Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Michael McGee Jr., does worse

In a saner political world, we might not react in the same way to Alderman Michael McGee, Jr.'s comment that Leon Todd should be "hung" for supporting the effort to recall McGee. We might be willing to see it as classless, but wouldn't furiously debate whether it is "hate speech." Conservative commentators, like Jessica McBride, point out that, if a conservative said this - say Rick Esenberg wrote that "McGee should be hung, straight up, for betraying the community with his 'no snitching campaign'" - he or she would be accused of racism because of the perceived connection with lynching. Understandably, she thinks McGee, Jr. should get the same heat. Given the rules of the game, I don't blame her.

My own view is that this the political game of "find the gaffe" in which elections and control of the United States Senate can turn on an off-hand comment ("Macaca" = Harry Ried as majority leader) is a dangerous distraction. It focuses debate on what doesn't matter and on what no one really cares about.

Neither McGee nor Esenberg (had he written what he just did) want anyone to be hung (as Jessica pointed out on her show with respect to McGee) and neither meant to invoke lynching. Both are (or would be) engaging in a gauche form of hyperbole.

The thing that I find more unsettling about McGee Jr.'s comments is his assertion that Todd has "betrayed the community" as if opposing the recall is an act of racial solidarity. What is unsettling about this is that it appears that many leaders in the black community believe that - or at least think that a critical mass of their constituents will see supporting the recall as an act of racial betrayal.

What this demonstrates (again) is that, in Milwaukee, racial demagoguery is a winner. The McGees have made a political career out of baiting white people (Badger Blogger has the latest) and, while they have been doing that, they have done exactly nothing for the people they represent.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand how people are so quick to dismiss this as "hyperbole." McGee has a history of terrible behavior, including threatening the life of a sexual partner. I think this was an actual attempt to incite violence.

Rick Esenberg said...

I have thought of that. You'd dismiss it with almost anyone else, but there is a small voice here that says "maybe he did mean it." I can think of several occasions when his old man used the "Word Warrior" show to do just that. On balance, though, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

this "if a conservative had said this" business is a tired old cliche. a conservative did say it!when, on belling's tv show they were discussing a ruling by judge franke regarding placement of a sexual predator,jj blonien said that the judge "should be taken out back and shot." belling did notin any way reproach him on the air,and i don't recall there being any media coverage of this at the time.

Anonymous said...

McGee (Sr. or Jr.) gives a significant portion of his community what it wants by doing nothing more than appearing to be "sticking it to the man." See for example, Cynthia McKinney. It's naive to underestimate how pervasive this sentiment is among African Americans. Racism, real and perceived, never leaves any discussion of government or politics even among the African American intelligensia. I don't know if it meets this month, but try getting yourself to one of the monthly early morning Brainstorming sessions at the CME Church on 9th and Locust. While these meetings are always cordial, and productive, you will not leave the room without hearing some discussion of the consequences of having to grow up or live in "white racist America." I'm not sure, but it is entirely possible that we (all of us) are on the wrong side of the "event horizon" of race relations. Or maybe Milwaukee is just the worst case scenario, like it is for teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, lousy public schools, joblessness, 'trophy' shootings (for the purpose of inducing paralysis), etc etc.