Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton's House Slaves

You might not know this, but the woman who aims to re-occupy the House built by slaves once had slaves herself. To be fair, she didn't actually "own" them. She merely borrowed them for a time. It was one of the perks of her position as Arkansas First Lady. Who was she to object to free live-in help, shipped in from state prisons?

In one chapter of her 1996 (ghost-written) neoliberal polemic, "It Takes a Village," Hillary Clinton fondly reminisces about the cozy times she had with the black help during her halcyon days in Little Rock.  Far from being shocked and appalled that prison inmates were actually being used as slave labor at the governor's mansion, Hillary decided to make the best of a bad plantation situation. Rather than protest 20th century slavery, she pragmatically decided to try it out to see whether it fit her family's lifestyle. It did, it did!

It was only long after the fact, multimillion-dollar book contract in hand, that she conducted an informal study of the various alleged pathologies she believes caused their imprisonment in the first place.

Her words speak for themselves:
"One unusual aspect of living in the Arkansas governor's mansion was getting to know the prison inmates who were assigned to work in the house and the yard. When we moved in, I was told that using prison labor at the governor's mansion was a longstanding tradition, which kept down costs, and I was assured that the inmates were carefully screened. I was also told that onetime murderers were by far the preferred security risks. The crimes of the convicted murderers who worked at the governor's mansion usually involved a disagreement with someone they knew, often another young man in their neighborhood, or they had been with companions who had killed someone in the course of committing another crime."
Her first reaction was to fear for her own safety. Then she learned (or was told by the plantation overseer) that the house slaves were only into black-on-black crime. And since entire gangs weren't being "assigned" (rather than forced against their will) to the plantation kitchen detail, she was assured she had no reason to be afraid of the men. It was tradition, tradition... kind of like Fiddler on the Roof. And longstanding, to further ease her white Northern guilt. Her own white body would remain pristine! But the sight of those big black dudes scared her, nonetheless. There were no prison bars separating them from Hillary Clinton:
"I had defended several clients in criminal cases, but visiting them in jail or sitting next to them in court was not the same as encountering a convicted murderer in the kitchen every morning. I was apprehensive, but I agreed to abide by tradition until I had a chance to see for myself how the inmates behaved around me and my family."
If Hillary Clinton had been elected the first woman president during the Civil War, we would probably still have slavery. She would have "abided by tradition," and never written The Emancipation Proclamation. And if those house slaves of hers had so much as looked at her white family funny, she would have sent them to jail, pronto. Oh, wait.... she did send some of them back to jail when they got too uppity:
"I saw and learned a lot as I got to know them better. We enforced rules strictly and sent back to prison any inmate who broke a rule. I discovered, as I had been told I would, that we had far fewer disciplinary problems with inmates who were in for murder than with those who had committed property crimes. In fact, over the years we lived there, we became very friendly with a few of them, African-American men in their thirties who had already served twelve to eighteen years of their sentences."
 Hillary fancied herself more a liberal Scarlett O'Hara than she ever aspired to walk in the abolitionist shoes of the Grimke sisters. I wonder if the kitchen slaves also helped her lace up her corset after she gorged on their corn pones and hominy grits?  She never does specify exactly what the Clinton Family Rules for Modern Slaves were. I imagine "No Time Theft" had to have been among them, since it is one of the cardinal rules of Walmart, on whose Arkansas board First Lady Hillary then sat.

Hillary's Disciplined Southern Strategy: Enforcing Rules Strictly

  "I found myself wondering what kind of experiences and character traits had led them to participate in the violent and self-destructive acts that landed them in prison. The longer and better I came to know them, the more convinced I became that their crimes were not the result of inferior IQs or an inability to apply moral reasoning. Although they had not finished high school, they seemed to have active and inquisitive minds. Some had whimsy as well as street smarts. They showed sound judgment in solving problems in their work, and they plainly knew the difference between right and wrong."
Hillary, although in her mid-thirties by this time, was only then discovering that not all black convicts are stupid. Why, the few of them who passed muster as her personal slaves were actually smart, even though they were not as educated as herself. The savvy slaves must have figured out how not to just lazily spread the dirt around the floor as they mopped. That is possibly because Hillary forced them to get down on their hands and knees to scrub away Little Chelsea's spilled baby food by hand. Hillary Clinton certainly got what she didn't have to pay for.
"What, I wondered, had caused them to commit a crime that resulted in the loss of another's life? Now that I have read Daniel Coleman's Emotional Intelligence I am better able to understand what back then I could only wonder about."
Miz Hillary has just implicitly admitted that she never directly asked her slaves about their biographies. She just sat silently, vapidly wondering about them as she monitored their job performances from afar, across a mansion room.  

She then goes on to blather about how the convict-slaves got to where they were because they'd failed to harness their emotions, not because of any Jim Crow policies. Her prisoners were totally to blame for their own "impulsive overreactions". They'd apparently responded to perceived threats where none were intended. Without providing even a smidgen of evidence, she calls them "emotional illiterates." To back up her armchair diagnoses, based solely on reading a book or two, she calls upon the pathological wisdom of Attorney General Janet Reno. Those black prisoners simply let their primitive amygdalas get in the way of their cerebral cortices, Clinton smugly surmises from her rarefied perch as First Lady of the Land.

She then goes on to mull over what roles the digestive, cardiovascular and muscular systems of her former slaves had played into their "choices."

If I were recommending books to Hillary Clinton, on the top of my list would be Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner. You might remember what happened to the concern-trolling, clueless white plantation mistress in that classic.

Like any colorblind limousine liberal worth her salt, Hillary settles for both Nature and Nurture to whitewash her conscience as well as systemic American racism. If only her house slaves had had supportive adults to cuddle them in infancy, they never would have landed in prison! Or her mansion kitchen, for that matter!  Clinton fails to mention the draconian "three strikes, you're out" sentencing laws instigated by her husband, and the Clintons' later role in creating the most extreme incarceration rates in the modern world, with more black prisoners locked up than there were slaves during the Civil War. (more free labor for plutocrats!) She fails to mention her role in ending FDR's Aid to Families With Dependent Children and direct cash aid to the poor. She fails to mention that forcing poor black mothers from welfare into low-wage work without subsidized child care tended to severely cut into nurturing cuddle-time for millions of African-American families.

Her solution is not to restore AFDC, but to insert "empathy curricula" into crumbling schools in poor black neighborhoods, to make up for that lost direct maternal care. It hasn't seemed to dawn on Hillary Clinton that conniving with Republicans in the late 90s to "end welfare as we know it" has only ended up severely damaging motherhood as once we knew it.

Nothing has changed, despite her best efforts to pay lip service to the Black Lives Matter movement.  Hillary Clinton is now in full pandering mode to African-Americans, casting herself as the Second Coming of Obama (who himself is the second Third Way coming of Bill Clinton.) Her characterization of the South Carolina Democratic base as little more than a convenient "black firewall" against Bernie Sanders is beginning to show some well-deserved cracks in its neoliberal plantation edifice, however.

I say we preemptively fire Hillary before we even consider giving her the job of her perverse dreams.

Once a Goldwater Girl, always a Goldwater Girl. 

Abide With Me. No Comment Even Necessary


Pearl said...

Bernie Sanders and O'Malley want a $15 federal minimum wage. Hillary Clinton wants $12.

Karen Garcia said...


Are you sure it isn't Minus 12 bucks, to start? At the very least, we must go the way of Walmart and withhold the first week's pay.

Pearl said...

Karen: Thanks for giving us a further picture of who and what Hillary and her husband represent. When critics were bringing up Bill's sexual behavior, that was nothing compared to the things that happened politically under his watch. I hope Bernie will remind us of his record and hers more and I fervently hope that enough people will recognize their immense shortcomings and act accordingly.

Keep up the investigative work Karen,it may make a big difference.

Patricia M. said...

Thank you yet again, Karen. I didn't realize the extent of Ms. Clinton's lack of understanding. I won't use the more obvious word. This is simply breathtaking. I'm surprised that people of color are unaware of her naiveté (I'm being kind), and that this is not more widely known. We should inform Killer Mike.

Pearl said...

Relax, Donald Trump won’t win: Hepburn via @torontostar

Some hopeful news from a columnist in Toronto.

paintedjaguar said...

Oh yes, it's a very longstanding tradition, to be sure. Before there was ever African slavery in the Americas there were bought & sold convict "servants" from Ireland and England. A tradition that's been heartily embraced by corporations that now buy cheap inmate labor from the prison industry.

I'm surprised Hillary didn't have her "boys" dig the swimming pool that she felt she was entitled to at the mansion. And of course it makes perfect Third Way sense that convicts who committed crimes against property would be considered the worst trouble-makers.

Jay–Ottawa said...

You dears are so down on Hillary. We protesters against everything may be on the bottom now, but you just know Bernie will win the prize and lift us up. Time to begin to thinking positively.

Here's how to stop being so cross and snarky when it's no longer necessary. Think big, look forward. It's morning in America. The polls are swinging our way. Don't just stand there, dumbfounded. As Bernie continues to get a firmer grip on the presidency, Jane O'Meara Sanders should start thinking about the color of the curtains in the White House, and we should begin to think hard about staffing Bernie's Cabinet.

Senator Warren, of course, will be drafted right away. Nader for attorney general. We'll have to think harder for other positions. Is there an honest banker in all of America? Not as easy as it appears, is it? Makes you think. Let's post the results in a corner where we can see the cabinet gradually being filled in like a picture puzzle.

The exercise might help Bernie through the primaries, as seeing Bernie in the White House becomes perfectly normal. This is an exercise beyond our worn out Hope. We've already jumped to the next step, which amounts to putting meat on the dream. Such presumption, I'm sorry to say, will great irritate Hillary's supporters.

For Press Secretary: Karen Garcia

You guys and gals work on the rest.

Pearl said...

Brilliant comment to Blow, Karen, and at the very top of the heap. The letters following are a step above anything I have read from the readers of the nytimes for Krugman. Something is really stirring in America and won't be buried. I think Blow's damning with faint praise column has resounded clearly especially for a columnist who should know better, and very very strongly bringing out the real fighters for change who will not disappear.
Hillary's persona is no longer hidden and becomes clearer and clearer as she continues her blind attacks on what Bernie represents. I wonder how many black voters wrote in.
Political life is getting more and more interesting and less lonely for real progressives.

Anonymous said...

Jay: I recently sent an e-mail to Bernie Sanders' headquarters suggesting they consider Tim Canova for his vice president. Tim is challenging Debby Wasserman Schultz's 6 year representative hold in a Florida district and is an impressive, young lawyer who is a younger version of Bernie.
Haven't heard back.

Pearl said...

The above is from Pearl, not anonymous. Wish they would remove that choice when sending in comments.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Yes, Canova, but only after he resoundingly defeats DWS in Florida. Zephyr Teachout, who's now running for Congress in NY, is another bright light for Bernie's cabinet––maybe VP, although she too spent her formative years in Vermont. Bernie––may he live long and prosper––at 74 needs both a woman to balance the ticket, and someone a bit younger (Teachout is 44), for us all to breathe easier.

BTW, how did Bernie do at the Town Hall in Iowa. I couldn't find him on the radio or internet last night.

annenigma said...


I heard it was mostly a stump speech event. I tried watching but lost access at the 10 minute point when CNNgo requires viewers to log on under their tv provider name. Say what? I went online to view it because I DON'T have a tv provider! So I was shut off and turned off.