May 1, 2014

Wingnuttery and racists the last gasp of a dying Right

Isn't just a pain when your local, beloved "folk hero" turns out to be a vile, hate-spewing racist?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


Dang nabbit -- there I was all gearing up for a tour of the intercontinental assorted wingnuttery of the Right this week, a perfect grand slam, when Gerry Adams was hauled in for questioning over the murder of an alleged "informer" in 1972. Gerry Adams, the proud Irish freedom fighter and peaceful Sinn Fein memb- ah, who am I kidding? He’ll probably wriggle out of it. Back to the wingnuts. In the United States, the big story over the past two weeks has been the rise and fall of a Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, who set a new record for being first a hero, and then a liability for the US Right. Bundy -- the surname was surely a warning -- is a cattle rancher who grazes his herds on federally owned land in Nevada. Twenty years ago he stopped paying fees (which he had paid for years) after some rule changes. The US government’s Bureau of Land Management pursued him through court judgments in their favour for two decades -- Bundy making money off the cattle all the way through -- before eventually moving in to confiscate the herds. That’s when a stand-off developed. Bundy and his family, and a number of supporters, armed to the teeth, refused to budge. Bundy began giving daily press conferences and announced that he did not recognise the United States government -- only that of Nevada, a sovereign state. This is a position similar to that of the growing "sovereign citizen" movement: people -- OK, angry white men -- who reserve the right to only obey the laws they recognise as constitutional. Such anarchism would be anathema to a Right who believe in the rule of law, you would think. You would think, but as Bundy began giving daily press conferences in glorious wingnut gonzo style, he was feted by the Right -- in particular by Sean Hannity, Catholic-pageboy-tonsured Fox News anchor, who praised Bundy as a "patriot" (for Nevada, presumably). In the National Review Online, obsessive anarcho-conservative Kevin Williamson compared Bundy to Gandhi, for standing up to tyrannical power -- even though the power Gandhi stood up to was the one that the people who founded the (non-existent) US stood up to. Bundy’s daily pressers continued for days, on various topics -- eventually only local press and the omnipresent New York Times was there. Thus it was that the Grey Lady got the goods, when, on Tuesday last week, Bundy began musing about race relations.He had been driving past a "Negro" housing project in North Vegas and:
"... in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids -- and there is always at least a half-a-dozen people sitting on the porch -- they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. "And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? ... They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. "They got less freedom.”
Oh noes. If Bundy had been an Obama organiser under deep cover, he couldn’t have done more damage. A lot of crap remarks can be explained away by the Right -- but the desirability of slavery ain’t one of them. Fox held out for a while then cracked, Hannity denouncing the remarks as "beyond repugnant", while lamely remarking that he had supported Bundy’s stand, not the man himself. NRO’s slow backing away from the man -- he was not like Gandhi, his situation was -- is a delicious read. But then, reversal! Bundy’s remarks had been edited! Those nefarious liberals again! When the full tape was played it revealed that Bundy had said Mexicans are good family people. So that was all right, then. Quite aside from the ludicrous inconsistency in celebrating a right-wing anti-statist -- while still moaning that Obama would never have been President if the American people had known about his history with Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers -- the rush to canonise shows an increasing desperation on the part of the Right. I mean what part of armed sovereign citizen giving shotgun sermons in the desert doesn’t set off alarm bells?
"Magical thinking has become the norm, as has a near-hysterical white skin victimology."
But though they are cruising towards a good mid-term result, deep down the Right know that their chance of winning the White House in ‘16 -- or ‘20 or ‘24 -- is remote. Magical thinking has become the norm, as has a near-hysterical white skin victimology. Hence they doubled down on "political correctness" when LA Clippers basketball team owner -- a saurian white guy named Donald Sterling (pictured) -- was caught on tape berating his (young, Asian) girlfriend for bringing a black man to a game. There being one or two black men in the team, this looked suspiciously like a plantation model of sports ownership. With Sterling’s friends defending him (including black superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), the Right decided this was an issue of ... privacy, and had to begin yet another series of articles with "X is a racist but ...". That worked -- until NBA players threatened what US papers called a "boycott" (i.e., a strike), if something wasn’t done. Within an afternoon, the LA Clippers were on the market, and Sterling had been banned from games for life. The US wasn’t the only place where they couldn’t get race right. Across the pond, the wacky UK Independence Party is on course to become the No. 1 party in the vote for the European Parliament, a body it wants the UK to withdraw from. They’re polling at 38% (turnout is about 20-25% -- in some areas as low as 10-15%), with Labour on 27%, Con 18%, and Lib Dems 7%. Such a result would be an embarrassing absurdity for the UK-EU elite, and it has been built on UKIP’s ability to draw in socially conservative Labour voters -- many of them once quite leftish (and therefore deluded about UKIP’s Thatcherite intent) -- but decidedly not-racist. So it’s been with increasing glee that everyone has watched as UKIP’s campaign has self-unravelled. First there was the poster campaign featuring a "British builder" scared about his job -- who was an Irish actor, working as an immigrant -- and a young woman "ordinary voter" who had decided that UKIP made sense -- because she was their events organiser (and days later, the victim of a circulated revenge sex tape). The would-be feature candidate of a five-minute TV slot had to be suspended after saying that all Africans should kill themselves, another candidate said that Ed Miliband wasn’t really British -- his father was Polish -- and was only here to take an Englishman’s job -- and everyone’s favourite was Andre Lampitt, who said black comedian Lenny Henry should go back to a black country. Henry was born in Dudley, in the Midlands -- in an area called the Black Country, for its industrial heritage. All crazy in a very British way, with none of the US hysteria -- just suburban and village souls quietly going obsessively mad in Little-Sodding-On-The-Crutch, until they get national media exposure and it all goes pear-shaped, innit? The hysteria was all in the political class, which decided -- with days to go until the election -- to go in hard on the party, and its Toby Jug leader Nigel Farage, who got a roasting on TV for employing his German wife as his secretary when a Brit could do the job (no one ventured the line that since duties include wanting to have sex with Nigel Farage occasionally, the job counts as having unique prerequisites that cannot be locally sourced). The call was on to portray UKIP as racist and sinister -- which as usually gormless Labour former deputy PM Jacqui Smith observed, seemed designed to speed uncertain Labour/UKIP voters faster than ever to Farage’s party. The only problem for UKIP in all of this was that it actually had to sack candidates faster than it could find their replacements. But for all the embarrassment of UKIP topping the European Parliament polls, Labour will not be sorry. UKIP’s support is still Tory heavy -- a 10% vote across the board in 2015 will turn the Tories into a one-term government. The obvious reason why in their very different ways, these hysterical race scares are kicking off everywhere -- our local bubbling burko, Andrew Bolt, having been quieted somewhat -- is simply that the world they want to hold off is inexorably winning. As we get closer to a time when the idea of a white national ethnicity makes no sense in these countries, the temperature rises until the lid can’t be kept on. Craziest, best moment: has-been politician, has-been candidate, has-been commentator Sarah Palin telling the National Rifle Association "water-boarding is how we baptise terrorists". By their acts ye shall know them. Which might also apply to Mr Adams.

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10 thoughts on “Wingnuttery and racists the last gasp of a dying Right

  1. Tyger Tyger

    Below is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s “defence” of Donald Sterling as reported on

    ‘Sterling is the “latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet,” Abdul-Jabbar writes, [on] noting disgraced celebrity chef Paula Deen and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

    “Racists deserve to be paraded around the modern town square of the television screen so that the rest of us who believe in the American ideals of equality can be reminded that racism is still a disease that we haven’t yet licked,” he continues. “What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise…

    “He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing,” Abdul-Jabbar says. “It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?”

    “Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.’ Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs,” he added.’

    What gives, Guy? The Abdul-Jabbar slur is a sloppy, gratuitous reference in an otherwise excellent article.
    Mind you, not sure how “decidedly non-racist” are “socially conservative Labour voters” in the UK either. However, unlike the Abdul-Jabbar reference, that’s merely you expressing an opinion, not a statement of seeming “fact”.

  2. zut alors

    ‘… since duties include wanting to have sex with Nigel Farage occasionally, the job counts as having unique prerequisites that cannot be locally sourced.’

    Delicious, Guy.

    I’m still puzzling over Donald Sterling’s gracious open-mindedness in affiliating with an Asian. Apparently her shade of off-white is ok.

  3. rhwombat

    zut: (1) She’s a possession, and (2) the Charles ‘Bell Curve’ Murray defence of racism inherent in the Southern Policy of the Party of Nixon is to postulate that Asians are super-whites, so we can’t call them (the racists) racist.

  4. JennyWren

    I read that his girlfriend was actually half Mexican and half black which makes even less sense. But hey she’s pretty

  5. Ken Lambert

    Guy is making a meal out of rightist nutters. Not that leftists don’t grossify the threat of far right loonies in order to shore up support for themselves.

    His reference to Gerry Adams reminds me of that other famous Anglophobe Irish freedom fighter Mr Éamon de Valera.

    In May 1945, he personally visited the German Embassy in Dublin to deliver his nation’s condolences on the death of Adolph Hitler.

  6. Slomo

    Guy, apart from getting it wrong on Kareem as pointed out by Tyger, your reporting of the Donald Sterling story is very sloppy and wrong on a number of points. The team is not ‘on the market’ but signs sre that the other NBA owners will force Sterling to sell. And the suggestion that the NBA only banned (and fined) Sterling because players threatened a boycott is a ridiculous simplification..and also just wrong. The NBA was always going to act and the (potential) boycott story didn’t break until after Silver announced his penalties. I hope the other elements of this story were written with more care.

  7. Guy Rundle


    oh god, yr making a meal of it – the teams going to be sold. the boycott threat was private before it was public pushing the nba to act.

    i rserve the right to simplify stories about us sports ownership

    wrong girlfriend

  8. max steinman

    Apparently he’s making a 700 million dollar profit from the sale, sounds like a pretty sweet punishment to me.

  9. Chris Hartwell

    Ego thing Max – “Don’t matter how much money you have, you’re not allowed to play in our sandpit anymore.”

    Although at 80-odd years of age, it’s arguable how much longer he’ll have to enjoy that money in any case, especially if his female is significantly younger. You know, the whole dying in bed thing. Preferably someone else’s bed.

  10. Tyger Tyger

    de Valera “Anglophobe”?! He didn’t show much fear of the English when he fought them in the streets of Dublin or when he was initially sentenced to death then imprisoned for doing so. That he hated their guts as an Irish patriot goes without saying and hardly needs explaining to anyone who knows their history.

    BTW, Guy, sloppy journalism is sloppy journalism, be it in regard to U.S sports or any other topic. It’s a credibility thing.

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