A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
It is no longer unthinkable that Barack Obama could face Newt Gingrich in November. If that happens, the political lines will be unequivocally drawn around race – and only race. But Black people will have no defender. “The issue in a contest between Obama and Gingrich will be the same as between Gingrich and Juan Williams, a slimy Black right-winger who claims African Americans wallow in a culture of ‘victimhood.’” Sound familiar? Maybe that’s because “the coded language and euphemisms of white supremacy are deployed by both Republicans and Democrats, and forms the core of American political speech.”
For “cracker” references, read the story.
Newt Gingrich: King Cracker
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Gingrich is drawing a racial line in the sand, just as the segregated Atlanta Crackers baseball team did on their playing field.”
It now seems possible that the presidential election could wind up being a contest between the quintessential corporate Democrat, Barack Obama, and Newt Gingrich, King of the Crackers.
Now, before any radio station considers pulling this commentary from their airwaves as some kind of hate speech, let me inform the listeners that “cracker” was a label proudly worn by masses of white folks, and especially popular in Gingrich’s state of Georgia. From 1901 until 1965, the Atlanta Crackers was one of professional baseball’s most successful minor league teams. These Crackers played out of Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon field until the Braves moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee, in 1966.
Newt Gingrich knows all about Georgia Crackers. The Atlanta Crackers baseball team was still going strong when Gingrich went to high school in Columbus, Georgia, and they played their last game the year he graduated from Emory University, in Atlanta. It was very popular to be a “cracker” in Georgia in those days…and, apparently, it still is, throughout the South, including South Carolina, where Gingrich won the Republican presidential primary.
The former House speaker from Cobb County, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, won a standing ovation when he rejected reporter Juan Williams’ suggestion that Gingrich was purposely insulting Black people with his rhetoric on food stamps and his urging that African American children be put to work as janitors in public schools. That’s the kind of talk that makes unreconstructed Georgia crackers and their soul mates everywhere proud. Gingrich is drawing a racial line in the sand, just as the segregated Atlanta Crackers baseball team did on their playing field. And, it is serving him well in the Deep South Republican Party, which began its transition to the White Man’s Party with Barry Goldwater’s presidential run in 1964, followed by Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” in 1968.
“Gingrich’s verbal weapons are simply sharper than most, but President Obama deploys a milder version of anti-Black rhetoric.”
The problem that Gingrich presents is not so much that he pollutes the public conversation with raw rhetorical racism. The coded language and euphemisms of white supremacy are deployed by both Republicans and Democrats, and forms the core of American political speech. Mass Black incarceration, mass Black unemployment, and de facto housing segregation are the domain of both major parties. Gingrich’s verbal weapons are simply sharper than most, but President Obama deploys a milder version of anti-Black rhetoric, sometimes even on Fathers Day.
The real problem is that the issue in a contest between Obama and Gingrich will be the same as between Gingrich and Juan Williams, a slimy Black right-winger who claims African Americans wallow in a culture of “victimhood” and who blames teachers unions for what ails the public schools. Sounds very much like President Obama. Juan Williams is worth $3 million to FOX News. Barack Obama’s re-election is worth trillions to Wall Street, which will back the corporate Democrat, just as they did in 2008. Gingrich, by drawing a racial line in the sand, only helps Obama draw attention away from his own service to Wall Street. So, the King Cracker from Cobb County actually has done a great service to corporate America, whose candidate will reap the votes of most folks who don't think of themselves as crackers.
Except for those of us who know that building a movement is much more important than voting for evil.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].