Tuesday, February 01, 2011

North Carolina News and Views

Clarity can hit you unexpectedly.

The problem we all live with
I am travelling for business and I stopped for the week end to visit some old friends in North Carolina where I used to live years ago.  We decided to go on this splendid Sunday afternoon to visit an exhibit on Norman Rockwell at the North Carolina Museum of Art. A good excuse for a countryside drive.

One of the painting exposed is the famous "The problem we all live with", a reflection on the integration battles.  Norman Rockwell might have been hijacked by conservative America, he might have been accused of all sorts of things but he would have been the first one to tell you that he painted an America the way he would like it to be, an idealized version of what he saw and not the white wonder bread vision that too many are only too willing to label him with.

That very famous painting of Ruby Bridges being escorted by 4 federal marshals to school in New Orleans is in all minds of those who have still an idea of what the fight against segregation was.  But I can assure you of one thing, standing in front of the real thing can make you gasp.  Not only at the obvious message but also at the art.  You need to see it live to truly understand the faint nigger painted on the wall, and the exploded tomato on the floor.  The perfect symbolism of a lost cause no matter what the parents boycotting that school thought that day.

The reality of Ruby Bridges
As I kept walking through the exihibit I could not help but be haunted by Ruby Bridges and coming back to observe the painting again , 4 times as a matter of fact.

These days in Venezuela the sight of Nazional Guards "escorting" someone out of the property has become common.  Whether the property has been robbed or built through hard work does not seem to make a difference: the idea is to stain or destroy that person's reputation.  The idea is to make believe to  "el pueblo" that Chavez is working for them, that he is taking away what is supposedly due to them, what they were exploited for.  That reality more than often falls short of chavista fiction is irrelevant for chavismo, in particular when the workers do not welcome the take over as the Polar case illustrated so well.

No, the reality of Ruby was that the US marshals were escorting her to include her in society;  the Nazional Guard escorting performed in Venezuela is done to divide society, to exclude people, to create a pariah class.  There is a difference, the former is democracy, Marshals and all, the later is totalitarianism, pueblo and all.

17 comments:

  1. Those Democrats back then stood up against a lot of things in those days. That isn't what "conservative" means of course. Trying to get black kids passed the Democrat governors and officials was the battle of the ages.

    Finally the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which wouldn't have passed without Republican votes in the heavily Democrat Congress put an end to the Civil War-era Democrats and slowly even the Democrat affiliated KKK faded from prominence.

    By the way, do you know when the first TV hosted by an "African-American" was? Unfortunately no copies exist but it was in 1950, a musical program called the 'Hazel Scott Show' or something like that, on the defunct DUMONT TV network.

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  2. UCC

    You will note that I did not use the words Democrat, Republican or Liberal and that the only reference made to the word conservative was for today's use of Rockwell, not for the use made then.

    Indeed, the fight against segregation was (shall we use that now dirty word?) bipartisan. As a consequence Southern Democrats who were never progressive to begin with, populists at best, went right wing and GOP changing US politics for good.

    But that is another story, let's focus on Venezuela and how "escorting" is not a bipartisan policy whatsoever, and I dare say not even a PSUV policy as we can see from workers reactions at Polar and elsewhere. It is a Cuban totalitarian inspiration.

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  3. Anonymous11:07 AM

    had no idea about that piece by Rockwell, and shocked indeed!.

    I have always had that "conservative" wonder bread concept of him...that I really despised.

    thanks for posting

    Correfoc

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  4. If as Chavez claims, the upper and middle classes, got their money from stealing and corruption even a malandro that is robbing one of them on the street is righting a wrong by redistributing the wealth.Of course by doing it himself, Chavez sets the example for the rest.
    This comes from a stoking of traditional class warfare, where even the middle class is supposed to have made its money from some unfair means, like palancas, or helping the owners exploit the workers etc, and the primal territorial and base "needs" to control what they( the Chavistas) don't like or what might intimidate their sense of self importance.

    This is also one of the reasons why Chavez does not cut down on crime.The formalities of the exact way the retribution is carried out is not relevant.This is also why during the floods ,he called out to the people to take over any hotel or building.

    In the end what used to be considered a crime, is now considered just retribution for Chavistas.

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  5. Daniel :)

    You were in my current State,and on Sunday, no less, when we had some freak nice weather.Loved your post on art and politics.

    I grew up in those days of racial integration and worked in the civil rights movement in Washington DC, and Montgomery Alabama which was ,when I think back on it, a very exciting time to be alive-Not only because of the civil rights movement but also because of the emerging hippie/mind expansion life affirming one.

    There was so much going on: gurus,new art,interesting pop music, beat poetry and the genius of Bob Dylan in love with the innocent form of idealism( Joan Baez),street flowers,love power , well you name it.There was something in the air, a sense of overpowering existential expectancy,as though something good was about to happen.Somehow in the end nothing in particular happened in the outer world that could be pin pointed, and the creative expansion of this vein died out, later channeling technological advances , with its worship( not respect) of the rational, and therefore concomitantly a more limited and structured mind set, slipping and sliding us into a truly conservative period( which is now).One of the reasons for the death of this Renaissance in my opinion is that it slowly became a fashion,a political trend, and a politicized " mandate", thus squashing any authenticity from its impulses in the hearts of the people.A virtual rebellion against the free.
    The true 'conservatives' in our present story are each politician or political impulse that attempts to create a status quo for a given group.When people conform to trends, fashion, political or otherwise they are the only true conservatives .The conformists.Authentic liberals are open to new realities,and will not be caught in the web of political bullshit.Venezuelans need their liberal Renaissance, but it can only come from the hearts of individuals, and not from political manipulation.

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  6. Anonymous10:06 PM

    One of your best posts Daniel.
    It made me think.
    We have made and will make many mistakes in our country, but we seem to redeem ourselves at important turning points.

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  7. "I have always had that "conservative" wonder bread concept of him...that I really despised."

    We he moved from SEP to Look Magazine he was afforded more room to express his own voice. I'm glad you've taken him out of the box you allowed others to place him in for you, Anon. If you ever find yourself despising another artist, do some research and perhaps you'll be less judgemental.

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  8. Boludo Tejano12:19 PM

    Norman Rockwell might have been hijacked by conservative America...

    “Hijacked by conservative America?” It’s not as if the libs/left embraced Norman Rockwell. On the contrary, the cultural left disdained Rockwell for a variety of reasons: paintings were too representational instead of following the latest art fad, too kitschy, too middle American, too celebratory of middle America instead of condemning it for being unkulchud et al, didn’t fit the model of the artist pushing the envelope and upsetting the bourgeoisie. His paintings featured on covers of the Saturday Evening Post? That ain’t even up to the level of middle-brow. That’s pushing for low-brow. May as well be painting the Burma Shave
    billboard signs out on the highway. At least as how the cultural left seen it.

    The painting reminds me of Condoleezza Rice’s childhood in Birmingham and other things, but I will stop here. Don’t want to be accused of “hijacking” anything.

    No, the reality of Ruby was that the US marshals were escorting her to include her in society; the Nazional Guard escorting performed in Venezuela is done to divide society, to exclude people, to create a pariah class. There is a difference, the former is democracy, Marshals and all, the later is totalitarianism, pueblo and all.

    Good comparison and contrast.

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  9. Alert, no real point, just memories: As a child our family moved between NC and Washington, DC. My deeply southern parents with heinously racist relatives had African American friends and colleagues and my first "girlfriend" was the first black girl integrated into our suburban Maryland school system when we were in the 3rd grade. I'm white and as it turned out, gay, but such is youth's innocence. Our friendship was cemented because we both loved Batman. At the end of the previous school, I had heard much talk that "the niggers" would be coming the following year. After informing her of the same thing, she took me home to have dinner with her parents. Her father was a Baptist minister and cleared it all up for me. He was so kind and I'll never forget it. At about the same time, we were visiting my grandparents in rural NC, and went to the laundry mat. I was sure my parents would get in trouble for washing our jeans and print clothing because, as I pointed out, the sign on the window clearly said "Whites Only." They sadly promised to explain it to me when I was older. Shortly after was Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. We were living back in DC. Dad took us down to the mall, which had become "Tent City" for a number of weeks. I wish I had been old enough to understand it all better. But I'll never forget any of it. My parents live in Raleigh again. For my Dad's 80th birthday, we gave him and mom tickets to the Rockwell exhibit. Thanks for indulging my stroll down memory lane.

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  10. Anonymous8:39 PM

    JSB

    why are you so demeaning to my opinion?

    is my opinion....

    there is a reason why I stopped participating in blogs...
    I should refrain from doing so again..

    que ladilla

    C.F

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  11. Boludo Tejano11:48 PM

    Correfoc:
    “ had no idea about that piece by Rockwell, and shocked indeed!. I have always had that "conservative" wonder bread concept of him...that I really despised.”

    jsb:
    “I'm glad you've taken him out of the box you allowed others to place him in for you, Anon [Correfoc]. If you ever find yourself despising another artist, do some research and perhaps you'll be less judgemental.”

    Correfoc:
    “why are you so demeaning to my opinion?.. is my opinion..
    there is a reason why I stopped participating in blogs...
    I should refrain from doing so again.”



    Say no more. Those who want to parse will parse.

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  12. C.F., pay no attention to me. You should continue to participate in blogs. My apologies. --s

    ReplyDelete
  13. Correfoc, please do stick around. Besides, I think you have a CD that I want. :)

    I've got to say this post is growing on me, as I didn't want to comment the first time I read it, but now I do. It certainly is a great comparison, and helps explain why the U.S. was on an upward trajectory at the time and Venezuela downward right now. Exclusion places limits, not just the obvious ones, but on collective potential.

    I must admit I never understood that painting, as I don't believe I've ever seen it close enough to catch some of the details. Yes, I saw the writing on the wall, and the tomato. But what I couldn't see was the "U.S. Marshal" on the armbands. My impression was that the four men were black men, marching in sync (notice the right hands - who walks like that normally?), perhaps in some sort of civil rights event. I could almost hear the music providing them the rhythm. The girl was tagging along, being part of the process. I never knew the title, which would definitely have made me wonder more.

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  14. I really appreciate your post and you explain each and every point very well.Thanks for sharing this information.And I’ll love to read your next post too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous10:39 AM

    "Indeed, the fight against segregation was (shall we use that now dirty word?) bipartisan. As a consequence Southern Democrats who were never progressive to begin with, populists at best, went right wing and GOP changing US politics for good"

    This is false. The consequence of the GOP taking over the south, Southern Democrats turning GOP was a result of economics (big government vs. small government. high taxes vs. low taxes, etc). Not the fight over segregation. The fact of the matter is that the racist, pro-segregationist Southern Democrats stayed within the fold of the Democratic Party for another 40 years or so. Only a small tiny handful (can be counted on the fingers on one hand with fingers to spare), of Democrats switched over to the GOP at the time, and they were told to leave the racist garbage behind.

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  16. anonymous

    i am not going to discuss quantity but i am willing to discuss quality with which i am very familiar from having lived in the south or border states for most of my stay in the US.

    two words for you: jesse helms

    ReplyDelete
  17. Daniel,

    And here are 3 for you: Robert KKK Byrd.

    ReplyDelete

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