Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Robot Heckles Bill Clinton on Behalf of Sister Souljah During Iowa Stop

Not everyone was happy to see Bill Clinton in Iowa City Tuesday night. Just as Clinton was about to hit his stride, an unidentified robot heckled the former president, who was playing the surrogate role while stumping for his wife, Hillary Clinton, at the Iowa Memorial Union on the University of Iowa campus.

Dressed as a contemporary robot reminiscent of Gort in the 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (see pic below), the soon-to-be heckler mounted a chair on the media platform as if it was going to snap a picture of Clinton. The chair began to wobble a bit before fellow journalists offered support, not knowing at the time that they were aiding and abetting a future heckler.

Armed with a plastic microphone, the heckler, Mr. Ifobaca (Mad Robots in Favor of Bill Clinton Apologizing), made his demands:

“I want you to apologize to Sister Souljah!”

Trying to maintain his poise, Clinton initially fell into a sophomoric rebuttal: “Look, look into the mirror... ”

Clearly on a premeditated mission, Mr. Ifobaca began throwing dozens of multicolored slips of paper in the air, thus providing Clinton with the opportunity to recapture his wits and respond:

“You need to find a more responsible ways to protest than throwing graffiti around. “You can disagree with me without killing a tree.”

Most of the crowd laughed at Clinton’s quip (not because he said graffiti, when he meant to say confetti), but some were enraged by the disruption and began booing and yelling at Mr. Ifobaca. One woman, clearly a devout Hillraiser gauging by her Hillary flair adorning her blouse and matching jacket, began screaming at Mr. Ifobaca and waving her arms at the robot as if she intended to scratch his eyes out. Mr. Ifobaca, unperturbed by the woman, namely because he was wearing safety goggles for such occasions, was eventually escorted from the platform and ballroom by security.

After Mr. Ifobaca left, a Hillary Clinton team entered the media pit and made a mad scramble for the littered propaganda, making sure all the calling cards were collected before they fell into the wrong hands. The scene was reminiscent of the 1967 Abbie Hoffman stunt in which he and his fellow demonstrators threw fistfuls of dollars (most fake) down to traders on the New York Stock Exchange, some of whom booed, while others scrambled frantically to grab the money as fast as they could.

No charges were pressed against Mr. Ifobaca, who, unmasked, was not Klaatu, but rather Kembrew McLeod -- a tenured professor in the Communication Studies Department at the UI. McLeod, who has published four books on freedom of expression and intellectual property issues, has a documented history of committing pranks on his web site. McLeod is also a documentary filmmaker, including “Money for Nothing: Behind the Business of Pop,” which won the Rosa Luxemburg Award for Social Consciousness at the 2002 New England Film Festival.

McLeod, President of the Iowa Chapter of MR. IFOBCA has been on a mission for the last 15 years in an effort to get Clinton to apologize for “dissing Sister Souljah while happily accepting the honor of being America’s “'first black president,'” as novelist Toni Morrison once put it. In his manifesto, “Why did I bum rush Bill Clinton?,” Kembrew vows to continue sending an army of robots to all future Clinton appearances until he apologizes to Sister Souljah.

Kembrew made do on his vow Monday night, only Clinton did not reciprocate by publicly apologizing to Sister Souljah, the former member of the outspoken hip-hop group Public Enemy, a crew known for its pro-black politics.

Moreover, Kembrew makes the following claim on his manifesto:

The first time I fully realized Bill Clinton was not on the side of racial andsocial justice was after the “Sister Souljah Moment,” as it has come to be known in political circles. In a mean-spirited move—something straight out of Karl Rove’s playbook—Clinton tried to demonize a young Black woman named Sister Souljah by taking something she said out of context. Clinton did this to ingratiate himself with white upper-middle class swing voters during the 1992 presidential campaign, and he portrayed Sister Souljah as a reckless radical who advocated killing white people. This was patently false, and Bill Clinton knew it, but that didn’t stop him from cynically turning her into a sacrificial lamb that helped save his flagging campaign.

With less than a month left before the caucuses, the question remains whether McLeod or one of his robots will pop up on the campaign trail in Iowa.

Mr. Ifobca (alias Kembrew McLeod) is escorted out of the IMU by Clinton staffers, but vows to be back

Originally posted on "Iowa Independent"