Masters of the Universe Fight Back: The Race Angle
September 23, 2008 - 3:12pm ET
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The financial meltdown has left me a bit at a loss. If ever I felt like I should be reading 24/7 to get up to speed on a subject of public import, this is the time. But I can't read 24/7 right now, and finance has always been an intellectual blindspot for me—a lot of the fundamentals I simply don't get—and I'd have to do a heck of a lot of reading just to get up to par. So I haven't been reading much at all: swimming in a sea of poorly understood concepts, feeling like the world is changing in front of my eyes, agonized that I don't have much to say about it.
Well, write what you know, as the literary gurus says. And so, instead of debt-swaps, equity positions, derivatives, and the role of Phil Gramm's Union Bank of Switzerland, let me write about the sewer through which our right-wing friends are navigating to try to win this election. Specifically, this: the right-wing crusade to blame the Negroes for the financial meltdown.
And by now, it's getting into Protocols of the Elders of Zion territory.
Watch this clip of Fox's Neil Cavuto. See him sandbag Hispanic congressman Xavier Becerra, pinning upon him and his swarthy fellows responsibility for the collapse of America's financial system by "pushing for more minority lending." Why didn't people like him warn that "loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster"?
Now watch this recent John McCain ad, the one that gratuitously, and with visual bluntness, ties Barack Obama to a mustachioed villain who has nothing to do with the Barack Obama campaign but does have something to do with the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack—a man who happens to be black. "Stop CEO ripoffs"—bleed-in to the face of a pale, white grandmotherly innocent—"protect your savings and pensions"—then Harry Reid in menacing shadow. The tag: "Obama and his liberal allies? Mum on the market crisis."
Now note yesterday's Wall Street Journal op-ed hints at the same thing: we're in the mess we're in because Congress mandated banks slather low-income folks with home loans they couldn't afford.
Then there's John McCain the other day in Green Bay, claiming "At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
"Lie" is too polite a word for what is going on here.
First of all, even if Fannie and Freddie were the most awful companies in the history of the planet, their books chock-a-block with non-performing loans, none of the financial contagion—none of it—would have happened had not greedy financial institutions invented the risky securities that used mortgages as their foundation, via procedures that created economic incentives to write non-performing loans. We explained that a long time ago, here. Second of all, as we explained yesterday, loans that fulfilled the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act, performed better than the average mortgage.
Third of all: the part that makes you sick to your stomach. The pattern being drawn across the right—the Big Lie so notorious it's hard to belief they'd even dare advance it—is that this financial mess is something black people have done to white people.
Why wouldn't Obama be mum on the market crisis? It was all about, you know, swarthy people shoveling money and power to other swarthy people. You know how they do every time they get any power.
And you know what makes this whole conservative hustle all the more brazen? They spent the entire 2004 Republican Convention bragging about their supposed triumph in increasing minority homeownership.
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