My Comments on “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra” Finale (Episode 8)

Power to the Person?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is a master storyteller, and Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra attempts to be an epic story for this moment. It succeeds in being hella entertaining.

My last Ultra post was about its historical emphasis, allowing this subsequent comment to be ideological in nature. And so, clad in my dashiki, a note to Maddow and MSNBC:

The best way to fight organized fascism is an organized radical united front, not just individual efforts because the latter depends on liberal democracy working on your behalf. Didn’t McCarthyism, instead of an American movement against fascism, flow from this history?

This kind of color-within-the-lines conclusion is why what Dave Chappelle said at the end of his Saturday Night Live monologue was so important: as Black people, we are no strangers to the system not working. Sadly but not surprisingly, Maddow doesn’t have a James Baldwin/I.F. Stone-type voice who would hit that target, expressing the idea that American democracy itself is a flawed concept at its core. Nope, me no trust paleface.

And, Rachel and MSNBC, um, you might want to, um, not take off the air anyone else who speaks plainly about the current rightwingers (*cough* Tiffany Cross *cough* ūüôā ).

Brief Thoughts As We Wait For Next Week’s Finale of “Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra”

A true drama about a deliberately-forgotten time

Tellingitlikeitis/keepingitreal/keepingithunnert, etc. I have never gotten the Rachel Maddow hype. Every night I tuned in to her MSNBC show she acted like she and her research/producing staff had broken Watergate or had the Pentagon Papers! LOL! I still don’t understand that RussiaGate stuff!

So, now, to her podcast narrative series Ultra. I’m now completely caught up and I’m excited about the forthcoming last episode.

Like the greatest middlebrow magazine writers of the last century, Maddow’s clearly a very talented reporter, narrator and dramatist. But she continues her television approach here. Clearly, the ultra-patriotic American nation was not shivering in collective fear before and during World War II because of the existence of small (but well-organized and armed) groups of American Nazis and their fellow travelers; their salutes dropped quickly after Pearl Harbor. And as someone who has also studied a little of the history of 20th-century radio, perhaps it’s debatable that the radio racist Father Charles Coughlin was as politically powerful as she is saying, the same way not everyone in the nation believed Martians were invading Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. ūüôā But she’s making the same point that Pulitizer Prize-winning historian David Blight made at the end of his recent Yale conference on teaching race and slavery: these politically-retrograde people have always been here, will always master any updates to the art and science of influence and are never leaving the collective, progressive us/US at peace.

Rainy Days And Mondays Always Get Me Down: Fear And Loathing As Midterms Approach

So it’s too early in the morning to worry about whether this post will be an example of good writing. I’m watching (listening, really, to) Vigilante, Greg Palast’s new documentary on Georgia voting suppression while I’m updating my blog.

This post-Halloween pre-dawn screening is an appropriate end to a frightening weekend. Tiffany Cross is fired from MSNBC on Friday for directly confronting our enemies and unapologetically using late-’60s-style Black activist language in doing so. A Yale academic conference spends two days directly linking American white-supremacist history to what Palast is outlining in my ears. In my New Jersey hometown, the-used-to-be-a-ghetto Newark, former Black nationalists cry out in the Newark Public Library for us to vote because, as I’ve heard them say all my life, it’s the only way to stop the coming fascist tide. Meanwhile, some of my Dee Cee folks are decrying the choice between, as one of them calls it, Fascism and Fascism Lite.

Everybody’s right, particularly if we meld an insider/outsider strategy, but that’s not enough. Why? Because between then and this Monday morning’s typing while viewing, I made the mistake on Sunday of getting offline just long enough to read last week’s New Yorker. Pennsylvania has gone crazy (to no surprise to Mumia Abu-Jamal and his supporters, I’m sure!) and very well-organized right-wing school activists refuse both fact and truth.

See this post’s lead photo? That’s my attempted reading this week so can I reward myself, guilt-free, with the half-escapism that Wakanda, the white-created and corporate-endorsed theme park of the African mind, represents.

Damn, was John Henrik Clarke and other historians right when he said that “all history is current events.” Well, I really hope the historical half-successes of both Black liberalism and Black revolutionary-ism loop around again and soon, because Palast is reminding us that in 2022 only one side knows they’re at war, and for many reasons, it doesn’t seem to be ours. And those retrograde warriors, not us, seem more willing to confront their opponents face-to-face, kidnap, kill, go to jail, slander and lie with every single breath, organize and vote like their children’s lives depend on it and spend their last billionaire dollar to maintain the white American race-supremacist structure that was so inspirational and utilitarian in the last century to both the apartheid South African government and Nazi Germany. Not surprisingly, these right-wing warriors are not “outside” the white-supremacist, capitalist system they created for their own benefit, but they are unapologetically and consistently clear that their collective goal is to make sure we Wakanda forever are.

Still Obsessed With “Maus”…….

….so I was happy to find out about and listen to this Graphic Policy Radio podcast. I was even happier to find out about this forthcoming book (and listen to another comics podcast with the author).

*****

The New, New Black Public Intellectuals (Or, The Digger-ati ;))

Black Twitter

Leave it to Michael Eric Dyson to write this. (I remember he did something similar almost 20 years ago in his book “Race Rules.” )

It’s an interesting list. It would be a bit more interesting if it included people I met¬†over the years, like Jared Ball and Rosa Clemente. They are no strangers to public intellectual work, but, alas,¬†they don’t color within the lines.

But then again, looking at the older generation:

* Herb Boyd has written about 25 books in the 30 years since he left academe AND he has TWO National Association of Black Journalists awards (one with Dyson!), including a NABJ Hall of Fame award: when does HE get picked as a starter on the schoolyard? When he turns 80 in three years? 
* Another friend and mentor, Don Rojas, should be writing and teaching right now about the Grenada revolution.
* A Black radio broadcaster I grew up listening to, ¬†Imhotep Gary Byrd, is holding on in the 21st century, incredibly,¬†with a free two-hour show on WBAI-FM on Friday nights and a WLIB/WBLS two-hour simulcast on Sunday nights. He will turn 70 (?) in 2019: when does HE get a DAMN¬†NATIONAL show in either/both broadast mediums!?!? Almost 30 (!) years ago in¬†Newark, when I had more hair and teeth than I have now :), I used to listen to the Rev. Al Sharpton on Byrd’s WLIB show, so¬†how can Sharpton get TWO national Black radio shows and ONE national white TV show and Byrd, with almost 50 years in the game as a living legend,¬†can’t get ONE of these?!? (Even the guy at The New York Daily News who used to cover Byrd and the rest of New York City’s Black radio fairly just got canned. :))
* And, if we can broaden out to Latinos here,¬†will Amy Goodman hire Juan Gonzalez as a REAL “Democracy Now!”¬†co-host once The slow-death¬†News lets him go? How much more award-winning (I still remember his “stolen” Pulitzer for 911 ash) investigative journalism does his 66-year-old, clearly-spends-all-his-spare-time-writing-serious-history-books¬†butt has do? When he’s cut, will¬†he get the $200,000 a year New York City professorships others of less stature, ability and accomplishment get?

I just remember that Manning Marable and Earl Ofari Hutchinson were among those who started this “post-Civil Rights Movement Black public intellectual” thing 40 years ago on the Op-Ed pages of Black newspapers¬†that only a few give¬†a¬†crap about now. Time is not the only thing that keeps on slipping into the future.