Let's Stop Monkeying Around With Colorblind Racism

by: Paul Rosenberg

Sun Feb 22, 2009 at 12:30


The essence of political power is the ability to define.  The ability to define "us" and "them".  The ability to define what is "good" and "evil".  The ability to define what is and is not a political problem.  The ability to define political ideals, and the meanings of words.  Hegemonic power is the ability to define without even trying, without anyone even noticing, much less objecting.  And the first order of business of oppositional politics is to contest-not just a single definition, but the very ability to define.

"Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining."

That's what the NY Post did this week with its cartoon portraying President Obama as a murdered chimpanzee.  First, the Post asserted its hegemonic capacity to define by publishing the cartoon.  Then, when an uproar ensued, it asserted that capacity again, by denying what it had done.  And then it asserted that capacity a third time, by defining itself as apologizing, when it was actually doing the exact opposite-continuing to attack those who called for the apology.

Hegemony matters, because, quite frankly, without challenging hegemony, Obama's presidency and the Democratic trifecta are ultimately doomed to fail.  Hegemony is all-encompassing, touching on every aspect of politics, indeed, touching on every aspect of our culture, from which our politics comes.  By proclaiming himself a "pragmatist" and eschewing ideological confrontation, Obama has placed himself at a distinct disadvantage. Arguably, he lacks a fundamental grasp of hegemony works.  Either that, or he fails to appreciate how fundamentally it limits his options.  Or he's playing 111-dimensional chess and he's getting all the rest of us to do his work for him.  But any way you look at it, the response to the Post's cartoon is taking up the mantel of counter-hegemonic struggle, and raising it to the highest level.

 

Paul Rosenberg :: Let's Stop Monkeying Around With Colorblind Racism
The Non-Apology

In my earlier diary, "A Three-Ring Circus On Race This Week", I described the theoretical core of "colorblind racism", an ideology that facilitates continued white dominance in a post-Civil Rights Movement era, while denying that it is doing so.  While colorblind racism is the main public face of movement conservatism, which allows it to blend in with the mainstream of white American thinking on race, there is always an element of old-fashioned racism present as well.  Indeed, colorblind racism and old-fashioned racism repeatedly interact with one another, as the framework of colorblind racism makes clear.

In particular:

(4) Minimization of Racism:

Minimization of racism is a frame that suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities' life chances ("It's better now than in the past" or "There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there).

And

(2) Naturalization:

Naturalization is a frame that allows whites to explain away racial phenomena by suggesting they are natural occurrences.

can function quite nicely to tolerate and excuse racist shock jocks, who have often served to set the tone that is followed up on by others in the conservative media, including the NY Post.

because racism is no longer a big problem, and these are just examples of crude jokes that every tells or enjoys, whether they will admit it or not, there's nothing to get excited about, and those that do get excited are merely pushing an agenda.  Such is the rationale that flows quite naturally from the framework of colorblind racism.  And because the rationale so readily excuses outright, old-fashioned racist invective, the two forms of racism create a natural symbiotic dynamic.

This was clearly part of the dynamic behind the Post'snon-apology::

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

To someone fully embedded within the framework of colorblind racism, such a statement makes perfect sense: [naturalization] the cartoon was "just a cartoon", perfectly natural, the sort of thing that newspapers publish all the time.  (And some people get mad and misunderstand them all the time, too.) If someone was offended, we're sorry. But some folks don't realize that [minimization] racism's over, they see racism everywhere, when it's really no big deal.  And we're not going to apologize to them, because they just "have an agenda."

But the framework of colorblind racism does more than just show how this non-apology continues to advance racist narratives in this way.  It also helps us disengage from the psychological games being run here.  Once we do disengage, something more should become obvious: The Post is pretending to apologize only to those who have not objected to it in the past, while pointedly refusing to those who have.  But were it not for people raising a ruckus-and, in fact mounting a mass protest, does anyone seriously think that the Post would be apologizing to anyone?  No, of course not.  The apology is being forced by anti-racist activists, but the Post adamantly refuses to apologize to them.  It will not overtly admit that they are right, even though the simple fact that it is apologizing shows that they are right.  This disjunction between what is tacitly admitted and what is openly admitted is the hypocrisy gap that is always a component of racism.  And, of course, it's the same gap that could be found in the original cartoon, pretending that it was not both a slur and an attack on the President.

The Cartoon

Concerning the cartoon itself, at Jack and Jill Politics, Baratunde Thurston (aka Jack Turner) wrote "The Connection Between Blacks As Apes And Police Brutality", in which he brings up the research of UCLA psychologist Dr. Phillip A. Goff, who has specifically studied "the link between seeing blacks as apes, monkeys, etc and treating them brutally." As Thurstan notes, "This is the connection I was able to draw in my closing line on air, [on Countdown] but I didn't have time to give full references."  He then reproduces in full a response  from Goff, from which I take this large excerpt:

Though much of the reaction to the cartoon has been outrage at the implication that our 44th president is remotely simian, there have been other messages in the blogosphere as well. A few pleaded with us to see reason in this post-Obama era. They begged us to understand that the cartoonist clearly meant to impugn congress, Wall Street executives and academic economists and that there was no racial subtext to the piece. Others saw the cartoon as racist but declined to become outraged. Saw the injustice in the image, but saw it as a minor injustice, not one worth worrying too much about. After all, they argue, having a black president means that America is post-racial and does not need to worry about petty things like harmless pictures in a paper. They insist this was a little thing.  

The best science available suggests otherwise.

Note the intrusion of minimization here, folks!  Goff continues:

For the better part of the past seven years, my colleagues and I have conducted research on the psychological phenomenon of dehumanization. Specifically, we have examined cognitive associations between African Americans and non-human apes. And the association leads to bad things. When we began the research, we were skeptical of whether or not participants even knew that people of African descent were caricatured as ape-like - as less than human - throughout the better part of the past 400 years. And, in fact, many were not. However, even those who were unaware of this historical association demonstrated a cognitive association between blacks and apes. That is, when they thought of apes, they thought of blacks and vice versa - when they thought of blacks, they thought of apes.

But the fact of this cognitive association was not the most disturbing part of the research. Rather, it was the fact that the association between blacks and apes could lead to violence.

In one study, participants who were made to think about apes were more likely to support police violence against black (but not white) criminal suspects. The association actually caused them to endorse anti-black violence. Most disturbing of all, however, was a study of media coverage and the death penalty. Looking at a sample of death-eligible cases in Philadelphia from 1979 to 1999, the more that media coverage used ape-like metaphors to describe a murder trial (i.e. "urban jungle," "aping the suspects behavior," etc.) the more likely black suspects, but not white suspects, were to be put to death.

Not surprisingly, black suspects were much more likely to be described in ape-like terms. And they were more frequently executed by the state.

Similar psychological mechanisms of discrimination are at work in the bloated incarceration rates of young black men, the trenchant educational achievement gap between blacks and whites, and the racial bias evidenced in law enforcement officer's use of force. Though some are demonstrating leadership towards equality, we find that many of our nation's oldest racial shames have persisted into a period when a black person can reasonably aspire to the highest office in the land.

I mention these depressing findings because it is tempting to ignore them in the wake of President Obama's inauguration - to downplay the significance of "isolated events" of bigotry and "harmless words or pictures." But precisely because the dream of post-raciality is seductive for so many, it is all the more important that we not forget that cartoons like the one in today's New York Post are never isolated-and consequently, never harmless.

Today's Post cartoon is not far removed from the "Curious George" Obama sock puppet, a "Curious George" Obama T-shirt, a Japanese advertisement depicting Obama as a monkey, and countless other Obama/monkey comparisons that cropped up throughout the year-long Democratic primary and presidential campaigns. Psychological science has long known that words and pictures, far from harmless, can be the very instruments of dehumanization necessary for collective violence-regardless of how innocently they are intended.

As we live through this historic presidency, there will doubtless be more of these moments of impolitic insensitivity. Some will be more egregious than others. But, as a scientist, my sincerest hope for us all is that we not be biased by the desire to see our struggle towards racial equality as over. The evidence is too clear that the little things are still a big deal.

This is precisely the sort of specific, detailed, scientifically established information we need to fight back against the hegemonic power of colorblind racism.  If we do not challenge the colorblind racist power to define things, we shall be extremely limited in the scope of things that we can change.  And if we are to challenge the colorblind racist power to define things, this is precisely the sort of information we will need to do so effectively.


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Excellent analysis. (4.00 / 7)
There are two types of racism-blatant racism that comes out as a conscious action and unconscious racism which we are all subject to thanks to living in a world of stereotypes, myths, and the shadows of a once legitimate apartheid system.  The psychological elements of this are fascinating, and show how hard the continued work will be.

AG Holder is right when he called us "a nation of cowards" when it comes to race, regardless of what the talking heads blabber.  Calling this nation a post-racial society because we elected the most talented, most brilliant and well spoken black man without a skeleton in his closet over the rantings of crazies and bigots that made up a good part of the 47% or so of the electorate that voted against him is one more example of running from the problem.  In essence, it is cowardice in that it is denial.

Since Holder called for more honest discussions of racism among all people, let's start here.  We are all, whether we admit it or not, influenced by subconscious racism.  I, for one, having grown up in the south, catch myself thinking unpleasant things that I know are wrong and have to push them out of my head, and I'm a true blue bleeding heart that can't stand any form of prejudice.  So the task is two-pronged.  We have to look inward to understand that this evil can and probably does exist in all of us and has to be rooted out accordingly, but we also have to keep the fight going against blatant racism, even when those who perpetuate such nastyness are too thick to realize what they're doing.

Check out Blue Arkansas:
http://bluearkansas.blogspot.com/


Chimps and Chumps (0.00 / 0)
Photobucket

Thousands of depictions of George W. Bush as a chimpanzee were floating around the media for 8 years, and nobody noticed the racial implications of any of them!

"Comme c'est bizarre, comme c'est étrange et quelle coincidence!"

Most of the people demanding that the Post fire Sean Delonas probably don't even know that his cartoons run on Page Six, and mostly cover sports and entertainment, and only what you might call the most grotesque elements of national politics, like the economic stimulus designed by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.

Personally, I think of Summers and Geithner as goddamned blood-suckers and chumps, but now that criticism of the ridiculous tax-cut stimulus has been rebranded as racism, I guess we can all forget about the millions of jobs and houses that will be lost because of absurd concessions to Republicans, and go back to our usual media-induced stupor until another wave of phony outrage or phony concern or some other form of news about nothing comes out of nowhere and distracts us again.

It only makes the whole stupid mess even stupider that it coincided with the 8th anniversary of the great Chandra Levy super-spectacle that distracted almost everybody from the stolen Presidential election in 2001.

So now that a cartoon from Page Six of the New York Post has crowded any criticism of the brain-dead stimulus out of the news, I want to add my little voice to the chorus of praise for all the unscrupulous hustlers who distract us from unpleasant realities year after year, by updating one of Sean Delonas' cartoons from a few weeks back...

Photobucket


[ Parent ]
Pavlov (0.00 / 0)
If the idea of a chimpanzee is inextricably linked to African-Americans in the popular consciousness, then it follows that most people who saw George W. Bush compared to a chimp would connect one more dot, according to the usual laws of classical conditioning that made Pavlov's dogs jump when they heard a bell previously associated with electric shock.

Bush... Chimpanzee... African-American!

But this never happened.


[ Parent ]
There's a difference here, and what it is may surprise you.... (4.00 / 3)
The difference is.......GEORGE BUSH ISN'T BLACK! However, he is an idiot, and there is a long tradition of comparing both blacks and idiots to monkeys-one is legitimate, one is not.

That all said, look man, you can try to change the subject on this all you want, and by using this as a way to rail on Geithner, Summers, and the stimulus, that's exactly what you're doing-working to push race off the table and under the rug.  Face it, when it comes to this issue, avoidance and denial...cowardice...our the biggest problems, and by trying to push it all into the closet, you're part of the problem.

Check out Blue Arkansas:
http://bluearkansas.blogspot.com/


[ Parent ]
Jacob (4.00 / 1)
Is this the "W was the 2nd Black President" argument?
Obama's really #3? Glad Grams isn't here to find that out.

[ Parent ]
Grandma! (0.00 / 0)
Grandma Dunham is actually my favorite character in that whole saga, and she really stepped up when little Barry was abandoned by Dad and dumped on the grandparents by Mom from Indonesia.

Without Grandma Dunham, the President might have turned out like his (formerly) homeless friend Keith Kakugawa, and I hope there's eventually a monument with her name on it somewhere:

Madelyn Payne Dunham.



[ Parent ]
Well Mom (4.00 / 1)
was still married with another child. It does look like Grams was quite the supportive woman. And it seems like the deal to send Barry back to Hawaii was what he wanted. I of course don't know details, whether anyone was sad or bitter, whether it was "abandonment" or just a good workable solution. And I laughed about the attempts to paint Barack as a deprived child when Grams was VP at a bank and he was going to a cherry prep school. But I do know that men can leave their kids at home and go off to do politics, explore, field research, etc., and few talk about their shirking responsibility. Anyway, I did write a tribute to Madelyn and the Passing of the Gypsies.

Now about Geithner knowing Ann because Dad was with the Ford Foundation, well, cronyism you can believe in, it's what makes Washington work.


[ Parent ]
Brilliant! (0.00 / 0)
That's a brilliant column on TPM, and not only substantial but well-written and funny.

Madelyn Dunham has become something akin to a modern day Moses, wandering the desert for so many years, ending up raising the child born in the reeds, and just catching a glimpse of Canaan as he crosses the River Jordan, knowing she wouldn't make it there herself.

And that's the least of it!

Congratulations for your excellent work!  


[ Parent ]
But it's Rupert Murdoch (4.00 / 1)
Really, we have Fox News asserting its racially-charged attacks on public personalities, amongst its other sins, and the NY Post is certainly known for its hate-filled venom. So equating blacks with monkeys as an editorial comic is beyond the pale? These guys have been beyond the pale as a matter of their success and modus operandi. If the left complains, they just get more conservative street cred and an increased persecution complex. Erica Barnett at Shakesville went through other comics by the asshat in question, and they're plenty despicable - gay people fuck sheep, fat people and old people are disgusting, ha ha ha. If anything it's amazing if the cartoonist doesn't have a whole selection of unacceptable racist cartoons to please the tastes of NY Post fans.

So, Um, What's Your Point? (4.00 / 3)
And,

If the left complains, they just get more conservative street cred

what's "conservative street cred" worth these days, anyway?  Three shares of Lehman Brothers stock?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Hey, let's not knock Lehman Brothers stock! (4.00 / 2)
I can use it to start my woodstove for the next couple of months, and, come springtime, I can paper some walls!

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Really, You Can Still Burn Lehman Brothers Stock? (0.00 / 0)
After the bath it took?

Amazing!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
+100! (0.00 / 0)
The LOLz! We're in it for the LOLz!

I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD.  

[ Parent ]
Offensive (4.00 / 1)
There is a fundamental issue here that is being overlooked.

"On the Media" this week referred to it with the rash of Muslim push backs  against recent anti-Islamic movies and the famous Danish cartoons. There is a podcast of the show for anyone interested.

The issue is whether one can be offensive under the umbrella of free speech. Several European countries now have laws in place that prohibit speech that would offend religious sensibilities and there are many in the US that lean this way as well.

Once we grant that being offensive is not covered by freedom of speech we leave ourselves open to not just censorship, but the revival of blasphemy laws and loyalty oaths.

Let's assume that the Post cartoonist was actually being overtly racist. Then protest his attitude, but calls for boycotting the paper are going too far.

By the same token allowing people to say "N-word" is not helpful. Does "nigger" have some magic power that saying it unleashes? Does substituting "n-word" make the person or act being discussed any less racist?

I think Holder is trying to get to a fundamental issue that those who refuse to confront racism and smother it by demanding some sort of PC behavior are not helping confront the reality.

I'm engaged right now in a back and forth with a troll who won't acknowledge his racism and perhaps even thinks he isn't one, but his refusal to read the report from Fair Economy shows his real disdain for the less fortunate.

One must balance sensibilities and free speech and when in doubt the fact that some may be offended has to yield. The "crying fire in a crowded theater" argument can only be used when one is proposing imminent action. There is no right not to be offended.  

Policies not Politics


No, Bob. A fundamental problem in your argument. (4.00 / 4)
"Then protest his attitude, but calls for boycotting the paper are going too far."

So, if you think this through, you want to protect the caricaturist's right to freedom of speech, even though there isn't any constitutional right to being published in a public newspaper, but you deny the right of others to excercise THEIR right to freedom of speech by calling for a boycott? Sry, but you have to admit that this is a double standard that doesn't make sense logically.


[ Parent ]
motivation (0.00 / 0)
As far as I can tell the call for the boycott is because the Post wasn't sufficiently apologetic and, perhaps, fire the cartoonist.

I have no problem with a call for boycotting a firm that you don't like, but demanding that they change their right to freedom of speech to conform to the protesters expectations is asking for hypocrisy. Will the Post be any less right wing if they "apologize"? Of course not, just look at the behavior of the rest of Murdoch's empire.

This is what Holder was trying to get at. Demanding that people pretend to adhere to a non-racist view when they really don't is sweeping the issue under the rug.

Label the Post as racist and treat it accordingly, don't demand a false apology and expect that this solves the problem.

Policies not Politics


[ Parent ]
This Is A Pretty Mechanistic Way Of Thinking (4.00 / 3)
What's really happening here, IMHO, is the mobiilization of mainstream anti-racist public sentiment.  This is rather remarkable development, which is only possible because of Obama's election.  The call for the cartoonist to be fired is more than anything a way of channeling that sentiment, and it's the mobilization and expression of that sentiment that is most important element here.

You assume that the Post would not change if it fired the cartoonist, but this assumes that, in fact, the entire nation has not changed.  But it has.  And the Post is already changing in response.  It's changing fitfully, lurching about just now, but it's no longer the immovable force it once was.  This is not an isolated eruption of protest.  It's a portent of things to come... unless the Post can figure a new way to be in the post-Bush world.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
but (0.00 / 0)
I don't want to particularize this to the Post which is an institution and doesn't really have a heart.

I'm more interested in the push to have people apologize thinking that this will change their fundamental attitudes.

I was reminded today of the incident where Andrew Young became a flack for Walmart and then said: "I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans, and now it's Arabs, very few black people own these stores."

There was the same sort of outrage, Young lost the gig, "apologized" and vanished back into whatever he does for a living. Did this change his fundamental attitude or those who probably think like he does?

That's the point that Holder was making. Getting an "apology" and making someone the scapegoat doesn't get to the fundamental issues of prejudice.

Furthermore the apologies are usually fakes as in: "I'm sorry I offended anyone", which is not apologizing for being a bigot, but for being found out.

I don't have a solution, but these ritual public floggings serve no real purpose and when they become real violence as has happened when various segments of the Muslim community have been offended it is even more important to defend the right to be offensive. The British have just banned a Dutch critic of Islam, so much for a free and open discussion of ideas...

The US has done this as well, banning Middle East speakers whose positions we don't agree with. If your ideas can't stand up to a bit of criticism from others then how solid are they?

Policies not Politics


[ Parent ]
The right to say STFU (4.00 / 4)
The freedom of speech includes the right to request someone to "Shut The Fuck Up".  Culturally, we try to avoid this, as the right to free speech goes beyond the Constitution, but sometimes it is the correct response.  More importantly, free speech for all means a conversation, not a monologue.

You mention the limits to free speech in other countries, even countries we typically consider more liberal than our own.  It is easy to forget how much deeper our liberalization and belief in the Enlightenment goes in this country.  It is in our blood and DNA.  I'm always shocked how easily other countries discard free speech.  Heck, half of conservatism in this country is defending the Enlightenment, even if they don't actually understand it.  It is who we are.


[ Parent ]
Thank you (4.00 / 1)
"...calls for boycotting the paper are going too far"

Thank you. I hadn't given it a thought before, but now it's very clear the the appropriate answer is to boycott the New York Post, then find all advertisers that still advertise in the New York Post, and boycott them for as long as they advertise there.

While I was willing to give the New York Post some benefit of the doubt at first, their "apology" crossed the line from possibly negligent to behavior that I allege is criminal.

For some odd reason, defenders of the cartoon appear to think that it's offensive in only one way. Unfortunately, there are many offenses in the cartoon, some of which could be construed as hate speech. The fact that the New York Post recognizes none of them in its apology suggests to me that this was deliberate.

1) Avocation of the assassination of the President of the United States.
2) Incitement to violence against Blacks.
3) Normalization of violence against Blacks.
4) Dehumanization of the President of the United States of America.
5) Dehumanization of Blacks.
6) Incitement to violence against Democrats.
7) Dehumanization of Democrats.

If anyone knows of a boycott site, please let me know. Otherwise, I may have to start one.


[ Parent ]
I found a listing of NY Post's advertisers. (0.00 / 0)
[ Parent ]
The problem with this analysis ... (4.00 / 2)
... is that because of the very fact that it was a racist country, the only way that an African-American man to become president was to be as non-threatening to closet racists as he could possibly be. His political opponents repeatedly tried to trap him into denouncing racism, precisely because it would alienate all that were in denial.  Someone (don't remember who) said that Obama won by being the least angry black man in America.

That's why Bill Clinton tried to tie him to Jesse Jackson, not because there's anything wrong with Jackson but because he knew that many saw Jackson as a threatening black man.

The NY Post is playing the same game: they think that the denunciations of them as a bunch of racists actually helps their side politically.


Clinton stated the obvious (0.00 / 0)
The obvious standards for comparing Obama's run were Jackson's Rainbow Coalition in 1984 and 1988. The 2nd one ended up with 13 states before petering out, the year Clinton had first considered running and 4 years before Clinton won the presidency. How obvious was the connection? Well, let's see:
----------------------------------------------------
The Baltimore Sun
(October 23, 2007) Barack Obama began airing radio ads in South Carolina today featuring Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the prominent civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

The senior Jackson won the South Carolina Democratic primary during his 1988 campaign for president, a victory the younger Jackson recalled in the ad, which is airing on gospel and R&B stations with a predominantly African-American audience.

"Once, South Carolina voted for my father, and sent a strong message to the nation," the younger Jackson said. "Next year, you can send more than a message. You can launch a President."
...
"A lot of politicians call themselves our friends," Jackson said.

"But Obama has a heart that beats for our community. And he's dedicated his life to the struggle," added Jackson


[ Parent ]
We went through this argument at the time (4.00 / 3)
Your argument is seemingly convincing, but actually hides a lot more than it reveals.

The standard is not obvious. The Kennedy-Carter fight might have been argued for. Hart-Mondale would work. But Jackson, although not running as the black candidate (Paul, who I believe was involved relatively heavily in the Jackson '88 campaign, can fill you in one that one,) was perceived as being the black candidate.

That meant that as much as it helped Obama in South Carolina to invoke Jackson, in whiter states like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania Clinton gained more from raising this point.

That's not to castigate Clinton for making the comparison - I though Bill wasn't especially classy throughout the campaign, but politics is a contact sport and most of what he did was perfectly legitimate - but it is to assert that Jackson is a very controversial figure and his name has very different resonances amongst blacks and whites.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
But Kennedy-Carter (0.00 / 0)
had nothing to do with an Obama-Hillary matchup - both were established pols, one being President with an ongoing crisis that significantly influenced the primaries, the other the brother of a President. Carter trounced Kennedy at the beginning, and it was only because of the Iran Hostage crisis that Kennedy got to catch up.

For Hart-Mondale, Mondale won Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, while Jackson won Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana and split Mississippi - there was no Southern dynamic for Hart.

(Of course Hart and Kennedy were both good examples of campaigns going into June with Super Tuesday III and on to the convention).

Clinton was in South Carolina, talking about South Carolina, and Jackson had won South Carolina in both 1984 and 1988, specifically what Jackson's son was talking about in a month of campaigning. Boy, what a racist leap. And by the way, didn't I hear that Obama was the first black president? Isn't that such a racist thing to say?


[ Parent ]
And of course Oprah (0.00 / 0)
also appeared in October 2007 to huge crowds invoking the "Diary of Miss Jean Pittman" with Obama being "The One", the black messiah. Against this backdrop with Oprah and Jesse Jackson Jr., picking Clinton's comment out as "racist" because it would pigeon-hole Obama as the "black candidate" was simply absurd. But the tactics worked, sadly - Clinton got labeled a "racist", and similar tactics were used later to get Hillary labeled a racist towards women of color. Rove should have been proud.

[ Parent ]
I'm not claiming either side had clean hands (4.00 / 1)
It was generally preferable for Obama to emphasise his race in Southern primaries, and for Clinton to minimise it. In primaries without a critical mass of black voters and in the general, it was preferable for Obama to minimise his race, lest he turn off the subliminally racist or be accused of being an 'angry black man'. It was in Clinton's interest to prevent him doing so.

None of that's objectionable, and I wasn't offended by the Jesse Jackson comment - I think the link is not half as clear as Clinton made out, but I also think that any black politician will have those comparisons made, due to the basic grouping that affects the thinking of all of us, and that the Republicans were always going to do it in a less classy way.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that 'mainstream' - ie white centrist society - never really accepted Jackson as a 'serious' candidate. Although he won in states where blacks were not an overwhelming mass of the electorate, he was still seen as a black candidate.

That didn't apply for Obama. Both had bases in the black community, but Obama had the good luck to be viewed as a serious candidate, whereas Jackson never was.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
More or less agree (0.00 / 0)
Obama had to prove he could compete in "the other" states. In the end he needed the caucus states to make up for lower strength in primary states, but he pulled it off on Super Tuesday.

[ Parent ]
Eugene Robinson (4.00 / 2)
Someone (don't remember who) said that Obama won by being the least angry black man in America.

I believe Eugene Robinson said that. Robinson stated that Obama had to present himself as the least aggrieved black person in the history of America just to win the election.


[ Parent ]
Is the goal for society to be colorblind? (0.00 / 0)
I think many would have it both ways.  Yes, racism exists and it pervades many aspects of life in the United States.  For this reason many things can be interpreted as racism even if they are not and vice versa - many things are racist even when they are not interpreted as such.  I think that if one wants to push for a "colorblind" society one MUST minimize and naturalize rather than constantly seeing racism at every turn.  This would deny the latent racism that exists and still shapes society.  However, I do not believe the goal for society is to be colorblind.  I believe the goal is awareness - that everyone is sensitive to racism and genuinely tries to avoid it.    

I'm Sorry, But What You've Said Sounds Incohent (4.00 / 2)
Maybe there's a coherent argument in there that you just haven't spelled out clearly enough.  But as it stands you are arguing for minimizing and naturalizing--which will only promote the continuance of racism in it's present dominant form--while at the same time arguing for awareness, which would lead to seeing trough minimizing and naturalizing.

That's not necessarily the biggest problem I have with what you seem to be arguing here.  But it's the easiest to get my arms around.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Exit strategy (4.00 / 1)
Race is more social then biological.  (Why is Tiger Woods not considered the first great Asian golfer?)  I think it is clear that our ultimate goal is for skin color and ancestry to matter no more than eye and hair color do today.  As such, there will come a day were discussing race politically does more harm than good, as it raises race in importance instead of diminishing it.

Is that a controversial statement?  I hope not, but I suspect it is.  But if race is considered an issue 100 years from now, I will consider us failures.

The question becomes how far do we have to go before we cross that threshold.  It turns out that is a very hard question to answer because there is no we in the above statement.  Some of us are ready for that right now.  Many are not.  Society as a whole is definitely not.

I certainly think colorblind pop culture helps.  Blacks and whites live and play together during most every commercial break.  Races date each other in the movies and on MTV and no one cares any more.  Overall, that is very good.

But it also makes it easier for some of us to pretend the problem has been solved.  It has not.  But it does give us a goal of what the solved problem looks like.  We just need to get there.

I think this is where bryantdillon was going.  Here is something you almost quoted in another post:

I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.

-- Cary Grant

I think bryantdillon believes this is true for society as well as individuals.  In the long term I agree, but we aren't there just yet.  We still have major structural and societal barriers to break down.  We can work in parallel, fortunately, and pretend we are what we want to be on one hand while breaking down barriers with the other -- we humans compartmentalize quite well -- but those two methods to oppose each other to a degree.  I time will come where pretending is the best, last step in the processes.


[ Parent ]
Well, My Point Is (0.00 / 0)
We can't just wish ourselves somewhere.  We have to think ourselves there as well.  Cary Grant was no dummy.  I'm sure thinking figured in his pretending as well.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Thanks, Mark (0.00 / 0)
for making my point clearer.  I wrote in only a few lines what I needed to take a few paragraphs for.  I was not arguing for minimization and naturalization.  I was just making the claim that in society as it is now, the movement toward colorblindness also necessarily requires people to at some point to put aside considerations of race and maybe, also, the awareness of racism.  We aren't to the stage where we can do this yet and I think it is better at this stage to be aware and work to break down barriers.

[ Parent ]
For a thing worthy of the name "racism" to exist, (4.00 / 1)
it will by necessity permeate EVERY aspect of the society that hosts it. Not "many," nor "some" or "a few" of those things. It is in EVERYTHING. Racism is SYSTEMIC, embedded, and (often enough) encouraged.

Not: "Yes, racism exists and it pervades many aspects of life in the United States.  For this reason many things can be interpreted as racism even if they are not and vice versa - many things are racist even when they are not interpreted as such."

In the USofA, everything is always already (and STILL) touched in determinant ways by the realities of 'racism.' That is not because every action is racist by itself. Indeed, racism is not defined, primarily, as a bias or bigotry shown to another, socially or culturally 'inferior' person. It is the system of arrangements and agreements and nods and winks by which the larger social order permits--even encourages, by neglect, if nothing else-- those individual acts to remain unremarkable because the ingrained (albeit of course false) notion of superiority that permits them, laughs at them, and normalizes them.


[ Parent ]
You've done another nice job here, pablo (4.00 / 3)
The discussion of hegemony is one of those which simply does not occur in the public sphere in the USofA. Not in school, or in the press, or in the political arena, either, though (unsurprisingly) it functions flawlessly therein. It is (hegemonically) relegated to the academic margins of poli-sci, sociology, and education deparments; or it is trivialized as 'conspiracy' when it conditions force any notice of it at all in quotidian conversations among the people or in the captive press. (In a Corporate State, corporate media are State Media.)

One intersection of hegemonic theory and race theory occurs in what I recall back in grad school being called "Critical Race Theory." (In grad school in the humanities, 'critical' attached to any other descriptive phrase was code for "marxist/marxian") Here's a report from a recent exponent of the art, at Lenin's Tomb (a very good, critical resource, imho):

One of the points that Critical Race Theory makes, regarding the 'colour-blindness' of the law, is that it has functioned to conserve existing hierarchies. By expressing them as equality before the law, such 'colour-blindness' gives the impression that the pronounced racial inequalities that structure labour markets, educational access, legal entitlements, state behaviour, etc., are meritocratic. Attempts to ameliorate those inequalities constituted 'reverse discrimination'. The most intensely debated example is that of 'affirmative action'. The conservative backlash in the 1970s against Great Society programmes included attempts to legally neuter a supposedly cumbersome bureaucracy. For example in 1978, following a suit by Alan Bakke who had been denied a place at the University of California, the Supreme Court ruled against universities using quotas to recruit minority candidates to their student body. Subsequent local rulings reinforced that verdict. The argument was that quotas protected minorities from the rigours of competition, thus promoting undeserving candidates while stigmatising those minorities as in some sense needing protection. This re-coded inequality in the language of free markets, notwithstanding the fact that the existing testing systems are coachable and reward those of higher socioeconomic status. By a simple ideological sleight-of-hand, fields of production that had been nakedly structured by race were de-raced.
There's more.

Well that did go on. Undeserving people got positions. (0.00 / 0)
and OJ went free and they all were paybacks which are always hard.

Only I received the bad end of it. And did not deserve it.


[ Parent ]
Undeserving people always got positions. (4.00 / 1)
George Bush got into Yale. What's your point?

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
Being displaced by a minority professor for a tenured position (0.00 / 0)
because they had a quota to fill. And I was a great teacher and she was not.

[ Parent ]
Sounds like no one has spent time with The White Ape in Barcelona (0.00 / 0)
Well I did in 1972, a few hours watching him. He has white flesh colored skin and blue eyes. He was in a cage to be viewed by the tourists with a black ape. The black one was outgoing, confident, interacting with the viewers and the white one was rocking and spitting up and finally jumped up on the ledge where he could not be seen. So the people soon went away and after they were gone he came down again. It was very sad.

But when you are fact to face with him there is no denying you are close to each other. You simply feel that connection and empathize.

I would not doubt that white apes born in the wild were murdered for being too different looking.


The control of linguistic communication determines who is in power (0.00 / 0)
Obama controlled it in the campaign and that made Hillary sound like she was full of sound bites, tired cliche's and over used language. The black culture knows this consciously and well and so Obama must. He has said some words and sentences that reveal that since he was elected.

I don't tell my mother-in-law what to do. I'm not stupid. That's why I'm  president.

Or very close to the above. A rather amazing sentence.

The new bailout is defined as a stimulus. That's an improvement. Receivership instead of nationalization. And so on.


Who now remembers Howard Cosell's departure (0.00 / 0)
from the ranks of esteemed broadcasters when, one Monday Night, in a fit of excitement, brought on by watching a particularly athletic run, gushed "Look at that little monkey go!!!!"?

Amazing how the unconscious will betray you (0.00 / 0)
In unintentional puns, slips of the tongue, jokes etc. Ah Freud. You are right once again.  

[ Parent ]
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