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August 04, 2008

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A lot of white people honestly think they have been significantly deprived of various things because of minorities. And it’s hard to overstate how deeply these feelings run. It’s not so much animosity toward people who are different — it’s the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims.

A lot of white people think like this? Besides this bozo, is there any evidence? IMHO, it's too difficult to characterize a group that is 67% of the population.

Er, maybe I'm being too confrontational. I understand the "white resentment" mindset you bring up, but I just don't really see it day to day in my own life and interaction with others, so I'm curious if there's some sort of modern study on the subject. Maybe I'm just one of those "delicate flowers" you refer to, haha.

A lot of white people think like this?

It's a resentment that's played to constantly be the experts at playing to resentments. Unless Limbaugh, Rove, etc. are a lot worse at what they do than I think they are, there's an audience for it.

A lot of white people think like this?

Brett Bellmore routinely argues in this way. (Example.) He does seem to be in a minority on Obsidian wings.

There is a lot of ignorance of the most basic facts about race among all races.

A NYT poll showed that 46% of black people thought that black people made up more than 30% of the population and 45% of white people thought the same. The latest full US census puts the true figure at 12.3% (2.4% checked mixed race, no breakdown available on what mix). Almost half of all white and black people are off by 200%+ when estimating the number of black people in America. No wonder the discussion is so lame. If your most basic assumptions about other groups are false how can you have a serious discussion?

The "race card" might work on a mixed jury where you only need one dissent to get a mistrial but in an election where you need a plurality it's an insanely stupid idea. In a local election like Mayor of New Orleans, maybe race can work to a black candidates advantage. In a national election? It's such a stupid idea that only our innumerate political press could ever entertain the idea.

A NYT poll showed that 46% of black people thought that black people made up more than 30% of the population and 45% of white people thought the same.

Wow. It's true, then, that nearly half of the population is below average IQ?

Publius wrote:

>>>Rather than try to overcome this division, the honorable John McCain is stoking the fires. And I think that gives you a pretty decent indication of what a McCain presidency will look like. When he’s on a Sunday talk show in an off-year, it’s all peaches and sunshine and bbq. But when he actually has to fight for something, his instincts are to go the full nasty. It’s going to be another presidency based on poisonous polarization and fire-stoking. Plus, Joe Lieberman. Yum-yum<<<<

Did you ever, even for a nanosecond, think it would every be anything different? Regardless WHO the GOP nominee turned out to be?

The only answer to this stuff is in stark policy choices, clearly and simply articulated. i.e. "I'll cut defense spending, and spend the savings on health care, and infrastructure". 'I'll raise taxes on the rich'. 'I'll change the stupid and counter productive TSA policies at airports' (don't laugh...that will get a lot of people's attention) 'I'll tell border agents they can't seize people's laptops for no reason' 'I will cut back, scale down, stupid trade laws that cost American jobs'. 'I will stop the endless extension of copyright laws/protections, and so doing, open up the American economy for economic growth in the 21st century'. 'I will take the federal government out of the business of telling local school systems how they have to operate'. 'I will get us out of Iraq. Period.' 'I will make the food supply safer. Govt is NOT the problem here folks, it is the answer. The only answer, on issues such as food safety and drug safety'.

But Obama won't do that for a myriad of reasons. If he would just have more faith in the American people he would win a landslide. But he is a guy, as are most politicians, who has more 'faith' in the makes of 'conventional wisdom' think, write, and say. Sadly. As such, his message comes of 'nuanced and soft', by my reading. He seems, at times, almost terrified to bash our so called 'national hero'. If that is the case, he is doomed to, at best, be in a close election. At worst, lose the election. This, at a time when Dems should be up by 15% points given the anger in the nation over the last 7 years. If the Dems can't win THIS YEAR, when can they win? If they don't win I hope they would go the way of the Whig Party. Yeah, I know, it won't happen. Now. But i can dream.

Slartibartfast - I'm not following you.

I made a mistake (I added the "did not know" tab from the data) adding up the poll numbers but the misperceptions revealed by the actual data among both white and black are worse than I stated.

71% of white Americans think that more than 20% of the population is black with 41% believing it's more than 30% black.

67% of black Americans think that more than 20% of the population is black with 41% believing it's more than 30% black.

So 2/3 of white & black America is off by at least 50% in their estimate of the number of black Americans. It's not a distribution where half the people guess high and half guess low. A supermajority are off by 50%.

I grew up in Virginia, and I'm white, and he's right. In college I had so many instances of the conversation where the white person I was talking to would look around to see if anyone darker was in the room, and then start complaining in hushed tones about how they weren't racist but the affirmative action people were taking everything from deserving whites. Never mind that even if the playing field were completely unfairly slanted in favor of blacks, there simply weren't enough of them for affirmative action to create a major problem for white people. The resentment was there and it was thick.

As for McCain, he's really just using a version of the "ad homonym" strategy for comment-board disruption; you use rhetoric that tiptoes right up to the boundary of offensiveness over and over without seeming offensive to a casual third party, then shoot back with false outrage (in this case, outrage over "the race card" in place of outrage over ad-hominem attacks) when the other guy actually gets provoked into hitting back, however gently. It's actually pretty clever.

Heck, I'm still listening to the hushed conversations here in WV. And the not so hushed (as a female engineer, I get a kick out of listening to the poor white men describe how put upon they are).

One thing Jonst said is bothering me- I keep hearing pundits and analysts who probably know better repeating the fact Obama is only up by a few percent as proof that he's a poor candidate. He's a black man with a funny name. That he's up at all is proof that he's a pretty danged brilliant candidate and if all other things were equal he'd be up by 20.

The only answer to this stuff is in stark policy choices, clearly and simply articulated.

I'm afraid this isn't an answer. Nor should it be.

We're not electing a package of policy choices. We're electing a person to be President of the United States. We're giving that person an enormous amount of power. And we need to judge a bunch of personal qualities--judgment, ideological commitments, intelligence, and so forth--that go far beyond a series of policy proposals (though of course those policy proposals are both important and one of the main ways we might judge those personal qualities).

Moreover, personal qualities are also, for better and for worse, an important factor in the way millions of swing voters choose a presidential candidate. I'd grant that the personal qualities that the media and the public are most obsessed with are not the personal qualities that we might judge to be most relevant to a rational decision about whom to vote for. But reframing the election as a choice between policy packages is not only not a good idea, it would be impossible to do.

One final thought about this: the policy differences between these two on a number of important issues (most notably involving foreign and military policy and international economics) are much less stark than either candidates' supporters would want the public to think.

the "ad homonym" strategy

I know what an "ad hominem" argument is--but I confess to being uninformed about "ad homonym" arguments.

Sen. Obama says he went to Iraq to meat the troops. Does America really want a cannibal president?

The hushed white conversations are still alive and well here where I live in Virginia. People are so trained to be hushed they hush themselves where they would never ever be overheard by someone unknown!

I'm annoyed not at the "race card" or "racism" but how Obama seems to place himself in the presidential club before he's been elected! I mean, what's up with the obama presidential seal, visiting heads of state as if he were elected, speaking to 200,000 Germans in recreation of Kennedy and Reagan, who actually were elected when they spoke, and now comparing himself to honored presidents on the currency? People who show how badly they really, really, really want something gross me out- show some dignity man!

I confess to being uninformed about "ad homonym" arguments

that's the one where it only sounds like you have a point.

What is the entire point of this post?

Is it to complain that John McCain is going "dirty?" Good luck convincing anyone of that. All McCain has to do is remind the public that the Clintons(!!!) were somehow labeled as racist by Obama's followers. No one is going to blame McCain for insulating himself early from Obama's nonsense.

Is this post meant to complain about the lack of serious political discussions concerning race? Then maybe, besides trying the age-old remedy of branding the Republican a racists, someone should look at the fact that the black and liberal community has pretty much abolished any opportunity for such. Cosby is only mentioned when a liberal journalist decides to write an article discussing how wrong he is. Every time a new statistical analysis showing that affirmative action isn't helping or that blacks aren't receiving unfair judicial prosecution is released, it's ignored.

The liberal community has been insulating itself from the reality of its pandering for a long, long time. The entire strategy is to paint minorities as the victim and, then, when that victim status is the main thing holding blacks back, claim that the evil white majority is the cause of all hardships and, thus, should now support government programs to remedy every misfortune, real or imagined.

I think Matt is making an ad homophone argument.

The really inflammatory stories will come later, with reports of black violence. This round may mainly serve to prime expectations for that. At some point fights are going to break out somewhere in this huge country and be blown up by the media. Then the message will be, "He may seem like a decent young man, but look who he's relying on. Huge crowds of black people could turn into riots overnight if they're crossed in the least little way. They think everything is racist. Remember OJ?"

Fear is all the Republicans have left now that people have seen what their "governing" is like.

I'm going to have to echo Matt's observations about growing up in Virginia. In my experience, white people who've absorbed this kind of crap through cultural osmosis do not spend every waking moment thinking about resenting minorities or anything like that. Most of them probably don't even have conscious thoughts that they would be able to recognize as such. But it's there. Exceptions to the rule and all that, but this kind of attitude is very, very pervasive in the South, and in large chunks of the rest of the country as well.

I notice it cropping up now and again in thought patterns. I can usually recognize it for what it is and counter it with a quick mental "don't be an idiot", but it's something that decent people can spend a lifetime overcoming, and that the Republicans know how to exploit masterfully.

The liberal community has been insulating itself from the reality of its pandering for a long, long time. The entire strategy is to paint minorities as the victim and, then, when that victim status is the main thing holding blacks back,

Contrast with the hushed conversations. And Driving While Black.

WHo's being insulated from which reality?

The entire strategy is to paint minorities as the victim and, then, when that victim status is the main thing holding blacks back

Held Suspect

So, I bet no one is connecting the dots here. The GOP has gotton Affirmative Action on the ballot in approx. 17 states. Now, which states would you imagine them to be? Yes, and the fine Senators home state of Arizona. Who, I might add has just recently reversed his opinion on the matter!

Barack Obama has been making comments like this for some time. Rightly so. Have we forgotten the racial attacks on he and Michelle so far? Now, I know, McCain didn't do it personally, but that is how the game is played. There is no time like the present, considering...late last week when McCain got tough in front of a tough crowd at the Urban League (can't lose, especially if they reject you - get the 'the white guy was at least trying).

This is the issue the GOP was looking to exploit all along. And we, who pay half attention mostly miss it. Imagine the folks that barely tune in.

So, I bet no one is connecting the dots here. The GOP has gotton Affirmative Action on the ballot in approx. 17 states. Now, which states would you imagine them to be? Yes, and the fine Senators home state of Arizona. Who, I might add has just recently reversed his opinion on the matter!

Barack Obama has been making comments like this for some time. Rightly so. Have we forgotten the racial attacks on he and Michelle so far? Now, I know, McCain didn't do it personally, but that is how the game is played. There is no time like the present, considering...late last week when McCain got tough in front of a tough crowd at the Urban League (can't lose, especially if they reject you - get the 'the white guy was at least trying).

This is the issue the GOP was looking to exploit all along. And we, who pay half attention mostly miss it. Imagine the folks that barely tune in.

So, I bet no one is connecting the dots here. The GOP has gotton Affirmative Action on the ballot in approx. 17 states. Now, which states would you imagine them to be? Yes, and the fine Senators home state of Arizona. Who, I might add has just recently reversed his opinion on the matter!

Barack Obama has been making comments like this for some time. Rightly so. Have we forgotten the racial attacks on he and Michelle so far? Now, I know, McCain didn't do it personally, but that is how the game is played. There is no time like the present, considering...late last week when McCain got tough in front of a tough crowd at the Urban League (can't lose, especially if they reject you - get the 'the white guy was at least trying).

This is the issue the GOP was looking to exploit all along. And we, who pay half attention mostly miss it. Imagine the folks that barely tune in.

So, I bet no one is connecting the dots here. The GOP has gotton Affirmative Action on the ballot in approx. 17 states. Now, which states would you imagine them to be? Yes, and the fine Senators home state of Arizona. Who, I might add has just recently reversed his opinion on the matter!

Barack Obama has been making comments like this for some time. Rightly so. Have we forgotten the racial attacks on he and Michelle so far? Now, I know, McCain didn't do it personally, but that is how the game is played. There is no time like the present, considering...late last week when McCain got tough in front of a tough crowd at the Urban League (can't lose, especially if they reject you - get the 'the white guy was at least trying).

This is the issue the GOP was looking to exploit all along. And we, who pay half attention mostly miss it. Imagine the folks that barely tune in.

While I don't take much issue with your comments, I feel compelled to add that many of us feel that the spectre of racism is a convenient crutch for a segment of the African-American population to justify not taking resposibility for their own lives. To us, much of the allure of an Obama presidency is the idea that he is "post-racial", which is to say aware and proud of his heritage, but unwilling to use it as a tool or bludgeon.

visiting heads of state as if he were elected, speaking to 200,000 Germans in recreation of Kennedy and Reagan, who actually were elected when they spoke, and now comparing himself to honored presidents on the currency?

Candidates often visit heads of state - usually do, in fact. Obama gave a speech in Germany, but he didn't compel 200k people to attend. They wanted to. So? Who the US elects matters to everyone in the world, very obviously so in the EU; I would be extremely interested too if I was a European. Why does this bother you? The dollar bill thing was obviously a joke. You are looking for excuses - to rationalize not liking the guy - and so you will always find them. Add to that being blind to the McCain campaign's preposterous 'race card' thing, and you don't end up with much credibility. You are entitled to your opinions, but they don't deserve much respect, AFAIC.

Publius is exactly right, and you don't really have to be in or from the South to know it. The exact same thing happens in the North. I think the difference is that in the non-South parts of the country, it's perhaps more of an age thing - older whites remember the 60s, etc.

Richard M. McCain - a Maverick!

BTW, I second pub's revulsion at the term 'race card'. First of all, the mindless repetition of an extremely hoary cliche is a very bad thing in itself because it precludes actually thinking about what you're talking about. But more importantly, refering to the malign injection of race into a political campaign as 'playing a card' is like discussing rape in terms of 'erotic activity'. Really offensive. It's not a card game, OK?

Political campaigns are never going to be entirely pure and sweet, but we seem to have lost our frame of reference with which to tell the difference between pure and impure. Rovian (and Nixonian) tactics are seen as merely 'tough' or even 'smart' - if you win. This is not sophistication - it's a sickness. I would encourage conservatives who decry amorality in our culture to take a good look at some of the campaigns they have supported over the years. McCain - who says one thing and does precisely the opposite - is the quintessential modern example of this amoral MO. Worse than Bush in a sense, since McCain main strength is his putative honor. He degrades the very idea of honor, just as his 'race card' antics makes meaningful discussion about race impossible.

italics off, dangit!

The Democrats have smeared european-americans for generations in order to lock up the black vote. Blacks have allowed themselves to become slaves to the Democrat party - 90%+ of them vote for government dependency. Blacks blame all of their problems on european-americans. How convenient The result is they sink deeper into degeneracy, crime, drugs. Pathetic. I'm sick of their whining. No gratitude for the people who freed them from slavery: european-americans. They can all go to hell.

kreb,
You just illustrated the point far more effectively than anyone else could have described it in the abstract. Excellent work.

It seems to me that the people in McCain's camp are doing exactly what Nixon did in 1968--attack the opposition, and then when the opposition hits back, cringe and act like the victim. I think Obama learned from the small bit of backlash he got from going after McCain on the Britney/Paris ad, because not long afterward, he said McCain's campaign wasn't racist--it was cynical. McCain wants to turn this into a race issue, because he knows he can win if he can get white resentment up.

As long as voters are thinking about how crappy their lives are, he loses. He has to get them thinking that it's not their fault, that there's a scapegoat, and that that scapegoat has darker skin than they do.

I confess to being uninformed about "ad homonym" arguments.

I imagine that's why Matt supplied a link to explain it. It might not be the best name, but it wasn't a mistake.

While I don't take much issue with your comments, I feel compelled to add that many of us feel that the spectre of racism is a convenient crutch for a segment of the African-American population to justify not taking resposibility for their own lives.

There is much truth to that.

On the other hand, given the hidden mutterings and pervasiveness of even the little things that affect blacks and other minorities, it's hard to know exactly HOW MUCH is due to your own efforts and how much to racism. And that's corrosively undermining as well, even if the actual instance is 5-10% racism and 90% their own effort. The uncertainty of NOT KNOWING is an evil in and of itself.

Obama's bit about his face on the currency was a reference to a (moronic) McCain ad that specifically showed Obama's face replacing Franklin's on the $100 bill.

The uncertainty of NOT KNOWING plagues everyone. Whites that meet all of the requirements of getting into a school but are denied have an uncertainty as to whether they were passed over by a less-qualified minority. Poor people all have uncertainty as to whether the rude person at the grocery store is merely a mean person or looking down on them b/c of their poverty and appearance.

The uncertainty of NOT KNOWING is a poor excuse for minorities using minority status as a crutch. No one denies racism exists. Liberals today, however, are trying to pretend its just as prevalent as it was in the past and to blame every single problem a minority community has on the white hegemony. Conservatives are trying to be realistic and move past the entire racial group-think morality that makes racism possible.

Obama's bit about his face on the currency was a reference to a (moronic) McCain ad that specifically showed Obama's face replacing Franklin's on the $100 bill.

shhh! we're not supposed to know that! we're supposed to think Obama was just making sht up just so he could play the carte de la race.

Conservatives are trying to be realistic and move past the entire racial group-think morality that makes racism possible.

cute

Oh no, we're not racist (some of my best friends... etc. etc.), we just feel victimized by a minority who are getting what rightly belongs to us! I'm sure a REAL racist would never use THAT argument?!

Your first impulse was the right one.

Leave the "race card" issue alone! It goes nowhere.

The uncertainty of NOT KNOWING plagues everyone.

And, objectively, affects blacks differentially.

Stop ignoring the facts.

Ben Alpers wrote:

>>>>One final thought about this: the policy differences between these two on a number of important issues (most notably involving foreign and military policy and international economics) are much less stark than either candidates' supporters would want the public to think.<<<

You make my point for me more eloquent than I could have. If there WERE "stark differences" on policy matters, the other issues would matter much less, if at all. You have to give people a reason to come out and vote for you. You Ben, understandably enough, from a conventional sense, worry about the proverbially 'swing voter'. I worry more, much more, about the getting people to vote who normally don't because they don't think there is "a dime's worth of difference" between the two parties.

A lot of white people honestly think they have been significantly deprived of various things because of minorities. And it’s hard to overstate how deeply these feelings run. It’s not so much animosity toward people who are different — it’s the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims.

A lot of white people think like this? Besides this bozo, is there any evidence? IMHO, it's too difficult to characterize a group that is 67% of the population.

I think it might be easier to show this by generalizing. Real wages have fallen or at best remained flat for the last few decades in this country. Productivity enhancements and economic growth have failed to translate into improved financial security for many many people in this country, regardless of their race. The objective reality is that most people have been deprived, at least relative to what they expected while growing up in the greatest country on earth.

I really do think that many white Americans think they've been deprived because they have; people tend to notice that sort of thing even if they can't put it in context and even if the prevailing cultural mores prevent them from ever articulating it. And when people feel like they've been deprived, they naturally blame the other. The fact that most Americans assume that blacks comprise a ridiculously large fraction of the population only bolsters the threat. Of course the same holds true for blacks: they've been deprived too, and I have no doubt that many blacks might blame whites more than might be correct.

"Blacks blame all of their problems on european-americans. How convenient The result is they sink deeper into degeneracy, crime, drugs. Pathetic. I'm sick of their whining."

Generalizations about huge groups of people are uninformative, especially when unsupported by any actual evidence. Unless, of course, you were being ironic.

Conservatives are trying to be realistic and move past the entire racial group-think morality that makes racism possible.

Conservatives are trying to side step the entire issue - not the same thing as 'moving past' it - except, of course when it might be useful to them electorally to exploit it. Colbert had the best comment about this conceit: "I'm told that I'm white - of course I'm colorblind - I don't see race! But I am *told* that I am in fact white...' You can't confront something and avoid it at the same time.

The problem here is that THIS ALL A MISDIRECT. It's about making a non-issue into an issue so as to distract us from actual matters of substance. I have big concerns about both candidates domestic/economic policies. Why isn't the news focusing on whether their ideas will work or not? Because news is mainly entertainment, and not a forum for rational discourse and education. McCain's campaign understands this better than Obama's.

Argggh, I need to check myself before posting. Sorry for my butchering of the language.

the policy differences between these two on a number of important issues (most notably involving foreign and military policy and international economics) are much less stark than either candidates' supporters would want the public to think

The policy differences between these two are enormously different, including foreign and military policy and all economics, 'international' and otherwise. The only reason there is any murk at all is that McCain's positions on foreign policy - ok, let's just say it: Iraq - keep changing radically; and as to his economic policy, assuming you can figure out what his policy actually is - which takes some doing, unfortunately - it's really very different from Obama's. What you have is one candidate who tells you what his policies are, and one candidate who doesn't seem to know what his policies are, and/or isn't straighforward about them. How they could be construed as anything close to the same defies reason.

I really do think that many white Americans think they've been deprived because they have; people tend to notice that sort of thing even if they can't put it in context and even if the prevailing cultural mores prevent them from ever articulating it. And when people feel like they've been deprived, they naturally blame the other. The fact that most Americans assume that blacks comprise a ridiculously large fraction of the population only bolsters the threat. Of course the same holds true for blacks: they've been deprived too, and I have no doubt that many blacks might blame whites more than might be correct.

What you've described is the same thing that's happened for the last 400 years on this continent. The wealthy keep the poor fighting amongst themselves because if the poor ever realized that they have more in common with each other than with the wealthy, there'd be blood in the streets. In the past, it was landowners--now it's the investor class.

h/t to Ezra Klein for an excellent piece by Adam Serwer. A taste:

The rapturous coverage of the Obama campaign during the primary was less about Obama himself than it was America congratulating itself for being willing to consider a black man for president, with the subtext being that the United States had finally liberated itself from its racist past. It established an unspoken contract that Obama's success was proof that racism is no longer a serious problem, thus preempting any further discussion on the subject. But even as the mainstream media all but trumpeted his nomination as the end of racism in the United States, Obama continues to face a series of arbitrary and shifting public tests merely because he is black. His dilemma remains that the only way to succeed is to pretend that this double standard does not exist. He has to extricate himself from an ongoing racial competition between blacks and whites, where the prosperity of one is seen as detrimental to the other.[...] In a dispute about race, the McCain campaign knows it will end up with the larger half. For the most part, most white people's experience with race isn't one of racial discrimination. They can only relate to racial discrimination in the abstract. What white people can relate to is the fear of being unjustly accused of racism. This is the larger half. This is why allegations of racism often provoke more outrage than actual racism, because most of the country can relate to one (the accusation of racism) easier than the other (actual racism). For this reason, in a political conflict over race, the McCain campaign has the advantage, because saying the race card has been played is actually the ultimate race card.

Because news is mainly entertainment, and not a forum for rational discourse and education. McCain's campaign understands this better than Obama's.

I don't think it's that Obama's campaign doesn't understand that situation; they're challenging it. McCain's campaign is exploiting (and therefore capitulating to) it.

How they could be construed as anything close to the same defies reason.

On foreign/military policy:

Both McCain and Obama support continuing our bloated, wasteful military spending. Both continue to see our foreign policy through the lens of the so-called War on Terror. Neither wants to reframe terrorism as the international criminal matter that it actually is. There are differences: Obama wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan; McCain wants to continue concentrating on Iraq. Both are sabre-rattling toward Iran. Obama himself has emphasized the fact that there's little difference between the two of them on Israel/Palestine.

On international economics, both candidates subscribe to the Washington Consensus. Neither will much modify our commitment to "free" trade.

Never mind that even if the playing field were completely unfairly slanted in favor of blacks, there simply weren't enough of them for affirmative action to create a major problem for white people.

This doesn't matter to the individuals actually affected and it is irrelevant to the more fundamental problem that affirmative action poses regarding equal rights. I'm aware that a lot of people always look for somebody else to blame and also that this issue is being exploited for political purposes in the US by parties whose motives are less than wholesome. But please note that affirmative action is expressively forbidden by law in e.g. the UK, France and Germany on equal rights grounds (if you want to nitpick, there are certain grey areas, but the principle stands). So maybe affirmative action is not such a great idea after all and the focus should be more on supporting disadvantaged minorities in other ways.

Both continue to see our foreign policy through the lens of the so-called War on Terror.

This is an extremely reductive statement. If you'd read some policy papers from the Obama campaign, and material from his FP team, it's about as obvious as can be that there is a very large difference between the approach of either Bush or McCain on the one hand, and Obama on the other. I personally think that Edwards was exactly right to zero in on the phrase 'war on terror' and call it phoney, and would have liked for Obama to have done the same. But the idea that the two candidates are essentially the same vis a vis FP is simply false.

Obama is hardly the perfect candidate, AFAIC. But one would've thought that your kind of mock-sophisticated Naderite thinking would've been discredited by now. Do you really need more proof?

novakant: But please note that affirmative action is expressively forbidden by law in e.g. the UK, France and Germany on equal rights ground

Actually, no. In the UK, an employer that perceives a problem with their recruitment tactics only finding white people, or perceiving a difficulty in their organization having only white people at a certain level or above, is quite legally able to pro-actively recruit ethnic minorities, or to make race/ethnic identity a deciding factor in deciding between two potential candidates.

Obama is hardly the perfect candidate, AFAIC. But one would've thought that your kind of mock-sophisticated Naderite thinking would've been discredited by now. Do you really need more proof?

Thanks for the ad hominem, jonnybutter.

I stand by what I said. There are not stark differences between them on foreign policy. However, there are differences on the margin and those differences matter.

Nowhere on this thread have I suggested that it doesn't make a difference who wins this election. Obviously it does make a difference.

But it's hardly "Naderite thinking" to suggest that the differences, at least in the areas I've been discussion, are not stark. Obama has been campaigning hard for an escalation of the war on Afghanistan. I think that would be a mistake not dissimilar to the mistakes we've made in Iraq. And even though I think an Obama presidency would likely be marginally less bad in foreign affairs than a McCain presidency, I'm not going to pretend that talk of throwing more firepower at the people of Afghanistan or calling Iran "a threat to all of us" are good things.

Jes, the Met police was forbidden to explicitly target minorities in recruitment campaigns in order to increase the diversity in their workforce. The sex discrimination act forbids positive discrimination. I'm not familiar with the law you mention, but it sounds like this one of the gray areas I mentioned. There is a similar gray area in Germany, where women of equal qualification are preferred under certain circumstances. But such policies are a far cry from US affirmative action and both the legal and public consensus is decidedly anti-affirmative action.

novakant: Jes, the Met police was forbidden to explicitly target minorities in recruitment campaigns in order to increase the diversity in their workforce.

Really? That's exactly the reverse of what I heard. Can you cite where you heard this about the Met being explicitly not permitted to target minorities?

Nowhere on this thread have I suggested that it doesn't make a difference who wins this election. Obviously it does make a difference.

Sorry, Ben. My mistake. I still can't agree that there isn't a substantial - I won't say 'stark' - difference between the two vis a vis FP - the two's views of the world and the US place in it are so different. But I obviously confused your comment with someone else's, someone who used what you said to suggest that since there's little difference between the two policy-wise, considerations other than policy are the way to decide whom to vote for. Apologies.

thanks, jonnybutter.

I did in fact also suggest that considerations beyond policy differences will--and should--also guide voters in their choice. But this claim did not rest on how much or little policy difference there was between the two.

By the way, it seems to me that stereotype threat seems to be a real phenomena affecting gender and racial groups.

Interestingly, at first glance, it looks like invoking and acknowledging the stereotyping and then undercutting them is a real help. This might be an aid in fighting the "victimization" mentality that conservatives decry.

"There are not stark differences between them on foreign policy."

I really think that there are. For starters, Obama actually has a foreign policy outside Iraq and Iran. McCain's stuff on this topic seems to turn on the idea that democracies ought to band together, which leads him to say things -- most obviously, that we ought to kick Russia out of the G-8 -- which are inconsistent with other things he says (e.g., needing to cooperate with Russia on a number of issues like nuclear nonproliferation), and which his campaign keeps walking him back from. It just isn't coherent at all.

On Iraq, they might seem to have no significant differences now that McCain is pretty close to adopting Obama's view. But I think there's a deep difference in underlying philosophy. Obama seems to think strategically; McCain does not. Obama considers the implications of things like invading Iraq; McCain shows no real evidence of having done so. McCain's instincts are for military action; Obama is prepared to take military action when needed, but it is deeply not the first thing he thinks of.

I think these differences are huge.

Matt McIrvin--This is off-topic, but your ad homonym link was brilliant. Is that original with you? It identifies a phenomenon most of us have probably seen, but I didn't have a name for it.

It just happened to me this weekend--a friend of mine is skeptical of evolution and he does exactly what you describe over and over and over and over. In his case, though, there's no malice involved. It's just that no argument against his position ever sinks in and every now and then I just go ballistic, subsequently feeling guilty about it.

Getting back on topic, I don't hear it so much in the circles where I hang out, but white resentment seemed pretty common when I lived in the south many years ago, and there was a fine (almost non-existent) line between white resentment and white racism as best I could tell. Though of course some of it might be because people were struggling to get by and needed a scapegoat.

I don't have a cite right now, but from memory I remember an article which forbade the Met police exclusively advertising for the recruitment of minorities (i.e. along the lines "we want Asian police officers"), all such campaigns had to at least give the appearance of being open to everybody on equal rights grounds. That doesn't prohibit the police from going into certain areas heavily populated by minorities to recruit people or using non-white celebrities in their ads - and that's also just fine with me. What is not acceptable is if white applicants aren't even assessed, because their applications are thrown out at random because of the color of their skin.

I did in fact also suggest that considerations beyond policy differences will--and should--also guide voters in their choice. But this claim did not rest on how much or little policy difference there was between the two.

You're sort of making my original point for me here. Stated policy similarities can be cast in a misleading - ie reductive - way. (It sounds like you may even agree). As usual, Hilzoy said it best, above.

The term "race card" is an attempt by white supremists to control the discussion of race.white americans say they freed african americans from slavery. that is sraight blaspemy.God and only God led us out of slavery,just as he did the original hebrew nation.Until racism is dealt with in truth,white america will continue to be controlled by fear and fearful men. white america will be tricked into giving up their freedom. Black america has already forgiven white america. Truth heals lies kill.Truth makes you free. Lies enslaves people.All americans must stand up and say NO to fear and divisive tactics and work together to heal America from centuies of lies that has harmed our great land. there are some who will refuse to heal, this statement is not for them.this statement is for those of us who love people in all of GOD's infinite variety.

The whole Shrieking Race Card Furies bit is all a show.

The technical term is 'dingbat Kabuki'.

Ah, JohnnyButter I was the guy your ad hominem attacks were meant for.

Here is what Ben A wrote:

>>>>Both McCain and Obama support continuing our bloated, wasteful military spending. Both continue to see our foreign policy through the lens of the so-called War on Terror. Neither wants to reframe terrorism as the international criminal matter that it actually is. There are differences: Obama wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan; McCain wants to continue concentrating on Iraq. Both are sabre-rattling toward Iran. Obama himself has emphasized the fact that there's little difference between the two of them on Israel/Palestine.

On international economics, both candidates subscribe to the Washington Consensus. Neither will much modify our commitment to "free" trade.<<<<

I agree with those sentiments Ben. My point is that if Obama created more stark differences between McCain and himself, on the issues you point out, and others issues, i.e. net neutrality, copyright and patent law, privacy rights, among others, and he highlighted these differences, the traditional GOP attacks would be less (much?) effective. You seem to disagree with that premise. That disagreement seems illogical to me, but then again my arguments may seem the same to you.

Back to JohnnyButter, sure, of course it makes a difference who wins this election. And I will vote for, and work for, and contribute to, Obama. If I have to be in the front seat when we hit a concrete divider, I would much rather hit it at 40 MPH, than I would 100 MPH. But I am damn concerned by either option.

I would much rather hit [a concrete divider] at 40 MPH, than I would 100 MPH. But I am damn concerned by either option.

I am damned concerned by either option, too. I see a different metaphor, though. Perhaps: an alcoholic choosing to quit drinking (which doesn't solve all the problems booze enabled the alcoholic to neglect) and taking an anti-alcoholism drug which has side effects, vs Hair of the Dog. Not as snappy, I know...

"...we need to address our more complex world where the structural legacies of racism are arguably a bigger problem than actual racism proper." The convenient thing about this approach is that the "legacies" of racism can be very subjective - and absolutely inexhaustable. So there'll be no end of guilt-mongering on that score. If the author wants to know why Obama got the worst of the latest "race card" flap, let him look back to the primary campaign when the most innocuous comments by Bill or Hillary was met by howls of racism, by Obama's "uncommitted" surrogates such as Clyburn and Brazille. Thenthese same smears were repeated as fact by Obama's admirers in the media. Those chickens, like many others, are coming home to roost right on Obama's head. And they are itching to poop.

I understand the "white resentment" mindset you bring up, but I just don't really see it day to day in my own life and interaction with others

Surely [*] you're aware of the whole "reverse discrimination" foofaddle? What is that except "white resentment"?

[*] thank you, but we've all seen Airplane. The obvious doesn't always have to be expressed.

==============================

No gratitude for the people who freed put them from into slavery: european-americans.

Fixt!

============================

The uncertainty of NOT KNOWING is a poor excuse for minorities using minority status as a crutch.

The certainty that white men want to keep their (our) advantage is a poor excuse for minorities to stop being happy at how far the white men have let them come.

Some have used minority status as a crutch. But racism is alive and well (you did read all the "hushed" posts above yours, didn't you?), "white resentment" is flourishing -- minorities have to keep fighting, just to keep the rights they've won.

Conservatives are trying to be realistic and move past the entire racial group-think morality that makes racism possible.

Conservatives see a nation run almost exclusively by white men and proclaim it a "level playing field".

I confess to being uninformed about "ad homonym" arguments.

I imagine that's why Matt supplied a link to explain it. It might not be the best name, but it wasn't a mistake.

Blah!

I was expecting/hoping for something different.

Just like real homonyms are words that sound alike but mean different things, I thought it was going to cover the common rhetorical tactics which are based on abusing the fact that "one" word can have multiple meanings (both real and imagined) by freely switching between some or all of them depending on the circumstances or needs of the moment


The convenient thing about this approach is that the "legacies" of racism can be very subjective - and absolutely inexhaustable. So there'll be no end of guilt-mongering on that score. If the author wants to know why Obama got the worst of the latest "race card" flap, let him look back to the primary campaign when the most innocuous comments by Bill or Hillary was met by howls of racism, by Obama's "uncommitted" surrogates such as Clyburn and Brazille. Thenthese same smears were repeated as fact by Obama's admirers in the media. Those chickens, like many others, are coming home to roost right on Obama's head. And they are itching to poop.

So, basically, you're just admitting white resentment exists and was just waiting for an excuse to unload, no matter what the impetus....

Fifty years from now, white people and black people in this country will still be pointing their fingers at each other and blaming each other for racial division.

If you're looking for blame, 400 years of brutality, enslavement, and discrimination by law would, I think, tend to put the blame on white folks.

If we're looking to move ahead, looking for blame might not be all that productive.

Working class white folks in this country have plenty to be resentful of, I guess, if they're of a mind to be resentful. If they want to focus that resentment on blacks, that's their privilege I suppose, but it's not going to get them anywhere.

It ain't the black man holding them back.

In any case, I'm kind of sick of politics that panders to the worst impulses in all of us. Aren't you?

As far as I can tell, Obama does not make a point of being black. It's wise of him, because regarding race anything he says will be turned into something negative.

The only time I hear him talking about it is in the context of talking about how improbable his candidacy is. Which it is.

When he does this, he lumps his race in with the fact that he's skinny, has big ears, and a funny name.

In other words, it's not important to the issue at hand.

Thanks -

No gratitude for the people who freedput them from into slavery: european-americans.

Fixt!

No, it isn't, because actually both are true.

The REAL problem with the comment lies in it's mindset that rejects inherited debts but embraces inherited credits: "I don't need to apologize for what my ancestor did to yours, but you damn well owe me thanks for what my ancestor did for yours"

The REAL problem with the comment lies in it's mindset that rejects inherited debts but embraces inherited credits

well, that and the fact that Europeans abolished slavery well before European-Americans did.

and, most importantly, there's simply no way anyone could possibly write the statement in question in good faith.

well, that and the fact that Europeans abolished slavery well before European-Americans did.

We reeeeeally shouldn't go down that route, because that route leads us to the Europeans doing the fun slavery thing before European-Americans existed as a concept and an identity, and it helps nobody, really.

Good faith is good, though.

most importantly, there's simply no way anyone could possibly write the statement in question in good faith.

That's what I thought, as well.

Working class white folks in this country have plenty to be resentful of, I guess, if they're of a mind to be resentful. If they want to focus that resentment on blacks, that's their privilege I suppose, but it's not going to get them anywhere.

It ain't the black man holding them back.

Good 'ole divide-and-rule...

I explain more later but I think it could be written in "good faith" by someone who is largely ignorant :).

Seriously though, simplistic arguments spawn simplistic rebuttals and simplistic portrayals of slavery and the slave-trade spawn equally simplistic counter-portrayals.

When you're 13 and the only thing you've ever been taught about the slave trade is that bad whites kidnapped and enslaved innocent blacks then it seems significant when you learn that most of the kidnapping/raiding was actually done by other Africans who sold their captives to the Europeans. It some important ways it really isn't very significant, but it certainly looks so when you are young and learning it for the first time.

most of the kidnapping/raiding was actually done by other Africans who sold their captives to the Europeans

You're right, but I've also seen the fact quoted as absoving Europeans (and E/As) from any involvement in the slave trade. Gets a wee bit tiresome after the 4th time you've heard it.

"That’s why race is a losing issue for Obama — it’s not so much that people are racist, but that they feel they are being punished because they’re white (yes, I know how completely absurd this must sound to the black community)."

It sure sounds absurd to me. Because it is.

I don't need to apologize for what my ancestor did to yours, but you damn well owe me thanks for what my ancestor did for yours

Or, in my case: none of the above. As a scion of wealthy French-Canadian lumberjacks and wealthy Irish-Catholics, we had no need of slaves, and arrived too late to free them.

Latecomers. What're you gonna do with 'em?

Latecomers. What're you gonna do with 'em?

Try to get them to acknowledge that they have advantages that minorities, especially ex-slaves, don't. Try to convince them that "white resentment", while bogus, is real and is quite pervasive (how many of those having "hushed" converations are "latecomers"?).

My family were later coming here than yours but I was taught that I have advantages that my girlfriend didn't, due to the color of our skins, not the date of our arrival.

Try to get them to acknowledge that they have advantages that minorities, especially ex-slaves, don't.

Yep. I've got other advantages, too. Higher than average intelligence and above-average determination, among others. Until we get ourselves a Handicapper General, that will be my lot in life.

I'm not going to apologize for any of that. It's not my responsibility to equalize everyone else's oppportunity, any more than it is Anarch's to make sure we're all as good at maths as he is. It'd be a losing mission for him, because although I'm semi-decent at calculus and diff eq as well as not being a slouch at linear algebra, Anarch does and always will be able to kick my ass in math. I admire him for that, actually, and envy him just a little.

Not a lot of ex-slaves in this country, though, Jeff, given that the slaves were freed nearly a century and a half ago.

You're right, but I've also seen the fact quoted as absoving Europeans (and E/As) from any involvement in the slave trade. Gets a wee bit tiresome after the 4th time you've heard it.

Agree 100%, but (and I'm not being a concern troll) I can see how an ignorant person can make it in good faith. This is largely hypothetical ion this context, however, since the people we tend to talk with and about (in politics, in the media, bloggers, etc.) usually can't claim to be ignorant people making good-faith arguments.

Still,

I think its fair to say that there are serious problems with American students knowledge of history and/or (I think the former) the quality of history instruction in this country - especially in public school [I'm referring to the quality of textbooks and cirriculum as well as bad history teachers]. There are LOTS of people who have only ever had poor history instruction and who were only quickly exposed to the a very simplistic narrative before moving on to another topic. To a person who only ever heard one of the simplistic narratives regarding the slave-trade, then even a simplistic point or non-sequiter will seem relevant if it undermines the simplistic narrative they've been exposed to.

For example, someone who got a crappy civil war education and was told that it was fought "to free the slaves" might be impressed by facts showing that the North was not motivated primarily by freeing the slaves, even if they do nothing to argue against the central role of slavery behind the war [Note: I'm not apologizing for the many many people who don't have ignorance for an excuse]. Likewise, finding out that Africans enslaved and sold other African, or that Europeans were only able to get the number of slaves that they did was because the necessary infrastructure was already in place and had developed over centuries to satisfy the Middle Eastern demand for African slaves, etc., might seem relevant to someone who has only been previously exposed to the model of white perps and black victims.

oppportunity

Possibly one too many Köstritzers, there.

I'm not going to apologize for any of that. It's not my responsibility to equalize everyone else's oppportunity

While I'm not calling for equality of results, why not equalize opportunity? If you are as awesome as you sound (I will easily grant the "above average in intelligence") surely you would welcome a chance to prove yourself by dint of equal opportunity. (Isn't one of the of the supposed drawbacks of affirmative action that the recipients aren't sure of equal oportunity? If it's good enough for them, is it good enough for you?)

What is the problem with equal opportunity?

(I realize the above could be construed as personal. Other than the "above average intelligence", feel free to replace "you" with "latecomers".)

Not a lot of ex-slaves in this country, though, Jeff, given that the slaves were freed nearly a century and a half ago.

Didn't you follow the thread on "Slavery by any other name"? Whites haven't owned the bodies of blacks (unless you count the Tuskegge Experiment), but blacks have not NOT been free for a century and a half.

What is the problem with equal opportunity?

In theory? Probably nothing.

In practice? Well, how are you going to explain to, e.g., Bill Gates why you're taking away his children to be put into the "equal opportunity" mixing bowl?

surely you would welcome a chance to prove yourself by dint of equal opportunity

Surely I would, although I don't feel any particular need to prove myself. Next?

Whites haven't owned the bodies of blacks (unless you count the Tuskegge Experiment), but blacks have not NOT been free for a century and a half.

Certainly they haven't had true equality, but they've been free. Perhaps you'd like to unpack that "have not been free", because it appears that is means something different to you than it does to me. I'm not completely ignorant of the plight of blacks in America, but I don't think that you can give the gift of usefulness to another. It has been and will continue to be a struggle, but me making it easier isn't going to improve things any.

I'd be all in favor of my company, for instance, granting scholarships selectively to the disadvantaged. It would for sure be at least as useful as their latest Diversity Dialogues effort.

I'd give my left arm for smart applicants of any color. One problem I do see, though, is that lots of the resumes we get are people (male and female, in fairly equal numbers) from historically black universities, and those don't tend to be, like it or not, the cream of the engineering schools. Again: give me a motivated, smart person of any color and gender, from a decent engineering school, and I'm all over them. I don't even really care all that much about GPA, although my company does.

I don't pretend to offer any answers, Jeff. Just to be clear: I have no ideas on how to rectify past inequities, other than to strive not to perpetuate them.

Not a lot of ex-slaves in this country, though, Jeff, given that the slaves were freed nearly a century and a half ago.

True, but it's been less than fifty years since discrimination, by law, in virtually every area of life was knocked down. Fifty years is a pretty long time, but then again, it's really not.

There are probably very, very few still around who personally knew someone who was a slave. There are plenty around -- plenty -- who personally knew someone who took a full lifetime of crap, just for having dark skin. And when I say full, I mean pressed down and spilling over.

Plus, de facto, discrimination is still with us, to this very day.

I take your point, Slarti. Many, maybe most, white folks living here now have no family history involving slavery, at all.

But they live in a nation where the history, and consequences, of slavery touch almost everything. So, we all have to deal, whether we deserve it or not. That goes for blacks, whites, and every color in between.

We seem to be back on the affirmative action tip.

Affirmative action just might be past it's sell-by date as far as being a useful remedy for systematic discrimination. I will point out, however, that it was originally put in place as a counter-response to all of the folks whose response to the requirement to ignore race in hiring, home sales, lending, etc., was a hearty and heart-felt "Make me".

Sometimes you get what you ask for, even if it wasn't what you wanted.

And you know, if people would just treat each other decently, things like affirmative action wouldn't even come up.

If you want to move on, you have to recognize where you've been. If you want to leave the past behind, you have to see it for what it was, and acknowledge the legacy it has left.

Thanks -

I take your point, Slarti.

And I yours, russell.

And you know, if people would just treat each other decently, things like affirmative action wouldn't even come up.

Aye, there's the rub. It sounds so simple, but isn't.

As far as acknowledging the past, I try to avoid repeating myself whenever possible. Particularly on occasions where someone practically demands that I do. It's gotten annoying enough that I'm tempted to have a bumper sticker printed up. My car isn't that big, though.

Slarti:
Yep. I've got other advantages, too. Higher than average intelligence and above-average determination, among others. Until we get ourselves a Handicapper General, that will be my lot in life.

Prove that these are not environmental, and I'll take this argument far more seriously. I have higher than average intelligence myself - you know why? No television growing up, so I read like a fiend from third grade on. Had I had TV as a wee'un, I expect I'd be a lot closer to average, though I expect my family environment would have still pushed me a bit past average. But to the degree that I "inherited" my intelligence or determination, I did so by dint of being born into a family that nurtured it (intentionally and otherwise), because my parents were born into families that nurtured it, etc. Oh, and I grew up and went to a school that didn't discourage it, etc. I'm a product of my environment, and my parent's environments... and they of theirs.

Which, to state what should be obvious, is simply to say that such "inborn" traits don't come from nowhere. If you want to pick someone at random and test if they're "intelligent" and "determined", I'll feel pretty safe betting that those coming from a less precarious background in which they're not socially marginalized and denigrated are going to be far more likely to "just so happen" to be above average in these regards... and to have children who are so.

I inherited more than my parents' genes. I inherited my parents themselves, and their books, and their parents, and their accumulated material and intellectual wealth. I'm inclined to take some credit for what success I've had, but I have to admit I had some amazing advantages.

I'm 56, and I was born in Washington, D.C., and I can still remember seeing white and colored drinking fountains and restrooms in Virginia. My elderly mother still resents a black man who, when when she joined him at a bus stop in Charlottesville, moved from the sidewalk to the street to maintain a subservient position.

Within living memory, every sort of coercion including violence has routinely been employed to keep black people in their place. The fact that many or all of our ancestors may have arrived too late to benefit from slavery doesn't mean that we didn't inherit, and continue to enjoy, a considerable degree of racial privilege.

"A NYT poll showed that"

Cite?

"I made a mistake (I added the 'did not know' tab from the data) adding up the poll numbers"

Cite?

"Or, in my case: none of the above. As a scion of wealthy French-Canadian lumberjacks and wealthy Irish-Catholics, we had no need of slaves, and arrived too late to free them."

No, they and you just benefited all your lives from the privilege of being perceived as "white." And do today. As do I.

"There are plenty around -- plenty -- who personally knew someone who took a full lifetime of crap, just for having dark skin."

It's evident to me that right now having dark skin deals one a crappy lot of crappity crap in America. If you dress down, you're apt to be eyed suspiciously in innumerable stores, and possibly followed about. You will have more trouble getting a cab than a pale person. You will be viewed constantly by pale people as "that black/dark wo(man)," and frequently identified for no relevant reason that way. Lots of pale people will think of you first not as "that short/tall person," or "that fat/thin person," or "that person with the big ears," or "that funny/smart person," but as "that black person." You will be judged accordingly; many people will tend to make assumptions about your tastes and preferences and history on that basis.

To meet the approval of those with power over you, you will have to work harder than pale people, keep a more even temper, keep your feelings under more control, and reveal yourself less, or you will be seen as "that angry black guy/woman."

You will have to put up with racist comments and jokes, and you will have to put up with the uncertainty of not knowing if all sorts of responses and behaviors and events are the result of racism, or racist-tinged thinking, or are just coincidence or happenstance.

It's obvious to me that this all, and endless more, would be one heck of a lot of strain that pale people don't have to add to their daily lot of irritation and worry and strain.

And I know I'm leaving a lot out, and a lot of things aren't occurring to me. Because I'm just extrapolating, because I'm pale. And enjoy the privileges of only extrapolating, rather than experiencing all this, day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, and knowing my children have the same lot.

There are probably very, very few still around who personally knew someone who was a slave. There are plenty around -- plenty -- who personally knew someone who took a full lifetime of crap, just for having dark skin. And when I say full, I mean pressed down and spilling over.

About fifteen years ago, I took my last part-time job looking after kids (it was my last, because shortly after that I quit being a student/unemployed graduate and I got my first full-time job in a degree-related profession) and this happened to be also the first time I'd got a job looking after kids who weren't, like me, sort of pasty greyish-pink, aka "white": these four kids were ethnically Chinese, and both their parents were born and grew up in Hong Kong. (Interestingly, to me, though they talked to their friends and to me with local accents, they would switch apparently without noticing it to their mother's accent when talking to her.)

I'd been aware that there were unpleasant people who did and said racist things in my home city - it was a stop-the-bus clue when my first employer (I delivered newspapers from 12-19) had to put steel shutters up to protect his windows when the business was closed, and I overheard the police straightforwardly warning him that businesses run by people "from the Asian community" were much more at risk from vandals.

But when those four kids told me about how older boys and sometimes adults from their neighborhood used to follow them sometimes calling them names and insulting them, it really rocked me: call me naive, but it had never occurred to me that there were people in my own city who were so hateful they'd tease and abuse little kids for their color of skin.

Since then, I've talked with plenty of people who tell me that while that doesn't happen every time they're in an all-white community or an all-white environment, it happens often enough that the fear it might makes them tense up from first to last. (Which I can understand, to a certain extent: I get the same tension when I'm preparing to come out to someone and I don't know whether there's going to be a hostile/violent response.)

Living like that - from when you are a small child - knowing that there's a strong possibility that the person walking down the street towards you may strike out, or throw something, or just come out with some horrific abusive comment... well, I know something about that kind of tension from being female, but as a white woman, I was privileged to avoid/ignore/just not see a lot of it.

It's evident to me that right now having dark skin deals one a crappy lot of crappity crap in America.

What Gary and Jes said.

While I don't always agree, I understand the objections to racial preferments. I recognize the destructive quality of the welfare culture that grew out of some of the Great Society programs. I acknowledge that there are toxic aspects to modern black American culture.

All noted.

People of color in this country take more plain, unadulterated crap than white people do. Among them, black people take the most.

I don't need a poll or a sociological study to tell me this, because I have eyes to see and ears to hear. It's constant, hostile, toxic crap.

If Obama were to start each campaign speech by saying, "Check it out, I'm a black man, and I may be your next President. Isn't that amazing? Do you have any freaking idea how hard I had to work to get here?" there's noone in this country who could fault him for it.

He doesn't do so because he doesn't want his campaign to be about him being black.

It appears that he is interested in moving beyond race being something that divides people. That has, in fact, cost him some support among blacks.

"Playing the race card" he is not.

Thanks -

It's evident to me that right now having dark skin deals one a crappy lot of crappity crap in America. If you dress down, you're apt to be eyed suspiciously in innumerable stores, and possibly followed about. You will have more trouble getting a cab than a pale person. You will be viewed constantly by pale people as "that black/dark wo(man)," and frequently identified for no relevant reason that way. Lots of pale people will think of you first not as "that short/tall person," or "that fat/thin person," or "that person with the big ears," or "that funny/smart person," but as "that black person." You will be judged accordingly; many people will tend to make assumptions about your tastes and preferences and history on that basis.

Yes THIS. This would be the thing. Not to mention substandard health-care treatment based on these types of assumptions -- doctors will be more likely to diagnose a black woman with hypertension that she does not have, for example -- less likely to recognize depression or bipolar disorder, since that's an illness associated with "higher" intelligence. (It's not even their fault, it's so ingrained in society. Case in point, minority doctors have absorbed the same biases.)

I am concerned about the idea of "giving the gift of usefulness." Who are we implying is useless?

And I'm a "latecomer" myself, for the record -- parents got to these shores in 1961.

I have seen a lot of this sort of resentment. I work in the oilfield, getting started right before the oil crash and have managed to make a living in it through some difficult times. I am black. That's pretty unusual, and I have run into a lot of people who didn't like my looks. From the very start, though, they liked the way I worked and the concerns about my being lazy went away pretty quickly. College degree or no college degree, you don't last on the rig floor if you don't hustle, and I have only run into a handful of people who were unwilling to put up with me since 1984, and that has been working with angry, uneducated white people who know that they have no real future and will be doing hard manual labor until their bodies give out -- only a few could not see the work I did and get over their misgivings. What was far, far, far more uniform was the assumption that all I had to do was ask for a promotion and I would get it because black people always got promotions. What was depressing is that, thanks to the quotas at large companies, that was usually true, and I saw a lot of black folks promoted into positions much too early, where they did a crappy job and were then very visibly not fired because the company was desperate to have black faces in a field where there were almost no black people. So, you upset people, crippled the development of the black managers, and didn't get work done. And that sort of thing doesn't sit well with the people who only have one option in life -- be a company man and hope that they get treated right. This is a subject that I have lived -- it is not theory to me -- and I don't like it much. I haven't seen quotas work at all.

thanks tong. i had a similar experience in law school. a classmate of mine was black and was a total badass -- her background was just amazing and she was there on a full scholarship (one of just a handful).

this is hearsay, but we had a mutual close friend who said it enraged her that people thought she had the scholarship for reasons other than merit.

honestly, that's why i'm pretty much ready to shift to a class/income-based affirmative action policy. i think it warps perceptions and feeds the sort of poison i was talking about.

"A lot of white people honestly think they have been significantly deprived of various things because of minorities. And it’s hard to overstate how deeply these feelings run. It’s not so much animosity toward people who are different — it’s the animosity of the aggrieved. They feel like they are the victims."

How is this not racism? If you are angry at entire group of people for no good reason except somehow you have been victimized by the least powerful group in the country you are a whiner. If you go on about affirmitive action ruining your life and welfare queens taking your money you are a racist.

You might not be prejudiced but you are a racist.

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Whatnot


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