CSotD: Who can you count on when they won’t count you?

There’s a full docket today, but let’s start with something specifically timely: Marc Murphy’s commentary on the start of the Kentucky Derby, which will be run Saturday in Louisville, where Murphy is cartoonist for the local paper.

In posting the cartoon, he explained, “It’s almost time to sing just the good parts of the old slavery song with tears in our eyes. It’s past time to stop singing it at all.”

I have nothing against the Kentucky Derby itself, though we could take up the plight of vulnerable quarter horses another day. Ballerinas also destroy their feet, but they sign up for it themselves.

However, the culture of the Derby is, indeed, the culture of the Antebellum South, and dropping “T’is summer, the darkies are gay” from the lyrics of that song (originally titled “Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night!”) hardly undoes the celebration of privilege that goes along with Scarlett O’Hara hats and mint juleps.

It’s all in good fun, of course, but so were minstrel shows, and I suppose we should be glad they don’t festively require blackface for the jockeys and handlers and, for that matter, the serving people in the stands.

Poor white trash isn’t nearly as depressing as rich white trash.


Juxtaposition of the Day #1

(Pat Bagley – Cagle)


(Mike Thompson – USA Today)

On a related theme, rich white trash spokesperson Tucker Carlson got dragged through social media when his college yearbook profile turned up, with the smarmy little creep having celebrated segregationist Jesse Helms and homicidal homophobe Dan White.

But who he was in college is less important than who he is now, a spokesmodel for Fox News whose deliberate lies about the Insurrection and his purposefully twisted takes on the Chauvin verdict and white replacement theory have driven advertisers from his show.

(They report. You decide.)

But you won’t get to decide. As this Vice article points out, even with no advertisers, he’s a popular figure with the minority of cable subscribers who watch Fox News while the majority pay massive fees to have it available:

Media Matters is boosting an “Unfox My Cable Box” movement to get cable companies to give viewers an a la carte option, but, while the website is informative and fun to scroll through, don’t hold your breath waiting for actual results.

If you live where you can get local stations over the air, you can simply cut the cord and subscribe to a streaming service, but they’re no fools either and it may be hard to find a package there that doesn’t include Fox but does offer the things you want.

Meanwhile, I’m not that blown away by Thompson’s point, because, while valid, it seems to be made every time immigrants are attacked.

However, it does jibe nicely with Rick Santorum’s stunningly racist comments about how “we” built “our” culture from scratch:

There was nothing here. I mean, yes we have Native Americans but candidly there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.

His remarks were profoundly stupid, but not simply because of his insult to First Nations people.

The white racist view of American history as “The Virus That Spread From Plymouth Rock” conveniently ignores the fact that, when those hardy Pilgrims or Puritans or whoeverthehell they were stepped off the boat, there were already Spanish settlements in profusion in what would become the USA.

But as one teacher explained to me, “We teach it chronologically.”

In other words, history starts when the WASPs show up.

I feel like I’m not so much discussing politics as hosting a pig fair.


If I were still writing the news, I’d add a little more context to the new Census report, which RJ Matson notes is being unveiled this week and shows significant shifts in population.

As well it might.

What I’m not seeing in many reports is backgrounders on how the Trump administration, foiled in its attempt to exclude non-citizens entirely, still hamstrung the Census and cut it short by several weeks.

I was my newspaper’s Census reporter in 1990, and it was a fascinating long-term assignment, with one factor that emerged being the undercounts of the homeless and of Indians, with everyone who knew anything about it saying that these people, plus the poor and, particularly, the undocumented, were hard to find even with sufficient time and resources.

And there was, back then, a mandate to find them, which included a single night of sending all hands out to homeless shelters, flophouses and under bridges in order to count the homeless only once but completely.

The Indian issue caught my eye when our local Census office announced that, despite an armed standoff between militant Mohawks and State Police during the count, they had passed their books over the barricades and the Warrior Society hardliners had dutifully filled them out and passed them back.

This story was so farcical that it drew laughter from both the Traditional and Official Mohawk tribal leaders, and set me off to further dig into the Census undercount.

The head of Native Affairs in Colorado decried the level of homeless and other off-rez people who wouldn’t be counted, while a Navajo official scoffed at the purported count of his scattered tribe, saying that, if the Census people had found all those sheepherders, he wished they’d tell him where they were, because the tribe had no idea how many people were actually out there.

Meanwhile, I had to fend off an enthusiastic editor who wanted me to do a cheerful, uplifting story about how much more diverse our region had become since the 1980 Census.

I had to remind her that we were more “diverse” because we’d turned the 1984 Olympic athlete housing into prisons.

This is the sort of institutional memory you lose when you lay off expensive newsroom veterans in favor of starting-salary rookies.

Still, there should be someone on staff who remembers Trump’s attempts last year to avoid counting minorities.


And a purposeful undercount of potential Democratic voters is only part of an ongoing process.

Mike Luckovich (AMC) points out that the GOP is determined to hold power despite a public that, in poll after poll, rejects their agenda and attitude. And they have already begun their efforts.

Read it and weep


(Psalm 137)

7 thoughts on “CSotD: Who can you count on when they won’t count you?

  1. Ran across a campaign on Kickstarter, since fully funded, to make a sing-along board book of the Foster song. They were careful to give the first few lines: “It’s summer, the children all play.”

    Check it out at http://kck.st/3a3cTn2

  2. Having a still young dog, my morning includes “I’m coming, I’m coming,” en route to the back door, which plants a different Stephen Foster earworm. I’ve rewritten it in my mind to go

    “I’m coming, I’m coming, though my heart is full of woe.
    I hear the merry pirates singing ‘Yo ho ho.'”

    I think of it as a tribute to the late S. Clay Wilson.

  3. In one of the RICK BRANT juvenile quasi-sf novels, a group of goodguys held captive in a room warn someone who is about to tossed in with them by singing:

    “When you come into the room,
    Just be sure you’re bending low,
    Can’t you hear our gentle voices singing
    Hit …the…floor.”

    For some reason, the villains don’t get suspicious at this. Must not have been Foster fans.

  4. And I belated realized we’re supposed to use our real names on this site, not noms. My apologies, and “Shrug” will now go wash dishes or do something else useful. Sorry again.

  5. In case anyone questions whether the world really has changed, in the early 1950s in Philadelphia I attended a fundraiser for the neighborhood Episcopal church: a black-face minstrel show.

  6. @ Phillip Schearer-

    As a Cub Scout in the ’60s, we once performed a minstrel act to entertain the Pack. Fortunately, no black-face although our den did include an African-American child. No one at the time thought anything was amiss.

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