Racism increases 67% since January

Racism increases 67% since January


Pollster.com live chart showing the dramatic increase in racism this year.

This is a difficult post to write. But some issues, no matter how distasteful, must be faced squarely. Sadly, the numbers speak for themselves. Racism is on the rise in this country.

Why the dramatic rise in racism now? I cannot answer that. Perhaps the problem was here all along and we simply chose not to see it. It was easy to ignore in the months following the election when Obama’s favorability rating was over 70%. In the euphoria of his election, many of us became too complacent about racism. With a 70% favorability rating for the President elect, we were all too willing to overlook the 30% of racist Americans who remained. It was an easy mistake to make, the racists were outnumbered by more than two to one.

Few now remember that November 2008 to January 2009 was the golden age of the new post-racial post-partisan America, ushered in by the election of our new President. Our pundits in the mainstream media helped us to understand and appreciate the deep import of the election, and the possibility of finally turning the page on our racist history.

Maureen Dowd – Nov. 9, 2008:

“..we have images to share that are harmonizing, not polarizing — black and white students cheering and celebrating in front of the White House and the warm and fuzzy obsession about what kind of hypoallergenic puppy Sasha and Malia will get. It’s cool that President-elect Cool has gotten everybody chatting, even if it’s awkward small talk. And it’s fun, after so many years of unyielding barriers, to feel sentimental.”

Joe Klein in Time – Nov 5.2008:

“Obama’s victory creates the prospect of a new “real” America. We can’t possibly know its contours yet, although I suspect the headline is that it is no longer homogeneous. It is no longer a “white” country, even though whites remain the majority. It is a place where the primacy of racial identity — and this includes the old, Jesse Jackson version of black racial identity — has been replaced by the celebration of pluralism, of cross-racial synergy…It is a country that retains its ability to startle the world — and in a good way, with our freedom. It is a place, finally, where the content of our President’s character is more important than the color of his skin.”

Keith Olbermann – Nov 5, 2008:

“…when you personally know someone of the so-called other group, your likelihood to be prejudiced or doubtful of them seems to drop from about 90 percent to about 10 percent. In some respects, a president-elect, soon we expect to be the president of the United States, is almost a figure in the family of everybody in the country, almost as well known as some at least distant relative. Will this have a material impact in knocking down what remains of prejudice in this country?”

Jimmy Carter on Jim Lehrer – August 25, 2008

“But I don’t think there’s any doubt that there’s a spirit and a bright, new hope for America within this country and around the world. And if Obama is elected, which I think he is going to be, then I think that will be the transforming race for the end of racism, and prejudice, and hatred between races in this country.”

As always, Jimmy Carter was far ahead of the curve, predicting the golden age of a post-racial America months before it came into being.

That was then. This is now. What happened? Perhaps it was just too easy to pretend the problem was not there.

Here are the facts. Racism has been rising steadily over the last few months. In recent polls, President Obama’s approval number has dropped from 70% to 50%. This means the percentage of racists in this country has risen from 30% to 50% – a 67% increase in only eight months! Even more alarming, close to one out of two Americans are now racist. We have reached a tipping point. If this trend continues, the racists will soon be in a majority. Now, more than ever, we need the pundits and sages of the mainstream media to speak out. Racism is so insidious, so deep rooted, that we may not even know whether we are racists, unless or until bloggers and pundits make that determination through psychoanalysis.

Some of those same strong media voices who were sweeping the racism problem under the rug in January, are finally sounding the alarm now that the full scope of the problem has been recognized.

Dowd – Sep 13. 2009:

Representative Wilson shouting from the floor?
= Racism

“I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race… But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president …convinced me. Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.”

Bravo. How brave, this extraordinary willingness to make specific accusations of racism on the basis of nothing more than the imaginary voices in her head. Of course, it would be even braver if Maureen lived in a country, where, unlike here, she and her paper could be sued for slander. Sadly, some do not appreciate her principled stand against imagined racism. What are we to make of those such as blogger Clifton, who shamelessly asserts: “There is enough real racism in the world as it is; you are not helping anyone by making sh*t up!” Clearly Clifton is a racism denier.

KLEIN on Scarborough – Sep 11. 2009:
Protests in opposition to Obamacare?
= Racism

“But the fact is that those kind of heinous arguments I think are a minor chord in the Democratic party, and they have been in the Republican party, but they are far more of a major chord. And I think that a lot of this, especially out in poor middle class white American is based in racial fears.”

Joe, keep speaking out. The administration is in denial over the real reason for the opposition to their policies. Your clear dispassionate analysis may yet snap them out of their dangerous delusions. What could they be thinking? Could anyone really believe that – a President who signs an earmark stuffed budget that quadruples the deficit, pushes through an almost $1T pork laden stimulus package that does not stimulate, takes over car companies, bails out investment bankers, institutionalizes the Bush/Cheney unitary executive, is pushing massive new energy taxes and wants an additional $1T in new health care entitlements – would raise strong opposition? Nonsense. Who could be opposed to such enlightened policies? The opposition is obviously racist. That is the only rational explanation.

OLBERMANN – Sep 8, 2009 “[video]:
Forced resignation of Van Jones?
= Racism

“…in the Candyland world of racism dressed up as anything else, they will believe anything about the president and they will believe any rationalization, no matter how transparent, that what they‘re feeling is not racism… The White House green jobs adviser Van Jones resigned in the middle of a storm in a tea pot over the holiday weekend… A former chair for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights John Anner who was a friend of Mr. Jones has said what many are thinking here to quote it, “It struck me why go after this guy. He‘s a minor player. He has no power, no budget. Why take him? It‘s because he looks like Obama and he has all of those same attributes of being well-educated and he‘s an electrifying speaker with an elite education.”

I cannot sufficiently express my gratitude to Keith Olbermann for stepping up yet again. The attack on Van Jones was so clearly rooted in racism that one must assume anyone who would suggest otherwise is also a de-facto racist. In this context, it was particularly shocking to me that Willie Brown, Democrat, former Mayor of San Francisco, frequent MSNBC contributor, and a man who worked directly with Van Jones would sadly be revealed to be a racist. From his column Sunday:

“The only question I have about Van Jones’ resignation as the White House green czar is why didn’t they call me before they hired him. You would think that, as part of the vetting process, they would have called the mayor of the city where he was from. I would have said, “Yeah, I know a lot about him. He’s really a pain in the ass. When he ran Bay Area PoliceWatch, he slanted every case to make the cops look as bad as possible. And while he might be talented enough, he’s totally and completely unreliable.”

Willie Brown – a racist. Who knew?

Jimmy Carter – September 16, 2009

Joe Wilson outburst, Protests, Obamacare opposition? = Racism

NYT – “The former president first weighed in on Tuesday during a question-and-answer session at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Mr. Carter responded to a question about Mr. Wilson’s eruption by saying that he did believe it was laced with racism. Coupling the Wilson remark with the images in recent weeks of angry demonstrators wielding signs depicting Mr. Obama as a Nazi or as Adolf Hitler, Mr. Carter said: “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.” He lamented the tone of disrespect toward the current president, adding: “Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care. It’s deeper than that.”

Only Jimmy Carter could speaks with sufficient moral authority to attribute Joe Wilson’s outburst, tea party protesters and health care opposition all to racism. We need that clarity now more than ever. But the more these thought leaders speak out, the more racism deniers come out of the woodwork. As if they would know better than Jimmy Carter what real racism looks like. And again, the administration refuses to face reality.

With the ex-president adding his voice to the media voices speaking out loudly and clearly, perhaps we can beat back the scourge of racism once again. While we may never again return to the golden age of November 2008 to January 2009 when only 30% of the country were racists, perhaps we can at least reverse the trend and insure that the racists remain a minority of the voters in this country. Before it is too late – like – before the next election.

Notes on this post:
As is often the case with my posts, the idea for this piece emerged from a recent comment thread here at the Donk. A version of this post was cross-posted at Divided We Stand United We Fall where it garnered some interesting comments, and was subsequently linked at The Crossed Pond generating an even longer and more interesting comment thread.

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    Lets start with a pre-emptive comment. Of course racism exists. Of course it is a factor. Of course racism is present in some of the opposition to Obama. The unsubstantiated logical leap occurs with the implication that it is a primary or driving force in the opposition to Obama policies.

    Racism is a very serious charge to level at anyone. The word and the charge is trivialized by those who must invoke imaginary words (like Dowd) or psychological mumbo-jumbo (like Sullivan) to find it. No one is well served by those who find it under every Obama opposition rock (like Olbermann and Carter). Net net – it is there, it is real, but you sure don’t need to invoke racism to explain the opposition to this president’s policies. The difference between Obama’s January numbers and now, is a whole lot of bad administration policy.

    In a comment at Crossed Pond, Rojas hits the nail on the head:

    It seems to me that whenever and wherever this argument is initiated, those initiating it do so in order to de-legitimize Obama’s opposition in its entirety and stop the policy conversation. Opponents are not portrayed as being influenced by a racial agenda, but as being controlled by it. The entire purpose is to deny them the sanction of reason so that their arguments may be ignored.

    And that is garbage. Pure, unadulterated swill. If opposition to the policies of the President is going to be categorized in racial terms, then no national discussion is possible; there can be no negotiation with a fundamentally irrational opponent.

    The tenor of the discussion over the last few weeks has put paid to any claim that Obama can be the first “post-racial” president, or any kind of transcendental figure on the issue. His own supporters have demolished that promising myth.

  • Bob Morris

    No, I don’t think all opposition to Obama’s policies goes back to racism. I do, however, think some of the opposition is a result of grasping at straws or misleading people.

    Wilson shouting at Obama from the floor wasn’t racism, but it was stupidity. And those who blindly follow Wilson’s remark and immediately jump on every mainstream story that says “illegals will get health insurance under the proposed bill” are being misled. Factcheck.org has covered the real issue: The proposed bills speciifcally state that illegals will not get health insurance… the real concern from Republicans, which isn’t getting clearly stated in the MSM, is there is no enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure illegals don’t get health insurance.

    The FactCheck.org article can be found here.

    That being said, the problem with people making or implying claims of “racism” in response to issues such as Wilson’s outburst is that it’s just as misleading, and as much straw grasping, as Wilson’s remark and those who follow it. They would be better served to explain the facts that are getting past the MSM.

  • http://frankhagan.com Frank Hagan

    I actually posted a longer response at my blog here, but it is instructive to know that all president’s see a drop in favorability ratings after about 100 days in office. Asserting that demonstrators or Americans sitting in their living rooms talking to a pollster are “suddenly racist” because they no longer like a black president is as logical as thinking they suddenly became anti-southern because GW Bush’s favorability ratings dropped.

    For perspective, take a look at historic favorability ratings of presidents since FDR at Wikipedia. President Obama is still more popular than all of the presidents since WWII when considering the difference between highest and lowest rating. He has time to catch up to Harry Truman and George W. Bush, but right now he is still on top.

  • blackoutyears

    Satire appreciated as always, mw. I think it weakend the piece to use the word *bad* rather than, say, *unpopular* to describe Obama’s policies in the last sentence of the second graf of your comment, but you’ve never been one to hide your bias under a bushel so carry on, sir.

    You might also have made more than a passing remark about the administration’s stance on this, which is to patiently deny that they consider race to be a factor. I suspect that this is more political savvy on their part than anything — can’t be seen to be playing the race card — but it’s worth far more attention than the usual news cycle driven opinions du jour you spent the bulk of the piece on. Fascinatingly, but not unsurprisingly to me, the election has brought us to a pass where it may actually be more difficult to discuss race in frank terms. Obama and Co. can’t make the charge, regardless of merit, and the opposition will be tarred as racist when convenient by more foolish/less objective voices on the left, diluting any accurate charge.

    Re Joe Wilson, while the outburst at the joint session address struck me as far more ideological than racist, he has had some issues in the past. Just saying. Honestly, the closest to a racial gaffe I’ve seen is Virginia Foxx’s recent reference to Thomas Sowell’s race when using his words to attack Obama, as if the fact that a black man was disagreeing with a black man overrode their obvious ideological differences. But then, attacking Wilson or Foxx as racist is completely counterproductive in pragmatic terms, as it obscures the far more important and damning fact that they’re just not very smart.

  • Mike A.

    What surprised me, in the details of the poll, was that the FOX polls have shown steady increase in favorability from 57% in Sept ’08 to 76% in July ’09 (approximately 0.5% per month). He’ll hit 90% approval in a little over 2 years at that rate!

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    Rush Limbaugh, the leader of the GOP:

    RUSH: Hey, look, folks, the white kid on that bus in Belleville, Illinois, he deserved to be beat up. You don’t know about this story? Oh, there’s video of this. The school bus filled with mostly black students beat up a white student a couple of times with all the black students cheering. Of course the white student on the bus deserved the beating. He was born a racist. That’s what Newsweek magazine told us in its most recent cover. It’s Obama’s America, is it not? Obama’s America, white kids getting beat up on school buses now. You put your kids on a school bus, you expect safety but in Obama’s America the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, “Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on,” and, of course, everybody says the white kid deserved it, he was born a racist, he’s white. Newsweek magazine told us this. We know that white students are destroying civility on buses, white students destroying civility in classrooms all over America, white congressmen destroying civility in the House of Representatives.

    Nah. No racism in the GOP. You don’t see any, do you, mw? Of course not. Because to you it’s a distant, sort of abstract thing. Like admitting that there may be life on other planets, but gosh, not something to be taken seriously.

    Something to be joked about, ridiculed. Tee hee.

    No racism. Plenty of racism-denial.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    Uber-con site, Little Green Footballs:


    I’m curious, mw, when you click on that link, do you actually see the signs? Or do you just see a fuzzy, empty white space? I mean, are the letters visible to you? Or is your delusion so profound as to actually deprive you of your senses?

    Just curious.

  • blackoutyears

    @Mike Reynolds, how would you characterize the current state of race relations in the country? I suspect it’s just as distant and abstract to you as it is mw, but I look forward to your debunking that suspicion. The poignant truth of the matter is that folks on both sides of the current furor actually have little skin (pardon the entendre) in the game.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    Race relations have improved dramatically in my life. As a kid in the South my family was threatened by the KKK for having black people in my home. (My mother helped with tutoring at the all-black segregated high school and sometimes had kids over.)

    I grew up with segregated drinking fountains and restaurants that served whites only.

    Things are far, far better now. Racism then was mainstream and unabashed. Now racism is a distinctly minority (heh) position. In fact, I think it’s a slowly dying beast. But not dead yet.

    In the 1960’s the Democrats made the brave decision to embrace civil rights. They knew it was electoral suicide in the south. The GOP abandoned its own principals to exploit that shift. The GOP, while not an inherently or by any means universally racist organization, nevertheless deliberately exploited race over the next 40 years.

    Simply put: the Democrats can’t win without black votes, and the GOP can’t win without racist votes.

    But because racism fell out of fashion in polite company the GOP developed a vocabulary for tweaking the race issue. A dog whistle racism developed. A racism of code words and wink-wink.

    By Reagan’s era we had advanced to racism-denial. Republicans had this foul minority upon which they depended, but increasingly educated whites rejected the cruder forms of race-baiting. So the GOP began to counter-attack, to claim that racism was either gone or at least irrelevant. That’s what MW is doing, following in that line. The GOP still needed it’s racists, but it had to hide them and deny their existence without quite alienating them.

    That’s where we are today. Except that the GOP is shrinking. And just like a sauce that’s being reduced, its core flavor becomes more prominent. Educated whites, northern whites, younger people, they all reject even coded, dog-whistle racism.

    What’s left is a GOP that is more rather than less overtly racist. The GOP is ever whiter, ever more southern, ever more rural, ever older. And now, with a black president we have this shrinking minority unleashed. They’ve already given up on attracting new voters, now it’s all about holding onto the “base.”

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    Yeah, that would have been a better choice of words, but I don’t feel I can change it once the comments start. I did link and specifically reference both of the official administration/gibbs contradictions to the racism charges – in the paragraphs under the charges by Klein and Carter. Distancing the administration from this nonsense is absolutely the right thing to do.

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    I’m counting three maybe four strawmen, two ad hominems, and one wild exaggeration in MR’s first two comments. Did I miss anything?

    Only liberal Democrats think that Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP. That’s okay. As long as they are focused there, they’ll still be wondering how the GOP retook the Senate majority and restored divided government in 2012.

    BTW – While it is kind of silly to be making predictions this far out, I fully expect to be voting to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012. I anticipate that it will be obvious by then that the GOP will retake the Senate majority, and have a serious shot of taking the majority in the House also. Under those circumstance, the only way to ensure divided government will be to vote for Obama.

    After casting the vote, I’ll have a wee dram of the 15 Year Old Laphroiag I won from MR on the 2010 election wager.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    Only liberal Democrats think that Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP. That’s okay. As long as they are focused there, they’ll still be wondering how the GOP retook the Senate majority and restored divided government in 2012.

    Then why do elected Republicans have to kowtow to Limbaugh? Because he’s irrelevant? He’s not the leader? Last time a Republican dismissed him as just an entertainer Limbaugh had him mowing his lawn.

    I gave you a nice link to a right wing website that has the honesty to admit what we both know. But of course you didn’t go look at the signs, did you? That would play hell with your racism-denial strategy.

    I suspect others may follow the link, though. And may wonder why LGF of all places is prepared to face facts honestly and you’re not.

  • fert

    So here’s how I read that previous comment thread about those opposed to children hearing obama’s speech, racism and how the discussion between the m’s (mr, mw, m…) unfolded. I’d like to bring it up because I bet this post was partially motivated by it. So it started out as most Donkle posts do with a wonderment of why certain people did something even though it was obviously eye-rollingly dum. mw in a heated little post says:

    Oh come on, we know why some “conservatives” hate the idea of this particular president speaking to school kids.

    and then:

    Racists never seem to get tired of being racists. The birthers, deathers, um . . . speechers, that’s what they are.

    70 year-old white people don’t howl like agitated baboons at town halls because they’re upset over health insurance reform. They’re on medicare, and they’re draining social security. The issue doesn’t even involve them.

    And people don’t scream and yell about a president giving a conservative speech to school kids because they’re concerned about local control or whatever other smokescreen these idiots threw up.

    Obama’s been in office 8 months, done nothing remotely radical, and yet a large number of mostly older white people hate him. Hate. Hate hate hate him.

    It’s not about policy. It’s about Obama being black.

    And once again, as it has since the 60’s, the GOP moves to exploit race hatred.

    we then get this from jimmy:

    Racism. (rey-s?z-?m) – noun. (1) The admission, on behalf of the accuser, that one has lost an intellectual argument or debate. (2) The lack of substance or compelling evidence to continue presenting a rational or well-formed argument. (3) A means to smear an opponent so as to avoid confronting legitimate counter-arguments or evidence that may invalidate one’s point of view. See Also: Hitler

    and finally mw’s entrance:

    You saved me some time Jimmy. I was going to go back and look up and list a reprise of MR’s tiresome racism epithets in the comments – maybe a duet between MR and Jim S – but just don’t think it necessary now.

    I think we need a variant of Godwin’s Law.

    If you invoke racism in the defense of the policies of a sitting president.

    You lose.

    This conversation then slightly degenerated into the whole “you can’t blame racism for all the people against Obama” convo.

    I’d like to point out the word “some” in mr’s original post. And then the fact that in a comment thread about how a group of people were rather vocal about how they didn’t want their children to listen to Obama’s speech. As I read the comments, I’m pretty sure I never thought that mr was speaking about libertarians, hardcore neocons, or bible thumpers in general. It seemed that he was speaking of the folk who go so far as to make mountains of the molehill that was an address to the nation’s kids. He then even qualifies who he’s talking about in the second post… not everybody who’s against Obama.

    So who’s overgeneralizing? The one who’s purportedly crying ‘racist’ at every turn or the one who’s saying that others are crying ‘racist’ at every turn?

  • blackoutyears

    MR, I fundamentally agree with the timeline and your assertions, but I also think that it seeks to impose a narrative on something that’s resistant to that effort. I think it’s interesting that so many of those expressing strong opinions on one side or the other are white. I am white, but my wife is black, and my natural inclination to resist opinion formation on black/white race relations — and let’s be clear, those tend to be the races which dominate the discussion and define the terms of what is racist, i.e. — is only deepened by that relationship. In the end, I am not black, and attempts to understand racism through the filter of someone who is is futile. I suspect this is to be one of those lifelong educations.

    I will say that I disagree with lumping mw in with racism-deniers. I’ve encountered true deniers many times and I think that’s a mischaracterization. In effect he’s taking that position that racism, while it exists, plays a smaller role in dissent toward Obama’s policies than President Carter and liberal pundits are asserting. The reasonable response is to debate him on his actual point, which is one of degree, not existence. Of course, no one can demonstrate the degree to which racism is at play here, so his side seeks to minimize or debunk racism’s role, while the other applies the label of racist to dissenters indiscriminately. I think reducing the conversation to one of degree is disingenuous, but no more so than claiming minimization equals denial. I suppose that minimization could be construed as the PC way to functionally deny — read: placate — but we’ll be here for years if we start down that path…

    I suppose mw could be accused of trivializing what is a very serious issue for a lot of people, but that’s the price of satire. If it’s not discomfiting on some level it’s probably failing.

  • blackoutyears

    MR, I did follow the link, but I think the argument would still be that you’re extrapolating on the broader nature of dissent from the actions of the fringe. I tend to agree with the proposition that those who attend demos and rallies tend to be more extreme in their views. So again, it comes down to degree and questionable causal linkages between the signs in your link and political resistance. I can say anecdotally that there are a whole slew of conservatives in my family who disagree with Obama’s policies on a purely ideological basis. The idea that they’re racist is laughable. As mw points out, Obama’s policy decisions run very much counter to an ideology held by many Americans, that government involvement is generally a bad thing and that taxes are always bad. I just don’t see how it’s reasonable, or productive, to posit that most of the people opposing Obama are motivated by racism rather than ideology, or at least not the sort you’re probably talking about. I can’t answer for the murky depths of the human mind. I think we’d all be surprised at who appears to be *racist* if we started plumbing those.

    This whole thing reminds me of how anyone who criticizes Israel’s policies re Palestine is shouted down as an anti-Semite by certain pro-Israel factions, as if policy disagreements are somehow radically different because Jews are involved.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/blogs Nick Benjamin

    I don’t usually bother calling these little flaps racist.

    Yeah Joe Wilson probably wouldn’t have interrupted a white President’s speech, on national television, with an angry retort. But who is helped by calling him on it? You do it and the subject magically changes to Joe Wilson’s motivation. Which is a) unknowable, b) does nothing to get health reform passed.

    Heck who cares why he did this particular stupid thing. He did a stupid thing, got called on it, and apologized. Hopefully this will prevent future idiots from doing this particular stupid thing.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    The only skin I have in the game is that my daughter is Asian and my wife and I are both white. Feelings toward Asians are nowhere near as virulent as toward blacks. And I’m an ethnic Jew but to be honest with you that’s not a big part of my life, something I tend to forget unless I’m around an anti-semite. (Yes, they still exist, too.)

    When I look at any issue I try to look not just at the presented data but at the null space, so to speak. I’m a fiction writer so part of my thought process inevitably involves looking at motivations. Not just what people say but why, and to ask why that particular choice and not another. I don’t accord that data equal footing with harder data, but I don’t ignore it, either. It’s important to ask “Why A and not B?” Or “What’s a different thing so and so might have said or done?”

    For example, why does mw choose to write about race? It’s not an irrelevant question. I think his motive is political. He’s doing GOP damage control because the Democrats are accusing Republicans of racism. So, fair enough.

    But why satirize the suggestion that racism is a problem for the GOP? Why bury the admission that racism exists in the comments and then why frame it in dismissive language?

    When I poke him about the Limbaugh quote why is his response to deny Limbaugh’s importance? Why not just say, “Yeah, Limbaugh’s a racist jerk, but he’s just one voice?”

    And of course in my mind this all comes after a run-in MW and I had in which he endorsed the idea that an accusation of racism is inherently a sign of a weak argument. He defended that quite vigorously. I doubt you or your wife would maintain that he who cries racism necessarily loses the game, because sometimes it’s actually necessary to cry racism.

    The null space here is the lack of condemnation of those at the 9/12 demonstration who clearly and unambiguously were racists. You can see some at the LGF link above.

    Here’s another null space question: why did crowds around those people not react in horror? Why didn’t they say, “That’s a racist sign, jerk, take it down.”

    Why, when demonstrators were talking about political violence — and there’s tape –didn’t the people around them say, “Whoa, we are not about threats and racism.”

    I can tell you why. Because the GOP has spent decades in denial that it harbored and pandered to racists. It has at this point almost no choice but to deny that it harbors racists because they’ve lost a lot of their non-racist membership.

    So in light of the history you and I both know, and in light of the evident racism at the 9/12 demonstration however large or small, and in light of Limbaugh and Glen Beck and their clear racism, why does mw wake up and think, “Today, I’ll write a satire of the notion that race is a major part of what’s happening.”

    Why that choice?

    Let me ask you something: give me an explanation that’s better than racism for why Republicans tried to convince schools not to allow a back-to-school address by Mr. Obama?

    I don’t have any reason to think — I mean that literally, NO reason — to think mw is a racist. But his choices put him in the fairly common GOP category of racism-deniers.

    People at GOP rallies are waving signs reading: “Obama — Your Massa On His New Plantation.” And carrying Confederate flags. And talking about being unarmed — this time. They are there at the behest of Glen Beck and Rush LImbaugh, two blatant race-baiters (I can line up hardcore conservatives who agree on that.) And mw decides to write a satire the effect of which is to say, “Nothing here, move along.”

  • blackoutyears

    Nick, that’s exactly my point. Charges of racism serve to remove the debate from ideological concerns, where it belongs. Does anyone here sincerely believe that tea partiers are mostly posing as such to further their racist agenda? That’s one implication of this line of though after all.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    To believe that ideology exists independent of bigotry, greed, insecurity and the rest of the darker human emotions is not realistic.

    Person A says: I think we should do away with artificial criteria like age. What does age matter? It’s arbitrary. And it violates our rights as individuals.

    Which sounds more or less reasonable. Let’s change the motivations:

    Person A who happens to be a known pedophile says: I think we should do away with artificial criteria like age. What does age matter? It’s arbitrary. And it violates our rights as individuals.

    Puts rather a different light on things.

    Ideology is not science. It’s emotion and desire and will. It can’t be judged by entirely abstract criteria.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    This seems more like straight sarcasm than actual satire. Which is, you know, funny.

    I agree that some of Obama’s more hardcore supporters are prone to dismissing his opposition as racist. And that it has a de-legitimizing effect. What this post does to remedy that though, I’m not sure.

    I think the best that sane folks can do is to try not to add fuel to any discussion about how and why racism may be to blame for Obama’s fortunes. I’m convinced every such discussion leads to a dead end.

    To whatever extent this racism exists and is adversely affecting Obama’s fortunes, from 0,1% to 100%, is not really relevant to the tasks at hand. Whatever Obama and his supporters hope to achieve must be achieved by overcoming it. Whining about it just doesn’t help. It doesn’t win more support. It just hardens our differences.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    I think the best that sane folks can do is to try not to add fuel to any discussion about how and why racism may be to blame for Obama’s fortunes. I’m convinced every such discussion leads to a dead end.

    Is that how we got from Jim Crow to a black president? By pretending the problem wasn’t a problem?

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Is that how we got from Jim Crow to a black president? By pretending the problem wasn’t a problem?

    If you use vehicle x to get from point A to point B, can you therefore assume that you can use vehicle x to get from point B to point C?


    We got from Jim Crow to a black President by collectively overcoming the hateful, divisive, and fundamentally wrongheaded attitudes of racism and segregation. If you ask me, it’s plainly obvious that folks who still cry racism with regularity have lost the ears of many of the folks who take great heart and deep solace from how far America has come.

    Now Mike, feel free to believe that you are helping Obama’s cause every time you contend that policy x which Obama supports is failing because that policy’s opponents are racists. I think this opinion is as misguided as it is counterproductive.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    Now Mike, feel free to believe that you are helping Obama’s cause every time you contend that policy x which Obama supports is failing because that policy’s opponents are racists. I think this opinion is as misguided as it is counterproductive.

    Except that’s not what I said.

    I contend that to a very large number of people it has nothing to do with policy. They would oppose ANY policy. For example, if the president wanted to give a speech to school kids and tell them to study and stay in school.

    Now, is it your belief that these folks opposed the POLICY of studying hard and staying in school?

    Was it a POLICY that gave rise to birtherism? Depending on your poll, either a large plurality or an absolute majority of REpublicans believe Obama was not born in the US and is not, therefore, legally the president of the United States.

    What POLICY made these people think he’s not a real American?

    What was the POLICY that leads a substantial number of Republicans to suspect that Obama is the Antichrist?

    What POLICY makes them think he’ll get busy murdering old people?

    KK, you’re comfortable talking numbers and abstractions and policies. You’re wonderfully high-minded that way. Please don’t take offense when I point out that not 10% of the American public knows what the word POLICY means.

    You think Karl Rove won elections on POLICY?

    It’s not about POLICY. It’s never about POLICY. It’s about emotions like greed, fear, hope, rage, loss, and about tribal identity, and above all, sheer stupidity. You and me and a teeny, tiny percentage of the American public even has a clue what we’re discussing, dude, the people out there marching on 9/12 only know that Glen Beck is real skeered of n—-s taking away his America.

  • http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com Jimmy the Dhimmi

    It’s not about POLICY. It’s never about POLICY. It’s about emotions like greed, fear, hope, rage, loss, and about tribal identity, and above all, sheer stupidity…

    You sound very angry.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Mike you did a great job of focusing on one single word that I used as a quick proxy, and ignoring the substance of my contentions. I’ll go ahead and grant that it’s often not about policy. So let me amend my statement:

    Now Mike, feel free to believe that you are helping Obama’s cause every time you contend that President Obama is failing (or we could call it struggling) because his opponents are racists. I think this opinion is as misguided as it is counterproductive.

    There, now you have scored a full point, and we are all done talking about policy. If you would, please respond to this point:

    We got from Jim Crow to a black President by collectively overcoming the hateful, divisive, and fundamentally wrongheaded attitudes of racism and segregation. If you ask me, it’s plainly obvious that folks who still cry racism with regularity have lost the ears of many of the folks who take great heart and deep solace from how far America has come.

    Obama seems to be losing the support of at least some moderates. Not me by the way, he still has my support. But I can tell you for sure that many wavering moderates are very put off by the notion that the really big problem for Obama is racism and redneck ignorance and so on and so forth.

    Whining that doubters and opponents are just ignorant and ought therefore to be dismissed? Awful tactic for growing support.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/blogs Nick Benjamin

    Michael Reynolds,

    You have to change your tactics when conditions change.

    Right now the racists you have to worry about are much worse than Joe Wilson. Some are actually violent. Others try to infiltrate legitimate groups, and turn them over to racists. Neo-Confederates are a perfect example. When you make a big deal of Joe Wilson’s racism you drive him right into their arms.

    And I think you’ll agree it’s better to have one mildly racist jerk of a Congressman, than give the Neo-Confederates a spokesman on the national stage.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    KK and Nick:

    I’m not concerned with gaining support. I’m not a politician. And I don’t work for the Democratic party.

    I’m concerned with accurately describing and understanding. My core value is truth.

    It is absurd to suppose that people wanted to keep Obama from speaking to school kids because they disagreed with him on one policy or another.

    It’s equally absurd to ignore the soil in which this kind of madness grows.

    For point of reference: at the start of the Iraq war when I saw millions of Europeans going into the streets to protest, I concluded that this was not simply about the particulars of the war, it was about a pathology of anti-Americansim. I took a crew to Europe and shot a documentary on the phenomenon, talking to average Europeans. I’m sure you recall that our president then was a Republican. I was a Democrat.

    What you had then was anti-Americanism as a pre-existing condition. It was not irrelevant to the demonstrations. What we have now is racism as a pre-existing condition. It is not irrelevant, either.

    I don’t state positions because of one party or another, or in hopes that more people will like me, I state positions because it’s what I believe to be true.

  • http://itsthe21stcenturystupid.wordpress.com Jim S

    Nick, Joe Wilson is already a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which the Neo-Confederates took over a while back. In addition he pushed hard for keeping the Confederate battle flag flying in South Carolina.

  • blackoutyears

    MR, thanks for the responses(s). One thing that struck me, and I believe it goes to the crux of the debate here, is your contention that your core value is truth. I’d surmise that that’s a trait shared by everyone who frequents this blog. I’d also surmise that the likely difference between you and me is that you’re comfortable asserting that you know the truth, while my unwillingness to do so is what marks me as moderate scum in the first place. Take a stand, wuss!

    An anecdote. My wife walked into the break room yesterday at the company where she has worked for nine months to eat her lunch, and all the seats were taken up by the mechanics and pilots (I won’t name names but it’s jet co among whose principals is Warren Buffett). As noted previously, my wife is black. All of these men are white. So, she stood at a counter and ate. About five to ten minutes later, two white women came in to eat, and the men immediately offered to give up their seats. Was this racism? Perhaps the fact that my wife is a temp and the two other women were full employees made the difference? My wife is assumed to be an Obama supporter (logical, but assumed nonetheless) in a company where Fox News is on in the breakroom most days. Ideological shunning? Also, my wife was among 600 people the company laid off last Friday. Contempt for someone who’ll be gone in a few days?

    It’s one moment in a breakroom of a fairly typical company on Cincinnati’s East Side. What’s the Truth here? This company’s employees are conservative? Racist? Both? Is it the company? Is it Cincinnati? There are very few black employees at this company. Is this racism or simply awkwardness when confronted with The Other? What is my wife to think? She’s faced with similar situations every day, everywhere she goes. Most black people in the U.S. are. Is she to question the motives of every white person she encounters? Why does she, like most black people, feel the need to be one person at work and another at home? Why does she feel the need to moderate her behavior where a white women in the same position would not?

    Problem is, we can’t know the truth. We can suspect. We can wonder. Things are rarely explicit. This uncertainty confronts black Americans every day and it an uncertainty you and I will never know. The closest I come is wondering what her family really thinks of me. What the black neighbor across the street who refuses to talk to us is thinking. What the Cincinnatians, both black and white, who stare at us in public are thinking. That’s the racial discussion that interests me, not the people who out themselves with ridiculous signs at protests.

    And no, it’s not absurd imo to think that many right-wingers don’t want their kids exposed to Obama based primarily on policy and ideological grounds. Your remark vastly underestimates the ideological fervor at work on the right (I didn’t think that was possible for anyone paying any attention at all) as well as, inadvertantly I think, reducing the impact of Obama to his race, as if his status as liberal icon to both the Left and the Right plays no part. Bush derangement syndrome always had as much to do with the seeming impregnability of the conservative movement as it did with Bush imo. I don’t think I’m alone in being a critic who was usually far more alarmed by Messrs. Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove than I was by President Bush.

  • blackoutyears

    Oh, and the Limbaugh remarks (I got to watch the video last night) are execrable. So, business as usual. To the moderates I see here who sometimes equate Olbermann and other Liberal Channel pundits as comparable to Limbaugh or Beck, I can only say, you must be joking.

  • Alistair


    Wow I just want to say kudos to though you piece on the issue of race and I can tell one think personally speaking, it’s always a major challenge from people coming from an interracial family such as my own family from a very small Midwestern town in Missouri. To this day some believe that it’s just as bad than gay marriage and fear that their way of life from previous generations will be gone as a result of a more diverse generation in America.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    I don’t assert that my primary interest is truth as a point of pride. It’s not an inherently superior pursuit — kindness, love, charity are all wonderful objectives to pursue. I mention truth as a counterpoint to consensus, for example.

    I was never a Reagan supporter but I’ve always honored him for calling the USSR an “evil empire.” 90% of Democrats derided him. But it was the truth, so I was glad he blurted it out, whatever the consequences. It’s good to know the truth before you move on to compromise.

    As for the nature of the truth, I’m a phenomenologist by inclination. We would hold that 1) we are trapped in subjectivity, never able to be completely objective, 2) that nevertheless we should make the attempt, 3) that the attempt begins with decathexis — unlearning all we think we know, 4) subjecting new data to careful scrutiny, 5) repeating steps 1-4 more or less constantly.

    So no, I don’t think I know The Truth. I don’t think The Truth is knowable.

    One way to test a proposition is to assert it and see how people counter it. I do that a lot — to the irritation of many, many (many) people. I try to find bright people and run ideas by them and see what they’ve got to say. Sometimes my assertion gets blown out of the water. Sometimes my assertion meets only faint or off-point counter-arguments. So I push a little more to see if there’s some substance to the counterarguments.

    This would be the point at which people get really annoyed. Which I understand: I’m provoking them as a way of educating myself. It’s kind of an anti-social behavior, and it’s selfish. Although I would argue that I’m providing value since I’m in effect offering my counterparts the same opportunity for education that I’m getting from them.

    Some people like the thrust and parry and understand what I’m doing. Other people just think I’m an a–hole. Then again, I’m not after a sense of community, I just want to go to bed each night understanding something I didn’t understand when I woke up that morning.

    It may surprise you but the story you told about your wife will be running in the background of my mind all day. It’s interesting data and feels useful to me.

  • blackoutyears

    MR, I certainly see the usefulness of your provocation (and selfishness is so pervasive, and perhaps psychologically fundamental, as to be almost unworthy of comment imo) and I’ve found these threads to be compelling, not least in terms of the conversation on race my wife and I willl be having for the rest of our lives. I happen to think that race is one of those topics that conforms to the mathematical condundrum a middle schoool math teacher of mine proposed: Stand at your desk. Walk halfway to the door and stop. Walk half way to the door and stop. Walk…well, you get the picture. So I applaud the effort to *know*, but let me know when you get out the door on this issue.

    The introduction of race into a discussion, and as a variable to consider when assessing a situation, is seemingly unquantifiable beyond simply pronouncing it to be *significant*. If my wife were white, and in the same situation I outlined, to what would we attribute the rudeness of those men? I can’t imagine how it must feel to constantly wonder, do they just not like me, or is it because I’m black? Like you, the anecdote has dominated my thoughts today. Expanding that to the broader issue of dissent, Obama has to wonder, whether he admits it to the public or not, do they just disagree with me or is it because I’m black? How much of this is because I’m black? The debate is irrevocably tainted by the fact of his race. I can’t imagine how that makes him feel. On the other hand, Pres. Bush apparently allowed N.O. to be devsatated because he didn’t like black people, mostly according to black people, so it’s not an alien emotion even to white presidents I suppose. They claim that they believe it be a sliver of the opinion, but I don’t think they know any more than we do. I applaud the position, though, because they know that all it takes is that sliver to reduce the discussion to race. The nightmare for Obama then becomes the impossibility of discussing any contentious issue without this inevitable devolution. Thorny.

    Alistair, I’ve been honestly shocked (in an unpleasant way) at the reception my wife and I receive from people. It’s brought home to me the extent of the voluntary segregation that occurs in this country; we’re treated as if we’ve both crossed some invisible line. On the other hand I’ve been happily surprised at how accepting our families have been as both have their share of racism, especially in our grandparents’ generation. Fortunately for us, most racists seem willing to make the occasional exception.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    We’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon with our daughter (Chinese, as you may recall.) I’ve never had an unkind glance or word from whites or American-born Asians. Never. Blacks often visibly soften and smile when they see us with our one white kid one Asian kid.

    Old-country Chinese are the ones who give us hard looks, sometimes to the point of entire tables of Chinese people turning to stare. Like they cannot believe what they’re seeing.

    We spent 8 months living in Tuscany and noticed the Italians completely indifferent to our mixed family. They reserved their slack-jawed, disbelieving stares for the fact that we walked around coatless in 65 degree temperatures while thin-blooded Florentines bundled up with hats and scarves.

  • blackoutyears

    MR, that seems pretty typical for Old Country types period. I lived in Detroit for years, and the Chaldeans who had immigrated were very friendly, unless you tried to date their daughters and sons. There was incredibly high resistance to assimilation, which may be what you’re seeing. On the other hand, I had a very nice roommate for one semester who was from Hong Kong who tried to fit in, and he was treated so rudely by the American students, primarily due to his accent and some difficulties with English, that he ended up retreating to the comfort of the other Chinese students on campus who refused to fraternize with non-Chinese. He was a really sweet kid, and I remember it as one of those time where people really let me down.

    I take it this is an adoptive daughter? If so, I think it’s a wonderful thing you’ve done. My wife and I intend to adopt down the road, likely black and perhaps older. Those kids profile pretty tough for adoption.

  • blackoutyears

    At the risk of belaboring, I was reading an old Malcom Gladwell piece in his archive of New Yorker articles, and came across this passage that I think hints at how I feel about the topic here:

    In Jonathan Franzen’s novel “The Corrections,” for example, one of the characters, Gary, is in the midst of a frosty conversation with his wife, Caroline. Gary had the sense, Franzen writes, “that Caroline was on the verge of accusing him of being ‘depressed,’ and he was afraid that if the idea that he was depressed gained currency, he would forfeit his right to his opinions. . . . Every word he spoke would become a symptom of disease; he would never again win an argument.”

    The pertinence is fairly clear.

  • Chris

    Thank you MR for standing up for what’s right.

  • http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com Tom Degan

    Why is so much hatred being hurled toward President Obama? That’s a no-brainer!

    He’s a Kenyan born Arab terrorist who wants to bring DEATH PANELS to this grand and glorious land of ours so he can pull the plugs on Granny and Gramps.

    HE’S A DANGED LEFT WING SOCIALIST whose education was funded by the American Communist Party, MoveOn.Org, Barbara Streisand and Ed Asner.

    He named his daughters Sasha and Malia – YO! WHAT’S UP WITH THAT???

    He would prefer to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi over Ronald Reagan. RONALD REAGAN!!!

    He wants to start a TROTSKY FOR TOTS program for our children.

    He’s just an evil person!

    EVIL, I SAY!


    My fellow Americans, heed my warning,

    The Big, Black, Bolshevik Bogeyman is gonna git’cha!

    It has not a thing to do with race.

    I am a white person. I would not lie to you.

    But seriously, folks….


    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

  • http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/ mw

    Rereading this thread and thought I should tie down a few loose ends as it winds down…

    Taking the last – first:

    Your quote from “The Corrections” is spot on. Thanks.

    I was explicit in the note at the end of the post that, as you surmise, the idea for this piece came from that comment thread. In fact, I link to the very thread you are quoting.

    A couple notes – First, you have a typo in the comment and attribute the first quote to me, when it is actually MR. Easy to do with the surfeit of M’s in that thread.

    Second – I am in general agreement with your reading of the thread, but will take issue with the implication of your question “Who is generalizing?” I don’t think I am misreading MR one iota in that thread and would point to yet another recent example from this comment thread:

    We have one political party. And then we have a collection of racist loons and their enablers. – MR

    No equivocation. No qualifiers. Every single person in the GOP is a racist or an enabler. For all the sophistry about finding truth trough provocation, this is actually about one thing – de-legitimizing any and all opposition argument.

    I do agree that this particular debate does seem to devolve to absolute statements about the opposition and their motivation from both sides, while spawning strawman arguments almost immediately. But, to the extent you see it from me, I should point out that I am only seeking Truth Through Provocation ™.

    I am indifferent to the characterization of satire vs. sarcasm and perfectly happy with either. I only used the “satire” tag because Justin does not have a “sarcasm” tag for us to use, and I thought I needed to telegraph the intent of the post (see Frank Hagan’s comment). Frankly – I don’t really know the difference in definition between the two, but if it is as you suggest – FWIW- I crack myself up every time I read it. But then – I am easily amused.

    For the comments that were directed at me, I find nothing that requires anything more than what I said and quoted in the first comment in this thread. I am perfectly willing to let it stand at that.

  • Chris

    “Every single person in the GOP is a racist or an enabler. ”

    Well I’m still waiting for the party to call out the racists and loons. hasn’t happened yet.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    You have steadfastly refused to consider the GOP’s race issue seriously. Little Green Footballs takes it more seriously. Rick Moran takes it more seriously. Republicans more thoughtful than you take it seriously.

    You think it’s funny. Pshaw. Pish posh. Tee hee.

    You refuse to even address the videos, the pix, the quotes from the 9/12 rally and from townhalls. You haven’t answered questions, such as:

    Why did a large number of Republicans object to the president speaking to school kids? For the first time ever?

    So, yes, that makes you an enabler. Your party needs racists so your party enables them.

    But I regret including those Republicans more serious about the issue than you. There are a few Republicans willing to squarely confront the GOP’s 40 year flirtation with racism. You’re not one.

  • http://www.gadgetsleuth.com Gadget Sleuth

    Is anyone shocked that there’s racism when it comes to the first black president ever? Bear in mind, 50 years ago there were designated “colored” drinking fountains.

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    I’m always happy when people adopt a mode of thinking and investigating their world which acknowledges imperfect understanding and seeks to continually incorporate novel insight. But not at the expense of others.

    It’s not nice to use people overtly as guinea pigs. As Blackout points out, there are many ways to attribute motive. That you jump to attribute anti-obama motives to racism IMO reflects poorly on you. Especially because you admit in your phenomenology discourse that you are primarily interested in what YOU can gain in understanding. Then later, maybe you deign to share your understanding, after you’ve pissed a bunch of people off.

    And of course, maybe your phenomenology justification is simply regularly practiced post facto confabulation that you undergo after you notice you’ve been behaving badly. Clever people are great confabulators. Don’t anyone tell my wife. :-)

    I’m certain that at least some of the anti-Obama crowd harbor racist impulses. I”m just as sure that many of them are simply opposed to the constellation of liberal/progressive ideas and the folks who support them, and that this opposition may be largely visceral and so not founded on a basis of critical thinking which is subject to adjustment to incorporate new facts.

    So Mike, how does a phenomenologist tell the difference between racism and anti-liberalism?

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    A quick Google search shows me referring to myself as a “good phenomenologist” as early as February 2007. Of course it’s been closer to 30 years, but the point is no, I didn’t pull that out of the air.

    I’m a fiction writer. It may not be an admirable trait of fiction writers, but we observe and to some degree exploit everyone we encounter. I’ve created literally hundreds of characters and plots (150 books, give or take) and I have to get my raw materiel from somewhere. Not that I lift actual characters from real life — that doesn’t work for me — but bits and pieces of this and that, habits of speech, attitudes, interactions, modes of thought, so on.

    In HUNGER I deal quite a bit with the need of the kids to create a monetary system. Donklephant writers and commenters contributed some intellectual DNA to that. In LIES (coming this fall to a store near you) I have a lot about the question of “government” secrets. Again, thanks to D’Phant and many other sources.

    We all try to get what we need from life, KK. Some of you come here for a sense of community, or to practice writing skills that may not be a part of your daily life, or to push an agenda, or like me, to test out ideas. I don’t see why my trying to squeeze some useful truth out of my human interactions is a bad thing. Not especially friendly, but not bad.

    Blackout gave me something useful with the anecdote about his wife. Not sure how or whether I’ll use it, and certainly it will never be in that form, or maybe even on that topic, but it plugs in, it makes up part of the web, and I’m grateful for it. My profit, but not his loss. And I suspect he had some takeaway value as well.

  • Chris

    “That you jump to attribute anti-obama motives to racism IMO reflects poorly on you. ”

    It’s not much of a jump is it? Starting with the election, most of the fear that was generated was based around his race, or his ancestors. If he was a white guy named John Smith from Ohio, no one would be clamoring for his BC, or saying he’s a muslin* (not that i see how that matters). So even if the people originating those fear mongering lies aren’t inherently racist, the people that eat them up are.

    *on purpose

  • http://centristcoalition.com/blog/ kranky kritter

    Chris, it’s all quite easily explainable by attributing it to anti-liberalism.

    Anti-liberalism has a cousin, and its name is anti-conservatism. If you have that dread disease, then you think that everything that CAN be attributed to racism MUSR be attributed to racism. I find it a painfully skewed view of the world.

    I really don’t know how such folks (anti-liberals or anti-conservatives) get through a productive day, what with all the weeping about the deep enduring injustice of it all. I guess it’s the self-righteousness that provides the sustenance.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/blogs Nick Benjamin


    Nobody’s saying Joe Wilson would support health care if only Obama were white. But do you honestly think Joe Wilson would have interrupted a Joe Biden speech on health care with a cat-call? I don’t. That was a very dumb political move, and you don’t get elected to represent 750,000 people if you’re in the habit of making very dumb political moves.

    Most of the time racism is not what people do, it’s how they do it. You tell hate crimes from other crimes by looking at the severity of the victim’s injuries, what the criminal says, and how he acted in general. That’s one reason I don’t like debating about it. It’s an inherently subjective subject.

    That said I’d be stunned to hear any reasonable person say that they think Joe Wilson would have heckled a white President, in the middle of his speech, on national TV.

  • blackoutyears

    MR — I’m always glad to discuss. Honestly, the only topics that generally spur me to comment here are racism and the ongoing gay rights debacle. I’ll have to check out your novels. The synopsis for Hunger sounds interesting.

    For those here making the claim that Joe Wilson’s heckling had something to do with Obama’s color, I can only see that it strikes me as far less cut and dried than you propose. I’m aware of Wilson’s *issues*, and it would not surprise me in the least, but then I think you’re still missing the point to some degree. Fact is, we can’t know his motivation (short of his admitting it), so it’s all conjecture, no matter how self-evident you deem it to be. More to the point, even if we did know those motives I’m not sure how helpful it would be. Is it possible in your minds for someone to be both racist and ideologically opposed views to Obama? To what degree does one influence the other? Which one is taking precedence in driving demonstrations and outrage? One of the (many) problems with labeling someone racist is that it relieves them of complexity. Opinion becomes null under the label. All ameliorating *good* characteristics are subsumed. I think of Todd Solondz’s Happiness and the character of the psychiatrist who is a pedophile but also a sensitive, patient, wonderful parent who loves his son very much. It’s one of the more poignant juxtapositions I’ve seen. Let’s all endeavor to be a little less reductive. Let’s all be a little less quick to condemn what we can’t really know.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds


    Of course it’s possible to be both a racist and yet ideologically opposed to Obama. That’s never been the issue to me.

    The question is whether, in the absence of underlying racism, we might be having a more rational discussion. Racism adds a strong note of crazy to the proceedings. Discussion of the issues has been all but obliterated by scare tactics involving granny-killing and so on.

    Of course this is deliberate on the part of the GOP. They fire up their racist wing in service to the health insurance industry contributors. This routine is as old as race in America. Wealthy interests exploiting race to ensure the loyalty of a frightened underclass is one of the constants of American history, particularly in the south, but in the north as well.

    The point is that in the absence of race hatred and race paranoia we’d be having a very different discussion. But so long as a substantial portion of the GOP is racist, and so long as their leaders willfully exploit that racism, we’ll be paralyzed in attempts to solve actual problems.

    Republicans insist on pretending-away the very thing they use for political leverage. I insist on pointing an accusing finger. The reality of the GOP’s exploitation of bigotry (on race and on gay issues as well) is not tangential, it is central. And it’s a reason the young and the better educated are fleeing the GOP.

  • Chris

    KK, once again you say that calling something racism is a cop-out, but I’d like to hear a response to my rationalization of evidence that it is racism. That if Obama was white, with a white name, we wouldn’t be having all these delusional paranoid movements and general hysteria.

    Where’s your response? I’ve never seen one. I’ve brought that up every time republicans claim that there is no racism, and I never get a response.

  • http://sidewaysmencken.blogspot michael reynolds

    Interesting, eh?


    As evidence of the link between health care and racial attitudes, we analyzed survey data gathered in late 2008. The survey asked people whether they favored a government run health insurance plan, a system like we have now, or something in between. It also asked four questions about how people feel about blacks.

    Taken together the four items form a measure of what scholars call racial resentment. We find an extraordinarily strong correlation between racial resentment of blacks and opposition to health care reform.

    Among whites with above average racial resentment, only 19 percent favored fundamental health care reforms and 57 percent favored the present system. Among those who have below average racial resentment, more than twice as many (45 percent) favored government run health care and less than half as many (25 percent) favored the status quo.

    The piece validates my position in part but adds nuance.

    It would be silly to assert that all, or even most, opposition to President Obama, including his plans for health care reform, is motivated by the color of his skin. But our research suggests that a key to understanding people’s feelings about partisan politics runs far deeper than the mere pros and cons of actual policy proposals. It is also about a collision of worldviews.

    This paragraph while directly countering part of my position supports my contention that this is not about a specific policy.

    The data was apparently collected before Mr. Obama’s election or in any event before he took office. So it does not address racist reaction to Mr. Obama himself but rather correlates racism and general opposition to health care reform.

    I would argue that Mr. Obama’s assumption of the presidency sharpened the underlying racism and white panic and that these are part and parcel of the eruption of the spittle-flecked rage that has characterized the townhalls and the tea parties.

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/blogs Nick Benjamin

    Fact is, we can’t know his motivation (short of his admitting it), so it’s all conjecture, no matter how self-evident you deem it to be.

    Fact: Joe Wilson is from South Carolina, a state that seceded to protect slavery, and continues to celebrate this fact.

    Fact: Joe Wilson supports celebrating this history. He associates with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a formerly legitimate group that has been taken over by pro-slavery whackoes.

    Fact: In the history of the Republic no Congressman has heckled the President during a speech.

    Fact: The above fact changed the very first time a black President gave a speech before Congress. The heckler was Joe Wilson.

    In theory it’s possible Obama’s race had nothing to do with Wilson’s outburst. But to believe that you have to believe that no Congressman has disagreed with a President more than Wilson disagrees with Obama, and/or Joe Wilson is the biggest asshole to ever be elected to Congress.

    Good luck with that one kk.

  • Chris

    i still get no response? Interesting how no one ever wants to talk about it with me.

  • blackoutyears

    @MR, the GOP killed healthcare dead without race being involved at all back in Clinton’s first term. How would you characterize that debate? I wouldn’t say that the tone is any less choleric now than it was then, rather the loonies gte more coverage these days. I suppose your subsequent post seeks to demonstrate that even the Clinton opposition has some racist component, in that opponents of government-subsidized programs are more likely racist. All I’ll say is that worldview is an awfully euphemistic way of putting it! On a brighter note, I’d say the tone of August seems greatly to have been left behind with the flip of the calendar. The MSM have apparently decided that coverage of debate over the Baucus Bill should predominate. Imagine that…the media doing their job, sort of. And I say that with a BaJ in a drawer at home.

    @Nick, I believe I made it clear that I was familiar with Wilson’s history, but thanks for rehashing. As I said, I don’t see your point. Even if you knew that Wilson’s outburst was racially motivated he’s one man. And I find your *evidence* tenuous and atypically conjectural; your posts are usually more thoughtful than this. As for your remark that you don’t get to Wilson’s position by making bad political moves, have you studied the House of Representatives much? Not exactly a collection of the brightest minds our nation has to offer. Lynn Westmoreland alone is proof that a box of hair could get elected. Jean Schmidt, the anti-savvy, is my congresswoman. Let’s not give these people too much credit. Anyone with money, connections and a gerrymandered district can get elected to the House.

  • blackoutyears

    It’s hard for me to separate these assertions about the GOP firing up their racist base from my suspicion that they’re as much a byproduct of the Libs’ depiction of said base as racist, sister-fucking, middle-school dropouts as they are anything observable. And I’m not sure how the whole *cons as racists* thesis advances policy discussion or even (especially?) the conversation on race. Dwelling on the alleged racism of conservatives in this monolithic fashion does make it easy to dismiss their arguments outright, that much seems clear. What’s this line of thought supposed to be accomplishing again? It smacks of some liberal wet dream where all cons are exposed en masse (choose one from racist, corrupt, hopelessly avaricious, religiously hypocritical and obsessively bellicose) and their agenda swept, by the broom of progressive righteousness, into the dustbin of policital history. Why can’t people just be more two-dimensional?

    Captcha: yesterday’s gaol. And today’s apparently. lol

  • http://detroitskeptic.com/blogs Nick Benjamin

    How many GOP Congressman yelled “you lie” in the middle of Clinton’s address to Congress?

    Modern racists are trying very hard to bring people into their movement by setting up legitimate front-operations, and using overtly non-racist rhetoric that leads to racist conclusions.

    They depend on the fact that most Americans will give them the benefit of the doubt. By the time they figure out the SCV is full of racist crackpots, or that the European Cultural Festival is actually a front for the KKK they like are in hip-deep. Some leave, but others decide racist crackpots can’t be all that bad and join up.

    In this case it’s clear Wilson is either an actual SCV racist, or that he doesn’t mind SCV racist behavior. It’s also clear that he’s the only Congressman in the history of these United States who interrupted the President with a cat-call, and that the President he interrupted happened to be black…

    It ain’t easy for me to see how any logical observer could look at this evidence and conclude anything but that Joe Wilson is a closet racist, who relies on Americans tendency to not judge his racism to maintain high political office.

  • blackoutyears

    Nick, I still don’t see the point. Even if Joe Wilson is a racist, what is the implication? You seem to be so busy trying to convince that Joe Wilson is racist that the larger issue (why I should care) is obscured. Proving that racism is involved is a far cry from demonstrating its effects or relevance. I mean, one congressman yells at the President and suddenly this is light years worse than the Clinton years for you? Absurd. Regardless of MR’s charges, no one here has denied that racism plays a role in opposition to Obama’s policies. It’s a debate over degree and import, not existence.

    On a related note, I just heard the Beck/Limbaugh healthcare reform=reparations meme yesterday. Now THAT’S racist.

    Colbert had a funny line this week as well, that Nick and MR will enjoy. “Sadly, every time a racist criticizes the President, someone cries ‘Racism'”! I’d suggest watching his The Word segment from Sept. 24th for an especially acerbic take on the discussion.

  • blackoutyears

    Also, FWIW, my wife listens to Russ Parr and Tom Joyner, black radio hosts, and she says that black listeners are very up in arms over the Wilson fiasco. Unfortunately it plays into their worst fears and stereotypes of white men. So that’s awesome. sigh.