Sister Act

So here’s what happened: One starry night in March 1991, a gentleman by the name of Rodney King was pulled over by L.A.’s Finest for DWB, and given instruction in who they were protecting and serving. Unlike other similar tutorials, this one was videotaped for the edification of Our Exceptional Nation, and the parts of Los Angeles you only see on cop shows elected to remonstrate in April 1992 after the officers were acquitted of irrational exuberance. This caught the attention of a young recording artist, who was profiled on the front page of the Washington Post’s Style section soon after. The story is now buried behind a paywall, but all anybody cared about was the photo caption:

Rapper Sister Souljah on the L.A. riots: “I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people? You understand what I’m saying?”

Certainly it was intentionally provocative, but American political discourse doesn’t typically take its cue from the Washington Post Style section. And while it’s difficult at this distance to document what happened next, we suspect that an enterprising radio talk-show host took special interest in the caption: “I began listening to you back in the days of Sister Souljah”, caller Marie in Lubbock told Rush Limbaugh in 2007. Limbaugh had only been broadcasting nationally for four years in 1992, but thanks to his Gulf War cheerleading, his was already the most popular radio show in America.

The Style caption — or, more likely, the ginned-up controversy surrounding it — also interested an itinerant saxophone player with aspirations of bettering himself and his cookie-disparaging better half. And what better opportunity to express his views on the matter than at a party hosted by his friends?

Last weekend Sister Souljah was an invited panelist at a meeting of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. Governor Clinton spoke to the group the next day, and he criticized her. He quoted part of the Post interview and a statement she had made on a music video: “If there are any good white people, I haven’t met them.”

“Her comments before and after Los Angeles,” Mr. Clinton said, “were filled with a kind of hatred that you [the Rainbow Coalition] do not honor.”

And that, Ladies & Gentlemen, is what is known to history as the Sister Souljah Moment: A cynical politician taking advantage of a cynical controversy to cynically distance himself from politically disadvantageous supporters.

And to anybody today who asks why Mitt Romney doesn’t have the balls to do what Bill Clinton did, the answer is simple: Sister Souljah is no Rush Limbaugh.


Pretty much. It’s also the incredibly poor timing. The Rombot hasn’t clinched anything yet.

Programming notice: Super Tuesday open thread at, oh, 6pm ET. Georgia polls close at 7, so Newt gets an hour to celebrate before all his hopes are dashed.

@nojo: Oh good. I’m going home to “work” after I meet with my accountant this afternoon — a guy who likes to say “how much risk are you comfortable with?”

Today, Rush goes after “overeducated single white women.” I posted the names and contact info for the ABQ Hate Radio program director and sales manager on FB. Hope some of my overeducated women friends and their loved ones drop a dime on the monkey*.

* “Program director”, as in “a goddam monkey programs this station” or “a goddamn monkey could program this station better than you.”

@redmanlaw: Tell Jabba the advertisers don’t have his munnie.

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