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Todd Levin: "The United States of America According to my Racist Aunt"
October 28, 2002 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Todd Levin: "The United States of America According to my Racist Aunt" There's one in almost every family, and Todd does a hilarious map of the wisdom his racist aunt has shared over the years.
posted by leslie (71 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Um, if anyone actually knows todd levin, can you tell him i'd like to propose to him, please? thank you.
posted by tristeza at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2002


"Are you kidding? The Mexicans will kill you for sure. I read an article abou this."

[hilarity ensues]
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:15 PM on October 28, 2002


"No one should be this far away from a bagel." Digging for pearls of wisdom in the oddest of places...
posted by Space Coyote at 2:23 PM on October 28, 2002


"Does Virginia really need two states?"

Only if it means we can disown NoVa.
posted by hippugeek at 2:32 PM on October 28, 2002


Technically, it's the wisdom his racist aunt shared in the course of one maniacal session, but I'm sure most of it has come up in various contexts over the years. At any rate, fantastic find -- thanks!

tristeza: Just go here and put "will you marry me?" in the Subject line. I'm pretty sure he'll at least write back.
posted by languagehat at 2:55 PM on October 28, 2002


Mmmm, prime rib....
posted by 2sheets at 3:01 PM on October 28, 2002


I am a freak, if only because I am a New York Jew, and yet no releative closer than my first cousin either lives in, winters in, or regularly visits Florida.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:11 PM on October 28, 2002


Ahhh I am a nice person....
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:13 PM on October 28, 2002


I'm just sick...

But I knew that.
posted by silusGROK at 3:22 PM on October 28, 2002



That is just too funny. While not Jewish, I get the same reaction from my Italian side, just change the words a bit.

Great link.
posted by lampshade at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2002


Only if it means we can disown NoVa.

Why, doesn't it go?
posted by kindall at 4:14 PM on October 28, 2002


Maybe I'm just spoiled by all the racists I know, but this left me kinda disappointed. Racist people say such mind-numbingly stupid things...but this was actually kinda mild. Then again, maybe I just know an excessive amount of mind-numbingly stupid racists. Hmmm...
posted by Zulujines at 4:36 PM on October 28, 2002


He probably did some editing so as to not be overly offensive.
posted by Recockulous at 4:43 PM on October 28, 2002


* <-- I live there
posted by briank at 4:53 PM on October 28, 2002


There's another kind, Zulujines?
posted by salmacis at 4:58 PM on October 28, 2002


My state is in the way. It's also a fly over state.
posted by Ron at 5:25 PM on October 28, 2002


The Klan will kill you where I live.

If the Masons don't get you first. Heh.
posted by konolia at 5:34 PM on October 28, 2002


Just another racist with a forum. Is there really one in "almost every family"? Do the rest of you have a racist family member and if you do, why do you put up with it?
posted by ?! at 5:40 PM on October 28, 2002


Sure. My dear departed grandma used to sound off about "the coloreds" and "the Mexicans" (meaning, of course, Latino New Yorkers.)

You could try to take her to task, but really, it was hopeless.
posted by adamgreenfield at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2002


I've got a racist uncle. I already don't talk to the guy, beyond that there's not much I can do.
posted by stoneegg21 at 6:02 PM on October 28, 2002


why do you put up with it?

um.. they're family. i love them.

so they have a different point of view. i think after 90+ years on this earth they are entitled to it.
posted by PugAchev at 6:26 PM on October 28, 2002


Todd's a very funny writer. I scared him at work one time because I was cursing at the computer. We were younger then.
posted by swerdloff at 6:45 PM on October 28, 2002


Do the rest of you have a racist family member and if you do, why do you put up with it?

My dear racist Grandmother and I actually got along nicely and had great conversations. We knew where one another stood in terms of racial issues. She'd say (bless her heart she tried) "those *** did such-and-such....well, not all of them are ***, but anyway..." You have got to see the humor in their old school naivety in order to maintain a relationship with them. Of course, if it were anyone else talking like that - it'd offend, annoy, antagonize, etc.
posted by Modem Ovary at 6:53 PM on October 28, 2002


Do the rest of you have a racist family member and if you do, why do you put up with it?

Four sweet, simple little words: I'm in the will.

But seriously, what the hell are we supposed to do? People are products of their times and the older they get, the more they resist change. Strange as it may seem, it is possible to be a basically decent person and at the same time have some poltically incorrect prejudicies.

My father, for instance, has been known to use racially insensitive language on occasion. Yet he spent a good chunk of his life teaching juvenile delinquents a trade, demanding that every single one of them do the best they were capable of. Many of them rose to the occasion and took the opportunity of the sealing of their juvenile record to make a fresh start. He still has letters from some of those kids who, years later, wrote to thank him for pushing them to be their best and giving them the discipline they needed to escape the cycle of poverty and crime. Many of them were the very minorities he would sometimes disparage. A contradiction? Well, you know what Whitman said about those, I'm sure.

The way I see it, everyone's entitled to a character flaw. Those who were born in poverty and yet not only overcame their own obstacles, but managed to send two kids to college and leave the world a little better than they found it, might even be entitled to two.
posted by kindall at 7:07 PM on October 28, 2002


Most of my extended family makes racist comments...what can I do? They already scare the hell out of me without saying a word. Racism is just one of the many things I dislike about them. ;-)
But as our friend Todd Levin clearly illustrates, most of what they say is so ridiculous you can't take them seriously anyway. They're like children who insist the moon is made of cheese; you just smile and hope that one day they'll overcome their ignorance.
posted by Zulujines at 7:23 PM on October 28, 2002


Is it stupid comments like these that are going to have more black men in prison by 2017 than there were at the height of slavery?

t
posted by Slimemonster at 7:58 PM on October 28, 2002


Why, doesn't it go?

Nope. Clashes with the SoFa.

Do the rest of you have a racist family member and if you do, why do you put up with it?

This drastically oversimplifies the situation, ?!. Like kindall's father, my grandfather is far from sensitive to racial matters, but he was also the first Sears manager to hire blacks to management positions. I'm not remotely trying to defend racism or people who refuse to confront it, but there are extentuating circumstances--like Alzheimer's. While telling a story about serving in the Pacific, my grandfather refered to "our gooks," then paused and said, "We called them gooks in those days." He knew the word was no longer appropriate, but simply couldn't come up with the acceptable term.
Besides, sometimes prejudiced people earn their own comeupence. Arriving late to a meeting in Alabama many years ago, the afore-mentioned gentleman tossed his keys to the neatly-dressed young black man standing outside the building and said, "Here, boy, park my car." The young man did--in Mississippi. I'm sure the incident did nothing to improve my grandfather's attitude, but that guy is my hero.
posted by hippugeek at 8:30 PM on October 28, 2002


As a racist (local #347), I am highly disappointed to see my people so poorly represented by both Mr. Levin's cyber-antics and many of the supportive comments I've just read.

Let's get ourselves straight here. Mr. Levin's aunt may have some foolish ideas. Heck, she may be highly ignorant or even a totally fictitious construct, but her prejudices are just incidental, a by-product of her harmless stupidity. And I say "harmless" because she, like many of our relatives - particularly those of an older generation - are powerless to affect change. At the most, they'll make a comment that their dog "hates coloreds" or they'll feel unsafe in a rib restaurant. They're more scared than scary, and to focus your energies on attacking (or in my case, fortifying) their beliefs is about as productive and rewarding as trying to teach a squirrel gun safety.

Sadly, people like this dilute the institutional hatred that racists like me have spent so many years to groom. Imagine how I feel as I try to build more prisons for black men or create ethnically biased standardized tests, or poison our nation's grape soda supply - real hard work and dedication - and I have to be lumped in with lazy, opinionated bumpkins like Mr. Levin's aunt. It's insulting.

As for Mr. Slimemonster - and I'll bet that's not even your real name - I appreciate your passion. Your work with C.U.R.E. Seattle (the campaign to undo racism everywhere, beginning with seattle) is a brave stab at American racism's very heart - the Pacific Northwest. But know this and know it well: you may cure racism against the four Korean guys in Seattle today, but what about tomorrow? Are you going to have the energy to fight civil rights struggles in other hot zones like Eugene, Oregon? Or Salt Lake City, Utah? Or Vancouver, British Columbia? Good luck, because everywhere you criticize someone for saying "let's get Mexican food" instead of "let's get Mexican-American food", I'll be right behind you at the takeout window.
posted by colonelcornblast at 8:33 PM on October 28, 2002 [1 favorite]


Slimemonster, I very much understand your point, but that's a misleading statistic. For one thing, there are more black men in the American population now than there were during slavery--there are also more white, Hispanic, and Asian men and women in prison than ever before. For another thing, most black men during slavery weren't in prison--they were enslaved.
And colonelcornblast, I see you joined Metafilter solely to make that idiotic comment. Congratulations on a new low.
posted by hippugeek at 8:42 PM on October 28, 2002


Good one, hippugeek. Way to slam the colonel, a far more upstanding member of society than you'll ever be.
posted by chaz at 8:43 PM on October 28, 2002


Is it stupid comments like these that are going to have more black men in prison by 2017 than there were at the height of slavery?

No, I think that actually has more to do with the quantity of black men committing crimes.

Oops, did I just say that! I'm sorry! Please don't sic the ACLU on me!! I have black friends!! Really! Black people love me!
posted by oissubke at 9:32 PM on October 28, 2002


hippugeek--colonelcornblast is Todd Levin, the source of the link.

Oops, did I just say that! I'm sorry! Please don't sic the ACLU on me!! I have black friends!! Really! Black people love me!

Carlos--not only a big ego but racist, too?
posted by y2karl at 9:41 PM on October 28, 2002


Well, hell. Despite looking at his profile, I was half way through the blog before I realized that the colonel is Todd Levin. My powers of observation must be suffering from caffiene depravation. My apologies for the joined-just-for-that-comment bit, CCB/TL, but I still think your comment came out as a mean-spirited and ineffective response.
And chaz, I may be a lousy researcher, but I think I'm hardly a plague on society. If you do indeed have evidence to the contrary, I'd be really interested to see it.

(on preview, thanks y2karl. I'm glad someone is paying attention.)
posted by hippugeek at 9:54 PM on October 28, 2002


I thought it was a humorous observation, and well presented.

'nuff said.
posted by yhbc at 9:56 PM on October 28, 2002


Is it stupid comments like these that are going to have more black men in prison by 2017 than there were at the height of slavery?

I'm reading into your point the same thing I consider when chuckling at the cute little old lady talking about the coloreds: if we find humor in racism among the older generation, aren't we perpetuating it? I say no, not for those of us who are understanding and reasonable. I know the difference between a 90-year-old bitching about the [insert race here] and a 10, 20, 50 year-old bitching about the same thing. It's not a clear line when the generation gap closes, so I'm not going to expend the mental energy over analyzing but I think you know where I'm coming from. But yes, I do consider what I read as your point because there are people in the world who are not understanding or reasonably intellegent.
posted by Modem Ovary at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2002


I have a racist (Great-) Aunt. Horrible, unapologetic, intractable racist... but also a huge college football fan.

Now you might ask yourself... "How does she bring herself to root for teams that might have a high percentage of non-white players?"

She dismisses it with the (oft repeated) phrase "The better they play the whiter they get." ... It'd be hilarious if it was fiction.
posted by cadastral at 10:15 PM on October 28, 2002


There's a difference between laughing with your racist aunt and laughing at her. By lampooning her as a ridiculous figure whose views are so deluded that the world should join together in a chorus of laughter and derisive finger-pointing, Todd has earned his tolerance merit badge.

When a relative occasionally says something that's racist, I often wonder if I'm becoming part of the problem by not destroying whatever rapport I have with the person by loudly denouncing them. Instead, I prefer to say nothing, shift uncomfortably, and appear to be experiencing a momentary bout of mild nausea.
posted by rcade at 10:18 PM on October 28, 2002


And I say "harmless" because she, like many of our relatives - particularly those of an older generation - are powerless to affect change.

I know the difference between a 90-year-old bitching about the [insert race here] and a 10, 20, 50 year-old bitching about the same thing.


I agree--the age/influence thing is key. People who are 90 in 2002 almost certainly won't be affecting events in 2017. The exception is elderly figures with power--say Strom Thurmond--whose prejudices may have concrete effects on the world and who do need to be challenged.
posted by hippugeek at 10:28 PM on October 28, 2002


I think that everyone has at least one racist family member - there is not much you can do about it, as the fact that they are racist in the first place means they are unlikely to be swayed from their beliefs by any logic. You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your relatives.

Unless, of course, the relative in question is young enough to know better (hard to tell exactly where that line is, though). In that case, you should do everything you can to sway them. Easier said than done, of course.
posted by dg at 10:50 PM on October 28, 2002


Carlos--not only a big ego but racist, too?

y2karl, I think the joke's on you in this particular instance, sir.
And a good one at that.
posted by hama7 at 11:03 PM on October 28, 2002


You missed the MetaTalk thread and consequently my mea culpa.
But on topic, hama7, I asked you a question over here---Was this serious or satire?
Do you or do you not think Rehnquist was over the line in his youth when he intimidated black voters at the polls. Do you think Tim Hutchinson is singling out black voters to harass or not? On a related topic, Jesse Helms not only voted against making Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday but went to court to try to prevent it. What's your line on that?
posted by y2karl at 11:57 PM on October 28, 2002


The older generations tend to be more racist. I can see it in my family. But you got to remember it was a different time then. I bet 95% of us would be racist as well if we grew up in the same environment as our grandparents and great grandparents (the ones that are racist at least).
posted by Ron at 12:12 AM on October 29, 2002


I often wonder if I'm becoming part of the problem... by not loudly denouncing them.

My family's previous generation hails from the farmlands of North Carolina, and their racism is deeply ingrained. I spent one agonizing thanksgiving afternoon listening to them hatefully disparage anything even remotely non-Caucasian, until finally I could take no more.

The proverbial straw came from an eight-year-old nephew who was proudly parroting his father's prejudices, and I simply couldn't hold my tongue any longer. "Oh good for you," I spat at him, breaking my silence for the first time, "just what the world needs; another fucking bigot."

Shocked silence from the room of relatives, and no sooner had the attack left my mouth than I felt positively monstrous for taking out my frusturation on a mere kid. I wonder, however, if I managed to make enough of an impression that he stops and thinks before simply spouting the things he hears.

It's taken me years to unlearn the racism I was inundated with as a child.
posted by johnnyace at 12:28 AM on October 29, 2002


More on topic, hama7, in the MetaTalk thread that I now realize you likely saw, I said I really regretted making that accusation towards oissubke in the comment above and asked Matt to delete the MetaTalk thread and that comment, too. Well, I got half my wish.

I dislike people who call other people racist unless, like in the case of Jesse Helms, it is blatantly true. But the problem is that after people of my generation saw white policemen beating black men and women, siccing police dogs on them, knocking them over with firehoses and such, that overt racism became socially unacceptable. Covert racism, on the other hand, like when in other days, Jesse Helms used the word Fred to refer to blacks, is often too slick to pin down.

Like many here--now johnnyace, I see--I, too, grew up in a house where it ran from casual to downright pathological--a guy who screamed nigger this and nigger that and called us little nigger lovers and, when he really got his thing on, would go around saying things like Hitler had the right idea--you know, this was after Word War II, when that sort of thing had become totally unacceptable, even in Idaho.

Later, when he couldn't say nigger anymore, it was the blackies, and after that, he kept his mouth shut on the epithets but would incessantly bring up Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who are not like my favorite people, for their flaws, from time to time... but you know, I don't have to draw you a picture here.

So, when I see people with a hair up their ass about people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, or harping on blacks and crime--oh, and they're just joking!--and that's just about it from them on the topic of race, well, it makes me wonder...

The great and universal sin is to look away from our cruelties--like the cesspools we allow our prisons to be--and pretend nothing is wrong or that's how things should be, like the Poles living outside of Auschwitz, interviewed in Shoah--why they had no idea of where all those Jews in those boxcars were going and what could they have done if they knew? I hate making accusations, knowing the darkness in my own heart and having seen it in others. But there is that tacit dimension we all share beyond words and, in that, I see you.
posted by y2karl at 12:51 AM on October 29, 2002


like the cesspools we allow our prisons to be--

Our (and by "our" I mean American) prisons are the most comfortable and expensive in the world. Many seem to prefer being in them than in the real world.

But there is that tacit dimension we all share beyond words and, in that, I see you.

Well you must have some pretty damn imaginative vision then, or maybe it's the kaleidoscope lenses of political correctness run amok, but in any case, it's pretty foul to presume to know what I think, and in any case it's none of your business.

But it's sadly par for the course for the P.C. fascist hate-police, who forget how lucky we are as Americans to think what we please, love what we love and hate what we hate, as long as we do not harm anybody or prevent them from enjoying same. Attempting to outlaw hate is as scary and totalitarian as anything happening in North Korea or, well, Canada; do-goodniks who try to outlaw thought.

I know it's very progressive and sophisticated to scream "racism" at any turn of phrase these days, but it really does a disservice to *actual* racism, which is dangerous and real. Let's be realistic, and cease the 'gestapo tactic' political crap that dilutes and trivializes real issues.
posted by hama7 at 1:49 AM on October 29, 2002


like the cesspools we allow our prisons to be-

By the way, how do you know they are "cesspools"? Have you ever seen one?

Also, I will respond to your previous question in the older thread.
posted by hama7 at 2:32 AM on October 29, 2002


exactly.
cesspools are getting a really bad press these days,
maybe someone should start a pr offensive on their behalf.

this map may help the people in my country educate themselves about the us....
picture the map with just the word 'yanks' across it.
or picture the map with 'king kong 'in the east,
'disneyland, fuckin barry' for florida 'southfork' for dallas 'smokey and the bandit ' for the rest of the south, 'sean connerys hoose' for california , 'canada' for seattle and question marks for the rest.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:13 AM on October 29, 2002


You mean you peoplereally do use the word "barry," and Irvine Welsh didn't make it up?

Well shet ma mouth.

posted by adamgreenfield at 4:25 AM on October 29, 2002


You mean you people really do use the word "barry," and Irvine Welsh didn't make it up?

Well shet ma mouth.
posted by adamgreenfield at 4:25 AM on October 29, 2002


picture a map of scotland with just the word 'im on heroin' across it and you might just get sgt.serenity's point.
posted by shoos at 4:49 AM on October 29, 2002


Jesse Helms hires black people, but the reality is in order to get elected in North Carolina (rednecks vote, you see ) you at least had to give that impression. That and vote for anything pro-tobacco. This is starting to change (and this is Jesse's last term-after all, the man is 81)...

My dad tells n***** jokes but he has learned the hard way that I refuse to listen to them. I am active in racial reconciliation events, and he actually came to see one (in this case a play) and actually enjoyed it. My mom now hugs black people she used to work with, and that is something that 30 years ago just would have NOT happened. Social attitudes die hard but I am starting to see a shift finally happen. Of course I am in a relatively progressive area-you go out in the sticks and it is still even dangerous to be an interracial couple in these areas, for example.

All we can do is set a good example and call it out when it happens.
posted by konolia at 6:45 AM on October 29, 2002 [2 favorites]


"My apologies for the joined-just-for-that-comment bit, CCB/TL, but I still think your comment came out as a mean-spirited and ineffective response."

I guess I'm just really surprised how literal-minded your response was, and how literal-minded many of the responses have been. The reason I wrote that comment not to fan flames, necessarily, but to point out the ridiculousness of "Slimemonster's" (i can't believe i have to type that name in a now-serious discussion) attributing a staggering, scary statistic to a few people who tolerate the occasionally racist mutterings of their doddering 90 year-old antebellum southern grandparents.

In that post I made fun of Slimemonster's (and i can't believe i am explaining this) involvement in CureSeattle because it seems to represent almost the same dilemma as his/her post citing prison statistics: making attacks outside the source of the problem.

Strom Thurmond is in (technically, at this point) a seat of power. Therefore his racist views are more troubling. My aunt is a retired stenographer and owns an above-ground pool. I'm not really going to worry about her point of view too much, since my own POV is in place.
posted by colonelcornblast at 8:25 AM on October 29, 2002


Good luck, because everywhere you criticize someone for saying "let's get Mexican food" instead of "let's get Mexican-American food", I'll be right behind you at the takeout window.
yes, Taco Bell, yuck.

Called Tex-Mex here in Texas, which is not what I call authentic Mexican food like you would find in Mexico City.

picture the map with just the word 'yanks' across it.

Can't owned by the Indians.

or picture the map with 'king kong 'in the east,

Yes, but Godzilla came from the east too.

'disneyland, fuckin barry' for florida

They grow oranges in Florida, and Disneyland was first opened on the west coast.

'southfork' for dallas


Not in Dallas.

'smokey and the bandit ' for the rest of the south,


Haven't seen a bandit in these parts, we have cell phones now instead of CB's and Coors is sold here now too.

'sean connerys hoose' for california

Sorry, never thought he lived here while growing up, he just jetted in for the movies.

, 'canada' for seattle and question marks for the rest.

Well saw allot of Canadians in that part of the US but I do know the rest of the area and am not puzzled to the names.

Unless you've traveled to a location you're better off not making assumptions since your remarks will be naive than native. That's all nothing wrong, at least the natives get a laugh out of it.

PS, being racist is stopping or banning a person from doing what is a born right of theirs not name calling or labeling.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:21 AM on October 29, 2002


sadly par for the course for the P.C. fascist hate-police?

Let's be realistic, and cease the 'gestapo tactic' political crap that dilutes and trivializes real issues?

You're talking out both sides of your mouth. there, hama7. But with this I do agree:

I know it's very progressive and sophisticated to scream "racism" at any turn of phrase these days, but it really does a disservice to *actual* racism, which is dangerous and real.

But, um...

On a related topic, Jesse Helms not only voted against making Martin Luther King's birthday a holiday but went to court to try to prevent it. What's your line on that?
posted by y2karl at 11:52 AM on October 29, 2002


Colonel, thanks for the further explanation. I understood your original comment just as you meant it. I also felt then, and continue to feel, that it would have been more productive to address Slimemonster's point more directly, as you just did, instead of including that snarky last paragraph. But then I made a rude remark that both destroyed my right to call you on anything and made it look like I took your post literally. I apologize again for the confusion and my own idioticy, and I hope we can carry on peaceful discussion from this point forward. And for what it's worth, I agree with you.

Our (and by "our" I mean American) prisons are the most comfortable and expensive in the world. Many seem to prefer being in them than in the real world.

There are some fairly comfortable prisons. I can guarantee you that they do not treat prisoners with any kind of dignity or turn out truly rehabilitated, helpful members of society. Many people leave prison with little education, no useful skills (which it would be easy to give them in prison), drug habits, and mental illnesses. I tend to think the recidivism rate is largely due to the fact that it's hard for these people to get steady jobs once they are freed, rather than that they enjoy living in cells with no privacy, no security from abusive inmates and guards, and no respect.
posted by hippugeek at 3:40 PM on October 29, 2002


colonelcornblast: (And I can't believe I have to type that...)

It's not often we get the chance to respond directly to the "friend of the person" who makes a Front Page Post. As one of the "small, loud minority" who comments I'd like to thank those who took my serious question and gave me a serious response.

On the other hand, I understood the comment you made as "colonelcornblast", but why hide yourself? You obviously expected someone to notice you were Todd Levin. So, why refer to "Mr. Levin?" Why not just make your comment as yourself?

Was it easier just to pretend someone else said it? Maybe your possibly "totally fictitious construct" of an aunt could have answered? You ascribe the basis of the racism expounded by your aunt to the "racist mutterings of (their)doddering 90 year-old antebellum southern grandparents."

I gather from that argument that advanced age, living in the southeastern USA, or having progeny beyond one generation is what it takes to be a racist...or at least play one on the Internet.

I gather your age is less than 90. You work in Brooklyn. Do you have grandchildren? Are you doddering? Todd, I think it is easy to hide your own fears and prejudices by repeating the racist jokes of "others." I believe a lot of children learn their own prejudices that way.

I know, it's just a joke, but Aaron Hawkins said it best: "The biggest problem with the net is, it's almost impossible to tell honest, over-the-top stupidity from satirical, over-the-top stupidity."
posted by ?! at 5:14 PM on October 29, 2002


Seriously, you people have no fucking sense of humor. Way to take a ridiculous, funny-ass, surreal post and beat it to death with the sincerity stick. jesus.
posted by tristeza at 6:27 PM on October 29, 2002


On the other hand, I understood the comment you made as "colonelcornblast", but why hide yourself? You obviously expected someone to notice you were Todd Levin. So, why refer to "Mr. Levin?" Why not just make your comment as yourself?

I'm sorry, ?!, I didn't realize that people had to use their real names at mefi.
posted by SoftRain at 7:18 PM on October 29, 2002


softrain: they obviously don't.

But don't you think it is misleading to create a membership to respond to a post about yourself by pretending to be someone else?

It reminds me of a newsgroup troll who posts under a second bogus account to give the impression more than one person shares his/her view.

Many shared Mr. Levin's view. I just wondered why he didn't just say, "Hey, that's my site..."


tristeza: I, for one, have a fucking sense of humor. As a matter of fact, my sense of humor is on her back 3/4 of the day. I got her the Pill before I ended up with little limericks and puny puns doing standup all over the house.

I don't find "starving Ethiopian" jokes funny either. Do you think good ol' Aunt Levin would? Or would she be an idiot for laughing at another's pain?
posted by ?! at 8:20 PM on October 29, 2002


I'm with tristeza on that one...I debated whether or not to post my first comment for fear it would turn things ugly. My original point was that I wished Mr. Levin had gone further in exposing the ignorance of racists, since their stupidity seems to be limitless. In admitting that I too have racist relatives and friends whom I tolerate, it appears I am racist by association. Ideally, every time anyone I know says anything idiotic, I would immediately show them the error of their ways. I would use every family gathering as an opportunity to expose ignorance and promote civil rights. I would have strict criteria for determining which people were, based on their level of awareness and respect for humankind, worthy of my time. Of course, I could never hope to match the inexhaustible amount of righteousness of, say, Slimemonster--but I could at least be spared their wrath.
But the reality is, I love these people despite their beliefs, and I can't put them through that kind of abuse. Instead, I choose my battles wisely: I gently reproach those who I know can handle it, and ignore those who have the intelligence of limestone. Then, I sit down with colonelcornblast, eat strawberry sorbet, and plot the effective use of satire. Maybe we'll never change limestone, but we can still point out how absolutely fucking ridiculous it is.
posted by Zulujines at 8:29 PM on October 29, 2002


As far as colonelcornblast posting here, I don't see how it was at all 'wrong'....his name and website is listed in his profile--not exactly incognito or sneaky. If you misunderstood his post, you missed the beauty of his site: satire. In order to appreciate it, you have to understand that it's an indirect attack--the clues that expose its underlying message are subtle--but that doesn't mean it's any less sincere.
posted by Zulujines at 8:51 PM on October 29, 2002


Hey ?!, stop messing with the little fish like Levin! I just read about this asshole Mark Twain who wrote some stuff about eating babies but totally wasn't saying what he meant, total frigging jerk. Oh wait, did I miss the whole point of what you were saying?
posted by beefula at 8:53 PM on October 29, 2002


But don't you think it is misleading to create a membership to respond to a post about yourself by pretending to be someone else?

ok ok.

this is sort of boring, and something i would have gladly handled in an email to you directly, ?!, but since i didn't see your address in your profile, now everyone gets to hear. all apologies.

first of all, i set up that profile that very day, but it was before this thread actually mutated into something new. my point is, it wasn't premeditated as you imply; i didn't set up a profile specifically to contribute to answer this often-scintillating thread. your detective work is commendable, though. i'll be sure to include it in my report to your superiors.

and since i didn't set up the profile exclusively for the thread's benefit (and probably wouldn't have even contributed at all had i not become discouraged after seeing the direction some of the comments were going. giving in was my biggest mistake.), i didn't give any thought to "hiding" behind some kind fake identity. that might have been why i included MY REAL NAME and MY WEB SITE ADDRESS in the profile. again, nice detective work in collecting a series of not especially relevant facts from my site which you were then able to flash around in your post with great zeal.

so, finally, why did i pretend to be someone else? to bolster my point of view, as you suggested? no, ace, because i never stated a point of view initially. i just created something. by posting "in character" i was hoping to sort of make a small point through exaggeration and satire. a fiction to explain another fiction. some people got it. perhaps some didn't. some people (well, someone. well, you.) turned it into some kind of investigation. i think you've really made it unnecessarily loaded, and unnecessarily complicated.

as for your sense of humor, does this paragraph (posted by you) demonstrate it?

tristeza: I, for one, have a fucking sense of humor. As a matter of fact, my sense of humor is on her back 3/4 of the day. I got her the Pill before I ended up with little limericks and puny puns doing standup all over the house.

if so, that explains EVERYTHING.

now if you feel you need to be vindicated any further, why don't you clip on your jr. detective badge and contact me through my site, so we can leave these nice people alone? i'm sure they'll miss your trenchant wit, but you can always pick a new fight tomorrow.

if, however, you are someone who requires a last word, no matter how uninteresting that last word is to everyone else in the room, be my guest. i'll be in my study, combing my false moustaches and beards.
posted by colonelcornblast at 9:03 PM on October 29, 2002


I just read about this asshole Mark Twain who wrote some stuff about eating babies...
(very small voice)
that was jonathan swift
(/very small voice)
posted by hippugeek at 9:57 PM on October 29, 2002


It's true, Mark Twain wasn't really his name.
posted by kindall at 11:14 PM on October 29, 2002


use false names on the internet is wrong, and ought to be illegal.
posted by chaz at 11:21 PM on October 29, 2002


When a relative occasionally says something that's racist, I often wonder if I'm becoming part of the problem by not destroying whatever rapport I have with the person by loudly denouncing them.

You should read Paul Kivel's Uprooting Racism, I think you'd quite like it.

When my wife and I visited my grandparents together for the first time, my great-grandmother came over, took one look at my wife and exclaimed something in Polish to the effect of "she's a nigger!" and we haven't seen her since. No more trips to New Jersey with my Dad and my brother -- apparently it was easier to end a thirty-year tradition of huge Christmas Eve dinners than to invite my wife and son. Sometimes I think I should have just left the family at home and gone to New Jersey to sit around and chuckle with the silly old racists. Hell, I'm still white, aren't I?

The family won't tell great-grandma that we're married with a 2 year old son because they're afraid she'll have a stroke and die. She could literally die if she found out I married a black woman. Babci, I'm still white, aren't I?

But, eh, she's harmless. I mean, that's not *actual* racism, is it? I mean, my 90-year old grandmother isn't heaving flaming bottles of gasoline through our windows, is she?
posted by sudama at 6:50 AM on October 30, 2002


Zulujines: I understood “colonelcornblasts” satire. I even found that post amusing. I still believe an upfront “behind the scenes” comment would have been preferable.

Beefula: The difference is Mr. Swift understood satire. Maybe you believe Mr. Levin was attacking the views of his racist aunt through irony, derision, or wit. Maybe even I believe he intended to. My original post wasn’t as concerned with the humor or lack of humor of the piece I simply couldn’t believe so many people had racist relatives that they humored. I asked if it was true.
posted by ?! at 7:12 AM on October 30, 2002


Colonelcornblast: I understand you find responding boring. If you had really wanted to handle this in an email you could have posted “?! Write me” and I would have.

Frankly there was no detective work. You had joined metafilter on that day. You were a new name to me. I read your site and your other available pieces to understand your point of view. If I don’t bother doing that I’m simply yelling my opinion into the dark without worry of learning from others. For example, if you had bothered to learn anything about me – easily done by reading some of my other posts -- you might know why I don’t post my email in a public forum.

If you want to defend your work through satire or exaggeration, fine. Metafilter is a fine place to do so. Most of us are adults. The vast majority understand such tools. However, not everyone is going to agree with your position. I, for one, found your first comment much more effective as satire than your map. I can find that amusing and still ask about the motivation of joining Metafilter the day a friend posts a FPP to your site.

If you’ll bother reading the first post I made on this link you’ll see how I responded to your map. “Just another racist with a forum.” I was actually more interested in the reactions of those who are members of Metafilter.

I didn’t make this discussion “unnecessarily loaded” or “unnecessarily complicated.” People who found your map funny said so and moved on. Others, myself included, used it as the start of a discussion on the issue of racism in families. Your effort to use colonelcornblast to expand your satire derailed that thread.

To answer your question, humor is very situational for me. Often it is in the moment and can’t be retold. For example, I just laughed at “if so, that explains EVERYTHING.” Great response to a perfect set-up.

I feel absolutely no need to be vindicated. I do wonder if your request for contact is disingenuous. I can assure you I pick no fights here and welcome you read my work to prove it to yourself. However, I’ll copy this and email it to you. You are welcome to respond if you truly want a dialogue.
posted by ?! at 7:13 AM on October 30, 2002


?!: No, you derailed the thread with an insulting remark and a question that shows you know very little about the world (which is odd, since you're old enough to have a teenage daughter). And now you've completely taken it over. Congratulations. By the way, I took you up on your disingenuous "if you had bothered to learn anything about me – easily done by reading some of my other posts" (it's not that easy, with 82 comments) and I learned that "Currently my family doesn't put anything truly personal online because it would give too much information to an ex of my spouse." May I suggest that you open an e-mail account with someplace like Yahoo that doesn't cost anything or require true ID, so that MeFites can contact you? If it creates any problems (and it's hard to see why it would), you simply close the account.
posted by languagehat at 8:44 AM on October 30, 2002


languagehat: My comment I think you referred to was:

"Is there really one in "almost every family"? Do the rest of you have a racist family member and if you do, why do you put up with it?"

It was the first comment that did steer the discussion away from comments about the map being very funny. However, I didn't find it that amusing. I guess I refuse to believe you feel we should only agree with the person making the front page post. Isn't that one of the points of Metafilter comment ability -- to discuss what we find?

Everyone commenting before me found that map so funny. I wanted to understand if it was so easy for them to find the humor in spite of the cruelty because of their commonality. I don't have a racist aunt. In discussions with two friends at dinner last night they had stories similar to suduma. Maybe I do live in a different world because I choose to. I don't ignore the racism and hate in mine. I just choose not to laugh at it.

Finally, you made a good point. Maybe I've spent so much time with the stalker problem that I was overcompensating. If anyone else would like to discuss this or anything outside Metafilter you'll now find an email address on my user page.
posted by ?! at 9:34 AM on October 30, 2002


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