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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Flip-flop-a-dee-doo-dah, flip-flop-a-dee-ay...

In African folklore, there are many different tales...stories of proud kings, and haughty warriors. Mischevious children, and wise beasts of the plain.

Sadly, most of that folklore has been filtered, and peeled, and torn away by the peculiar, yet powerful institution of slavery--leaving us, several generations hence, with precious few of those stories told by the "village griot" from our points of origin in the Motherland.

But one hardy character from many of those tales of yore stays with us to this day, and that is the character of...The Trickster. Be he Anansi (from West Africa), or Ti Malice (via Haiti's African ties), or perhaps the most familiar to us Americans, the crafty, Br'er Rabbit (later refined by the broader culture into the supremely infamous trickster Bugs Bunny)--we know his modus operandi. Seemingly "in trouble", or in peril from his enemies, he manages, via a smart mouth and quick wits to not only manage escape, but to often put his pursuer/attackers in the "trick bag", leaving them to look foolish, or with their rabbit trap laughably sprung on themselves.

Ol' Br'er Rabbit came to mind recently in a big way via this um..."near-story".

"Civil rights activist Al Sharpton, who led the charge to have radio host Don Imus fired for making racially insensitive remarks, is now under fire for a comment about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormon faith.

During a debate on religion and politics at the New York Public Library with atheist author Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation."
On the campaign trail in Iowa Wednesday, Romney fired back, calling Sharpton's comment "terribly misguided."
"It shows that bigotry still exists in some corners," Romney said. "I thought it was a most unfortunate comment to make."
Asked if he thought Sharpton is a bigot, the former Massachusetts governor said, "I don't know Rev. Sharpton. I doubt he is personally such a thing. But the comment was a comment which could be described as a bigoted comment.
"Perhaps he didn't mean it that way, but the way it came out was inappropriate and wrong."

Now, post-Imus, it's pretty clear that a boatload of scalp-hunters on the right were been itchin' for a fistful of the rotund Rev's bone-straight locks. And damned if this story wasn't just the angle that members of the crimson-neck-tocracy were looking for.

"We gotcha' bo-way! Gotcha but good this time. An' we gonna have us an ol' pic-a-nic whilst you kick n' twitch too! Sheee-*t! Somebody call Ah-mus n' Bernie, so's they can work th' grill, jes' fer irony's sake."

But then, a funny thang happened on the way to the media lynching.

It never took off. Didn't get any steam. It went up as nicely as one a' those old unmanned test rockets that we launched into a thousand pieces just off the pad at Canaveral back in the day. Except, this attempted "story" was the modern day version of those vintage "flopniks".

So, just what happened exactly?

Enter "Br'er Rabbit", ya'll. The next graf in the CNN story is where the bunny trap goes all to sh*t.
"Sharpton said his remarks were being taken out of context and that he was responding to an attack by Hitchens, who, he said, had charged that the Mormon Church supported segregation until the 1960s."

It's where Anansi cackles while escaping the hungry bird. Where the cigar explodes in Elmer's face.

Where Br'er Rabbit dashes off into the briar patch, and Br'er FOX (yeah, as in network) and Bear stands there looking at the viewer as their faces morph into jackass heads. You see, Sharpton's comment was a pointed one. A mean dagger jab, leaving a seemingly superficial flesh wound to Romney. But nobody noted the poison on the dagger's tip until Mitt, and the few in the media who backed him, tried to walk around and crow afterward while going after Sharpton. The poison hit the bloodstream but good, then. And that poison was the FACT that Romney's Mormon faith was an especially despicable supporter of naked racism until fairly recent years in American history. In fact, the stuff was baked right into their good book.

Dig on these fun bits of Mormon teaching:

2 Nephi 5:21
21 "And the Lord had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
Alma 3: 6 "And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men."

3 Nephi 2:14-15
14 "And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;
15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;"

Moses 7:22
22 "And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them."

There's all kinda fun stuff like that in Mormon scripture, and thankfully, there has been "something" of a repudiation of a lot of that blatant f*cking racism in their tracts, and the exclusionary racism within the sect itself, but old habits die hard, and that nutty belief in the whole less-than-their-brethren "Children of Cain and Ham means n*ggers" sh*t still has if not legs--quiet cat feet still tip-toeing around in the group. It wasn't actually "disavowed" until sometime in the mid-seventies when under pressure, post-Civil Rights gains, a "new" revelation from God was revealed to the Mormon hierarchy that treating Black folks like compost was now uncool in The Lord's eyes. It sounds loopy, but hey, you can look it up.

And this is why the story died. Because once Mitt, and his "C-Cupped" sycophants on the right instinctively yelped about that mean ol' Black man calling Mitt's *ss out, it was gonna open an ugly--no, not ugly, but a hideous, hatchet-faced pandora's box of questions about Romney's faith that nobody wanted to really f*ck around with. Seriously. Rev. Al's statement was a dual-fuse time bomb. You react to the initial incendiary flash--then you walk over to the device thinking that's it--all done, and then it explodes in your face. Br'er Rabbit to a "T", sucking you in, setting you up, thinking you've got him...and then you're f*cked. And Sharpton knew exactly what he was doing, too. Keeping it totally real, I'm pretty damn sure he has a "THEM!" -sized bug up his *ss about Mormonism's lateness to the equality dance--as a lot of Black folks who know about it do-- the talented, but crazy-*ss Gladys Knight notwithstanding. And his tweaking of Romney had a heapin' helpin' of the ol' "Oh please, please don' throw poor me inna dat briar patch, ya'll" to it. Pull that hook out, and you set a razor-sharp barb that'll f*ck you up as you try to remove it.

And once the media outlets that rushed to his aid realized what they'd signed onto--and trust me, they will run with "big" stories totally half-*ssed.-- they somehow snatched their hand off that live, toasty third rail and quickly found some other sh*t to amuse themselves with. Mitt's buddies in the wingnuttosphere, tone-deaf as an ear-infected Malkin doing karaoke to Aretha songs, of course are still apoplectic over Sharpton's "slur". Dim-witted as usual, to the nth degree and unable to realize why the story's radioactive half-life is something they maybe shouldn't d*ck around with. But what do you expect from the likes of lunatics who promote interning an entire ethnic group in concentration camps, or goofed about Katrina victims as hell descended upon them? So on they prattle, fighting, thrashing and setting the hook deeper in their gullet. as their slightly smarter co-corts in the MSM slip away into the briny deep, lip torn, but alive nonetheless.

And off in the distance, you can hear a hare...a chunky, slick-maned, hare laughing to beat the f*cking band as he scoots on down the road, after having been tossed into the briar patch of handling racism-- the most familiar place in the world to him.
"Ha, ha, ha, ha! I told you, Brer Bear, you shouldn't pay attention to what I said because us rabbits was born in the briar patch."

Thus, the tale ends the way you remember it...with a bouncy, knowing, and winking nod to it's modern-day refinement. :)

-- LowerManhattanite

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