Congressman: Go home, you race
July 22, 2003 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Old white Congressman tells black activist to get out of his state: "The people of Michigan have a simple message to you: go home and stay there. We do not need you stirring up trouble where none exists. Michiganders do not take kindly to your ignorant meddling in our affairs. We have no need for itinerant publicity seekers, non-resident troublemakers or self-aggrandizing out-of-state agitators." (pdf link -- emphasis added) You'd be forgiven for assuming this letter was written in 1965 from a southern segregationist to a civil rights activist. But the writer is actually the most senior Democrat in Congress, John Dingell, the activist is University of California Regent (and Affirmative Action opponent) Ward Connerly, and the letter was written July 6, 2003. It seems Dingell isn't happy with Connerly’s efforts to promote a Michigan ballot initiative outlawing the use of race as a factor in hiring and college admissions. But Connerly isn't one to just bow his head and shuffle back to Cali: "[T]he term arrogance does not begin to capture the essence of a United States Congressman advising an American citizen to refrain from participating in the affairs of his government. Ironically, your advice is the echo of southern segregationists who sought the comfort of states' rights to practice their discrimination against black Americans. Have you learned nothing about 'civil rights' from that horrible chapter in our nation's history?" [via Critical Mass]
posted by pardonyou? (59 comments total)
 
1950s: "Go home, we don't need Northern agitators who want civil rights for Negroes."

2003: "Go home, we don't need Californian agitiators who want us to end our affirmative action programs."

Regardless of one's opinions on the subject, I submit that this is quite ironic.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:33 AM on July 22, 2003


Sorry, that took up more screen real estate than I thought it would

Imagine the (fully justified) outcry that would ensue if a white Republican congressperson published letter to the head of the NAACP, or even Jesse Jackson, calling them "agitators" and "troublemakers," and suggesting they "go home and stay there." It never fails to amaze me how power makes people insufferably arrogant and self-righteous, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum. Connerly has his faults, but isn't he right to call Dingell on this apparent abuse of power? Isn't he right when he says:
  • George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and others who shared their rabid and abhorrent views believed in treating people differently on the basis of skin color…and so do you.
  • They wanted to practice their brand of racism free from the interference of "meddling, outside agitators"…and so do you.
  • They called those who disagreed with them and merely wanted to exercise their right to assemble "carpetbaggers" and "non-resident troublemakers" who were "stirring up trouble where none exists"…and so do you.
  • They were arrogant and intolerant bullies…and so are you.
And bonus snark points for his opening line: "Thank you for such a warm and hospitable welcome to Michigan."
posted by pardonyou? at 7:34 AM on July 22, 2003


Man, that last link is one hell of a good retort.
posted by signal at 7:39 AM on July 22, 2003


"We reject your 'black vs. white' politics that were long ago discarded to the ash heap of history. Your brand of divisive racial politics has no place in Michigan, or in our society."

That hardly sounds like Lester Maddox to me.
posted by yerfatma at 7:40 AM on July 22, 2003


Longevity has its way of creating delusions of grandeur, and I believe that has happened to you.

You old fart!
posted by signal at 7:41 AM on July 22, 2003


What a dingell.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:47 AM on July 22, 2003


It is a saucy retort but, I think, a cynical and disingenuous one as well. Defending affirmative action is hardly the same thing as blocking the doors of the University of Alabama, which is clearly the image Connerly is trying to evoke. "Affirmative action now, and for a few more years" is nowhere close to "segregation now, segregation forever." It's also fairly insulting to the many black supporters of affirmative action in Michigan, most of whom probably do not appreciate the comparison by association. Answering divisiveness with greater divisiveness can't be the proper method for dealing with this issue.
posted by vraxoin at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2003


The setup for this is clever, but somewhat self-Godwin-ing: i.e. Hitler once said "I like pie," therefore, if you say you like pie, you must think the way Hitler does.

I understand your opinion here, pardonyou, but the implication that Dingell said something similar to a segregationist makes it tantamount to racism is ridiculous. Dingell's mistake is solely in his phrasing, not his opinion, which is being suggested as offensive by the side of the AA debate that's desperate to whine how AA is "racist."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:51 AM on July 22, 2003


xquzyphr: though I see your point about Adolf and pie, it's a false analogy, as Connerly is comparing Dingell and old-time segregastionists on relevant issues, i.e.: their refusal to aknowledge the right of all US citizens to participate in the country's governance.
posted by signal at 7:58 AM on July 22, 2003


Dingell's mistake is solely in his phrasing...

Maybe so, but isn't that a pretty big mistake? I was specifically avoiding the AA debate -- I don't think it's relevant to the issue. My principal reason for posting this was that I think it's an absurd and shocking statement for an elected representative to make. My secondary reason for posting is that I suspect Dingell won't get so much as a hand slap, while a conservative Congressman, using the same words, would get drummed out of Congress. I'm not saying the latter would be wrong, but that the former isn't right.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:00 AM on July 22, 2003


Connerly has his faults, but isn't he right to call Dingell on this apparent abuse of power

There's no abuse of power here. It's just speech.

Anyone in the country is free to write rude and abusive letters to Ward Connerly, or John Dingell, or me. Dingell's oath of office certainly didn't have a clause stating that he would refrain from writing rude and abusive letters to people, so there's no reason to think he gave up his free-expression rights when he took office.

If Congress passed a bill at his behest to bar Connerly from interstate travel, that would be an abuse of power. This is just rude and intemperate speech, to which the answer is more speech.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:10 AM on July 22, 2003


I suspect Dingell won't get so much as a hand slap, while a conservative Congressman, using the same words, would get drummed out of Congress

Some of that is just the effect of history -- we worry that conservative white guys with strong southern accents are, somewhere in their hearts, closeted cross-burners, so we interpret things they do in that light (update our beliefs with that informed-but-possibly-false prior), looking for in-code expressions of racism.

I don't think that people really worry much that northern-midwest liberals are secretly racist knuckledraggers, so we interpret Dingell's words through a different lens.

To be sure, writing rude and abusive letters to people doesn't say anything really good about Dingell, but exactly what it does mean is up to his constituents, not us. Ditto for Trent Lott.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:15 AM on July 22, 2003


There's no abuse of power here. It's just speech.

Well, how about "abuse of position"? Writing to a private citizen on official letterhead, claiming to speak for all "Michiganders" sounds like taking advantage of his position to me. Let me ask you this: If a white Republican Congressman from South Carolina wrote a letter to Jesse Jackson saying: "South Carolinians don't like you or other black people stirring up all of this trouble with this race nonsense, and you should just go home and stay there," would you say: "Ah, it's just speech," or would you say: "An elected representative should know better than to say such things, particularly on behalf of everyone in South Carolina, and there should be consequences"? Be honest, now.

On preview: I see you'd treat them differently based on ideology. I guess I find that troubling. I don't necessarily disagree that one is more ominous than the other. But the fact remains (to me) that a Congressperson should not use his or her office to take a stance that's anathema to the spirit (if not the letter) of the Constitution.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:22 AM on July 22, 2003


"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either." - Trent Lott

And he was, essentially, forced to resign his seat as Senate Majority Leader. XQUZYPHER, I'm curious...Lott expressed his opinion here, yet I distinctly remember most of MeFi shouting, "Racism!" Lott's "mistake is solely in his phrasing,"; why was Lott unable to express his opinion without political recourse?
posted by BlueTrain at 8:24 AM on July 22, 2003


Maybe so, but isn't that a pretty big mistake? I was specifically avoiding the AA debate -- I don't think it's relevant to the issue.

How is that NOT relevant to the issue? It's the context of the quotes for both sides! It's exactly what MAKES a difference between saying an AA opponent "shouldn't be an agitator" and saying "how great this country would be if Strom Thurmond's ideas came to be." Dingell's quote was directed against someone advocating legislation that could prevent blacks from going to college; that makes it VERY relevant in comparison to a quote directed against someone advocating legislation that allows them to.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:27 AM on July 22, 2003


the guy lives in dearborn fer christsake, a dingell-berry on the steaming hemorrhoid that is detroit.
posted by quonsar at 8:28 AM on July 22, 2003


I suspect Dingell won't get so much as a hand slap, while a conservative Congressman, using the same words, would get drummed out of Congress.

That's simply a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the aisle. If the past five years have taught us anything it's that Democrats and Republicans alike will make political hay with whatever poor choice of words comes at them. Political PR is not a question of "How do I differ from my opponent?" but rather one of, "How can I present my opponent in as negative light as possible?"

would you say: "Ah, it's just speech,"

You're talking apples and oranges. Your analogous statement is blatantly racist, whereas the actual letter in question is merely xenophobic and vaguely anti-intellectual: qualities which, while failings, are hardly grounds upon which to drum someone out of Congress. If they were, the Capitol would be emptied in a matter of hours.
posted by vraxoin at 8:28 AM on July 22, 2003


Congressman tells activist to get out of his state.

Why bring color of skin in on this? The letter doesn't say get out of my state black man.
posted by Yossarian at 8:37 AM on July 22, 2003


And he was, essentially, forced to resign his seat as Senate Majority Leader. XQUZYPHER, I'm curious...Lott expressed his opinion here, yet I distinctly remember most of MeFi shouting, "Racism!" Lott's "mistake is solely in his phrasing,"; why was Lott unable to express his opinion without political recourse?

Trent Lott was "punished" by being placed in a slightly less prominent position among a group of 100 of the most powerful people in the country. Ouch. Senator Man-on-Dog suffers no repercussion. G. Gordon "aim for the head" Liddy still isn't (back) in jail, and Bob "Clinton better bring a bodyguard" Dornan didn't leave until losing an election. I'm not exactly what political "recourse" is being bragged about here in regards to politicians saying stupid things.

I also don't get what you're asking here. Trent Lott said something tha even "solely in the phrasing" was blatantly racist- he suggested- multiple times- that the world would be better if the major goals of the country's most famous segregationist came to be. Are you implying Dingell said something racist as well? If so, how, if not, what are you talking about then?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:46 AM on July 22, 2003


Indeed. Playing devil's advocate here it would appear that Dingell is merely guilty of serious tactlessness. It is entirely reasonable to suggest that a local decision should be taken by local people - it just ought to have been done with significantly more politeness and respect. It looks like people are just using this as an excuse to prove the equation that opposition to AA=closet racist.
posted by prentiz at 8:50 AM on July 22, 2003


I'm curious about this tempest in a teacup - the very provocative text for this link misrepresents the simple fact that, to me, both parties are out of touch and seek to exploit the system for their gain at the expense of what's right.

I've been against affirmative action in that it seeks to remedy discrimination by discriminating. It's time to get rid of it and truly enforce equal rights for all, instead of keeping the old system and slapping a hard-to-prove, hard-to-enforce bandage on it. We've relied on affirmative action as a crutch while not bothering to fix most of the underlying issues that required it in the first place - Connerly shouldn't be fighting to keep the bandage in place, but instead should be fighting to fix the underlying issues.

Idealism aside, however, the reality is that as a society we're still really, really damn racist. The behavior of the country toward people of Middle Eastern descent, citizens or not, has been despicable since 2001. The fact that a man with brown skin can be taken off an airplane because the pilot doesn't like the way he looks horrifies me. It's getting worse, not better, despite the actions of Congressmen like Dingell to sweep it under the rug and continue as if everything's OK.

I don't like affirmative action, but I'll be darned if I can figure out how to truly enforce equal rights for all without it.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:14 AM on July 22, 2003


Racism: discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.

Discrimination: unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice [syn: favoritism].

Favortism: an inclination to favor some person or group.

Affirmative Action: a policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities.

Affirmative Action is racially discriminatory behavior designed and intended to reverse the effects of past discrimination. That's what it is, that's what it's for. Why deny it if you support Affirmative Action?
posted by techgnollogic at 9:18 AM on July 22, 2003


How on earth is this country becoming more racist, FormlessOne? What has happened to people of middle eastern descent that you find so dispicable? I'm not aware of any widespread mosque-burnings.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:21 AM on July 22, 2003


For FormlessOne and a few others, I think you have things slightly mixed up: Dingell is FOR affirmative action (and white), Connerly is AGAINST it (and Black). Connerly is attempting to get around the recent Supreme Court ruling and force the University of Michigan to drop its affirmative action program by trying to get a ballot initiative passed. I don't know if this changes the way any of you feel about about Dingell said. I personally think it was blunt and tactless, but that's pretty much Dingell's style. He likes plays up his image as curmudgenly old man in Congress.
posted by fancypants at 9:27 AM on July 22, 2003


Ward Connerly is less a black activist than a conservative activist.
posted by spork at 9:29 AM on July 22, 2003


"Out, damned spot!"
No, I didn't mean to call anyone black or anything. I'm merely quoting William Shakespeare. Much will be said about this whole affair, so I'll be brief:
-you're entitled to dislike agitators (of all stripes);
-you're entitled to dislike nonwhites, too!
-as for racial hiring/firing, I agree with Milton Friedman in the sense that you have the right to hire whoever you want, irrespective of race or gender quotas; if you make an erroneous decision, the market and the consumers will punish you;
-affirmative action is patronizing and unfair;
-one thing I particularly dislike is how some people will resort to a mysterious, ambiguous "we" which suggests they're speaking for untold millions, therefore giving people who have no clear opinion on the matter a distorted assessment of the situation in real life, namely: there is a huge silent multitude whose views re politics etc are much more conservative than what these extreme minorities suggest.
posted by 111 at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2003


Disingenuousnessfilter
posted by Space Coyote at 9:33 AM on July 22, 2003


Wow, I don't agree with Ward Connerly's positions, but Signal, you're right. His letter kicks ass. Truly amazing retort. I love it that he signs it "With equally good wishes" and says that he expects his letter to be posted on his site.
Zing.
posted by aacheson at 9:48 AM on July 22, 2003


Well, how about "abuse of position"? Writing to a private citizen on official letterhead, claiming to speak for all "Michiganders" sounds like taking advantage of his position to me.

You're entirely free to do likewise. You can write a private citizen on official letterhead and claim to speak for all Michiganders, Michigeese, Americans, humans, sophonts, or biological organisms of any sort whatsoever.

Hell, you can probably even write private citizens on faked-up House letterhead if you want to. It's probably technically illegal for you to use the seal of the House on it, but pretending to be a Representative is not likely a crime.

would you say: "Ah, it's just speech," or would you say: "An elected representative should know better than to say such things, particularly on behalf of everyone in South Carolina, and there should be consequences"? Be honest, now.

It's just speech. In both cases, people in the relevant district or state are free to take it into account in the next election. Likewise, people in the party are free to look at both of them and decide whether or not they're too embarrassing for words. I might hope that they would in all cases, but in the end it's their business and not mine.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:50 AM on July 22, 2003


But the fact remains (to me) that a Congressperson should not use his or her office to take a stance that's anathema to the spirit (if not the letter) of the Constitution

Exercising the right to free expression is never anathema to the Constitution, as far as I care. That's true utterly irrespective of the content of the expression.

Introducing or passing a law trying to limit Connerly's activities would be a whole different kettle of monkeys.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:52 AM on July 22, 2003


Lott expressed his opinion here, yet I distinctly remember most of MeFi shouting, "Racism!" Lott's "mistake is solely in his phrasing,"; why was Lott unable to express his opinion without political recourse?

Because the other Republicans in the Senate thought he was a liability, or too embarrassing for words after that. They're free to giveth and taketh leadership roles for any reasons it suits their little hearts to do so.

Likewise, the Democrats in the House are entirely free to look at Dingell and shift him from his current committee assignments to a new Committee on Rude and Abusive Letters*, if that floats their boat.

*strictly speaking, they'd need the Republicans to go along wiht the creation of the new committee, but hey
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:56 AM on July 22, 2003


"Out, damned spot!"

111, that phrase has been claimed by the left.
posted by quonsar at 9:59 AM on July 22, 2003


spork: Ward Connerly is less a black activist than a conservative activist.

Is he less "black" than he is "conservative"? Care to elaborate?
posted by trharlan at 10:07 AM on July 22, 2003


trharlan, he's an activist that's black, but since nearly all blacks and groups like the NAACP oppose his positions, I wouldn't call him a "black activist". He's not an activist for blacks. Clarence Thomas is usually referred to as a conservative judge, not a black judge.
posted by spork at 10:32 AM on July 22, 2003


He's not racist, you mean?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:36 AM on July 22, 2003


Spork, you must mean that the description of him as a "black activist" is clumsy because, despite his blackness, he doesn't toe the "pro-black" line and that "black activism" identifies a general political position that Mr. Connerly doesn't support. Like it would be confusing to call someone who was simultaneously white and an activist a "white activist" because "white activist" makes you think of the KKK and Aryan Nations. If I were him I wouldn't want to be called a black activist either.

You can't possibly mean that, because he's an activist concerned with something other than supporting the NAACP and the Rainbow Coalition, that he's somehow inauthentically black.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:47 AM on July 22, 2003


Clarence Thomas is usually referred to as a conservative judge, not a black judge.

Yes-just what you'd want in a society where a person is judged by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. Dreamer.
posted by quercus at 10:47 AM on July 22, 2003


There was a time when the most popular and widely supported black civic leaders fought for equality and justice and a color-blind society. Now they're all activists for black people, or not really black activists at all. Bummer.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:49 AM on July 22, 2003


Affirmative Action is racially discriminatory behavior designed and intended to reverse the effects of past discrimination. That's what it is, that's what it's for. Why deny it if you support Affirmative Action?

No, Affirmative Action is a policy designed to negate the effects of racial discrimination that's built into each and every second of each and every day of each and every person in this country. There's no "past" about it.

I refer you to this.
posted by Cerebus at 10:50 AM on July 22, 2003


For many of you who claim not to be troubled by Dingell's letter, let me remove race from the issue and treat it as a matter of political speech. Suppose your congressman wrote a letter to the organizer of an anti-war demonstration. Suppose that letter was on official U.S. House of Representatives letterhead and said: "Go back where you came from and don't come back -- we here in [your state] don't want you stirring up trouble and agitating." There's no doubt that such a letter would have kicked off a shitstorm unlike any we've ever seen on MetaFilter. If you refuse to acknowledge that (or to see that it's a pure analogy), then you're blind to a pretty glaring double standard.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2003


<Slightly off topic>

I wonder what Ward Connerly thinks about this study. In it, reserachers sent out resumes of similarly qualified fake job seekers. Some were assigned "black" names and others "white" names. Lo and behold, white-named fake people received callbacks 50% more than black-named people.

Here's what he says about a california referendum:

If Prop 209 has taught all of us anything it is that our nation’s steady advancement to true colorblind government reflects the will of the people. They know our government--state as well as federal, for that matter--should not collect, distribute and utilize data about the "racial" and ethnic composition of our citizens. If these efforts are successful in California, the final chapter in our nation’s long and painful road to a color-blind society will have begun." (from townhall.com)

If there really is implicit racism among people in the US, then a) how does getting rid of the race boxes on california state forms help us get to a "color-blind" society and b) how can we not try to redress these grievances with things like equality of opportunity in education and hiring?

</off topic>
posted by zpousman at 11:09 AM on July 22, 2003


Both Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas were beneficiaries of affirmative action. Quick, pull up the ladder!
posted by spork at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2003


MeTa.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:15 AM on July 22, 2003


I wonder what Ward Connerly thinks about this study.

Shhh. You'll upset his delicately balanced fantasy universe.
posted by Cerebus at 11:17 AM on July 22, 2003


I like the way he writes all that vitriol and then signs it "With every good wish", as though somehow that makes him civil.
posted by dougb at 11:32 AM on July 22, 2003


pardonyou?, i think your analogy is OK. i don't think it would have set off a shitstorm, but whatever.

first, i would bet most of us disapprove of Dingell's speech. however, most of us also recognize that he's still free to say it, just as voters are free to respond as they like. i'm "very troubled" that an elected official would behave so childishly, but i've also seen much worse (e.g. last Friday), so maybe i'm accustomed to it.

second, i don't think that a congressman would have ever written such a letter to anti-war protesters b/c of possible repercussions in the next election. that is, opposing AA != opposing war, at least in voters' minds, imho. also, a letter to one person seems much more like a personal affront than an assault on all people (yes, even me) who oppose AA.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:41 AM on July 22, 2003


Both Ward Connerly and Clarence Thomas were beneficiaries of affirmative action. Quick, pull up the ladder!

No, you assume that they're both beneficiaries of affirmative action, simply because of their skin color. See, that's a big problem with affirmative action. It leads people to simply assume that all blacks must have benefitted affirmative action to get to the position they're at, simply because of their skin color, and to dismiss them with one broad brush.
posted by gyc at 12:04 PM on July 22, 2003


Suppose your congressman wrote a letter to the organizer of an anti-war demonstration...

His right to do so, on whatever letterhead he can get his mitts on (so long as he's not claiming to be another actual person, anyway). He has the right to write rude and abusive letters to anyone he wants to, same as me and same as you, and it's still just speech.

I'd likely remember it in the next election, same as if I were in Dingell's district, but I'm not likely to vote for my actual congressman anyhow. But then I can use whatever information I want to when I vote, and I can vote on whatever basis seems right to me. Just like you can. If the letter makes people think that Dingell is a rude, abusive dingbat, they can vote him out because of it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:33 PM on July 22, 2003


Trent Lott was "punished" by being placed in a slightly less prominent position among a group of 100 of the most powerful people in the country. Ouch.

Ouch? Before his comment, Lott held the most powerful position within the legislative branch of government and your suggestion is that it's not a big deal? I see...so then Clinton's impeachment is not all that big a deal, either, since he still kept his office. What I'm saying is very clear: the Dems, as did the Republicans in '98, put a scarlet letter upon Lott for no good reason except political gain, but now that the shoe is on the other foot, and a Democrat speaks out of line, we look the other way.

Trent Lott said something tha even "solely in the phrasing" was blatantly racist- he suggested- multiple times- that the world would be better if the major goals of the country's most famous segregationist came to be. Are you implying Dingell said something racist as well? If so, how, if not, what are you talking about then?

Again, XQUZYPHYR, you're completely over-reading what Lott said, and have no idea what his intention is. And that's my point...why is it okay to over-analyze Lott and expect him to step down or resign, while this guy's tactlessness is easily excused as just poor wording?

Because the other Republicans in the Senate thought he was a liability, or too embarrassing for words after that.

Because Democrats were outraged...and were able to create a shitstorm that eventually knocked Lott out of office. I would bet my life that if the Republicans dove onto the opportunity to publicly humiliate Dingell, Democrats would be outraged for the unnecessary dogpile. I like how forgiving you are for a Democrat but are completely outraged at a Republican misspeak.

The point I'm trying to make is that most of the comments here are claiming that he's tactless. How was Lott any different?
posted by BlueTrain at 1:17 PM on July 22, 2003


In fact, we know for a fact that Clarence Thomas is a "beneficiary of affirmative action," even without knowing anything about his educational background.

The fact is that Thomas came to national attention serving as the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; prior to that, he served as the federal Department of Education's Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.

Both of these positions were created primarily to oversee the enforcement of affirmative action programs. Without the affirmative action programs which provided him with the opportunity to connect with the first Bush administration, Thomas might never have become a judge, let alone a Justice of the Supreme Court.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:28 PM on July 22, 2003


Before his comment, Lott held the most powerful position within the legislative branch of government

Not by a long shot. Majority leader in the Senate is small change next to the Speakership. Senate Majority Leader is basically the chief cat-herder, that's all.

why is it okay to over-analyze Lott and expect him to step down or resign, while this guy's tactlessness is easily excused as just poor wording

Empirically, Lott's speech is a clearer signal of underlying racism than is Dingell's. That said, it's okay for you to over-analyze Dingell and think he should resign because of this, it's just less likely that others will agree with you.

Because Democrats were outraged...

I really don't think Republicans in the Senate gave a rat's ass about the outrage of their Democratic colleagues. They cared, most likely, because he was an electoral liability, and also because he wasn't the most popular majority leader ever anyway.

The point I'm trying to make is that most of the comments here are claiming that he's tactless. How was Lott any different?

Empirically, Lott's tactlessness made more people more angry.

I like how forgiving you are for a Democrat but are completely outraged at a Republican misspeak.

Who's forgiving? Dingell made an ass of himself, but it's his right to do so if he wants. If I lived in his district, I'd be looking real hard at whoever his primary opponent was, but I don't.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:37 PM on July 22, 2003


Sorry to contribute to the off-topic corollary, but:

No, you assume that they're both beneficiaries of affirmative action, simply because of their skin color. See, that's a big problem with affirmative action. It leads people to simply assume that all blacks must have benefitted affirmative action to get to the position they're at, simply because of their skin color, and to dismiss them with one broad brush.

gyc, while I agree with your point in general, I think Thomas's case is special. His race had much to do with his nomination. Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court justice in U.S. history, stepped down and was replaced by... Clarence Thomas, the second black Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. Thomas, one of the most conservative members of the Court today, was approved by a Democrat-controlled Senate, 52-48. Any white nominee who held the same conservative views, I imagine, probably would have been Borked. And I'm sure the first Bush administration knew that.

Thomas implicitly acknowledged gyc's point in his Grutter dissent last month:

This problem of stigma does not depend on determinacy as to whether those stigmatized are actually the “beneficiaries” of racial discrimination. When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement.
posted by Tin Man at 1:39 PM on July 22, 2003


Sorry to pile on gyc, but yes, both Thomas and Connerly have directly benefited from Affirmative Action; it's not just an assumption.

(Yeah, I know both links are biased, but in opposing ways, and each seems to have the relevant facts right.)

Why this thread soldiers on as a pro/anti-AA debate (after the main thrust of the opening post has been pretty much resolved, IMO) remains a mystery.
posted by tyro urge at 2:10 PM on July 22, 2003


Again, XQUZYPHYR, you're completely over-reading what Lott said, and have no idea what his intention is. And that's my point...why is it okay to over-analyze Lott and expect him to step down or resign, while this guy's tactlessness is easily excused as just poor wording

Lott's comments were interpreted by the majority as racist, and were found to have been made multiple times thus negating the "oops, I just worded something improperly" argument.

What we have is a suggetion as follows:

1. Dingell said something to an opponent of Affirmative Action.
2. Opponents of Affirmative Action frequently accuse AA of being a racist concept.
3. The opponent of Affirmative Action was black.
4. The black man opposing a system to which proponents of such are frequently accused of racism was told something similar to what black men were told by racists half a century ago.
5. Gasp!

So please, don't let me over-read something again: are you suggesting, since I'm supposed to hold Dingell to the same level of scrutiny as Lott, that what Dingell said was racist? Does the majority here find Dingell's comments racist? That seems to be the subtle suggestion made in this FPP.

If you find what Dingell said racist, then explain, because I don't see how there's racism in the statement. Lact of tact and obnoxiousness, maybe, but not racism. If you don't find what Dingell said racist, then you have nothing to compare to Lott's remarks other than the fact that you find them tactless.

You're argument is that by finding something someone said as racist, I'm required to find anything else someone said as racist using the same interpretation. I just did, and to accuse Dingell of racism still makes no sense. So don't accuse me of being a hypocrite.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:30 PM on July 22, 2003


Hmm. I should've linked to this for "Thomas," not that vague frontpagemag thing. Sorry.
posted by tyro urge at 2:41 PM on July 22, 2003


~guffaw~

Really. The transparent and lame sophistries of "the right" never fail to amuse.

How exactly is this dumb little Free Republic screed any different from the moronic "argument" of Klan apologists, who brilliantly assert that any who oppose racism are guilty of "hate crimes" because they hate racism?

~chuckle~

Next up: MeFite pardonyou whines that Dingell (and liberals everywhere) are goddamned hypocrites and/or racists for not letting their daughters date "black activist" Idi Amin.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:34 PM on July 22, 2003


What if a California senator told the DEA to stop bothering californians about ther Medical Marijuana laws? Would that make them the same as a "Segrigationist?"

Please. Just because someone phrased something in a way that someone else phrased something else does not mean they think the same way. Not even close.
posted by delmoi at 8:27 PM on July 22, 2003


I told the black dude hi-jacking my car to get lost. I'm such a racist.
posted by HTuttle at 8:27 PM on July 22, 2003


I told the black dude hi-jacking my car to get lost. I'm such a racist.

Hyperbole, and all, but... whoa.
posted by trharlan at 9:32 PM on July 22, 2003


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