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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Observations from the Sidelines

Post racial America still seems to be awfully focused on race.

Just sayin’.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wrongful Termination: Yes, It is a Teachable Moment (Updated)

Shirley Sherrod should not have been fired. This from Stephen Spruiell at National Review Online tells the story:

I’d encourage you to watch the video for yourself, but the summary version is as follows: After experiencing some hard-core white racism in the segregated South (her father was murdered by white men who were never convicted), Sherrod made a commitment to help black southerners in bad situations. “When I made that commitment,” she said, “I was making that commitment to black people and to black people only. But you know, God will show you things… you realize that the struggle is really about poor people.” She then proceeded to tell the story featured in the clip that Breitbart published (he says he received the clip in its edited form). A white farmer came to her for help, and because she perceived him to be like the others, she fobbed him off on a white lawyer — “his own kind.” But the lawyer didn’t help the farmer, and that is what led Sherrod to revise her previous biases against whites and to resolve to assist all economically distressed farmers, white or black, who came to her for help.

Love me some Breitbart, but here’s the thing: gotcha journalism (and we bloggers are wildly susceptible to this kind of thinking) leaves you open to this kind of thing. When you do your best to catch someone screwing up--showing weakness or hypocrisy--you aren’t actually engaging their ideas. There’s nothing wrong with exposing bad behavior--in fact, we have an obligation to do just that--but we should do it while critically considering the context and the evidence. The things that were said by the left during the Bush years were often the worst sort of gotcha journalism and, like her or loathe her, the treatment of Sarah Palin has often ignored her thoughts in favor of digging for personal attacks.

Ms. Sherrod wasn’t treated well by anyone in this situation. As easy as it is to view bureaucrats as sort of inhuman, the truth is that the loss of her job and the comments about her character could have serious repercussions in her life. It’s something she didn’t deserve.

Sherrod shouldn’t have been fired (and certainly shouldn’t have been fired before the context was considered) and she is owed an apology by everyone who ran with the story. Earlier today, the NAACP referred to this as a teachable moment and I agree. The lessons we need to learn are about how we handle political differences these days and how we handle racial politics these days. It’s not a very pretty lesson at all.

View the video here.

Update: You might also want to consider what the Anchoress has to say on the subject.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Bill Maher Thought He Was Voting for the OG Prez

It doesn’t rank near the top of the list of dumbest things ever said, but it’s definitely one of the dumbest things I’ve heard recently.

In wishing for an American president who is more, you know, black, Bill Maher betrays his vision of what constitutes an authentically black American: a gun-toting original gangsta.

Apparently an educated man who doesn’t feel the need to resort to threats of violence in his executive meetings isn’t black enough for Maher. His view of black men is, apparently, a cartoonish view of black men as complete captives to their violent urges, with no nuance, and, no matter the education and professional achievement, just one step away from joining the Rollin’ 30 Crips. That’s a real black president, according to Maher. I suppose that, skin color be damned, a dark-skinned fellow who doesn’t exhibit those traits is just a white man in disguise?

Which is one of many, many reasons to switch the channel when he comes on.

Watch Maher make a complete clown of himself.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Idi Amin, Baby Doc, and Clarence Thomas

I twitterated about this a bit ago, but I ran across an article that twists the knife in a slightly funnier way:

Over at The Root, where Slate magazine sequesters black journalists, Michael Arceneaux decides it’s time to excommunicate certain undesirables from the African-American brotherhood. Because “while we love our own,” he writes, “we sure do dream of erasing a few of them from the history books.”

As much as anyone can possibly laugh about this kind of racializing, it’s nice to see that Reason can find the funny.

Read the rest.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What?

“I forgot he was black tonight.”

What the hell does that mean? Listening to the audio, it’s even worse because it seems to indicate that Chris Matthews was somehow surprised that a black man could stand and talk about a wide range of subjects, could be in front of a “bunch of other white people”, could be so “in tune” with American life that he might somehow not sound black.

Or something.

What was he thinking?

If, as Matthews suggests, we’ve really entered a post-racial period, can’t we dispense with talking about race and get to talking about policies? 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Thought We All Understood the Rules of This Game

How shall we put this?

Delicately, of course.

Republicans “of color” aren’t really members of a protected class of minorities. They’re more like honorary white guys sporting great tans; regardless of ethnicity or origin, regardless of their personal tragedies and triumphs, hell, regardless of merit, they don’t much count as having “wonderful American stories.” That spot is reserved for minorities who buy into the idea that ethnicity defines political affiliation. Respectable minorities simply don’t vote GOP.

I prefer the Condi Rice view: “I found a party that sees me as an individual, not as part of a group.” Though, since I actually am a white male, my opinions on subjects concerning race and gender are immediately discounted. No such requirement of experience has stopped numerous folks of explaining to me just how privileged I am to be white (and quite particularly male) in the USA.

Or to put it simply, and as an example: I’m not allowed to speak with any authority on the black experience in America because I haven’t lived that experience and don’t have the proper frames of reference. Neither am I allowed to speak with authority on the white experience in America precisely because I’ve lived it and I cannot be objective. I’m guessing that if I had the right opinions, though, I might be granted a waiver.

I’d be nicer about it all, but I’m suffering an empathy deficit right now. Seems to be clouding my judgement.

Is it just me or does the post-racial America seem at least as screwed up and dishonest as it ever did before? Perhaps more so because we seem so tremendously focused on racial issues instead of matters of merit.

But what the hell do I know? I’m just a white guy who has lived a sheltered, shallow life not given to the formation of any great wisdom.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Broncos Embrace the Ugly

Ugly is the only way to describe the Broncos’ loss to New England. Well, perhaps not the only way. You could also say it was inept, hideous, disappointing, and plain old bad. And there are no excuses for the Broncos who lost an ugly, but winnable game last week--a game that showed up every shortcoming that the Patriots exploited tonight.

Like turnovers. The team saw two early, promising drives end on Dante Hall fumbles, saw Jay Cutler throw a couple picks, and saw Patrick Ramsey add one of his own. For a time, the offense looked like it could work its way back into the game, but the turnovers and bad penalties stole hope away every time.

But, Zomby, what about the injuries? That’s no excuse for such poor play and the Patriots could match the Broncos injury for injury if it came down to comparisons. Certainly, it didn’t help that Cutler injured his hand on the very first offensive play of the game--that that had nothing to do with Hall putting the ball on the ground twice early. Certainly, it hurt that both Baileys (Boss and Champ) left with injuries, but the game was out of hand well before that point. Champ Bailey’s absence only proved two things to me: that without him no one on the Broncos’ defense can be relied on to cover a good wide receiver and the Broncos defense really is as bad as advertised.

Because as much as the Broncos offense may have dropped the ball (sorry), the defense played a listless and fruitless game. Big plays, bad tackling, dumb penalties--you name it, they did it.

The Broncos used up their good luck early in the year and haven’t made their case for having earned the top spot in the AFC West. Only the weakness of the conference sees them still looking better than the uneven Chargers and woefully bad Chiefs and Raiders.

Not much in the way of happy thoughts could possibly be attached to a game this phenomenally bad.

None of which changes the fact that Obama supporters are using the accusation of racism against McCain-Palin supporters with sickening regularity and little in the way of evidence. I had thought that race problems in the US were decreasing, but the hysterics and the baseless claims of racism for the pedestrian crime of disagreeing over which candidate would better serve as the United States’ next president.

I’m not stupid. I know that there really is racism in the United States. I know a woman who won’t vote for either candidate--Obama because he is black and a liberal and McCain because he picked a woman as his running mate. Not because he picked Palin, but because he picked a woman. I know other people that aren’t convinced that Obama isn’t a secret Muslim and won’t vote for him based on that worry.

I’m not stupid. But that doesn’t mean that every slight or misunderstood word (cakewalk?) is a sign of racist intent. The repetition of the accusation without evidence speaks volumes about the bad faith of the accusers--these aren’t folks debating or having a reasonable conversation, these are folks hitting out with one of the bluntest of instruments.

False accusations of racism (similar to rape) just cheapen and deaden people to real acts of racism in our country.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Public Service Announcement from Kanye West

Kanye West Hates Bush Who Hates White People and Black People, Apparently

President Bush hates white folks, too, apparently. Which is sort of weird since I thought that was totally Louis Farrakha’s job, you know? This is one crazy, mixed-up, post-racial America we’re living in.

Peace.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

All I Ask is a Little Seriousness

This election cycle saw candidates get off to an early start in campaigning. I decided that I would (mostly) ignore the debates and campaigning until later in the year simply because I didn’t want to devote the next year and a half of my life to obsessing about presidential politics. When the coverage descends into the absurd, though, how can you ignore it?

Truly, absurd is the only way to describe this:

Senator Clinton, are you black enough?

The question usually aimed at her darker opponent from Chicago triggered a burst of laughter from Hillary Rodham Clinton. She recovered from the barb and proceeded by not answering it.

This campaign moment occurred Thursday before the Las Vegas convention crowd of the National Association of Black Journalists. CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux pinned back the former First Lady to explain how she could “sustain black support “ while running against an African-American. Ironically, thanks to Sen. Barack Obama’s mixed white and Kenyan parentage and campaign mischief, it is he who usually gets to field the “black enough” question.

“Are you black enough” is offensive when it’s aimed at Obama; it’s downright silly when it’s sent Clinton’s way. Suzanne Malveaux should feel ashamed for asking a question that lowers the level of debate even further--and, it’s to Clinton’s credit that she sidestepped the idiocy.

A fair pair of questions would be, “Why should black Americans vote for you? What will you do to address issues of concern to the majority of blacks who worry about educational opportunities, jobs, and unfairly enforced drug laws?” Blacks in America aren’t one solid voting block beholden to those issues, of course, but ignoring the fact that those issues are of serious concern to many wouldn’t indicate a very serious mind.

Concern with those issues doesn’t mean that a candidate is “black enough” for the job, though, it means that he or she has given serious thought to the problems. I’m never going to ask if a candidate is white, blue-eyed, or male enough for the job; I am going to continue to ask if they act like adults on the issues that are most important to me. The person that I believe has addressed those issues (national security, entitlement reform, tax policy, for instance) the best will be the person that I vote for regardless of their skin tone, hair color, religious affiliation, party affiliation, or shoe size.

The question isn’t: “Are you black enough?” The question is: “Are you good enough?”

Update: Say Anything Blog has a similar response. As does this cat.

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