Tag Archives: Rachel Maddow

Those pesky women of color. What next – equality?

It’s Casual Friday here on the Swami. To celebrate, I’m writing this naked. Go feast on that!

My head’s still spinning from last night’s historic on-screen bust-up between BuchananRachel Maddow and Pat Buchanan on MSNBC, over Sotomayor’s about-to-happen appointment to the Supreme Court bench, which Buchanan thinks is a disgrace. A disgrace, I tell you.

Why? Well, because Sotomayor’s not a white man, for a start, and only white men are fit to decide what’s right and wrong in this country, everyone knows that. And how do we know? Because, of 110 Supreme Court justices so far, 108 have been white men, a fact Buchanan is proud of and wants to keep that way, thank you very much.

Which is why he’s angry. Angry at the Obama Administration for:

  •  refusing to stand by historical precedent, a precedent of active discrimination against pesky women, especially pesky women of color;
  • for breaking up a revered Old Boys’ Club; and, worst of all:
  • for promoting Sonia Sotomayor, a Latina with more experience on the bench than any previous appointee, male or female, to the highest judicial position in the land.  I mean, good grief, what were they thinking?

“White men were 100% of the people that wrote the Constitution,” Buchanan bleated in his bizarrely high-pitched drone, “100% of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and probably close to 100% of the people who died at Normandy. This has been a country built basically by white folks, who were 90% of the nation in 1960 when I was growing up and the other 10% were African-Americans who had been discriminated against. That’s why.”

He is further outraged because he sees Sotomayor’s appointment as unashamedly shoe-horning diversity into an institution that didn’t need it, simply to have her there. It’s affirmative action in action. Mixing things up just for the sake of it. An abomination.

Well, needless to say, Maddow came the closest I have ever seen her to combusting on screen, which is why it’s riveting television.

The video is HERE, so you can watch it for yourself. 

Obviously, Buchanan’s point of view is archaic, creaky, and embarrassing. Although it’s laudable, I think, that he had the nerve to speak the unspeakable.

In Britain, he’d have been branded an insane, racist hack and given very little air-time to make his point. Here in America, however, even those with fringe, incendiary, or lunatic viewpoints are allowed to grandstand for a little while, provided it keeps the ratings bubbling along nicely. And the Maddow-Buchanan argument certainly did that, I’m sure.

What’s interesting to me, though, is that there were times when I found myself siding with Buchanan, something even I find hard to believe, since I disagree with him on almost everything. Generally speaking, the second he opens his mouth on any topic he offends me.

Nevertheless, last night I could see his point.  Just a little.

A policy of levering people of different races into various positions simply on the basis of the color of their skin is as wrong and indefensible as excluding them for the same reason. People should rise to the top on merit, and be afforded the opportunity to do so, because they’re the best at what they do, not allowed to kangaroo hop over everyone else for reasons of variety, or, conversely, dragged down and pushed out of sight because they’d spoil the status quo.  

I left Britain twelve years ago, just as Tony Blair was getting his feet under the desk at 10, Downing Street. Other than very briefly, I have not been back since, so all I know about the place is what others tell me.

But what others tell me isn’t good. Not at all.  

Every one of my friends wishes they could leave too. They cite Blair’s policy of affirmative action and the European policy of zero border controls as the reason. As a result, apparently, Britain is now flooded with immigrants from all over the world. A tiny country is drowning in a sea of foreigners who have brought not merely diversity – which in these enlightened times was the plan: cosmopolitan is best; even an island can’t stay insular forever – but a debasing of the very society the immigrants sought to join. 

In the process of allowing almost anyone to settle within its shores, the UK lost its identity, or so goes the argument. Britain isn’t Britain any more.

Instead of integrating, learning the culture, and accepting standards, principles, and traditions built up over a rich history dating back dozens of centuries – the very elements that made Britain Britain – the immigrants stuck with their own. They brought their culture and traditions with them and set up camp, making their own little world within the British world, living as part of but separate.

I hear this time and time again. “Britain isn’t Britain any more.” And the British – what would be in Pat Buchanan’s terms the real British – feel they’ve lost control of their destiny, that it’s been hijacked.   

Next year I’ll be returning for the first time in a decade, when Naked in Dangerous Places is published there, so I guess I’ll find out for myself how much of this is true, or if my friends are hysterically exaggerating, which quite honestly is not beyond them.

All the same, it was against that backdrop that I watched the Maddow-Buchanan slap-down last night and was able, at least in theory, to see where Buchanan was coming from. To him, the heresy that is affirmative action meant overturning a noble institution that had functioned perfectly well all these years without being updated, destablizing it with random diversity. A dangerous policy.

As long as white males are in charge, he believes, the country will be stable, sturdy, solid, and….well, America. But give too much leeway to minorities, let them subvert the old ways, and America won’t be America any more.

Broadly speaking, that’s goofy nonsense, and Maddow was right to shoot it out of the skies.

Having said that, though….I get it. I know what he means. 

Or, rather, I empathize with his fear. He doesn’t want to see happen to the great US of A what has allegedly happened to Great Britain. He doesn’t want, in other words, America to lose its greatness or its identity on the road to doing the right thing and seeming progressive and open. Because, as we all know, some of the biggest mistakes have been made with the best intentions.



Read Cash’s new book: Naked in Dangerous Places.

Watch Cash’s little movie, Fast and Very Loose.


Filed under Television commentary

“Damned homos! Why can’t they be miserable like the rest of us?”

Over the many years I’ve been staking out American television, and one corner of it especially – the lame hodgepodge of scares,  misinformation, and manipulation referred to as “the nightly news” – there’s a part of their coverage that’s given me cause to laugh like no other: same-sex marriage. 

And not for the reason you might think.

Nothing seems to get your average American all riled up, or to fuel divides, or create animosity and tension like the hot potato topic of gay marriage. Or gay anything,  for that matter, but mostly the marriage part. And TV producers know that.

Look at Miss California and what happened there. Having disgraced herself on the Miss USA Pageant by standing up and declaring openly that she’s a devout Christian and therefore, almost by definition, homophobic, supporting discrimination, division, hate and unkindness, a move that cost her the title, she’s evidently so dumb that she took away nothing at all from the brouhaha that followed, and is now out there making news again, by actively campaigning against gay marriage, because: “it’s what God wants, I know it in my heart.”

Oh yeah, really?

Within days, guess who called Miss California to lend her support? Another devout Christian – Sarah Palin. Of course. 

In truth, I’ve yet to meet an average American that cares if I’m gay or not. Indeed, outside of my bizarrely angry family members back home in England, I’ve yet to meet an average anyone at all in the entire world who has met me and cares if I’m gay or not. That’s just the way the world is: in my experience people have more pressing matters on their mind.

The ones who really do care, though, and care very, very deeply are fear-filled right-wing religious groups. Which is another oddity.

The more faith someone says they have in God, the more afraid they seem to be about life, I’ve noticed. When actually the reverse should be true.  And right now what religious people are really afraid of more than anything is those ghastly gays getting married.  

Afraid for the welfare and safety of children – because all gay people are sexual predators, of course. That’s not even up for debate. They just are.  

Afraid that gay marriage is a threat to the stability of all straight marriages – and one thing we know for sure is that straight marriages are incredibly stable. Otherwise there’d be separations and divorces, and there aren’t.

Afraid that gay marriage breaks God’s law. God loves families and intends marriage to be between a man and woman for the purposes of procreating children.  A valid point and one I must concede. Nothing else makes sense. And the kids born out of wedlock, or who hail from broken homes; the kids and wives that find themselves routinely abused by violent heterosexual dads; the dads who take a shotgun and kill their kids, their wife, and then themselves – well, how did they get into that mess? That’s not God’s doing. They must have turned their back on him and listened to the Devil instead. That’s what they did.    

Afraid that God will be offended. After all, he did NOT make Adam and Steve. Got that yet? God focuses on making only certain kinds of people, the ones he likes and approves of, much the same way Santa might choose to turn out only red toy trains one year, then Barbies the next. Lucifer takes care of everybody else. 

Afraid that, if you allow a man to marry a man, it won’t be long before  a man will be marrying his dog.  Again, very valid and I agree. Because in the part of the ceremony where  the dog has to give its legal consent to marriage and say “I do”, and later when the dog comes to sign the papers, and…oh hang on. I may have spotted a flaw in that one.

Bottom line: it’s all thoroughly laughable.

In the week that yet another domino fell, when Maine did the right thing by putting centuries of hate and fear behind it and making gay marriage legal – how many states is that now? I forget – the Rachel Maddow Show last night showed a clip from the 700 Club, Christian TV’s daily infusion of shameless moralizing bullshit dressed up as intelligent comment – in which a very straight, very frightened-looking, very offended – oh boy, was she offended! – woman urged President Barack Obama also to do the right thing and celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the White House by allowing Christian groups to hold a big party there, the way her hero George W. Bush did for the past eight years.

Luckily Obama didn’t agree with her. Instead, he honored the day in his own special way: he turned his back on the 700 Club  and got on with solving the country’s problems, which is what the rest of us non-fanatics and non-creepy, non-obsessed people would prefer him to do.  

Juxtaposed with this item was an interview with a soldier from the US military who’d just received his marching orders: a letter booting him out of the army under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, for announcing on TV a few months ago that he was gay. Not just on TV, though, he announced it on the Rachel Maddow Show. Making the host not only the reporter of the problem, but the actual cause of it. That doesn’t happen very often.

But Maddow, who’s a lesbian herself, excels at highlighting the nonsensical nature of sexual discrimination, and I love her for that. She leaves you feeling even more astonished than before at how ludicrous all of this is, how laughable.

That a guy who’s a brilliant soldier – more than that, he’s a precious gem: fluent in Arabic and willing to risk his life for his country in Iraq – is discharged simply because he prefers men to women.

That two people who love and care for each other can’t have that love validated by marriage like their heterosexual counterparts.

But most of all that we pay even a millisecond’s attention to the 700 Club and all those other religious nuts who would infuse our minds with the same muddle-headed Biblical claptrap that keeps them chained to lives of quiet, fear-filled despair – well, it’s beyond laughable, it borders on insane.

No wonder young people are shunning religion by the tens of millions. They’re suddenly realizing something the rest of us have known for a while: it’s all made up. Spirituality is real, but religion is an entirely human construct aimed at keeping the masses duped and in check, in order to rake in huge amounts of money for church leaders. That’s it. It’s very uncomplicated.

As it is – back to the topic – I have my own, less contentious theory of why right-wing straight people don’t want gays spoiling everything by getting married.

It’s because they’re jealous.

They’re secretly very jealous of our lifestyle, our taste in home furnishings, our open-mindedness, our ability to relate to men and women equally without barriers, our ability to whip up a musical in minutes, but most of all they’re jealous of the loose gypsy nature of gay sex and its preferences, and only wish they had it so good.  “They have all that, and now they want equal rights as well? Oh my gosh, then their lives would be perfect. And we can’t have that!” Irrational, of course, but that’s what it’s about. And why it’s such a huge topic.

And yet it’s not. It’s not huge at all. It’s the obsession of a blinkered, narrow-minded few, and we shouldn’t forget that. Enough people to make politicians think twice before committing positively to the issue, but still a few.

In fact, it’s my theory that most rational Americans, if you were to ask them, are privately on our side. Maybe for the wrong reason, but they are. Because what they really want to say is,  “Yeah, sure,  bring it on. Get married, you homos. Go for it. It’s about time you suffered like the rest of us.” 

Now, that’s an argument I can relate to!


TV Swami – he say NO to religious fervor, mindless prejudice, and hate. Natch.


While you’re here, why not watch the video for Cash’s new book, Naked in Dangerous Places?


Filed under Television commentary