Join 3,366 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Come here boy, and let me rub your head.
March 10, 2004 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Charges of racism have been leveled against this president in the past. But this stunt even surprised me. Then I remembered a similar scene on the Capital steps. There hasn't been much media about it, so I'm wondering...is this a regional racism, such that it slid under the radar of the east and west coast news machines, or has the myth of rubbing the head of a black man for luck thankfully faded from the cultural unconscious?
posted by dejah420 (65 comments total)

 
You know, if you posted this FPP as an example of how silly Bush makes himself look I'd be right behind you giggling. I'm struggling to see this as racist just because the guy's black. I've never heard the myth you mentioned ever, at any point in my life. This was Bush being stupid, not Bush being racist.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:17 PM on March 10, 2004


has the myth of rubbing the head of a black man for luck thankfully faded from the cultural unconscious?

First time I've heard of it specifically related to a black man.

(Oh, and I wouldn't suggest doing a Google search for "rubbing the head of a black man" without the quotes if you're at work.)
posted by Cyrano at 2:19 PM on March 10, 2004


Pategate? More likely Bush was ribbing the guy about being bald, he seems to enjoy that kind of thing.
posted by crunchburger at 2:22 PM on March 10, 2004


Is it now official U.S. policy that the President must get in trouble for putting his hands on the back of someone's head?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:24 PM on March 10, 2004


It's baldness that counts in that bit of superstition, not the color of the baldness.

So says the bald white guy who's had that line used on him a few times, which is a good thing when it's a hot chick doing it but wouldn't be so good if it were Dubya.
posted by Foosnark at 2:28 PM on March 10, 2004


Right, Foosnark, it's baldness, not blackness. I'm familiar with that superstition, um, not personally.
posted by pyramid termite at 2:31 PM on March 10, 2004


Could you tell us more about the myth you're referring to, Dejah420? I've certainly never heard of it, and googling "black man head rub" turns up lots of gay porn.
posted by 4easypayments at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2004


Don't be silly -- it's rubbing bald heads that brings luck.
posted by Tubes at 2:36 PM on March 10, 2004


As a bald white guy under 6'6", I can vouch for this. My head gets rubbed "for luck" all the time. (It's fun when pretty women do it. Middle aged creepy guys, not so much.)

I just hope, for the acting Secretary's sake, that the President's hands were clean.
posted by chicobangs at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2004


(Oops, damn interruptions at work make me post late.)
posted by Tubes at 2:38 PM on March 10, 2004


I used to shave my head during summer vacation and my dad would often insist on rubbing my head for good luck. I'm not black, but there weren't a lot of black people in my exurban Minnesota town, so maybe that was the next best thing?
posted by subgenius at 2:40 PM on March 10, 2004


Moronic post.
posted by dhoyt at 2:40 PM on March 10, 2004


Worst. Conspiracy. Theory. Ever.
posted by me3dia at 2:42 PM on March 10, 2004


That picture still looks somehow wrong, though, regardless.
posted by chicobangs at 2:46 PM on March 10, 2004


For pity's sake people, I've heard of the myth that dejah relates and I live about as far outside of the cultural mainstream as you can get (save maybe Canada). Didn't any of you ever watch Disney's "Song of the South"? (Before they buried it deeply in their vault of shame.)

That having been asked, I think this is an example of Bush being his usual condescening, superstitious and idiotic self. Yup, that's the professional calibre of respect I want from my President yessiree, JimBob.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:46 PM on March 10, 2004


What is it with black people?
posted by xmutex at 2:46 PM on March 10, 2004


You think this is bad? Five minutes later, Laura Bush offered the guy a nickel to "come in heah and bust up that chiffarobe."
posted by stonerose at 2:48 PM on March 10, 2004


Actually, I have heard of this superstition before. Supposedly, in the old rural south, patting a African American child on the head would bring you luck. No idea why and I can't seem to find a reference to it without wading through a whole lotta porn. But I have heard this before.

And as a side note, in many cultures, touching someone else's head - especially that of a child - is considered a HUGE faux pas and opens them up to bad luck.
posted by evilcupcakes at 2:53 PM on March 10, 2004


Stonerose: Thank you. Your usage of the word chiffarobe made my entire afternoon.
posted by ao4047 at 2:54 PM on March 10, 2004


As posts like this become more common, it's amazing people can still muster the strength to be get so indignant when MeFi is accused of slouching toward a Democratic-Undergroundesque level of laziness and vapidity.
posted by dhoyt at 2:56 PM on March 10, 2004


oh shut up.
posted by crunchland at 2:58 PM on March 10, 2004


It's weird how "chiffarobe" is not on dictionary.com or bartleby.com
but it is in urbandictionary.com (where I usually have to go to look up things like "fo shizzle" and stuff)
posted by milovoo at 3:00 PM on March 10, 2004


I remember hearing this myth a long time ago, growing up in rural central Texas, but I haven't heard or seen a mention of it in a long, long time.

Much as I dislike Bush, I think this is a non-starter.
posted by RylandDotNet at 3:07 PM on March 10, 2004


What's weirder, milovoo, is what comes from googling for bush powell chiffarobe. You don't suppose Bush has Powell chained up in the (ahem) "White" House basement making furniture...do you?

[stonerose curtseys to ao4047 and tilts mint julep in his direction]
posted by stonerose at 3:08 PM on March 10, 2004


Also "rubbing a black child's head"

It is a meme, just not a very recent or popular one - must be pre-internet.
posted by milovoo at 3:08 PM on March 10, 2004


Yeah, dhoyt, look at all the lefty speak in here. It boggles the mind.

I have heard this superstition (and for those of you googling it for more details, there are no more details -- rubbing a black boy's head is good luck), but I think that this is quite the reach.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 3:12 PM on March 10, 2004


laziness and vapidity....

...oh shut up

Thanks for illustrating my point.
posted by dhoyt at 3:13 PM on March 10, 2004


As cowardice becomes more common, it's really not so amazing people can still muster the laziness and vapidity to criticize people in threads in which they're not even participating. right dhoyt?

Oh, and head rubbing:

Lemmee Rub Your Head, Boy

Lemmee Rub Your Head, Boy

Lemmee Rub Your Head, Boy
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2004


This is a clear case of baldism.
posted by chaz at 3:35 PM on March 10, 2004


Are you sure you're not thinking of leprechauns?
posted by Daze at 3:37 PM on March 10, 2004


Right, right, everyone's a hypocrite, everyone's a "coward", ad infinitum. Thanks for playing that one monotonous note again and again, foldybot. Always fresh and insightful.

All I'm saying is that even though the racist tradition of rubbing a black man's head exists/existed, so does now the tradition of rubbing ANYONE'S head for good luck, namely the bald. The point is none of us here has a fucking shred of evidence that it was Bush's intention, and I don't say that as any kind of Bush supporter. Aren't there are great number of other more important things to criticize Bush for--the kinds of things for which we have, you know, evidence?
posted by dhoyt at 3:39 PM on March 10, 2004


If he keeps on rubbing black men's heads, maybe he'll get over his hangup about gay marriage.
posted by digaman at 3:42 PM on March 10, 2004


Well, I've heard the 'bald' thing, but not the 'black' thing. Keep in mind Bush grew up in the Northeast, not texas, and didn't move there untill he was an adult.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on March 10, 2004


In a way, it's good to see that common racist "knowledge" has been forgotten so utterly and quickly. I'd venture to guess that anyone over the age of 40 has heard of the myth, though. But I wouldn't be surprised if Bush didn't know it, and was unaware that his otherwise innocent show of affection for his Secretary could be construed as anything but.
posted by crunchland at 3:48 PM on March 10, 2004


Oh stop it - it's about the baldness. When Ari Fleischer told Bush he was quitting, Shrub kissed him on the top of his balding head. Methinks Shrub has a baldness fetish, not racism against blacks...
posted by twsf at 3:49 PM on March 10, 2004


I thought you got good luck from rubbing some fat, American Taliban member's belly.
posted by monkeyman at 3:59 PM on March 10, 2004


"When Ari Fleischer told Bush he was quitting, Shrub kissed him on the top of his balding head. Methinks Shrub has a baldness fetish..."

Either that, or he's gay.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:03 PM on March 10, 2004


All I'm saying is that even though the racist tradition of rubbing a black man's head exists/existed, so does now the tradition of rubbing ANYONE'S head for good luck, namely the bald. The point is none of us here has a fucking shred of evidence that it was Bush's intention, and I don't say that as any kind of Bush supporter.

No, you're an apologist. I agree that this may not have been racist, but it's in poor taste none the less. It shows the President as being aa arrogant fuck who condescends against anything that will bring him fortune, regardless of how stupid it might be. Yes, this was unworthy of the elitist Metafilter cabal, and yes, it is a non-starter. But the fact that there are fools here willing to defend the ignorance of GW is amusing nonetheless.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:07 PM on March 10, 2004


What about rubbing a black man's... you know... ?
posted by xmutex at 4:14 PM on March 10, 2004


It is a vast right wing conspiracy to deflect attention from the real issues, to something more innocuous such as 'Does Bush like rubbing bald heads?'
posted by canucklehead at 4:21 PM on March 10, 2004


as another apologist let me say that your desparate attempts to latch onto ANY fucking story is drearily pathetic and makes you all look like a bunch of mindless sheep. when you're not attacking the person who questions your motives you're making juvenile jokes. i wonder what the discourse would be if this same post was pointing the finger at kerry or any other liberal, but please don't let this stop you all from demonizing this apologist and others who question the validity in this post.

hypocrits.
posted by poopy at 4:24 PM on March 10, 2004


damn straight poopy. My previous comment may have been too oblique, so I will be direct now and say that this post is profoundly stupid.
posted by monkeyman at 4:35 PM on March 10, 2004


It's weird how "chiffarobe" is not on dictionary.com or bartleby.com

Milovoo: come in heah and bust up that chiffarobe." is a reference to To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is what the white trash girl uses as enticement to her alleged rapist.

Stonerose: That was wicked funny.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:39 PM on March 10, 2004


As a balding man, this kind of insult to my kind guarantees that Bush will not be receiving my vote in November!


[not like he would have gotten it anyways, but still, lets get Karl Rove to sweat a little]

Bald people of the world, unite!
posted by Stynxno at 4:46 PM on March 10, 2004


Yup, that's the professional calibre of respect I want from my President yessiree, JimBob.

Is that a nomination? I'm not sure if I can run, I wasn't born in the US, dagnabbit. Thanks for your vote of confidence, though!
posted by Jimbob at 5:06 PM on March 10, 2004


If you poke me in the tummy (like Poppin' Fresh, I will emit a cute giggle and grant you three wishes.
posted by davidmsc at 5:51 PM on March 10, 2004


Has anybody counted up the number of posts calling Bush a racist versus the number of posts crying about other people calling Bush a racist?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:03 PM on March 10, 2004


I will emit a cute giggle and grant you three wishes.

1. vote for Kerry
2. be maid of honor at my gay wedding
3. buy a Prius

(excuse my cute giggle.)
posted by stonerose at 6:36 PM on March 10, 2004


1. No.
2. Sure - why not?
3. OK - but only so that I can park it in the cargo-bay of my wife's monstrous SUV.

;-)
posted by davidmsc at 7:26 PM on March 10, 2004


as another apologist let me say that your desparate attempts to latch onto ANY fucking story is drearily pathetic and makes you all look like a bunch of mindless sheep. when you're not attacking the person who questions your motives you're making juvenile jokes. i wonder what the discourse would be if this same post was pointing the finger at kerry or any other liberal, but please don't let this stop you all from demonizing this apologist and others who question the validity in this post.

Arrogant fuck, aren't you? Nobody here tried to support the idea of Bush as a Racist. Many pointed to the obvious idea that his actions portrayed, and the posting thereof, were pretty lame. But, no, you're just the man to stick your dick out there and see who will back onto it. You just insulted an entire website, and then offered the lamest possible justification thereof, you twit. But don't let me get in the way of your self-rightious masturbation. That would be liberal, and hence, obviously bad.

Quit taking yourself so seriously, poopy, cause I guarentee that the rest of us (right or left) won't.

And Jimbob, if you're runnin' then post your platform. You may get more votes than you think.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:31 PM on March 10, 2004


Wulfgar!, you're absolutely correct. i should be ashamed of myself and i'm publicly apologizing. bend me over at your convenience.
posted by poopy at 7:40 PM on March 10, 2004


Arrogant fuck, aren't you?

you're just the man to stick your dick out there

you twit


Wulfgar: seek help.
posted by dhoyt at 8:35 PM on March 10, 2004


I had my hair cropped extremely close (skin't, as they say in Alabama) most of my childhood, and people were always rubbing on my head for good luck. I am not black. Just sayin'. You may now resume your all-anal axxxion.
posted by sklero at 8:43 PM on March 10, 2004


Nobody here tried to support the idea of Bush as a Racist.

Nobody but dejah420 and fold and mutilate, but that's only like 5 or 6% of the posters here. So if you round to the nearest multiple of 100, that's like nobody.
posted by shoos at 8:51 PM on March 10, 2004


Damn. At this rate, Bush will *never* get to be the second black president.
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:11 PM on March 10, 2004


Somewhere Benny Hill is laughing in his grave.
posted by CrazyJub at 9:12 PM on March 10, 2004


"The point is none of us here has a fucking shred of evidence that it was Bush's intention, and I don't say that as any kind of Bush supporter. Aren't there are great number of other more important things to criticize Bush for--the kinds of things for which we have, you know, evidence?..." - well...."When talking with Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, 71, Bush surprisingly asked: "Do you have Blacks too?" Ms. Rice noticed how stunned and surprised Cardoso looked and quickly told Bush that Brazil likely has more blacks than the US and that outside of Africa it was the place with the highest number of blacks." - I'm not calling Bush racist. Draw your own conclusions from this incident.
posted by troutfishing at 9:23 PM on March 10, 2004


dhoyt, I don't need help. 'Got MetaFilter. More addictive than crack, dontcha know?

And poopy, the point is, ain't no one here wants to see you go goatse, so why do you try so hard to do so by playing the gaping rectum? 'Just askin...
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:26 PM on March 10, 2004


The best part about threads such as this one is that they often show without doubt just how loony those on the fringe actually are.

~wink~
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:29 PM on March 10, 2004


I'm not calling Bush racist. Draw your own conclusions from this incident.

The conclusion is that Bush is much more ignorant than he is racist. For all I know, Bush is racist. But these aren't signs of malicious racism.

If the Brazil incident was any form of racism, it was a passive form- more a display of cultural disinterest than hatred of a race. Compare this to, say, Trent Lott's Thurmond speeches- the two aren't really comparable in malice, as one is a person acknowledging their own lack of knowledge about race, wheras the other is someone expressing how much better the country would be if the Segregationist Platform won in 1948. The level of malice is different.

Richard Nixon talking about blacks being a lazy, inferior race is racism. Bush rubbing a guy's head and not knowing Brazil had black people is being a doofus. How you measure the severity of each is your own call.

Personally, I think labelling the daily acts of stupidity on behalf of Bush demeans the severity of the intentional malice of people like Lott and Nixon. As such I think looking for ways like this to be offended demean the times when we really should be.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:44 PM on March 10, 2004


Claim: American president George Bush asked Brazilian president Fernando Cardoso if "Brazil has blacks, too."

Status: Undetermined.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:28 PM on March 10, 2004


me_crash_davis - why so testy? Yes, it could be a political hatchet job, but Brazil is/was the underdog in this power relation (especially so in 2002). The motive seems lacking.

Snopes seems to have amended their original take on the matter following a bit of fact checking by Tom Tomorrow, and Snopes did not see fit to mention the actual source himself :"the item actually came from an April 28 column by Fernando Pedreira, former executive editor and now columnist for the Estado Sao Paulo, a respected paper in Brazil. The column is headlined "An Overwhelming Ignorance."

Pedreira is very close to Cardoso, who had named him the country's ambassador to UNESCO. Meanwhile, Cardoso is said to have mentioned his chats with Bush while he was on a weekend with some close friends recently in Rio."


In other words, the quote came from a rather highly placed source.

But, as I said, it could be mere rumour - so Snopes was right on the "undetermined" call.
posted by troutfishing at 11:53 PM on March 10, 2004


so then, let me get this straight wulfy. i insulted an entire website and then came up with lame justifications for doing so. this is what you're saying?

to repeat dhyot:

As posts like this become more common, it's amazing people can still muster the strength to be get so indignant when MeFi is accused of slouching toward a Democratic-Undergroundesque level of laziness and vapidity.

so, if i may wulfmeister, let me add to the insulting of this website by informing you that you smell funny.
posted by poopy at 4:49 AM on March 11, 2004


Just tossing this in - as a southerner/Texan I have indeed heard the "touch a black person's head for luck" hooha. And I'm not proud of knowing this. I didn't read it from a book - I actually heard it from others. It still exists, sorry to say - mostly among older folk and/or in rural areas. And like Bush I was educated in states mostly outside Texas, and only lived there after I was an adult. (Unlike Bush I've had relatives there for generations.)

The good ol boys that Bush tended to hang out with in his Texas days - well, let me just guess that that's where he might have heard it. This kind of stuff is still in circulation, folks.

Of course we have no idea if that's really what was in Bush's brain in this incident. And I don't think that it's part of a racist trend - with Bush I'm afraid I lean more towards clueless of its implications. Or that's what the charitable person in me says.

BTW I've never heard the "rub the bald person's head for luck."
posted by batgrlHG at 9:46 AM on March 11, 2004


nope, i'm bald, and i've never heard "rub the bald person's head for luck" either, although some women kind of like it. ;)

fold_and_mutilate came up with three valid references (which probably wasn't that easy amidst all of the "head" porn). i was also aware of the racist superstition, growing up in Detroit and Louisville, Ky.

there's no way to know the president's motives, of course. it's still an embarrassing gaffe (the latest in a long line).
posted by mrgrimm at 4:17 PM on March 11, 2004


« Older Rasterbator...  |  Libraries? Sports? Music Progr... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments