You Can’t Make This Up

President Obama had this Norman Rockwell painting hung in the White House. Righties are shocked, or outraged, or something.

Granted, this is about as edgy as Norman Rockwell ever got, but it’s still Norman Rockwell. Why is this even news? I should know that people are still this twitchy about race, yet stuff like this still takes me by surprise sometimes.

Most of the right-wing blogs on this “news story” bring up the fact that it was mostly southern Democrats who were standing in the way of integration back in the 1950s. Like this is supposed to prove something? Someone teach some history to these poor saps. From The Reader’s Companion to American History (not online),

In 1948, the Democratic National Convention was splintered by debate over controversial new civil rights planks that had been proposed for addition to the party platform. Adoption of the planks, urged by a group led by Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, was resisted by delegates from southern states. In the middle, trying to hold together the New Deal coalition he had inherited from Franklin D. Roosevelt, was President Harry S. Truman. As a compromise, he was prepared to settle for the adoption of only those planks that had been in the 1944 platform. But Truman’s own civil rights initiatives, including the formation of the Committee on Civil Rights and the Fair Employment Practices Commission, had advanced the civil rights debate to a new level, and he could not turn the clock back. The planks were adopted, prompting thirty-five southern Democrats to walk out. They formed the States’ Rights party, which came to be popularly known as the Dixiecrats.

Meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, the Dixiecrats nominated South Carolina governor Strom Thurmond as their candidate for president. In the November election, Thurmond carried four states: Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. He received well over a million popular votes, and his thirty-nine electoral votes represented more than 7 percent of the total.

The Dixiecrat episode was one of the most significant third-party efforts in America’s history. Truman won reelection, but the strong showing put forth by the Dixiecrats signaled impending changes in electoral politics. It was the most visible sign of the postwar erosion of the New Deal coalition.

Eventually the worst of the segregationist Dixiecrats, such as Thurmond, switched parties and became Republican. Righties: They’re your legacy now, chumps.

12 thoughts on “You Can’t Make This Up

  1. I had to click on the link to even understand the elements of the painting, what it was about. Good for Obama to push the envelope on this. We all have a lot complaints about his presidency, but surely one of his highest points was that amazing speech he gave as a candidate about race.

    It is so like wingnuts to focus on surface information (“It’s the Democrats”) and to try and deflect blame or responsibility from themselves. Weenies, in my book.

  2. If I were in the White House and being an American Indian, I am afraid that I would be tempted to have a painting of Custer’s last stand on the wall. We need to always remember the history of our Country.

  3. This is one of the comments on the wing-nut sites you linked:

    “He is the Great Unifier – yeah right. All he does is cause division and awaken wounds. How about a picture of current events of black mobs beating whites”

    Black mobs beating whites? I’ve seen alot of video of policemen beating blacks, is that the same?

  4. Good for Obama! If he wants to really piss the wingnuts off..He should hang some of Botera’s Abu Ghraib paintings in the White House.

  5. Bonnie …Did you hear joke about the guy who was commissioned to paint a mural for the visitors center at the Little Big Horn? The theme was Custer’s last stand, and the artist was given free reign to express that historic event. Nobody was allowed to see the mural until its unveiling..When the day of the unveiling came they drew back curtains and the mural showed an expansive cotton field filled with thousands of Indians harvesting cotton… The director of the visitor center was dumbfounded and asked the artist what the painting was supposed to depict ..The artist replied, It depicts Custer’s last words…” Wow, look at all those cotton pickin’ Indians”

  6. Obama knows he can never project the angry black man. This is the image racists (who have no true party affiliation) want to declare Obama is. This is a none-too-subtle dig which need not offend anyone who is NOT racist. Racists and politicians like Saint Ronnie learned to speak racism in code. This is Obama, speaking in their code, telling them to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  7. “Granted, this is about as edgy as Norman Rockwell ever got…”

    His Murder in Mississippi is probably the most edgy painting he did, but it’s no less effective for all of that.

  8. The right-wingers are correct to note that the Democratic party has gone a long, long way in its position about civil rights; they forget to add that so have the Republicans, in the opposite direction.

    The _first_ Republican president waged and won a civil war to free the slaves and preserve the Union. (Mostly the latter.) If Lincoln were to run today, how well would he do in the Republican primaries?

  9. It’s kind of telling when someone takes any reminder of slavery or Jim Crow as an accusation. Hell, I’m white but I don’t feel any need to convince anybody that slavery wasn’t MY fault. But I suppose it also has to do with the terminal narcissism of the average wingnut–if President Obama chooses such and such a painting to hang in the White House, how could it possibly not be about them?

    Come to think of it, several European countries have laws against Holocaust denial, don’t they? And I believe Nazi imagery is banned in Germany. But our conservative brethren in this country want to require us to forget all about racism, and of course a lot of people still proudly wave the stars and bars.

  10. Our tone-deaf, WI governor took a painting of several children, minority children, out of the governor’s mansion and replaced it with……… a portrait of Ronald Regan. No, sorry, I was joking about that. He replaced it with a rather symbolic painting of a soaring eagle, you know, all patriotic and everything. As per the black riots in Milwaukee during State Fair, remember, Milwaukee is one of the most segregated cities in the country and the unemployment of African American men/boys is staggering. I live in Waukesha county which is one of the most, if not the most, republican counties in the country. You can tie it directly to the racial politics and bigotry coming out of Milwaukee county, it is white-flight at a dramatic pace. I’ve had black friends, who moved up here from Jackson, Mississippi say that Milwaukee and WI are racist, more so than the south. I have other acquaintances who are on pubic assistance and Medicaid and would never vote for a democrat, ever, because of the perception that democrats help out only black people. I won’t ever excuse crime or rioting or anything of the like; but if you’re going to understand what’s going on, the racial divide here is truly stunning.

Comments are closed.