Join 3,411 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Now they are the same thing
April 15, 2014 10:22 AM   Subscribe

The Color Of His Presidency
A few weeks ago, the liberal comedian Bill Maher and conservative strategist and pundit Bill Kristol had a brief spat on Maher’s HBO show, putatively over what instigated the tea party but ultimately over the psychic wound that has divided red America and blue America in the Obama years. The rise of the tea party, explained Maher in a let’s-get-real moment, closing his eyes for a second the way one does when saying something everybody knows but nobody wants to say, “was about a black president.” Both Maher and Kristol carry themselves with a weary cynicism that allows them to jovially spar with ideological rivals, but all of a sudden they both grew earnest and angry. Kristol interjected, shouting, “That’s bullshit! That is total bullshit!” After momentarily sputtering, Kristol recovered his calm, but his rare indignation remained, and there was no trace of the smirk he usually wears to distance himself slightly from his talking points. He almost pleaded to Maher, “Even you don’t believe that!” “I totally believe that,” Maher responded, which is no doubt true, because every Obama supporter believes deep down, or sometimes right on the surface, that the furious opposition marshaled against the first black president is a reaction to his race. Likewise, every Obama opponent believes with equal fervor that this is not only false but a smear concocted willfully to silence them.

Jon Chait's article (print version) for New York Magazine has recieved some attention.
Salon: Jonathan Chait’s epic race fail: How a story about racism and Obama goes horribly wrong
Though Chait acknowledges that appeals to white racism have undergirded the modern Republican Party since the civil rights era, he insists liberals are bullies who refuse to “acknowledge that the ability to label a person racist represents, in 21st-century America, real and frequently terrifying power.” He singles out MSNBC for special scorn (full disclosure: I’m a contributor there), while never once mentioning Fox by name. “MSNBC has spent the entire Obama presidency engaged in a nearly nonstop ideological stop-and-frisk operation,” Chait writes.

See what he did with that “stop-and-frisk” reference? In case you’ve missed it, police departments in some cities have been accused of infringing the civil rights of blacks and Latinos by physically stopping them, and invasively frisking them, with little and sometimes no evidence of wrongdoing. It’s kind of a big deal to civil rights liberals, of every race. So Chait tweaks them by accusing MSNBC of stopping and frisking conservatives “ideologically” – as in metaphorically and without consequence, which technically means not stopping and frisking them at all.

If you liked that comparison, you’re going to love the whole piece.
Slate: Jonathan Chait’s look at race during the Obama era is missing one thing: black Americans.
If I were outlining a racial history of the Obama administration, it would begin with policy: A housing collapse that destroyed black Americans’ wealth; a health care law attacked as “reparations” and crippled by a neo-Calhounite doctrine of “state sovereignty”; a broad assault on voting rights and access to the polls, concentrated in the states of the former Confederacy. Indeed, it would focus on the deep irony of the Obama era: That the first black president has presided over a declining status quo for many black Americans.

In short, it would treat race as a real force in public life that has real consequences for real people.

You should contrast this with Jonathan Chait’s most recent feature for New York magazine, where the story of race in the Obama administration is a story of mutual grievance between Americans on the left and right, with little interest in the lived experiences of racism from black Americans and other people of color.
New York Magazine: Obama, Racism, and the Presumption of Innocence outlines many responses to Chait's piece, and his own responses to them.
A huge proportion of these intra-left debates concern establishing the boundaries of precisely when and how one liberal can fairly accuse another of racism. When it comes to making such accusations against conservatives, do liberals have any evidentiary standards at all? Reading the liberal objections to my piece, I fail to detect any.
Why Obama's Presidency Has To Be All About Race Now
So the left is doing what they always do when their policies fail: make everything about race, instead. If the Obama presidency itself is what’s failing, then his whole presidency—the one that was supposed to usher in a post-racial era—must be all about race, too.

Hence a long article by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine informing us that yes, Obama’s term in office was really about race all along: “if you…set out to write a social history of the Obama years, one that captured the day-to-day experience of political life, you would find that race has saturated everything as perhaps never before.”
National Review: Liberals Are Playing a Losing Game on Race - "Some of them know their accusations are overstated, and their rhetoric could cost them politically."
Shouting “racism” in a crowded media has poisoned our political conversations and become a substitute for thought. Liberals hated such name-calling in the 1950s when some conservatives, such as the John Birch Society and other groups, smeared people they disagreed with as Communists. Now they can’t wait to label as racist conservatives such as Paul Ryan who point out (just as Democrats such as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan — and, yes, Barack Obama — have done) that poor cultural habits can play a role in perpetuating poverty in many inner cities.

Jonathan Chait, a columnist for New York magazine, is a staunch liberal but a thoughtful one. In a long essay in this week’s issue, he mournfully notes that race has “saturated” our political discourse
Salon: Watch Melissa Harris-Perry and Jonathan Chait’s edgy debate on politics and race - "The New York Magazine writer joined the MSNBC host to talk about his divisive piece on race in the Obama era"

Jim DeMint, Jonathan Chait and the still-raging Civil War “debate” - "When the Heritage Foundation head can’t even admit it took "big government" to end slavery, we have a race problem"

Washington Monthly: About That Ubiquitous Atwater Rosetta Stone Confession
When Chait refers to this quote as “the ubiquitous Atwater Rosetta-stone confession,” it’s meant to be dismissive. He uses “ubiquitous” to mean that the quote is over-referenced, and he uses “Rosetta-Stone” sarcastically to argue that you can’t actually translate every conservative belief into a form of abstract racism. And he follows this up by flat-out refuting the main thrust of what Atwater confessed to:
Politics is Professional Wrestling: New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait Reveals White Racist Conservatives Are Now 'Victims' of Anti-Racism's 'Terrifying Power' in the Age of Obama
As in professional wrestling, there is a natural ebb and flow to a feud. Chait and Coates's "program" reached a climax this week with the latter appearing on the Sunday morning edition of Melissa Harris-Perry's essential MSNBC program.

Unfortunately, Chait was unable to be on Melissa Harris-Perry's show with Ta-Nehisi Coates.

A great feud also has falling action and closure--in wrestling parlance this is called the "blow off" match.
The New Republic predicts the future: The Obama-Era Race Wars Are Ending. Get Ready For the Clinton-Era Gender Wars.
posted by the man of twists and turns (194 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Not racist but #1 with racists."
posted by LastOfHisKind at 10:27 AM on April 15 [56 favorites]


Oh no the terrifying power of being able to call someone a racist when they are a racist, or call what they say racist when they say something racist. Won't someone stop me before I take over the world.

The back-and-forth between Chait and Ta-Nehisi Coates has been fascinating to watch and I have no idea how Chait hasn't just died of embarrassment by now.
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on April 15 [45 favorites]


The Tea Party movement was a mainstreamed leftover of the energy from Ron Paul's primary candidacy in 2008 that focused on stealing congressional seats from other Republicans in 2010. Maybe it's changed, but it was originally focused on problems within the Republican party.
posted by michaelh at 10:32 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Liberals hated such name-calling in the 1950s when some conservatives, such as the John Birch Society and other groups, smeared people they disagreed with as Communists.
This boggles the mind.

I mean, American liberals are categorically not communists, and they weren't in the 1950's either. Communist is a category you can either belong to or not belong to, and the reason liberals were bothered about being "smeared" in this way is that they did NOT belong to the category of communists.

American conservatives actually are racist, on many easily proven occasions.
posted by Sara C. at 10:35 AM on April 15 [64 favorites]


As with the Mozilla debacle, all conservatives needed to do here is send in a conservative who is gay, or black, or female, and prep them with talking points that blame the same marginalized groups for the societal ills that conservatives perpetuate through legislative and judicial activism that, say, initiates gerrymandering, takes away the vote, denies women equal pay and GLBT the right to employment and equal protections. When these talking points come out of the mouths of marginalized pundits, blaming and shaming the victims for the crimes done to them all sounds like good, old-fashioned and reasonable common sense to the viewing audience.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:36 AM on April 15 [10 favorites]


“I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”


To whatever extent that is true, Ron Paul is a noted Anti-Semite and White Supremacist.
“I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.”

"[Liberals] want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare,”

- Ron Paul 10/1992
Racist as hell in thought, word, and deed. Modern conservatism has deep roots in it and the Tea Party has concentrated and refined that racism until permeates ever facet of the movement.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:36 AM on April 15 [54 favorites]


I think if you look into the grass roots beginning of the "Tea Party" it was not fundamentally racist, it was about libertarian idealism and undoing the New Deal. #1 with racists, yes.
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:37 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


The thing about this is that Bill Maher isn't even particularly liberal. He's a libertarian hipster who only stopped cheerleading for Ron Paul when he noticed other people doing it.

To extrapolate from that to all liberals is dumb.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:37 AM on April 15 [27 favorites]


I'm not a supporter of Mr. Obama, but it should be obvious even to the dimmest of the dim that racism is a big if not the biggest driving force behind the right's hatred of him.

It's appalling. it's unfair, it's unethical, but worse, it means substantive issues simply cannot be discussed; indeed I often find myself supporting Mr. Obama in dialogs where I feel that his performance has been distinctly sub-optimal, but where I cannot bring myself to be on the "the President is an ignorant [person of color]" side.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:37 AM on April 15 [23 favorites]


Bill Kristol's definition of racism is not like our Earth definition.
posted by kewb at 10:42 AM on April 15


What did Coates say?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:42 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


It's not liberals' fault that a principled small government stance has been muddled with an anti-black small government stance, because conservatives are ones who deliberately and carefully muddled them (e.g. welfare queens, young bucks, Willie Horton, the scourge of voter fraud, "inner city culture").
posted by goethean at 10:43 AM on April 15 [59 favorites]


Meanwhile, the same 1% who actually call the shots laugh and laugh and laugh, from a giant comfy pile of our money.

This! About 2 years into every Presidency we start to see the various guesses at who is going to run next - i.e. the media starts to gin conservatives, liberals, centrists, etc. etc. up with the hot button issues that will tug at their emotional center. The media has this down to an art, because after all, the media is a business. Getting citizens all ginned up with finger-pointing, race-baiting, blame, class-warfare...you name it it good for business. It's good for advertising revenue!

After all, didn't we just see a SCOTUS decision that will essentially result in a full turn of the money-spigot directed at mass media coffers, no matter what their particular bias?

Sure, there was/is racism in America. Yes, race played a big role (in both directions) with the Obama win. Yes, Hillary will be the subject of gender-based bias if she decides to run (that even happened in the 2008 primary, amongst liberals).

I just hope we find a way to debate issues, but I doubt that will end up being the case. There is too much outside money betting on a winner, and that money will control the tenor of the campaign. The stakes are high, so the most well-heeled bidders will have even more impact than elections prior to 2016.
posted by Vibrissae at 10:44 AM on April 15 [14 favorites]


I just hope we find a way to debate issues, but I doubt that will end up being the case.

Racism isn't an issue?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:48 AM on April 15 [21 favorites]


From the first link: Yet many, many liberals believe that only race can explain the ferocity of Republican opposition to Obama.

I'm pretty sure it's not the only explanation, but Conservatives and Republicans and Tea Party people have never been shy about using race to disparage Democrats. See uh, here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:48 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I just hope we find a way to debate issues, but I doubt that will end up being the case. There is too much outside money betting on a winner, and that money will control the tenor of the campaign. The stakes are high, so the most well-heeled bidders will have even more impact than elections prior to 2016.

One of the exciting/depressing things about campaign finance reform now is that media has an always undisclosed but none the less really quite massive financial interest in ensuring that it doesn't happen.
posted by jaduncan at 10:48 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


When someone tells you who they are, believe them.

It's supposed to be the fault of liberals that conservatives have never met a racist trope they haven't embraced and extended? Their culture of fear-mongering would perhaps be entertaining if it weren't so destructive. They are why we can't have nice things.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:49 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


After all, didn't we just see a SCOTUS decision that will essentially result in a full turn of the money-spigot directed at mass media coffers, no matter what their particular bias?

Mmm, no.. The only recent news I can think of is some missing plane or the Ruskies are at it again or something. Surely something that important would be heavily covered by the media!
posted by entropicamericana at 10:50 AM on April 15 [11 favorites]


I'm of two minds about racism as the biggest driving force behind the right's hatred of Obama.

I remember the Clinton administration. The right hated Clinton, too, and took any opportunity to obstruct his presidency. I'm pretty sure that Republicans are going to hate any Democratic president, and will always fling mud and obstruct and tear down in any way they can. When we inevitably get another white dude Democratic president, they're going to find dirt on him, too.

On the other hand, most of the mud the Right flings at Obama has historically been about race. There is undoubtedly plenty of nasty racist garbage out there centering on Obama as unfit to lead the US because he's not white. It is the main talking point for all rightwingers on the subject of the Obama administration.

One thing that has been interesting to me, comparing the Right's behavior toward Clinton vs. Obama, is that the non-racial stuff the Right flung at Clinton stuck. Everybody recognizes the racist garbage for what it is, and there has not been a successful threat to Obama's presidency in the way that there was for Clinton. The birthers never stood a real chance. There's no racist analogue to Ken Starr.
posted by Sara C. at 10:50 AM on April 15 [22 favorites]


I'm not a supporter of Mr. Obama, but it should be obvious even to the dimmest of the dim that racism is a big if not the biggest driving force behind the right's hatred of him.

absolutely. If only we had elected a white liberal president, then the right would have no driving force to hate him. Why, we'd probably pass ever bill he supported and there'd be no stonewalling in the legislature at all!
posted by rebent at 10:52 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Chait's article was widely misread. Bouie's argument in his response and on Twitter, has essentially been that Chait should have written an article about race in general, not just the politics of the last 6 years.

The fact is that a big proportion of the opposition to Obama has been racist. Things that Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter did got a free pass, but Obama did not, simply because of his race.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:53 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


The sad thing is that the right was/is so rabidly attacking two of the most right-wing Democrat presidents of the 20th century. Hell, they make some of our Republican presidents look like Randee of the Redwoods.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:53 AM on April 15 [7 favorites]


libertarian idealism

Part of which is returning to corporate and individual actors the "freedom" to discriminate, "free" of "violent" government regulation. Libertarianism deserves no respect, it's idealistic only on its own terms and its ideals stink on ice.

But really, Obama is a president of the rich, for the rich, dedicated to insulating them from the consequences, ANY consequences, of their own criminal activities. His race is an exciting distractor, since no matter who hates him and why, he's helping to make entrenched power structures even more so. As long as people are distracted by this junk, Obama can keep employing the same big finance people his predecessor employed, to the same effect.
posted by 1adam12 at 10:54 AM on April 15 [16 favorites]


The racism has been obvious, which doesn't also mean that there isn't a lot of principled ideological opposition as well.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:54 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


One need only to walk through the parking lot of your nearest big-box and read the bumper stickers to see that racism is alive and in full-effect, at least with the conservative base.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on April 15 [13 favorites]


The Southern Strategy is still being used, and since its inception, racism has been a tool in the Republican toolbox. In fact, it's been the sledgehammer.
posted by Cookiebastard at 10:57 AM on April 15 [7 favorites]


When the majority of your policy agenda is also operationally racist, the tactic of calling that "principled opposition" to contrast the outward racism from the fringe is much less believable.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:57 AM on April 15 [10 favorites]


While there's plenty of racism and it comes out in their opposition, I'm not convinced that racism is essential to their opposition per se. They don't really need it to act the way they do. If they're worse to Obama than they were toward the Clintons it ain't by all that much, no more than can be readily accounted for by the increased toxicity of American politics in the Bush2 era.

The racism has been obvious, which doesn't also mean that there isn't a lot of principled ideological opposition as well.

I wouldn't go that far. Look at their principled ideological opposition to their own ideas the moment he gets behind them.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:01 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Every US president is for the rich. Obama is of course, but he also helped get millions of people healthcare. That's a magnificent achievement in my book.

These methods of using Clinton as a comparison to Obama in order to measure racism is interesting but ultimately unsatisfying. We do have a wealth of data that shows racism matters so much to how people view Obama and his policies:

The Spillover of Racialization into Health Care: How President Obama Polarized Public Opinion by Racial Attitudes and Race


"This study argues that President Obama's strong association with an issue like health care should polarize public opinion by racial attitudes and race. Consistent with that hypothesis, racial attitudes had a significantly larger impact on health care opinions in fall 2009 than they had in cross-sectional surveys from the past two decades and in panel data collected before Obama became the face of the policy. Moreover, the experiments embedded in one of those reinterview surveys found health care policies were significantly more racialized when attributed to President Obama than they were when these same proposals were framed as President Clinton's 1993 reform efforts."

Paper here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:03 AM on April 15 [12 favorites]


I'm not a supporter of Mr. Obama, but it should be obvious even to the dimmest of the dim that racism is a big if not the biggest driving force behind the right's hatred of him.

It's a factor, sure, but I'm old enough to remember the Clinton Years well, when Rush Limbaugh opened every show with counting the number of days that America had been "held hostage" (the number of days Clinton had been president). I remember the lists of murders connected to the Clintons circulating online and over email in the early days of mass internet use. I remember the completely made up Vince Foster scandal, followed by the equally fictitious Whitewater scandal, followed by the long-running Starr investigation which finally unearthed the fact that Clinton had lied about receiving oral sex, which was all the GOP needed to hear to roll with impeachment proceedings. Fifty GOP senators voted to remove him from office.

Now, imagine re-running the Clinton administration with Fox News on the entire time, not just the last two years. Imagine Clinton in the age of ubiquitous social networking. Yes, Obama has been treated unfairly, and yes, part of that is due to race, but the last Democratic president was a white Southerner who oversaw a time of great economic growth and relative peace and they impeached the dude. The core issue, I think, is not that Obama is black, it is that he is a Democrat. His blackness is one of the key factors that shapes the GOP attack against him. Just like the real problem they had with Clinton was not his sexual dalliances, it was that he was a Democrat, but the sexual dalliances were a weak spot to focus on. The core issue is that about 40% of the country believes that Democratic presidencies are inherently illegitimate and must be crippled at least and ended if possible. Whatever angle gets them closer to that goal is the one they will take.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:04 AM on April 15 [131 favorites]


The Southern Strategy is still being used, and since its inception, racism has been a tool in the Republican toolbox. In fact, it's been the sledgehammer.

And it will continue to be used because it works.

Press conservatives individually and you'll get a lot of, "I'm not racist, I have a black friend!" type of response. And I believe that on a personal level, no, your white working class Rush listener doesn't sit around seething at blacks. He DOES sit around seething at those who supposedly "milk" the system and the impression he's given, always, is that those "moochers" are black or Latino.

So they can claim "I'm not racist" and at the individual level it might even be true, it's not like they're going to meet an African-American and refuse to shake his/her hand or have a beer with him/her, etc. But at the political level, they're moved by the "dog whistles." And the likes of Limbaugh know it, and use it.
posted by kgasmart at 11:04 AM on April 15 [16 favorites]


They don't really need it to act the way they do.

And yet they grip that sledgehammer so hard they don't have a free hand to feel around for anything else.

That's actually the really damning fact of the Republican party and racism. It's so integral to their mission that they can't even give it up when it makes sense to do so.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Racism isn't an issue?

Yes, it's an issue, but neither race, nor gender, nor sexual preference should be permitted to permeate all other issues by sucking the air out of the room to the point where all other issues are subsumed and rendered immaterial. However, you can bet that big media (no matter its respective political bias) is going to play the race, gender, and sexual preference (if possible) cards, big time.

Perhaps a better way to say it is that race, and gender, and sexual preference are very important issues, but they are not the *only* issues worthy of deep analysis and attention; that doesn't lead to an informed populace. All too often these core emotional issues are used to control debate, and divert attention from other issues that need to be addressed, but either aren't, or end up poorly covered.

This is what big media wants, and it's probably what big media and its overlord Plutocrats will get.

This is what gets the American voter emotionally involved to a point where emotion is running the show. We are emotional beings, and can thus be manipulated, emotionally. I would hope for a more measured debate on ALL issues, but I don't think it will happen, as we have already begun to see.
posted by Vibrissae at 11:06 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I think if you look into the grass roots beginning of the "Tea Party" it was not fundamentally racist, it was about libertarian idealism and undoing the New Deal.

When all your ideas about economics and governance just happen to help one already privileged group of people over everybody else, well, that ideology is systemically racist.
posted by Garm at 11:07 AM on April 15 [18 favorites]


We do have a wealth of data that shows racism matters so much to how people view Obama and his policies:

Of course. But the Right was able to shift a general partisan dislike of Clinton all the way into an actual impeachment. Opposition to Obama has largely remained grumbly and ineffectual. At least if we take "forcibly remove the president from office" as the ultimate goal in all of this.
posted by Sara C. at 11:09 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


The birthers never stood a real chance. There's no racist analogue to Ken Starr.

I think this is at least partly because the far-right critiques of Obama have had an unmistakable subtext of old-fashioned racism that moderates have discounted "communist/socialist" allegations more now than they did then.

There's no mistaking that Clinton and Obama have had comparably-hostile right wings moving every possible way against them.

One thing that has, ironically, shielded Obama (aside from his total lack of a reputation for being a womanizer) is that the artillery lobbed against Obama has had the stink of genuine racism from many right-wing constituencies, and that has, much to the chagrin of said racists, given Obama a little more leeway.

In a counterfactual universe, for example, I expect a President Hillary Clinton would not have been able to quite muster enough votes to pass the ACA.

Now, to short-circuit anyone getting the sense that Obama got away with more because he's mixed race, what I'm actually saying is that the racists coming out of the woodwork undermined enough of his opposition as to make him more successful than Clinton would have been on that vote.
posted by chimaera at 11:09 AM on April 15


Chait is a douche, Kristol is a bogstandard racist tool and always has been, and of course the Republicans and libertarians thrive on racism. I'm with Chauncey DeVega:
Racism is a productive tool for the White Right and the Republican Party--to the degree that such elements can be dis-aggregated in the post civil rights era. White people who are racists are not "victims". For Republicans, charges of being racist are not punished. They are lucrative launchpads that secure prominent positions in the media or validate a candidate's bonafides among the white reactionary populist base as a "real American".

Chait also ignores how charges of "reverse racism", "playing the race card", or being a "race hustler" are devastating moves in the Republican Party's arsenal against those who dare to show concern about how white supremacy damages the life chances of people of color in America.

Despite Chait's claims, anti-racism has no "terrifying power".

Jim and Jane Crow were terrifying. Lynching parties that dismembered black bodies, cut them apart, forced black men to eat their own penises as the price for a "merciful killing", or the white rampaging mobs that destroyed black wealth, life, and many dozens (if not hundreds of black communities) during the Red Summers of the American post World War one era, are terrifying.

The slave ship and the many millions killed during the Middle Passage are terrifying. The chattel slavery auction block is terrifying. The mass rape and murder of black men, women, and children on the charnel house plantations of the American slaveocracy, both after the seasoning process and in the hell that awaited the survivors of the Middle Passage, is terrifying.

Men like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn who can kill black people at will under Stand Your Ground Laws are terrifying. Police who have the power of life and death, and can use that power to murder black people who are "armed" with house keys, wallets, phones, or their empty hands is terrifying. The "don't get killed by the cops" lecture that responsible black parents give their children is terrifying.

The thought that how despite one's successes and educational accomplishments that because they are identified, however arbitrarily, as "black" in America means that their resume will get thrown in the garbage, a mortgage will have higher interest, or how doctors will not give proper treatment or necessary pain medication, is terrifying.

Likewise, how white folks can commit any number and type of heinous crimes such as destroying the American economy or committing mass shootings--and Whiteness and White Privilege shields the white community from any amount of recrimination, consequences, or communal reflection about what are in fact deadly white pathologies--is terrifying in the extreme.

Holding white conservative racists and their allies responsible for their conspiracy campaigns such as Birtherism, death threats against Obama, a concerted campaign of herrenvolk-fueled political obstructionism and neo Confederate politics, waiving the American Swastika (i.e. the Confederate Flag) in front of the White House, subtle and overt racial claims (and lies) that Obama is the "welfare" or "food stamp" president, how black Americans are lazy, Hispanics and Latinos are parasitic, and black and brown children should pick up mops and brooms to learn a work ethic because their parents do not have one, is not "victimizing" white conservatives as though they were being subjected to harassment by McCarthy, the FBI, and Cointelpro.

When Republicans are confronted by decent and civic-minded people who find white racism objectionable, obnoxious, and contrary to the Common Good, they are actually leveraging conservatives' favorite slogan--"personal responsibility".

Why should movement conservatives be spared from the fruits and consequences of their own speech, deeds, and beliefs?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:09 AM on April 15 [101 favorites]


I expect a President Hillary Clinton would not have been able to quite muster enough votes to pass the ACA.

The problem with this analogy is that Hillary would have had a hard time passing healthcare reform simply based on her previous failed attempt to do so during her husband's presidency. It would have been way too easy to just say "Yup, there's President Hillary with another stupid failed Hillarycare plan..."

One of the great things about Obama as an effective leader of Democratic policy is that he's a relative unknown without decades of national awareness of every misstep he's ever made. He just doesn't carry the personal baggage that someone like Hillary does.

The truly great thing is that not only does Obama carry less baggage than Hillary does, his presidency has given her time to make a name for herself in other ways and somewhat get away from the classic Clinton administration dirt.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


What did Coates say?
posted by MisantropicPainforest


It's possible I'm missing something but I think there is a little bit of conflation here between two different threads of public rhetorical debate.

Coates has been going through what he terms a "blue period" lately. Essentially he's been depressed about race, and maybe people in general, where he was once more optimistic. Recently he and Chait had a widely discussed public back and fourth over the legitimacy of public critiques of cultural dysfunction in poor, inner-city African-American culture.

Chait and Coates are both on the "liberal" side of the spectrum in US journalism, so this ongoing debate has had a different tenor than the other debate covered by most of the stuff OP linked too, which is playing out as a more routine he said-she said debate along party lines about the extent to which opposition to Obama's agenda is motivated by his race.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:13 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Yes, it's an issue, but neither race, nor gender, nor sexual preference should be permitted to permeate all other issues

Permitted? Permitted to permeate? What the what?
posted by rtha at 11:15 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Chait and Coates are both on the "liberal" side of the spectrum in US journalism, so this ongoing debate has had a different tenor than the other debate covered by most of the stuff OP linked too,

I thought about linking it as well, but it would have been 1) even longer and 2) covered a much larger set of topics. It should be a different post.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:16 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


As rtha's response (I think?) demonstrates there are some people who don't believe that race or gender or sexual preference can be prevented from permeating all other issues; it can be argued that those other issues (say poverty or voter supression or healthcare or foreign policy) are highly contingent on factors like race and gender.
posted by Wretch729 at 11:17 AM on April 15 [4 favorites]


The problem with this analogy is that Hillary would have had a hard time passing healthcare reform simply based on her previous failed attempt to do so during her husband's presidency.

Yes, this is another major contributing factor as well. And your statement that Hillary has had a chance to separately establish more bona fides at State will also help her in 2016, should she choose to run.

Ultimately, race has been a factor in Obama's successes in this way: he did not attract people to his platform because of his race -- the racists coming out of the woodwork (cf. the old woman that McCain had to correct/backtrack with at a town hall meeting for example) pushed moderates toward his platform.
posted by chimaera at 11:17 AM on April 15


If only we had elected a white liberal president, then the right would have no driving force to hate him.

Like Bill Clinton, who the Republicans insisted had a biracial baby out of wedlock with an African-American hooker. Or Carter, who was beaten in the 1966 Gubernatorial race by Lester Maddox, a man who proudly ran on a pro-integrationsit platform bolstered by the fact that he had driven black people out of his restaurants with ax handles. And then we're all the way back to the Southern Strategy, which explicitly used racism against Democratic candidates.

I mean, yes, they would have used other tactics. But racism has always been one of the tools in this toolchest.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:19 AM on April 15 [8 favorites]


When the majority of your policy agenda is also operationally racist, the tactic of calling that "principled opposition" to contrast the outward racism from the fringe is much less believable.

Exactly. The conservatives could not sell their small government ideology without creating the boogieman of lazy urban folk sucking up decent suburban working folks' money. When your ideology's main selling point is its effect on blah people, then it is a racist ideology.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:20 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Three things:

1) Much of the hatred directed towards Obama is related to his race.

2) Its also related to his overall otherness, which isn't quite the same thing. I'd actually argue its even more related to that - if Obama were black, but named Joe Smith, and born in Georgia, I doubt anyone would have ever asked about his birth certificate. Certainly his religious beliefs would not have been a topic of discussion. It's not just that Obama is black. It's that he's black and named Barack Hussein Obama and claims not-very-distant Kenyan roots and lived in Hawaii and Indonesia as a kid and is a pointy-headed professor from a big city.

Obama is more unlike the core audience of Rush/Fox than any President ever, basically. You could make him white and that would still be the case - though his being black certainly doesn't help.

3) As others have pointed out, the right's attacks on Clinton were just as disgusting. And he was a white guy from the South! The simple fact is, the people who slander Obama will never, ever accept a Democrat as the legitimate President of the United States. The methods of their slander - revolting as they are - are almost immaterial compared with that fact.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:20 AM on April 15 [24 favorites]


A lot of the right's refusal to admit its racism is a basic (and possibly willful) misunderstanding of what racism even is. There's a sort of thinking that if you've never worn a white hood or burnt a cross, you don't habitually yell racial epithets, you've never specifically consciously denied a person a job for the color of the skin, you enjoy [black entertainer], and you can have a polite conversation with a non-white person as needed, you are not racist.

Privilege can help you find rationalizations for a thousand very real forms of racism. And so, you're not racist for resenting your new black neighbors, you just have practical concerns about property values. You're not racist for disapproving of your daughter's Asian boyfriend, you just have reservations about cultural differences that may be tricky for them. You didn't pass over that terrifically qualified applicant because of her skin tone, you just thought the slightly less qualified white male was "a better fit." Etc, etc, ad infinitum.

So even if your arguments against Obama sound pretty much like anyone would expect dressed-up racist arguments to sound, you're not racist. How could you be? You own five Stevie Wonder records for chrissakes. And you're always so polite to that black waitress at the coffee shop.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:20 AM on April 15 [50 favorites]


It's not just that Obama is black. It's that he's black and named Barack Hussein Obama and claims not-very-distant Kenyan roots and lived in Hawaii and Indonesia as a kid and is a pointy-headed professor from a big city.

Several of these (his name, his ethnicity, at least) are equal to he's Black.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:22 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I don't even have to Google to remember at least three blatantly racist acts by Republicans:

1. "Blah people"
2. Email forwards showing a watermelon patch on the White House
3. The (ongoing!) hysterical insistence that Obama is not an American that makes absolutely no sense unless you connect it to a racist inability to believe that a black man can legitimately win the presidency.

If I were to Google, I could make this a comment of epic proportions, chock full of links. Because that stuff is everywhere. I don't care how hard Kristol clutches his pearls.

If your actions are racist, your words don't matter, though in this case, there are lots of pretty fucking racist words out there to find.
posted by emjaybee at 11:25 AM on April 15 [13 favorites]


Ultimately, race has been a factor in Obama's successes in this way: he did not attract people to his platform because of his race -- the racists coming out of the woodwork (cf. the old woman that McCain had to correct/backtrack with at a town hall meeting for example) pushed moderates toward his platform.
Even McCain's "correction" of that woman, while at least seemingly well-intentioned, speaks to the racism at the heart of modern conservatism. The woman's claim was that Obama "is an Arab". Does McCain respond "No ma'am, he's not an Arab, but even if he were, so what?" No, he doesn't. He responds "No ma'am, he's a decent, family man, citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that's what this campaign is all about. He's not."

He ain't no Arab. He's decent.
posted by Flunkie at 11:26 AM on April 15 [37 favorites]


Don't forget that Clinton was himself called the first black president.
posted by srboisvert at 11:26 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


As rtha's response (I think?) demonstrates there are some people who don't believe that race or gender or sexual preference can be prevented from permeating all other issues; it can be argued that those other issues (say poverty or voter supression or healthcare or foreign policy) are highly contingent on factors like race and gender.

Yes, that. And also, let us not forget (how could we, since they can't shut up about it) that there is one political party in particular that bangs the drum really loudly about what people who are not white/Christian/middle class etc. are trying to take from all the honest, hard-working white Christian etc. families in this fine country. This party is not the Democratic party.
posted by rtha at 11:26 AM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Many Orchestra auditions are done behind a screen so that the judges cannot tell anything about the person auditioning except for what they hear.

Maybe that would be a good way to run POTUS elections. Voting without any gender, race or other personal identifiers. The voters would be forced to vote ononly policy and ideas.
posted by snaparapans at 11:26 AM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Several of these (his name, his ethnicity, at least) are equal to he's Black.

What do you mean? There are loads of black people with Anglo names who have been in this country for generations. Now, I am sure that if one of them were President he/she would be subject to plenty of racist vitriol, but it would be a different sort of vitriol than "he's a terrorist and not even an American!"
posted by breakin' the law at 11:27 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


breakin' the law, I mean that Barack Obama, the name, and the fact that his relatives are from Kenya point to his skin color. You're saying that the fact that his name is Barack Obama is something in addition to his race. I'm saying it's the same thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:29 AM on April 15


The conservatives could not sell their small government ideology without creating the boogieman of lazy urban folk sucking up decent suburban working folks' money.

The problem is, they don't have to look far to have their ideology or their boogeyman validated. Drudge daily offers up helpful links to, say, Chicago gun violence or black kids beating on some white kid on a school bus, etc. Those type of stories are also guaranteed to be promoted on Limbaugh's show.

The instances exist; the impression, though, is carefully cultivated to make it seem pervasive. And that resonates with those who've already adopted the ideology, and merely need examples of it to keep the ball rolling.
posted by kgasmart at 11:29 AM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Sara C.: "The right hated Clinton, too, and took any opportunity to obstruct his presidency."

"Years ago, in the middle of the Whitewater investigation, one heard the first murmurs: white skin notwithstanding, this is our first black President. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas." --Toni Morrison
posted by chavenet at 11:36 AM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Many Orchestra auditions are done behind a screen so that the judges cannot tell anything about the person auditioning except for what they hear.

Maybe that would be a good way to run POTUS elections. Voting without any gender, race or other personal identifiers. The voters would be forced to vote ononly policy and ideas.


That's a really good idea. In fact, why don't we orient quite a bit more of our decision-making toward the idea that the kind of treatment people get, and how they will be able to benefit from the distributive regimes we instate, shouldn't depend on people's superficial characteristics or place in society? We could even suggest a sort of thought experiment which would illustrate the value of this way of thought, like a veil of...something.
posted by clockzero at 11:37 AM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Sara C.: "
Liberals hated such name-calling in the 1950s when some conservatives, such as the John Birch Society and other groups, smeared people they disagreed with as Communists.
This boggles the mind.
"

Even more interesting is as if that's even a thing in the past! How many Tea Party, dittoheads, FOX News watchers, etc... STILL say that? What percent of the modern "conservative" movement/Republicans think that. Quite a lot, I'd gather.
posted by symbioid at 11:50 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


you instead broadly painting everyone on the other side of you ideologically with a label of hate and insinuate that actually articulated reasons are just cover for some nefarious other purpose?

Because it is impossible for a person to have two different reasons for supporting a policy.
posted by goethean at 11:51 AM on April 15


Also watch Obama's speech against voter suppression which Coates calls "one of the most significant and morally grounded speeches of his presidency."

I haven't had time to read all the links, but thank you for the FPP!
posted by yaymukund at 11:51 AM on April 15 [7 favorites]


breakin' the law: " 1) Much of the hatred directed towards Obama is related to his race."

Most of the hatred of Obama that I've seen from mainstream pundits and other politicians has stemmed from economic fears and fearmongering, as well as ginned-up concern that he is weakening our country and its military. Oh, and that he's going to take our [Fill In The Blank] away. Guns. Religion. Etc., etc. And that he's being lauded by the public when he hasn't done anything to earn their trust or praise.

That's about it.

Does all of that stem from racism? I doubt it. Clinton and Carter were treated similarly. Both of them are Caucasian.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]


[A couple comments removed. If ten years on you still don't know where Metatalk is and what goes there, you are not making an effort.]
posted by cortex at 11:54 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Does all that stem from race? I doubt it. Clinton and Carter were treated similarly. Both of them are Caucasian.

And the attacks on both--as well as on failed contenders such as Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry--were very much based on how much they were going to help the "other," whether it was black people lumped in with Willie Horton, Asian people lumped in with Japanese corporations, Muslim people lumped in with terrorists, etc.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:55 AM on April 15 [22 favorites]


It's not just that Obama is black. It's that he's black and named Barack Hussein Obama and claims not-very-distant Kenyan roots and lived in Hawaii and Indonesia as a kid and is a pointy-headed professor from a big city.

Several of these (his name, his ethnicity, at least) are equal to he's Black.


To some people they are equal to not a Christian, which is an anti Obama argument I have heard alarmingly often and a part of the "otherness" this poster was speaking of. Some people may be hiding their racism behind the "he's not a christian" argument of course.
posted by domino at 11:58 AM on April 15


That's a really good point zombieflanders.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:02 PM on April 15


As if on cue:

The Atlanta Braves have been deluged with hate mail after baseball great Hank Aaron's recent comments about racism in America and President Obama's critics.

According to USA Today, the Braves organization has received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls since Aaron made his comments a week ago.

"Hank Aaron is a scumbag piece of (expletive) (racial slur)'' read an email from a man named Edward, according to USA Today.

Edward evidently used the racist epithet five times.

"My old man instilled in my mind from a young age, the only good (racial slur) is a dead (racial slur)," he wrote in closing.


Gee. I wonder what cable news network Edward watches?

Every single one of those letters ought to be published on the Braves' web site. In full, names, addresses and all.
posted by kgasmart at 12:02 PM on April 15 [20 favorites]


It'd be great to engage in meaningful discussion about the various problems this country faces, however, that is nigh impossible because of the ingrained racism baked into conservative politics.

For example - Paul Ryan recently talked about how "inner-city" [black] poverty stems from a "culture of dependency" [laziness]. This is a talking point straight out of "The Bell Curve".

The idea being that when white people go on welfare, they don't get help and have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Black people, on the other hand, get secret super-awesome welfare that enables them to live a life of luxury and freedom.

So, no. There is no way to engage "in discussion" with conservatives, because they are standing neck deep in their own bullshit and ignorance about how basic things, like welfare, even work. And they remain blind because they are - as a whole - unrepentant racists.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:05 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


To some people they are equal to not a Christian

Yes...I don't know what the right term is for the sorts of people who (ideological differences aside) deeply distrust a Barack Hussein Obama, but are perfectly fine with an Alan Keyes or a Michael Steele.

Like, on the one hand, it's not racism (at least not in the general black/white sense especially when you consider that Obama is "less" black than Steele or Keyes).

Xenophobia maybe? Christianism?

I don't envy the first presidential candidate who runs as a out non-Christian. A jewish white guy could maybe pull it off, but it would still be ugly. Atheists need not even apply.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:05 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Atheists need not even apply.

What's the saying? Something like "a sermon is a small price to pay for a crown?"
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:11 PM on April 15


Sparklemotion, the term I reach for is in-group bias.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:12 PM on April 15


I really don't have much of a handle on critiquing Obama. This is because his opponents have centered their arguments around the utterly stupid: Born in Africa. He is a secret African! (race) He's a secret Muslim! (race/name/went to school overseas). He's a secret communist! (race/political party). Health care for all is fascism! (um... whatever) When he described Benghazi he said "terrorist act" not "act of terrorism!" (really, is that the best you can do?)

In the meantime the stock markets have doubled in value, we've closed down one stupid war, we got bin Laden, and I have an impression we would do a whole lot more good if the Congress would let him.

The conservative noise machine leaves me with the impression that Obama is faultless, or at least, they haven't come up with a reality based fault against him. I don't believe that's the case but I can't get a handle on any of Obama's actual faults (Okay, that's an exaggeration. There are things like privacy issues.)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:12 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


So the other night, I'm in my hometown for a family wedding. At a dinner out with some extended family, here is what transpired at the end of my table:

Mom's Cousin (to my uncle): Did you here about Eric Holder and Obama sayin' people didn't like them because of their race? Because they are (whispers) B-L-A-K-X?*
Uncle: I'm not surprised.
Mom's Cousin: They are always playin' the race card!

I concentrated on my beer as much as possible after that as did my other uncle - we've sadly given up debating. I'm sure the conversation got as bad as it usually does. Vile racial slurs about the Obama's daughters, comments about the criminal justice system, "lock 'em ALL up!", etc. They hated Clinton lots and lots and wanted him out of office. Obama - well, I don't think they'd be sad to see something much worse happen. And yet, these folks don't consider themselves racists, but realists who know how things really are. It makes me outrageously angry and hopelessly sad.

*no, I'm not kidding. Or mistyping.
posted by pointystick at 12:13 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Liberals hated such name-calling in the 1950s when some conservatives, such as the John Birch Society and other groups, smeared people they disagreed with as Communists.

Only the 50s? They never stopped.
posted by dirigibleman at 12:13 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Some of my best friends are black presidents!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:15 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


And yet, these folks don't consider themselves racists, but realists who know how things really are.

And that's the divide, right there.

They are convinced liberals are willfully looking away from instances of black misbehavior. That liberals know what happens in "inner cities" and specifically choose to de-emphasize it out of a mushy-headedness or political calculus, i.e. we want all the blacks to vote Democrat so don't ever imply that poor minorities might bear personal responsibility for their plight; instead blame the system always and exclusively.

And every time liberals do that, or point out systemic/institutional racism - as Reagan said, there we go again.
posted by kgasmart at 12:17 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


Joey Michaels I don't mean to derail but it was supposedly "Paris is worth a mass" and that guy ended up assassinated by a fanatical Catholic despite ostensibly converting to that faith, and what tolerance his Edict of Nantes granted didn't last forever so maybe not such a great piece of advice in the end.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:18 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


zombieflanders: " And the attacks on both--as well as on failed contenders such as Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry--were very much based on how much they were going to help the "other," whether it was black people lumped in with Willie Horton, Asian people lumped in with Japanese corporations, Muslim people lumped in with terrorists, etc."

Sure. As well as poor people, women and liberals, who don't fit one racial or religious demographic.

The GOP chooses targets of convenience. Fearmongering about brown people is only part of it, and is certainly not their only tactic.
posted by zarq at 12:20 PM on April 15


so don't ever imply that poor minorities might bear personal responsibility for their plight; instead blame the system always and exclusively.

The United States endorsed keeping Black people as slaves for the first 90 or so years of its existence. That does not negate personal responsibility, but it explains a LOT about how we got here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:22 PM on April 15


When someone tells you who they are, believe them.
Does this apply if they tell you they're a non-racist, too?

Even if it doesn't - perhaps it might pay off to take their claim as hypothetically true, for the purpose of allowing further discussion? I know "all conservative beliefs are racist, all racist beliefs are wrong" is a quick and easy syllogism to complete... and maybe it's even persuasive, if you're talking to someone who's already basically on your side? But if you encounter someone who doesn't buy the first premise then you're no longer completing a simple proof, you're failing a simple test.
posted by roystgnr at 12:23 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


It'd be great to engage in meaningful discussion about the various problems this country faces, however, that is nigh impossible because

what America needs is a version of South Africa's Truth + Reconciliation Commission. Because from where I'm sitting (roughly fifty miles north of the 49th parallel), I don't see any forward movement on anything until everybody who feels so compelled gets a say, be they right or wrong, left or right, red or blue, black or brown or pink or white, this or that ...

People need to speak and be listened to. And it needs to go into some kind of official record. Until then, I fear it's all just more idiot wind
posted by philip-random at 12:24 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


The United States endorsed keeping Black people as slaves for the first 90 or so years of its existence. That does not negate personal responsibility, but it explains a LOT about how we got here.

Absolutely does, but the key here is that your average working class Rush listener doesn't perceive that he has any unfair advantage. He's screwed economically (and he is), he wasn't born into some silver-spoon household, he had to struggle and work hard, and his perception - again, carefully nurtured by right-wing media - is that as a class, those "others" don't work hard.

And he resents that, and feels that any attempt to bring up slavery or Jim Crow is an attempt to justify what, to him, looks like a willing dependence on the system.
posted by kgasmart at 12:27 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


"The United States endorsed keeping Black people as slaves for the first 90 or so years of its existence. That does not negate personal responsibility, but it explains a LOT about how we got here."

The fuck it did, that shit only ended in 1942,

Slavery by Another Name (84:57)
"Directed by Sam Pollard, produced by Catherine Allan and Douglas Blackmon, written by Sheila Curran Bernard, the tpt National Productions project is based on the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Blackmon. Slavery by Another Name challenges one of our country’s most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. The documentary recounts how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of World War II.

Based on Blackmon’s research, Slavery by Another Name spans eight decades, from 1865 to 1945, revealing the interlocking forces in both the South and the North that enabled this “neoslavery” to begin and persist. Using archival photographs and dramatic re-enactments filmed on location in Alabama and Georgia, it tells the forgotten stories of both victims and perpetrators of neoslavery and includes interviews with their descendants living today. The program also features interviews with Douglas Blackmon and with leading scholars of this period." - Produced by PBS
posted by Blasdelb at 12:32 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


philip-random it has been tried on a small scale. I suspect one sticking point on a national scale would be that TRCs are intended to address past wrongdoing, but many would argue that entrenched oppression and structural racism are on-going and dynamic forces in US society.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:34 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


A jewish white guy could maybe pull it off

That's so mean! Stop giving Lieberman false hope!
posted by Talez at 12:38 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


After seeing the kind of treatment Clinton got, it was clear early on that if Obama won, a certain segment of the population was going to go bugnuts to an exceptional degree, and they did not disappoint. I take it back. They did disappoint. Because I could see it coming and even I was surprised by the force and magnitude of it. Then when he won again—unthinkably, to some—many of them blew a main fuse and never found a replacement for it. I don't see anybody defending the mistakes Obama has made, but so many of the attacks on him have been so laughably absurd that you have to wonder why some people can't be bothered to criticize his genuine flaws. And when you reach that point, racism is the simplest explanation that fits the available evidence.
posted by Flexagon at 12:41 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


Charlie Pierce: The Bomb on the Bench, Revisited
A couple of years back, I spent a week in Spokane reporting about a bomb that didn't go off. Shortly before the piece ran, law enforcement busted a white-supremacist named Kevin Harpham for having set what was an IED aimed at killing people in a Martin Luther King Day parade downtown. Lo and behold, over at Josh's joint, we discover that Frazier Glenn Miller, the guy arrested for shooting up the Jewish community center and the Jewish rest home in Kansas City, was one of Harpham's favorite correspondents while the latter was in jail.
[...]
What Harpham tried to do shook that city to its core. The bomb was designed and positioned to inflict the maximum damage to the maximum number of people. Compared to Harpham's bomb, what the Tsarnaev brothers touched off in Boston a year ago was a firecracker. The event resonated throughout the region, which had been wrestling with one white supremacist crime or another for going on 30 years now.
After he left the park, Mark Richard, the county commissioner who'd spoken as part of the morning program, finally heard why it was that they'd all had to walk along the river that day. Richard began to put things together in his mind: the bomb they'd found outside the federal courthouse last spring; the Aryan Nation compound over in Hayden Lake in Idaho that had been bankrupted by a lawsuit a decade earlier; and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and eighteen other people in Tucson not a month earlier. And Richard remembered his nephew's bachelor party, when his nephew had invited a black friend. At the end of the night, as the guests were leaving, they discovered that someone had drawn a swastika on the driveway.
There is a wildness in this country, and it is spreading, and the people who carry the wildness know each other, and it's past time for the country to look at the backpack on the bench and notice all the wires.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:48 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


The Lawyer Behind the Supreme Court's Latest Campaign Finance Decision Has a New Cause: Sarah Palin for Senate

Even before he took the oath of office, Sarah Palin warned us about the disasters to come under Obama's terrible leadership:

"After the Russians invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama's reaction was one of indecision
and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia's Putin to invade Ukraine next."- Sarah Palin. 2008

AND Palin was right... When Obama did nothing, Russia took what they wanted. This proves Obama is nothing more than a weak homeland bully — attacking American citizens and watching freedom around the world burn.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on April 15


Yeah! Get Sarah Palin in the senate! She'll have no seniority, no practice at the networking/consensus-building work that being a senator requires, and she'll inevitably quit before her first term is out.
posted by Sara C. at 1:10 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


When all your ideas about economics and governance just happen to help one already privileged group of people over everybody else, well, that ideology is systemically racist.

Libertarians I've talked to actually believe their ideas would help everybody (in the "tough love" sense).
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:21 PM on April 15


Does McCain respond "No ma'am, he's not an Arab, but even if he were, so what?" No, he doesn't.

My all-time favorite moment from Colin Powell, one that comes closer (but not that close) to redeeming his work in the Bush administration, is when he pointed out on national television that the correct answer to 'he's a black Muslim' is 'so what?'
it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.
It's a good question. A bit tangential to the overall reaction to Obama's race (it's much more his skin color than his purported religion), but still a good question.
posted by librarylis at 1:21 PM on April 15 [30 favorites]


What unites bias on race, gender, and sexual preference grounds that they dismiss or diminish people and their positions by assuming that such people are essentially wrong, inferior, or weak somehow. These bigotries are meant to preclude any critical discussion or careful consideration of a position's merits or effects or a person's actions entirely simply because of the presumed essential qualities of the persons promoting the ideas or the persons "benefitting" from the policies at hand. Unless these bigotries are addressed and disarmed (in terms of their discursive power), there is no discussion, meaningful or otherwise.

Gender will be the next one; we've already seen gender essentialism used in intra-Rrepublican struggles. Palin, for example, leverages her maternal role to maintain a toehold in conservative punditry; on the other side, whatever your disagreement with her or you objections to her own substantial bigotries, Michelle Bachmann was knocked out of the Republican primary by some frankly misogynistic opposition ads, speeches, and whisper campaigns. Consider that a practice round for Hillary '16.
posted by kewb at 1:24 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


While, obviously, not every self-described conservative or Republican voter is a racist, the tenor of talk on the right and its political messaging during the Obama years has been so suffused with subtle and not-so-subtle appeals to racial fears and animosities, that it seems pointless to argue it. Anyone unwilling to concede that much, at least, is either an idiot or selling something. Hell, Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours pretty much evoked the right's fear of Obama over 30 years ago.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:29 PM on April 15


The difference between Bachmann and Clinton is that Clinton's base isn't a group of people who need to be convinced that it's OK for a woman to hold political office.

Gender will absolutely be a factor in a Clinton 2016 presidential race, but it's not going to be that particular kind of misogyny she'll have to worry about.
posted by Sara C. at 1:30 PM on April 15


michaelh: The Tea Party movement was a mainstreamed leftover of the energy from Ron Paul's primary candidacy in 2008 that focused on stealing congressional seats from other Republicans in 2010. Maybe it's changed, but it was originally focused on problems within the Republican party.

You're half right. Which is also to say you're half-wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:30 PM on April 15


roomthreeseventeen: Several of these (his name, his ethnicity, at least) are equal to he's Black.

roomthreeseventeen: breakin' the law, I mean that Barack Obama, the name, and the fact that his relatives are from Kenya point to his skin color. You're saying that the fact that his name is Barack Obama is something in addition to his race. I'm saying it's the same thing.

Whoa... you're actually changing breakin' the law's quote in order to strengthen your case. Here's his original quote:

breakin' the law: It's not just that Obama is black. It's that he's black and named Barack Hussein Obama and claims not-very-distant Kenyan roots and lived in Hawaii and Indonesia as a kid and is a pointy-headed professor from a big city.

The name issue is about his middle name, which was the first name of the enemy in one of our (then-ongoing) wars. It's as if the 1940 winner of the presidential election was Jerry Adolf Cooper.

Also, I have no idea why you think "Barack Obama" is inherently an African-American name.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:36 PM on April 15


Libertarians I've talked to actually believe their ideas would help everybody (in the "tough love" sense).

That's because it is largely a philosophy that hinges (if not outright depends) on hypotheticals and a complete lack of historical, social, and economic context. Also, they refuse to believe that nearly every attempt to even start to put their economic ideas into action have resulted in racist outcomes. This is especially notable amongst the American branding of libertarianism, which often comes up with wild alternate Americas (past and present) to support their arguments.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:36 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Also, I have no idea why you think "Barack Obama" is inherently an African-American name.

I don't. I do think it's an inherently non-Caucasian name.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on April 15


Gender will absolutely be a factor in a Clinton 2016 presidential race, but it's not going to be that particular kind of misogyny she'll have to worry about.

I don't know. Bachmann was attacked regarding her health, with a strongly gendered subtext. I suspect the current speculation about Hillary's health issues will be mobilized to do the same.

As with Obama, who was labeled as both communist and fascist, as atheist and Muslim (as if these were pejoratives), and as both overbearing and weak, expect Hillary to be labeled both "frail womanhood" and "unwomanly."
posted by kewb at 1:39 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


As with Obama, who was labeled as both communist and fascist, as atheist and Muslim (as if these were pejoratives), and as both overbearing and weak, expect Hillary to be labeled both "frail womanhood" and "unwomanly."

The people who are going to be talking about "frail womanhood"/"unwomanly" were never going to vote for Hillary Clinton, or any Democrat, in the first place.

Not to say there won't be plenty of gender related mud to sling, but Clinton just doesn't have the problem someone like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann faces, where you have to start by convincing your base to go against every belief they supposedly hold in order to vote for you.
posted by Sara C. at 1:52 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


> The Tea Party movement was a mainstreamed leftover of the energy from Ron Paul's primary candidacy in 2008 that focused on stealing congressional seats from other Republicans in 2010.

And Abercrombie & Fitch was originally "an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods", but this fact is at best a bit of historical trivia when considering its current incarnation.

> Maybe it's changed, but it was originally focused on problems within the Republican party.

Maybe?
posted by benito.strauss at 1:57 PM on April 15


Whether it's actually in the definition of conservative, or simply the working definition of the conservative mindset, the conservative is interested in preserving the status quo. It is, therefore, so easy for conservatives to use any idea of the other as a threat to that status quo, therefore something to be attacked.
Kennedy was a catholic, LBJ a socialist, Carter a bleeding heart, Clinton a womanizer. Black was too easy a target, but the natural easy way to go.
It's never about policies, it's about power. the dems are just as guilty. they rolled the dice with Obama and history will show whether they made a good call or not. Hilary is next and yes, it's all about her gender, even if she is the best qualified candidate (i think so and thought so 8 yrs ago). so expect to have this exact same debate midway through her second term as well.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:59 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


People here may find the comments section of an approving Crooked Timber post good reading.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:06 PM on April 15


I feel it's more accurate to say that Obama being black emboldened the right, causing conservatives to feel free to engage in incredibly disrespectful behavior toward Obama that they'd never attempt with a white President. Openly insult a white President and you're disrespecting the Presidency; insult a black President and you're putting a black man in his place.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 2:06 PM on April 15 [11 favorites]


Whether it's actually in the definition of conservative, or simply the working definition of the conservative mindset, the conservative is interested in preserving the status quo. It is, therefore, so easy for conservatives to use any idea of the other as a threat to that status quo, therefore something to be attacked.

The modern American conservative is one of the groups least willing to preserve the status quo in this country's history. They're radicals on civil rights, voting rights, health care, abortion, contraceptives, religion's place in policy (and religion or lack thereof in general), macroeconomics, the environment, justice and the law (as pertains to POCs), employment, and "morals."

Just about the only thing they're interested in maintaining the status quo on is GLBT rights, and there it's either just straight-up bigotry or the cowardice of "religious freedom."
posted by zombieflanders at 2:12 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


This is why I wish truth serum as it is shown in the movies was a real thing.

Kidnap a Tea Party leader. Strap 'em to a chair. Ask them why they don't like Obama. Half a sentence into their first rant, shoot 'em up with the truth serum and watch the rant deteriorate into "He's blaaaaaaaaaaaackkkkk." Drop the mic and go home.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:14 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


In some ways, I think that the racism charges can be overstated; on the other hand, I think there's a tremendous amount of explicit Republican policy that is intentionally racist in effect (Chait's minimizing of Atwater nonwithstanding).

I mean, not to go all SUPER GODWIN, but how much of the Nazi policy was explicitly about racism versus nationalism, economics, etc. Fifty percent? Sixty? Whereas Republican policy is probably what, thirty percent? Forty?
posted by klangklangston at 2:20 PM on April 15


Hell, if Clinton was our first black president, then Obama's our 43rd white one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:39 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Twists and Turns - Oh man Holbo is getting whaled on in comments in that CT post. Not least by fellow CT contributor Belle Waring.
posted by Wretch729 at 2:44 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders...Keep in mind, the status-quo that conservatives wish to preserve is of the 19th century sort.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:49 PM on April 15


Racism is the blue's stock answer. Every conceivable argument against a liberal's good intentions eventually results in the non-liberal being called a racist. If all of us conservatives and Republicans and others who did not vote for Obama start each sentence with "I am a racist", can we then be allowed to articulate why Obamacare will never work, or why the IRS should not target certain groups for political purposes, or why Putin is making him look like an ass-clown?

Most of us on the Right are convinced that "racist" is all you have.

If I actually cared at this point whether an occupy/mefi/white kid-liberal-arts-major-type thinks me and my ilk are racists at this point, then I would be angry and engage them at the coffee shop. Instead, I roll my eyes and read the TIL section on Reddit the way I used to follow Mefi.
posted by otto42 at 3:11 PM on April 15


How telling that Mr. Obama is never characterized as Kansan.
posted by Cranberry at 3:18 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


The whole "It's not Obama, look at how they attacked Clinton" is, to me strongly similar to a white guy claiming that race doesn't play a part in law enforcement's treatment of black people because this one cop was totally a dick to him to this one time. So, therefore, it's just that sometimes cops are dickish, not that racial profiling and disparities in treatment are really a thing, at least not to the extent black people and liberals claim.

It's...flabbergasting...that so many folks are willing to hem and haw and soft shoe race as a significant factor in Republican treatment of President Obama despite witch doctor cartoons, monkey comments about Obama/gorilla comments about Michelle Obama, Republicans actually and truly using the word "uppity" to describe Obama, "President Obama hates white people," and a host of other things. (And note that these are governors, state legislators, members of the House, and other people of power and influence making these comments; it's not at all comparable to this one liberal you know who had a t-shirt comparing President Bush to a chimp.)

Yeah, the white dude in my first paragraph kind of has a point that cops are sometimes dickish, but the fact is that they frequently -- though by no means always -- add an extra dollop of dickishness when dealing with a black person. Same with the treatment of Pres. Obama by Republicans and Tea Partiers.

And I can't wait (hamburger) to see a similar treatment applied to Hilary Clinton in 2016. We liberals had to tip toe very carefully around any sort of perceived antipathy in our comments about Gov Palin and Anne Romney, but watch how the right-wing totally lets fly on Hilary Clinton with only the faintest of peeps from the self-styled reasonable right, moderates, and centrists because "both parties are equally bad."
posted by lord_wolf at 3:19 PM on April 15 [12 favorites]


City Journal: A Glimpse Into The Political Future
Jonathan Chait has written a thoughtful, if debatable, 6,000-word article on race in the Obama years that has stirred a good deal of discussion. It can be read as an advance apologia for the Democrats’ defeat in the 2014 elections. Chait’s thesis, as he sums it up in an online surrebuttal, is that “American politics in the age of Obama has become balkanized not along racial lines, but by how people think about race.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:25 PM on April 15


The whole "It's not Obama, look at how they attacked Clinton" is, to me strongly similar to a white guy claiming that race doesn't play a part in law enforcement's treatment of black people because this one cop was totally a dick to him to this one time.
I could be mistaken, but I don't think you'll find anyone here arguing that racism has nothing to do with the right's opinions on Obama. You'll certainly find people saying that the right would be crazy about any Democratic president, but that's an entirely different thing than saying that racism is not a relevant part of the conversation.

They're crazy about Obama, and a large part of that is because of racism. But they'd be crazy about Wesley Clark too. Saying the latter is not denying the former.
posted by Flunkie at 3:26 PM on April 15


"Most of us on the Right are convinced that "racist" is all you have."

Well, then, most of y'all on the Right are idiots. If it helps, think about it like this: "Racism" is the kindest answer for "Why do you want to pursue policies that don't work, that make most people's lives materially worse, and have only a half-understood stone age doomsday theology as justification?" It's especially apt for, "Why do you vote against your own economic interests and against the very scripture you hold for hosannahs on the weekend?"
posted by klangklangston at 3:29 PM on April 15 [38 favorites]


Not least by fellow CT contributor Belle Waring.

Wow is she a lot of awesome!
posted by rtha at 3:35 PM on April 15


If all of us conservatives and Republicans and others who did not vote for Obama start each sentence with "I am a racist", can we then be allowed to articulate why Obamacare will never work, or why the IRS should not target certain groups for political purposes, or why Putin is making him look like an ass-clown?

I do so love when we get crosstalk between quantum timelines. In the timeline I'm from, conservatives keep blethering on about how Obamacare will never work, including telling outright lies about it, and keep blethering about the supposed IRS targeting, and keep fellating Putin, and keep blethering about BENGHAAAAAAAZIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!! and nobody tries to stop them at all and in fact there are pervasive and powerful media organizations more or less dedicated to spreading this stuff, including the outright lies, across the US, and certainly nobody conditions their speaking on admitting racism.

From the implications of what you've said, I think I'd like your timeline better.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:44 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


Of course there's opposition to Obama motivated by racism. How do I know? Because hatred of Obama not only extends to his policies but to how people feel about his dog.
posted by jonp72 at 4:00 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


Most of us on the Right are convinced that "racist" is all you have.

A lot of us at the center-left are convinced that racist is all you have, too. So, comity!
posted by octobersurprise at 4:19 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


Most of us on the Right are convinced that "racist" is all you have.

Rest assured, we also think you are stupid. Guess why!
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on April 15


Racism is the blue's stock answer.

Well, some of us are white and male and know what you guys say when you think you're in safe company.
posted by dirigibleman at 4:29 PM on April 15 [40 favorites]


Racism is the blue's stock answer. Every conceivable argument against a liberal's good intentions eventually results in the non-liberal being called a racist. If all of us conservatives and Republicans and others who did not vote for Obama start each sentence with "I am a racist", can we then be allowed to articulate why Obamacare will never work, or why the IRS should not target certain groups for political purposes, or why Putin is making him look like an ass-clown?

You can try, I guess. But you're already repeating something for which the opposite has so far proven to be true, a witch-hunt that has no basis in fact, and the usual chest-beating from the usual monkeys from the usual cages. If you don't want to paint yourself as deeply embedded in the culture that depends on racism (and sexism, homophobia, etc) to justify its policies, then you're off to somewhat of a poor start. Does it mean you're racist? No, but it does mean you're willing to lay down with the dogs, so all this complaining about fleas seems a little disingenuous.

Most of us on the Right are convinced that "racist" is all you have.

There are smart conservatives out there that can (mostly) make their points without coming off as racist (or sexist, or homophobic). Avik Roy, Rod Dreher, and Andrew Sullivan all come to mind. Of course, they don't think that Obamacare is tyranny destined to kill America, they think the IRS "scandal" brouhaha is stupid and ridiculous, and seem at least somewhat disturbed by the 180 that conservatives (and particularly neocons) have done on Putin. The problem is that you let the Palins and the Santorums and Fox News and the National Review run the show now, and no one seems to have the balls to tell them to fuck off. Your current top contenders for 2016 are a guy who thinks the Civil Rights Act borders on the unconstitutional, a homophobe who wanted to kill off the world's economy because of not-even-universal health care, and a guy who worships Ayn Rand and The Bell Curve. Waiting in the wings are the brother of a former president who ran a state known for being a flashpoint of racism (and is even now being torpedoed over the fact that he doesn't want to hunt down dirty Mexicans with calves the size of cantaloupes), a governor implementing Jim Crow-style voter suppression, and Mr. Blah People himself. And you wonder why people think conservatives want to make life worse for everyone who's not white, male, straight, and 40+?

If I actually cared at this point whether an occupy/mefi/white kid-liberal-arts-major-type thinks me and my ilk are racists at this point, then I would be angry and engage them at the coffee shop. Instead, I roll my eyes and read the TIL section on Reddit the way I used to follow Mefi.

Perhaps telling us you flounce off to a website with a mostly white, male, and libertarian userbase isn't the best way to prove your diversity bonafides.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:36 PM on April 15 [33 favorites]


I don't think anyone here is arguing that racism is the only motivating factor behind the right's thinking. (There's also sexism, naked greed, apocalytpic Christianity...)

But the racists sure seem to have the wheel right now.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:38 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


[C]an we then be allowed to articulate why Obamacare will never work, or why the IRS should not target certain groups for political purposes, or why Putin is making him look like an ass-clown?

Sure, go right ahead. What's stopping you? I mean, besides the lack of evidence that any of that stuff is true. Of course, most right wing commentators don't seem to feel constrained by anything as trivial as a lack of evidence.
posted by Flexagon at 4:39 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Well, some of us are white and male and know what you guys say when you think you're in safe company.

Heh, yup. They get so crushed when you call them out too. Like you violated the secret white guy clubhouse rules. Not the angry denial, but real sad puppy dog eyes.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:41 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


What's interesting about this disagreement is that it raises a pretty subtle question. No one really disagrees that the Tea Party members are far more racist than average Americans. The tricky question raised by Tea Party defenders is not so much whether they are racists, but whether they are more racist than other conservatives like them -- and whether that racism made them Tea Partiers. The latter question is really hard to answer, but the former question -- the racism of Tea Party members compared to otherwise similar conservatives -- can be addressed pretty empirically. And the results seems to suggest that yes, they are in fact more racist than otherwise equally conservative whites.

Though presumably, should these data be waved at the Tea Party defenders, they would drop down to the subtler defense that the racism isn't causal or that the measures don't actually capture racism, or discover a new-found appreciation for statistical uncertainty.
posted by chortly at 4:44 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


Really, the one unifying principle the right has had over the last five or so decades is: whatever fucking works. I don't doubt for a second that there are plenty of completely and resolutely non-racist right wingers. But if the Tea Party can ride a wave of barely disguised racism into power and get them the fiscal policies they want, then oh fucking well, colored people.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:44 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Twists and Turns - Oh man Holbo is getting whaled on in comments in that CT post. Not least by fellow CT contributor Belle Waring.

Belle is John's wife.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:01 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


If I actually cared at this point whether an occupy/mefi/white kid-liberal-arts-major-type thinks me and my ilk are racists at this point

so, what about a mefi/factory rat/didn't graduate from college type like me?

i guess if stereotyping us works for you, i'm not sure why you wouldn't think racism wouldn't work ...
posted by pyramid termite at 5:48 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


No one really disagrees that the Tea Party members are far more racist than average Americans.

Feh. I contend that Tea Party haters are more condescending re: race than average Americans.

I like the line up of Maher and Kristol, though. Honestly, given the choice of which one to punch first, I would be at a total loss.

Rest assured, we also think you are stupid. Guess why!

Prejudice?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:48 PM on April 15


I contend that Tea Party haters are more condescending re: race

What does that mean, condescending regarding race?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:56 PM on April 15


Of course racism exists, but how reductive.

As one of Obama's detractors from the left (although our existence is inconvenient for narratives like this, there are millions and millions of us), I assure you race has nothing to do with my views on the man I traveled out of state to volunteer for in 2008.

This kind of all-or-nothing discourse is especially harmful, because it discards the idea that anyone can be right about one thing and wrong about another. Someone like Rand Paul may well have unpleasant racial baggage associated with him but on civil liberties, in the words of Mr. Maher himself, "he's not wrong." For putative liberals to permit the Bill of Rights to be balled up and thrown in the trash because "But, racism!" is incredibly dishonest and helps no one except the Security State.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:58 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Someone like Rand Paul may well have unpleasant racial baggage associated with him but on civil liberties, in the words of Mr. Maher himself, "he's not wrong."

Unless you're a woman who think her civil liberties include her reproductive organs.

Tell me more about how great he is.
posted by emjaybee at 6:03 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


I like the line up of Maher and Kristol, though. Honestly, given the choice of which one to punch first, I would be at a total loss.

You have two fists, Grasshopper.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:10 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


C'mon, y'all. It's obvious it's not about race, because nothing is ever about race. (With apologies to Charles P. Pierce.)
posted by ob1quixote at 7:01 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


"Feh. I contend that Tea Party haters are more condescending re: race than average Americans."

Maybe 'cuz they're tired of piss-weak equivocation about Tea Party racists and Tea Party apologists never seem to wanna acknowledge that no, racial resentment is a pretty good predictor of Tea Party membership?

I like the line up of Maher and Kristol, though. Honestly, given the choice of which one to punch first, I would be at a total loss.

Maher first — he's squirrelly and has more chance of running than Kristol does.

Rest assured, we also think you are stupid. Guess why!

Prejudice?
"

Also the whole repeated demonstrated pattern of stupidity thing.
posted by klangklangston at 7:13 PM on April 15


[Couple of comments deleted; plenty to discuss in the actual topic without veering off into discussing people in this thread.]
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:15 PM on April 15


I don't think anyone would say that everyone on the right is racist and there are plenty of people that no doubt dislike and oppose Obama for a host of non-racist reasons. However I don't think that anyone can honestly say that racism is not a very very effective way of bringing out the votes especially among an aging white male electorate who are increasingly unsure of their place in the world as a result of declining privilege and economic uncertainty. The fact that they can pretty much watch Fox news 24/7 and get a steady stream of dog-whistles and race-baiting bullshit that simply confirms their established world view just helps reinforce their belief that Obama is the other and that he's bringing the US to the brink of disaster when rated by any objective measurement of political orientation Obama is basically Center Right (completely committed to free market, supportive of a police state, pro-military, etc) it's just that the US political landscape has been so transformed by years of moving the Overton window that a Center-Right president can be actually called a Socialist and the people saying it aren't laughed at.

Race isn't the entirity of the Right's issues with Obama but until race disappears as a motivation for getting old white people to vote (I mean they are going to die off sooner or later right?) it's going to be a big factor especially with the old standby of hating on the gays rapidly disappearing as a wedge issue for values voters.
posted by vuron at 8:19 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Here's my take on racism, and racists. You have to separate them. There are the acts of racism, like, well, fill in the blank. The acts, the words, these are what should be labeled as racist. As in, "Hey, you said [offensive racist thing] and that's not cool." That is the mode that liberals, centrists...pretty much anyone who wants to expose racism should do.

Calling someone a racist, though, is generally counterproductive. The classic modes of racism in years past (white robes, burning crosses, the N-word) are not used by racists any longer; their racism has different modes now. So when you call someone a racist, it's like playing whack-a-mole. They'll just counter with "oh, you can see into my heart? You can see into my mind?" Attacking the person is a non-starter because racism is so easy to deny. It kills any argument you have.

The acts themselves, though? Much harder to defend.
posted by zardoz at 8:49 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


It's easy for you to say that nestled safe in your Vortex.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:06 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


And Abercrombie & Fitch was originally "an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods", but this fact is at best a bit of historical trivia when considering its current incarnation.

Maybe?


Sarcasm noted. Yes, I'm unsure to what degree it's changed, and whether that change is a replacement or an addition of another element. Whenever I see tea party people locally they're still focused on bad republicans, though they obviously support their candidates against democrats when their candidates make it past the primaries. I understand that is similar to how that movement functions in other areas. I also understand there's a national grandstanding movement that makes speeches about Obama, and this is the change I think is an addition if it's really targeted at him and not using him as a point to make against other republicans. I don't think that changes what the tea party organizers and candidates actually do and what they do is consistent with what they were doing five years ago, and 7-8 years ago if you count the Ron Paul campaign against the republican candidates for the republican primary.
posted by michaelh at 9:11 PM on April 15


Hubris, thy name is Chait. There's plenty of real, honest-to-god groupthink on the left that Jonathan Chait could have gone after to get his hippie-punching jollies, but he just had to try to thread the needle by going after the one thing the left is doing right for the most part. Racism is everywhere in public policy. It doesn't have to be motivated by a literal belief that racial minorities are inferior, and Chait's attemps to define racism down to require evidence in the form of a hood or a noose is shameful for someone who claims to be a man of the center-left.

Objectively bad: Ezra Klein, Nate Silver, Jonathan Chait and return of the "view from nowhere"
But rather than get into all of the problems with Chait's false equivalence between liberals' sometimes knee-jerk cries of racism and conservatives' long-standing and enduring reliance on white resentment as a political tool, I'll just point out that nearly everything wrong with the article can be explained by Chait's curious and unfortunate habit of presenting himself as the only reasonable man in the room. Or, to put it differently, his implication that he's best able to judge competing claims of racial demagoguery because he holds the view from nowhere.
I see Chait's brand of nominally-liberal gadfly's disease as a special and more pernicious case of "view from nowhere"-ism. It's not quite the usual "both sides do it"-ism we see from Sunday morning talk show regulars, it's more "my side (who I don't agree with on very many things, but trust me, they're my side!) does it, and they should really listen more carefully to the other side (who I promise I'm not defending, even though it really looks that way!). Oh, and by 'listen more carefully', I mean 'interpret a notorious defense of political appeals to racist attitudes as merely advocating for tax cuts'."

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:24 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


I contend that Tea Party haters are more condescending re: race than average Americans.

2000: Bill Clinton's last budget is a record $236 billion surplus.

2004: George W. Bush racks up a then-record $415 billion deficit.

2008: George W. Bush racks up a then-record $482 billion deficit.

2008: Barack Obama is elected; to become the first black president of the United States.

2009: The Tea Party decides they're mad as hell about deficits and they just can't take it any more. After years and years and years of a white guy's deficits.

Nope, race has nothing to do with it.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:00 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


"Whenever I see tea party people locally they're still focused on bad republicans, though they obviously support their candidates against democrats when their candidates make it past the primaries."

Yeah, on the other hand, here's Michigan's Clinton County Tea Party featuring a link to Daniel Johnson, white supremacist.

And this guy is the California Tea Party candidate for governor, who does them no favors.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 PM on April 15


Bill O'Reilly's interview with Coach John Calipari includes such totally-not-at-all-racist stuff as out-of-control players fueled by rap music, disbelief that Calipari's players don't swear at him, and accusations that players get free drugs.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:44 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


So when you call someone a racist, it's like playing whack-a-mole. They'll just counter with "oh, you can see into my heart? You can see into my mind?" Attacking the person is a non-starter because racism is so easy to deny. It kills any argument you have.

It's a shame, then, that whites now believe that anti-white bias is more prevalent than anti-black bias, and among white adults, 10% think most white Americans are racist [while] 38% believe most blacks are racist.
(No aspersion on your comment, btw; I was just using it as an excuse to post my new most-depressing-statistic-about-race-in-America.)
posted by chortly at 10:48 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Here's my take on racism, and racists. You have to separate them. There are the acts of racism, like, well, fill in the blank. The acts, the words, these are what should be labeled as racist. As in, "Hey, you said [offensive racist thing] and that's not cool." That is the mode that liberals, centrists...pretty much anyone who wants to expose racism should do.

Calling someone a racist, though, is generally counterproductive. The classic modes of racism in years past (white robes, burning crosses, the N-word) are not used by racists any longer; their racism has different modes now. So when you call someone a racist, it's like playing whack-a-mole. They'll just counter with "oh, you can see into my heart? You can see into my mind?" Attacking the person is a non-starter because racism is so easy to deny. It kills any argument you have.

The acts themselves, though? Much harder to defend.


I don't like this. Mainly, because it just sounds like a weak excuse i've seen bigots roll out about how you shouldn't call them bigots, because no one should be calling anyone bigots anymore!

"You have done X, Y and Z demonstrably racist thing, therefor you are a racist" is a demonstration of fact. As long as neither party disagrees that the things they blatantly said or did occurred, it's irrelevant whether they think those things are racist if it's generally agreed that they are.

I don't see how this "kills" any argument you have, other than that it allows a bunch of assholes to say "calling me a racist is off the table", which is pretty close to something they also already do often which is simply "race is off the table".

Calling someone a racist with no qualification is pointless, yea. But doing an old if-then isn't garbage.

And i mean sorry, to anyone who wants to defend this idea more. But i just hate this chestnut that's been passed around recently, and i'm utterly tired of that video that usually goes along with it where the guy explains why he thinks this. I just don't agree. It plays too much into the narrative shown at the very beginning of this post of "Calling someone a racist is the strongest and most unfair weapon liberals have" or whatever. Accepting that at face value is basically just saying "i can bark as much as i want, but if you say i'm miming a dog i'm going to point and make fun of you".

Who says you even need to engage if they take the argument there? just make sure you qualify what you're saying. They can dig their own grave if they want to say weak ass shit like what you're describing.
posted by emptythought at 2:23 AM on April 16


emptythought, What do you think of this video by the inestimable Jay Smooth?
How To Tell Someone They Sound Racist
You gotta use some strategery.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:46 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


kirkaracha, I remember the conservatives being mad at Clinton because of the economy. I ask again as I had upthread: If we had elected a white male democrat president, do you think that the republicans and the tea party would say "Oh I guess the budget is all right then"?
posted by rebent at 6:14 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


do you think that the republicans and the tea party would say "Oh I guess the budget is all right then"?

No not at all and I don't think anyone in here is suggesting that.

What we are saying is that race matters and that right-wingers are MORE mad at Obama because he is black. If Obama was white they would still hate him but they would hate him less and of course would never ever ever harp about his birth certificate.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:24 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I ask again as I had upthread: If we had elected a white male democrat president, do you think that the republicans and the tea party would say "Oh I guess the budget is all right then"?

And I'll ask: how many of them would have done so with e-mail chains depicting Clinton with a bone through his nose, or eating watermelon and/or fried chicken? How many would have passed around video of excited black women and muttered darkly about "Clintonphones" contributing to said deficit? How many think that we need to see Clinton's birth certificate, or his transcripts because someone that looks like him could never get into Oxford or Yale Law?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:31 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


If we had elected a white male democrat president, do you think that the republicans and the tea party would say "Oh I guess the budget is all right then"?

I kind of think that? Those Tea Party and other folks seemed perfectly fine sending Team "Deficits Don't Matter" back to the white house in 2004. It wasn't until a Democrat was in office that they finally started caring about fiscal responsibility. The convenient timing of the rise of the deficit hawks is hard to ignore.
posted by absalom at 7:07 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


> until race disappears as a motivation for getting old white people to vote (I mean they are going to die off
> sooner or later right?)

It's not like there aren't more coming along. You've heard of recruitment, right? Previously Irish immigrants, Italian immigrants, Eastern European immigrants. Next, White Hispanics. Y'all have got fifty years of the Marco Rubio cohort to enjoy.
posted by jfuller at 7:49 AM on April 16


Tom Levenson: John Roberts and the Color of Money
People of color are almost entirely absent from the top donor profile, and none more so than members of the community that white Americans enslaved for two centuries:
While more than one-in-six Americans live in a neighborhood that is majority African-American or Hispanic, less than one-in-50 superlimit donors do. More than 90 percent of these elite donors live in neighborhoods with a greater concentration of non- Hispanic white residents than average. African-Americans are especially underrepresented. The median elite donor lives in a neighborhood where the African-American population counts for only 1.4 percent, nine times less than the national rate.
In other words: Political money and hence influence at the top levels is disproportionately white, male, and with almost no social context that includes significant numbers of African Americans and other people of color.

This is why money isn't speech. Freedom of speech as a functional element in democratic life assumes that such freedom can be meaningfully deployed. But the unleashing of yet more money into politics allows a very limited class of people to drown out the money "speech" of everyone else—but especially those with a deep, overwhelmingly well documented history of being denied voice and presence in American political life.

Now take the work of the Roberts Court in ensuring that rule of cash, the engine of political power for an overwhelmingly white upper-upper crust, with combine those decisions with the conclusions of the court on voting rights, and you get a clear view of what the five-justice right-wing majority has done. Controlling access to the ballot has been a classic tool of white supremacy since the end of Reconstruction. It is so once again, as states seizing on the Roberts Court's Voting Rights Act decision take aim at exactly those tools with which African Americans increased turnout and the proportion of minority voters within the electorate. There's not even much of an attempt to disguise what's going on.

Add all this to the Roberts decision to free states from the tyranny of being forced to accept federal funds to provide healthcare to the poor. When John Roberts declared that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion would be optional, the decision sounded colorblind—states could deny succor to their poor of any race—in practice, that is to say in the real world, this decision hits individual African Americans and their communities the hardest . as Coates wrote way back when.

So: Money, which disproportionately defends existing power structures, is unfettered; ease of voting, which at least in theory permits challenges to such structures, is constrained; and a series of decisions seeming devoid of racial connection presses thumbs the scale ever harder against the chance that in the real-world African Americans will have get to play on a level field.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:49 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


good comment zombieflanders. Makes me think that maybe we need economic "Free Speech Zones" for the wealthy.
posted by rebent at 8:16 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "If Obama was white they would still hate him but they would hate him less and of course would never ever ever harp about his birth certificate."

If there was any question as to whether he was born in this country, sure they would have. Absolutely, they would have and the man's race/ethnic background would have had no effect on that outcome. We have only to look at past precedent to understand this: the GOP attacked Clinton every way they possibly could in order to try and de-legitimize his presidency. Give them even the slightest hint of potential vulnerability or wrongdoing and they will take that opportunity to blow it up into a huge scandal.
posted by zarq at 8:27 AM on April 16


If there was any question as to whether he was born in this country, sure they would have.

Which is precisely my point. The right questioned if Obama was born in this country, and thought there was a question as to whether he was born in this country, because he is black with a foreign name. He's an 'Other'. And, as shown above, Obama's association with healthcare reform racializied white's opinions of healthcare when compared to Clinton.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:20 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "The right questioned if Obama was born in this country, and thought there was a question as to whether he was born in this country, because he is black with a foreign name."

So let's start off with one thing which we both know to be true. The right didn't actually "question" anything. They took the fact that his father was Kenyan and asked a "when did you stop hitting your wife" question about whether he was born in this country. Which was then picked up with no actual factual content or context and blown into a "thing" by right-wing pundits and people who are strongly ideologically right wing. Even in the face of actual evidence.

There was no doubt some of that was racially motivated. And there was no doubt that some of it was also anti-Muslim/anti-Arab sentiment. And some may have been due to some combination thereof. But casting it as entirely anti-Black racism rings false and inaccurate to me.

MisantropicPainforest: "And, as shown above, Obama's association with healthcare reform racializied white's opinions of healthcare when compared to Clinton."

For certain groups, sure. But as we know when we compare it to Clinton's attempt, many groups had and still have plenty of reasons to oppose healthcare reform without needing to resort to racist justifications.
posted by zarq at 11:30 AM on April 16


You seem to be making arguments against the proposition that right-wingers hate Obama only because he is black, but I don't see anyone here making that claim, and I certainly am not.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:36 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


"There was no doubt some of that was racially motivated. And there was no doubt that some of it was also anti-Muslim/anti-Arab sentiment. And some may have been due to some combination thereof. But casting it as entirely anti-Black racism rings false and inaccurate to me."

OK, how much of it? Thirty percent? Sixty percent? The majority? A minority?
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "You seem to be making arguments against the proposition that right-wingers hate Obama only because he is black, but I don't see anyone here making that claim, and I certainly am not."

Is that not what this FPP is about?

*shrug* It sounds like you are to me. If not, okay.

klangklangston: " OK, how much of it? Thirty percent? Sixty percent? The majority? A minority?"

I am saying is that opposition to President Obama is not all racially based. Your sarcasm is not required or appreciated.

The issues here are more complicated than simply whether our President is African American. He would have been vilified and attacked no matter his race, simply because Conservatives consider his ideology a threat. His race and Conservative lies about his religion both add fuel to that fire, but I do not believe they are its only source.
posted by zarq at 11:56 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


emptythought, What do you think of this video by the inestimable Jay Smooth?

That's the video i was talking about.

First of all, i think a lot of people are somewhat misinterpreting what he says. He's basically saying be coy about calling them a racist and sneak up from the sides so they don't get too defensive, not never ever call them one.

But the whole thing seems to have been distilled down by the internet to just that, never call anyone that because it's "pointless" or whatever.

So i take my issue more with the viewers of that video who parroted some tl;dr of it, but i also don't completely agree with the video itself. Because as i said, it sounds like tacit acceptance, if unintentional, of what i was discussion above. Which is the right wing/asshole line of "calling anyone a racist is off the table, it's nuclear".

Because that gets brought into discussions like this, where we're just talking about what someone said without them involved in the conversation, or talking about groups of people or organizations. I can't help but read that sort of thing as "Lets stop calling these racists racist, but just call their actions racist". It gives value to the exact same "can you see into my heart?" stuff mentioned above.

That approach leads down a dark road of teach the controversy. And this stuff needs to be called out bald faced as what it is. Soft-shoeing around it only benefits old white racists.

And to be clear, i'm not saying that in confronting someone the best possible tactic is just to go "Whatever, racist" in some 14 year old on tumblr way. I don't disagree with that part of the argument. I just think that's far too easily taken way beyond that context.
posted by emptythought at 11:56 AM on April 16


Is that not what this FPP is about?

No. The only two pieces in the FPP making that point are from conservatives.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:05 PM on April 16


"I am saying is that opposition to President Obama is not all racially based. Your sarcasm is not required or appreciated.

The issues here are more complicated than simply whether our President is African American. He would have been vilified and attacked no matter his race, simply because Conservatives consider his ideology a threat. His race and Conservative lies about his religion both add fuel to that fire, but I do not believe they are its only source.
"

I agree with you that not all opposition to Obama is racially motivated. I don't think anyone disagrees. You're arguing against a straw man, which is why I asked you to be more precise in your terms.

Come back off the ledge, man.
posted by klangklangston at 12:14 PM on April 16


not never ever call them one.

For me the point is more, it doesn't matter what somebody 'is'- you can't know, anyway, and essentializing the issue and the people involved doesn't seem to help. Rather, you call out the behavior because that's what you want to see changed.

Right? Because if someone isn't talking or behaving in racist ways, well maybe that will make them 'be' less racist, deep down inside. And if it doesn't, kind of who cares, because the world's still a better place.
posted by hap_hazard at 12:26 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I am saying is that opposition to President Obama is not all racially based.

Well, obviously. Asserting that it was would be foolish. However, if the question is "Why has the opposition to Obama on the right taken the forms it has," then the answer is largely because of the racial fears and animosities stoked by a young, black, northern Democratic President with a foreign-sounding name. Short of him sporting a hoodie, a goatee, and Malcolm X glasses, you couldn't have built a candidate more likely to stoke the fears of a significant fraction of the US population.

We could, if we wished, bracket all that out and choose to talk about the opposition that wasn't racist in origin, but that's a different conversation.

And re: the birther nonsense; I followed that from its inception to its exhaustion on blogs and fora and there was never a bit of it that wasn't motivated by clinical paranoia or racism.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:12 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


... to its exhaustion on blogs and fora ...

It's exhausted? Thank you, Jeebus.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:21 PM on April 16


"liberals are bullies who refuse to “acknowledge that the ability to label a person racist represents, in 21st-century America, real and frequently terrifying power.”

There was a very smart critique of homophobia and casual oppression recently, in which Irish drag performer Panti Bliss said the following:

"for the last three weeks I have been lectured by heterosexual people about what homophobia is and who should be allowed to identify it. Straight people – ministers, senators, lawyers, journalists – have lined up to tell me what homophobia is and what I am allowed to feel oppressed by. People who have never experienced homophobia in their lives . . . have told me that unless I am being thrown in prison or herded onto a cattle train, then it is not homophobia. And that feels oppressive.

So now Irish gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters.

And for the last three weeks I have been denounced from the floor of parliament to newspaper columns to the seething morass of internet commentary for “hate speech” because I dared to use the word “homophobia”. And a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word “homophobia” is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia – homophobes are.."


Anyone see a difference between what the white Republican establishment is trying to do here in regards to racism vs. what the Irish establishment is trying to do in regards to homophobia? Because, frankly, I don't.

From my perspective, what they are attempting is an Orwellian effort to redefine and silence the right of others to call them out on their oftentimes transparent racism... and that feels oppressive, even for many of those who aren't defined as "black".
posted by markkraft at 1:53 PM on April 16 [25 favorites]


zardoz: "The classic modes of racism in years past (white robes, burning crosses, the N-word) are not used by racists any longer; their racism has different modes now."

This is a popular narrative, but I'm still not convinced racism was ever dominantly expressed in this "classic mode."
posted by yaymukund at 10:32 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


[Birtherism]'s exhausted? Thank you, Jeebus.

No, mostly pollsters just stopped asking about it.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:20 AM on April 17


No, mostly pollsters just stopped asking about it.

Damn! Oh, and Mr. MurkinThinker is several orders of crazy magnitude above the rest, yet holds down a job as an associate professor at CSU, Fresno. Strange and wonderful. I wanna ask him, why you so crazy?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:57 PM on April 17


No, mostly pollsters just stopped asking about it.

Birtherism isn't extinct; undoubtedly, it will continue to be an ingredient in the toxic stew of racialism, sovereign citizenry, and neo-confederacy that simmers on the fringe of the right long after Obama has left the White House. But whatever amount of influence it might have had in actual opposition to Obama pretty much ended with his re-election, I think.

I wanna ask him, why you so crazy?

One thing I've learned from the internet: there's a lot more crazy people and a lot more people willing to act crazy for reasons of their own, than I ever imagined.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:26 PM on April 17


You have done X, Y and Z demonstrably racist thing, therefor you are a racist" is a demonstration of fact. As long as neither party disagrees that the things they blatantly said or did occurred, it's irrelevant whether they think those things are racist if it's generally agreed that they are.

emptythought, I don't understand this, nor your objection. My point was that the label "racist" is as slippery a thing you can label someone. It's like punching smoke. You say being a racist is a "fact," but that's precisely the problem: the racist person will give a denial. It'll be a transparently false denial, but that doesn't matter.

For example, Paul Ryan in his recent kerfuffle (that largely got this talk about race started a few weeks ago), said "I wasn't talking about black men, I was talking about xxx." And you can counter and argue the fact that Ryan is racist (which I think he is), but he can just pivot. Easily. And fellow racists will buy that excuse--they have bought it. Then it's just an entrenched exercise in futility: "Yes, you are!" "No, I'm not!" Talking heads on TV, even when they have the guts to debate this, just get mired in this mode.

You have to get into the weeds and get granular. Talk specific examples. Say, "Look, Ryan, you said 'inner city' and that phrase is synonymous with 'poor blacks.'"

That is the fact. That's where the argument and debate should be held, not getting red-faced trying to force a racist to admit his racism. Unless we're talking a proud white supremacist or something, that ain't gonna work. This human nature; hell, the racists lie to themselves, so why wouldn't they create a convenient fiction for you?
posted by zardoz at 3:25 AM on April 18


...that phrase is synonymous with 'poor blacks.'

It's not even that simple. They can truthfully say it's not, because it isn't. It is a dogwhistle that all the racists have agreed among themselves means "poor blacks" when they winkingly say it, but the words themselves are used in other, non-dogwhistle contexts to simply mean "inner city."
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:23 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Right, the response is not, "it's synonymous with poor blacks," but rather, "That's disproportionately poor blacks, Ryan. That policy will have a disproportionate impact on poor blacks. It'll end up having racist effects, even if you're naive about the racism."
posted by klangklangston at 10:49 AM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Yeah, you guys said it better than me. Maybe that's the difficulty with the public discourse on race: you have to take it one issue and one incident at a time and expose exactly what the racist thing is, and it can be buried under a lot of chaff.
posted by zardoz at 4:22 PM on April 18


Ta-Nehisi Coates's latest: Segregation Forever: Ending white supremacy does not merely require a passive sense that racism is awful, but an active commitment to undoing its generational effects.
posted by homunculus at 9:20 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Right, the response is not, "it's synonymous with poor blacks," but rather, "That's disproportionately poor blacks, Ryan. That policy will have a disproportionate impact on poor blacks. It'll end up having racist effects, even if you're naive about the racism."

At that point Ryan will call you a racist for making the association.
posted by jaduncan at 9:17 AM on April 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, honestly, that'd be about the best retort from my point of view. Our hypothetical Paul Ryan calling me racist over hard demographic numbers and his nouveau-Atwater schtick would get a big ol', "Oh please, Paul, don't you throw me in that briar patch." Because then I'd get to grill him over the actual racist effects of his policy, and do so as an incredulous Socratic.

Can you tell I've had this argument before with my girlfriend's racist relatives? It's a lot of fun, for a certain value of pinning a bug.
posted by klangklangston at 12:01 PM on April 19 [3 favorites]


I feel like the whole Cliven Bundy thing deserves a FPP--IMO it or something like it is going to get innocent people killed, and gadflies like Hannity et al would be very much complicit--but TNC's latest bit is spot-on about the racial component that big news orgs are tiptoeing around:

Cliven Bundy and the Tyranny All Around Us
I've been laughing my way through the Cliven Bundy fiasco because, as Jamelle Bouie suggests, there may be no better example of racist privilege than the right to flout the government's authority and then back its agents down at gunpoint. Bouie asks, hypothetically, how we'd respond if Bundy were black.

Inasmuch as this is even a question, American history has already answered it (emphasis added):
In an 18-month investigation, The Associated Press documented a pattern in which black Americans were cheated out of their land or driven from it through intimidation, violence and even murder.

In some cases, government officials approved the land takings; in others, they took part in them. The earliest occurred before the Civil War; others are being litigated today. Some of the land taken from black families has become a country club in Virginia, oil fields in Mississippi, a major-league baseball spring training facility in Florida ...

The AP—in an investigation that included interviews with more than 1,000 people and the examination of tens of thousands of public records in county courthouses and state and federal archives—documented 107 land takings in 13 Southern and border states.

In those cases alone, 406 black landowners lost more than 24,000 acres of farm and timber land plus 85 smaller properties, including stores and city lots. Today, virtually all of this property, valued at tens of millions of dollars, is owned by whites or by corporations.
That is from the AP's exceptional (and oft-overlooked) 2001 series "Torn From The Land." What generally followed this tearing was not a patriotic defense of the little guy but mob violence and ethnic cleansing. In 1912, Forsyth County, Georgia, expelled 1,000 black people—10 percent of its total population—and appropriated their land. (For more on the subject, I suggest Marco Williams's superb documentary Banished.) The unfortunate fact is that plunder—of land, labor, children, whatever—is a defining characteristic of this country's relationship with black people. American militias have rarely formed to end that sort of plunder. They've generally formed to enable it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:13 AM on April 22 [7 favorites]


I feel like the whole Cliven Bundy thing deserves a FPP

It had one briefly, but it was deleted.

IMO it or something like it is going to get innocent people killed, and gadflies like Hannity et al would be very much complicit

‘Who the Hell Is on This Guy’s Side?’ Stewart Tears into Hannity for Bundy Hypocrisy
posted by homunculus at 2:23 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


This is what happens to black anti-government groups.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:22 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


This NY Times feature on Bundy is notable for two things:

1) They need some fact-checking on his claim of grazing on this land since the 1870s (try 1948. Thanks, KLAS.)

2) Um, this:
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”
posted by maudlin at 9:36 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


See, I watched Alpha House — especially episodes 6 "Zingers" and 8 "Ruby Shoals" — and thought, "Wow. Garry Trudeau really needs to switch to decaf. These redneck Tea Partier caricatures are little over the top…"
posted by ob1quixote at 10:35 PM on April 23


maudlin, it's rare that something actually makes my lower jaw drop. Congrats on that quote.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:19 AM on April 24


Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas,...

This comports with my experience when asking conservatives about their level of research into the issues surrounding poverty and race.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:26 AM on April 24 [3 favorites]


To be fair, it's also the standard of research used in the latest FPP about Popes Benedict and Francis.
posted by klangklangston at 10:08 AM on April 24


It's rains more or less constantly in northern France.


I should know. I was stuck there once for about six hours waiting for a hovercraft, and it never stopped dumping.
posted by philip-random at 10:54 AM on April 24


Michael Tomasky: Republicans Are Racists? No, It’s Just All a Big Coincidence
OK, so Bundy’s a racist. It’s fine to point that out. But point up the fact that he’s a registered Republican? That’s where I draw the line, friends. I mean, come on. That’s just a coincidence. Total cosmic coincidence.

Just like it’s a coincidence that that one black comic, a Barack Obama impersonator, was yanked offstage at an official Republican Party meeting in 2011 for telling a series of racially themed jokes. I mean, that could easily have happened at a Democratic—well, maybe not. But still. A coincidence. Just like it’s a coincidence that one federal judge who sent an email around to friends saying that Obama’s father was a dog happened to be a Republican. Complete and utter accident of fate, the puny matter of his voter enrollment.

Those rancidly racist T-shirts and posters one sometimes sees at Tea Party rallies? They’re just a coincidence, too. I mean, Tea Party people might not be Republican, strictly speaking, and it’s totally unfair to assume that! OK, Tea Party candidates run in Republican primaries, not Democratic ones, and the Tea Party caucus in the House doesn’t include one Democrat. But still. Guilt by association!

Bundy has a broad libertarian streak, too. But please, let’s not suggest that libertarian-leaning Republicans might be a little racist, too. I mean, again, what’s the evidence for such a statement? What—the fact that Ron Paul’s ghostwriter(s) of his newsletters in the 1990s had very clear Confederate sympathies? If I were you, I would be careful about drawing any inferences from that. It was a long time ago. And a sentence like this one: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began” ...well, admit it. It’s open to ambiguity. Can be interpreted in any number of ways.

What’s that? You counter by telling me that all that was two decades ago? OK. You’re right. And you’re right that it’s also a coincidence that his son Rand’s ghostwriter—that’s Rand Paul, the current Republican front-runner to be the party’s presidential nominee in 2016—on his book also has expressed sympathetic views about the Confederacy? Remember this guy—called himself the Southern Avenger, was photographed wearing a stars and bars superhero kind of mask? It’s just a coincidence that he ended up in Rand Paul’s orbit.

Really. Stop taking these little things out of context and acting like they constitute a pattern. They just don’t. OK?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:50 AM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I don't think Republicans are racists so much as racists are Republicans, and Republicans are happy to have those votes.
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


From zombieflanders link: And by the way—you still haven’t explained what Robert Byrd was doing in the KKK.

No, but Byrd did.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:56 PM on April 25


I don't think Republicans are racists so much as racists are Republicans, and Republicans are happy to have those votes.
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 AM on April 25 [5 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


Of course, this position requires that one not consider it to be racist if one utilizes racists to accomplish ones goals, knowing that those goals appeal to racists because they hurt blacks more than whites. It's an issue about which reasonable people could differ, I grant.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:04 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Charles Pierce: Mike Pence Runs Up the Stars and Bars
In downtown Indianapolis, there's this massive monument to the people from Indiana who have died in our various wars, particularly the nearly 25,000 Hoosiers who died in the War of Southern Sedition. I mention this only to point out that the National Rifle Association is meeting in Indianapolis at the moment, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence made them welcome by edging right up to being on the wrong side of the dispute that cost so many Hoosiers their lives. This, of course, is the on-ramp to the expressway to Bundyville, although Pence would be horrified if you pointed that out to him.
"Washington is not only broke, it's broken. The cure for what ails this country will come more from our state capitals than it ever will from our national capital. Despite what some may think in Washington, our state governments are not territorial outposts of the national government. The states are the wellspring of the American experiment. It will not be enough to cut federal spending; the next generation of leaders must permanently reduce the size and scope of the federal government by returning to the states the rights, resources, and responsibilities that are rightfully theirs!"

(Dear god, if only the late Mr. Riley were alive to hear this.)

This view of things was litigated at the Constitutional Convention. It failed. It was litigated over the tariff. It failed. It was litigated at Cemetery Ridge. It failed. It was litigated prior to the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. It failed. It was litigated at Central High in Little Rock. It failed. It was litigated on the campus at Ole Miss in 1962. It failed. It was litigated at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It failed. It is the connective tissue that binds modern conservativism inextricably to the remnants of American apartheid because this view of the nature of the nation always was the expression of threat that the slaveholder felt about his way of life. It camouflaged itself in a number of ways involving a number of different issues, but always it was about the fear that, sooner or later, the federal government was going to come and take away the chattel from which you derived your personal economy, and so even what might be beneficial to the nation as a whole must be resisted on the pretext of sovereign states.
[...]
States rights always was the constitutional camouflage for white supremacy, be that during the time of slavery or the time of Jim Crow. It has been the single greatest impediment to the intellectual and political progress of the American nation almost since that nation's founding, and it always has been the last refuge of the truly retrograde. Welcome to it, Mike Pence.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:16 AM on April 28 [4 favorites]


« Older Muppet Christ Superstar by Christopher Graham...  |  "Knowing we are watching somet... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments