Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Object Lesson in White Privilege: What if Sarah Palin were Black?

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****My final (I hope two cents) on this matter are posted here.****

The impenetrable stupidity of Sarah Palin knows no boundaries. She wallows in mediocrity. Palin is the queen bee of a cult of personality where to be anti-intellectual is a trait to be rewarded. Ultimately, she presides over a confederacy of dunces.

People of color have many a shared experience that comes from being racially marked in a White society. One of my favorite examples of this social reality is the moment when a crime is announced on the evening news and we collectively grimace with the thought, "I hope he or she isn't black/brown/yellow/or red." I must also imagine that in a post 9/11 world, my Arab-American brothers and sisters likewise have a similar moment where they hold their collective breath in dread upon the announcement of some act of terrorism (real or imagined, in any part of the world).

Question: Do white people lower their heads in collective shame when they listen to Sarah Palin? Is there a moment where white folks shake their heads in mass and say to themselves, "Lord, I wish she weren't white?"

To be White is to be "normal," "invisible," and quintessentially "American." It is also the freedom to be an individual. When crazy white people bomb buildings, kill cops in the name of radical right wing politics, go on shooting rampages, or more generally just act like fools, it is never framed as a "White" problem. I would suggest that these actions are rarely, if ever, interrogated for what they reveal about Whiteness and/or white folk at large. In short, there is no "I hope that person isn't white" moment. Why? Because a given white person's actions are usually a reflection of their individual shortcomings, not a commentary on white people as a whole.

Efforts to communicate the essence of white privilege in American society are often made difficult because of the denial, fear, and vulnerability that comes from self-reflection about power. Moreover, in a time of economic calamity, white Americans are probably (and quite understandably) resistant to hearing about some "unearned privilege" when they are fighting for their financial lives. Surely, this is a time when conversations about the deep linkages between race, wealth, and white supremacy in the United States are an increasingly hard sell, even in so far as they remain especially true (as the old saying goes, "When White America gets a cold, Black America gets the flu...or worse").

Nevertheless, the need to discuss how race structures life opportunities remains necessary--and perhaps even more so--during our Great Recession. As opposed to the heavy theory and abstractions often favored by academics, scholars, and public intellectuals, I prefer practical common sense examples to prove my point. To that end, Sarah Palin is a perfect object lesson.

So, let's play a game of fill in the blanks. I will start:

If Sarah Palin were black
she would have disappeared into obscurity long ago.

If Sarah Palin were black, her daughter's out of wedlock, "baby daddy drama" would have been presented as an example of both pathological behavior and a dysfunctional family that is symbolic of the social problems in that community. If Sarah Palin were black, never would the poor decision making by the Palin family be marked off as challenges overcome, or deeds to be valorized.

If Sarah Palin were black, her neo-secessionist husband would have been the death knell for her political career, because as we all know you can't trust "those people."

If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as "folksy." Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office.

If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an "affirmative action baby."

@@@@

Tell me, how would you fill in the blank? If Sarah Palin were black she...

103 comments:

BC Cook said...

If Sarah Palin were black...

Does not compute. A black woman would not be a wingnut republican to begin with. I mean, how many are there now?

As my granny used to say, lots of people are poor. No crime in being poor. But it's a CHOICE to be trashy. The Palins are trashy, rich or poor.

macon d said...

If Sarah Palin were black, the fact that she attended four different colleges in six years would be common knowledge, because we would've heard that fact about 1000 times by now, instead of as it is now -- for many people -- never.

Anonymous said...

You can play this game another way too, as I'm sure you have -- what if Michael Steele were white? I don't think it leads to the corresponding conclusion. Palin would be long forgotten by the national political scene if she were black -- thought the horror stories of her personal life would live on in supermarket tabloids forever. But Steele, if he were white, probably would be forgotten as well. In other words, he survives because he's black. Compared to Palin, he's perhaps equally incompetent, and equally good at saying stupid things, but don't you get the feeling he's kept his job because Republicans don't like the idea of firing a black guy in public? Let's say someone like Rick Lazio had been appointed to the post; had he performed so poorly I think he would have been run out of the job immediately.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin were black she would be Vice President of the United States.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin were black... she would be stupid.

Oh wait. I think you wanted me to say something bad about whites, not about blacks. My bad.

chaunceydevega said...

We have our first troll alert! Yeah!! I was wondering if any of those "life is so much easier for black folk" types would come out. Funny. And delusional.

On Michael Steele, absolutely right. He is the projection of everything the white conservative psyche imagines affirmative action to be--ironic, they use him as their poster child and bizarro superman version of Obama.

m said...

If Sarah Palin were black she...would still be more qualified to be president than Obama.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin were black, she'd still be a fucking retarded piece of shit. She probably wouldn't be living in rural Alaska however.

Scruffy Scirocco said...

If Sarah Palin were black, she would be Vice president of the USA.

The way I see it, the only people who really care what color a person's skin is these days are the blacks. Look at the inexplicable popularity of Obama. His ONLY redeeming feature was that he was an articulate sounding black man. Never mind that what he said was incoherent when you struipped away the rhetoric. Never mind that he has never held any sort of managerial position, and is in fact unqualified to be the DC dogcatcher. But he's black, so that's all that seems to be important for you.

I'm amazed that blacks have so quickly forgotten the civil rights legislation that was spearheaded by a republican minority and stonewalled by democrats until social pressures shoved civil rights down their throats.

Why do so many blacks spurn the values of independance and self-actualization that the Republican party represents, and instead choose the party of entitlement that seeks to enslave you by making you dependant on the government?

If you want to end racism in this country, then in this year's census, for race, mark "other" and write in "Human". The sooner the government becomes truly color blind, the sooner this foolishness will go away.

m said...

@Scrufy Scirocco: Okay, that was everything I wish I had said. Awesome.

chaunceydevega said...

The power of white pathology:

@m--I love the sense of white entitlement that minimizes the accomplishments of President Obama and magnifies those of any white person over people of color. That is the joke. White equals qualified (no matter what). Black or Brown equals assumed to be unqualified. And again, more proof of the pathologies of whiteness...to defend Palin's obvious incompetence. Wow.

@Scruffy--Where do you get this information from? You need to get out of the Right wing echo chamber my friend as you are drunk on its fumes. Question: so white folk, working class and poor white folk who support the Republican party are not possessed of false consciousness? The "middle Americans" who were screwed over by Bush are responsible citizens now that they clamor for the Tea Party Flag?

Scruffy said...

@Chauncy -- Someone's in an echo chamber, my friend. Fortunately, the facts are on my side:

Vote totals for the Civil Rights legislation of 1964 by party:

The original House version:
Democratic Party: 152-96 (61%-39%)
Republican Party: 138-34 (80%-20%)

Cloture in the Senate:
Democratic Party: 44-23 (66%-34%)
Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version:
Democratic Party: 46-21 (69%-31%)
Republican Party: 27-6 (82%-18%)

The Senate version, voted on by the House:
Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%)
Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)

And yet with a record like this, you idiots keep voting democrat, because they keep promising you the government will take care of you and "raise you up." Well, you've got both houses of congress and a black president, and the only thing I see being raised is the national debt. They're not interested in you friend, because you're ALWAYS going to vote for them, no matter what they do. They say the words you want to hear and then ignore you because you're stupid enough to believe them.

Look it up in the congressional record. You might learn something. But I guess it's easier to follow your demagogues who are lining their pockets at your expense, then feeding you crumbs.

chaunceydevega said...

@Scruffy--I don't tend to indulge flame wars with trolls, but what the heck it is snowing outside.

You may disagree with the calculation, hell you may even not understand or agree with it, but groups make calculations of their interests. Since at least WW2 the Democratic Party has been much more amenable to the interests of black folk. Simple fact.

Now, we can debate about what those interests are, the need to diversify our political interests away from the Democratic Party, etc. but to say that the Republican Party is some great savior of people of color in mass, and is amenable to the policy interests of black people is a joke.

I love the trick that conservatives, especially of the Glenn Beck stripe try to pull by talking about Northern Republicans and the Southern branch of the Democratic Party. See that freak show of Black Conservatives he trotted out a few weeks back.

The Southern Dems had their own interests apart from the Democratic Party in mass. Also, and here is where those of your shallow and myopic reading of history misstep--if the Southern Dems were so "bad" and so typical of the Democratic Party, and were the real "racists" why has the Republican Party since the 1960s been in bed with them as part of the cornerstone of the Culture War electoral strategy? By your logic the GOP is now guilty by (more than) association...No?

If you would like to learn more on the subject I have a whole bibliography (or three) on the subject I could send you.

Scruffy said...

"minimizes the accomplishments of President Obama"

Uh, what exactly would those accomplishments be?

His incredible prolific writing in college? Oh, sorry, those records are sealed.

His business sense? Whups. Never worked in the private sector. Ever.

His management skills? Oops. He's never had an executive position until now.

His immense oratory ability? LOL! have you heard this buffon trip ove rhis tongue without a teleprompter?

The fact is that the ONLY thing Obama has ever done in any job he's ever held is to campaign for his next job. Even now his administration is more of a pep rally than any sort of leadership. How many years do we have to listen to how bad Bush screwed things up for him? He's got both houses of congress, why doesn't he do something to fix it?

It's not a color issue. It's competence. Obama hasn't got any.

Keep drinking that kool-aid, dude.

Scruffy said...

Not a troll. Just an American who doesn't use a color filter.

What exactly has the democrat party done for the black folk? Segregate you into projects? Ghetto-ize you? Bus you across town so you would have to go to school with people you neither like or choose to freely associate with? Employed you? Sponsored abortion legalization that has killed more black babies than any other demographic?

Your society is rife with crime, drugs, incarcerations, unwed pregnancies and poverty. This is not because you're black. or inferior, or because the whites have been keeping you down. It's because you keep expecting the government to do things for you that you should be doing for yourself.

Don't tell me how hard it is for a black man and how easy it is for whites, because I ain't buying. I bootstrapped myself to where I am, and it took a lot of work. I didn't qualify for any government handouts or aid. I worked my own way through school and got where I'm at by being the best I could be, not by claiming that someone else got the job because the system is rigged.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin were black, with exactly the same credentials, personality, etc., M and Scruffy would hate her guts.

Scruffy said...

"Scruffy would hate her guts."

Ah, the color stereotype again! So let me get this straight, if I disagree with you, I'm a racist, is that it?

That'll be quite a surprise to my non-caucasian wife. . .lol!

I would have voted for Michael Steele for president in a heartbeat. Same with J.C. Watts.

You see, I listen to whther they make sense - for everybody - before I look at what color they are.

Anonymous said...

Randomly saw your post on Google Reader "recommended items." Excellent explanation of white privilege. I'm white and I frankly never understood what the term meant. Although I put my face in my hands everytime Sarah Palin opens her mouth, I've never felt responsible for or tainted by what she says. That's a heavy burden to carry.

Great blogging!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the color stereotype again!
Your society is rife with crime, drugs, incarcerations, unwed pregnancies and poverty.
It's because you keep expecting the government to do things for you that you should be doing for yourself.
Ah, the color stereotype again!

chaunceydevega said...

The more your write, the more you hurt your case:

"I would have voted for Michael Steele for president in a heartbeat. Same with J.C. Watts."

again. rendered. speechless.

fictional eyes said...

This is for you, Scruffy:

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/how-to-argue-like-a-white-racist/

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Thanks for posting this Chauncey. Palin is the exemplar of white identity politics in this country. We all know what she means when she says she comes from "real America."

To somewhat answer your rhetorical question, as someone who comes from a rural, small town background, I am depressed that I am always represented in the media by willfully ignorant, Bible thumping morons.

m said...

"M...would hate her guts."

Right, I'm a racist. Except Scruffy and I are the only ones who don't talk about race. We actually talk about the facts of the civil rights voting and the lack of accomplishments of Obama.

Regarding Steele, I have no idea if I would vote for him since I've never heard him speak and don't know his platform. He's a Republican, which is one strike against him (I'm a Libertarian, very disenchanted with Republican "conservatism").

But what about Alan Keyes? I pulled for him back in 2000 and would love to see him come back.

What really bothers me about Obama in terms of race relations is that we've wasted our first black president on an unaccomplished, flash-in-the-pan. We could have had somebody good. Somebody with substance. Instead, the Liberals violated everything Dr. King stood for and voted for somebody based on the color of their skin and not "the content of their character".

What a disappointment.

Friends are better than enemies said...

I was born in D.C. in 1960. Everything I grew up in built racism into my blood and bones before I even had a thinking mind. I know there's racism built into me, and figure there's not much to do about that.

However, what I can do something about is how I relate to other people. I have had to grow up some. If you can truthfully call something I DO, or SAY, racist, then I've got a problem I need to deal with. That's where my struggle is.

Scruffy reveals his authoritarian-follower makeup all over the place. Merely the disrespect of "democrat party" tells me who he is. He is a member of a frightened clan that projects their failings, weaknesses and fears onto others. You see it all over nowadays. 'I accuse you of what I myself fear I'm guilty of [or perhaps not just fear, but also embrace], because I'm not grownup enough to check my own self in the mirror.'

Look at Scruffy's blog, http://calculatedrisk.blogtownhall.com/default.aspx, and it's clear who he/she is.

If Sarah Palin were black, she wouldn't be where she is, she'd be a nonentity, sure. It's the unthinking hate and fear keeps her on top of her steaming pile. And scaredy-cat macho jeebus, too.

Scruffy said...

@ "freinds are better. . . "

You said "Merely the disrespect of "democrat party" tells me who he is."

Tell me, sir, what has the democratic party done to be worthy of respect? I've been around as long as you have, and I'm missing it. Truth to tell, I don't have much respect for either party, but tell me why you like Pelosi, Reid, Schumer and Dodd so much? They're the guys steering the boat.

You accuse me as being a member of a frightened clan, projecting my weaknesses and fears. Speak for yourself, sir. I have no weaknesses or fears. I am fully capable of standing up for myself, making my own way in this world. The only thing I want from the government is for it to stay out of my way. My strength is the ability to live my life without the help of the government. My disdain for the democratic party stems from the fact that they want to take my hard earned wealth and redistribute it to someone who didn't work as hard as I did to get where I'm at. If you're an honest, hard working contributor to society, you should be just as outraged. If you're on the receiving end and supporting the democrats because you get $$$ from their government programs, then you are a leech and a parasite and beneath my contempt.

I've met quite a few racists in my time, white and black and asian. I've been thrown out of a bar in Japan because my drinking buddy was black. You asked me to look in a mirror, I suggest you do the same: Do you live Dr. King's dream? Because your comments to me tell me you're no better than the white crackers I detest. I don't give a crap what color your skin is, if you're an upright citizen and can do your job as well as you can. I'm basically color blind - until you start presuming to tell me what I think because YOU happen to have a different color skin than me.

The way I see it, I don't have a problem with anyone's skin color. But you seem to have a problem with mine. . .or maybe your problem is with your own, I don't know. But when you try to involve me with your problem, then it becomes our problem. I'd like to solve our problem, whatever the hell it is, but you make it kinda difficult when you start racially stereotyping me and accusing me of feelings you apparently possess. Take a mirror check yourself.

Thanks for the plug on my Blog, but I don't understand you're insinuation about "that tells you what kind of person. . ." What, specifically, do you have a problem with? Show me one "racist" thing I've posted on my blog, and I'll cheerfully remove it and issue a public apology.

Friends are better than enemies said...

I'll ask you to indicate where I express any feeling for the four people you list. I've not even said I'm a Democrat. I'm not, bud. I am a guy, though, you're right about that. And I don't think I called you a racist. (I don't know what color you are, but I'm white.) And, dawg, you yourself tell us what you think, it's your presentation of self. Don't confuse 'description' with 'accusation'. I've learned from my own experience of myself that if I am strong enough to see I'm getting defensive about something,then I really need to look in my own mirror and see if I have a problem simple humanity indicates I ought to correct.

Friends are better than enemies said...

Actually, I probably shouldn't have expressed my views on SP so rudely. My wording was improper and disrespectful. It's how I feel, but I shouldn't be calling names. Sorry, everybody.

An embarrassed white woman said...

Why is a discussion about black empowerment and white privilege being hijacked by warring Caucasian segments? This proves the point more aptly than even the elegant Chauncey could have intended.

Friends are better than enemies said...

Right on, An embarrassed white woman. I regret if I actually came off sounding like a "warring" political. I don't think I did, but look at how Scruffy drops me smack dab into a category of people he/she obviously doesn't like, and then makes judgements about me based on that 'strawman' category.

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vikkitikkitavi said...

Trying to use Republican support of civil rights legislation in the '60s as a reason why black people should be Republicans is HILARIOUS.

The only reason why all those good old boys in the US Congress were Democrats is because the Republican Party was still the party of Lincoln, and therefore off limits to self-respecting Southerners. Once LBJ arm-twisted enough Democrats into supporting civil rights legislation, and it became clear to Southern representatives that the party was never going back to what it was, then they forgot about the Lincoln stigma, and the long defection from Southern Democrat into Southern Republican began.

Look, Jesse Helms did not switch parties because the Republicans had a better retirement plan. The Republican party became the party tolerant of racism, and so they remain today.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Also, I don't feel shame for Palin being white, although I must say that there are people I do feel that way about. Mostly people who directly address issues of race with stupifying ignorance.

I do, however, wish she wasn't a woman. It has been a difficult struggle for women to enter national politics and be accepted in powerful positions, and when ignoramuses like her are constantly on the news, I can't help but bang my head against the wall and scream "you're not helping!"

m said...

I'd like to see a specific, bullet-pointed list that tells why Sarah Palin is so repulsive to you. I have yet to hear nothing but ad hominem attacks with no substance.

Scruffy said...

@Viki: "The Republican party became the party tolerant of racism, and so they remain today."

Yeah, and they're led by that KKK Member, Robert Byrd!

Oh, whups! He's a Democrat isn't he? Bummer for your thesis.

The problem you seem to have with Republicans is that they welcome anyone who promotes Republican ideals: Smaller government, lower taxes, free markets. And they do it without pigeonholing you in a box: Black, latino, etc. The Democrats see your color, and count on you to vote as a block, regardless of what the issues are. Don't you see that you lose the power of your vote, both individually and collectively, when you do that? Why should a politician do anything for you if he knows you're always going to vote for him?

Scruffy said...

@ Fictionaleyes, Re: "How to argue like a white racist"

That's a cute list, but there's logical dissonance with it. This "list" has taken some very real and deplorable tactics that only a true racist would use, and then mixed in some very valid things that any objective person would point out. By doing so, this list attempts to take control of the debate and make "off limits" anything that would serve to undermine the position of blacks who try to make a case for white privelege.

I've been accused of stereotyping when I point out - correctly - that rates of abortion, single motherhood, teen pregnancies, and incarcerations are higher in the black population than in the general population. Yet I'm not allowed to point out that just because I'm of irish descent doesn't mean I'm racist - in other words, that you're stereotyping.

By your list, I'm not allowed to point out that I had to work hard to get where I'm at, as did my colleagues, both white and black. If I point out that no one gave me anything, I'm a racist.

If I point out the prejudicial things that have been said or done to me by non-whites, and correctly identify that as racist behavior, which I deplore, no matter who does it, then somehow I'm a racist. Huh?

Is it anyone's position here that blacks cannot be racist?

Your list is a facetious attempt to control the discussion and prevent any criticism or frank discussion of the very real problems in society. If you ask me, that's a pretty racist thing to do.

Let me say for the record that I'm all for Black empowerment. I want to see blacks start businesses, get advanced degrees, pay off their mortgages, see their kids be successful. Hell, I want everyone to do that. Just don't ask for special favors, or do it at the expense of anyone else, especially if you do it merely on the basis of skin color. This is 2010. The president of the USA is black. I'll tell the racist white crackers to STFU, and I expect the blacks to do the same to the racists in their ranks.

The Good Reverend Doctor said...

If Sarah Palin were black her name would be Shahrazad Ali.

Che said...

"I do, however, wish she wasn't a woman. It has been a difficult struggle for women to enter national politics and be accepted in powerful positions, and when ignoramuses like her are constantly on the news, I can't help but bang my head against the wall and scream "you're not helping!""

AMEN!

This is a great explanation of white privilege!!! And, as vikkitikkitavi suggests, the explanation can extend to male privilege. And to heterosexual privilege - every time a gay person screws up I groan and think, "really, just do things right so the straight people like us!" Ugh...

me said...

i can honestly say that i have on many occasions lowered my head in collective shame when i listened to Sarah Palin.

not just because she is white, but because she is a she, and her voice has somehow come to represent the "average american"

there are a great many intelligent women out there and the fact that she is so vocal and gets so much attention does little to balance the influence that a woman should have.

-a white guy

An embarrassed white woman said...

I find Sarah Palin repulsive because of the things she finds repulsive: same-sex unions, stem-cell research, abortion for women who have been raped or are victims of incest, intellect (her bashing of 'elitists', her inability to name a newspaper or Founding Father [see Katie Couric and recent Glenn Beck interviews]), truth (death panels, earmarks), as well as the abandonment of her elected position that served her so well in stumping but was apparently beneath her when Fox News called, her parading of her pregnant daughter as some sort of family value (never mind the ridiculous attack on Letterman when he called her on it satirically), and the fact that she feels qualified to call out Obama, or anyone else, on their qualifications when she can list none. Absolutely none. Is that a good enough start for you, M? You decry ad hominem attacks, but when someone puts themselves forward as the leader of a cult of personality, they invite attacks on their character. But you're right: ad hominem is a logical fallacy; therefore, the things I've mentioned here are actions.

Friends are better than enemies said...

What your various 'scruffies' and 'ms' here never seem able to see is that the starting line in American life is 50 yards down the track from that of our black brothers and sisters.

Saying, "I did it all myself" and being a proud white for all that is to neglect the fact that Americans don't all get to start the race from the same starting point. That's some ignorance right there, y'all.

m said...

@an embarrassed white woman: Thanks for your list of points. Now I feel like we're discussing the substance of the issue.

My responses:
the things she finds repulsive:
same-sex unions
stem-cell research
abortion for women who have been raped or are victims of incest

These are definitely legitimate areas for disagreement but most Republicans hold these positions. That doesn't explain the fervent hatred of Palin.

intellect (her bashing of 'elitists') - You make a big leap here from bashing elitists (who are not necessarily intellectuals or even well-informed) to finding intellect repulsive. Do you have other evidence of this? What does it even mean?

her inability to name a newspaper or Founding Father [see Katie Couric and recent Glenn Beck interviews]) - I really think it just comes down to her not being good at speaking off the cuff (much like Obama). A good example of this is the recent hand notes incident at the Tea Party. There's nothing wrong with writing notes on your hand, it just means you need a few talking points.

By the way, how many states are there, Obama? Seriously, he couldn't say the number of states? Come on.

truth (death panels, earmarks) - This doesn't even make sense. Under both the House and Senate health care bills, care would have to be rationed. This rationing would be done by a regulatory body. You can call it a death panel or a life panel or whatever you want, but care would have been rationed. She just gave it an inflammatory name. And I'm not familiar with the earmarks issue but it's a huge problem in government so if she was critical of them, I'm with her.

And again, she wasn't the only Republican that used this term, so it still doesn't explain your hatred of her.

as well as the abandonment of her elected position that served her so well in stumping but was apparently beneath her when Fox News called

I can see your point on this. It seems self-serving. But, if she can do more good to the nation from a national platform, she may have made the right decision. Only time will tell.

her parading of her pregnant daughter as some sort of family value (never mind the ridiculous attack on Letterman when he called her on it satirically)

That's right, Letterman should definitely be saying A-Rod knocked up underage girls who aren't involved in the political fight. That's totally cool.

And I don't think she parades her daughter around. I think the media made an issue of her when Palin first got the VP nomination and Sarah was unapologetic about it. I don't see anything wrong with that. Hey, the girl's pregnant out of wedlock. The lefties should love her!


and the fact that she feels qualified to call out Obama, or anyone else, on their qualifications when she can list none.

I guess it depends on what you consider a qualification. She's actually held executive office successfully. That seems like a pretty important one. Obama had held a Senate seat for 4 years. And had done nothing with it. Obama's resume literally has nothing useful, or even relevant, on it, except the Senate seat. If you have other evidence that he's more qualified, other than his philosophy agreeing with yours, I'd like to hear it.

So, it seems like your hatred of her comes down to her not naming a newspaper and a Founding Father, her pregnant daughter and her qualifications. Only one of those, her qualifications, is even a substantive issue. And she's more qualified than the President.

I still don't get it.

m said...

"the starting line in American life is 50 yards down the track from that of our black brothers and sisters."

I agree that's true for many black people. You haven't heard me say I pulled myself up on my own because I didn't. My parents helped me a great deal and I feel lucky every day to have the education and job I have.

(Not to take anything away from Scruffy. I have no idea what he's gone through and it may very well have been harder for him than we can know.)

But, having grown up surrounded by black culture in Houston, I have to agree with Bill Cosby. Many black people hurt their chances by ridiculing black kids who study hard and try to succeed. I would hear black students quote Dr. King in one breath then pick on a black student for trying to be "bougie" in another (I have no idea if I spelled that right).

The problem's not unique to black people as there were plenty of white kids who made fun of each other for being "nerds", etc. It just seemed more prevalent among blacks and more fierce. Successful black students ran the risk of physical violence from other black kids, in addition to mocker, whereas white kids feared only mockery.

A black student is capable of anything a white student is. Skin color couldn't be less important, in that regard. What is important is culture. With a supportive culture, any child, regardless of color, creed or anything else, could overcome bigotry through diligent hard work and undeniable excellence.

Scruffy said...

"the starting line in American life is 50 yards down the track from that of our black brothers and sisters."

Hogwash, for several reasons.
1. You're stereotyping. The "starting line" most certainly is not color adjusted for the majority of blacks. More on this in a minute, but I was told in an earlier post that if you stereotype, you're you're racist. Can't do it, nuh uh.

2. For those who do have a "starting point" that's different from mine, I challenge you to demonstrate that this is because of "White Privilege" or systemic racism. I contend that the cause is from internal social reasons, that are not confined to the black community, but seem to be more prevalent there. The biggest obstacle to personal success is lack of parental involvement. I don't care what school district you're in, if you’re parents don’t push you to get good grades and succeed, you’re not going to do well. If your parents insist that you excel, and involve themselves to ensure that you do so and avoid bad influences, then you’re going to do well. It’s called personal ethics.

I had this very discussion with a black fellow who hailed from Tallahassee, let’s call him “J”. He claimed systemic racism was keeping him down. At the time, I was a systems engineer for a major defense contractor, and he was two years into his enlistment. I asked him to back up his assertion. He stated that he was in the military because he couldn’t afford college. This conversation took place 16 years ago.
S: “I notice you’re talking about sewing on your third stripe. How is it you make E-4 after only two years?”
J (proudly): “Well, I came in with two stripes!”
S: “Oh, so you enlisted for six years?”
J: “No, I had two years of college when I enlisted.”
S: “Wow, I wish I had had two years of college when I enlisted! How did you manage that if you’re so oppressed?”
J: “Why didn’t you?”
S: “No money. I joined so the USAF would pay my college.”
J: “Well, your parents could have paid your tuition!”
S: “No, my Dad had to declare bankruptcy when the construction business took a dump. They’re still trying to pay off two mortgages.”
J: “Well, you could have gotten grants and loans. That’s what I did.”
S (laughing): “Dude, I’m a middle class white male from a third rate country school. I don’t qualify for squat! Don’t tell me how the game is rigged against YOU!”

That starting line being so far down the track may have been true once upon a time, but I ain’t buying it in 2010. You want your kids to do well, you get involved with their school, you demand better on a LOCAL level, you make sure you know where your kids are, what they’re doing and who they’re hanging around with. You teach them that they’re responsible to make whatever they want of their lives, not the government and not the system.

chaunceydevega said...

What a great thread. I have just sat back and watched. But one quick thought, whenever I write about Palin or read other's posts on them, I am amazed at the passion she inspires by her followers--she really is a cult of personality.

I still hold that she embodies collective mediocrity. No surprise then that her followers feel so put upon and under siege. Given the meme of the Right that "liberals" are "arrogant" or "elitist" it is expected then that those plugged into the echo chamber would feel like they are speaking for "real America."

Final thought: m and Scruffy are indeed great examples of the bloviating common to the Right...object examples in fact.

Scruffy said...

@Chauncy, Re: "Bloviating"

Nice ad hominem attack. I think it's real interesting how you keep your distance and throw barbs like that, and cast derisive aspersions without actually engaging in any sort of real debate. I guess that lets you feel like you've got the high ground, but in fact it just indicates that you're not willing to engage in the marketplace of ideas.

I've asked you to detail some of the ethereal accomplishments of your messiah cum president, and you've been silent.

I pointed out that the 1964 civil rights legislation was supported by a majority of Republicans and rejected by a majority of Democrats, was accused of being in an echo chamber, and when I presented facts you gave me some lame shoe shuffling about "best interests", whatever that's supposed to mean. Then you boldly declared that Democrats have been more amenable to blacks since WW2. I asked you to tell me how, exactly, and you either couldn't, or you were too embarrassed to say.

I’ve asked you to show me one concrete example of white privilege, and you have been unable to. I guess white privilege is when someone gets somewhere that you, Chauncey, doesn’t think they should be, and they happen to be white. As if blacks are never placed in positions they have no business being in (Do you wince when you hear the name “Maxine Waters?”)

I mentioned Michael Steele, J.C. Watts, and instead of making any specific objection to why you think they’re unacceptable to you, You just gave a dismissive “oh, please, I’m speechless.” I could also mention Colin Powell, Alan Keyes, Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice, Claude Allen, Clarence H. Carter, Oscar Stanton de Priest, Gary Franks, Wallace Jefferson, John Langston, Jefferson Long, John Lynch, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams. All Black, all republican, all a lot smarter than you or I. But I guess they’re unacceptable to you, because they don’t agree with your redistributionist ethics, eh?

So I have some tough questions for you to answer, if you dare:
1. Do you think you are somehow special, that you deserve or require privileged treatment from the government, society or establishment because of your deficiencies? Or are you as good as I am, capable of competing with me in the marketplace without any special or artificial advantages?
2. Do you think that you have a right to redistribute my earnings through taxation to you merely because your skin has more melatonin than mine does?
3. Doesn’t it bother you at all that the Bush Administration had more blacks in high positions than did the Clinton Administration?
I suspect you won’t answer these questions or any of the others I’ve asked in any sort of detail, because to do so would expose your position for the fraud that it is. Go ahead and continue your derisive ad hominem attacks, and everyone will know there’s nothing backing them up but wishful thinking.

And for the record, Sarah Palin makes me cringe. She actually has an excellent record in Alaska, if you take the time from the chanting and rock throwing to see what she accomplished, but her folksy way of speaking is disingenuous, and her whacky religious beliefs make my eyebrows crawl into my hairline.

cinnamon said...

If Sarah Palin were black...she'd be a footnote in history by now because the media would have stopped paying her attention the minute that she and McCain lost the election.

It galls me that the MSM are still giving this idiot any credence. The quitter is an idiot and she proves it every time she opens her mouth. Why do they still act like she's a credible presidential candidate? It would never happen if she were black. Never.

Anonymous said...

Please, Chauncey, please, please be wise enough to recognize a schoolyard taunt that calls you into a scuffle that is beneath you.
Please, do not engage with people who claim to be colorblind but have managed to reveal
a)that they are WHITE (Irish, if we must know),
b)that they are married to folks who are not (Yes, colorblind people usually say, "But by the way, did you meet my non-Caucasian wife?" while not thinking in color/racial terms. You do know that this gives them an "I can make whatever hateful remarks I want because I can't be racist now" pass, don't you?),
c)that they are heterosexual (We wouldn't want to think anything other),
d)that they have had at least one Black friend in their lifetimes, and
e)that they had to work hard to get where they are and have come to believe that everyone else has not had it as tough. (Which would leave the reader thinking that they are maybe 13 years old but they claim to be grown men.)

Chauncey, do you understand what I am getting at here? The "Me, me, me" syndrome: "Don't take from ME. You don't like ME? No one understands how hard it is to be ME! What about ME?" (For the record, the most despicable thing to most persons of all colors is to think that Black people could live their lives bemoaning their circumstances, but here we go...) Were you saying something about white privilege, Chauncey? Something about how white people are the sun and everyone else are planets revolving around The Sun?

Please, please, Chauncey, leave this one in the schoolyard screaming at your back, "Come back, come back and fight ME! Don't you walk away from ME! Come back and fight ME!" The crowd disperses. Soon, someone says, "Doesn't he look like a jackass?" and they don't mean you, Chauncey.

Scruffy said...

Oh, Anonymous. . . .
Why is it beneath such a well-spoken person as Chauncey to actually compare ideology with someone who disagrees with one of his basic precepts (I’ve read some of Chauncey’s writing, and it’s fair to say that we do agree on a number of issues)?

You speak of schoolyard taunts – I’ve asked several legitimate questions that we as Americans should get together on. Yet all I’ve gotten back is claims that I’m racist (those who know me and are following this thread are laughing their heads off at that one), hateful, ignorant, beneath contempt. Seems like one side here is trying to engage in a serious debate on issues and one side is calling names.

To your specifics:
a) Yeah, and Chauncey’s black. So? Are you penalizing me for an accident of birth? That’s a pretty racist thing to do, if you ask me, to pre-judge me because of a skin tone. Or is it your position that as a white person, I’m not allowed to speak on issues of “race”? That’s pretty racist, too. I’ve always maintained that dividing people by the color of their skin is one of the stupidest, silliest things ever done. Yet when black people do this and I point out that their segregation is just as silly and offensive as when a white person does it, somehow I’m the one branded as a racist.
b) Back atcha on this one – does being black give one the right to make whatever hateful remarks they want because they can't be racist? I’ve run into real racists, both white and black and other – not just white folks who have different political views as Chauncey – and they’ve derided me for miscegenation and worse. Methinks you know not what you’re talking about.
c) Uh, so what? Why are we even discussing sexual orientation here?
d) Many, many more than one, lol! Crawl back into your cave, troll, until you know what you’re talking about.
e) I made my way. Others have had it tougher and overcome. Others have had it easier. Never said no on had it tougher than me. Just not buying the PC mantra that being black today automatically makes it tougher. I’m just highlighting that empowerment doesn’t have to mean special privilege, and that stupid people seem to catch the public’s attention no matter what the color of their skin. I’ll see your Sarah Palin and raise you a Jesse Jackson.

So how’s about it Chauncey, care to toss aside the epithets, and discuss this situation on its merits?

Scruffy said...

More on "Bloviating":

M declared that "A black student is capable of anything a white student is. Skin color couldn't be less important, in that regard. What is important is culture. With a supportive culture, any child, regardless of color, creed or anything else, could overcome bigotry through diligent hard work and undeniable excellence."

I made the statement - twice - that good parenting was far more important than anything else that the government can or can't do to promote excellence.

THIS is bloviating? Friends, if you disagree with what we're saying here, then I'm afraid this conversation is pointless. If you disagree with either of these statements, then the cultural dissonance is too wide to ever span. Go your own way and I wish you happiness, but I fear your society is doomed to stagnation at best.

fictional eyes said...

Dear Scruffy:

I will attempt to answer each and every one of your points. Pedantry is one of my talents.

That's a cute list,

You don't think it's cute at all, Scruffy. You're trying to insult me for making a point. If I had my guess, I would think you read that link with a very closed mind, screaming silently in your own head, "NO I CAN'T POSSIBLY BE RACIST" all the way through it. Most racists do, when they read that list.

How does it feel to be called a racist, Scruffy? Does it make your blood boil? Does it feel like I called your mother a whore? Would you believe that I am a racist too? Recovering high-yella holier-than-thou, here, who once was raised in the black community and still managed to fight with the feeling of hating black people for the longest time.

And if there's something that racists can sniff out, it's one of their own.

I like that Chauncey called you a bloviator, for you are a bloviator of the highest degree. That is not an insult, it is just an observation. You can feel how you want about it, it's just common knowledge. It doesn't make your conclusions about the world any less errant. You are a bloviator and a racist. I am a racist and a pedant. And a high yellow bitch.

but there's logical dissonance with it.

I love your purple prose, baby.

This "list" has taken some very real and deplorable tactics that only a true racist

Describe to me what a "true racist" is without resorting to the "no true Scotsman" fallacious argument.

would use, and then mixed in some very valid things that any objective person would point out

I dare you to name one valid racist argument. Just one.

By doing so, this list attempts to take control of the debate and make "off limits" anything that would serve to undermine the position of blacks who try to make a case for white privelege.

Hey, chum, we're all on the Internet. On the Internet, no one knows you're a bloviating racist, until you start putting finger to keyboard. There's no one "controlling" the dialogue. You can have your quiet little prejudices all you want, it's what you do with those feelings afterwards. Using lame ass arguing techniques on a blog full of educated and/or opinionated negroes just means you've got some shit you won't say in real life BECAUSE YOU'RE CHICKENSHIT, not because of some dialogue control.

(to be continued)

fictional eyes said...

Queers came out, despite the fact that straights and religious people not only controlled the dialogue, but enforced DEATH upon people just for being gay. Same thing with being black. Being black in some places is a death sentence.

And yeah, you could argue that it's a death sentence out there for whites, but I guarantee you it's to a much less degree, and not as societally entrenched. Not saying that makes it right, I'm just saying that's the way it is.

I've been accused of stereotyping when I point out - correctly - that rates of abortion, single motherhood, teen pregnancies, and incarcerations are higher in the black population than in the general population.

Tell that to the Irish Catholics. Tell that to the Mexican Catholics. Tell that to all the goddamned Catholics and Hindus on this planet. Why you blamin' being black all of a sudden? Why not Catholicism? Or sexism, for lack of birth control and the abstinence "movement"? Why blame blackness? You fucking bloviating racist.

Yet I'm not allowed to point out that just because I'm of irish descent doesn't mean I'm racist - in other words, that you're stereotyping.

I'm of Irish descent, too, and I'm racist as fuck. I work in social services, and I make a lot of goddamned assumptions about people. But I still help out each and every one of them. Why? Because it's my job, and because it's the right thing to do. When I fuck up, I apologize, sometimes we laugh about it, and sometimes I make an enemy. But I always help them out. And I do it for so fucking little that I'm three months behind on rent. But I'm catching up, and I hope that they'll make a kind turn if they see me limping down the street someday.

By your list, I'm not allowed to point out that I had to work hard to get where I'm at

Fallacious. What makes you think that working hard somehow makes you less susceptible to racism, either in deed or in thought. Further fallacy of not being allowed to point out stuff. You're obviously doing it, and the invisible "P.C. Police" aren't here to arrest you and take away your civil liberties.

as did my colleagues, both white and black. If I point out that no one gave me anything, I'm a racist.

Honestly, I want to know: Who was the guy that called you a racist? What were you doing at that moment? Were you being a bloviating dickhead racist? I bet you were. And I bet it had nothing to do about what you were and weren't born with. I bet it had something to do with something that fell out of your fool mouth.

(to be continued)

fictional eyes said...

If I point out the prejudicial things that have been said or done to me by non-whites, and correctly identify that as racist behavior, which I deplore, no matter who does it, then somehow I'm a racist. Huh?

Yes, black people can be racist. Sometimes, even in my case, black people can be racist against ourselves. That has not got a damn thing to do with whether or not Sarah Palin is qualified to be the goddamned President of the United States, it just means that some black people are racist. It doesn't mean you're not racist, too! In fact, just because they're racist doesn't excuse your racism. Come on, now, you must have learned that old "But they're doing it, too!" argument won't work with your mother, nor will it work with any of the world weary negroes reading this blog on a regular basis. (Hi, Chauncey, I love you.)

Is it anyone's position here that blacks cannot be racist?

I think we already answered this, I'm skipping this part.

Your list is a facetious attempt to control the discussion

I posted a link, it was no attempt to control the discussion, nor did it. You said your peace, as did I.

and prevent any criticism or frank discussion of the very real problems in society.

Oh, I'm glad I finally got to meet the guy who gets to decide what we discuss. I've been meaning to pick a bone with you.

If you ask me, that's a pretty racist thing to do.

I shall regress for a moment and ask you to go call a whaaaaambulance.

Let me say for the record that I'm all for Black empowerment. I want to see blacks start businesses, get advanced degrees, pay off their mortgages, see their kids be successful.

Well, goodie goodie gumdrops for you. We already do, without your blessing, permission, or comfort level taken into consideration.

Hell, I want everyone to do that. Just don't ask for special favors, or do it at the expense of anyone else,

I'm paying a buttload of taxes this year in order to keep people's lights and heat on during the winter up here in Minnesota. I'm also putting more than a few pennies towards bombing brown people. I'm happy with where some of our money goes, I'm not happy with others. Probably the same as you.

especially if you do it merely on the basis of skin color. This is 2010. The president of the USA is black. I'll tell the racist white crackers to STFU, and I expect the blacks to do the same to the racists in their ranks.

You can do whatever you want, Scruffy. The world will manage to keep turning, somehow. And, somehow, white guys will still get breaks over black guys, Asian guys will get breaks and non-breaks, people will catch a break here and there regardless of color, and they'll also catch hell for whoever they are. They'll all reap what they sew, because we all do. Have the courage to be real with yourself, though.

Peace,
Fictional Eyes

Friends are better than enemies said...

Scruffy, one of the things I meant about the starting point is blindingly obvious: white people don't start life with the burden of racism already on their shoulders. The United States are still quite racist in a peculiar way, and to say otherwise is to misstate the facts. To reject my statement on the basis of "stereotyping" is to not be honest.

'Systemic racism' is a misleading argument. We don't have a Department of Discrimination, for example. Racism is an individual thing, lotsa times. The only racism this white boy has ever experienced has been expressed by individuals colored different who don't know me, and even I know that doesn't make all black people racist. We people are all alike in that some of us suck at being honest, respectful, thinking people, and some of us don't.

Challenging me to demonstrate something so general about your own personal 'starting point' is a rhetorical device, not an argument. I can't do it, but that doesn't mean your point is won.

One thing I've noticed over the past several years is that the people who accuse others the loudest are the ones most guilty themselves. Ted Haggard (gay), Republicans (bipartisan?), Teabaggers with their Obama-bone-in-nose posters (I'm not racist!) and don't even get me started on Citizens United, the most radical case of 'judicial activism' we've ever had (courtesy of 'conservative' justices). We are a nation of projectors. We are somehow able to say to ourselves, "When they do it, it's so bad, but when I do it, it's just fine." The United States tortures and disappears people, people, and yet we criticized others for doing such terrible things. Our mirror is way cracked.

I've learned from experience that when somebody is very concerned with proving to others he or she is not racist, I would be stupid to not at least suspect a great deal of dishonest defensiveness.

I have racism in me, I know it. I can't help it, being American and brought up when and where I was. I'd be a liar to deny it. I know some black and brown people are probably racist, too. What matters to all of us equally is that we treat others on the basis of their being just as worthy as we ourselves. If you don't know this, Scruffy, it's likely because you haven't really been forced to think about it.

It's more important to me to be able to tell myself that my actions have been fair, open, and respectful of others (black, white or brown) - and it's okay to be proud of it - than to give myself unearned points for 'convincing' someone I'm not a racist. 'Winning' an argument like this rhetorically is a false victory, and thinking your arguments prove something is simply not being honest with yourself.

That racist-argument list someone provided was right on. I can't argue with any of it because it's so true. But it's a very helpful tool to help me check myself, so thanks for posting it!

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

@fictional eyes--better said than i could have...good tag team job on this one.

@friends--good sharing and honesty there! must appreciated.

chauncey devega

Scruffy said...

Dear Fictional eyes,
I'll give you kudos for at least responding point by point. I'm disappointed that you can't do so without resorting to vulgarity. You're better than that.

Pedantry is one of my talents.
Ah! So you see? we have something in common already!

How does it feel to be called a racist?
A variety of feelings. Amazement, amusement, disappointment . . . This is a cool medium, because there's no argument about what's been said. Now take a moment - I'll wait - and scroll right on up to my introductory post. I attacked the president for being unqualified - an assertion that no one here has yet to even try to challenge. I expressed a two-pronged opinion that the black community is misled by blindly following the democrat party, and then I proposed one small way that all of us collectively could combat racism. I did not in any way cast aspersion on any person for the color of their skin, suggest that a person's skin color makes them in any way inferior, or suggest that racsim was a good, desireable thing. What I did do was offend the general community here by disagreeing that Mr. Obama is the greatest person that ever sat in the oval office. For this opinion, I have many very good reasons, and none of them have to do with his skin color. He's a socialist, he's unqualified, he has economic theories that are going to ruin this country if they're put into practice. I fell the same way about Kerry, Biden, and a whole host of other democrats.

For this I was immediately labeled a racist and a troll. Is it your contention that all Republicans are by default racists? So now, having been openly accused of being a racist - which I am not - what would I have to do to demonstrate to you that I am not? Is it your contention that because I am white, that I'm by default, racist? How many civil rights marches does one need to walk in to absolve himself of White guilt?

It doesn't make your conclusions about the world any less errant.
And what conclusions would those be, pray tell? It seems to me that the bulk of our discussion has centered around whether or not I am in fact a racist. I don't even know if you're aware of my conclusions. And if you are, why don't you address those on their merits, instead of trying to discredit me by labeling me a racist, which is, after all a convenient cop-out for you, since racists aren't allowed to have a say in this discussion (unless they agree with you).

(to be continued)

Scruffy said...

I dare you to name one valid racist argument. Just one.
Ah, there's the fallacy of your logic. You presented a list of "racist" things that whites say. By the definition of the list, they're racist, and therefore invalid. I pointed out that not everything on that list is racist. Many are. You won't find me supporting them. Let's look at that list item by item, since you brought it up. So you don't have to scrool back, it's at: http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/10/05/how-to-argue-like-a-white-racist/ I really wish they were numbered.

Racism is over - No, but it should be. The fault for this lies on both sides of the color spectrum.
Blame-shifting - Not necessarily a racist position, although I can see how racists would use it. If there's no truth to this argument, then the conclusion is that the black community bears absolutely no responsibility for the conditions they decry. Is this your position?
Ad hominem - Not specifically a "Racist" tactic, it's the tactic of those who cannot defend their positions on their own merits. Care to go line by line through this comment section and take score of who generated the most ad hominem attacks on fellow posters? Need I point out that I never told anybody that they were a fucking racist (your words)?
Whites are individuals - This is not a racist argument, this is the truth. Blacks are individuals, too. Just because some Georgia cracker (I have a specific person in mind, not here) is a dyed in the wool, cross burning, sheet wearing racist doesn't mean I am, too.
Blacks are racist, too - You yourself have admitted this is a fact. There's one objectionable logical error here: I never said "too", because I'm not a racist, and if I was I would at least have the intellectual honesty to not excuse it by implying you are as well. Can you make the same claim?
You are the racist one - Yeah, I said that, and yeah, you admitted it. QED. Why does that make me a racist, then?
I am offended - Not a racist argument. It's understandable, but I never said it. I actually kind of laugh at the idea that you think I'm racist. It, ah, indicates a certain lack of depth to your diacritical abilities. . .
Arab Trader Argument - Not an excuse for racism, but not a logical fallacy either. History is what it is. I wouldn't try to use this argument to excuse any of the atrocities that whites perpetrated on blacks through the centuries, but I will call BS if someone tries to single out whites as the sole source of atrocities inflicted on blacks. But you're smart enough to know better, so it's a moot point.
But that happened to me too! - Is this a racist argument? Strictly speaking from a white point of view, the rhetoric makes it sound like Blacks have a monopoly on discrimination. I don't know if you intend to, but that's the way it comes across. Ever been the only white guy in the Atlanta Underground, just wanting to have a dinner with your lady while you're in town? Better yet, I lived in Japan for awhile. Being Gai-jin in Japan is like being black, only there's less of us. Got in an auto accident, the other guy was clearly in the wrong, but I got the ticket, because I wasn't Japanese. I didn't mind, and if you want to know why, we can go off-line. But my point is, yeah, I've been there. So?
Point out how "ghetto" and disagreeable black people are - Yep, that's racist. No argument.

(to be continued)

Scruffy said...

Talk down to them - Yep, that's racist. If you talk down to them merely because of their race. Now I bet you're jumping to point out that I've talked down to you, but I'll point out that if I did, it had nothing to do with race. I was merely heaping scorn on a silly idea, something I've done all my life, and will continue to do, regardless of color, creed, or sexual preference.
Straw man - well, that's a general logical fallacy, and not specifically a racist one.
Black need to be color blind - "I have a dream that one day. . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers." God, MLK was brilliant, don't you think? I love the guy, I really do.
Start quoting rape statistics - I quoted incarceration proportions, and some other societal ills that are scandalous in our society, and over-represented in the black community. Has anybody denied them? Now, a dishonest person would use these to demonstrate that blacks are inferior or evil, and that would indeed be racist. I did not do any such thing. I pointed out that there is a problem - which no one denies - and suggested that one of the myriad of contributing factors to this statistical aberration might be a general feeling of entitlement and a willingness to pass responsibility to the government. I wasn't being pedantic, I was making the suggestion in the hopes that we could discuss the point thoughtfully and determine if it had merit. I think it does, but I got no feedback to the contrary except that I was "a fucking racist." Yeah, that moved the conversation forward and enlightened us all. Thanks for that.
The white inventor argument - Yeah, that's a pretty racist argument. Dishonest, too.
Demand proof - Proof? Hell, right now, I'd be satisfied with just a civil discussion! But apparently a guy can't voice a dissenting opinion here without being branded a "fucking racist."
Make it about the past - well, hell, you know, a lot of blacks used to be considered property by a lot of whites. And after they set that mess straight - at the cost of 360,000 white Union soldiers dying to do so - the government reneged on the promise to make it up to the Blacks. I can't do anything about it, and neither can you. Why does that make me a racist? Anyway, this is a non-sequitor, and I would only discuss it if someone tries to tag me for reparations.
Go Back to Africa - Yep, that's pretty racist. No argument. We oughtta give all the indians shovels, make 'em fill in the Bering Straits, and send 'em back where they came from while we're at it. . . (Lighten up, francis, it's satire).
Bootstrap - Is this really a racist argument? To say it is implies that the Black community is handicapped and needs special assistance to make it in the USA. 40 years ago, I could have tentatively supported that premise, but now? Do you really have so little pride that you'll cop to that?

(to be continued)

Scruffy said...

Some of my best friends are black - Yeah, I'm an affirmative action friend. I'm very careful that I associate with an appropriate cross section of the population. Puh-lease. This is a defensive statement, and could rightly be regarded as racist if it was said without sincerity. There are two points to this: First, for someone to have to make such a statement, you have to have aggressively pursued them into a defensive position that they feel they have to point out their relationships. Why do you have to be so aggressive? Didn't your momma teach you manners Second, God, what if it's true? So this "racist" covered for a drunk buddy and took his guard duty to keep him out of trouble. He had another buddy over for Christmas weekend because he found out the guy had no family locally. He got drunk with another buddy, and more than once poured him into bed, or was poured into bed himself by the same buddy - making sure they got home safe in a foreign country. He's pushing a coworker to study and sit for a professional engineering certification because the guy is qualified. He collaborates with another colleague halfway across the country to expand the knowledge base of his industry, because the other guy is simply one of the sharpest in the field. By sheer accident all of these guys are black. This guy is a hell of a racist. I've been trying to keep it on the high road to now, but blow me.

So the problem I have you the list you presented is that it's not a litmus test to identify the racist in your midst. In actual fact, there are only a few items here that really say "racist". The rest of them could be used by racists, but could also be equally employed by an honest person who just wants to explore the truth. Merely saying many of these things does not make one a racist. To claim that they do basically means that whites either have to agree with you - white guilt - or keep their mouths shut, because you've effectively closed every topic of discussion on race relations here by stating that if I say this, I am in fact a racist.

You've accused me of using "lame-ass arguing techniques." Well, I disagree with you. What arguing techniques may I use? The way I see it, both M and I have tried to use the standard arguing technique of making a statement, and inviting others to challenge the validity and/or facts of that statement. Instead of any sort of debate on the merits of anything we've said, all we've gotten is unwarranted epithets of being racist, head shaking, dismissive derogatory commentary, and finally some pretty foul language. If I'm wrong, then go back to the record above and show me where you've said anything directly to the merits of what we've said. So if you're such educated and opinionated Negroes, then why the hell are you having to resort to such LAME-ASSED, CHICKENSHIT arguments?

Scruffy said...

Tell that to the Irish Catholics.
Non-sequitor. But thank you for revealing your stance on people who don’t worship the way you do. I really don’t understand what the point of the Catholics, etc. was. I’m not “blaming” anyone for being black. Are you really going to make me go dig up statistics to demonstrate that rates of incarceration, teen pregnancies, abortions, etc, are disproportionally higher in the black community than they are in the general population? This is an established fact, which is of great concern to your own community leaders. I’m not blaming anyone for it, and I’m not saying it’s a result of the color of your skin. It’s a social and cultural issue. You surely aren’t going to argue that you and I share the same culture? Now, you profess to be an educated an opinionated Negro, to which I’m happy to stipulate. Suppose you give me your theory on why this statistical anomaly exists? And are you intellectually honest enough to at least listen to some of the opinions that I have regarding the subject, and discuss them in a civil manner? You never know, an objective outsider might see things that you can’t, and you’re not going to get much more objective on this issue than me.

I'm racist as fuck.
In all seriousness, I am so sorry for you. I really can’t imagine living like that.

Fallacious. What makes you think that working hard somehow makes you less susceptible to racism, either in deed or in thought.
I never said it did. The treatment I’ve received here for having the temerity to voice a contrary opinion on a political issue is ample evidence that we are all susceptible to racism.

Further fallacy of not being allowed to point out stuff. You're obviously doing it, and the invisible "P.C. Police" aren't here to arrest you and take away your civil liberties.
Define “Civil Liberties” within the context of this discussion board. Do I have the Civil Liberty to have my statements heard and discussed on their merits? It seems that liberty is only reserved for people who agree with you and Chauncey. And yet I’m the one accused of living in an echo chamber. I made a comment derisive to our sitting president, and was immediately branded a racist and dismissed. Yet my comment was not about his race, it was about his qualifications. Now, I’m new to this board, but my initial assumption is that it was full of reasonable people who had a liberal bias and possibly a slight racial bias, but still reasonable enough to have a discussion with. That has not been the case. Instead I’ve been subjected to some of the most outrageous accusations of racism by people who seem to be some of the most blatant racists I’ve ever encountered, yet who fashion themselves as educated and opinionated Negroes. Opinionated, yeah. Educated? I’m lacking objective evidence on that one, but I’m an optimist, and I’ll wait a bit longer for someone to stop the name calling and get down to a real comparison of opinions before I pull the plug.

(to be continued)

Scruffy said...

Honestly, I want to know: Who was the guy that called you a racist?
Well, right above here, Anonymous said “If Sarah Palin were black, with exactly the same credentials, personality, etc., M and Scruffy would hate her guts.” Thus making the general insinuation that I am a racist. What was I doing? Trying to get someone to tell me what is so gawdawful great about Mr. Obama.
Then the very first thing you pipe up with here is to point out to me that I use “banned” arguments from your racist list. Because I was making the connection that many of the problems – yes real problems, no one has corrected me on that – that the black community faces are being exacerbated by their slavish devotion to the democrat party.

And, somehow, white guys will still get breaks over black guys. . .
Oh, maybe I should call for the Whaaambulance for you, eh? Say, tell me what I say to my friend’s kid who was passed over for the college he wanted to get into in favor of a black kid who had lower SAT scores, but got in over my friend’s kid because they needed more black people? Oh, that’s not discrimination, is it? Maybe you should quit crying “racism” at the drop of a pin, and start looking around and seeing what these “breaks” are. I have an idea what they are. . . but I’d like to hear from you. What “breaks” do I get as a white person that blacks don’t?

We’ve had a chief justice of the Supreme court who was black. We’ve had a black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. We’ve got a black president. We’ve had a black secretary of state. Two of the richest people in the media are black. We’ve got black professors in all the colleges from community colleges to Ivy league schools. What the hell are you talking about?
How about this for “breaks”: Fathers who stay at home. Parents who are involved with their kids. Communities that don’t tolerate crime. Communities that demand excellence from their academic institutions. Parents who encourage their kids to place academics above all else. A culture that promotes work and productivity. A culture that emphasizes pride based on accomplishments, and doesn’t tolerate walking around with pants hanging down to their knees and speaking a language that’s becoming less and less recognizable as English. Call me racist for pointing this out if it makes you feel better, but Bill Cosby’s saying the exact same thing!

Scruffy said...

@ Friends: Thank you for helping to lower the temperature in here a little.

You mentioned that you grew up in the DC area, and were racist from early on, it was in your make-up. Fair enough. You don’t seem proud of it. So in the interests of full disclosure, let me share my experience. I grew up in a rural community in the Pacific Northwest. I’m sure a lot of my peers were racists, hell I know they were. But it was never an issue, because there was a significant lack of minorities. We had a few Koreans and Japanese and Filipinos, that was all. I never even knew the girl behind me was *gasp* half Filipino until years after school when I was more worldly. I just knew she was really really pretty. My exposure to the black community growing up was Sesame street, Fat Albert, and the Cosby show. It was never discussed either way in the house. So seriously, I had no indoctrination. I heard that one half-Korean girl was taken out of our school because she was being taunted. I thought it was a wrong and stupid thing to do.
If I had any contact with blacks as a kid, I don’t remember it. The first real conversation I had with a black man was when I was stranded in Atlanta during the air traffic control strike. There was just me and another guy at the gate in the middle of the night, too tired to sleep, so we talked. I was 18 on a post graduation trip, he was a businessman trying to get home to Cincinnati. We talked for hours about anything and everything, you know, one of those free-association kind of discussions that starts nowhere and ends nowhere. It never even occurred to me he was black until I was relating my experiences to my parents when I got home.
I had two black TI’s in Basic Training. One was a nightmare, the other we called cookies and milk. So?
One of the most detestable characters I ever encountered was a Georgia cracker sergeant who was an unapologetic racist. Chauncey, I know you don’t like the idea of literacy tests for voting, but if you knew this guy you might re-evaluate. His one redeeming feature was that he was functionally illiterate, god knows how he managed to get into my career field. This is one dude I do not want voting.
So this whole race thing just confuses the hell out of me, I mean, I read Black Like Me, and all that. Things aren’t perfect, but compared to 50 years ago, they sure are a close approximation of perfect. I study sociology, I live for trying to define system behaviors. What I see going on in the black community just baffles me. It just looks like near-sighted, self-destructive behavior. I see people being used by an establishment they trust to help them, but when I say “Hey guys, they’re not really helping you. . .” They turn on me and brand me a racist. WTF?? Equal opportunity and the quota system had a time and a place, but it’s past. If we want to realize MLK’s dream, the first thing we have to do is demand our government be truly color blind. That means refusing to answer any racial questions on the census or any other form. I always decline that except for my own medical records, where my genetic background is relevant, on the basis that no one needs to know what my race is. I invite everyone here to do the same. My mom’s from Ireland, but I’m not Irish American. I’m American. My wife is from the Philippines, but my kids are American. I know that the people of this country are stronger together than separate, and I’d challenge everyone to quit saying they’re Black American or African American, and just be Americans. Enough blood has been shed by African Americans for this country, why do you still hold yourself separate? Serious answers only, please.

Scruffy said...

Oh, one last point. . .I grew up quite the Trekkie. Yeah, I'm a nerd. One of the most socially relevant episodes of that TV series was the one where Frank Gorshin was chasing this other dude. They had half-white and half black faces, and just oozed hatred for each other. When asked about why they hated each other, Gorshin's line was "Don't you see?! He's black on the right side of his face!" That brings this whole race issue into sharp focus. I made my kids watch that one a couple of times.

fictional eyes said...

Congrats, Scruffy, you made it all about you. Bored, now.

http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/the-feelings-of-white-people/

m said...

@fictional eyes: Thanks for posting that link about the feelings of white people. I think it describes very well what the Palin-haters have done with this discussion.

I refuse to get sucked into an argument about whether I'm racist or not. Especially when the term hasn't been defined.

I want to go back to the issue at hand, which is if Sarah Palin were black she...whatever.

Only "an embarrassed white woman" has bothered to respond with any substance to my question of what makes Sarah Palin so repulsive to liberals. Of the list she put forth, only three things actually applied uniquely to Palin. Of those, only one was substantive, which was that she has no qualifications. I pointed out she has more executive experience and a better track record of success than the President.

I'd like to hear other beefs people have with Palin. But I suspect it will all come down to the fact that she's a conservative, which is a valid thing to debate. I just wish all these people that voted Obama into office in part because of his alleged transparency would be more transparent about their reasons.

Frankly, I'm surprised the left doesn't like her more. She's a woman in power who's created the lifestyle she wants for herself in the spotlight with her husband supporting her, instead of the other way around. She's a real person who seems to more about substance than style. I can't fathom why the left isn't drooling over her.

Oh, that's right. She's a conservative.

R-SON said...

"We’ve had a chief justice of the Supreme court who was black. We’ve had a black chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. We’ve got a black president. We’ve had a black secretary of state. Two of the richest people in the media are black. We’ve got black professors in all the colleges from community colleges to Ivy league schools."

Just the fact that you can name and number these stats off the top of your head should be enough to tell you something about white privlege. 2 of the richest people in the media, A secretary of state, A chairman of the joint chiefs, A President. What about ALL of the rest? C'mon man. You do argue well I'll give you that. But to argue againt the existence of white privilege in America is just ignoring the obvious

AE said...

M, if you're sincere in that implied q about what you can't fathom, then the answer to your q is simple -- "You can't fathom that because you're a feckin' idiot."

m said...

@AE: Thanks for the useless ad hominem attack. Again, you refuse to provide substance to your argument against Palin.

@R-SON: Is it white privilege? Here are the facts on educational attainment, by race, according to the US Census Bureau (http://www.census.gov/population/www/socdemo/education/cps2008.html)

Proportion of black people with the following educational attainment:

High School 6.0%
Bachelor's 2.1%
Grad 0.9%

Proportion of white people with the following educational attainment:

High School 31.2%
Bachelor's 19.9%
Grad 10.3%

Ratio of the two (White:Black, in other words, white are x times more likely to have the diploma listed):

High School 5.2
Bachelor's 9.6
Grad 11.6

If we stipulate that blacks aren't on the same level as whites, I would argue this is the reason why.

So, we could argue that blacks don't have the same educational opportunities as whites. I would argue that's not the case.

Every black child has the opportunity to graduate high school. It's a free, public good. You can argue that black schools aren't as good as white schools but, given the data, that just means that black students aren't graduating from lower-quality schools. I don't think that's a path I would go down.

For college (undergrad), I would argue black students have more opportunities than whites for scholarships. I tried to get a scholarship when I went to college and there was nothing, unless I was in the top 1% of my class. My black friends were getting handed money left and right. Additionally, they were getting coached on entrance interview questions, etc. I got nothing. If it hadn't been for my parents help, I wouldn't have gone to college.

You may argue that black parents can't help their kids because of poverty. But, again, because of the many scholarships, grants, etc., they typically don't need to.

Regardless of race or anything else, education is the key to attainment. As I said before, black culture seems to deride education while white culture seems to encourage it. That, in my opinion, is the silver bullet here.

AE said...

M,

*sigh*

Wth, it's a Friday...look, it's WHITE culture that discourages educational achevement in black children, not the consevative, blame-shucking shibboleth of "black culture." you've really got some Racism 101 work to do -- there's a Google for that.

m said...

@AE: Can you provide more insight into what you mean? As I implied above, that's contrary to my experience growing up in Houston.

"But, having grown up surrounded by black culture in Houston, I have to agree with Bill Cosby. Many black people hurt their chances by ridiculing black kids who study hard and try to succeed. I would hear black students quote Dr. King in one breath then pick on a black student for trying to be 'bougie' in another (I have no idea if I spelled that right).

The problem's not unique to black people as there were plenty of white kids who made fun of each other for being "nerds", etc. It just seemed more prevalent among blacks and more fierce. Successful black students ran the risk of physical violence from other black kids, in addition to mocker, whereas white kids feared only mockery."

I'd be very interested to understand more about how white culture discourages black kids' education.

chaunceydevega said...

Wow. I love conversation, but Scruffy can you please be more parsimonious? I am still watching like a traffic cop--at this point more like the cop who outlines the bodies on the highway--but there is something to efficiency for efficiency's sake.

There is lots of work to be done on race and on the particular problem of race in America that goes beyond passion and perception. Because Americans are beset by what Myrdal famously called "The American Dilemma" we think--all of us--that we are experts on race. This is not true. We have to be willing to listen, empathize, reflect, and do the hard intellectual work, meaning reading serious folks who have done the hard work on this subject, in order to really participate in the conversation.

In short, "I feel" is not a beginning or an end. Nor, is the ability to recite some stats that are taken out of context a replacement for a deep mastery of a subject or problematic. In short, we all have opinions. Yet, those opinions are not all created equal.
That is hard for some of us to admit, because of our relative privilege (of class, gender, sexuality, or race), especially when that social identity and location gives us a sense of an a priori mastery of all things--of being THE last word. But, confronting the hubris and short sightedness of this position is a necessary beginning for any type of social progress.

For those who get the analogy, sometimes it is better to be the man behind the stove because he sees more and understands more than anyone gives him credit for.

cd

Scruffy said...

Fictional Eyes
Congrats, Scruffy, you made it all about you. Bored, now.
No, YOU made it all about me. I came here to discuss the issues, but YOU can’t do that, and keep resorting to ad hominum attacks. You very statement here is a logical fallacy, because I went to pretty great lengths to dis-assemble your silly list of banned racist arguments that you presented in a failed effort to try to control the conversation, and you’re incapable of a response, and AGAIN resort to ad-hominem attacks. What, you think I’m going to let you take cheap shots at me without responding? But I agree, Let’s quit talking about me. I’m willing to start back at my original question, which no one has yet to answer – what are all these accomplishments of Obama that I keep hearing about? I’m not going to even waste my time examining your link, I’m sure it’s more of the erroneous and hateful stuff as the last one.

@AE
“You can't fathom that because you're a feckin' idiot."
Comments like that really drive the discussion forward for the full enlightenment of all, thank you for that. If M and I are such “feckin idiots”, please enlighten us. Dazzle us with your brilliant illumination and show us the error of our position. It’s not like we can’t learn. M is a degreed economist from a major university, and I’m a board certified radio & telecom engineer. I bet we could probably understand you if you presented a coherent argument. Try us.

@R-Son
What about ALL of the rest?
I’m not sure what your point is. . . What are you proposing? That all positions of leadership be given to blacks because it’s “your turn?” No, you’re smarter than that. I named a few top positions off the top of my head. Are you really going to make me dig and generate an exhaustive list of all the blacks that are in prominent positions throughout the government, or are doing well? I can, you know. Is it your position that blacks are not proportionally represented in these positions? I’ll give you that. You don’t hear me crying that white are not proportionally represented in pro sports.

But then you said:
WHITE culture that discourages educational achevement in black children
Whoa. You’re gonna have to defend that statement. I’m very interested to hear this. Please tell me how this works.
M and I have both made the statement that a supportive culture, a supportive home environment is the most important influence on a child. No one has challenged these statements, but you seem to ignore them.
We contend that having a father at home is an important thing for a child. Is white culture to blame for absent fathers in the black community?
Is white culture to blame for drugs in the black communities? Where I’m at there’s a scandalous rate of meth addiction in the white community. It’s causing all kinds of crime as the meth-heads will steal anything not bolted down to feed their habit, and it’s wrecking lives in the community. I think you would easily see the logical error if I tried to say that it’s the fault of the blacks that we have so many meth addicts.
Is the white culture to blame if a black child is derided by his peers for excelling in school, accused of being white-washed?
Is the white culture to blame for gang activity?
Chinese come to this country and in spite of racism, within a generation, become successful, integrated members of American society. Irish, Poles, same thing – yes, if you weren’t paying attention there was a time when you would see signs “Now Hiring – Irish need not apply”. Vietnamese come here with nothing, but their children go to college and are well represented throughout society. But for some reason the black community has made the conscious decision to decline to integrate, remain separate, and self-segregate. You may have perfectly valid reasons for doing so, but don’t then blame whites when it doesn’t work for you.

m said...

@cd: Here's what I heard you say: 1. We all need to listen, empathize, reflect and do the hard intellectual work. There are certain people we should read who know more about this subject than others.

Agreed.

2. White people's opinion is not equal to black people's opinion on this issue. White people think they know everything because they're white.

That statement is so prejudice, it should have a white hood. Because, certainly white people can't understand prejudice or discrimination. Racial discrimination is the only discrimination that matters. Relgious, gender and sexual-orientation discrimination is way inferior to racial discrimination.

3. The people who don't participate in the discussion know more than we think.

If that's true, why don't they participate? Do they not care? Is it beneath them to engage in the mechanics of discussion and debate?

And how are those stats taken out of context? Those are the very context of what AE and I were discussing. Please elaborate.

Scruffy said...

@Chauncey,
we think--all of us--that we are experts on race. This is not true. We have to be willing to listen, empathize, reflect, and do the hard intellectual work, meaning reading serious folks who have done the hard work on this subject, in order to really participate in the conversation.

I’ll agree with you that no one here is an expert on race. But aside from those whose only argument against those who disagree with them is to name-call and use expletives, is there any reason we can’t discuss and pool our various experiences and observations? A good bit of the reason that this is even an issue is because these sort of discussions don’t take place. Blacks don’t talk to whites, whites don’t talk to blacks, and before long you have mutual suspicion and baseless accusations. The government – the big nanny state – steps in and passes legislation to force us to get along. That shouldn’t have been necessary, and white prejudice was probably the biggest culprit in keeping the two communities apart. But Robert Byrd and his ilk are going the way of the dinosaur. Why, when I and M come into your forum and ask to be heard, are we met with such a wall of hatred? Yeah, I appreciate you don’t like what I might have to say, but hear me out, I’ll listen to you, and let’s work towards mutual understanding. ‘Cause up to now, y’all are in your echo chamber, pointing out how whites keep you down and agreeing because it serves your world view, and God help the person who dares to enter and challenge that. Meanwhile we’re on the outside, shaking our heads and wondering how we got from “I have a Dream!” to where we’re at today.

Chauncey, reading serious folks who study, are you by any chance referring to the copious self-serving literature that supports your position, or is Thomas Sowell invited into this discussion as well? I imagine you’re as well-read as I am on a variety of subjects, so let’s quit invoking higher powers and discuss this you and me. Throwing our various authoritative sources at each other isn’t a debate on merit. You have an opinion, and I respect that. I probably don’t agree entirely with your opinion, and I know you don’t agree with mine, but that doesn’t make either of us bad people. So cut the name calling and just explain “white privilege” to me, and how it’s an insurmountable barrier for you in 2010.

Yet, those opinions are not all created equal.
I disagree. Opinions are formed from the sum of one’s experiences. Your experiences are every bit as valid as mine. Differences of experiences leads to different conclusions, and interpretation of one’s experiences is necessarily limited to the scope of one’s personal frame of reference. One could argue that experience is a cumulative thing, therefore the opinions of one who has more experience should hold sway over one with less. This is why we say that with age comes wisdom. Now, unless your bio is wrong, I’ve made a few more trips around the sun than you, Chauncey, and I venture to guess that I’ve had a few experiences that you haven’t, and turnabout likewise. When experiences are sufficiently disparate, it leads to different fundamental assumptions, which is what we have here. Your fundamental assumption – and please correct me if I’m wrong – is that the game is rigged against the black in America. To that I say bollocks. Okay, that’s a basis for discussion, so that we can share and pool our respective experiences and determine why your experience leads you to one conclusion and mine leads me to another. And, I’m sorry to say, Fictional Eyes, that that may mean me relating some of my experiences to set the stage for why I believe the way I do. I hope you’re not too offended. I’ll be happy to listen to yours, if it will add to my understanding of why you feel such hatred for me because my skin lacks melanin.

(continued)

Scruffy said...

That is hard for some of us to admit, because of our relative privilege (of class, gender, sexuality, or race), especially when that social identity and location gives us a sense of an a priori mastery of all things--of being THE last word.
I agree in essence, and when you say things like this, it gives me hope that we can settle down to a real conversation. I’d like to point out that that such a sense of a priory mastery does not stem solely from “privilege”. You have claimed that very sense of mastery by virtue of your personal experience, and fallen into the same logical error. Physician, heal thyself. THE last word is going to come from mutual understanding and agreement, which will require discussion. Now, I’m open to this, because this whole thing about race to me is rather silly. If you can convince me that white privilege in fact exists, and then tell me what I personally can do for you to help eliminate it, either through advocacy or activism or whatever, I’ll be more than happy to join ranks with you and stamp it out. Because this is America, and when it comes time for you and I to stand together and defend what is ours, your blood is just as red as mine.

AE said...

scruffy,

Why do you expect cd to do that heavy lifting for you on what white privilege is? There's a Google for that -- enter "Peggy McIntosh." She provides 50 examples! Then do us all a favor and enter "Racism 101." Go on, you can do it!

Scruffy said...

@AE,
Because I'm not having a discussion with Peggy McIntosh. I'm having a discussion - I hope - with the people here. I can't say whether everyone here subscribes to every one of of Ms. McIntosh's views. If you or CD can't speak for yourself, or are feeling lazy, feel free to cut and paste and present Ms. McIntosh's views here with your endorsement. A dialogue does not consist of saying "Here, read this!"

Scruffy said...

@AE,
Hey, I took a look at Peggy McIntosh's paper on "White privilege", as you suggested. I'm flabbergasted that this piece of trash was published by someone with a PhD. This piece of politically correct apologetic is a testament to the lack of intellectual honesty present in much of our academia today. Ms. McIntosh makes a couple of fundamental logical errors in her writing. In short, I found this piece to be one of the most divisive, racist works I've ever seen. It places an extreme emphasis on the importance of race, and suggests that race is a fundamental cornerstone to a person's self-identity. I challenge that postulate, and I'll be happy to discuss her position point by point with anyone who agrees with her. My fundamental problem with her work is her assumption that race is a real, tangible, and relevant gauge of a person. I deny this, and so did Dr. King. There is only one race - the human race.

m said...

@AE: Thanks for the tip. I read her paper "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (http://www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf). She asserts, in more specific terms, that in order for the minority to be on equal footing with the majority, the majority has to give up privileges. She lists 50 privileges that she noticed she enjoys as a white person that a black person wouldn't have and discusses what white people can do about the disparity.

I disagree, at this point, with her initial assertion that in order to raise up a disadvantaged person, an advantaged person must give something up. That type of zero-sum thinking is very dangerous. It insinuates that there is only a fixed amount of "privilege" in the world and that because one person has it, another cannot. I think that type of flawed thinking underlies a great deal of the thinking of the Left.

Her list of 50 privileges she enjoys is also a bit flawed. She doesn't enjoy those privileges because she's white but because she's a member of the majority. And it's arguable whether the majority of her 50 even apply today or whether they apply only to whites. Here are some examples:

"12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket
and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find
someone who can cut my hair."

I can see that being a problem in 1950 but not today.

"21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group."

Really? Cause I am, sometimes.

Again, I think the majority of the issues she lists have more to do with education level and affluence than with race.

AE said...

Scruffy: you think that foundational work of anti- racist thought is itself racist? Holy shit -- I think there really may be no hope for you. At any rate, I'm done playing in the sandbox with you; I'm way past childhood (and no, that's not about YOU, it's about the level of your displayed understanding of racism today).

m: there seems to be a glimmer of hope with you, but you should know that your nitpicky responses to that article are mighty white of you (whether you're white or not). White privilege simply is, and privilege only exists when others don't have it.

Bill the Lizard said...

@Scruffy

You state: "If you can convince me that white privilege in fact exists..."

Since this discussion started with Sarah Palin, let's re-focus on her:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/09/sarah-palin-speech-notes-palm

The damage to Sarah Palin over this is going to be negligible. She will still continue to gain support amongst the Tea Baggers and the Right. She will continue to offer political commentary to Fox News. And she will still be a major Republican candidate in 2012, just in time for the "end of the world" (if you believe the Mayans and John Cusack).

The palm pilot thing will not hurt her as a politician, because, as Chauncey and others have already stated, her cult of personality is too strong.

Now, what would have happened to President Obama if he had written notes on his hands and gotten caught using them in just the same way that Sarah Palin did?

Better yet, what would have happened to Senator Obama if he had been caught with crib notes on his hands? My thinking is that he would not have been the Democratic candidate for the President in 2008.

Keep in mind: Obama has already been mocked in some circles for supposedly relying on teleprompters - an attack that Sarah Palin herself made against him.

And these "teleprompter" attacks against Obama come despite his obvious ability to skillfully and thoughtfully debate and discussion wide-ranging issues without any notes whatsoever:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y04g6OPLnQ

This, to me, is a massive double standard. And since the idea of White Privilege is that white people view their experiences as "normal" and not "advantaged", I consider this to be an extremely serious problem regarding the state of politics in the United States.

Sarah Palin may just view herself as "normal". But looking at the facts, it is obvious she has an advantage here that is not afforded to all of her peers.

m said...

@AE: "nitpicky responses", huh? I fail to understand how challenging the fundamental thesis offered up is "nitpicky". Yes, inherent in the word privilege is the idea of haves and have nots. Yes, white people are the majority (overwhelming, it turns out: 77% of all citizens are white, non-hispanic, while only about 13% are black). So, yes, there are more of us. And, yes, that means we're more likely to be in situations where we're in the majority (i.e., many more white people in the room than black).

Does that automatically mean we're more comfortable? Unequivocally, no. Does that automatically mean we're listened to? No. I attend meetings each month with our company's executive committee (I'm not an executive). Am I comfortable? No. Am I listened to? No. Most of the time I make a comment, I hear crickets afterwards. My boss will make the same comment 2 minutes later and instant nods and agreement. And we're all the same color.

So, to Scruffy's point earlier, race is not the only dimension and not necessarily a valid one to consider. It doesn't correlate with educational achievement (on an individual basis) and it doesn't correlate with job performance.

Are black people going to ever be in a situation where they are in the position whites are? Doubtful. There are about 6 whites in this country for ever black person. Does that mean black people can't succeed or compete successfully with whites?

Heavens no! And anybody who tells you that you can't either is trying to keep you on welfare or is wearing a white sheet. And, frankly, I dont' see the difference.

m said...

@Bill the Lizard: I think you and I are experiencing the same bias. I feel like Palin has been unfairly excoriated for the hand thing and that Obama gets off scot free. You can tell me all day long about "his obvious ability to skillfully and thoughtfully debate and discussion wide-ranging issues without any notes whatsoever" and I call instant BS on that. The few times he's gone off prompter he's been horrible. Which is why he brings his teleprompter to elementary school speeches.

On other hand, Palin uses the analog version of a teleprompter and gets made fun of (very inappropriately, I might add) by the White House Press Secretary, who is as pompous a windbag as Rush Limbaugh.

So, I think we suffer from the same bias and see what we want to see. I don't think it's inappropriate for either person to use a teleprompter or hand notes.

But don't start telling me Palin's getting off without any damage and Obama's been mortally wounded because that's simply not true.

AE said...

M, u must've missed O making homeruns out of every one of some Repulicans' questions in Baltimore recently. Your confirmation bias is blinding you.

As for w privilege, you're both rebutting claims that no one has made and understating the pervasive significance of racism.

For someone wearing such big blinders, you sure sound arrogant. It's quite comical.

Bill the Lizard said...

@M:

"...I call instant BS on that. The few times he's gone off prompter he's been horrible."

Oh Really?

So it was Obama's horrible oratory skills that caused Fox News to cut away from the GOP Caucus while it was in progress - while Obama was in mid-sentence?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yJorq5mBVs

And this must also be why a Republican told Luke Russert behind closed doors: "It was a mistake that we allowed the cameras roll like that; we should not have done that."

http://twitter.com/RussertXM_NBC/status/8380253627

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW9V2chiRCk

He was schooling them and they knew it. The GOP has been on damage control ever since Jan. 29.

Scruffy said...

AE,
Please accept my apologies, my first cursory glance at this paper gave me an incorrect impression and I reacted without carefully analyzing the paper.

I’m looking at http://www.case.edu/president/aaction/UnpackingTheKnapsack.pdf

I vehemently disagree with the Author’s assertion that to empower one group you have to dis-empower another. That’s divisive, not constructive. Empowerment is not a limited resource.

This work would get a lot more traction if items 1,2,6,7,8, 24, 26, 44, 45, 46 were redacted. These points make the assumption that color is of primary importance to the individual, and assumes that the individual has deeply racist leanings to the point where contact with other races is shunned, contact with people of one’s own race is preferred, or that it’s important that the individual is bombarded with imagery about that person’s skin color. If this is that important to you, then you have some real problems.

Item 33 is both paranoid and racist. It assumes stereotypes. I’d be more worried about what my shape, bearing or body odor said about me than about my race.

Items 9, 12 and 41 are facetious. There’s no shortage of publishers or stores to cater to black culture, and no one gets turned away at the ER on the basis of color. If I get turned away for some lame reason, the system is asinine. If you get turned away for the same lame reason, the system is racist. See the logical disconnect? Item 40 is also no longer an issue that’s predominantly black

Item 22 is just plain untrue. People of “color” are not the world’s majority. Unless by your definition of “color” you mean non-white. The fact is that the American Black feels just as out of place in most of the world as does the American white. Ex-pat Americans congregate together around the world without regard to race, because we feel more comfortable with other Americans, no matter what their color. The American Black culture is a unique culture exclusive to America. And most blacks are just as oblivious of the world’s cultures as are whites. I really don’t know what point the author is trying to make.

Item 31 speaks in foreboding generalities, null point unless those generalities are specified.

Item 35 speaks of affirmative action as if it’s a good thing. I contend that it’s day is past and that it’s a net negative in 2010.

Items 3, 4, 5 14, 37, 48, 49 and 50 have little or nothing to do with race. These are normal anxieties experienced by everyone regardless of color. Item 49 is a real reach. The Mother/Father/children family unit is still the norm in black American society, so what is the author’s point? Sounds like racist stereotyping on the point of the author.

Item 15 is false. How we educate our children differs, and affects race relations.

I think items 10 and 30 are particularly poignant, considering the challenge I’ve experienced being heard on this forum. Item 34 really has me howling! As minority, I would think you would take pride in demonstrating a higher standard than that which is applied to you. Item 11 applies here too, but really is a null point. Anyone can be casual about anything.

Item 27 is facetious. Why would someone belong to an organization if it made them feel like that?
(continued)

Scruffy said...

The rest of these points are understandable, real insecurities that any reasonable person would feel in a society where that person was an easily recognizable minority. They’re not by any means unique to the black Americans. Here in America, you have to ask the question for each of these points if race is affecting your experience. Try going to Japan. There’s no asking there, you know, because the Japanese are the most deeply racist people on the face of the planet, and they’re unashamed of that fact. Still, I would argue that while these are reasonable anxieties, one should keep them in perspective and not become overtly paranoid, assuming that every interaction you have in life is tainted by the color of each other’s skin. You can’t blame every white person for “white privilege”. The white population can’t help being a majority any more than you can help being an easily identifiable minority. If you ignore it when it happens and be secure in your own abilities and sense of worth, I promise you it’ll go away. If you choose to cater to your anxieties, segregate yourself and interpret every action with racist overtones, then I promise you they will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you use this as an excuse for not being able to succeed, that does nothing to promote your cause. I still maintain that social color blindness is the ultimate objective. This was Dr. King’s vision. It cannot happen unless we all become color blind – your side included.

Scruffy said...

@Bill
I’m a little confused by the – I don’t know – attention? Outrage? That this Palin with notes on her hand thing has generated. Can you please enlighten me?

How is this such a heinous gaffe? What if she had written the very same notes on a 3x5 card? Would you be so incensed then? You know, ladies don’t have the advantage of convenient pockets in a lot of outfits that men have. She wrote eight words on her hand, and from those notes she spoke for more than an hour. Who here can do that? She even made fun of the fact that this has gotten so much attention by later writing “Hi Mom!” on her palm. I think this was classic, to show just how silly this whole discussion has become. I hear all kinds of criticism of the fact that she *gasp* wrote on her hand! But I don’t hear anyone directly addressing the actual content of what she said on it’s merits, except to say “she’s an idiot.” Is this what passes for political discourse in your world? This attitude is obstructionist and does nothing toward persuading your political adversaries to consider your position. Tell me what she said that was so out of line with you.

If Obama had gotten caught with notes on his hand, exactly nothing would have happened. Obama has attended a blatantly racist church preaching liberation theology for twenty years. He’s a close associate with a Governor who was unseated for political scandals directly associate with Obama. He was closely associated with a real estate fraud scandal. He’s spent an enormous amount of resources and funds to deflect questions about his birth certificate which a simple letter and $40 fee to a county clerk could clear up. He has known ties to a co-founder of a communist revolutionary group that conducted domestic terrorism in the ‘60s and ‘70’s.

All of this, and the media refuses to investigate or even comment. I think Obama could have survived a notes on the hand scandal just fine.

You say Obama was hitting home runs, because he said thing sin such a way that you could read in what you wanted to hear. I saw the same speeches and thought the guy was a disaster, and espouses the antithesis of what I want to see in my government. This whole healthcare thing is a manufactured crisis that promises to cripple our economy, healthcare and government. Obama speaks of bipartisanship, yet has shunned the inputs of the right at every step. The clock ran out, though, and now the democrats lack the supermajority. You guys had your chance, you had total control, and you got exactly nothing done.

AE said...

Masterful threadhijacking, scruffy. You managed to run this discussion right into the ground. Right into the sewer. In fact, I'm very tempted to ask, "Who's paying you, meatball?" There's this certain deathly stench rising from your words. Indeed, from you yourself; you emanate the reek of the walking braindead, the compassion challenged, the empathy starved, the morally stunted, the childishly selfish. You've learned to ignore so thoroughly the bones and skulls grinding beneath your feet, that you don't even know they're there anymore. You smugly assume that your paltry throne is of your own making. You have absolutely no idea how absurd you look to those to whom you so confidently condescend. And don't you fucking dare try to claim that this response is an ad hominem about you; it's about the bilious, puerile content of your words. Only your life-quenching words.

Bill the Lizard said...

@Scruffy

"How is this such a heinous gaffe?"

I never called what she did a "heinous gaffe".

I in fact have no real problems with a politician wanting to speak off of notes during a Q&A. It's her prerogative. My only hope, however, is that if she had wanted to use notes, she would have stopped off at Staples first and picked up some index cards. It looks a bit more professional.

What I did say was that "The damage to Sarah Palin over this is going to be negligible".

Everything that I have seen so far from Fox News, the Tea Party organizations and from conservative radio has reinforced this opinion.

"But I don’t hear anyone directly addressing the actual content of what she said on it’s merits, except to say “she’s an idiot... Tell me what she said that was so out of line with you.”

I never said she was an idiot - again attempting to words in my mouth. In fact, the only person I see being obstructionist in this discussion is you and possibly M.

http://redwing.hutman.net/~mreed/warriorshtm/tirelessrebutter.htm

Let's actually look at the crib notes themselves, since her ideas written on her hand were obviously apart or her overall message:

"Energy", "Tax" and "Lift American Spirits".

As a friend recently said to me: If these were her major talking points for the entire evening, why didn't she have these memorized already? Especially since she was briefed well in advance regarding what subjects were going to be covered during the Q&A?

To me, this doesn't make her an idiot. What it does make her is unprepared. And that may be just as bad in a potential commander in chief.

"I saw the same speeches and thought the guy [Obama] was a disaster, and espouses the antithesis of what I want to see in my government."

Well, having lived through 8 years of folksy down-home straight shooting under George Bush, let me just say that I was refreshed to see the President actually going into the "enemy camp" and attempting to have a debate. That, to me, showed balls.

And if you can't admit that, regardless of whether you agree with his politics or not, then AE is right. You do have blinders on.

Scruffy said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlKIfzoC8D0

God, if Sarah Palin had made a gaffe like that you guys would be crawling all over it, talking about how unqualified she is and what a terrible person she is!

As a vet, I just have to hang me head in sadness. . .

I just have this vision of Gunny R. Lee Ermy getting in Obama’s face : “What’s your malfunction numbnuts? You’re a Harvard Grad and you don’t know the difference between Corps and Corpse? You flunked lunch at Harvard, didn’t you?” LOL

libhom said...

I am fascinated by scanning the comments here, just as I was fascinated by reading the comments on my blog posting on what if Palin and Limbaugh were black.

There was a tendency of some commenters on both blogs to want to avoid the taboo subject of racism in our society. Some people used verbal aggression on your blog, while I noticed some people using deflection and denial on my blog in order to avoid an uncomfortable subject. The open discussion of racism has become a bigger taboo in our society than the open discussion of sex. Our society isn't well served by either taboo. You've done something really interesting with this blog posting.

Anonymous said...

IF PALIN WAS OF ANY OTHER ETHNIC GROUP SHE WOULD NOT BE IN A POSITION OF NATIONAL AUTHORITY ANYWAY, THIS IS WHITE PRIVILEGE.

Question: Do white people lower their
heads in collective shame when they listen to Sarah Palin? Is there a
moment where white folks shake their heads in mass and say to
themselves, "Lord, I wish she weren't white?"

NO, PALIN REPRESENTS A LARGE SEGMENT OF WHITE SOCIETY WHO APPLAUD HER IGNORANCE, MANNER, AND FIND HER CLOAKED/CODED RACISM CLEVER.

Anonymous said...

"Bus you across town so you would have to go to school with people you neither like or choose to freely associate with?"

Who knew "those people" where staying away from the white schools on their own decision?!

History is lost on some people. They lack the comprehension abilities to understand its flow and evidence.

Leslie said...

FYI, I tried to share the link to this post at Facebook, and was notified that "the content has been flagged as abusive." I filled out their form explaining why it's not abusive, but clearly the "leave Sarah Palin aloooooone!" syndrome has already kicked in. But nah, there's no privilege there.

Anonymous said...

If Sarah Palin were black, she'd be just as scary a candidate for president as she is white.
An idiot is an idiot, doesn't matter what their skin color is.

Weezie said...

Scruffy: So what you are saying is that a black American who votes for a black politician is ONLY doing it for racial solidarity. If they don't vote for a white person, they are racist (because no black could be qualified, right?).

Because we always vote for black candidates. That is why Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson won so many presidential elections. Why they ALWAYS carried the black vote. Because we are stupid and mindless and racist. All black people. Got it.

No, you aren't a fucking racist shitbag at all. And you know what, I don't appreciate my ENTIRE race being lectured by some fat white gasbag who thinks he knows why I vote, how much I know about a candidate, and moans about how somehow - I am suppose to vote Republican because, you know, Lincoln freed the slaves. Your candidates are anti-intellectual, dog-whistling morons. That is why they generally don't get my vote.

Weezie said...

I love how Scruffy is the Appointed White Arbiter of All Things Racial.

He really feels that you darkies should be looking to him for tips on how to be a Good Minority That Does Not Discuss or Do Things That Make Whites (i.e. "naturally good people") Uncomfortable. No one wants to hear our darkie issues. Hint - Non-whites should be grateful and deeply obsequious.

Weezie said...

Scruffy, when you fix your mouth to tell an ENTIRE RACE what they are thinking, why this thinking is wrong, and what they need to do to come into compliance with your worldview, you might have some race issues. You have been lecturing like MAD about "the black race" and how we are so ungrateful and don't know how lucky we are to have wise folks like you to tell us what the fuck is wrong with us.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing respectable about this article or the comments - you are just plain mean.

hnice said...

"So let me get this straight, if I disagree with you, I'm a racist, is that it?"

Actually, I think you're probably a racist regardless of whether you agree or disagree. I mean, you're a racist -- what does that have to do with other people's opinions of you?

I've never understood this retort. Everyone who whips it out is racist whether or not it's snowing, whether or not there's a re-run of Cheers on, heads or tails -- I mean, you're a racist because you *hate blacks*, not because you agree or disagree with anyone else on anything in particular.

Am I missing something?

A1B5 JJ said...

"Michelle
New York, NY
#7
Sep 19, 2008

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

* If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."* Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.

* If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.* Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

* Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.* Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well-grounded.

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a vote r registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 2 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking ex ecutive.

* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your broken and disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.* If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible.

* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.* If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DUI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now. "

mary b said...

I hope SOMEBODY see's this, it's been nearly a full year since it has been posted.

"Tell me, how would you fill in the blank? If Sarah Palin were black she..."

$he would have become irrelevant as quickly as Hermie Cain was, as soon as she quit her job and started to grift. Her PAC's would have been charged as illegal, and she would NOT have gotten a time slot and bug fat contract with Fux News or ANY News Organization.
Hell~ Her ass would be sitting in Prison by now for all the laws she has broken.
Last, but not least~ we would know who Tri-G's REAL Parents are!!

Thomas Theobald said...

I saw it ).

If Palin where black she...

...would be married to a convicted larson, because the RNC would have gone after him for not repaying them for the $137,000 worth of underwear he took.

...would never have made it past the door of the party convention, because they would have mistaken her for a protester or a spurned paramour trying to get child support.

...would have been laughed off the stage once she got there, because McCain wasn't choosing her for her politics, he was choosing her because their base demographic (white males) go for white women with big boobs and he was in a hurry. She was picked because she was a beauty queen, not because she had any bona fide qualifications. They already had Steele, they didn't need anyone of color to be a face.

Another poster made an extremely cogent point that pretending the Republican party of the 60s and its support for Civil Rights was laughable as a reason for supporting them today, as if the black community somehow owed them something. What the poster missed was how they then turned around and completely destroyed what rep they might have had by embracing the Southern Strategy and crapping all over the very people they had previously helped.

Today's Republican isn't the Republican of the early 60's, kiddo. You have no claim to Eisenhower's legacy, and you have every right to be painted with David Duke's brush. Don't conflate "conservative" with "Republican" - though the two are extremely tightly paired today, it wasn't always so: the Democrats of the South in the 60s were conservative in ways that would make Limbaugh look like Rosa Parks.

As a white male, I'm grossed out to see morons like "Scruffy" and "M" try to pull such obviously illogical - and honestly, ass-holish - arguments out and trot them around.

@the author: This was a really good post. It served very well to "bring home" your point in a way I hadn't considered before. Well done, I'll be recommending it to others, and thanks for the insight.

T