Palin Is "Racist, Sexist, Vindictive, And Mean"
By Charley James
"So Sambo beat the bitch!"
This is how
Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin
described Barack Obama's win over Hillary Clinton to
political colleagues in a restaurant a few days
after Obama locked up the Democratic Party
Lucille, the waitress serving her table at the time
and who asked that her last name not be used, Gov.
Palin was eating lunch with five or six people when
the subject of the Democrat's primary battle came
up. The governor, seemingly not caring that people
at nearby tables would likely hear her, uttered the
slur and then laughed loudly as her meal mates
joined in appreciatively.
"It was kind of
disgusting," Lucille, who is part Aboriginal, said
in a phone interview after admitting that she is
frightened of being discovered telling folks in the
"lower 48" about life near the North Pole.
with a sigh, she added, "But that's just Alaska."
ethnic slurs may be "just Alaska" and, clearly, they
are common, everyday chatter for Palin.
insulting Obama with a Step-N'-Fetch-It, "darkie
musical" swipe, people who know her say she refers
regularly to Alaska's Aboriginal people as "Arctic
Arabs"—how efficient, lumping two apparently
undesirable groups into one ugly description—as well
as the more colourful "mukluks" along with the
totally unimaginative "f**king Eskimo's," according
to a number of Alaskans and Wasillians interviewed
for this article.
openly racist is only the tip of the Palin iceberg.
According to Alaskans interviewed for this article,
she is also vindictive and mean. We're talking Rove
mean and Nixon vindictive. No wonder the vast sea of
white, cheering faces at the Republican Convention
went wild for Sarah: They adore the type, it's in
their genetic code. So much for McCain's pledge of a
"high road" campaign; Palin is incapable of being
part of one.
People Who Know Her to Talk
It's not easy
getting people in the 49th state to speak critically
about Palin—especially people in Wasilla, where she
was mayor. For one thing, with every journalist in
the world calling, phone lines into Alaska have been
mostly jammed since Friday; as often as not, a
recording told me that "all circuits are busy" or
numbers just wouldn't ring. I should think a state
that's been made richer than God by oil could afford
telephone lines and cell towers for everyone.
"The GOP is
kind of like organized crime up here," an insurance
agent in Anchorage who knows the Palin family,
explained. "It's corrupt and arrogant. They're all
rich because they do private sweetheart deals with
the oil companies, and they can destroy anyone. And
they will, if they have to."
became mayor," he continued, "She became part of
that inner circle."
Like most other
people interviewed, he didn't want his name used out
of fear of retribution. Maybe it's the long winter
nights where you don't see the sun for months that
makes people feel as if they're under constant
danger from "the authorities." As I interviewed
residents it began sounding as if living in Alaska
controlled by the state Republican Party is like
living in the old Soviet Union: See nothing that's
happening, say nothing offensive, and the political
commissars leave you alone. But speak out and you
get disappeared into a gulag north of the Arctic
Circle for who-knows-how-long.
an exaggeration brought on by my getting too little
sleep and building too much anger as I worked this
article. But there's ample evidence of Palin's
vindictive willingness to destroy people she sees as
opponents. Just ask the Wasilla town administrator
she hired before firing him because he rebelled
against the way Palin demanded he do his job, or the
town librarian who refused to hold the book burning
Walpurgisnach Mayor Palin demanded.
Palin was pushed into hiring the administrator by
the party poobahs who helped get her elected after
she got herself into trouble over a number of
precipitous firings which gave rise to a recall
fought her attempt to oust the librarian are on her
enemies list to this day,"
states Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla resident and one
of the few Alaskans willing to speak on-the-record,
for attribution, about Palin. In fact, Kilkenny
actually circulated an e-mail letter about Palin
that was verified and printed by The Nation.
measure, Palin booted the Wasilla police chief from
office because, she told a local newspaper, he
Extreme Fringe Evangelical Views
drew early attention from state GOP apparatchiks
when, during her first mayoral campaign, she ran on
an anti-abortion platform. Normally, political
parties do not get involved in Alaskan municipal
elections because they are nonpartisan. But once
word of her extreme fringe evangelical views made
its way to Juneau, the state capitol,
state Republicans tossed some money behind her
Once in office,
Palin set out to build a machine that chewed up
anyone who got in her way. The good, Godly Christian
turns out to be anything but.
like different opinions and she refuses to
compromise," Kilkenny notes. "When she was mayor,
she fought ideas that weren't hers. Worse, ideas
weren't evaluated on their merits but on the basis
of who proposed them."
Palin may well be Dick Cheney's reincarnate.
has a familiar Republican ring to it: Her tax
policies, and a "refund surpluses but borrow for the
Kilkenny and others in Wasilla as well as Juneau,
Palin reduced progressive property taxes for
businesses while mayor and increased a regressive
sales tax which even hits necessities such as food.
The tax cuts she promoted in her St. Paul speech
actually benefited large corporate property owners
far more than they benefited residents. Indeed,
Kilkenny insists that many Wasilla home owners
actually saw their tax bill skyrocket to make up for
the shortfall. Two other Wasillian's with whom I
spoke said property taxes on their modest, three
bedroom homes rose during the Palin regime.
To an outsider,
it would seem hard to do, but an oil-rich town with
zero debt on the day she was inaugurated mayor was
left saddled with $22 million of debt by the time
she moved away to become governor - especially since
nothing was spent on things such as improving the
city's infrastructure or building a much-needed
sewage treatment plant. So what did Mayor Palin
spend the taxpayer's money on, if not fixing streets
and scrubbing sewage?
she remodelled her office. Several times over, as a
matter of fact.
spent $1 million on an unnecessary, new park that no
one other than the contractors and Palin seemed to
want. Next, Sarah doled out more than $15 million of
taxpayer money for a
sports complex that she shoved through even
though the city did not own clear title to the land;
now, seven years later, the matter is still in
litigation and lawyer fees are said to be close to
at least half of the original estimated price of the
She also worked
hard to get voters approval of a $5.5 million bond
proposal for roads that could have been built
without borrowing. Anchorage may not be the center
of the financial universe but, like good Republicans
everywhere, Sarah Palin knows how to please Alaskan
bankers and bond dealers.
measure, she turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big
box stores and disconnected parking lots.
En route to the
governor's igloo, Palin managed to land what Anne
Kilkenny says is the plumb political appointment in
the state: Chair of Alaska's Oil and Gas
Conservation Commission (OGCC), a $122,400 per year
patronage slot with no real authority to do anything
other than hold meetings. She took the job despite
having no background in energy issues and, as it
turned out, not liking the work.
"She hated the
job," an OGCC staff member who is not
authorized to speak with the news media told me.
"She hated the hours and she hated what little work
there was to do.
couldn't figure out a way to get out of the thing
without offending Gov. Murkowski" and the state
Republican Party regulars, some of whom were pissed
off they didn't get appointed.
But ever the
opportunist, Palin quickly concocted a way. First,
she waged a campaign with the local news media
claiming that the position was overpaid and should
be abolished - despite the fact that she lobbied
Murkowski hard to get it. Then, mounting what she
saw as a white horse, Palin raised a cloud of dust
by resigning from the OGCC and riding away with an
undeserved reputation as a "reformer."
But when a
local reporter dared to suggest that the reformer
Empress has no clothes, Palin tried to get her
"She came at me
like I was trying to steal her kids," said the
targeted reporter, who now works for an oil company
in Anchorage. "I heard she had a wild temper and
vicious mean streak but it's nothing like you can
imagine until she turns it on you."
since some of her high school classmates still
openly call her "Sarah Barracuda," Kilkenny insists.
Still, as a
Republican Party hack Palin managed to get herself
elected running under the false flag of a
And what did
she bring to the job? No legislative experience
other than a city council of a village of 5,000
people, which is smaller than some high schools in
Chicago. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial
experience; after all, she needed to hire a city
administrator to run Wasilla. No executive
experience, except for almost being recalled as
mayor. A philosophy of setting public policy based
on one word: No.
And what has
she done since winning the job?
Kilkenny, nothing. Well, nothing other than
suggesting the state's multi-multi-million dollar,
oil-generated surplus be distributed to residents
and finance future state needs by borrowing money.
Gee, doesn't that sound precisely what George Bush
did with the surplus he inherited from Bill Clinton
in 2001 and we all know in what great shape Bush's
economic policies left the nation.
It may explain
why, when asked by reporters, including me, what she
thought about Palin being picked to be McCain's
running mate, her mother-in-law replied with a
sardonic, "What has Sarah done to qualify her to be
vice president?" Of course, when the woman—said by
many I spoke with to be well-respected in
Wasilla—was running to succeed Palin as mayor, Sarah
refused to endorse her, so that may explain the
Palin gave the legislature no direction and budget
guidelines, according to the chair of a legislative
committee. But then she staged a huge grandstand
play of line-item vetoing countless projects,
calling them pork. "They were restored because of
public outcry and legislative action," the aide
said. "She vetoed them mostly because she had no
idea what they were or why they were important."
But it was
enough to get the McCain, who is mostly unobservant
of the world around him anyway, to think Palin has a
reputation as being "anti-pork".
In fact, Juneau
observers note that Palin kept her hand stuck out as
far as anyone for pork ladled out by indicted Sen.
opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became
clear that it would be politically unwise to keep
supporting it, these same insiders assert. Then, Palin fell back on her old
habits and publicly humiliated him for pork-barrel
politics. As for being
"ready on day one" to be commander in chief, despite
the repeated public claims she's made, the Alaska
National Guard commander said that, "she has made no
command decisions, other than sending some troops to
help fight a few brush fires and march in parades at
"Sambo Beat the
"Palin is a
conniving, manipulative, a**hole," someone who
thinks these are positive traits in a governor told
me, summing up Palin's tenure in Alaska state and
"She's a bigot,
a racist, and a liar," is the more blunt assessment
of Arnold Gerstheimer who lived in Alaska until two
years ago and is now a businessman in Idaho.
"Juneau is a
small town; everybody knows everyone else," he adds.
"These stories about what she calls blacks and
Eskimos, well, anyone not white and good looking
actually, were around long before she became a glint
in John McCain's rheumy eyes. Why do I know they're
true? Because everyone who isn't aboriginal or
Indian in Alaska talks that way."
"Sambo beat the
bitch" may be everyday language up in the bush.
Whether it—and the outlook, politics and worldview
Palin reflects when she says such things in
public—should be part of a presidential campaign is
another thing altogether. The comment says as much
about McCain as it does about Palin, and it says a
lot of things about Americans who overlook such
statements (as well as her record) and vote anyway
originally appeared in
The Progressive Curmudgeon.
is an American journalist, author and essayist who
lives in Toronto. He can be contacted through his
The Progressive Curmudgeon.
* * *
Here's some basic background
She was elected Alaska's governor a
little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of
Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage.
Palin is strongly anti-choice,
opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest. She supported
right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000. Palin thinks
creationism should be taught in public schools. She's doesn't think
humans are the cause of climate change. She's solidly in line with John
McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil
drilling and says renewable won't be ready for years. She also sued the
Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she
was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
Here's a sample of Alaskan's responses:
She is really just a mayor from a
small town outside Anchorage who has been a governor for only 1.5 years,
and has ZERO national and international experience. I shudder to think
that she could be the person taking that 3AM call on the White House
hotline, and the one who could potentially be charged with leading the
US in the volatile international scene that exists today.—Rose
M., Fairbanks, AK
She is VERY, VERY conservative, and
far from perfect. She's a hunter and fisherwoman, but votes against the
environment again and again. She ran on ethics reform, but is currently
under investigation for several charges involving hiring and firing of
state officials. She has NO experience beyond Alaska.—Christine
B., Denali Park, AK
As an Alaskan and a feminist, I am
beyond words at this announcement. Palin is not a feminist, and she is
not the reformer she claims to be.—Karen L.,
Alaskans, collectively, a re just
as stunned as the rest of the nation. She is doing well running our
State, but is totally inexperienced on the national level, and very much
unequipped to run the nation, if it came to that. She is as far right as
one can get, which has already been communicated on the news. In our
office of thirty employees (dems, republicans, and nonpartisans), not
one person feels she is ready for the V.P. position.—Sherry
C., Anchorage, AK
She's vehemently anti-choice and
doesn't care about protecting our natural resources, even though she has
worked as a fisherman. McCain chose her to pick up the Hillary voters,
but Palin is no Hillary.—Marina L., Juneau, AK
I think she's far too inexperienced
to be in this position. I'm all for a woman in the White House, but not
one who hasn't done anything to deserve it. There are far many other
women who have worked their way up and have much more experience that
would have been better choices. This is a patronizing decision on John
McCain's part- and insulting to females everywhere that he would assume
he'll get our vote by putting "A Woman" in that position.—Jennifer
M., Anchorage, AK
* * *
Did Sarah Palin Really Say She Wouldnt Hire Blacks?— On April 29,
14 black leaders in Alaska, including prominent ministers, NAACP
officials, and community activists, met with Palin to voice their
complaint over minority hiring and job opportunities. During the meeting
she allegedly said that she didn't have to hire any blacks. Even more
damning, she purportedly said that she didn't intend to hire any.
. . . Palin's commitment to
diversity is no small point in Alaska. According to the 2000 Census
figures, blacks make up officially about 4 percent of the state
population. But those who self-identify as at least part
African-American bump up the percentage much higher. When American
Indians, Aleuts, Eskimos, and Asians are taken together, minorities make
up about one quarter of Alaska's population. This makes the state one of
the most ethnically diverse in the nation. Diversity must be more than a
word that an Alaska governor pays campaign lip service to and then
Palin's campaign and gubernatorial
spokespersons say the charge that she is hostile to blacks and
minorities is unfair. That may well be true. But according to those
black leaders in Alaska who challenged Palin.
* * *
Alaska's Blacks and Palin: a
Strained Relationship—The Rev. Dr. Alonzo B. Patterson chuckles at
Palin's claims of being color-blind, saying she's "not sensitive to
[having] African-Americans in her administration."
Patterson, who's worked closely
with previous governors plus mayors and other elected officials during
his 45-years in Alaska, feels Palin has "totally departed from the past
practices" of previous Alaska governors.
"Past administrations have had
black administrative assistants to the Governor, state Commissioners and
department leaders," said Patterson, who served as chair of Alaska's
Board of Paroles for 13-years.
Patterson heads the American
Baptist Churches of Alaska and that state's Martin Luther King Jr.
Foundation. Earlier this year, Patterson participated in a meeting of
black leaders with Palin. This meeting followed months of requests to
Palin for a meeting.
"We gave her a list of concerns and
have received no response," said Patterson, pastor of Shiloh Missionary
Baptist Church in Anchorage.
Concerns presented by this group
included hiring minorities at all levels of state government plus
contracting and employment practices in the upcoming pipeline
This group also invited Palin to
participate in a town meeting during the summer with other racial and
ethnic minorities in Alaska to discuss issues of import including
economic growth, educational deficiencies, family disintegration and
young gang problems. Palin spurned this invitation.
posted 10 September 2008
* * *
* * * * *
Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost
* * * * *
The Invention of the White Race Vol. II
By Theodore W. Allen
this second volume of his acclaimed
study of the origins of racial
oppression, Theodore Allen explores the
ways in which African bond-laborers were
turned into chattel slaves and were
differentiated from their fellow
proletarians of European origin. Rocked
by the solidarity across racial lines
exhibited by the rebellious labouring
classes in the wake of the famous
Bacon's Rebellion, the plantation
Bourgeoisie sought a solution to its
labor problems in the creation of a
buffer social control stratum of poor
whites, who enjoyed little enough
privilege in colonial society beyond
that of their skin color, which
protected them from the enslavement
visited upon Africans and African
Americans. Such was, as Allen puts it,
'the invention of the white race,' that
'peculiar institution' which continues
to haunt social relations in the US down
to the present. Allen's two volumes are
essential reading for students of US
history and politics.
A monumental study
of the birth of racism in the American
South . . . a highly original and
* * * *
update 28 March 2012