Twisted Sister

It’s hard to believe that nearly twenty years have passed since Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash starred in Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High director Amy Heckerling’s riff on Jane Austen’s Emma. Clueless is still remembered as an above-average teen comedy, but Dash’s career has hit the skids since then; her last truly prominent role was playing Kanye West’s materialistic girlfriend in his 2004 video “All Falls Down.”

These days, Dash has remade herself as a far-right pundit who loves to ratchet up the rhetoric against President Obama and weave a narrative of African-Americans being trapped in a Democratic “plantation.” Apparently, Dash’s relatives aren’t too thrilled with her new career as one of the few chocolate chips in the otherwise all-vanilla Fox News:

Stacey Dash, an actress best known for her role in the movie “Clueless” and more recently as a contributor to Fox News, says she is no longer on speaking terms with some family members and friends because they disagree with her conservative political views.

“My family and I have not spoken,” the 47-year-old Dash said in an interview with The Edit.

“My cousin Damon and my brother [Darien] were role models to me because they were great capitalists,” Dash continued. “Now we’re not really talking because they were the ones who told me to keep my mouth shut.”

Damon Dash is a well-known hip hop entrepreneur. Darien Dash is the chief executive of DME Interactive, an internet marketing company.

“They felt that I should do certain things because I’m black,” Dash said in the interview.

I don’t buy for one minute the idea that Dash’s relatives are upset over her status as a conservative Republican; they’re upset because she’s chosen to shuck and jive for Fox News. They’re upset for the same reasons the late progressive writer Steve Gilliard was upset by right-wing pundits such as New York Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Robert George. Gilliard’s observations about George from 2005 are just as accurate with regard to Dash in 2014:

I think you’re an idealist. I think you believe you can be a conservative, and black and treated fairly. Reality, however, means you must constantly prove your loyalty and fidelity to your mentors. The problem is that to do [so], you must constantly belittle and deny the plight of blacks in America, or attack the Democratic Party and the black support they get.

Why is it a mystery that blacks don’t support the GOP? Why do you think none of you people could run in a black electoral district and win? You would be lucky to get 20 percent of the vote and we both know it…If you don’t like being called a house negro or a slave, stop acting like one. Stop chasing after white people who show their contempt for your people openly. Who discuss race as if you’re not in the room…[I]t’s nice to know that you folks admit that your agenda is to betray black people. I mean, you people push vouchers, knowing that they will ultimately go to fund [segregated] academies in the South, you people parrot lines about blacks being dumb and voting Democratic, you people support tax cuts which harm working class people, especially the black working class. You support the end of public housing, so that black people are at the mercy of slumlords.

In November 2005, Gilliard wrote a post entitled “Why I Am Not A Republican.” If Dash had any courage, she’d read it:

One of the basic expectations of a politician, is that they will defend their community. Time and again, the prominent black conservatives refuse to do so. Which is why they have such little support. They also have a habit of depicting other African Americans in negative ways…As far as the Republicans supporting black self-sufficiency, I don’t see [the GOP supporting] an end to redlining and support for insuring businesses in black neighborhoods or ending racial discrimination in housing. Basic, pro-capitalist ideas which the GOP doesn’t support when the people who need them aren’t rich, white businessmen. The Republicans haven’t fought for civil rights in a long, long time. The days of Edward Brooke and Jackie Robinson are long gone…[W]hy should I support a party which opposes much of what will actually benefit black people. GOP policy seems to be designed to hurt the working poor and working class. What do they offer people except a naked appeal to religion and fake patriotism? When people make the flawed argument that one party takes us for granted and the other ignores us, they forget that the other party doesn’t ignore us, they run against us. And [when] people like [black conservative pundits Mychal] Massie and Jesse Lee Peterson trade in the worst anti-black stereotypes for their white patrons, [saying] that blacks are violent and lazy, slandering the millions of hard working poor and working class blacks, do Republicans expect these people to get support? Do they think they can buy a few ministers and then render our critical faculties inert? This is not a debate about policy, because Black Republicans don’t offer policy alternatives. This is a debate about character, one that they fail constantly. They are insulted and degraded in black America because they cannot lead, are greedy and self-serving and expect people to act against their own interest. Sure, they can whine about negative depictions, but much of that is caused by their own lack of character and craven pandering. All they do is run on race, not ideas.

As I read Gilliard’s bold words, I couldn’t help thinking that he would have had a field day going after Dash. Then I realized that in a way, he did.

I don’t blame Dash’s relatives for distancing themselves from her. They’re justifiably upset that she has chosen to align herself with those who regard African-Americans as shiftless, worthless, useless and mindless. By doing so, she has certainly revealed herself to be clueless.


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D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.