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.
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. 🙂 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.