The video is an attempt at humor, but I think it's humor with a point -- that is, satire. But then, I'm not quite sure what the point is.
What do you think?
For those who can't watch it, the video begins with a shot of Professor Gates explaining that his arrest made him realize how "vulnerable" all black and poor people are to "capricious forces like rogue policemen." Words are then superimposed on a freeze-frame of Gates that say, "Speak for yourself, Sissy . . . "
The rest of the video portrays a black man getting wired up for sound in front of a green screen by a white man. The black man gets nervous because he fears that the microphone wire will "shoot white people's instructions up my spine and take over my brain." He runs away and into a corporate setting full of white people, all of whom frighten him more and more. Especially when they turn into zombies, who say they want his "sense of rhythm," his "natural athletic ability," and so on. At the end of the video, the black man is found crouching and crying in a basement by another black man, who asks him what's wrong. He raises his head to choke out an explanation: "I see white people!"
Again, I don't think this video is just an attempt to "have some fun" with Professor Gates' point that black people (what happened to the "poor" people in his comment?) are "vulnerable." It's an effort to satirize that point, and to say that those who make it are paranoid "sissies." They must be sissies, you see, because white people (what happened to the "rogue policemen" in Gates' comment?) don't have anything against black people. I mean, come on, we're not like, freakin' flesh-eating zombies or something! Only a sissie would play the race card by claiming that in this post-racial society, things are any different for black people than they are for white people. Get real, bro!
By the way, this "humor" was produced by people working for an outfit with an explicitly political agenda -- Pajamas Media Television. This is the same crew that recently published an article by Roger L. Simon entitled "Gates and Obama’s nostalgia for racism." Simon's point is very similar to the one made by Pajamas Media Televsion.
Simon claims that all countries were racist in the past, including the U.S. However, because of its legacy of slavery, the U.S. has tried especially hard to eradicate racism, and it has succeeded. Nevertheless, some have found it difficult to accept this new reality:
. . . when the rules change, when values change, not everyone can adjust with it — not only the racist, but also those who depended on being victims of racism. For all his brilliance, Henry Lewis Gates is evidently such a man. Otherwise, why cry out about being victimized as a “black man in America” before there is any evidence that that is the case?
This is nostalgia for racism and our president probably suffers from it as well, although perhaps to a lesser degree, considering he clearly plunged into the fray without thinking [by saying that the Cambridge police acted "stupidly"]. The problem is that this nostalgia not only blames people unfairly, it also increases the very thing it pretends to oppose — racism itself. The unfair or inaccurate imputation of racism promotes racism.
This is, I think, a current, widespread conservative strategy for opposing a party that now has a black president. It has roots in real racism -- in common, long-standing white perceptions that black people are professional victimologists who can't think straight because they're so wrapped up in the past, and so on -- but I think there's something new about how this strategy is now playing out. In fact, conservatives seem to feel that they have to revamp their racial politics, because they're now faced with a black president.
Since we live in a society and power structure that is still, in an unspoken way, framed by white perceptions and attitudes, Barack Obama has continually backed away from contentious racial issues. I think he did so again in the Gates case, after initially pointing out, accurately, that racial profiling is still a problem, and I think he generally does so as a political necessity. And yet, conservatives keep stalking him with a giant tar brush, all the while claiming that he's the real racist.
The strategy now seems to be to convince America at large that racism is a thing of the past (and indeed, many white people do already believe that, and a few non-white people too), and that anyone who points to racism, of any sort at all, is therefore a paranoid race hustler. And more than that, not only are their claims that racism still matters unfounded -- to "cry racism" is itself racist.
I think this is what conservative crybaby Glenn Beck is basically up to, when he claims that Barack Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred" for white people.
This is all sick, twisted stuff -- to not only deny a vast amount of evidence that racism still exists (let alone that it's a major problem), but then to add that those who point out that it does exist, and that it is a major problem, are doing so because they're nostalgic for the good old days of Jim Crow and slavery. And that they themselves are the "real racists."
I'm rarely speechless, but these claims, and the respectful attention they're given by the corporate media, are all just . . . wow.
Republicans are widely understood to be a largely white political party full of people who have little genuine interest in embracing people of color, the people that most Republicans suspect (sometimes unconsciously) are basically inferior, in a lot of ways.
Is this strategy -- of denying racial realities and trying to reverse things by affixing the label of "racist!" onto their opposition instead -- really going to work for them?
Where is all this craziness going?