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March 18, 2008

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grey argued: I don't recall that being the context. He was giving praise to an old man who had served his country. I think any reasonable reader of Lott's comments would reject the idea that he was specifically referring to segregation.

"When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years, either."

I don't see how any reasonable person could read these comments and not understand that Trent Lott was saying he was proud to have voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948, when Thurmond ran for President on a third party ticket.

That was the States Rights Democratic Party, which split from the Democratic party explicitly to oppose Truman's and other Democratic efforts to end racial segregation. Trent Lott said he was "proud" of voting for a party which stood for racial segregation.

Trent Lott added that if "the rest of the country had followed our lead" - had voted for racial segregation - "we wouldn't have had all these problems over the years" - that is, wouldn't have had the "problems" of an integrated military, of black voters, of black politicians, lawyers, and even Supreme Court judges.

You would have to be extremely uninformed about the political situation in 1948 to think that Trent Lott was not specifically referring to racial segregation. And presumably, Lott had enough memory left to know what he voted for back then.

Lucky for John McCain that he skipped out on the Values Voter Debate, isn't it? Or he might have been spending the months since September, just as Mike Huckabee, John Cox, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, Sam Brownback, and Alan Keyes all have, fending off demands that he explain how he could bring himself to sit still and listen to the Church of God Choir, from Springfield, Ohio, sing a parody of "God Bless America" which damned the US much more unequivocably than Wright did.

Oh wait. For some reason, all of those Republican candidates got a free pass from the media for listening to a song that began

Why should God bless America?
She’s forgotten he exists
And has turned her back
On everything that made her what she is
and then got worse. So I guess it would have been okay for John McCain to attend, instead of just showing up a month later to personally address the unpatriotic America-haters who approved this outrageous attack on the US.

IOKIYAR.

Jes, Lott was only 7 years old in 1948, so I don't think he was actually talking about personally voting for Thurmond.

Lott was only 7 years old in 1948, so I don't think he was actually talking about personally voting for Thurmond.

Really? Wow. *facepalms* You know, I never once thought to check his date of birth: to be personal, he looks elderly enough to have been old enough to vote in 1948. My bad. Thanks for the correction.

Hilzoy: dnftt

Whoops. When I see someone from the Republican party cite Robert Byrd and defend Trent Lott, I ought to know by now they're trolling. Sorry.

I wish we could have a mature discussion about race. I just don't see how when the black community can't even do it amongst themselves.

People like Bill Cosby and Juan Williams have been skewered when talking about race in America.

Your presumptions about what is possible or not in the Black community are both condescending and incorrect. The fact is that as with all communities there is a diversity of opinion and that diversity gets expressed in different ways. I shouldn't even need to say that some black people quite like what Bill Cosby has to say about race. Others disagree with him and have made that very clear. That is the very nature of discussion... that some people will disagree.

Again, your argument is just incoherent to me here. What is your actual complaint? Cosby raised an issue and stated his opinion on the issue. Many people agreed with him and many didn't. Contrary to your blithe dismissal of the complexity of black discourse which I find quite puzzling, black people, from all walks of life, still talk about these issues as raised by Cosby and offer a wide range of opinions and justification for those opinions.

What I want to understand is how does the consideration and rejection of the opinions of Cosby or Williams by some people in the Black community demonstrate for you that "mature" discussion is impossible? Is your standard for a mature discussion one where everybody agrees with whatever opinion you happen to think is right? If that is not the case, then please give me some idea of what this hypothetical "mature" discussion on race would require and explain just how the Cosby discussion failed to fulfill such requirements.

As for this:

I think any reasonable reader of Lott's comments would reject the idea that he was specifically referring to segregation.

That hypothetical reasonable reader would then only need to explain what Lott meant by "all these problems" that would not exist if Thurmond had won on his segregationist ticket.

Change takes time. I'm responding here to grey's contention that the African American community isn't ready to discuss race.

The African American community is not monolithic. Some are ready to discus, some not. many people with lots of opinions.

From my limited experience with AA co-workers: there is a problem with identity. it is hard to reconcile the history of victimization with current circumstances. Feeling victimized is a big part of AA identiy. it seems like a betrayal of the ancestors if one gives up feelings of victimization now. So there is a struggle within each person to determine if bad experiences with whites are racial or just human nature or even selfr-generated.

Also within the AA community the norm is to be supportive amd forgiving. this norm si not always followed of course. in fact there is peer pressure to maintain the traditional identity of AA's and to resist transistion to an identity within current political and social realities. But there is a strong resistance to criticsm and a strong protection mechanism against criticism from outside as well as a tradition of keeping criticism within the community, as opposed to shared outside,

Again I emphasize that I'm not saying everyone thinks this way. The African American coworkers I knew thought about race issues and idedntity issues this way. And disagreed with each other and sometimes had explosive fights carried out in public so that whites like me heard all about it.

So it doesn't make semse to me to say theat the African American community isn't willing to discus things. There is a discussion going on.

I think you could make a better case case to say whites don't want to talk about it. White people tend to fall into two catagories: racism is the problem and you are a racist if you deny it and there is no racism, get over it.

Jes, people judge age differently, I guess, but you really think this guy looks like he's 80 years old?

KCinDC - Actually, I may have been mixing up the few pics of Lott I've seen with pics of some other elderly white American males: he certainly looks younger in that photo you linked to than I'd remembered him. Still. Yes, I should have looked up his DoB rather than assuming that when he said he'd voted for Strom Thurmond in 1948 he meant he'd voted for Thurmond in 1948.

JanieM: “I don't have any faith in the possibility that Hillary is capable of (in some sense) allying herself with Obama as a decision-maker in prescribing a role to Bill, or that Bill, under the surface, would be able to stick with the program, even if a clear one, uncontaminated by Hill-Bill murkiness, could be laid out for him.”

Huh? What? Talk about murkiness. Anybody who would suggest Hillary should rely on Obama’s and not Bill Clinton’s opinion about anything more complex then ethics reform or civil rights legislation (or civil wrongs, depending on your perspective) is as dense as a doorknob.

To remind you, during Clinton’s administration we had good relations and respect from our traditional allies worldwide, two terms of economic prosperity ending with a trillion dollar surplus. After the first World Trade Center attack (which occurred 38 days after the first Bush left office) the Clinton administration developed the nation’s first anti-terrorism policy (which led to the interdiction of planned Al Qaeda attacks against UN Headquarters, FBI Headquarters, the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Boston Airport and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the George Washington Bridge in NY). Under Clinton’s leadership we passed the Family and Medical Leave act of 1993, the AmeriCorps Volunteer Program, the Brady Bill. Bill Clinton appointed two liberal justices to the Supreme Court (Ginsburg and Breyer) and even with the Oval Office blow-job controversy his approval rating at the end of his term was 73%

In other words, he ran the country for eight years – and everybody (and African Americans specifically) were doing better than they were before he took office, and certainly better than they’re doing now. Are you going to suggest anybody in their right mind wouldn't rely on someone with Bill Clinton's experience for advice, and defer to the Boy Orator instead?

Clinton-Clinton-Obama White House Scenario #1:

A major terrorist attack on the USA, with a simultaneous catastrophic 7.2 magnitude earthquake in a major city. At a quickly called emergency meeting at the White House:

HILLARY: Bill, any suggestions?
BILL CLINTON: I’ve already contacted Homeland Security, National Guard units and first responders are on the on the way to both locations, as are teams from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Red Cross, and State & Local Health Departments…
HILLARY: Barak?
OBAMA: Hold on a minute, I need to locate my thesaurus…

That's all a very nice acenario Jay, but don't we run into constitutional problems like (we should have) when Cheney ordered the airliners shot down?

HILLARY: Bill, why didn't I get the nomination?
BILL: The other guy beat you.
HILLARY: Where did I go wrong?
BILL: More ways than I can count. To name just one, you had the kind of supporters who like to refer to a black senator as "the boy orator." That kind of smart-assery doesn't get you too many votes from African-Americans.

Jesurgislac: “So I guess it would have been okay for John McCain to attend, instead of just showing up a month later to personally address the unpatriotic America-haters who approved this outrageous attack on the US.”

I agree with you… McCain shouldn’t get a pass, or Huckabee, etc. – or the religious bigots and dopes who made those inflammatory racist statements..
And ditto above for Obama and Wright.

So in this obnoxious religious display of racial bigotry (from both sides of the color divide) Hillary is obviously the lesser of three evils…. Belief in Invisible Entities leads to irrational behavior – so vote for the least irrational: H.Clinton.

When has Obama made racist statements? Or overtly appealed for support from those who make them? I'm not seeing the equivalence in your argument.

Belief in Invisible Entities leads to irrational behavior – so vote for the least irrational: H.Clinton.

This is...ganz falsch.

Kevin Donoghue: "To name just one, you had the kind of supporters who like to refer to a black senator as "the boy orator." That kind of smart-assery doesn't get you too many votes from African-Americans."

You're doing a good job, Kevin, perpetuating the racist divide in the US with your nit-picking politically-correct sanctimoniousness, keep up the good work. I used the term 'boy orator' as a sarcastic replacement for the well known boy wonder - not as a paternalistic racial pejorative.

And by the way, Kevin, Obama isn't a 'black' senator. He's a half-white, half-black senator - wasn't his mother Caucasian? How someone who's half-black becomes all-black is one of the great mysteries of American racial alchemy -- a biological transformation as mysterious as alembic transmutation. But of course you're free to misinterpret reality to your heart's content, for as long as you like.

"I'm not seeing the equivalence in your argument."

McCain is to Hagee as Obama is to Wright. etc.

Slartibartfast: "This is...ganz falsch."

Wenn Sie das sagen.

Farshtaist?

Kevin's reaction is, I guess, another example of the different-worlds thing that Obama talked about on TV earlier (as per Katherine's post). I read "boy orator" the way Jay intended it, and Kevin's interpretation didn't even occur to me.

I thought the use of "boy" for "black man" had gone out of style. It was never big outside the South, and I have never in my life heard anyone use the word that way. Kevin, have you?

Jay -- I understood the equivalence you were *trying* to make, but my question stands.

McCain sought out the political support of Hagee, among other inflammatory white preachers, and appeared by his side at a campaign event. (Also the whole "Church of God Choir" event that Jes brings up.)

Obama attended a church led by Wright, specifically did NOT invite him to his campaign launch, and has specifically and repeatedly disagreed with specific controversial and/or offensice statements made by Wright. (To be fair, Wright was included on an "advisory committe," but I'm unclear what its role is.)

Do you really see these things as being equivalent? If so, do you see how others might not?

I saw a photo on the newspaper of him shaking a black man's hand and thought - hmmm that looks like a white man's hand to me.

I expect its a little bit less than half 'black' (break out the DNA tests!). But I can be pretty confident he is 100% light brown.

... that's "offensive," duh ...

I thought the use of "boy" for "black man" had gone out of style. It was never big outside the South, and I have never in my life heard anyone use the word that way. Kevin, have you?

I certainly have but I think its also beside the point. Since the topic is honest racial dialogue, I will give you my take as one black person who can attest to a lot of other black people like me feeling the same way.

Calling a grown man of any color a boy is already being deliberately provocative and almost certainly intentionally demeaning. When its a black man, its the sort of thing that at least calls your attention. Did I think that jay jerome intended some racial insult? Not particularly and I am not familiar enough with him to judge his attitudes about race negatively. I take him at his word that he meant nothing by it. But that being said, my first thought when reading that post was that I found it a bit bizarre that Obama, a man who evokes Presidential stature for so many, evokes boyishness or some sort of silly sidekick for him. That is not to say that I thought, "now that guy's obviously some sort of crypto-racist." But I did kind of file it away and think: "hmm... what a curious bit of imagery. Let me take a closer look at what else he has to say going forward."

Is that fair? Maybe. Maybe not. I can certainly see how one could argue that it is not. But thats my instinctive reaction to that sort of language and my bit of racial honesty for the day.

Belief in Invisible Entities leads to irrational behavior – so vote for the least irrational: H.Clinton.

Jay, you are aware that Hillary is part of a prayer and Bible-study group with some pretty fundamentalist types, right? I'm all for candidates who don't believe in invisible entities, but you're badly mistaken if you think Hillary is one of those.

Jay Jerome: “I used the term ‘boy orator’ as a sarcastic replacement for the well known boy wonder – not as a paternalistic racial pejorative.”

So you weren’t being racist or paternalistic, you were just being sarcastic. With supporters like you, is it any wonder the wheels came off Clinton’s campaign? If you want to do the Democrats a favour, throw your full weight behind McCain.

trilobite,

I live in Ireland so I don’t think my personal experience is much of a guide. However I note that members of Team Clinton used the term “kid” in January and again yesterday and that in the latest case reporters were a bit startled by it. So it seems at least some Americans (rightly or wrongly) suspect that there is a bit of dog-whistle politics going on.

And by the way, Kevin, Obama isn't a 'black' senator. He's a half-white, half-black senator - wasn't his mother Caucasian? How someone who's half-black becomes all-black is one of the great mysteries of American racial alchemy -- a biological transformation as mysterious as alembic transmutation. But of course you're free to misinterpret reality to your heart's content, for as long as you like.

Let's have Obama sit in on a Council of Conservative Citizens meeting and see how white he is all of a sudden, shall we?

"To my mind the record of both countries in that regard is contemptible and nauseating and should be condemned by any decent person. It is perhaps not that different from the record of numerous other countries, which again to my mind provides no excuse."

I'm fine with that, Donald, and I agree with you on this. For the record.

So long as we stay on this side of "and therefore that's why that country has no right to exist," or "and the Jews are uniquely unentitled to a Jewish democratic State," or that sort of thing, I'm right with you, fwiw.

How someone who's half-black becomes all-black is one of the great mysteries of American racial alchemy

Historically the standard has ranged from about 1/16 black (one black great-grandparent) to one drop (any known black parentage in the family tree).

Not that we pay that close attention to it anymore.

Thanks -

More worthy commentary from Scott Horton at Harper’s about a WSJ piece by Peggy Noonan. (She likes it.) Good stuff. Horton’s bottom line about the speech: “It is the sole extraordinary moment of this entire campaign.”

Just watching Keeping">http://snipurl.com/22byd">Keeping The Faith at bloggingheads; some good stuff. But it got me thinking more strongly about Clinton’s ‘Family’ meme as it gestates. There’s a small puzzle here. The Family, both in the original Harper’s article and Ehrenreich’s column, is spoken of as secretive, shunning publicity. There’s an implicit spin of A Secret Organization which it obviously isn’t. The Senate Prayer Breakfast is a sort of old boy’s network power center but not secret and Sharlet after all was allowed to report on its functioning. Of course the real kick to the moral solar plexus is its massive networking among elites world-wide.
Now they must know that the book’s publication will be their coming-out party, rendered all the more public by its association with a presidential candidate whose religious leanings will be publicized in a setting of heightened public attention. One might say of roomful of balloons for their party.
So I ask self, what’s with that?
And self replies, well...The original 2003 Harper’s article I found pretty striking at the time, though more disturbing than shocking. But no wheels were spoked and nothing fell down. In retrospect it looks a lot like a trial balloon to judge public acceptance; and in the silence since they found they might be able to take a more public role.
If the Family are smarter than the Iraq War cabal they will have realized, and planned, for these developments. Since they seem skilled at working international diplomacy as an élite NGO, it is more than likely they have negotiating and manipulative smarts. They’ve after all made a very comfy bed for themselves and have thus proven themselves capable in pursuing power.
Diving off the deep end it’s possible to imagine that both the Haggee and Wright flaps, differing as they did, still (were intended to) set a more florid stage for the Family’s grand entrance.
Back up the ladder, I may be on surer ground to suggest this will be turned into a massive appeal to that fragmenting but still potentially powerful Evangelical Vote. They may élide the élite part, or they may appeal to the Evangelical hunger to be associated with power (an element I haven’t remarked upon which nonetheless is a significant factor). Prayer groups and Bible studies are potent symbols for Evangelicals. They signify, more than any other element, and haven’t yet been used in appealing to Evangelicals.
Back into the conspiratorial swamp for a moment, byzantine reasoning concludes McCain tanks (all manner of possibilities) and Brownback steps in (It’s referred to as ‘Sam brownback’s Bible Study’ in the bh confab). Clinton surges with what has become a boost, and the Family can’t lose.
All wild-eyed as I appear, this is probably an excellent spot to drop this pebble into the pool.

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