Friday, May 13, 2011

Newt Gingrich is “Mr. Covey” in Frederick Douglass’ story

Another gem from zizi2:

Gingrich is “Mr. Covey” in Frederick Douglass’ story
Posted by Zizi2 on May 13th, 2011

Aha! I knew that he reminded me of a very familiar slimy character. Newt Gingrich is a replica of Mr. Edward Covey, the pathetic slave breaker in Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. Like Covey, Gingrich is a has-been deluded about his relevance to society. Like Covey, Gingrich is a sadist. Like Covey, Gingrich is a hypocrite and ethically challenged on all fronts. But unlike Covey, Newtie is not gonna be nobody’s slave breaker here. Oh no. Not gonna happen in these United States, in this or any other lifetime!

Newt can scream all the Obama-is-a-Kenyan-anticolonialist-Mau-mau-sympathiser-so –outside-our –comprehension-conman-destroyer-of-America-as-it-has-been-for-the-last-400 years…..blah blah blah all he wants, but he cannot bring PBO down. Neither will he even have the chance to debate the President on any stage, real or imagined.

Douglass fights Covey

Here’s a little historical/literary refresher for those not very familiar with who Covey was: In Chapter X of his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave”, Frederick Douglass recounts the lowest point of his life as a slave, when he was sent to Edward Covey by his master Thomas to be “broken”, because he was considered incorrigible. Covey was a down-on-his-luck white overseer who owned no real slave estate of his own, but fancied himself a mean whip-cracker who could bring any slave to his knees. As Douglass recounts about Covey:

He seldom approached the spot where we were at work openly, if he could do it secretly. He always aimed at taking us by surprise. Such was his cunning, that, we used to call him, among ourselves, “the snake.”

Covey was also well practiced in the black arts of Christian hypocrisy, chanting the loudest devotional pieties, while satisfying his carnal appetites through adultery.

Mr. Covey’s FORTE consisted in his power to deceive. His life was devoted to planning and perpetrating the grossest deceptions. Every thing he possessed in the shape of learning or religion, he made conform to his disposition to deceive. He seemed to think himself equal to deceiving the Almighty. He would make a short prayer in the morning, and a long prayer at night; and, strange as it may seem, few men would at times appear more devotional than he…, I do verily believe that he sometimes deceived himself into the solemn belief, that he was a sincere worshiper of the most high God; and this, too, at a time when he may be said to have been guilty of compelling his woman slave to commit the sin of adultery

Douglass’ description of his sojourn with Covey is embroidered with all the imaginable literary flourishes of an adrenaline pumping and testosterone oozing heroic tale. Of course, since all we have is Douglass’ version of the story, no wonder he seizes all the poetic license he can find to fashion Covey into a giant literary piñata, a perfectly vile vessel to freight the final existential showdown between good and evil. As Douglass states it “you saw how a man was made a beast. Now you will see how a beast was made a man.” Covey provides Douglass with the perfect foil to slo-mo (slow motion)through one of the heightened mano-a-mano, edge-of-your-seat, veins popping, sweat-beading climatic moments in the American Slave Narrative genre.

My resistance was so entirely unexpected that Covey seemed taken all aback. He trembled like a leaf. This gave me assurance, and I held him uneasy, causing the blood to run where I touched him with the ends of my fingers. Mr. Covey soon called out to Hughes for help. Hughes came, and, while Covey held me, attempted to tie my right hand. While he was in the act of doing so, I watched my chance, and gave him a heavy kick close under the ribs…. his courage quailed. He asked me if I meant to persist in my resistance. I told him I did, come what might; that he had used me like a brute for six months, and that I was determined to be used so no longer. … I seized him with both hands by his collar, and brought him by a sudden snatch to the ground. ..Bill came….Covey said, “Take hold of him, take hold of him!” Bill…left Covey and myself to fight our own battle out.. Covey at length let me go… saying that if I had not resisted, he would not have whipped me half so much. The truth was, that he had not whipped me at all. I considered him as getting entirely the worst end of the bargain; for he had drawn no blood from me, but I had from him.

The terms of the relationship with Covey are critical to understanding the dynamics of what Douglass did to break both physical and psychological chains that the weasel tried to crush him with. First, it was significant that Covey DID NOT OWN Douglass. The absence of the slaveowner/property equation meant that try as he might Covey could not legally “thingify” Douglass. Covey could not sell him or kill him. Covey had the slave-breaker’s whip but he did not have POWER over Douglass’ life. He could not fetter Douglass’ yearning to reclaim his manhood. In the fight, both men were stripped to their raw primal essence and Covey is revealed for the coward that he is. For Douglass, that battle with Covey was “the turning point “ in his life as a slave. He recalls how it:

It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom…My long-crushed spirit rose, cowardice departed, bold defiance took its place; and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact. I did not hesitate to let it be known of me, that the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me.

The moral to this story is that we have encountered demagogues like Newtie before. African American forbears fought them and won that fight against all odds. Gingrich can fantasize all he want about returning this country to some fangled 17th century nirvana in his loopy imagination, nobody here, least of all President Obama, is remotely about to kowtow to him. Of course that doesn’t stop him from imagining himself some slave breaker ready to take on the one he calls the “con-man” in the White House. He’s turned into a perverse Don Quixote tilting at the windmills. So where Trump spectacularly failed, Gingrich thinks he can pick up the dog-whistle and run with it on a blitzkrieg lit with his phony academic mumbo jumbo, acrid ethics and loud mouth.

That Gingrich fancies himself to be an “intellectual” anchor in the conservative movement is more than laughable. And it says a lot about those whom he bamboozles than it does about him. Watch the exchange between Chris Matthews and Politico”s Jennifer on the Hardball last night, to see how those supposed to be journalists get hoodwinked by Gingrich’s pseudo-intellectualism.

He is nothing but a two-bit carnival barker with a Ph.D, having written a dissertation defending Belgian colonial policies in the Belgian Congo (which is the Democratic republic of Congo today). Now, for anyone to find any merit in the colonial administration of King Leopold’s brutal rubber kingdom in the Belgian Congo, is morally frightening, let alone intellectually defensible. So I took the trouble to pull up the full text of his 1971 dissertation titled Belgian Education Policy in the Congo on the Proquest UMI electronic archives (available if you have access to Proquest academic databases).

Even by whatever academic standards that existed in 1971, this was just bad scholarship, and a freight car for the seeds of his wingnut ideology. How does one write a 308 page dissertation about Belgian colonial education policy, draw conclusions about how beneficial it was, and not talk to a single Congolese who directly or indirectly experienced said benevolent education? On the mechanics of dissertation writing, this is a dissertation that has no information about research methodology, nothing about where and how information was gathered, and a supervisor signed off on it? In 1971, these were all essential to crafting an acceptable dissertation. The supervisors who signed off on this work ought to be mocked to no end.

In the text itself, Gingrich emerges as nothing but a dyed in the wool apologist for colonial rule; i.e Europeans as civilizers. He writes:

Within the beliefs of twentieth century American liberalism, European colonialism is an unacceptable political policy. But what did it mean to the natives? Did colonial powers perform a painful but positive function in disrupting traditional society and so paving the way for more rapid modernization? Even if they did was the price of colonial exploitation too high?…Belgian colonialism left Congo with a solid infrastructure…but a pathetically inadequate leadership cadre…Furthermore, understanding the Congolese heritage is a task that requires the participation of European as well as African historians.(3)

But of course Gingrich does not cite a single contemporary African historian nor Congolese Education policymaker. The dissertation’s stated aim to “shed light” on “societal development in the Congo under Belgian rule” does nothing of the sort. What thrilled him was that the Belgians’ “centralized their colonial government more than the British and French” and that the “result was a colonial system more methodical” the result of which:

“was a solidly built, carefully packaged, system of government that was regarded as a model of colonial administration until it disintegrated in 1960…a model of technocratic government. It analysed and planned for Congolese economic development with a thoroughness that virtually none of the now independent African states can match”

Gingrich states without questioning, that European colonialism is derived from the logic of Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” a feature of what he called “the Darwinian calculus” that automatically propelled a “seemingly universal movement among Caucasian nations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries”, whose political discourse was being driven by the belief in a “white world racial supremacy and national expansion” as a new Law of survival. See, in order to thrive, white folks just had to subjugate other peoples. Kinda like breathing. It just happened. Laws of nature and all that. No surprise that he would parrot Dinesh D’Souza’s diatribe about President Obama possessing anti-colonialist Mau Mau sympathies. For Gingrich colonial rule was a benevolent need, if not necessary evil., to “civilize” Africans.

This is a pathetic swan parade that Gingrich is currently on. His world is coming to a crashing fizzle demographically, culturally, symbolically, and there is nothing he can do about it. So he is riding a wave of self-pumped hot air to grab cash from the rubes like a bandit. The louder he squeals, the deeper his assured failure. His screech is this:

“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [his grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.”

In spite of his political failures his megalomania knows no bound. In a 1989 Washington Post interview, he rationalized his boorish behavior towards his second wife in these words: “It’s not even that it matters to me. It’s just the habit of dominance, the habit of being the center of my staff and the center of the news media.” To top that he recently claimed that his super duper ultra-patriotism made him cheat on his wife:

“There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”

Hey psst, Newtie, let me join the already loud and growing chorus to tell you: fugeddaboutit. You ain’t EVER EVER EVER going to be President of these United States. Take that to the bank! Jim Crow is dead. That ship real and metaphorical has long since sailed. We ain’t going back.

Frederick Douglass fights for his humanity


You nailed him.

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