What she said

>> Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I couldn't say 45 years ago, I couldn't stand here and say what I'm saying--what I will say to you tonight. Like I told, God helped me to see that its not just about black people, it's about poor people. And I've come a long way. I knew that I couldn't live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, if we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we'd probably be dead now.

But I've come to realize that we have to work together and--you know, it's sad that we don't have a room full of white and blacks here tonight 'cause we have to overcome the divisions that we have. We have to get to the point as Tony Morrison said race exists but it doesn't matter. We have to work just as hard--I know it's--you know, that division is still here, but our communities are not going to thrive--you know, our children won't have the communities that they need to be able to stay in and live in and have a good life if we can't figure this out, you all. White people, black people, Hispanic people, we all have to do our part to make our communities a safe place, a healthy place, a good environment.



I find this whole thing depressing.

It seems to me that certain elements of the American right are desperate to find a racist narrative they can pin on the Obama administration (see also). This is something they were doing before the man was even sworn in, actually. And the question, I guess, is whether they're doing it because of their own racial insecurities or because they think it makes good theatre for racially paranoid potential voters or some other reason or all of the above? There are certainly those, I think, who are thinking in narcissistic terms: if they belonged to a minority class and were "suddenly" empowered, they'd make some heads roll--never mind that there's nothing "sudden" in a century's civil rights work culminating in somebody getting elected like any eligible candidate ought to be (if anything, it's late) or that not everybody is as small as some of these vicious, selfish pricks. Magnanimity in triumph, if that's even what we're talking about, is strange and incomprehensible to these awful people.

And yet, whether we're talking about small people or merely cynical ones, the bottom line remains that they are being allowed to lie and mislead, are being allowed to ruin lives and harm the country they profess to love despite the fact they are obviously ignorant of and hostile to its institutions, traditions, culture and history.

And at least part of the reason they're being allowed to fester and grow like a tumor that's necrotized at its core and metastasizing at its edges is that we remain at a precarious-enough point in our social development that the Obama administration is afraid a racist narrative will stick. Rather than tell the Breitbarts and their ilk that they are full of shit, the Administration bends and weaves like a character in The Matrix dodging bullets. (If you want to extend the geek metaphor, isn't it past time Obama stopped the hail of bullets midair with an outstretched hand and a dirty look?)

It is, as I said, sad. It leaves me worried we will end up stuck with the society we deserve instead of the one we need, and that isn't a good thing.

It's not a good thing at all.



24 comments:

Steve Buchheit Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 11:06:00 AM EDT  

I've been struggling with my own thoughts on why I've been so political lately. Especially on my blog posts. I think those last two sentences sum up my motivation. Thanks, Eric. And I also think the Obama Administration needs to realize that there is no compromise position. He's made overture after overture and the right doesn't want to play nice. It's now time to lead instead of trying to get everybody to follow. They're going to pillory you in either case, might as well be for what you want than a compromise position that the opposition will refuse to acknowledge is a compromise.

Leanright,  Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 12:52:00 PM EDT  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obUd4BWpMeQ

Glen Beck had an interesting take on this last night. I know how much you love him around here.

Eric Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 1:45:00 PM EDT  

Steve: I agree completely, and thank you.


Dave: if by "interesting" you mean "incoherent," yes, Beck's take was.

Beck, who's on the cutting edge of the "Obama's a racist" meme trots it out again (Beck calls it "reverse racism"), calls a lot of people "Maoists," says that Sherrod is getting a raw deal and ascribes it to some kind of media-NAACP conspiracy (or something), rants a bit about "due process," and so on and so forth. I mean, I'm not even sure I can follow everything the man says, which is sort of ironic when his theme is that context matters.

Just so you know, I watched all nine minutes and forty-five seconds of the clip just so I could have that full context, or as much as I could get without watching the whole episode.

I don't know if you want me to say Beck's take is "interesting" because we agree on one or two particulars in the Sherrod case--that context is important and that Sherrod is getting a raw deal--but Beck's take really isn't interesting. Rather, it's an example of two old sayings: "A broken watch is right twice a day," and "Even a blind pig comes up with a truffle now and then." Indeed, so far as the latter aphorism goes, Beck covers so much ground in the almost-ten-minute rant I imagine it would be hard for him not to say several things anyone would agree with; Beck roots around far and wide, how could he not stick his nose into something nommy by accident?

Leanright,  Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 2:44:00 PM EDT  

The most distrubing part of the Sherrod speech to me was hearing the laughter from those in the NAACP audience when she stated that she had offers less than her best to a white farmer.

Does that not bother you at all?

Just curious.

Eric Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 3:41:00 PM EDT  

I'm having a hard time getting my brain around why it should, Dave.

Assuming that those folks were laughing in approval--as opposed to any of the other reasons they might be laughing, such as sympathy or discomfort--it's hard to imagine anybody who thought they knew where Sherrod was going and approved of disparate treatment still felt good about themselves and their initial reaction when she was finished.

And in the context of her speech, which was someone talking about an organization (the USDA) that was notorious for discriminating against black farmers at the time, and talking about this to the NAACP, I can sympathize with someone laughing approval even if I don't agree with them. I can imagine wearing their shoes just a little bit. I can sympathize more, too, because these are folks coming from an ethnic background of discrimination: in other words, no matter how conservatives may try to equivocate, African-American racism and white racism aren't the same thing, no matter how reprehensible they may both ultimately be. That seems so self-evident to me that I have to say that someone who can't see it is being dense, possibly on purpose.

That's not an approval of racism, and it shouldn't be taken as such. But I can imagine how it might feel to be the descendant of slaves, to be the victim of de jure segregation or subjected to racial prejudices, and I can see how righteous anger against injustices could get twisted into hatred.

And that's one of the beautiful things about Sherrod's speech, that she addresses this, that she talks about how an experience she had brought home a lesson her mother had tried to impart about how hatred kills the self just as it harms others.

Are you really just curious, Dave, or are you trying to change the subject to alleged racism by the NAACP, which is what Breitbart was doing when he either edited this video or negligently released it without checking into it? Some people are angry that the NAACP asked "tea partiers" (I'm even going to use the nice version for once) to disavow racists in their midst (which, I'll acknowledge, some have--witness the recent purge of the racist astroturfing Tea Party Express). And so they've gone out to try to prove the NAACP is racist; in dubious fairness, conservatives like Breitbart almost certainly really believe this, and the NAACP's request that "tea partiers" disavow racists has served as a license for the Breitbarts and others to say what has long been on what passes for their minds.

But so what if the NAACP was racist? So a bunch of upper-middle-class, privileged honkeys are entitled to carry or tolerate signs depicting the President with a bone through his nose because somewhere in America there's an organization of Americans whose ancestors were slaves and victims of generations of systematic discrimination who don't care for white people at this point?

Honestly, if that's the attitude, I'm with the "racists" in the NAACP: if that's where it's at, I hate white people too. We're just awful excuses for human beings and we totally suck.

Eric Friday, July 23, 2010 at 3:54:00 PM EDT  

It has come to my attention that I need to partly retract my last comment, or amend it.

The idea that the audience laughs at Sherrod saying she wasn't giving it her all at first is another Breitbart lie, and I should not be treating it seriously as a meme and giving it a thoughtful response. Having reviewed the video again and read a piece by William Saletan in Slate on this point, I regret my response to Dave.

I stand by what I wrote in my last comment to the extent that racism needs to be understood in context.

The fact is, however, that the Sherrod audience only laughs at one point, after Sherrod describes what she perceived as arrogance from the farmer. I think there are a number of ways that laughter can be interpreted. I am not sure that I agree with Saletan's comments on it, but I do think he could be right. Rather than debate that minuscule point, however, the more important point is that the NAACP audience responds to Sherrod's speech with approval for her larger message, including very vocal approval for her point that the issues are not just about blacks and whites, but about poverty and class.

I regret that I didn't review the video before making my prior comment, or I think I would have caught this. Memory is a tricky thing, and when Dave repeated the Breitbart talking point--which is what he did--I allowed it to affect my recall of the portions of video I'd seen and larger chunks of transcript.

This was negligent of me, unfair, overly-trusting and insufficiently skeptical. After reading Saletan's piece, rather than taking his accounting at face value, I did what I should have done to start with: I watched the video again. I think that Saletan to some degree is indulging in a little bit of spin, but is mostly correct in his conclusions.

And again, mea culpa.

I am angry enough at myself for falling for a secondhand, regurgitated Breitbartian lie that I'm willing to take it out on others. (Besides which, the damn heat and humidity here have been awful.) Future regurgitation of talking points from that demonstrated liar, particularly those that continue the fraud's attempts to change the subject to the NAACP or anything else that allows Breitbart to evade responsibility for what is either negligence or malice, will be met with all the brutality I can bring to bear, and will not receive the benefit of any doubt as to the motives of the commenter. This will be the only warning.

Jim Wright Friday, July 23, 2010 at 11:02:00 PM EDT  

The most distrubing part of the Sherrod speech to me was hearing the laughter from those in the NAACP audience when she stated that she had offers less than her best to a white farmer.

Oh bullshit. Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth, Leanright? Do you? The Administration, Sherrod's boss, your hero Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the NAACP all agreed that THEY WERE WRONG. But pinch faced little neocon fucks just like you are pawing through the tea leaves for ominous signs so you can point and say "well, sure but I'm still concerned....

You're wrong. Completely wrong. Utterly wrong. You've had your nose rubbed in it, and still you aren't enough of a man to admit it. You're like a petulant little brat on the playground who refuses to take his outs. I can just see you standing there with your lip stuck out, "Did not did not did NOT!"

Let me ask you something, what the fuck does it matter is Sherrod is a racist? Really? I mean it's perfectly OK with assholes like you if it's a white racist giving preferential treatment to white farmers. Why is it that whites in office in this country, and especially in the South, can be racists and people like you just shrug and say "well,those people should just get a thicker skin" - but people of color have to be unscrupulously unbiased and impartial? Why is that? Could it be, oh hell, I don't know, the kind of racism you're displaying your comments up above?

You're the same kind of asshole who claims that the Tea Party isn't racist even though there's numerous and blatant examples of racism on display at every rally, but condemns a women for a remark that some people laughed at.

Eric Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 1:19:00 AM EDT  

You're the same kind of asshole who claims that the Tea Party isn't racist even though there's numerous and blatant examples of racism on display at every rally, but condemns a women for a remark that some people laughed at.

Exactly. At this point, the right's obsession with Sherrod is an attempt to change the subject, which is that the teabaggers have enough racist paraphernalia for spades to be called spades, but they don't like having it pointed out.

It makes you pine for the surprising honesty of neo-Nazis and Klansmen.

Jim Wright Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 1:24:00 PM EDT  

It makes you pine for the surprising honesty of neo-Nazis and Klansmen.

Ain't that the damned truth.

Leanright,  Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 2:02:00 PM EDT  

Oh, here comes the name-calling. How typical.

By the way, I have never stated a love for Rush Limbaugh. I prefer three hours with Andrew Wilkow.

Fuck you very much.

Jim Wright Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 2:20:00 PM EDT  

Dave, when you act like a racist asshole, you probably shouldn't be surprised when people call you a racist asshole.

Eric Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 2:32:00 PM EDT  

Dave, it's my fault I took your earlier comment about the NAACP audience reaction at face value and allowed it to influence my recollection of the event. I should've fact-checked you, and I regret that I didn't.

The fact is that as far as I'm concerned, you really don't have any credibility right now or standing to complain if your history around here is catching up to you. Choose to side with cretins, and ultimately people will treat you like one, particularly when patience with racist, trolling behavior has exhausted everyone's patience. I don't know if you repeated Breitbart's lies based on what you got from watching Breitbart or based on what you got from Wilkow or whomever. But instead of repeating and defending their nonsense, if you want to be treated with respect, you need to behave honorably.

Maybe you should be spending more time with Shepard Smith.

Leanright,  Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 4:39:00 PM EDT  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obUd4BWpMeQ

Glen Beck had an interesting take on this last night. I know how much you love him around here.
______________________________________________
The most distrubing part of the Sherrod speech to me was hearing the laughter from those in the NAACP audience when she stated that she had offers less than her best to a white farmer.

Does that not bother you at all?

Just curious.
_______________________________________________
Above are the two posts I submitted earlier. I'm trying to decipher where MY racism was. I guess I should excuse you all, because you really know nothing about me. I'm certainly not a racist, but not a self-loathing caucasian either.

And, you can catch Andrew Wilkow on XM 166 M-F at 12:00-3:00 pm EST.

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Eric Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 4:53:00 PM EDT  

I would be more precise and say you came off more as an asshole than a racist, Dave, albeit an asshole parroting a man who's enabling and catering to racists, so there's a guilt-by-association thing going on there. And that's where Jim was coming from: "You're the same kind of asshole who claims that the Tea Party isn't racist even though there's numerous and blatant examples of racism on display at every rally, but condemns a women for a remark that some people laughed at."

Lie down with dogs, as some wise person once said, wake up with fleas. The effort to condemn the NAACP for making a perfectly reasonable request of teabagger groups is full of racist overtones.

I mean, I'm not even sure why you felt obligated to ask the question you did in your second comment. Pointing to Beck's defense of Sherrod wasn't inappropriate, though Beck's support of Sherrod comes from a kind of warped and incomprehensible conspiranoiac view of the world that apparently wants to try to imply that Sherrod was fired as some kind of cover-up for the Obama Administration's "real" agenda. (I think. I dunno. Beck's take is as confusing as it is confused.) But the second comment? If the facts had merit, it still wouldn't matter.

Except I don't even know how we get to that issue when your facts were wrong. I mean, I have to sort of hand it to the slimy fucker you're ultimately siding with, Dave: Breitbart manages to change the subject from the fact that he's a lying liar who lies to the NAACP's supposed "racism" that we end up discussing something other than the fact he's lying. It's such a nice little trap.

Leanright,  Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 5:14:00 PM EDT  

Okay, here's a question that I'd like to ask:

1. It the "Tea Party" a racist organization, or an organization that sometimes has racists come to their rallies?

2. Is the NAACP a racist organization, or and organization that sometimes has racists come to their meeting?

I'm guessing the latter on both. Of course, I've never been to a Tea Party rally NOR an NAACP meeting, so I can't be sure of either. Perhaps you both can chime in with your first hand experiences?

Eric Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 6:05:00 PM EDT  

Dave, stop fucking trolling. Seriously. You know perfectly well that I've addressed teabagger racism at great length, including a post you left comments on. You really want my thoughts on it, fucking use the search bar on the right-hand side of the front page, underneath the author box and directly above the "Recent Posts" roll, that's what it's fucking there for.

I'm really not in the mood for a bunch of games with you. I'm not inclined to simply ban you, as other bloggers have, but I am going to tell you to cut out the bullshit. You've played it out, take it somewhere else.

Anonymous,  Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 6:34:00 PM EDT  

Dave,

Eric has called you a racist and so now it's over. You have to give up all your resonable arguments because you've been "labeled" and it is gods truth. Everyone knows that once the race card has been played, even by white people, you are done. There doesn't even need to be evidence of your racisim, you just are. Often, it's the last card to be played afer the "facts" card, "stats" card, "video taped evidence" card, even the "I don't care if you are black" card. Once it's been played, it's over. You're racist. You've not been banned but please take notice that Eric has warned you and you've been labeled racist, so it's over.

Oh and Eric, hate to tell you this, there is a label for you also.

Eric Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 9:07:00 PM EDT  

::sniff::

::sniff::

I smell... socks....

Jim Wright Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 10:15:00 PM EDT  

Oh hey, look at that, Dave brought his anonymous friends - the internet equivalent of the white sheet.

You two idiots understand that you're arguing on the side of people who have admitted that they are wrong, don't you? You do realize that you're arguing against the "white farmer" that Sherrod was talking about, you know, the guy who thinks Sherrod is the greatest thing since sliced white bread and who has nothing but good things to say about her, right?

Geez, what side would that put you on? Wakes like a fucking racist, talks like a fucking racist, hhmmmmmmm what could it be?

You're both wrong and you both know it, but you're too damned cowardly to admit it. It's called integrity, and it's pretty obvious that neither of you have it.

Flat4Boxer Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 10:14:00 AM EDT  

Jim,

Reading comprehension comes in handy once in a while. "Anonymous" didn't take a side, that person just posted that the liberal fall back position when confronted with facts they don't like or when loosing an argument is to throw out the "race card". This is often done because it is very hard to defend a negative. How is someone supposed to refute such a charge? Must they adopt a black child? Must the have recorded every moment of their life and play it all back to clear their name? It is very dangerous in my opinion and needs to stop. We need to break arguments based on facts, there is no reason to resort the childish playground tactics of name calling. What "anonymous" typed is not what you read. The fact that you threw out the "internet equivelant of the white sheet" proves my point. Again, charges of racisim based on nothing.

Eric Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 11:43:00 AM EDT  

"Flat":

I notice that you joined Blogger this month. Assuming you're not a sock puppet for Dave, which is what I strongly suspect "Anonymous" is, you'll find that nobody who is a regular around here has much interest in so-called "liberal fallback positions" other than, well, Dave, actually.

Allow me to point something out here: as far as the subject here goes, there is no argument. The facts are what they are. Shirley Sherrod did not say what people initially claimed she said based on a video that was undeniably argued. The audience did not react to the edited comments in quite the way Breitbart has subsequently claimed, claims that were repeated here by Dave. Dave's stupid rhetorical questions were an attempt to change the subject to alleged malfeasance by the NAACP, not a "debate" or "argument" or "disagreement"; the alleged misconduct by the NAACP would be immaterial if it were true.

If liberals are "losing" arguments with people like Dave and Breitbart, it's because we've been foolish enough to engage them on good faith instead of dismissing them as the children they keep acting like.

Jim's point was that Dave and "Anonymous" (who I think may be the same person), are siding with the arguments of racists in a context other than defending the racists' free speech rights, and in those circumstances you have to wonder why they're working so hard to do so. It certainly suggests guilt by association. Rather than "adopt a black child," it would suffice to not say stupid things that put you on the wrong side.

That Dave felt obligated to attack the NAACP in the way he did and the context he did certainly raises questions.

Finally, as for refuting a negative: character is judged by actions and words. If an accusation of racism is credible, you have a perception problem that no amount of supposed proof will dismiss. My suggestion would be that one does one's best to behave in such a manner that wild accusations are implausible. It's not a perfect solution, but I've found from personal experience it's better than whining.

Eric Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 11:53:00 AM EDT  

P.S.

Oh, and "Anonymous," if you really aren't a sock puppet: I would love to know "the label for people like me." Try being less transparently stupid and more creative next time, e.g.:

"Oh, and Eric, I hate to tell you this, but you're a verbose, pedantic fat little shit who isn't half as smart as you pretend to be, a royal douchebag who combines Falstaffian proportions with none of Falstaff's likability or actual wit, an obnoxious cesspool of collected liberal prejudices and intellectual snobberies mixed with a déclassé lack of actual taste or judgment. You are a vain, arrogant twit and the world would be better off if you were taken to the top of the Eiffel Tower and dropped into a pool of fecal matter collected from a hospice for terminal victims of social diseases and lit on fire. (I leave the dangling clause 'lit on fire' to your imagination--a lit pool of shit, you lit before you drop, a lit pool after you land in it--you know, as long as you somehow end up on fire, Eric, I'm okay with that.)"

Granted, that would have required more work than you actually put into your comment, "Anonymous," but it would have been worth a good laugh and I'd have had to give you points for clever.

Leanright,  Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 1:09:00 PM EDT  

For what it's worth, not that you would believe a damn thing I say, I have not idea who "Anonymous" is. I have come to your blog now for nearly three years, and have never attempted to deceive by covertly blogging under another name. It's really not that important to me.

I quite well understand that I am not hear to, nor will ever be able to change an opinion. I also understand that yours will never change about me either. Again, I have no clue who the Anonymous responder is, that is why I did not comment again. But I do know that you already have your mind made up.

Leanright,  Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 2:28:00 PM EDT  

And yes, my spelling was all over the place on that one!

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