highland Park near Dallas in 1907-13 and Mariemont near Cincinnati in 1914, both of which won fame for their innovative shopping centers. Shaker Heights, east of Cleveland, was designed to be "utopian" and excluded blacks, Jews, and Catholics from its inception. Near Los Angeles, planned all-white suburbs set up around this time include Beverly Hills, Culver City, Palos Verdes Estates, Tarzana (developed by Edgar Rice Burroughs, from the proceeds of his Tarzan novels), and several others. Ebenezer Howard's "garden city" concept, imported from England, influenced at least seven suburbs or exurbs built around World War II; Radburn, New Jersey, in 1929; Greenbelt, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., Greenhills, Ohio, near Cincinnati, Greendale, Wisconsin, near Milwaukee, and Norris, Tennessee, in the 1930s; Richland, Washington, in 1942; and Park Forest, near Chicago, in the 1950s. All these planned communities were developed as sundown towns.

The insularity of suburban life also allowed the whites living within them to rationalize away the absence of nonwhites. Loewen notes that they had a variety of explanations, including climate and the lack of jobs, but most especially the notion that blacks didn't want to live in the suburbs [pp. 142-143]:
Some theories emphasize social isolation: why should African Americans move into out-of-the-way hamlets distant from centers of African American populations? In short, the lack of blacks was just "natural," or resulted from historical coincidence. I began my research with this hypothesis -- that most all-white towns never happened to draw any black residents -- but it didn't hold up. ... Before 1890, however, African Americans moved to counties and towns throughout America ... -- even isolated places such as northern Maine, northern Wisconsin, and Idaho north of the Snake River Valley. Then during the Great Retreat, they withdrew to the larger cities and a mere handful of smaller towns. ... In other words, because social isolation cannot explain the increases in black population in northern counties before 1890, it cannot explain why those increases reversed after that date. Something different went on after 1890.

Social isolation has even been used to explain overwhelmingly white suburbs: whites have imagined that African Americans prefer the excitement of the big city to such suburban values as home ownership, peace and quiet, tree-lined streets, and good school systems. This notion is absurd, as historian Andrew Wiese showed in 2004. Wiese summarized survey research as far back as the 1940s, finding no support for this stereotype. Among a sample of six hundred middle-income black families in New York City in 1948, for example, nine out of ten wanted to buy their own homes, and three in four wanted to move to suburbia. Many African American families have the same fervent desire for a patch of ground that white suburbanites manifest.

Other whites seem to think that it's somehow "natural" for blacks to live in the inner city, whites in the outer suburbs. This idea is a component of what law professor John Boger calls "the national sense that [residential segregation] is inescapable." ...

Indeed, blaming the whiteness of elite sundown suburbs on their wealth actually reverses the causality of race and class. It is mostly the other way around: racial and religious exclusion came first, not class. Suburbs that kept out blacks and Jews became more prestigious, so they attracted the very rich. The absence of African Americans itself became a selling point, which in turn helped these suburbs become so affluent because houses there commanded higher prices. ...

It would be one thing if, in the wake of the Civil Rights Era, Americans living in these former communities actively worked to overcome the segregationist mindset they represent. But instead, the legacy of sundown towns is one that reinforces, generationally, the false stereotypes that created them a century ago. Loewen observes [pp. 320-321]:
During the past 25 years, while teaching race relations to thousands of white people and discussing the subject with thousands more, I have found that white Americans expound about the alleged character and characteristics of African Americans in inverse proportion to their contact and experience with them. Isolation and ignorance aren't the only reasons why residents of sundown towns and suburbs are so ready to believe and pass on the worst stereotypes about African Americans, however. They also have a need for denial.

The idea that living in an all-white community leads residents to defend living in an all-white community exemplifies the well-established psychological principle of cognitive dissonance. No one likes to think of himself or herself as a bad person, argued Leon Festinger, who established this principle. People who live in sundown towns believe in the golden rule -- or say they do -- just like people who live in interracial towns. ...

What could make living in an all-white town right? The old idea that African Americans constitute the problem, of course. In 1914, Thomas Bailey, a professor in Mississippi, told what is wrong with that line of thinking: "The real problem is not the Negro, but the white man's attitude toward the Negro." Sundown towns only made the problem worse. Having driven out or kept out African Americans (or perhaps Chinese Americans or Jewish Americans), their residents then became more racist and more likely to believe the worst about the excluded groups.

That's why the talk in sundown towns brims with amazing stereotypes about African Americans, put forth confidently with nary an African American in their lives. The ideology intrinsic to sundown towns -- that African Americans ... are the problem -- prompts their residents to believe and pass on all kinds of negative generalizations as fact. They are the problem because they choose segregation -- even though "they" don't, as we have seen. Or they are the problem owing to their criminality -- confirmed by the stereotype -- misbehavior that "we" avoid by excluding or moving away from them.

Of course, such stereotypes are hardly limited to sundown towns. Summarizing a nationwide 1991 poll, Lynne Duke found that a majority of whites believed that "blacks and Hispanics are likely to prefer welfare to hard work and tend to be lazier than whites, more prone to violence, less intelligent, and less patriotic." Even worse, in sundown towns and suburbs, statements such as these usually evoke no open disagreement at all. Because most listeners in sundown towns have never lived near African Americans, they have no experiential foundation from which to question the negative generalities that they hear voiced. So the stereotypes usually go unchallenged: blacks are less intelligent, lazier, and lack drive, and that's why they haven't built successful careers.

Sundown towns and their continuing legacy have also had a profound psychological impact on blacks, including the internalization of low expectations, and the exclusion of blacks from cultural capital [pp. 353-355]:
Confining most African Americans to the opposite of sundown suburbs -- majority black, inner-city neighborhoods -- also restricts their access to what Patterson calls cultural capital: "those learned patterns of mutual trust, insider knowledge about how things really work, encounter rituals, and social sensibilities that constitute the language of power and success." ...

Making the suburbs unreachable for nonwhites similarly restricts them from making the social connections that are critical to forming networks that help us find work and move ahead in the workforce. Loewen notes that "the trouble is, these networks are segregated, so important information never reaches black America. ... Sundown suburbanites know only whites, by definition, except perhaps a few work contacts. Thus sundown suburbs contribute to economic inequality by race."
Loewen also notes [pp. 369-370]:
In his famous book An American Dilemma, written as World War II wound down, Gunnar Myrdal noted that residential segregation has been a key factor accounting for the subordinate status of African Americans. Separating people geographically makes it much easier to provide better city services to some than to others, and indeed to label some people as better than others.

The myths and attitudes engendered by the "sundown towns" and their legacy is constantly reinforced by conservative-movement propaganda that argues against such attempts to break up the entrenched segregation they created as affirmative action. It's easy to find pundits like Thomas Sowell -- whose arguments sound like those proferred by the "exceptions" -- offering commentary that obliviates the real history of black Americans:
Blacks only a generation or two out of slavery also had higher rates of employment and lower rates of crime than today.

What critics like Sowell neglect to mention, of course, is that there are real historical reasons for that -- namely, black Americans were given more opportunities to succeed in the first generation after the end of slavery than they were given for most of the succeeding century.

Fortunately, at least, there are some historians who recognize that addressing the legacy of "sundown town" eliminationism in America is critical to resolving the continuing racial divide in the country, especially since so much of it is a product of those practices and our failure to even acknowledge them, let alone atone for them.

Here in Seattle, University of Washington history professor James Gregory has begun digging through the records, and we at least are beginning to get a little better glimpse of our true historical selves:
Seattle thinks of itself as a liberal city, one that has a reasonable record of racial integration. But we are also a city with a short memory. One of the things we have been forgetting is that only a few decades ago, Seattle was a sharply segregated city. It was a city that kept non-whites out of most jobs and most neighborhoods, even out of stores, restaurants, hotels and hospitals.

... Until the late 1960s, Seattle north of the ship canal was a "sundown" zone. That meant that virtually no people of color lived there and it also meant that African Americans were expected to be out of the area when the workday ended. After dark, a black man in particular was likely to be stopped by the police, questioned about his business and informed that he had better not be seen in the neighborhood again.

North Seattle was not alone. Queen Anne, Magnolia and West Seattle also were sundown zones. The suburbs were even worse. Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, Bellevue, Burien, even White Center, vigorously and explicitly excluded people of color. But the ship canal was a special kind of boundary, an unmistakable dividing line between the part of Seattle where anyone might live and the part of Seattle that was off-limits to those whose skin was not white.

Until the early 1950s, North Seattle was also home to Coon Chicken Inn, which for almost 20 years stood as a beacon of bigotry on Lake City Way Northeast. Whites of a certain disposition made it a hugely popular restaurant and no one could drive along Lake City Way without noticing the massive grotesque "coon" head and the big-lipped mouth that served as the restaurant's front door.

Of course, eliminationism never settles down even after it is sated. In America, the impulse proved so thoroughly ingrained that, even as lynching began to decline, whites began finding new "threats" from other races and other peoples.

Foremost on the list: Asians and other "unassimilable" immigrants who began arriving in greater numbers on our shores as the 20th century was dawning.

Next: 'White Man's Land'

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Picking Spocko's brain

Late last week, I telephoned Spocko, the proprietor of Spocko's Brain, the Bay Area blog that has been monitoring the hateful excesses of local right-wing talk jocks at KSFO -- and brought down the wrath of Disney upon his head in the process. We talked for over an hour.

What follows is mostly a verbatim transcript of the interview, though portions were edited out to protect his identity, his legal defense, and his cohorts at the blog.

How did you get started tracking these characters?

Well actually, it wasn't even Morgan. To go all the way back to what this first started on, it was just listening to Brian Sussman. He's the guy who was the evening guy for two hours, and he's a former KPX weatherman.

And you know, I listened to him at first, and it was just like, 'Oh, this has gotta be a schtick.' You know, it's like, you can't really believe that. He calls himself a theocon and a neocon.

I went to see Mark Danner, a journalist based in Berkeley, and he was talking about the atrocities at Abu Ghraib. I was just flabbergasted, because they were talking about how many people had died from torture in Abu Ghraib. Twenty-three people died there.

And all you hear about on "hot talk" radio, and on Rush and those people, is: "Oh, Abu Ghraib, it's great there! They wear underwear on their heads! What's the big deal?"

They describe it as a frat prank.

And nobody could call up and say, "Hey, Rush, how many people died from being tortured in there?"

So I wrote to Sussman, because he was going on about this. You know, I figured, it's gotta be schtick. And I quoted Mark Danner's stuff, and I said, 'You know, I know you won't read my letter on the air, because it has no facts, no swear words you can bleep -- sorry about that, I'll try and help churn up your audience with some other letter based on your next fake outrage.' And by churn, that's the inside-radio thing where they go, 'Heeeeyy, we hate puppies, call us up and tell us what you think about that.'

So he wrote back, a letter dated June 17, 2005. I'll read it. It says: "Re: 'Why won't you admit that Americans torture people?' No beating around the "Bush" on this one! Torture of those who would like to kill us is OK by me. I've said it on the radio and I will make sure I say it again loud and clear for misguided people like you. Signed, Suss."

Now, I just need to point out that there are lots of people who are being tortured who are not out to kill us.

But that was the thing -- OK, so he's being serious about this. And then I thought, 'Well, whattya gonna do?' And I listened to Mike Stark of Calling All Wingnuts argue with [Sean] Hannity, and I was like -- you know, I have relatives or friends like that who are willing to do that kind of verbal sparring. And I realized that even if he wins, he's still provided entertainment, and the second he hangs up, they've got another three hours to mock him and spin whatever.

So I thought about, well, how do you deal with that? I thought, the only thing, is that in many ways free speech is a big thing in this. I asked Mark Danner about that as well, and he says, 'You should consider talk radio to be like men sitting around a campfire grunting.' I told him I thought it was insidious.

So I thought, OK, so the only way that we could possibly modify their behavior -- because the management didn't care; you know, they support it. The guy who is the program manager for the station, Jack Swanson, is married to Melanie Morgan.

The guy who started the station format [at KSFO], Mickey Lukoff, is also the KGO -- but he was an early backer of Michael Savage. I think someone higher up forced him to get rid of Savage. There's a whole story about Savage talking about little girls from a Marin County school had come over and Savage said they were coming downtown to work with the public because they liked the idea, the excitement of being raped. And so people in Marin were really upset about it, and they were going to have a meeting with them. But Savage and Lukoff didn't show up. They were supposed to go up and meet with the people, and didn't do it.

This came up in a question from the reporter from the Chronicle, that they said that 'they had offered you, they extended to you the invitation to come on to discuss with you and you decined. Why did you do that?' I said, 'Well, you know, I could go on and talk about how the whole industry is just entertainment. But really, I like to quote Jon Stewart to Tucker Carlson: "No! No! I won't be your monkey!"'

I just said that in talk radio, the playing field is always tilted, and they always have the advantage. At that point, I was not going to go on air and not have two twenty-minute segments and that's it. And so I started writing the advertisers. And I did research on fair use, and on legal guides on blogging through the EFF. I did research on the FCC, on what's indecency, what's obscenity, what's inciting violence, what's what they call "fighting words," what's incitement to violence, in order to find out if any of this met those criteria. And in some cases, I thought it did, but maybe not.

You know, I thought that perhaps Brian Sussman talking about cutting off somebody's penis during the hours of 6 o'clock was indecent. But the FCC may not.

So I started taking some of the audio clips and sort of putting them together in a letter. And the first thing that happened was in December of 2005 or thereabouts, [Sussman] went on, and his idea of the 'War on Christmas' was to attack the advertisers. There was a company where somebody came into an office or a store, and if somebody didn't say 'Merry Christmas,' that he was going to 'out' them on the radio program. And I'm like, 'What? What do you mean?'

So at that point, the advertisers -- I realized, hey, wait a minute, these are also advertisers on his show. So I wrote them, and I said, 'This might be something you are interested in, that the very same company that you're advertising on is doing this, and they're also saying these kinds of things. The first advertiser that pulled their ads was Borders Books, and this was in December 2005. And a couple others pulled their ads -- some of them wrote me and some of them didn't. But suddenly the ads were promo ads for the station and public service announcements. And so I thought, well, maybe they actually are pulling their ads based on these notes I'm sending them.

And I get kind of discouraged about this whole thing. I'm like, we do this and they lose advertiser after advertiser -- we have some confirmation, others we don't -- and at this point I sometimes listened to Sussman, and he never actually mentioned us or me by name, but you would get this kind of, "I don't like Star Trek. Do you like Star Trek?" And I'm like, whatever. And he would say that "they're trying to sabotage my career!" And that "they were threatening our advertisers!"

We were just getting discouraged, and it was like, 'What's the whole point of this? We're beating our heads against the wall.' Then it was that I really don't want to keep doing this. And at a certain point, I think it was in June or July, that we heard that -- Bank of America had already pulled earlier -- but MasterCard did as well, and that was a big thing.

And I had already been getting kind of threats on my blog from anonymous people. It would be like, 'They're coming for you, Spocko!' And then I got an e-mail from the sales manager, Michael Black -- I always told the advertisers, 'Look, listen to the program yourself. If you don't believe me, listen yourself. You don't have to take my word for it. It's not hard, it's available on the Internet. And here is the person. If this isn't for you, contact the sales manager.' And his information was on the Website.

So I got this e-mail from Michael Black saying he wanted to meet with me. Well, at that point, they thought, or continue to think, that I either worked for a competitor or within the station or something. And I didn't. They thought, oooh, this would be their opportunity to 'out' me.

I think I did a post on this at the time -- you know the movie Network?

Yeah, of course.

That scene with Howard Beale [Peter Finch] and Ned Beatty, in the boardroom: "YOU HAVE MESSED WITH A FORCE OF NATURE AND YOU WILL ATONE!!!" It was like Mickey was gonna bring me in and read me the riot act. They offered, 'Maybe you could debate Sussman.' -- Yeah, like I'm gonna be able to go on with a professional bully like this. So I said no, and I respectfully declined.

So then I think there was much more in the way of threats, anonymous threats -- 'They're gonna get ya' and stuff. And I think for Sussman it got a lot more personal.

And then Joe Conason wrote a story on it in Salon that used links of my audio that linked directly to my blog. And that was great.

The other thing was, though, that nobody really noticed until Melanie Morgan went on TV. I had actually written the L.A. Times about Melanie Morgan calling for -- she said that the L.A. Times was doctoring photos, because of the total absence of Mexican flags in [its coverage of] the L.A. protests: 'All they had was American flags! They doctored their photos!'

I have friends who are photographers and photojournalists and I was pretty sure it was pretty much a firing offense to doctor photos before publication. So I thought they should know about this, and I wrote the L.A. Times. And they responded and said, you know, send us the whole thing so we can be sure to get it in context. And they wrote a letter to the people at Melanie Morgan's show.

They never responded, they never apologized. The L.A. Times asked for an on-air correction. I listened the next day, but I never heard it -- they might have done one, but I can't verify it. There wasn't anything posted to the Website.

At that point, I guess Melanie Morgan had appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, and she had talked about Bill Keller and what he had done was treason.

She was basically repeating something she had said on-air at KSFO and had gained some notoriety for saying, right?

It was then I realized it was all about being on TV -- they ignored Sussman, but he was just too small of potatoes. So I started listening to her show.

And I started realizing that Lee Rogers is actually the one with the most violent rhetoric of all of them. He's the one that talked about lighting an alleged arsonist on fire, stomping a protestor to death, shooting this guy who had been arrested 200 times, shooting him in the head, attaching electrodes. And he's very serious on some of them.

And I was just recording once a week or so, and I was getting all this stuff, and these guys are on the air every day of the week spewing stuff just like it.

So it became clear that these guys had much more resources and were not going to do anything about this -- even if they lose advertisers, it wasn't enough. And then I pulled back, and I decided I needed to be smarter and more organized. So I began assembling som very specific information about advertisers, and when they advertise, and what time they advertise, and who is the decison-maker there. And at that point, it was on November 15, I began sending notes to advertisers. That's the letter you see posted on Daily Kos.

It was served on the 22nd of December [the Friday before Christmas]. So, you know, who's gonna be around, who's gonna do this kind of stuff? I'm glad that I caught it, because the terms and conditions of [the ISP] stated that you've got 24 hours. Now, the cease and desist said it's gotta be off before January 1st.

I complied. I did exactly what they asked in the time frame that they asked. Within six hours I had taken down every single audio file that related to KSFO. Now, there might have been other audio files up there, but they were had nothing to do with this. I am confident that every single one was not up any more.

And then it stayed up, and all my text was still up and working. And then they took it down.

I've been alerting the management at ABC Radio and higher up at Disney on a lot of this stuff. And even wrote the CFO. And I said basically, you're not in charge of the brand, but these people are just kind of trashing your brand. Do you know about this?

When people think about ABC, this is that level of, you know, 'We're aware of it or we're not aware of it.' And around this time, the Mahatma Rice company -- Riviana Foods -- they wrote me and said, 'We didn't know about this. We just thought that KSFO was a Disney affiliate and we thought it was family friendly and innocuous. And we saw the numbers and that seemed good.'

And that's when I realized that ABC and Disney was using their image, their brand image, to sell this station.

What's interesting is that the Christian Right has been using this family-friendly thing to hit advertisers over the head with for years. And so they were kind of responding to me thinking that I was somebody from the Christian Right or something like that, and they were trying to say how family friendly the station was, but that was because they were told that it was.

It was January 2nd when the blog went down, it was just dead. Now, I had taken the precaution of knowing that it was happening and I replicated the entire content of my blog.

Is all the content back up now?

Not all of it. I'm still working back through and getting everything restored.

And now you're waiting to see if they actually sue you. It must take a personal toll.

I don't really want to be the story. I don't want to be the focus of this. It's a convenient narrative because it's the David-vs.-Goliath stuff. And I know how the wingnutosphere will works. I've watched how they do this stuff. And I've been watching how they've been combating this, and as far as I know it's gonna be Michelle Malkin's winged monkeys going out to find this person.

And they'll release your home address and that sort of thing.

And then it's Chad Castagana sending white powder in the mail.

I do not have huge resources. I'm just an independent communications professional, that's all I've been saying. I have worked with some big groups before doing some of the same kind of stuff, and so people might think that they're behind it. But nobody else is. There are no radio stations, nothing like that.

That's as far as I ever want to be identified. But if it does come out, that's how I expect that they'll play it, and they're going to think that I'm backed by them and that sort of thing, but I'm not.

That's gonna be the next step. And when people say, 'We've got your back,' that's the thing that I'm hoping that people can help. Because when that happens, and it will, I want to use that as an opportunity to point out, 'Look what they did, and why they did it.' What do they get out of this? And who are they that they do this?

This is the Karl Rove model of publicity. This is the deep-shit smear campaign that they want to play, and this is how they do it.

People call me brave. I'm not brave. A reporter in Baghdad facing bullets is brave. All I'm trying to do is let people know what's going on in a way that is as effective as I can be.

What can people do to help?

People ask how they can help, and I just say, stick around. I think whatever's coming down the pike, I may need a lot of help with.

I haven't quite figured out what's the best thing. When I've been talking to people, I'm saying that I'm not only going to make them accountable, but I want people to look at how they're doing it. And call them on it when they're doing it.

People always talk about how you stand up to bullies and they reveal themselves as cowards. But it's hard to stand up to bullies. We've all been kids, and we've all been bullied. And you can get your nose bloodied.

But when you do stand up to them, and other people stand up to them, support them. Do what you can so that this kind of violent rhetoric is seen for what it is.