The Rules: Coda

by matttbastard

Well, we all knew this was coming the moment Rev. Wright dropped the state terrorism bomb and dared to say something positive about Farrakhan [insert sputtering, self-righteous indignation here].

Ben Smith:

In Winston-Salem, Obama sharply attacks Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the substance of his remarks yesterday, a far sharper disavowal than he gave in Philadelphia last month.

The core of his message: That Wright was not only offensive, but the polar opposite of Obama’s own views and politics.

“I have spent my entire adult life trying to bridge the gap between different kinds of people. That’s in my DNA, trying to promote mutual understanding to insist that we all share common hopes and common dreams as Americans and as human beings. That’s who I am, that’s what I believe, and that’s what this campaign has been about,” Obama said.

“I am outraged by the comments that were made and saddened by the spectacle that we saw yesterday,” he said.

Yep, that muted rumble you heard several hours ago was the sound of 50 million anxious (white) Obama supporters collectively exhaling. (Am I the only one who is sick to fucking death of how wankerrific Bell Curve-cheerleader Andrew Sullivan constantly offers unsolicited advice on race relations to the junior Senator from Illinois? Hey, get back to us when you’ve finally decided to denounce and reject Eugenics, Sully.)

John Cole nails it:

So Jeremiah Wright has acted like a jackass the past few days, and he may have acted supremely selfishly by hurting Obama’s electoral chances. Regardless, he may be a flawed man, but that does not undo all the good he has done over the years. I don’t know of any bloggers with thirty years of service to the poor and the indigent. Get back to me when Chris Matthews feeds hungry people for three decades. And even with all his flaws, Jeremiah Wright did give us this quality bit of entertainment, and I have to admit to enjoying someone treat the media with the respect they deserve (which is to be mocked, have eyes rolled at them, and taunted as Wright did yesterday at the Press Club).

Maybe it is because I am totally and unrepentantly in the tank for Obama, but I just can’t get worked up over what his pastor said. Maybe it is because I am not religious, and I am used to religious people saying things that sound crazy. Or maybe I just refuse to spend any more time and energy getting worked up over and denouncing, distancing, and rejecting the wrong people- people who really don’t matter in the big scheme of things. If you have a memo from Jeremiah Wright to John Yoo showing how we should become a rogue nation, let me know. If you have pictures of Jeremiah Wright voting against the GI Bill, send it to me. If you have evidence of Jeremiah Wright training junior soldiers on the finer aspects of stacking and torturing naked Iraqi captives, pass them on.

Until then, I just can’t seem to get all worked up about the crazy scary black preacher that Obama has to “throw under the bus.”

Once again, say it loud and proud, brethren: it’s only worthy of great weeping and gnashing of teeth if a Scary Black Man™ says it. At this point, one has to wonder if John Sidney McCain couldn’t brazenly pull a Zirkle and still walk away with his straight-talking Maverick credentials fully intact.

Sweet Jesus, I hate this election (and all God’s children said “a-fucking-men”).

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Quote of the Day: The Vortexes of Rancor

by matttbastard

A racial divide, once lived, dwells in the deepest parts of the psyche. This is what was captured by Barack Obama’s pitch-perfect speech on race. Slavery was indeed America’s “original sin.” Of course, “the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow” lives on in forms of African-American humiliation and anger that smolder in ways incommunicable to whites.

[…]

It takes bravery, and perhaps an unusual black-white vantage point, to navigate these places where hurt is profound, incomprehension the rule, just as it takes courage to say, as Obama did, that black “anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

Progress, since the Civil Rights Movement, or since apartheid, has assuaged the wounds of race but not closed them. To carry my part of shame is also to carry a clue to the vortexes of rancor for which Obama has uncovered words.

I understand the rage of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, however abhorrent its expression at times. I admire Obama for saying: “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

Honesty feels heady right now. For seven years, we have lived with the arid, us-against-them formulas of Bush’s menial mind, with the result that the nuanced exploration of America’s hardest subject is almost giddying. Can it be that a human being, like Wright, or like Obama’s grandmother, is actually inhabited by ambiguities? Can an inquiring mind actually explore the half-shades of truth?

Yes. It. Can.

Roger Cohen, Beyond America’s Original Sin

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The Speech

by matttbastard

Seems like everyone and their dog has something to say about The Speech, including nu-school academic racist Charles Murray, who *gasp* loved it (buh?!):

Has any other major American politician ever made a speech on race that comes even close to this one? As far as I’m concerned, it is just plain flat out brilliant—rhetorically, but also in capturing a lot of nuance about race in America. It is so far above the standard we’re used to from our pols…. But you know me. Starry-eyed Obama groupie.

The end is nigh.

John Derbyshire, responding to a portion of Obama’s speech that references school segregation, provides a more traditional National Review perspective on race (h/t Mini-Marty @ The Plank):

It’s true that there is widespread school segregation today. In my state, 60 percent of black students attend schools that are at least 90-percent black. From what I can see, the main reason for this is the great reluctance of nonblack parents to send their kids to schools with too many black students (emphasis added). Do you think that they — actually we, as my wife and I share this reluctance — are wrong to think like this?

Perhaps sensing that he may have crossed the fine line between dog whistle and rape whistle (oopsie), Derb has since quietly updated his post:

From what I can see, the main reason for this is the great reluctance of nonblack parents to send their kids to schools with too many black students, which they assume are beset by all the problems associated with poorly run public schools.

O…k…thanks for clearing that up. Now step away from the shovel, asshole–slowly. Oh, and put down the well-thumbed copy of Lolita too while you’re at it.

Best comment goes to DDay @ Hullabaloo (h/t Tom Watson):

I have a problem with these expected blog posts on expected speeches that the dynamics of 21st-century campaigns demand. This election has turned into some kind of bizarre series of rituals, like an season of Greek theater where everybody knows the plot and the audience is left to judge the work on the presentation. The parade of comment, counter-comment, conference call about comment, distancing from comment, and major speech incorporating remarks about comment is the real distraction in this campaign, diverting from a looming economic recession (a recession at BEST) and a tragic stalemate in Iraq. Rarely does anything good for the country come out of this exchange.

Furthermore, I’m sick and tired of this “action figure” conservatism where a bunch of stay-at-home bloggers decide for others what they should do in particular situations. “If I were Obama, I would have stood up during the sermon and fired a poison dart at Rev. Wright and talked about the need to cut the capital gains tax!” The imagined fantasies of these clowns resemble a Chuck Norris movie, when the realities involve far more Cheetos and nasal spray.

Can I get an amen?

Elsewhere: More analysis from Pam Spaulding, Melissa, Kyle, dnA (who was pleasantly surprised by the content of The Speech), publius, Steve M., Taylor Owen, Steven Taylor, Jill Hussein C. and the usual shit-load of citizen pundits @ Memeorandum.

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The Rules: Hagee Rewind

by matttbastard

My selekta:

“White evangelical Ministers are free to advocate American wars based on Biblical mandates, rant hatefully against Islam, and argue that natural disasters occur because God hates gay people. They are still fit for good company, an important and cherished part of our mainstream American political system. The entire GOP establishment is permitted actively to lavish them with praise and court their support without the slightest backlash or controversy. Both George Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent formal greetings to the 2006 gathering of Hagee’s group.

By contrast, black Muslim ministers like Farrakhan, or even black Christian ministers like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are held with deep suspicion, even contempt. McCain is free to hug and praise the Rev. Hagees of the world, but Obama is required to prove over and over and over and over that he does not share the more extreme views of black Ministers.

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A “stunning lack of clarity and consensus”.

by matttbastard

As the lily-white political class continues to evaluate Obama’s denouncing rejection of Angry Scary Negro du jour Sister Soulja Rev. Jeremiah Wright (while remaining curiously silent about Rod Parsley, McCain’s virulently racist and homophobic “spiritual guide”), Kai Chang takes a wide-ranging, nuanced look at how race (and racism) have played out thus far in this primary season.

A sample:

It seems to me that one of the principal sources of confusion when it comes to racial disourse is the stunning lack of clarity and consensus regarding the exact meanings and definitions of the words “racism” and “racist”. Those of us who spend significant time doing anti-racist work end up developing a variety of nuanced concepts surrounding these words, but many people never explore those meanings and instinctively respond to talk of racism with strong emotions and weak understandings. Racism is a complex multi-dimensional interdisciplinary subject which cannot be reduced to an absurdly-shallow bifurcation of the populace into laudable “not racists” and condemned “racists”. Racism is an overarching, interlocking set of economic, political, social, and cultural structures, beliefs, and actions which systematically advantage one racial group at the expense of all others. A statement, thought, belief, assumption, or action can be described as racist when it plugs into the overarching grid of racism, like a node which lights up once it plugs into its compatible network, thus transcending an individual act of bigotry or prejudice and fusing into broader institutions and societal forces.

As for defining what makes an individual person “a racist”, I think it’s a pretty fuzzy area, and not a particularly fruitful intellectual direction. Most anti-racists are much more concerned with identifying, understanding, and dismantling racism, than in exposing any individual as “a racist”, whatever that means. Clearly, there are hate-crime types out there who organize their lives around advancing white supremacist violence and such; but most of the racism that people of color deal with in our day-to-day lives — especially those of us who interact with a lot of white liberals — is far more subtle and covert, more of a background buzz than an in-your-face threat. White liberal racism tends to manifest in unspoken assumptions, attitudes, and social dynamics which normalize and center white privilege, while deprioritizing, marginalizing, and dismissing the voices, perspectives, experiences, histories, cultures, agendas, and initiatives of people of color. White liberals who engage in these behaviors aren’t “racists” in the same sense as the hate-crime types, but they are nevertheless participating in the replication and perpetuation of racism. Pointing this out is not “playing the race card”; it is accurate socio-political observation. Pointing this out is not the same as running around indiscriminately shouting “racist!” at every white person within earshot in some kind of rageful frenzy; it is constructive anti-racist critique aimed at illuminating an important but dimly-lit pattern, for the purpose of healing wounds which continue to bleed our society and our own humanity.

Of course, as briefly intimated by Chang, there are certain individuals out there who proudly fly the flag of prejudice (and ignorance/indifference) in a manner that defies nuance and complexity.

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The Rules.

by matttbastard

It’s only worthy of great weeping and gnashing of teeth if a Scary Black Man says it. Don’t believe me? Check out John Sidney McCain III’s “spiritual guide”:

First John Hagee, now Rod Parsley; at this rate, McBush could openly court Matthew Hale’s old congregation without consequence. ‘God damn America’? Sounds about right to me.

(Geraldine who?)

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