Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Katrina vanden Heuvel's Truly Palinworthy White Myth Moment

Since Joan Walsh's infamous "resentment" remark was inadvertantly uttered by her in a public domain, and since Joan challenged Dr Harris-Perry to "name and shame" the white Progressives she felt exhibited signs of racism in their lack of support for the President, that challenge reminded me of something that occurred on Bill Maher's Real Time program little over a year ago.

The guests on the panel then were Andrew Sullivan, Van Jones and the fragrant publisher/editor of The Nation and self-styled political pundit, Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Yep, the same Katrina vanden Heuvel who offers Melissa Harris-Perry column space to opine on various and sundry political current events.

Hmmm ... I wonder what Ms vanden Heuvel, who has singularly achieved every educational and professional accomplishment in her life by means of a high interest trust fund, a platinum Amex card and a wealthy, older spouse who happens to be a noted university professor, thinks about the rightful kerfuffle Dr Harris-Perry has caused with her two utterly honest articles, assessing the subtle racism inherent in the Progressive Left?

If Joan Walsh (who is one of those aspiring acolytes hanging hopefully onto the hems of Katrina's tailored Calvin Klein skirt, but who is really someone Katrina would treat as a sad and sycophantic secretary) wants an example of racist attitudes which pervade the Progressive Left, then she need look no further than Ms vanden Heuvel and her inane performance on Maher's panel in 2010.

You really have to watch the scene.

It must have been a slow news week that week, because the significant stories newsworthy of discussion were Rush Limbaugh's fourth marriage and Al Gore's divorce. After Judd Apatow, the usual extra show business guest appeared, the why's and wherefore's of the divorce question degenerated into a discussion of a particular part of Al Gore's anatomy, based on a shared memory Apatow and Andrew Sullivan had of a particular Rolling Stone cover shot of Gore from the 2000 Election year.

In the midst of all this inanery and cross-talk about the reputed size of a former Vice-President's member, for some reason, unbeknownst to anyone but her goodself, Katrina vanden Heuvel - seated beside Van Jones (the only panel member not to descend into the lowered tone of pseudo-political discourse) - offered the suggestion that the inordinate bulge seen in Al Gore's trousers, just might not belong to Al Gore at all. According to Katrina, it actually belonged to Eldridge Cleaver.


First of all, what has Eldridge Cleaver got to do with a Rolling Stone cover shot of Al Gore from more than a decade ago? Answer? Nothing at all.

Secondly, what has the purported size of Al Gore's penis bulge have to do with Eldridge Cleaver or vice versa? Answer? Absolutely nothing at all.

Except that it showed Katrina vanden Heuvel, the usually po-faced and phonily earnest scion of the Progressive Left, the publisher and editor of The Nation (which, incidentally, is the country's oldest newspaper) and a columnist in The Washington Post, made a pitiful attempt at a joke, screeching out the fact that - shock, horror - black men have big penises!

Funny-haha-moment. Not. Even moreso unfunny because vanden Heuvel was totally oblivious to Van Jones, sitting stoically and unsmilingly beside her.

That oblivion wasn't due to any post-racial awareness on vanden Heuvel's part. It was simply down to the fact that this aristocratic woman was totally unaware of his presence.

He was, to her, invisible, and as such, she could indulge in a little bit of white privileged crudity with the frat boys.

If my Southern mother were alive and had seen that, she'd mince no words in wondering why Van Jones didn't move himself well away from someone she would only describe as "a piece of scrubbed-up white trash."

At the time, Bob Somerby, writing in his Daily Howler blog, assessed the malaise this entire incident - call it "The War of Al Gore's Penis" or whatever - down to none other than my old nemesis, Gary Hart - he, who decided the Democratic Party were Progressive rather than Liberal, he who decided unions and the rural working classes of the South, the Midwest and the Rust Belt were inherently racist and he, who enabled the Republican Party to begin a forty-year culture quest to con these people into voting against their interests.

Hart, the Great Progressive Hope, who hoped to be President, was, as you recall, thwarted by a vigilant (some say vigilante) press, a woman young enough to be his daughter and a yacht appropriately christened Monkey Business.

According to Somerby, Hart's morphing into the 1980s version of John Edwards was the beginning of the ueber-trivialisation and tabloiding-down of political discourse - the blowjob in the Oval Office, the baby on the beach with the quirky mistress, Larry Craig in the airport restroom and Anthony Weiner's weiner.

As Somerby describes the incident on Maher's show:-

Andrew Sullivan mused about the size of Al Gore’s member, explaining what’s “well known in Washington.” If Katrina vanden Heuvel had any sense, she would have told him to stop playing the fool. Instead, this other High Lady played along with the fools, even making a joke on a deathless theme: Black men have the really large members!

Twenty-three years ago, rules were changed. We are left in this sad situation. Leading journalists discuss who has the big members—and the editor of The Nation sits on TV, making jokes about black guys’ large dicks. Has your computer ever been attacked by malware? That’s roughly what is happening here, as your nation’s political culture slides beneath the waves.

Now I know someone's bound to shout out, "But-but-but this remark doesn't prove anything! It certainly doesn't prove she's racist about the President!"

Vanden Heuvel is one of the most vociferous critics of President Obama, even to the point that she tweeted the night away with Glenn Greenwald when the President announced the appointment of the former Attorney General of Ohio as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, wondering tweetingly and fleetingly with Glenn what bad things they could drum up about the man and the President's spinelessness in choosing him, until the next day when they found that Saint Elizabeth Warren had recommended him personally for the position.

It was the stuff of high school mean girls and certainly not the behaviour of the editor of the country's oldest news journal.

The remark made a year ago on Maher's show, whilst she was seated beside a man of colour, was tactless, insipid and just plain dumb. It puts paid to all the word saladry and placebic postings she makes paying lip service to a vague idea and demographic she can only describe as "the poor." It certainly was insulting to people of colour, and even more insulting was the fact that she made this remark, totally clueless about whom was sitting at her side.

You would have thought her mother, or her nanny, would have raised her better.

That one awful joke revealed, unmitigatingly, the fraud that is Katrina vanden Heuvel - that she practices a form of unwitting and subtle racism, inbred of her type and social class, or that she's so completely immersed in her white privilege and entitlement, that she's totally unaware of anything and anyone else who is not a part of that constricted community, or that she's simply stupid, possessed of the best education money can buy, but possessing precious little common sense.

She's either one of those things or all three. I think the latter.

And Katrina vanden Heuvel is a leading voice of the Left. Think about that, in relation to what Melissa Harris-Perry is saying.


  1. Goodpost, Emilia,

    It's as if it's socially acceptable in the minds of some like vanden Heuvel to say some things about black people that they wouldn't dare say to a white person. I look at how they seem to have the ultimate respect for someone like the lying Sarah Palin, but have NO restraint when speaking of PBO. Since I'm black and lived under segregation and during our nation's Civil Rights Era, I know that for some, blacks are invisible and we don't have feelings. PBO has attained a level of education and accomplishment that many who speak disparagingly of him can never hope to reach, but because he identifies as a black man, he is not accorded the same level of respect as our other presidents. It is a stain on America when a POTUS is revered by people in many foreign nations and not respected in his own country, because it makes a lie of "American Exceptionalism." If we were really an exceptional nation of the sort we try to sell to other nations, PBO would be treated like all of his 43 predecessors.

    I recall reading about the work of Gunner Myrdal in college. Myrdal did research on American ideals and racism and concluded that our ideals don't match our actions when it comes to affording POC the same privileges and respect as whites. He was right. I'm a retired teacher and graduate of UGA. I had colleagues who were also UGA graduates, but they never considered my degree as good as theirs. They let me know by their not so subtle references to affirmative action and/or with the phrase "when you were admitted to UGA, they were letting anybody in at that time" (1971.) I was given no credit for being smart enough on my own to gain admission to the university, the fact that my parents gave me financial assistance, or the fact that I graduated in 3 years instead of 4. All that mattered to them was making sure that somehow their degree from the same institution was better than mine because I was black. This is what is going on with the constant questioning and criticism of PBO's every move and decision by the vanden Heuvels, Adam Greens, Cenks Ugyars, and Greenwalds, and anyone who says this is not what underlies this constant nitpicking is not being honest with him/self. Even the actions of PBO's black detractors like Cornel West, Maxine Waters, and Tavis Smiley have their bases in race and racism.

  2. Majii, that was beautifully put. May I use this comment, please?

  3. "and anyone who says this is not what underlies this constant nitpicking is not being honest with him/self."

    i would beg to differ.... but that'd mean i was just another white guy being dishonest with himself... instead of what i really am which is an american who isn't particularly fond of 30,000 drones flying overhead to "protect" me... obamas predecessors were assaulted and berated in the same manner as he... some even worse... i like the guy, and i voted for him, and i will again vote for him in the next election. i'm a veteran and i love my socialized medicine so much i think everybody should get it... i'm glad he saved the car industry... his education policies are exactly as mine... but we do delineate on some things... killing american citizens abroad without trial for example... but thats "race based nitpicking"... i dunno... i'm sorry you had a bad affirmative action moment... i think we've all a story to tell in that regards... it was just an attempt to fix things... sort of get the ball rolling... it relied on people to pick the ball up and carry to the goaline of homogeny... as a society we didn't really understand that part and we failed ourselves... i wonder how we can fix this?

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