Civil wars

>> Friday, September 18, 2009

It's one of those curious things about a Southern primary school education, though it shouldn't be at all surprising: you get the nuanced version of the American Civil War. Scientific principles may be open to interpretation, subtleties of civics may be glossed, A Separate Peace may be taught as a "classic" (it's not a half bad book, it just doesn't deserve the time middle schools spend on it) but when you get to History, American History, well here you have all sorts of detail about who fought where and why and what they were using. Ask a reasonably smart Southern child if the Army can requisition his house so soldiers can sleep in his bedroom, and I suspect he'll have no idea, but ask him why the War Between The States occurred and he may well start expounding on the dangers of protective tariffs.

Years later, I was an undergraduate up at Appalachian State, taking a course on "Jeffersonian-Jacksonian America," i.e. the era between those two conflicted, contrary, populist, liberty-loving, slave-owning/racist American Presidents, and even as a liberal, progressive, sensitive Southern boy I was all about the nuanced view of the great bloody war that the years between Jefferson and Jackson were prelude to. (That's the real point of defining and setting apart that era, of course: it's the era of turmoil during which the postbellum of the Revolution becomes the antebellum of the Civil War.) I could have told you all about railroad gages, infrastructure policy and Federal funding, tariffs and taxation, the ways in which climate and geography affected farming and industrialization--still could, if I really cared to. But I'm sitting in that class one day--and I'll never forget this, though I can't remember the professor's name to save my life--I'm sitting in class one day when the professor, with an exasperated tone, stated the obvious. I don't remember if it was in answer to a question or just something he jammed out while he was riffing on his lecture--as I recall, he always sounded pretty exasperated.

"Brothers," he says, "don't shoot each other over 'state's rights'."

Blinds go up, blinkers fly off. They don't, do they? Oh, brothers might argue heatedly and violently about all sorts of things: politics, sports, the name of that one girl who was a year ahead of the oldest or a year behind the youngest. If they're drunk and their last name is Gallagher, they might come to blows over which song was supposed to be next on the setlist. But they don't pick up their guns and start blowing the living hell out of each other because one of them thinks the Federal government should regulate a standardized distance between rails on a railway or because the other thinks a flood of finished goods from Britain is good for a mostly agrarian economy even if it causes problems for millowners in other states. They shoot each other over something important, something like slavery, like whether people can own people or whether slaves are people or what's to be done with them if they're not chained up.

One reason you can get away with the nuanced view when teaching Southern history, aside from the way it soothes our collective guilt for our fathers' sins, is that historians generally prefer nuance. Saying Neville Chamberlain was a coward isn't as realistic or accurate or deep as a discussion of British foreign policy in the context of the domestic politics of a democracy still exhausted from the Great War or the logistics of fielding one of the world's largest military forces and yet being unable to readily deploy it because it's maintaining colonial order around the whole world, versus the clearly obvious signals German leaders were sending through the thirties that the German agenda was an imperialist one that would conquer British allies and impinge on British colonial interests abroad. But sometimes things really are as simple as they appear: the American Civil War was all about slavery in one sense or another--yes, there were other tensions, yes there were other issues, but the great toxic mass at the bottom of all the other debates, the issue that caused blood to spill in the Kansas and Nebraska territories, that drove the election of 1860, that fueled the rhetoric about "states' rights" until "states' rights" became nothing more than a euphemism, that issue was slavery.

And--forgive me for stating the obvious--slavery was a race issue. The skin of the enslaved became both a marker of enslavement and a rationale. Nineteenth century scientists--natural philosophers back then, to be more exact--even ones with abolitionist proclivities, went to some length to explain the ways in which blackness was a mark of inferiority that led to enslavement (perhaps tragically, but nonetheless inevitably) or even justified it (as right to put an African in the fields as to saddle a horse or milk a cow). Whites were not going to great lengths to enslave other whites, and social institutions like indentured servitude that are sometimes held up as "equivalents" were nothing like slavery, which involved not merely servitude but institutionalized inferiority--the notion that the slave was not merely a servant, but chattel, property that could be bought and sold and dealt with as well or as callously as an owner might care to, just as a modern person might choose to religiously maintain his automobile or to only care for it when a light comes on the dash.

I think you probably know what this is really all about. There's been a lot of talk lately about whether critics of the President of the United States, a man who happens to have dark skin and a father who came from Africa, are "racists". Some critics, it might be said, although this distinction is being lost--there are critics on the right and left who write and say thoughtful things about fiscal policy or the rights of man, but then you have others who wave around signs on which the leader of the free world is portrayed as a half-naked tribal shaman with a bone stuck through his nose. A surprising number of defenders of the latter sort of "critique" have emerged who say that this is satire, although it's hard to see what the satirical context would be if one were to Photoshop, say, the head Dennis Kucinich onto the shoulders of a "witch doctor." Mr. Kucinich is no less a promoter of national healthcare than the President (moreso, even), but if one imagines an unlikely parallel universe in which Mr. Kucinich secured the nomination of his party and won the Presidency, one is hard-pressed to imagine any protesters trying to portray him as a supposed "witch doctor. Then there are others who appear to be saying that even mentioning the word "racist" to address protesters isn't helpful because racism is purported to be unprovable and shouldn't be presumed however racist the behavior might appear. My friend Janiece Murphy recently had a conversation with her son in which (I hope I'm not misstating this) he suggested that whether certain people are racists doesn't even matter, only the quality of their ideas is important (in which case, I think one might conclude, why bother calling the people out on their racism?). A former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, has found himself receiving more flak than usual for even suggesting that some of the folks out there might be racists.

Let's say this up front: not everybody who disagrees with the President is a racist, nor are all of the 60,000 or two million people who marched on Washington last weekend racists. Some of what we're seeing we would be seeing from the same conspiranoiacs and Republican puppetmasters who accused the Clintons of murdering Vince Foster; hell, some of what we're seeing, we'd be seeing from the same tinfoil-hat-wearing crowd that accused President George W. Bush of planning the September 11th terrorist attacks.

But here's the thing: people don't show up to rallies with their guns or tearfully scream they want their country back over a difference of opinion over the public option, no more than brothers shoot each other over tariffs. There is a racist component to all of this, and there are racists participating, and there is both overt racism and the sort of toxic contact-racism that occurs when people choose (knowingly or naïvely) to associate themselves with racists.

I don't know that this is obvious to Yankees up North of the Mason-Dixon or to Cowboys out West of the Miss. But I can't see how it's not obvious to a Southerner. White men showing up with firearms outside wherever a "Negro" is giving a public speech is not a new or unheard-of phenomena down here, though some of us have been trying to get them to stop doing that for about 135 years (I'm happy to say we've had improved success in the last fifty of those). These God-fearing white folk, you outsiders need to understand, don't necessarily show up to a speech armed to stand outside with an intent to do violence--this is one of those subtle things some of you miss out of naïevete or (I'm afraid) on purpose because you can fairly say that nobody's there to assassinate anyone (at least not today--perhaps if somebody steps out of their motel room for a breath of air, however...). The real message of somebody showing up armed like that isn't "I'm just somebody who loves the Second Amendment thiiiiiiis much and hates taxes," no, the message has always historically been, "We're here to remind you uppity coloreds that we know how to find you and we're armed, so tread lightly." Shooting somebody in daylight, generally speaking, is rude and déclassé; we pride ourselves on manners in the South, sometimes referred to medievalistically as breeding, a word that tells you a great deal about class and race relations in the South right there by itself.

I mentioned a moment ago that former President Carter had gotten some flak (as you probably know); let me explain something you may have missed about Mr. Carter's comments about President Obama receiving racist treatment: they're important because of who he is, but that probably doesn't mean what you think it does. Mr. Carter's perspective isn't important because he's a former President, however failed that presidency was. That might be why people pay attention to what he says--being a former President Of The United States is a helluva bully pulpit to have--but it's actually irrelevant. The important thing about who Mr. Carter is when he says some of the attacks on President Obama are racist is that he's an elderly progressive from Georgia.

You think Mr. Carter hasn't seen a racist attack on a politician before? The man has lived through at least two eras of Southern racial history, the pre-Brown Jim Crow era of de jure (by law) segregation and the post-Brown era of de facto (by circumstance) segregation; if you feel that things have improved enough since the fifties, maybe we're in a third era during Mr. Carter's lifetime. The man has lived through riots in Southern streets, civil rights marches, busing debates, lunch counter arrests and all the rest of it, don't tell me the man doesn't know race and politics. Has he ever been approached by racist whites and told to shape up and fly right?

[Robert] Patterson channeled his anger [over the Brown decision forcing school desegregation] into a lasting innovation for the white supremacy movement—give it a respectable face, strip it of explicitly racist rhetoric and use it as an invisible hand to guide mob violence. He created the Citizens’ Council, which would spawn a regional network by year’s end. Each council’s membership boasted the area’s finest white leaders in business, government and, yes, media. They directed their public anger less at integration itself than at federal incursions on local rule, but the resulting violence was no less extreme.

At the time, Carter was a Plains, Ga., peanut farmer and board of education member. He recalls in his campaign memoir, Turning Point (Random House, 1993), how the Plains Council pressured him to join. When he refused, the council sent 20 of his best customers to demand compliance. Carter again refused, this time adding, “and besides, there are a few politicians in Atlanta who are taking the dues from all over the state and putting the money in their pockets, just because folks are worried about the race issue.”
-Kai Wright, "Jimmy Carter, True Son
of the South, Hits Nail on Head"

The Root, September 17th, 2009.

Hell, I could have told you that even if I couldn't source it--could have even correctly guessed at the part of the same old story of white clients or customers showing up to imply that certain attitudes aren't, shall we say, "good" for business. He's an 84-year-old (turns 85 in about two weeks) Southern liberal politician from Plains, Georgia who has spent decades in local, state and national politics before devoting his post-Presidential career to an assortment of humanitarian and progressive causes. Forget that part of that political experience makes him one of four living ex-Presidents, because it's a distraction: take it as a prominent Southern liberal said, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shares the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans." As a much younger Southern liberal myself, I agree with the man point-for-point.

Certain members of the right--some of them racists and some of them perhaps merely benefiting from the fears and antics of racists--are trying very hard to sideline the issue. We are, I'm happy to say, in an era when "racist" has become one of the worst possible things you can say about someone, so it behooves racists and their bedfellows to try to keep anyone from calling them what they are, and one way to do that is to try to create a climate where it seems dangerous to call anybody out on racism without appearing to engage in crazed hyperbole. By discrediting the word, they hope to discredit the people using it. It doesn't help that sometimes the word is used prematurely or inappropriately or without evidence, or in cases where reasonable doubt might exist.

But caution and fear are different things: it is one thing to be cautious about an accusation of rank prejudice and another to be afraid to make the accusation at all. We have a moral responsibility to call out racism when we see it, to be intolerant of it. And that includes an obligation to be awake and aware, to respond to the obvious evidence of our senses and experience. Showing up outside a Presidential speech with your guns has certain connotations down here that y'all Yankees and Cowboys may not be aware of but those of you down here ought to be aware of. Showing up at a rally with a sign that depicts an African-American as a savage isn't original, a certain kind of person has been making art like that since Reconstruction. You want to tell me you didn't know there was a subtext, I'm not sure if I believe you, but if I give you the benefit of the doubt, you know now: it's racist as hell, you're on notice. Scream at a rally that you want your country back--well, where I'm from, we've heard that kind of talk before, when somebody an awful lot like you was saying she wanted her neighborhood or her schools or her favorite lunch counter back, and we know damn well who you wanted it "back" from, even if you were too genteel to say the n-word out loud where one of them might hear it.

I've kept this civil so far, I think, but I'm getting worked up to a not-genteel string of invective and f-bombs that might dilute my point. And my point is this: don't tell me racism isn't racism--I'm a born Southerner with all the pride and shame that entails, and I wasn't born yesterday and I'm going to call it like I see it. An overwhelming portion of the animosity directed at President Barack Obama is racist, conscious or otherwise, deliberately or thoughtlessly. It is not respected, it will not be tolerated.

Photograph of Obama protester with racist sign ©2009 CNN.


Leanright,  Friday, September 18, 2009 at 12:20:00 PM EDT  

I find the "Race Card" has become the lefts "Trump Card". Pull it out whenever the winds blow against them.

I'm sorry Eric, I find it to be irresponsible to say this is about race. I disagree with Obama, am I a racisit? or do I as a Conservative believe that his policies and those on the left are contradictory to my core beliefs?

If EVERONE in America voted based upon the race only, we'd has a handful of black congressmen, and NO black senators, and certainly NEVER a black president. Mr. Obama was heavily supported by white Americans; He was elected because his message sounded better to more Americans than the message of John McCain. I don't deny that there are racists on BOTH side of the aisle, I mean, just look at the exchange between Barbara Boxer and Harry Alford, the head of the black chamber of commerce. Boxer was condescending beyond belief and her tone was FAR more racist than Joe Wilson.

I am married to an Asian woman. An even smaller minority here in America. Just thought I'd share that so you don't believe I'm at home shaving my kids heads and raising little Aryans.

Put the race card away. It is getting way too old.

Eric Friday, September 18, 2009 at 12:28:00 PM EDT  

I'm curious: why did you think this was about you at all?

Tom Friday, September 18, 2009 at 1:24:00 PM EDT  

Bravo, Eric. "...not respected...not tolerated." I'd like to see that point in bold to make it stand out.

You acknowledged that there may be some who disagree with President Obama who aren't racists. LR says he's one of those. OK, so what? Maybe we even believe him.

You also say members of the right are trying to sideline the racist label issue. LR seems to be one of those, by his own words.

Makes me wonder a bit.

Janiece Friday, September 18, 2009 at 1:35:00 PM EDT  

Thanks for writing this, Eric, and I plan on updating my own entry with a link to yours. You characterized my comments fairly.

And Leanright: Seriously, dude. Get over yourself. There's more going on here in the vast Internet than whether or not you PERSONALLY, as a conservative, are a racist and that's why you oppose the President's policies. I have no opinion about your own motives and context, and really don't care much, either. The fact of the matter is that racism is alive and well in this country (as you should well and truly know, being married to an Asian woman).

The opponents of miscegenation don't limit their hyperbole to the mixing of blacks and whites. Are you going to try and defend them, as well, or is it only your opinion that should not be subject to the examination of motives?

Eric Friday, September 18, 2009 at 1:44:00 PM EDT  

As an addendum, what she said:

Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-S.C., inability to contain himself from yelling out “You lie” at the president during a joint session of Congress is a classic case of an angry Southern white male reaching his limit with the uppity Ivy-League educated, one-term-senator-turned-president. Some may argue that this doesn’t make him a racist. But at best, his outburst demonstrates an intolerance and a lack of respect that he never would have shown to a white commander in chief. Such is the case with much of what we hear from our fellow citizens. There is an anger, a vitriol, a hatred of this president that seems deeply personal. And it is unnerving.

-Sophia Nelson, "The Uppity Negro Syndrome"
The Root, September 17, 2009

Worth a read, check it out.

MWT Friday, September 18, 2009 at 6:18:00 PM EDT  

Well, he's married to an Asian woman in California. Being Asian there is quite a lot different from being Asian in the "flyover" portions of the U.S.

I run into that sentiment too, when I start talking about white people being racists and some of the people I'm talking to (that happen to be white) think I'm talking about them. It doesn't just apply to racism either; I could be talking about some rule I'm imposing as a chatroom operator, and some unrelated people will assume it was something they did, or that I think they might start doing bad things.

This post talked about conservatives who are racists, so I can see how non-racist conservatives might feel lumped in.

Janiece Friday, September 18, 2009 at 6:36:00 PM EDT  

MWT, you make a good point, and I understand what it is you're trying to say.

But it's still a logical fallacy to assume that because one small subset of people are demonstrably racist, that means the accuser is assuming that ALL members of the larger group are racist, as well.

When you say, "some white people are racist," it may cause me, as a white person, to look at my own attitude and behaviors to see if there's some way in which I have behaved wrongly. That's a good thing (at least in my mind). I may even approach you privately to ensure I haven't inadvertently offended you in some way. But I'm not going to automatically get defensive and insist that NO WHITE PEOPLE ARE RACIST, LALALA because I happen to be white.

Nathan Friday, September 18, 2009 at 6:46:00 PM EDT  

Here's the problem Leanright,

Your side of this discussion includes racists, nutjobs and opportunists. So does mine. The difference is that on your side, they've become the loudest voices in the room.

Now I'm going to give you the benefit of a doubt and accept that you aren't any of the above. But guess what? Even if you've got some valid point to make, I CAN'T FUCKING HEAR YOU over the racists, opportunists and nutjobs. (And yes. I most certainly DO include Glen, Rush and Sean in that group.)

Guess what else. It's YOUR job to make YOUR point in a way that can be heard...NOT MINE! If you want to have a discussion and maybe...just maybe sway anyone's opinions, you're going to have to get the racists, opportunists and nutjobs to shut the fuck up. Or at least, you're going to have to protest somewhere WITHOUT them.

So, fine...your motives are pure as the driven snow. When YOU stop making it EASY for me to lump you in with the batshit crazy, the bugfuck ignorant and the just plain-old racist fucks, gimme a call and we'll talk.

BTW, If you DO believe that Obama isn't really a citizen or you DO believe a bunch of lies about death panels, I'll just giggle at you and move on to the next topic.


Nathan Friday, September 18, 2009 at 7:18:00 PM EDT  

Oh...and another thing.

Being married to an Asian (or even being an Asian) doesn't demonstrate any immunity to being a racist. Some of the most vile racist shit I've ever heard (and I grew up in the deep south) was from Chinese, Japanese and Koreans and/or Vietnamese speaking about each other.

Leanright,  Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 12:17:00 AM EDT  

I don't think it's all about me. I just happen to be the only conservative who comments on your blog. I'm sharing my point of view about me. Not my point of view about everyone else, as Carter has.

Not sure where you got that this was about me. I differ in opinion from you all. You've all decided that opposition to Obama and his administrations point of view is rooted in Racism. You are all so keen in your ability to read the hearts and souls of men. Be proud.

No mention of the beating of a white boy on a bus by black students in East St. Louis? Was that not racist? Only white conservatives are racist, according to this folks on this blog.


Eric Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:18:00 AM EDT  

Those interested in thoughtful approaches to the recent bus incident Dave refers to might be interested in this blog post by a woman who grew up in Belleville across the river from East St. Louis.

Leanright,  Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:37:00 AM EDT  

It appears I had not been clear....I am NOT claiming that racism does not exist in America. My point is that opposition to the policies of Barack Obama are simply those; opposition to the policies of Barack Obama.

Now, I cannot assume that there are NO racists at these rallies, and I believe it is unfair for people like Jimmy Carter to say that the majority of those persons are racist.

Eric, thank you for the "thoughtful" article. I'm sure the victim of the beating would gladly have taken his punishment had he read something like that first. Do you honestly believe that if that teen was black, he would have been beaten by those other kids?

Leanright,  Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 2:47:00 AM EDT  

Sorry, this one isn't quite as emotional.

Eric Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 12:16:00 PM EDT  

Dave, I'm just going to be blunt: you're being a jackass. Stop it.

Random Michelle K Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 3:20:00 PM EDT  

"Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Eric Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 3:39:00 PM EDT  

I'm not sure where you're going with Hanlon's/Heinlein's Law, Michelle. Particularly when we're talking about something (racism) that is a bitter cocktail of malice and stupidity mixed with ignorance and habit.

One of the perversities of racism, especially Southern racism, is that describing it as a form of "hatred" manages to be accurate and misleading at the same time. Consider, for instance, the Sophia Nelson quote I posted in an earlier comment--I think she nails it with that one: Rep. Wilson may or may not "hate" people on the basis of skin (indeed, some of his best friends, as the horrid cliche goes, may be black), but his behavior displayed a Southern archetype, a rarefied kind of contempt. Wilson, I think, clearly and instinctively saw the President of the United States as a younger black man first and the President of the United States second, and addressed him in a manner that he wouldn't have used addressing a younger white speaker in a similar setting, no matter how much he disagreed with him. That's racism. I started to say "pure and simple," but, y'know, the truth is that racism never is, especially not down here in the South where, for instance, blacks might find themselves treated quite well by whites as long as they remembered their place and kept to it. (Perhaps Ms. Nelson and I are wrong, and Wilson is just rude, but I doubt it.)

Or were you talking about something else and I missed it?

Leanright,  Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:57:00 PM EDT  

I'm sorry we don't agree on this one; therefore, I am a jackass. Good company with a fine person like Kanye West. Disagree with the topic, and you are a jackass. Simple.

Leanright,  Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 10:01:00 PM EDT  

"We have been told mankind will be judged on the intent of the heart. No mortal can see into the depth of another. There is only One who can. His is the role of a judge--not ours. If you are prone to criticize or judge, remember, we never see the target a man aims at in life. We see only what he hits."

H. Burke Peterson
"Removing the Poison of an Unforgiving Spirit"
General Conference, October 1983

Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 2:07:00 AM EDT  

Article by Selena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Two political dangers have emerged in recent months for Democrats, Republicans, and the media that covers both. Those are the dismissal of protests by all three, and the crude overuse of the race card.

It’s disturbing that Washington really doesn't “get” the rest of the country that is beyond their bubble, says Villanova University political scientist Lara Brown.

Last Saturday’s “Tea Party” protest, spreading out across Capitol Hill, received little to no coverage; most news organizations wildly underreported the crowd’s size.

Later, former president Jimmy Carter said racism is behind the rhetoric of President Obama’s critics; New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd opined similarly.

Here is the problem with that: Pull out the race card, and the conversation ends. It does the president no good when anyone who disagrees with him is accused of racism; it simply builds a resentment that he did not foster.

Besides, most protests of and disagreements over policy have nothing to do with race – and to say that only dilutes real racism.

“When it comes to race, it is unfortunate that the Democrats are seeing everything through this analytical lens,” Brown said. “It undermines those instances in which racism and discrimination are truly important factors and are harming minorities.”

Bill Kalin of Portage, Ind., president of Union Local 6103, attended last week’s AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh. He dismissed as ridiculous most of the media depictions of Tea Party protesters. “No one should make fun of people that demonstrate, or call them names,” he said.

Since Democrats took power, the country has moved quickly from one pole to another in its opinions of the president and his party.

A similar phenomenon occurred following George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election by a decisive majority; by October 2005, his approval ratings had fallen substantially.

“Obama has and is suffering a similar political trajectory to Bush in 2005,” Villanova’s Brown said.

Obama and fellow Democrats in Congress read way too much into their victories in 2006 and 2008. They believed that a majority of the country was voting for them, instead of voting against Bush and the Republicans.

A huge emotional attachment is lost when you vote against, rather than for, someone.

The Dems came out swinging in January, with massive legislative reforms and policy demands that had been blocked in the previous eight years. They passed some of those without noticing that, since February, the tide has slowly been turning against them, starting with widespread unhappiness with the stimulus package. When the public saw how the stimulus was crafted and passed, and air began leaking from the Obama balloon.


Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 2:08:00 AM EDT  

***PART 2***

Much of that deflation involves independent voters who thought Obama would at least try to live up to his promises of a different kind of Washington (less partisanship, more dialogue, less corruption and special-interest influence).

“It is no surprise to me how quickly the public, especially disaffected Dems and independents, have turned,” Brown said. “They learned from Bush and the Republicans that if you give politicians the benefit of the doubt, they will take advantage of that good will.”

Main Street keeps trying to send a message to the political class with their presidential votes, and the political class keeps reading these votes as affirmations rather than negations.

People voted against Democrats in 2004 and against Republicans in 2008 – not for the other party.

Politicians’ inability to read those votes correctly may be symptomatic of our narcissistic age, in which everyone thinks everything is about them but no one is accountable for anything, according to Brown.

The Tea Party phenomenon has moved Americans to mobilize and protest as never before, which makes you wonder why the media and elected officials downplay it so much.

As for racism, the majority of the electorate is white, and a majority of it voted for Obama – and people are now demonstrating because they think our country is going off a cliff, not because our president is black.

As one Democrat strategist said: “I remember seeing a bumper sticker when I was in college in the ’60s that said, ‘The majority is not silent – the government is deaf.’ Well, that could not be more true today.”

No wonder Thomas Jefferson once said he was all for revolutions every so often.

Random Michelle K Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 9:54:00 AM EDT  


That wasn't in reference to your original post.

Random Michelle K Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 10:32:00 AM EDT  

I'm not really up to this, but let's try anyway.

People often try to deny something if they personally don't see it. I think MWT has previously mentioned people saying, "you're just imagining it"?

Just because someone doesn't see it, doesn't mean it does not exist, but if that something makes something they believe in look bad, then it's even harder to accept a hard truth.

Let me come at this from a different direction.

I love my state. I really, truly, deeply do. But I also recognize that there are many people in my state that are racist. Not all, and not even in some of the places you'd expect. (A century ago, blacks and whites banded together against a common enemy: mine owners.)

Here's something else I recognize: the most conservative (and Republican) areas are often also the most racist.

Am I saying that all conservatives are racist? Of course not.

However, the conservative movement appeals to those who are afraid of or dislike change. And in some areas of the country, conservatism draws in people who are opposed to change, and that often includes racists, homophones, and misogynists.

But it's more than that. When people like Limbaugh say publicly "I hope Obama fails," the racists see that as a validation of their hopes that Obama fails because he is black not because they disagree with his policies.

Some conservatives have made their dislike of Obama personal, and in doing so they are feeding the racist minority.

And unlike those of us on the left who recognize that the fringe element is actually dangerous to our cause (I know groups like PETA and ELF do damage to my cause, and I feel it is my responsibility to denounce the actions of these groups) the far right embraces these extremists and is complicit in their silence when people like Palin speak of "Death panels."

"A man is known by the company he keeps."

Eric Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:06:00 AM EDT  

Dave, the jackassery is that you keep disagreeing with things that nobody here actually said. Nobody said "all conservatives are racist" or "all disagreements with the President are racist." Indeed, not only are these strawman arguments you keep making, but if I or several of the commentators here had said "everyone who disagrees with the President is a racist" we would obviously be racists, considering that we've expressed disagreement on our blogs and in comments expressing our disagreement with President Obama on how to handle alleged human rights violations by the Bush Administration or their proxies, the President's continuation of domestic surveillance policies and embrace of the PATRIOT act, his handling of the healthcare issue, the bailout of financial corporations and other issues. A number of us--including myself--have not only been disagreeable, we've been critical; clearly, if I'd said what you insist on thinking I'd said, I'd necessarily be a racist.

I think it would follow, then, that either I haven't said what you keep taking offense at or I'm a horrible hypocritical asstard who isn't worth the time you've spent yelling at me. I think it would also follow, then, that you must either be a jackass because you're arguing with something I never said or you're a jackass because you continue to waste your weekend hours arguing with an idiot.

Articles like the one you reproduce from the Pittsburgh Tribune are exactly the kind of idiocy I was going after when I said in the post I'd call 'em like I see 'em. Like Michelle said (and I'm sorry if I jumped on you, Michelle), just because a writer can't see something doesn't mean it's not there, and some people willfully refuse to see what's right in front of them for various reasons. There's no way an image of the President as a "savage" isn't racist when that's been used as a derogatory depiction of African-Americans since Reconstruction.

By the way, a self-serving error in the piece I think reveals the author's agenda in trying to silence those who notice racism in some protesters: a majority of whites did not vote for President Obama--the accepted number is 43%, although that was not demographically consistent (i.e. Obama won white majorities among young voters overall and white majorities in some voting districts). That's not to say that 57% of whites are racist--I really doubt that's true. But to pretend "a majority of white people voted for Obama" is a bit of misleading revisionism; first, it's simply not true, second, even if it were true it would be fallacious, since even if a supermajority had voted for Obama, it wouldn't mean that some percentage of protesters therefore weren't racists. Ms. Zito throws it out there to try to prove that racism is a minor factor in protests--the writer is at best an idiot and at worst a liar.

(Oh, and BTW: for Fair Use purposes, include a link or relevant excerpt of no more than a few sentences or a paragraph or two next time, Dave. This page can tell you how to embed a link, if you'd like (I can't tell you how to do it myself because when I type the brackets, this page will treat it as HTML; it's easier if you just follow the link and read it elsewhere).)

Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 12:31:00 PM EDT  

In defense of Mr. Obama, continuing some of the Bush Era surveillance policies may have played a mayor role in this:

Eric Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 1:34:00 PM EDT  

Pfft! Oh good grief! Yeah, must have been a pretty dangerous terror plot that led to the FBI filing obstruction of justice charges against some Colorado residents.

Besides which, the issue isn't whether unconstitutional or illegal programs produce results. I mean, hey, if all we care about are results, why have that damn "Bill Of Rights" criminal-coddling horseshit anyway?

People who value safety over freedom deserve neither, the old saying goes.

Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 1:59:00 PM EDT  

I guess I should consider the source of Carter's comments. He's one of America's most high-profile anti-semites. Takes a racist to know a racist.

I know, I know...I'm a jackass.

Done (for now)

Hugs Michelle!

Nathan Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 5:22:00 PM EDT  


I don't think anyone claimed you were being a jackass merely for disagreeing. You've spent most of your time on this topic, (mis)-stating Eric's case and then arguing with that.

If being willfully obtuse and constantly changing the subject makes one a jackass...

Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 5:58:00 PM EDT  

I haven't take so much abuse since "Jonsonblog", where I may add, I FOLLOWED Nathan from there to SOTSOGM.

What a jackass. How did you all know the pet name my wife has procured for me over the years?

Random Michelle K Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 6:41:00 PM EDT  

Abuse? Seriously? You think this is abuse? Pointing out the flaws and errors in your thinking and the failure of your logic is abuse?

That does explain a fair amount about your mindset I must say.

Leanright,  Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 7:35:00 PM EDT  

I've been called more names than a fat third-grader! I should know...I was one.

Sticks and stones....

Janiece Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 10:40:00 PM EDT  

Dave, really - you're embarrassing yourself. I don't know if you consider yourself some sort of "foil" for Eric, or if you consider yourself his "worthy opponent." Either way, you're kidding yourself, at least in my opinion.

While the majority of us who comment here are in fact liberal, there is at least one other "regular" who is probably more conservative than you, and whose arguments carry a lot more weight (JTS). That's because he doesn't regularly behave like an ass, trot out logical fallacies at the drop of a hat, or make lame jokes about how he doesn't care what we think while belying the point by continuing to return again and again.

If you want the same kind of respect and consideration we give JTS, then make better arguments and learn better manners.


Eric, I apologize if I'm over the line, here. This is your space, and I realize it's not my place to spank one of your regulars. I just really enjoy SOTSOGM, especially your political observations, and Dave is making it less enjoyable with his assholery and poor argument. So I'll apologize in advance, and fall on my sword for my own poor manners in this case.

Eric Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:32:00 AM EDT  

No need to apologize, Janiece. Dave isn't the only conservative reader I know of and he's not even the only one who comments.

Dave, something you don't seem to have noticed: I've given you a fair bit of rope to hang yourself in this thread, and you've managed to use every single foot of it. Something you might consider when posting....

Leanright,  Monday, September 21, 2009 at 11:04:00 AM EDT  

I have neither embarrassed nor hung myself. I will be just fine, thank you all very much.

And whomever JTS is, I have yet to hear from him/her.
I look forward to it.

Leanright,  Monday, September 21, 2009 at 12:32:00 PM EDT  

I call this one; An Attempt at Redemption.

I was wrong..Wow, it's so freeing to say that sometimes. Try it, if you've never said it before.

I decided to go back and read the original post again, and now that my blood is no longer boiling over Carter's comments (after all, to a conservative, he's the gift that keeps on giving), I have what I feel is a more holistic viewpoint of what you're saying.

I was not raised in the south. In fact, I've never been further south THAN North Carolina, and that was for a very short time. So, in retrospect, I don't truly know how things are down in your part of the country. I was born in 1968 in Connecticut, and my family packed up and moved to California in 1976. Back then, you'd be hard-pressed to find a native born Californian with non-hispanic surname. We were ALL from the east coast it seemed. I can see what you mean my getting a "Souther" perspective of American History. I often wonder what my education would have shown me had I stayed in New England. Probably much different than you received.

For those of us not raised in the South, I guess we cannot speak to what that level of racism is all about. I imagine that it may take a few generations to cycle through the redneck element and repair hundreds of years of bigotry. Most of the rest of us don't get to live it, so I'm sorry if I jumped to conclusions. I can see that a rally may be a place to protest a black President, and attempt to blend in with those whom are there to debate the actual issues. The racist element of the Conservative ideology is an embarrassment. Much like, as Michelle mentioned about PETA or ELF being and embarrassment to hers.

Here in California, our US History education was more skewed to the Northern perspective, perhaps because the North "won". We've focused here on the relationship between California and Mexico, the Missions and Father Junipero Serra. Our state is a melting pot, primarily in the big cities, and in the San Juaquin Valley. The Mexican-American population has been critical to our development as and agricultural epicenter in America, and with that, illegal immigration has been a hot-bed issue for as long as I can remember. In Orange County, where I live, the county seat is Santa Ana, which has often been referred to as the most hispanic city in America. The population of illegal immigrants in Orange County and the rest of California is staggering. Those of us concerned here with the healthcare debate are worried as to how much of our tax dollars are going to go to the undocumented workers. What responsibility do the employers of the undocumented have?

In retrospect Eric, I began commenting on your thread with anger in my veins, and now I am focusing on what you're saying as a whole. One nation, many perspectives. I want no ownership to the redneck/racist element of the conservative ideology. I'm not quite sure they even HAVE and ideology, just blind hatred.

Janiece Monday, September 21, 2009 at 3:20:00 PM EDT  

I will add my thanks to Eric's. That was a well thought out comment, and I better understand your position and concerns.

P.S. "JTS" is "John the Scientist." I believe he's currently traveling, which is why he's been scarce lately.

MWT Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:06:00 AM EDT  

A friend who grew up in Connecticut tells me that they mostly focused on early colonial history in their schools. Apparently they never got past the Revolutionary War. I grew up in Indiana, and we never got past WWII, though there was one year we focused on Indiana history in particular.

Anyhoo. A thought for Leanright. Next time wait until you're done being mad, and have actually read the post, before you start commenting. :p You've been hanging around long enough to know that Eric doesn't just repeat back talking points all the time, so the standard rebuttals are never going to apply.

It's good to have (intelligent) conservative viewpoints. Makes discussion threads much more enlightening all around, I think.

Eric Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 3:40:00 PM EDT  

Interesting and perceptive comments from Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

Far more interesting than Beck himself is the increasingly futile effort to classify the protest movement to which he has connected himself. Here, too, confusion reigns. In part, this is due to the fact that these "tea party" and "9/12" protests are composed of factions with wildly divergent views about most everything. From paleoconservatives to Ron-Paul-libertarians to LaRouchians to Confederacy-loving, race-driven Southerners to Christianist social conservatives to single-issue fanatics (abortion, guns, gays) to standard Limbaugh-following, Bush-loving Republicans, these protests are an incoherent mishmash without any cohesive view other than: "Barack Obama is bad." There are unquestionably some highly noxious elements in these groups, but they are far from homogeneous. Many of these people despised the Bush-led GOP and many of them loved it.

Add to all of that the fact that this anti-Obama sentiment is being exploited by run-of-the-mill GOP operatives who have no objective other than to undermine Democrats and return the Republicans to power -- manifestly not the goal of many of the protesters -- and it's impossible to define what this movement is or what is driving it. In many ways, its leadership (both organizationally and in the media) is fundamentally at odds with the participants.

MWT Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:02:00 PM EDT  

Also, Janiece - a corollary to the first observation I posted: if I am actually talking about someone particular who is in the audience, that person (or group of people) never never ever think(s) it's them, ever. It's ironic that way. ;)

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! Because of the evils of spam, comments on posts that are more than ten days old will go into a moderation queue, but I do check the queue and your comment will (most likely) be posted if it isn't spam.

Another proud member of the UCF...

Another proud member of the UCF...
UCF logo ©2008 Michelle Klishis international gang of... international gang of...
смерть шпионам!

...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.

...Frank Gorshin-obsessed bikers.
GorshOn! ©2009 Jeff Hentosz

  © Blogger template Werd by 2009

Back to TOP