Supplemental: We love the smell of blood in the morning!


Charles Blow visits Selma:
In this morning’s column, Charles Blow takes a fairly standard approach to the weekend’s events in Selma.

Right at the start of his column, he “imagines the horror of that distant day.” He then imagines the work which remains to be done by “the activists of the moment,” though he can't seem to say what it is.

This represents a fairly standard approach. In our view, it’s problematic:
BLOW (3/9/15): As our van in the presidential motorcade reached the crest of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., and began the descent toward the thousands of waiting faces and waving arms of those who had come to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the gravity of that place seized me, pushing out the breath and rousing the wonder.

The mind imagines the horror of that distant day: the scrum of bodies and the cloud of gas, the coughing and trampling, the screaming and wailing, the batons colliding with bones, the opening of flesh, the running down of blood.

In that moment I understood what was necessary in President Obama’s address: to balance celebration and solemnity, to honor the heroes of the past but also to motivate the activists of the moment, to acknowledge how much work had been done but to remind the nation that that work was not complete.
We think that approach is problematic. This is why we say that:

As we watched the weekend’s events, we became even more dissatisfied with the culture of “anniversary-ism” which has marked the past few years.

From JFK’s death on through Bloody Sunday, it seems that we just keep remembering events of fifty years ago. Endless Civil War anniversaries have also been mixed in.

In the case of events from the civil rights movement, many of these remembered events featured very clear-cut goals pursued by morally brilliant leaders.

Again and again, we bathe ourselves in the greatness of those leaders. In this way, we hide from our own lack of clear goals, from our lack of leadership and clear direction.

In the case of the Selma remembrance, we were struck by the focus on the bloodshed and the horror of the initial march, as opposed to the triumphs which happened days, weeks and months later.

Why did we memorialize Bloody Sunday rather than the successful march which took place two weeks later? We almost seem to love blood more than success.

Is it because the remembrance of the blood lets us focus on the sins of The Others? For some of us, hating The Others is one of the transcendent joys.

(Last night, we saw CNN airing an especially ghoulish special about the crucifixion of Christ. We found ourselves asking the same question. Why do we humans seem to love blood so much?)

Finally, we reach the question about our current goals, which are mainly observed in the breech.

The Occupy movement came and went without defining long-term, sustaining goals. The Ferguson movement seems to be headed down the same road.

Yesterday, the Selma participants thrashed about, looking for a goal on which to focus. “We must fight our fights anew,” Blow heroically says in his column.

That said, the search for goals hasn’t been going real well.

When we liberals are at our least perceptive, we sometimes say that “Selma is now.” We say we need to keep on marching to re-secure our voting rights.

On balance, we oppose those “Voter ID” laws too. But uh-oh:

In 2012, the black turn-out rate, nationwide, was higher than the white turn-out rate. We seem unable to notice the areas in which we’ve made giant progress.

As the Blows were thrashing about, wearing the clothes of past giants and searching for new goals, the New York Times ran a maddening front-page report about events in Missouri and elsewhere.

Has the city of Ferguson preyed on black citizens through its policing practices? We can’t say with perfect certainty. But the New York Times says that other communities are doing the same, or worse:
ROBERTSON (3/8/15): While statistics alone are not clear-cut proof of discrimination, there are cities around St. Louis with far greater racial disparities in traffic stops than Ferguson, and cities with court systems that appear even more predatory than the Justice Department says Ferguson’s is. According to a report from Better Together, a nonprofit group, Ferguson does not even rank among the top 20 municipalities in St. Louis County in the percentage of its budget drawn from court fines and fees. The small city of Edmundson, five miles away, brings in nearly $600 a year in court fines for every resident, more than six times the amount in Ferguson.

Antonio Morgan, the owner of a car repair business, has spent months in various St. Louis County jails, paid thousands of dollars and been shocked by a Taser, mostly because of traffic violations.
“People are actually getting mad that everybody thinks it’s Ferguson, Ferguson, Ferguson,” Mr. Morgan, 29, said. “They pull over a lot of black people, yeah, but they’re not the worst, I’ll tell you that. It’s worse ones than that.”

Not only do nearby cities work in the same ways as Ferguson, but they work with the same people. Ronald J. Brockmeyer, the municipal court judge in Ferguson whom the Justice Department report singled out for ticket-fixing, is a judge in another city and a prosecutor in three more.

Ms. Gupta said civil rights prosecutors were seeking information to help small cities and towns that may have problems but are unlikely to attract attention in Washington.
But she also made clear that it was incumbent on local governments to make changes themselves, because “the Justice Department can’t be everywhere.”
Let’s face it. American civil rights organizations stopped performing long ago. Meanwhile, people like Blow have spent the past several years thumping the tub about police and non-police shootings.

Invented facts have played key roles in those crusades. (Other people can see this.) As people like Blow get us all wound up and drive their wedges everywhere else, citizens are apparently being widely victimized in these other ways.

We the liberals need to learn how to see ourselves more clearly. In our view, we aren’t real smart and we aren’t very honest.

We aren’t real good at playing with others. Our “leaders” are often a mess.

We don’t seem to know how to build an agenda. Most strikingly, we don’t know how to speak to people whose votes and sympathies we will need in the end.

We bathe in the blood of our (genuine) heroes. What makes us humans seem to love the blood of martyrs so much?


  1. What a great column! Bob asks, "Why did we memorialize Bloody Sunday rather than the successful march which took place two weeks later?"

    My answer would be: Because being a victim is the preferred status today, at least among liberals.

    1. Oh, I don't know why we memorialized Bloody Sunday.

      May be it's because the successful march two weeks later had to pass through Bloody Sunday first.

      Or maybe its the same reasons we put up war memorials -- to remember those who suffered for the rights we so often take for granted.

      Naaaah! Can't be that. Dave in Cal is right. Just a bunch of WWII vets playing the victim card.

    2. Bob has it wrong. I still wear my Guy Fawkes mask to celebrate the victories of the Occupy Movement, not because I am happy with the successful violent repression of Papist elements on Bonfire Treason night.

    3. Anon 3:13 wrote: Naaaah! Can't be that. Dave in Cal is right. Just a bunch of WWII vets playing the victim card.

      There's a difference. The few remaining WWII vets may be playing the victim card, but Anon 3:13 and I aren't playing the victim card just because our ancestors suffered and died in WWII. Anon 3:13 and I aren't demanding reparations because some other people suffered in WWII.

      On the contrary I consider myself lucky that other people fought and won WWII. I see myself as a beneficiaries of WWII; I'm happy to be in this situation. Modern blacks could consider themselves lucky that other people fought and died to end slavery. They could be happy that that other people sacrificed to obtain their right to vote and to get fully equal legal rights. But, for better or for worse, blacks are encouraged to be unhappy, because victims are seen as deserving.

    4. Right Dave. Thousands of people gathered at the Edmund Pettus Bridge this weekend to demand reparations.

      You don't even try any more to disguise your disgust for black people, do you?

    5. I'm sure many felt really lucky other people fought and died to end slavery. Some of those also shared happiness over the sacrifice made so they could vote and use a bathroom in a public place. That is why some believe THEY are a happy, simple folk, prone to song and dance. Don't let those few fool you. They are mostly a bunch of ingrates.

    6. Anon 5:47 -- My disgust is for that subset of liberals who encourage blacks, women, gays, and other minorities to focus on being victims, rather than focus on taking advantage of all their opportunities.

    7. I see. So that's why you think the memorial at the Edmund Pettus Bridge was about reparations.

      Yeah, Dave, them black folk comin' after your money!

    8. David, what opportunities did blacks in Selma have 50 years ago?

    9. David in Cal, being a victim isn't the preferred status of liberals, it is the only status now. The defining characteristic of liberalism is a love of victimology. Libs love victims so much they can't stop creating them.

    10. What a howl that David in Cal, the consummate complainer of being victimized by groups, subsets, and basically everyone that isn't an immediate relative or friend finds victimhood disgusting.

    11. @7:33

      A lot of the same opportunities blacks have now. Consider the greatest NFL player of all time Jim Brown, born in St. Simons, GA, voted MVP of the league in 1965.

      Sidney Poitier won Best Actor Oscar in 1958

      Thurgood Marshall, first black SCOTUS 1967

      Bary Gordy, founded Motown Records 1959

    12. Barack Obama, first president of the United States, elected 2008. I'm sure that thrills you to no end.

    13. The Daily Howler, the site where neo-cons like to roost.

    14. Too bad cicero will never have the opportunity to tell Jim Brown to his face what great opportunities he had in 1965.

    15. "As we watched the weekend’s events, we became even more dissatisfied with the culture of “anniversary-ism” which has marked the past few years."

      Bob Somerby, mentioning for the first time his growing dissatisfaction with the culture of "anniversary-ism."

      Please, members of the Howler tribe, when the head Howler trundles through the clouds of gorilla dust to that great blog cloud in cyber-space, celebrate neither the date of his death or the date of his birth.

      Celebrate this the 9th of March. The date you were launched on our liberation from Anniversary-ism.

    16. It is interesting that dissatisfied Bob waited all this time to express his concern for the "culture of 'anniversary-ism'" until it reared its ugly head in Selma.

      This is no doubt some of that famous Somerby restraint we hear about. He suffered silently until he could take it no more.

      But yes, we are free. We no longer have to celebrate July 4 or even Christmas.

      Now the wife might get upset when I tell her on our wedding anniversary to get back in the kitchen and cook me up some bacon and some beans. But I will do so with her best interests at heart. It is about time we broke this "culture of anniversary-ism."

    17. I wiil never remember where I was on 9/11 again.

      I shall instead celebrate May 1, the date George Bush landed on the conveniently located Lincoln and announced Bob Somerby was right about those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that the tragedy of 9/11 allowed us to eradicate.

      Except Stalinists and Maoists celebrate May 1, too, don't they?

    18. @ 9:34,

      Imagine a POTUS Ben Carson or Mia Love. I'm sure that prospect thrills you to no end. Liberal tolerance for black POTUS' are predicated on the ideology of that minority.

    19. @ 9:37

      JB didn't rely on condescending and otiose libs like yourself for his opportunities.

      "Mr. Brown credits his self-reliance to having grown up on Saint Simons Island, a community off the coast of Georgia where he was raised by his grandmother and where racism did not affect him directly."
      — The New York Times - film review, 2002

    20. What cicero conveniently "disappears" from that New York Times film review.

      "Because Mr. Brown, who recently turned 66, came of age in the 1950's, an era when college and professional sports were permeated by racism, he was a trailblazing figure who encountered discrimination and rejection at every turn."

      cicero: disappearing things like anyone else you know?

    21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    22. @ 11:29

      And still was voted MVP of the league in 1965 and was cast as the male lead in the 1969 "100 Rifles" with Raquel Welch as his love interest. This Brown overcame the racism of his professional life and prospered. No thanks to white liberal guilt.

    23. Was it the first "Blaxsploitation" flick?
      Think hard.

    24. @ 12:56

      Negative. As it was set during the Mexican Revolution of 1912.

      1971 "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song" was the first flick in the genre.

    25. @ gravymeister

      If you have a point to make speak up Apparently you know more than Jim Brown does about the film.


      "The pivotal point of this genre is that the main character's most significant attribute is the color of his (or her) skin, as well as stereotypical attributes associated with it at the time, such as intimidating appearance, being "naturally predisposed" towards independence, lack of respect for authority, utter disregard of manners and formalism, preference for violent solutions over diplomacy and unquestionable badassery."

      Brown's U.S. Marshall Lyedecker character represents authority. He wants to return Reynolds character back to jail in order to keep his job. He is also not the main character as he is third billed. In fact, the film is anti "Blaxploitation" and as the article below states, it marked the end of Brown's Hollywood stardom and the last major production deal he signed.

  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

    1. Warning to casual readers: The author of the above comment will not attempt to provide a substantive answer the comment made directly below.

  3. "Let’s face it. American civil rights organizations stopped performing long ago."

    Let's face it. I can't think of a single thing Somerby has written about in seventeen years that has advanced a civil rights cause. Ever.

    1. So that excuses civil rights organizations?

    2. Of something Somerby wildly accuses them of, and since Somerby said it, it must be true?

    3. @ 5:04 If a blind man said you lacked vision lately, and I noted he had been sightless since birth, that would not require me to defend your eyesight to point out the folly of his accusation.

      He could be right. Or you could see clothed people naked, like Superman and Somerby.

    4. No doubt my endorsement of Bob's position will cause some here to disagree with Bob all the more. However, I agree with him regarding the NAACP, which used to be the #1 civil rights organization. My wife and I were members for 30 years, before quitting in disappointment and disgust over what had become of this once-great organization. Even my very liberal wife was ready to leave them.

      Today the NAACP is pretty much an adjunct of the Democratic Party. You can see that, e.g., in their back-of-the-hand treatment of successful, non-Democratic blacks like Sen. Tim Scott, Rep Mia Love and Justice Clarence Thomas.

    5. "No doubt my endorsement of Bob's position will cause some her to disagree with Bob all the more."

      Ya think? You merely confirm what those that disagree with "Bob" already know.

    6. David, if it makes you feel better, your opinion has absolutely no influence on me at all, and never really has.

    7. "My wife and I were members for 30 years, before quitting in disappointment and disgust over what had become of this once-great organization. Even my very liberal wife was ready to leave them."


    8. "My wife and I...." Bullshit.

    9. David in Cal has demonstrated he is honest and unlikely to lie about his and his wife's membership. Accusing him of lying is typical lazy lib poop throwing, with the typical lack of any foundation for any assertion.

    10. I have more foundation for the assertions and exploits of Brian Williams than for the commenter using the name David in Cal.

      That said, I might not really exist.

    11. Didn't say he was lying. I said it was bullshit. Typical David in Cal bullshit.

    12. "David in Cal has demonstrated he is honest and unlikely to lie. . ."


    13. Yes, we've made all these advancements, like test scores, but it's our civil rights movement that's the problem....

    14. @ Greg,

      Have you considered more fiber in your diet?

  4. According to Margaret Sullivan, the NYT front page photo that didn't include Bush 43 was not intentional. However, Margaret has no explanation why the NYT story doesn't mention the Bushes' presence until 10 paragraphs into the story. The good news is the NYT isn't contemplating pulling a Stalin circa 1930 tactic by going back into their archives and airbrushing out Chuck Heston from the photos of the 1963 March on Washington.

    1. Many Times' commenters weren't satisfied with the explanation (excuse) for not showing Bush's picture. E.g.,
      this is a cop-out. If Times editors had wanted a shot of Bush (assuming they knew he would be there, and surely they did), they could have requested one, and the photog (assuming he wanted future work with the Times) would have produced one....

      Semantics. A card trick. We are made to believe that the Times had only ONE photo to choose from? Any photo editor from any paper in the world knows that's bull crap!...

      Did not the photographer realize that including a former President and his wife who are White marching in the front line of an essentially Black crowd for a commemorative march in Selma, Alabama with the current Black president, his wife and children might have historical, if not political, significance?...

      If they had wanted a picture with the Bushes in it, they would have gotten one. It's really that simple.

    2. By golly, you are right. That even was all about Bush 43, and no one else.

      How could the Times be so foolish? Boy, I bet you two will never trust that newspaper again/

    3. Didn't take but one NYT story for libs to deem them untrustworthy.

    4. Once again, you of all people know what "libs" are thinking! Deliciously hilarious.

    5. If Bob were truly on the ball, he could mention how quickly the RNC communications director put out the spin that the issue to be discussed is the NYT "cropping" out Bush 43.

      How clever they think they are. After all they got the likes of Cicero and David in Cal to talk about that, instead of the event itself, or the speeches by Lewis and Obama.

      Sweet hay to the lowing cattle.

    6. See 6:26 PM - now the ConTroll is fluffing Phil Anschutz.


    7. @ 6:44

      Never implied libs engage in thinking. Their raison d'être is protesting, pestering, posturing and proselytizing. David Brock, once the scourge of libs, is now one of their chief manure spreaders through Media Matters. His thoughts, such as they are, hardly attempt to conceal his contempt for any news outlet calling out liberal politicians, pundits, or celebrities.

    8. @ 7:30

      Here is the same video of David Brock on MSNBC crying over the NYT story on Hillary emails. No doubt I am shilling for YouTube and MSNBC.

    9. What do you care how commenters respond to your trolling. You get paid the same.

    10. @ 7:42

      @ 7:42

      Imagine how much troll David Brock and his 501(c)(3). Media Matters get paid to iron out the creases in Hillary's pant suit. Now I'm shilling for Mother Jones.........

    11. @ 7:03

      Obama's Selma speech was indeed his best. Too bad he isn't able to imbue his national security speeches with equal passion.

    12. "Too bad he isn't able to imbue his national security speeches with equal passion."

      Too bad the troll can't avoid pontificating the party line in order to ensure getting paid.

      FTFY - you're welcome

    13. No doubt you're shilling. You got that right.

    14. Compare and contrast:


      "Never implied libs engage in thinking. Their raison d'être is protesting, pestering, posturing and proselytizing."


      And we thought about the gruesome ways our pampered, privileged, overpaid professors tend to perform.

      In a truly appalling display, our pampered, privileged, overpaid professors play along with this practice.

      THE CALIBER OF OUR OWN PROFESSORS: Pampered, privileged, overpaid, poor?"

      The Disappearance of "Spam" Spellcasters: Silenced by Somerby or Stiffed for Silly Sockpuppet?

    15. Urgent Note to Cicero and David in Cal !!!!

      The New York Times is not responsible for the unfortunate non appearance of POTUS Bush II in photo coverage of the 50th Anninversary-ism of Selma Snubbed and Beaten.

      The foot soldiers of the SS Edmund Pettus Bridge unfortunately placed him too far away from the current
      leader of the War of Northern Aggression, Barack Hussein Obama, to be in the camera angle.

      Bush was supposed to be holding one side of a banner and Obama the other. It was to Read:

      Voting Rights Act
      Passed 1965
      Gutted 2013

      Unfortunately the Republican Congressional leadership was unable to deliver this banner prepared by the SCOTUS to the POTUSes on time.

    16. I'm surprised that POS Bush would have the nerve to even show his face in public.

    17. Well, despite your cynicism he did the best he could with what he had, including the money his dad's friends gave him, and the Presidency his Dad's party's court gave him.

    18. @ 11:47

      Why would that be? Because Bush 43 gave more money to Africa than any other POTUS before or since?

      "At more than $5 billion a year in humanitarian aid to Africa, President Bush has given more assistance to the continent than any other president. His administration’s aid was largely targeted to fight the major global health issues facing the continent, HIV/AIDS and malaria."

    19. @11:09

      You do speak liberal revisionist history fluently.

      "The degree of Republican support for the two bills (1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act ) actually exceeded the degree of Democratic support, and it's also fair to say that Republicans took leading roles in both measures, even though they had far fewer seats, and thus less power, at the time."

      The Civil Rights Act broken down by party, 61 percent of Democratic lawmakers voted for the bill (152 yeas and 96 nays), and a full 80 percent of the Republican caucus supported it (138 yeas and 34 nays).

      Senate passed the measure the margin was 73-27. Better than two-thirds of Senate Democrats supported the measure on final passage (46 yeas, 21 nays), but an even stronger 82 percent of Republicans supported it (27 yeas, 6 nays).

    20. And then all those Southern Democrats who voted against Civil rights and Voting rights switched to the Republican party and the south turned Republican. You mendacious bastard.

    21. @mm

      Your grasp of history is as tenuous as the other libs on this blog.

      Democratic Party West Virginia Senator Bob Byrd, Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan. a Democrat in office from 1959 to 2010. You pathetic jackass party apologist.

    22. You haven't in any way challenged or disproved the historical accuracy of anything I stated, you have simply reflexively retorted with what your lizard brain has been programmed to croak - Bob Byrd 'croak' - KKK 'croak'.
      What the fuck is your point? Are you too stupid to realize that most intelligent people understand that the composition of the 2 parties have changed dramatically in response to LBJ's civil rights legislation?

    23. @mm,

      I related the historical record accurately while you have superimposed the tired liberal lament that the GOP and Dems have somehow transmogrified since 1965.

      You got one thing right. Byrd has croaked.

    24. Cicero, doesn't your ideology have an economy to crash somewhere?

  5. Do I read today's post correctly?

    Does Somerby actually say that two presidents and thousands of people showed up in Selma on the wrong Sunday?

    That is his contribution to the "american discourse" about that event?

    1. I think generally it is better to celebrate victories than defeats. That's why we honor presidents on their birthdays instead of the days they died.

      In all the coverage of Selma I saw not much mention that the march was for voting rights. People are taking it as a generic civil rights day and I think it loses something in that translation.

    2. Except that honor was merged into President's Day on February 22, Washington's birthday, but Lincoln was born on the 12th.

      BTW: JFK's assassination date is much better known than his date of birth and his 1000 days in office is remembered on that day rather than his birthday.

    3. Fuck Memorial Day!

    4. @ 8:42

      Why, is that your birthday?

    5. It sure does seem that of all the nits to pick, Somerby has indeed chosen which was the proper day to hold the Selma memorial.

      After all, his choice was "snubbed."

    6. "Selma" was snubbed. So was "The Alamo." I will never forget Selma. I will always remember the Alamo.

  6. FWIW

    Al Gore got more votes than George Bush. Perhaps his initiative in creating the internet played a part in that.

    I tend to think pledging to end the wage gap also played a role

    "For too long, men and women have seen vast disparity in their earnings. Although the gap has closed in the last decades, the typical woman still earns only 73 percent of what the typical man earns. It is
    time to close that gap. This continuing gap reflects not just continued discrimination, but also the fact that fewer women go into the highest paying occupations. Changing times and changing attitudes will contribute to our work to close the pay gap. But that alone is not enough. The Gore-Lieberman plan would cut this gap in half over the next decade by:

    · Fighting for paycheck fairness. Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will fight for paycheck fairness. They will push to increase the Equal Pay Initiative to provide employers with information and resources to help them comply with equal pay requirements. At the same time, they will call for increased penalties for discrimination against women and improved remedies for women that have suffered discrimination."

    Gore-Lieberman Economic Plan 2000

    Al Gore. Taking the initiative to close the pay gap. Fighting discrimination and insuring equal pay for equal work.

    Thank you. I know the 2000 election is old news. But this post moved me so.

  7. We interrupt our penetrating series on the quality of professorship, inspired by Lana Guiner and her remarks on C-SPAN, to bring you another round of race-bating to keep the Zimmerman/Wilson Defense Team tuned in, and the Web traffic count above 1,000.

    Keep on clickin'.

  8. The moment we start acknowledging that Selma didn't happen yesterday is the moment accountability kicks in. Therefore those who enjoy the benefits of no accountability will never stop loving to talk about slavery and Selma as if they happened yesterday.

  9. This is the Daily Howler at it's mushiest, and it would be a little easier to take if it wasn't for the Daily Howler's history of cropping out the ugliness
    of southern racism in the U.S. He's touchy as hell about it, to say the least. One doesn't mind him being for striking a match rather than cursing the darkness of those dark days, but, give me a break. It's no wonder he is not much for reporting on Vietnam and the invasion of Iraq.
    Blow's is simply off the shelf hand wringing, wish the Daily Howler's response wasn't equally predictable.

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