As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, September 04, 2008


If Democrats can't throw a fit over this, there's something wrong.

Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-tinged term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Thursday.

Westmoreland was discussing vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech with reporters outside the House chamber and was asked to compare her with Michelle Obama.

"Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity," Westmoreland said.

Asked to clarify that he used the word “uppity,” Westmoreland said, “Uppity, yeah.”

Yesterday, multiple speakers from the podium denigrated community organizing, a pursuit that is often the last line of defense when politicians fail the country and knock out the social safety net. They sneered at Barack Obama's former position as "community organizer" as if it meant "street hustler." Now they are using extremely typical code words to suggest that Obama doesn't know his place.

This is part of the authoritarian mindset. They don't think the people should have any say in the key questions affecting their lives. They don't believe in anyone but them, the wise leaders, having a voice. It is elitist to the extreme, and has characterized the Republican form of government from the founding of the United States onward. We know that it's the community organizers who have beaten back the status quo and offered real hope to this country. We know that without community organizing, there wouldn't be civil rights or labor rights or women's rights or American rights, for that matter. And we know that, when challenged by anyone who comes out of that movement, who comes out of the community and the grassroots, the answer from these moneyed elites is to call them "uppity." To tell them they don't know their place. That they ought not try to empower their community. That they ought to shut up like the boys that they are and sit down and let the adults run things.

We didn't get to this point in history by taking these insults and moving on. An organized community with a group of, yes, "uppity" people working together to create a difference creates profound and lasting change.

Every single Republican should be confronted with this statement and forced to answer for it.

This is a pretty good statement by Sen. Obama, but I think he gets one thing wrong. He's saying that "What you're not hearing is a lot about you," that there's no substance at the convention. True, but you're also hearing an attack on "you," an attack on the very concept of political and social participation and engagement. The Republicans are holding a giant middle finger up to the entire nation. It's time we get mad about it.

UPDATE: True Majority gets it:

Last night, the right wing sank to a new low. Governor Sarah Palin didn't just talk about issues and disagreements over policy; she launched a series of attacks aimed directly at you and me. Here's what Gov. Palin had to say about community organizers:

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities."
Gov. Palin was trying to insult Sen. Barack Obama's work history, but she also slurred tens of thousands of Americans dedicated to making their communities better.

This is personal for the TrueMajority/USAction family. Just consider community organizer Chrystal Hutchison from our Florida affiliate. Chrystal grew up as the middle child of two blue-collar parents; her older brother is a Marine and her younger brother is a firefighter. After living in Florida her whole life, she now organizes communities for the Florida Consumer Action Network just a few towns away from where she grew up.

Last fall, Chrystal was working with community members to protect health care for children when she met a little girl named Bethany Wilkerson, whose life had been saved by heart surgery paid for with the government program George Bush wanted to cut. She took Bethany's story to the press, introduced her to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and although she's only 26, Chrystal was a key leader in the successful fight to save the kids' health care program.

Governor Palin just doesn't get that community organizers like Chrystal have led the fight and taken responsibility for fixing the upside-down priorities of right wing dominance in Washington for the last eight years. That's why I'm writing today to ask you to contribute $30 right now to support community organizing.

Link here.

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