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August 28, 2014

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Hmm
Stop doing it=stop discriminating, not stop integrating.

you absolutely will not place a single microgram of blame of the people who control society. and suggesting that you might is equal to this "White = bad" idiocy. innocent black kids get killed and it's the fault of black culture. banks prey on black communities, it's the fault of black culture. blacks are stopped more often, convicted more often and to longer sentences than any other group for identical crimes, and it's the fault of black culture.

You forgot some of the softer stuff. E.g., black job applicants can't get an interview because their name sounds too black, it's the fault of black culture. Or black job applicants can't get an interview because they attached a picture of them being black to their resume, it's the fault of black culture. Or black job applicants can't get jobs despite having done neither of the above because they just had to go and bring their melanin with them to the interview, it's the fault of black culture.

This Black Culture person is starting to sound as evil and nefarious as The Left or You Progressives.

In short, NV, stereotypes continue to impact the way that people get treated. And not always for the worse. Witness the folks who get hired for jobs where they have marginal skills at best -- just because it's a technical job and they come with an epicanthic fold, and so are assumed to be good at math and science.

The only way to get rid of stereotypes like that, in my experience, is prolonged exposure to enough members of whatever group that they break down. Which, I suspect, is the one positive that reverse discrimination (which I don't otherwise have much use for) is likely to actually produce. See the impact of integration of the military -- both on attitudes in the military and on civil society (at least until the disappearance of the draft allowed more people to avoid interacting with blacks).

By way of Andrew Sullivan's "The Dish", an article in the Boston Globe on the long term economic impact of slavery--

link

I'm sure it's just an excuse to avoid criticizing black culture.

The only way to get rid of stereotypes like that, in my experience, is prolonged exposure to enough members of whatever group that they break down.

Sensible. Now put this observation in the current context of housing segregation and ongoing job and social discrimination. Take that observation into the policy sphere. What should we, as the white public, do about this?

Babbling on about "equality of opportunity" leaves me a bit flat.

As long as these constraints persist the racial divides we observe shall hold. One can easily understand the cries of outrage at "reverse discrimination". Believe me, I can empathize. But what I cannot understand, and what simply enrages me, is the common white held belief that we have now set the table to allow "equality of opportunity and our job is done" when in fact, that is simply not true on an aggregate basis.

Simply put, the wished for outcomes are not manifest. Blaming it on a recent fad to wear one's pants low seems rather silly, no? If that were true, disco should have marked the permanent end of white ascendancy.

Perhaps, in the spirit of McKinney, we should have a national "you be the f*cking doormat" week where whites and blacks reverse roles. All white people are rounded up and herded into the worst decaying parts of our urban areas. All the great jobs, university placements, best housing and schools are parceled out to blacks. Blacks constitute the majority of voters and hold the overwhelming portion of our common financial assets. Whites are commonly stopped and frisked for no apparent reason.

To you-"reverse discrimination"? How about "justice" or "how does it feel, asshat"?

And what if some force from outer space made this arrangement permanent? What public policies would you propose to reverse it?

Lecturing white people about their "culture"?

I dare say the "pathology of white culture" would not take long to rear its ugly visage under such circumstances.

And it's still a bit ugly in any event.

As to the social impact of slavery on the world today, I agree, it exists.

Let's also agree that poor non-African-American people also have legacies that contribute to their circumstances.

Race is an issue. Class is an issue. Poverty is an issue. Specific personal problems, such as mental illness, are an issue. These issues are not at odds, and what we don't want to do is pit poor people against each other.

A solution is a safety net. Jobs programs. Education. Health care. Housing. Nondiscrimination by law. We know all of this. What's the problem with making it happen?

Liberals are the most intolerant of all groups in our society. Only made to seem better by a few smug hipsters

FMA's are like the "middle class", they are simply everyone else.

And there is no group in this nation more in love with their own self-pity and aggrieved sense of having been historically wronged than your average tea-partier.

Extra credit if you wave the stars and bars while wearing your stupid tri-corner hat - or even better, faux cowboy hat - with the teabag stapled to it.

There are a whole bunch of groups who aren't asking to be treated exactly the same; they're being asked to be treated with special consideration for their particular identity--sexual, racial, religious, ethnic, etc.--and, even worse, for the history behind that identity

Kindly see my immediately previous comment.

Tolerance means you recognize and accept the existence of people who aren't like you, and acknowledge that there is some legitimacy to their point of view, even if you share not one speck of it.

My issue with Batocchio's chart is that the four groups include liberals who are assholes and liberals who are right, and conservatives who are assholes and conservatives who are wrong.

That seems somewhat one-sided.

But a lot of people are sick and tired of having the race baiters come out and foment revolution and division and then have their meek white bitches on left help carry the banner.

"Meek white bitches"? Seriously?

Somebody's channeling their inner Norman Mailer.

"Race is an issue. Class is an issue. Poverty is an issue. Specific personal problems, such as mental illness, are an issue. These issues are not at odds, and what we don't want to do is pit poor people against each other."

I don't think "we" (meaning people left of center in general) are pitting poor people against each other. It's certain elements of the right that do this. Then some poor whites willingly side with the far right, some people on the left insult them, and so maybe in that sense the left could do better, but I don't think it starts with the left.

Some of my best friends are racists.

That should prove to the likes of McKinney, even in his most enthusiastic leftie-bashing moments, that there is at least one tolerant liberal in this sad world.

--TP

Still playing catch-up...

TNC sees but does not comprehend why some students do better than others--stable families with common, promoted values of hard work, focus, education, respect for the law, respect for others.

Actually, I think TNC holds out his own family and personal history as, precisely, an example of this.

What he is apparently discovering, in mid-life, at Middlebury are the typical habits of, specifically, *academic* success.

Apparently, instead of spending his school days boning up for exams, he spent his time reading, widely and voraciously.

He wanted to be a writer. He was learning his craft.

The man is an editor at the Atlantic. I think he has demonstrated an understanding of how to excel at what he has chosen to do in life.

He cannot bring himself to face the reality of elements of the African American community--young, uneducated single women are poor role models poorly equipped to rear children in a way that gives them a reasonable opportunity to advance.

It boggles my mind that you could have even the most passing familiarity with his work and make this statement.

The question TNC asks, which apparently doesn't occur to you, is why social dysfunction appears to be so prevalent in the black community in the first place.

"It boggles my mind that you could have even the most passing familiarity with his work and make this statement."

I have that feeling about most of the criticism of TNC that I see. I'm not talking about criticisms of his proposed remedies--reparations, for instance. I'm talking about the contemptuous dismissal by people who don't seem to he reading anything he writes in good faith.

"The question TNC asks, which apparently doesn't occur to you, is why social dysfunction appears to be so prevalent in the black community in the first place."

We are less than two generations from the welfare society that Clinton attempted to fix. Too early to say.

"The man is an editor at the Atlantic. I think he has demonstrated an understanding of how to excel at what he has chosen to do in life."

You can be an excellent writer with nothing of value to say.

You can be an excellent writer with nothing of value to say.

Yes, and you can also go through life with your head up your @ss.

I leave it to one and all to draw whatever conclusions they wish to draw.

that was unnecessary

that was unnecessary

Look, here are some simple facts.

Black people - people who are ethnically African - have been here, in English-speaking North America, for 400 years.

For almost the entire span of that time, they have been at a disadvantage, legally, socially, economically, any way you care to mention. And, that disadvantage has been enforced by law, and by violence.

For the last 50 years of that time, and not one moment longer, they have nominally not been at a disadvantage by force of law. That, not the period since "Bill Clinton tried to fix welfare", is the "two generations" you refer to, and it's barely that.

Coates writes about his own experience. His experience as a black person, and about the things that he, himself, has found in the historical record, from his own research.

He has apparently come to believe - which is not what he started out believing - that racism is bred in the American bone. My understanding of his writing is that he has come to believe that an instinctive belief in white supremacy is an indelible part of the American legacy, and persists to this day.

You can agree with that, disagree with that, as you wish. But the factual basis that informs his point of view is solid. It's stuff he has personally lived, and/or stuff that comes from his own homework. And, he shows his work, consistently and thoroughly.

I don't much care if folks like Coates or not, agree with him or not, or even read him or not. Defending Ta-Nehisi Coates is not my life's ambition, nor is it something he's in need of.

But if you want to engage with the reality of life in the United States, you have to deal with issues he raises.

If they don't make sense to you, maybe it's because you're not black. Maybe the experience of being a black person in this country *is not the same* as being a person who is not black, full stop.

If that's not a proposition you're willing to entertain, then IMVHO you're living in cloud cuckoo land.

My question for people who think Coates is full of crap is basically this:

For 400 years, right up until today, blacks have failed to achieve in this society to a level comparable to other ethnic groups.

Why is that? Is there something magic about black skin that makes them chronically incompetent irresponsible criminally-inclined f***-ups?

Or are other factors involved?

You tell me which.

And if you want to tell me it's all because of those stupid Great Society welfare programs, you have the 350 years of history before 1964, and the not quite 20 years of history since Bill Clinton fixed it all, to explain.

So have at it. Explain to me why Coates is full of crap when he says that racism is alive and well in the US.

What a lot of people seem to do, when speaking about Coates and others like him, is to conflate his current, privileged, circumstances with his childhood, definitely not privileged, circumstances. And then argue that he has no complaint about his childhood circumstances because he has done so well.

I would take their position to its logical extreme (which most of them would not embrace, I know): Frederick Douglass' accomplishments did not demonstrate that there was nothing about slavery which handicapped those who grew up in it.

No matter what the handicaps, a few people will manage to succeed in spite of them. But the question we should actually ask is, what happens to most of the people in those circumstances?

I've been on the road, but will comment when time--and it will require quite a bit of time--permits.

You did a great job of explaining it Russell. As far as having a head up something:

Nobody alive lived 400 years ago, if that mattered j would be dirt poor in some other country

Multiple groups of people have arrived in the US since the black population was set free by generation 3 they were integrated into society

There should be, by your reasoning some enclave of middle class and more successful black people somewhere in the us of some size where they have been given a more equal chance

Before you go there. Yes, they need to integrate into society. That's the word that's been used for at least 50 years as the goal.

Lastly, and really the only one that is important, the very nature of societies dismissal of any white person as someone a black person might emulate is the problem in black society. Why can't Kennedy be a hero or example for a black child every bit as much as
Obama? Why are only black people heroes to black people? Because they are taught by their parents that they are different. That being black means being different. Not by society, by their parents. When TNC writes something about the self segregation and self diminishment of a whole race e that has assumed the role of martyr, send that to me. Until then every succeeding generation of black children will be raised to be less, encouraged only by the success of 1% of 12%. That's an unnecessarily small, infinitesimal set of role models. Add the propogated few of authority and most black children don't stand a chance.

Few/view
In last sentnve

Marty, unfortunately, your comment is almost incomprehensible. Forgive me if I'm misinterpreting, but I'm taking from it that you don't think that African-Americans have taken the opportunity to integrate themselves into American culture.

In fact, what African-Americans have faced is rejection by virtue of their dark skin. So, while Italian-Americans were able to "act like the others" and assimilate, African-Americans faced greater difficulty because their skin gave them away first minute.

The more powerful African-American people we have in government, in corporate life, in education, etc., the more likely we will knock racism. Having an African-American POTUS was an excellent move, but not checkmate, against racism.

On the other hand, some people will be racists forever, because racism is part of their identity (neoconfederates).

There should be, by your reasoning some enclave of middle class and more successful black people somewhere in the us of some size where they have been given a more equal chance

You may want to study your history. Harlem Renaissance, Birdland. You may also want to note that Russell works in a field where you can't imagine it even existing without the contributions of African-Americans.

Lastly, and really the only one that is important, the very nature of societies dismissal of any white person as someone a black person might emulate is the problem in black society.

Here is what Coates says, from that essay that all us fuzzy headed liberals here find achingly beautiful:
Now, in America, invocations of culture are mostly an exercise in awarding power an air of legitimacy. You can see this in the recent remarks by the president, where he turned a question about preserving Native American culture into a lecture on how we (blacks and Native Americans) should be more like the Jews and Asian Americans, who refrain from criticizing the intellectuals in their midst of “acting white.” The entire charge rests on shaky social science and the obliteration of history. When Asian Americans and Jewish Americans—on American soil—endure the full brunt of white supremacist assault, perhaps a comparison might be in order.

But probably not. That is because fences are an essential element of human communities. The people who patrol these fences are generally unkind to those they find in violation. The phrase “getting above your raising” is little more than anxious working-class border patrolling. The term “white trash” is little more than anxious ruling-class border patrolling. I am neither an expert in the culture of Jewish Americans nor Asian Americans, but I would be shocked if they too were immune. Some years ago I profiled the rapper Jin. As the first Asian-American rapper to secure a major label contract, he often found himself enduring racist cracks from black rappers abroad and the prodding of fence-patrollers at home. “’Yo, what is this? You really think you’re black, Jin?” he recalled his parents saying. “Bottom line—you’re not black, Jin.’”

Pretending that black people are unique—or more ardent—in their fence-patrolling, and thus more parochial and anti-intellectual, serves to justify the current uses of American power. The American citizen is free to say, “Look at them, they criticize each other for reading!” and then go about his business. In that sense it is little different than raising the myth of “black on black crime” when asked about Ferguson.

So what you are pointing out is something that Coates specifically challenges. But the problems seems to be that Coates can't just stop there.

You wonder 'why can't black people be more like white people?' To try and put this in a form that doesn't leave anyone with feelings hurt, they can't because they don't have access to the tools that white people have. Don't call them 'opportunities', cause that implies that they just didn't take the chance, call them tools. More TNC

There have been young people fighting outside my window for as long as I can remember. I was no older than five sitting on the steps of my parents' home on Woodbrook Avenue watching the older boys knock shoulders in the street—"bucking" as we called it then—daring each other to fire off. From that point on I knew that among my people fisticuffs had their own ritual and script. The script was in effect that evening: show cause (some niggas jumped me in the park), mouth off (I ain't no punk), escalate (wait right her son, I'm bout to get my shit).

My wife wanted to know what she should do. She was not worried about her own safety—boys like this are primarily a threat to each other. What my wife wanted was someone who could save them young men from themselves, some power which would disperse the boys in a fashion that would not escalate things. No such power exists. I told my wife to stay inside and do nothing. I did not tell her to call the police. If you have watched the events of this past week, you may have some idea why.

Among the many relevant facts for any African-American negotiating their relationship with the police the following stands out: The police departments of America are endowed by the state with dominion over your body. This summer in Ferguson and Staten Island we have seen that dominion employed to the maximum ends—destruction of the body. This is neither new nor extraordinary. It does not matter if the destruction of your body was an overreaction. It does not matter if the destruction of your body resulted from a misunderstanding. It does not matter if the destruction of your body springs from foolish policy. Sell cigarettes without proper authority and your body can be destroyed. Resent the people trying to entrap your body and it can be be destroyed. Protect the home of your mother and your body can be destroyed. Visit the home of your young daughter and your body will be destroyed. The destroyers of your body will rarely be held accountable. Mostly they will receive pensions.

By virtue of the way American society is structured, African Americans cannot call on the police to keep order except in circumstances that are dire and even then, they risk being taken as the bad guys. And that's just one tool that has been taken out of their hands.

This article talks about the court system in Ferguson. Now think of what it took to reveal that to the national public. How many other pitfalls, barriers, traps are lurking out there for African Americans that we don't know about? And thinking about the possible existence of those pitfalls, are you still willing to blithely insist that it is because black people don't make white people their role models that blacks are not more successful?

Russell's comment should also be seen in light of the fact that what he does (play percussion) is not imaginable if you take away the contributions of African Americans. Of course, with other achievements of minorities, they are waved away. Black folks 'have rhythm'. I'm surprised (though not really) that Russell put it so mildly

You may not choose to give this any credence, in the same way many choose to dismiss TNC without actually trying to take what he says on board. Several people here have noted, with frustration, that there is a refusal to try and read TNC with any sympathy at all. As Russell points out, there is nothing we can do about that, and you are free to make the understandings of TNC that you want to. But to defend that refusal to even address the points he makes with comments like the one that set Russell off, or this notion that if black folks just had white heroes, everything would be alright, you should not be surprised if you get pushback.

Multiple groups of people have arrived in the US since the black population was set free by generation 3 they were integrated into society

Marty, you might want to reconsider your timeline here. The relevant date wouldn't be the Emancipation Proclamation. It would, at most, be the Civil Rights Act -- so early 1960s.

That would be roughly 50 years ago. Let's think about that a moment. The equivalent time span for, for example, Japanese Americans would have been about the time they were being herded into relocation camps. Not what I, at least, would consider "integrated into society."

Admittedly, that might be more like 2 generations than 3. But then, as sapient notes, the discrimination against them was never a part of the majority's cultural identity. Even in parts of the country (e.g. California) where anti-Asian prejudice was worst, it wasn't part of how whites saw themselves. As contrasted to the situation in the South for blacks.

McT, thanks for the message, I was worried I had run you off. If you would like the poisoned chalice of a guest post, go for it, Use the mail contact under the kitty

Lj, I have read, because I had something to say, what you quote. I don't expect black people to be more like white people, they ARE more like white people. His descriptions of black kids outside the window are little different than the window my mom stood by. She did t want to call the cops either. For the same reasons. African American s can call the cops just like everyone else in America.


And he is, again, just wrong. The reasons young black men get shot does matter. Especially when it is because they have been taught that it WILL happen. When their attitude is created by being told cops are bad and WILL harass them needlessly. So the arrogance of youth is spent proving they aren't afraid of the man. These lessons are fruitless, teaching actual respect is different than teaching them to fear. He spends a whole paragraph on this.


You reference the court system in Ferguson, true or not it played absolutely no role in the actions and reactions on that day in Ferguson. The slightest respect, for drivers trying to use the street and then the police, the most minimal respect, would have avoided that death. Any other discussion is academic and perhaps will get full circle to, he was taught to not respect the cops. Any cop.

I'm writing this on my phone, so that's a lot. But he is not right, he is an excellent writer, tells a grew story, is very convincing but he's wrong.

I also am not ever surprised at the pushback. I respect russells intentions, and his percussion interests. But from what I can tell he works in an industry. In a town, that is as white as it gets. Not a criticism. Or whatever, but I have as much intellectual right to my opinion of TNC as he does.

The slightest respect, for drivers trying to use the street and then the police, the most minimal respect, would have avoided that death.

And for that he deserved to die?

wj, if we take your timeline, and I have thought about it, then one or two more generations should do it.

Bobbyp, it isn't zero sum. He died because he did something wrong, the cop wasn't wrong. That doesn't mean he deserved to die. Its a tragedy that could have been averted.

Multiple groups of people have arrived in the US since the black population was set free by generation 3 they were integrated into society...

They were white. They were white. They were white. Sure, it took a while for the Irish, the Catholics, the Italians, etc., to be accepted by the majority white protestant assholes, but they finally made it into the tribe.

For some reason blacks were excluded from this process. Could you enlighten us as to why?

Not trying to catch you out here, but you started off by saying someone could be an excellent writer but not have anything to say. Now, he's an excellent writer but he's wrong in what he says. So it seems that the first comment was just to dismiss what Russell said (which is probably why he pushed back so hard) and now that I've challenged you, you've gone back and read it. That's cool, and I'm pleased you took the time.

However, I think you are absolutely wrong about your assertions and you've taken onboard a lot of the lies and smears that have surfaced to undercut Michael Brown and support the officer. I don't knowPhrases like 'these lessons are fruitless' and 'he was taught not to respect the cops' suggest that you really haven't examined your base assumptions at all. He got shot because he wasn't sufficiently respectful of authority. It is really hard to separate this from Emmit Till being lynched for whistling at a white woman. You will argue that this is hyperbolic, but when you assert, as you do, that Michael Brown had it coming because he didn't respect authority (Something that is hard to imagine a white person getting shot for if they did it, and it seems like they do it), I find it hard not to see the connection.

With our libertarian go-to (thankfully) gone, I've kind of lost track, but as has been pointed out, all those people who supported Cliven Bundy don't seem to be saying much about Michael Brown. That silence speaks volumes.

When their attitude is created by being told cops are bad and WILL harass them needlessly. So the arrogance of youth is spent proving they aren't afraid of the man.

Horseshit. You are asserting that somebody 'teaches' them that cops will harass them, so they take this 'knowledge' and go out and provoke the police into doing exactly that to "prove their manhood" or something like that and that cops are then too stupid to understand the social and psychological dynamics in play and needlessly harass them...just because.

That is simply off the charts inchoherent.

Bobbyp, it isn't zero sum. He died because he did something wrong, the cop wasn't wrong. That doesn't mean he deserved to die. Its a tragedy that could have been averted.

It could have been averted by the officer in any number of ways that did not result in a public execution of a person standing in the street with his hands up.

The finality of death tends to make things zero sum.

marty, if you won't take it from tnc then please take it from a middle-aged white man from texas with two biracial grandsons. i fear for them, not because their parents are on welfare, not because they have low expectations, not because they've been inculcated with some theoretical black culture but because they look black and are treated differently because of that. when their mother shows up at school for a parent conference the teachers call her by her first name and treat her with condescencion and tut-tutting about setting the right priorities, when my son shows up he gets called "Mr." and sir and his suggestions are taken into consideration almost as soon as he states them. i have been teaching school in texas for 20 years now and i have seen the results of a racist society unfolding in front of my eyes. i treat all the people i deal with, adults and children, with the respect that is their due as human beings, something most of the white teachers i know give only to whites and the occasional child of a teacher who might be hispanic or black.

i know my grandchildren will always be at a disadvantage in their dealings with white authority because of the racism of our society. based on my observations over the course of my life and my reading of history it is my considered opinion that our history of slavery drove us mad and instead of recovering from it we have blamed the slaves and their ancestors for our madness ever since. your willful blindness, along with all too many others just like you, to the reality of the oppressiveness of our society is why i fear for the safety of my grandsons. i can only hope someday the sleepers shall awake and the blind can be made to see.

Well I said cliven Bundy was a crook. And Michael Brown was no Emmett Till. Sufficiently respectful means not fighting with the cop. Sort of intuitive. The misdirection in this case comes from making it into this discussion.

And yes you are trying to catch me out. Sort of irritating but that's just you.

wj, if we take your timeline, and I have thought about it, then one or two more generations should do it.

You've thought about it? Really? Look at these charts and explain how they do not blow your "theory" totally out of the water.

There is something going on here, and you simply and willfully refuse to see it.

if you won't take it from tnc then please take it from a middle-aged white man from texas with two biracial grandsons. i fear for them,

You know what, navarro? I fear for children, period. But what you have is something really wonderful: Your children, and grandchildren, they're changing the world. Don't fear for them: be grateful for them every day. They obviously exist with the full support of their ancestors (you!), and will continue to make the world better.

Sometimes I lose hope, but with navarro's kids as a focus point? Why not hope? They're fighting, struggling, winning.

Respect and Trust is asking for too much. Those must be earned.
We would have a lot less trouble if we would/could just use a minimum of common courtesy when initiating intercourse with each other. IMHO

Actually Navarro I have twin biracial grandsons. And I fear for them in much the same way I fear for my other 4 grandchildren. I find it interesting that you feel you are the exception in the school system, I find that you would be the norm and the tut tutters the exception.

then one or two more generations should do it.

No, Marty, then one or two more generations is the earliest we could expect it to happen. Except that, as noted, blacks also face the hurdle of having a substantial part of the population which is heavily culturally invested in keeping them out.

That portion is declining. But it is declining very slowly. And if you want an index of how large it still is, a first estimate would be the number of "birthers" out there. They get worked up about a black man who, they say, shouldn't be President because he wasn't born here (except he was). But are utterly silent about a couple of white men (McCain and Cruz) who might be President and who definitively were not born here. (And yes, because their parents were American citizens, they are eligible. Just as Obama would be, regardless of where he was born.) People can oppose Obama for lots of reason. But they are birthers for racist reasons, nothing more. And until those numbers drop, the integration of blacks will be on hold in large parts of the country.

@sapient--

i appreciate your thoughts. most days i celebrate those amazing bundles of possibilities that are my grandsons but when things like what happened to trayvon martin or michael brown come along i worry for them because they resemble those guys more than they do ethan couch or joseph houseman and i know that life carries more dangers for them than they did for me or my sons because of the color of their skin.

In reverse order
And yes you are trying to catch me out. Sort of irritating but that's just you

Marty, I can only go by what you write, and what you write suggests that you only went back to look at TNC after being prompted.

The misdirection in this case comes from making it into this discussion.

Also, realizing that you didn't bring this into the discussion, don't try and suggest that we did either. We both know who brought it in and when I bounced him, I get told by McT that IO just made the mistake of speaking more honestly than TNC (who is not here). The implication is that we tried to follow our posting rules and somehow, we are being intolerant by not permitting IO to speak his mind.

Setting aside the fact that you don't know he was fighting with a cop (I'm trying to think of what scenario has a cop car drive up to two people in a suburban street and one of the guys walking reaches in the car to start a fight) and the question of walking down a suburban street is such a threat to the public order that a cop needs to shoot someone, if you don't realize that phrases like

African Americans can call the cops just like everyone else in America.

These lessons are fruitless, teaching actual respect is different than teaching them to fear.

The slightest respect, for drivers trying to use the street and then the police, the most minimal respect, would have avoided that death.

Seem straight out racist. Just because you attribute it to 'black culture' (without the slightest acknowledgement of how 'white culture' helped create 'black culture' with the war on drugs, defunding inner city education, and white flight) doesn't make the racism go away.

A small aside, I'm headed to Kyrgyzstan for 10 days from tomorrow morning, so I won't be able to provide my usual tit for tat. Apologies in advance.

McT, thanks for the message, I was worried I had run you off. If you would like the poisoned chalice of a guest post, go for it, Use the mail contact under the kitty

Not a chance. These colors don't run, baby! It's the damn day job. You'd think I'd get to slow down a bit in my dotage, but apparently not. A guest post might be fun--same topic? Inflammatory!

I am not certain, lj, what you could possibly find in those three sentences that approaches racism. I did run across this quote in reading from another thread that I think fits here:

"In one sense [Stephen Jay] Gould has been proved right, though not in the way he would have wanted. His distortion of Morton’s data reveals how strongly held ideological beliefs – in this case not racism but anti-racism – can persuade one to see what one wants to see among the thicket of facts." —Kenan Malik, “The Science of Seeing What You Want To See”

Your confirmation bias on this topic is extraordinarily well developed.

Lastly, and really the only one that is important, the very nature of societies dismissal of any white person as someone a black person might emulate is the problem in black society. Why can't Kennedy be a hero or example for a black child every bit as much as
Obama? Why are only black people heroes to black people? Because they are taught by their parents that they are different. That being black means being different. Not by society, by their parents

I'm not sure that being told they are different by their parents excludes being told the same by society.

And I suspect the messages have a somewhat different valence in the two cases.

Also, as a point of interest, many homes of blacks of a certain age have a portrait of Kennedy in them.

All of that said, IMO you are asking relevant questions. You're speaking from your own experience and understanding of the situation.

Coates does the same, you apparently are simply not open to what he's saying.

Also, for the record and FWIW, yes, I live in a very very white town, and work in a very very white industry. I also participate in an art that was created by American blacks, and through that involvement have developed an empathetic interest in their history and experience.

I'm not making any claims, whatsoever, about "speaking for the black experience", nor am I making any claims whatsoever about having any kind of "street cred" when it comes to issues of race.

I see that Michael Brown's body was left on the street for four hours after he was shot, and I don't see that happening to white people. Regardless of whether they stole a cigar or not.

Multiply that by thousands of other examples, and it occurs to me that the experience of being black in this country is not the same as not being black.

And not because black parents are "sending the wrong message" to their kids. Because they simply are not treated the same by the rest of us.

As I understand his writing, Coates is not trying to solve the intractable puzzle of race in the US, and he's not trying to understand every side and point of view. He's trying to understand and articulate *his own* experience and point of view.

To dismiss what he has to say is to ignore the experience and perspective of a hell of a lot of folks.

"Has something of value to say" is not the same as "I agree with him".

McT, go for it, if you dare/care/[other words that rhyme and actually fit]!

Marty, you are telling people that lessons are fruitless because they are members of black culture which judges them on their race rather than on who they are. That's racist

You are assuming that Michael Brown's lack of respect led to his death suggests that he wasn't deferential enough to the powers that be. Somehow deference is what a young black person should do. That's racist

You are assuming that African Americans have the same experience and therefore can call on the same protections of society suggests a blindness that can only come if you fail to acknowledge the different experiences of African Americans. That seems to deny all of the data that has been tossed around here, which seems racist.

You don't think they are, but every one of those examples judges people by the color of their skin. You may think that you would feel the same if they were red or yellow or blue, so therefore you are not being racist, but that's actually not how it works.

I'm also not sure how a quote from Kenan Malik about Stephen Jay Gould discussing Gould's book The Mismeasure of Man is at all relevant. I suppose you will think it is par for the course, but I will point out that I really doubt you've read either Gould or Malik, it is just that this quote seemed to be a nice way to talk about confirmation bias, as well as get in a shot at me, without you realizing what Malik is actually pointing out. I realize that you never add links, so the link is here for those who might be interested in seeing the whole thing. You seem to have missed this

Modern day scientific racists, such as Philippe J Rushton, seized upon Michael’s paper as a stick with which to beat Gould and to proclaim the rightness of their own bizarre racial theories.

which sounds a lot like what you are doing with Malik.

And it closes with this.

What their paper reveals is that the social embeddedness of science is both a weakness and a strength. Scientists live in particular societies, and are shaped by particular cultures. The questions they ask about the world and the interpretations they place on their data are inevitably formed by cultural attitudes, needs and possibilities. Because scientific practice is socially bound, it is open to ideological corruption. But it is also the social embeddedness of science that provides the means to combat such corruption. The weapons we need to defend scientific objectivity are themselves social practices: an open society, the encouragement of free debate, a skepticism of accepting truth on authority, a willingness to question received wisdom, an acknowledgement of the political independence of scientific research.

I'm not trying to talk down to you, but it seems like you don't understand this (or just didn't read it, your pull quote confirming what you knew in your heart of hearts), but it's actually a pretty telling refutation of your stance. I believe that you think that "black culture" is responsible for the state of black America, but you think that 'black culture' is basically a substitute for genetics. But as Malik points out, cultures are socially embedded and they can only change when they are given things like "an open society, the encouragement of free debate, a skepticism of accepting truth on authority, a willingness to question received wisdom, an acknowledgement of the political independence" Yet you refuse to accept that blacks are not given those things. Open society? Encouragement of free debate? Skepticism of accepting truth on authority? Willingness to quest received wisdom? An acknowledgement of independence? That 0 for 5. Yet somehow, it's the black folks fault.

You feel like you pulled a gotcha on Gould and therefore me, which then somehow proves your point, but I don't think you understand what Malik is trying to say, nor are you interested in understanding it. You are just digging up quotes and scattering them like candy from a busted piñata. Sure, you might get in a good hit or two, but it's not from understanding what you want to say, it's from wild flailing while you are blindfolded. As russell says, you aren't really open to any experience that might contradict yours and you certainly aren't going to go into details. I find it an embarrassing place to be, but it seems to be where you like to camp out.

lj, I don't really do gotcha's, that's your bailiwick. I actually AM open to other peoples experience, I am NOT open to people who discount everyone else's experience, TNC.

"Somehow deference is what a young black person should do. "

Without a blow by blow, this represents where you are missing the point, I believe deference is what EVERY young person should do. There is no way to be less racist.

I cut lots out of the parts I quoted from Malik because I thought the wee bit was well stated as applied to you. Not that the total research supported any part of my view except your extraordinary ability to invent racism where none exists.

russell,

My view of TNC is based on the fact that at one point he was one of my 6 RSS feeds (along with Andrew Sullivan who is also no longer on the list). In between some interesting perspective occasionally he became more radicalized, what I found more racist and less open to other ideas in his writing' and so a few years ago I quit reading him. That leaves me with limited knowledge of what he has written since then, but those things that have been linked to provide me with no reason to change my mind.

Everyone, even I, has made a premature decision on the Michael Brown case. There is lots of evidence he isn't a great guy, there is no evidence the cop did anything wrong, but he didn't seem to do anything worth dying over.

And then comes the "thousands of examples" of black people getting shot by cops, there are thousands of examples of white guys getting shot by cops, but that's not news. Each of those incidents has its own story, and cant be lumped together to excuse behavior that would be unacceptable under any other circumstance.

That's my experience. After being an outspoken advocate for Civil Rights for more than 40 years, I am looking for the white folk to continue to improve and black folk to take some responsibility. I only see half of that.

Marty, it's fine to believe that all young people should be more deferential. All the evidence indicates that they won't be, but believing that they should is fine. (Even tradditional.)

But the difference is in what happens when a young person is not. If he is white, chances are he gets nothing more than a slap on the wrist. At most, arrested for something -- and the charges probably get dropped unless he actually injures the police officer.

But if he is black, he is far more likely to get arrested . . . and the charges do not get dropped. And his "at most" ends up like Mr Brown. Dead.

Refusing to recognizing that may not strictly fit the definition of racism. But it comes pretty darn close.

wj,

I cant even logically process the leaps in what you have said. Which isn't meant to criticize you, its meant to point out there is NOTHING racist about having equal expectations of young men.

Mr Brown robbed a store, threatened the clerk and then walked down the middle of a street blocking traffic, then attacked a cop. No white guy gets a slap on the wrist for that, and is quite likely to be dead.

lj, I don't really do gotcha's, that's your bailiwick.

Well, that whole notion of cutting out a small chunk while failing to acknowledge Malik's point about the importance of the embeddedness of cultures seems to suggest a gotcha, but maybe you just don't understand what Malik is saying.

your extraordinary ability to invent racism where none exists
And like Colbert's character saying he doesn't see race, you are going to tell us you take the Ferguson test and pass cause you are arguing for all young people to be deferent, not just blacks.

Stan’s Dad is not an I-hate-black-people kind of racist, and undoubtedly he would be offended to be described as any kind of racist at all. In most ways, he’s a fairly typical middle-class white parent. He didn’t wake up that morning thinking, “I’m going to say ‘nigger’ today, and don’t let anybody try to stop me.” He knows what attitudes and behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in today’s society, and he does his best to pretend that his mind really works that way.

But it just doesn’t. Whatever his conscious intentions, his mental reflexes have been passed down from another era, when racism was as common as air.

Me pointing this out about you shouldn't be taken as me claiming that I am unlike you. The only difference is that I acknowledge that the word comes to mind but you aruge that it never crosses yours. I mean, it is possible, but I just don't believe it.

I don't think this makes me morally superior, it just means that until you figure this out, when we get in these conversations, people are going to point out twhat you are overlooking and you are going to get your feelings hurt and say things like 'that's unnecessary'.

At any rate, I didn't come into this conversation looking to call you or anyone else out. But when I try to tamp things down and you suggest that I'm kicking IO out cause I'm intolerant, it kinda puts a hole in your need to be deferent argument.

"I mean, it is possible, but I just don't believe it. "

Never? That would be ludicrous, but it is years between times. I am not sure what your point is, that there is simply no chance that anyone is not racist?

I have my prejudices, some are race based, I firmly believe that Mexicans work harder and complain less than blacks in warehouse work. So that's a subset of all Mexicans and all blacks based on my direct experience working in the warehouse with them.

I suspect by that broad definition that Gary's reference years ago to everyone's a little racist is appropriate.

I didn't say that there was anything racist about having equal expectations. In fact, I was trying to say that there was not. (Apologies that I was unclear.)

But regardless of the specifics of Mr Brown's case (which are still far from certain), it is a fact that black young men do not get equal treatment for equal behavior. Sass a police officer? Definitely not going to get equal treatment. Just walking down the street? Not getting equal treatment there either. (Check out the statistics on the numbers of young, or even not so young, men stopped. And the statistics on what fraction of those stopped actually are found in violation of the law. FYI, the whites that are stopped are far more likely to have actually been engageing in something illegal.)

You might also be interested in this story from here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Do you really believe that a white firefighter, with kids in tow, would have been treated the same? Really?

i find it interesting that your long-term view of tnc is that he has become more radicalized. my long-term view is that he has become less hopeful and more realistic.

i see examples of racism in action from a position of white privilege on an almost daily basis. simply in terms of disciplinary actions i see young white men in a school setting being given numerous second chances which young black men never get. i've had to go to the office after incidents involving a black child and a white child in which it was the white child who initiated and escalated the incident but it was the black child who was written up so that i could to clarify to the principal or the assistant principal who was at fault in the incident and seen the black child get punished despite the intervention.

the largest difference between the two of us is that i recognize the extent of the privilege into which i have been born and i have my eyes open to the damage caused by unacknowledged privilege in the power relations between the races and the sexes. mayhap i'm wrong but it seems that you really have no clue and are impervious to any evidence anyone offers to you.

I am not sure what your point is, that there is simply no chance that anyone is not racist?

That Ferguson text link had a quote at the bottom from this essay

Where do you locate yourself in these stories? Who do you see as dangerous, and who is trustworthy? Where do you locate safety? What would safety look like for the people of Ferguson now, for instance? As a white person in the U.S., I am conditioned from birth to see whiteness as safety -- white neighborhoods, white people, white authority figures. My lived experience, my conversations with people of color, and my study of history have shown me over and over that this is a wild and cruel perversion of the truth. But the cultural conditioning is strong. Unless I fight it every day, white superiority seeps into my brain in slow, almost undetectable ways.

When you say I am seeing racism where _none_ exists, you are positive? You go years without thinking of it, but how often do you work with black people. How often are you put in a situation where you would be the minority and they would be the majority? How many times to you have to defer to a black person? Given the separatedness of black and white society, I imagine not ever. You've come back and quoted Gary saying that everyone is a bit racist, so it seems that you are giving up on your assertion that your quotient, when talking about racial unrest in Ferguson, is none. But you spin out a story about Michael Brown that is a collage of forged xrays, anonymous leaks and ass-covering and you swallow it hook line and sinker. So while there may be a theoretical possibility that there is a American who is not racist, it ain't me and it definitely ain't you.

I am looking for the white folk to continue to improve and black folk to take some responsibility. I only see half of that.

yes, you speak as if you only see half of that.

I think there's much you're missing, on both sides of the equation.

I'm not going to try to talk you into a different point of view, that's just mine.

i find it interesting that your long-term view of tnc is that he has become more radicalized. my long-term view is that he has become less hopeful and more realistic.

Yes, that's my take as well.

Marty:

I've been trying to avoid piling on, but wanted to touch on this:

The slightest respect, for drivers trying to use the street and then the police, the most minimal respect, would have avoided that death. Any other discussion is academic and perhaps will get full circle to, he was taught to not respect the cops. Any cop.

That the respect aspect keeps being brought up bothers me. 'Respect' given to the officer is completely tangential to the problem. Wilson was either justified in use of lethal force or he wasn't. There are guidelines for the use of deadly force, and being disrespected is not sufficient reason. Whether Brown was meek and deferential or a raging asshole should not enter into a decision to use deadly force.

You might argue its prudent to be polite and helpful to officers, and that that might help keep a situation from escalating. Granted. But given that it was an interaction between an unarmed teenager and an experienced officer sworn to serve and protect a community, I place more responsibility for the situation getting out of hand on the officer. As a corollary, I care very little about how respectful Brown was.

Sunil Dutta recently wrote a column charmingly titled "I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me."(http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/19/im-a-cop-if-you-dont-want-to-get-hurt-dont-challenge-me/ ).

In it, he said the following:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you.

I can think of very similar comments coming out of the mouth of a mugger, or accompanying an ISIL video.

One of the problems with this type of thinking (Brown should have shown more respect to Wilson; do what the officer tells you, etc) is that it normalizes these questions being asked after a shooting: Why wasn't he more respectful? Why was he in the street and not the sidewalk?

And the juxtaposition between those questions and someone being shot to death is striking to me.

But those seem to be the questions asked that lead to answers like "black culture". A concept I am completely unconvinced by, for many reasons.

I'd ask you to consider that if "black culture" is the driving factor in the apparent racial disparity in our justice system, why is there also a racial disparity in wrongful convictions?

http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/What_Wrongful_Convictions_Teach_Us_About_Racial_Inequality.php

Finally, speaking of wrongful convictions, some good news, if far to late:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/03/us/2-convicted-in-1983-north-carolina-murder-freed-after-dna-tests.html?hpw&rref=us&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=1

Thompson, that last story does raise a question in my mind. We keep seeing convictions, especially for things like rape, getting overturned on DNA evidence. But how many other wrongful convictions are there, where DNA evidence is not available? Somehow, I am having trouble believing that cases with DNA evidence available (for after the fact checking) are the only ones where there are problems.

wj:

That is the problem: beyond our court system, we have no ways of determining guilt. If we had a rigorous method for determining guilt and innocence, I'd hope we would already be using it.

I think the good that comes out of things like the innocence project is not just that some innocents are given back (what's left of) their lives.

But also that it points to flawed system. These men were arrested by the police, prosecuted by a DA, provided an attorney, heard by impartial judges, and still slipped through.

Every one of those is in theory a check against what happened to them. But all of those checks failed.

It should force us to reconsider how our criminal justice system works at all levels.

"And the juxtaposition between those questions and someone being shot to death is striking to me."

Yes because you skip the part where he then attacks the cop.

It should force us to reconsider how our criminal justice system works at all levels.

As always, Dahlia Lithwick has excellent commentary on this issue.

i find it interesting that your long-term view of tnc is that he has become more radicalized. my long-term view is that he has become less hopeful and more realistic.

Yes. Realistic to the point of despondency and despair...not the characteristics of a "radical" by any means.

As I parse through the comments, it appears the disagreement boils down to this:

Marty/McKinney: We observe black poverty and social "pathologies" due to the defective nature of "black culture". This defective culture is passed down through the generations (or from one unwed mother to another if you will). The way to alleviate the poverty and crime is to find incentives to get blacks to shed their cultural pathologies, break these generational linkages, and, given the legislative successes of the 1960's all will be well in the near future. Any impact due to white racism is no longer a factor of any importance to explain the black community's plight.

Bobbyp and possibly others: The observed poverty of the black communities is due to not only past white racism, but ongoing segregation (which we see), and other examples of widespread white racist behavior (also commonly documented and quantified). Segregation and economic discrimination are the major cause of the "pathologies" offered up repeatedly by white race apologists. Even the liberal New Deal policies were, in effect, affirmative action for whites. That was not that long ago, and those effects echo down to the present. This racism prevents blacks from accumulating capital, or "progressing" as some might say.

That about right?

Marty:

Yes because you skip the part where he then attacks the cop.

There are several things going on in this story, and I'm trying to pull out one thread. At the moment, I was trying to focus on the "respect" meme that has been part of the debate. I attempted to suggest that it isn't a relevant part of the discussion.

You are correct, I glossed over some details of the incident with a single phrase:

Wilson was either justified in use of lethal force or he wasn't.

I did that for a few reasons. It wasn't really the point I was trying to make, for one. But I'm happy to expand on it.

First of all, we know very little about what happened. We have a police description, a witness description, and some physical evidence (autopsy, recording, etc). Neither account squares perfectly with the physical evidence, suggesting we don't know what happened.

It is possible, Brown attacked the officer with very little provocation. It could be, fearing for his life, the officer correctly made a decision to use lethal force. I find that unlikely, for reasons we can go into if you'd like.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, Brown viciously assaulted Wilson after he was asked politely to get off the street. What's the relevance of "respect"? What's the relevance of him being on the street? The justification for lethal force is the assault, and Wilson's fear of death or severe injury.

Yet the argument is frequently made, including by you, that lack of respect was an issue. In Dutta's view, lack of cooperation.

Framing the issue like that leads to questions such as is Brown a criminal? Why is he a criminal? What is his upbringing? What kind of guy he is?

and away from questions like was force justified? Did the officer follow use of force guidelines? Why did he fear for his life or grievous harm? And, importantly, did he and his department follow appropriate standards reporting and investigating the incident?

Which gets me back to another reason I didn't bring up the details of encounter. We don't know them with any assurance, because Wilson and/or Ferguson PD didn't really see fit to make a detailed report, get witness statements, etc, all the basic things you would expect with any homicide, even a justified one.

That alone is incredibly alarming to me, even in the (IMHO, unlikely) case that Wilson was fully justified in the shooting.

I hate to sound utterly apathetic, but I have reached this stage in life where I look at writers as people with opinions, some of which are shallow and ill-informed, and some not.

TNC is one of the latter. Which is not to say that I reflexively agree with the guy. It's that he occasionally gives me something to think about. That there's no obvious solution to many of the problems he poses is, in my opinion, not that big of an issue.

I disagree with the suggestion of reparations, for instance. But the desire for some kind of justice is one that I have some listening for. A sympathetic ear, if you will. I just don't think every injustice can be rectified, because they can't all be. A lot of them can't possibly be.

Even given that, though: now what? is a question worthy of consideration.

bobbyp,

I would parse the words differently, I wouldn't use black culture because I think the specifics can be identified, etc. But I think this:

Any impact due to white racism is no longer a factor of any importance to explain the black community's plight.
is where we diverge. I think that white racism has and will play a role. I think black racism, or black reaction to white racism if that phraseology is more comfortable, has become an equal or greater limitation. White racism isn't going away, it will exist, it will have a negative pov, it exists in societies centuries older than ours. We fought to make its impact illegal, we cant outlaw it, only its immediate impacts. Beyond that the consistent exercise of those protections within the bounds of appropriate behavior builds friends and will, over time, break the cycle.

Maybe even that isn't clear enough. As a young man I was certain that all these things would be resolved in my lifetime and hope would create goodwill toward all men. Perhaps TNC is not radicalized, perhaps it is disillusioned. Maybe he is searching for a reason to hope. If that is where he is, then we are much closer than I might imagine.

Yes because you skip the part where he then attacks the cop.

For the record - if I understand the state of the issue correctly, the actual sequence of events remains unclear.

In other words, unless I misunderstand what's known and not known as of now, whether he attacked the cop or not is unclear.

I doubt that anyone questions the right of a police officer to respond to an attack with deadly force if he or she deems it necessary.

Whether that was the situation is basically the open question in this case. The conflicting testimony of the various witnesses vs. what the cops say doesn't help, nor does the Ferguson PD's less-than-forthcoming handling of what information they do have.

I'm fine with letting the FBI and the DOJ sort it.

Which is not to say that I reflexively agree with the guy.

Nor I.

It's that he occasionally gives me something to think about.

For me, it's most times I read him.

That there's no obvious solution to many of the problems he poses is, in my opinion, not that big of an issue.

I would go somewhat further than this and say that there's likely no complete and comprehensive solution, obvious or otherwise, to the issues he raises, but that progress requires hearing what other folks have to say, whether we agree with it or not.

@marty--

" Perhaps TNC is not radicalized, perhaps it is disillusioned. Maybe he is searching for a reason to hope. If that is where he is, then we are much closer than I might imagine."

with that statement you have demonstrated that you are no brett bellmore because he would never question a premise of anything he had already written and you have in many ways redeemd yourself as an interlocutor in this conversation with that remark. i know that there is much still that seperates us but there is hope for communication.

i wanted to give you an example of two things in one anecdote. at my school we are required this year to document 9 positive parent contacts per 9 weeks grading period. this is an administrative fad that crops up every 6-9 years and this is the third time i've come across it in my 20 year career. i'm just not the kind of person to be able to do a fake call so i've only been doing contacts only with those parents of children i can sincerely praise for actual reasons i can easily point to. so today i called a mother of a black child after school. when she answered the phone i asked for the mother of this particular child and immediately the voice became freighted with concern and suspicion when she said that i was peaking to her. the voice became tinged with dread when i identified myself as one of her daughter's teachers. when i began expressing my admiration for her daughter's leadership skills and great work ethic the woman's voice almost broke with a mix of pleasure and surprise. as we finished the conversation she thanked me profusely saying she had never gotten a call like that from a teacher before and telling me how hard she had tried to raise her daughter right. when i ended by suggesting her daughter become involved with our student council to help her refine her leadership qualities she came right out and said that she had never talked to a white teacher who had seen those qualities in her daughter or been able to get past her girl's very ethnic name.

my points are two-fold--

1. it's not just the massive discrimination black americans have faced in the 150 years since slavery but also the sheer weight of all the accumulated indignities and slights built into our system that oppress them.

2. i can only control my own actions, i can only influence those with whom i communicate, and i can only vote for those candidates whose policies move most in the direction of equality and equity. one middle aged white man can't change the world by himself but he can improve his little corner of it one piece at a time and it is through the collective actions of individuals that progress can occur. i encourage you all to let your actions match what you would claim to.

"The fact that I wanted to be a scientist, an astrophysicist was, hands down, the path of most resistance"

Neil deGrasse Tyson from the 1:01:30 mark.

Something I think is really ironic here:

We've had plenty of discussions here about the "disappointment" in Barack Obama. How he's not "progressive" enough, or how he's way too hawkish, or how he didn't "work hard enough" (sound familiar) for single payer healthcare, or how his work with Congress to bring the country out of the recession was insufficient, too weak.

And many people here reserved their right to criticize the President, the powerful privileged President, who held all of the cards.

You know what? I have seen it as racism. Or, at least, a reluctance to support the reversal of racism. Because this African-American President has done almost everything right. [But he could have been Lyndon Johnson, dammit! He could have been Hubert Humphrey, dammit! He could have been more McGovernlike, danmmit!]

Says me, the sock puppet.

Obama could have been Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln all rolled into one. And the right would have trashed him incessently, while the left complained that he should have done lots more.

Some of those complaints would be issue based. But far far more of them (on both sides) would have been race based. Witness the reactions, also on both sides, to even those Presidents that they disagreed with, or agreed with, vigorously in the past.

"You know what? I have seen it as racism"

Good lord, you just can't help yourself, can you? Every criticism of Obama, no matter what inspires it, ranging from racist idiots who think he's Kenyan to people who think the drone assassination program is immoral--it's all the same thing. Didn't work hard enough for single payer--yeah, sure, the people who made that critique (I don't happen to agree with it) were really using a racist trope. Leave it to you, sapient, to drag the argument into this absurd direction. Every single issue in the universe ultimately boils down to whether one is a supporter of Obama in all possible respects. Even TNC has criticized Obama. Maybe he's a racist after all.

That's all I'll say--I was tempted to post a link to someone who just criticized Obama in sensible ways, but I won't, because this thread isn't about Obama and what sorts of criticisms one can legitimately make of his presidency.

I think you can make a case that at least some of those criticizing Obama from the left are doing so based on race. Obama, objectively, is a center-right politician. But the belief (from either end of the political spectrum) that all blacks must be liberals is clearly present. For the right, anything he does must be part of the "liberal agenda" -- even when it is something that the right has been championing. For the left, any time that he fails to do something that they want, it is betrayal -- because regardless of what he has been saying all along, he simply must agree with them.

"But the belief (from either end of the political spectrum) that all blacks must be liberals is clearly present."

Among stupid people, perhaps.

"For the left, any time that he fails to do something that they want, it is betrayal -- because regardless of what he has been saying all along, he simply must agree with them."

Well, again, if you're talking about stupid people, sure. There was a lot of absurdly heightened significance given to his election which no one could have lived up to. He himself seemed to think he was going to unify the country. But yes, with some of Obama's critics, there were people who read his books and imagined that he was some sort of liberal demigod because his mixed racial background and history would give him insights that no other President had ever had. It should have been obvious that he wasn't who they imagined he was, and their sense of betrayal was a self-inflicted one.

I think most of Obama's critics on the left would be even more critical of a President Clinton if she had won, and I'm already dreading her Presidency if she wins in 2016, at least on foreign policy issues, where she is demonstrably more hawkish than Obama. This in spite of the fact that I'll vote for her if she gets the nomination.

If you want to define those people as stupid, I can't really disagree with you. But I would note that there seem a rather large (and vocal) number of them. (Although I suppose some of the noise could be coming from those who know better, but see a political advantage from appearing to believe nonsense.)

"Some of those complaints would be issue based. But far far more of them (on both sides) would have been race based. Witness the reactions, also on both sides, to even those Presidents that they disagreed with, or agreed with, vigorously in the past."

I don't get what you're saying. The fact is that Bill Clinton also got trashed (and a little more than that--I seem to recall an impeachment) during his term and he too reached out to the right. He was vilified by the right and also by many on the left for various reasons. I know someone once rather absurdly said Clinton was our first black President, but I don't think that's why he was so harshly criticized. He was trashed by the right because Newt and others thought it was the way to win more power for their side. He was attacked by the left for not being very leftish. I could give you my reasons, but won't.

People who think that the vilification of Obama is somehow unique must be forgetting things like the fact that Hillary Clinton was accused of murdering Vince Foster. The vilification of Obama has a racial edge to it on the right, but then, the vilification of Hillary had a misogynist tone to it and it really didn't matter that much that Bill himself was a white Southern boy--the right hated him too.

I'm hoping someone swings this thread back to the original topic--clearly I don't have the willpower to do it.

"If you want to define those people as stupid, I can't really disagree with you. But I would note that there seem a rather large (and vocal) number of them. "

One of my friends (now deceased) had this intense adoration of Obama in 2008--I really can't describe it any other way. He wasn't stupid--far from it--, so yes, I was being harsh, but his beliefs seemed to me to be like a teenager with a bad crush. A few years into Obama's Presidency, by 2010 or 2011, he realized that Obama wasn't in fact the embodiment of all progressive left wisdom and he became, if anything, a harsher critic of Obama than I ever was. So that was unrequited love, I suppose. It was "race based" maybe in the sense that Obama's race is part of why people imagined him as some sort of ideal uber-politician, the man who because of his background understood the global poor and America's divisions and agreed with everything the progressive left happened to think on a given subject.

I don't know how many people on Obama's left are actually like that--embittered former lovers. I think he's good on some things, okay on others, terrible on still others. I only occasionally see people still getting into the question of whether Obama is a great hero or a great betrayer, though in fact I did just see a blogger I like revisit the whole thing. Warren is the new idol (and I've already beaten the rush to disillusionment, being disgusted by comments she made about Gaza. I'll vote for her if she runs.)

Yes, Clinton got trashed from the right. But he got far, far more cooperation from the Republicans in Congress than Obama ever has. Both before and after the impeachment. They didn't like Clinton, but the level of animosity was nothing like what Obama has faced from day one.

As for the impeachment, assume for the sake of discussion that there was some basis for it (which I don't believe, but...). Now consider what would have happened to Obama if there had been the slightest sliver of similar behavior. (My personal opinion is that one of the greatest frustrations on the right with Obama is that his personal life is some totally lacking in anything that they can attack him for. Not to mention that his personal behavior is so much like the family values that their politicians talk so much about . . . and so often fail to exhibit themselves.)

Well, yes, if Obama ever had a Monica Lewinsky--I can't even begin to imagine what Fox News would do with that, let alone the nastier corners of the blogosphere. Fortunately Obama really does seem to have a very strong marriage.

Changing the subject back to the subject, here's a New Yorker piece about racial disparities in the criminal justice system, with some praise for what Eric Holder is doing to reduce them--

link

You know what? I have seen it as racism.

Some is, some isn't. IMO.

But the belief (from either end of the political spectrum) that all blacks must be liberals is clearly present.

?!?!?

russell, if that means you don't understand, I'm not sure why not. (At least, when I use that "?!?!?" I mean "What kind of idea is that???" Did you mean something else?)

Have you not noticed that, even when Obama does something conservatives have invented (the ACA comes to mind), he gets denounced as a socialist? Not just as too liberal, but as a socialist? (Vs when Clinton did something, there were objections, and accusations of excessive liberalism and creeping big governement. But IIRC accusations of his being a socialist didn't happen.)

Or have you not noticed that liberals assume that Obama must be a liberal, too? Even though his statements, and his record in office, don't really support that. Which IMHO is why they are unhappy that he didn't go for single (government) payer in the ACA. And was late getting to support of gay marriage. And hasn't reined in the NSA's activities. Etc. Etc. It isn't just that they wish he was acting more liberal, though of course they do. They appear to think that he should be more liberal himself.

And, in both cases, I submit that his race is what is driving the expectation of what his positions on the issues should be. At least, I can't see any other obvious cause -- although I am open to suggestions.

"At least, I can't see any other obvious cause -- although I am open to suggestions"

Perhaps as the titular head of the Democrat Party they expect him to be in tune with their view of what the party stands for, from both sides I think you are really stretching on both ends to assign broad based racism for people who disagree with him. Lets not forget that in the election he won the Republicans were excoriated and called all kinds of names over Iraq and torture and Abu Ghraib, tied to Cheney etc. The preceding two years they were hammered every day with negative ads. They were not going to be cooperative with Obama after that. Period. Then during his first term, he continued to leverage that "Bush" trope at every turn. At some point you need to grasp that people, especially on the right, don't like him. It has Nothing to do with his race.

I think there was the sense on the left that he had walked the tight rope to seem more moderate to get elected, and that he would move left after the election. His history in Illinois should have led them to question that assumption. All of his elections relyed on a base of white wealthy voters who were enamored with his intellectual approach. He was certainly never a McCarthy Democrat.

At least, I can't see any other obvious cause -- although I am open to suggestions.

I think Marty's right, it's more that he's a (D) president, and less that he's black.

My ?!?!?! was just an expression of my surprise that folks would assume that black = liberal. I've always understood that the black community trends kind of conservative, at least as regards social issues.

They tend to vote (D) because they are not convinced the (R) public policies will work in their favor or interests.

As anyone in the commonwealth of MA can tell you, (D) does not necessarily mean liberal.

I'm not surprised that, in Massachusettes, D does not necessarily mean liberal. What I see in California is that R has come to mean reactionary, far more often than merely conservative. As a result of which, some of the Democrats here are pretty conservative -- as in they would have been Republicans, even as recently as the 1980s.

My view that a lot of liberals just assume that blacks (excepting a handful of "house blacks" of course) will be liberals too comes from two things:
- the liberals I know (and being in the San Francisco area, I know quite a few.)
- the local and state liberal politicians whose comments I get to observe.
It seems, at least here, to be far more common than not.

Note that this is separate from the fact that, as you note, the black community as a whole is actually quite conservative. But consider, for example, how often you have heard liberals muttering about how they can't understand why blacks are so hostile to gays and gay marriage. After all, it is (or was some years ago) basically a liberal position. So why weren't blacks on board? The liberals I know seem to find that quite confusing.

As for opposition to Obama, I don't disagree that there are lots of people who oppose him merely because of his party. (Just as there are a lot who oppose him on some issues, regardless of party.) But I was trying to look at those who go beyond that.

People opposed Clinton on those bases. Just as people also opposed Reagan on those bases. But neither got the level of hostility, or across-the-board resistance, from their opponents that Obama has gotten from the right. And neither did Clinton (at least as I recall) get the kind of personal attacks (except for specific personal misbehavior, of course) that Obama has.

There was a lot of absurdly heightened significance given to his election which no one could have lived up to.

Since this thread has been a discussion about race, and lingering, virulent racism, the fact that an African-American president was elected in the United States despite that reality is a matter of huge significance to a lot of people. In fact, it can't be overstated how significant it has been to some people.

wj:

Not to completely discount racism as to why Obama gets so much crap, but two other things to consider:

(1) Both parties have gotten far more polarized, even if you only consider a decade or so of time passing. You take two center-left presidents, the 2010 president is going to be further from the Ds and Rs than the 1994 president, purely because the wings of both parties have stretched out.

(2) The internet. The internet was around in Clinton's time, sure, but its a whole lot more accessible now. I think the internet can enable extremism, and extreme pushback, in many ways. Frex, the formation of echo chambers on fairly extremist sites.

Again, not saying there is not a racist component to the pushback on Obama, but race is hardly the only factor that's different between Obama and Clinton.

thompson, fair enough. Both have doubtless contributed.

Although in the case of polarization, I wonder how much is cause and how much effect. That is, how much of the flack Obama has gotten was due to polarization, vs how much of the increased polarization was due to Obama being black?

Probably have to do some serious sociological/psychological research to find an answer to that....

wj,

As a perspective, I dislike Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid much more than I dislike Obama. The polarization is not entirely and even may not be primarily, focused on the President. I suspect a lot of people don't like Boehnor and McConnell and Rand Paul and Paul Ryan. Well there is lots of polarization that has nothing directly to do with Tb President.

Marty, I entirely agree that part of the polarization has to do with other actors. Just as dislike of Newt Gingrich as a person contributed to polarization in the 90s.

The question in my mind is, how much?

"Just as dislike of Newt Gingrich as a person contributed to polarization in the 90s."

I'd put it differently--I think Newt Gingrich practically invented the polarization we see in politics today.

"And neither did Clinton (at least as I recall) get the kind of personal attacks (except for specific personal misbehavior, of course) that Obama has."

Hillary got a lot of personal attacks--wasn't there a Congressman from Indiana who shot a canteloupe in an attempt to figure out how HRC murdered Vince Foster? Answering my own question via the miracle of google, yes there was--Dan Burton. I think you might be forgetting just how crazy the 90's actually were.

And Al Gore was trashed by the mainstream press--I remember believing some of the stories myself, until Bob Somerby discredited them. (Somerby having been on a one man crusade for over a decade now exposing the sheer idiocy of some of the things said about Gore.) I've forgotten most of the stories now, but what was weird about this was it wasn't even the Republicans taking the lead--mainstream press figures, at least according to Somerby.

If HRC had won in 2008, she'd be on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism from both the left and the right. Some of it would have misogynist overtones. It was guaranteed that whoever the Democrat was that won in 2008, he or she would be too far to the right for many lefties, and nothing he or she did would please the Republicans.

If HRC had won in 2008, she'd be on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism from both the left and the right. Some of it would have misogynist overtones.

I actually expect there would have been more overt or nearly-overt misogyny from the left for HRC than there's been racism for Obama, simply because misogyny is less taboo in the mainstream left than racism.

That is, how much of the flack Obama has gotten was due to polarization, vs how much of the increased polarization was due to Obama being black?

Impossible to say. But look at how polarized things were during the Clinton administration, and then during the Bush administration. It's certainly possible that this is entirely a natural progression.

But I don't believe that, because there are in fact racist people in the United States, and those people are now even more polarized. That's just fact, there.

Guessing, I'd say it's 95% natural progression and 5% racism, but it could easily be 90% and 10%. These are of course completely made-up numbers, based on nothing at all. I can say that my in-laws were already predisposed to not liking Obama's politics, and it's their racism that has them even more polarized than they'd otherwise be. My mother-in-law actually believes (and will tell you, even unasked) that Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya and is bent on destroying the country.

"I actually expect there would have been more overt or nearly-overt misogyny from the left for HRC"

I think so too. I saw some recently in the comment section at another blog. Some male commenter was (correctly) bashing HRC for her hawkish attitudes, but using some gender specific insults. A female commenter called him out on his language but he wouldn't back down and seemed clueless about the problem. Someone else (also a man) jumped in on the side of misogynist insults. I should have jumped in, but frankly chickened out--I get into enough arguments online as it is, or that was my excuse.

These are of course completely made-up numbers, based on nothing at all.

Well, this is the internet :)

More seriously, I'd sort of agree with the numbers, although I'd also say there is no way to really be sure. I'd say there is certainly some racist pushback against Obama. I'm unconvinced it is the cause of most of the criticism, etc.

Without evidence one way or the other, of course.

I actually expect there would have been more overt or nearly-overt misogyny from the left for HRC

Clinton is going to have a lot of crap shoveled her way during campaign/presidency (yeah, I'm pretty convinced she'll be the next president. I probably vote 3rd party, but I doubt anybody will field a serious contender, including the Rs).

To answer wj's question:

That is, how much of the flack Obama has gotten was due to polarization, vs how much of the increased polarization was due to Obama being black?

I'd be really skeptical that there was a dramatic increase in polarization due to Obama. Polarization has been increasing for a long time, at least according to XKCD:

http://xkcd.com/1127/large/

Not saying its impossible, but I'd want to see some evidence that the trend changed dramatically when Obama was elected. Like somebody else upthread, I'd contribute more of the polarization (on the right at least) to Newt than I would to Obama's race.

First of all, I believe in the "right-wing conspiracy" that the Clintons faced, and that some of the animosity towards Obama would be aimed at any Democrat.

But it's Interesting to me that speaking in general terms, most people here take it as a given that racism is rampant, that an African-American's day-to-day experience includes being treated as a second class citizen by some people, especially cops, and that African-Americans generally have a harder time than white privileged people. But, the minute somebody brings up the possibility that Obama, as an African-American, might be subject to racism, that possibility is minimized. I mean, what if it were Hillary Clinton, what would happen to her! I mean, there are tons of white women being shot in the street and being left to die for hours ... etc.

I'm pretty sensitive to misogyny, and I agree that Hillary Clinton has been treated badly and unfairly based on misogyny. Further, neither Obama nor Clinton is a victim, IMO, just because their spectacular abilities, in conjunction with some extraordinary fortune, has allowed them to achieve very close to their potential (although one could, of course, argue that the country's potential hasn't been realized because of the racism and misogyny that has interfered with their agendas).

That said, one cannot evaluate Obama's presidency without taking into account the symbolic importance to African-Americans of a [good, IMO brilliant] African-American president having been elected twice. But also understanding that his position vis-a-vis Congress, and his general ability to negotiate his vision for the country, is affected by his race.

Minimizing this personal drama, while championing the general cause, seems to put certain people in the SMA category, as defined in the lead post.

I do recall that Clinton faced a lot of negative comments. Including those who thought what he was doing would destroy the country. What I do not recall is any significant number of people saying that they believed that his intent was to destroy the country. Which opinion of Obama is not by any means limited to slarti's mother-in-law.

A friend of mine recently reported attending a baseball game. When he was in line, waiting for food, a man in front of him was loudly stating that he hoped that Obama and his whole family would please go back to Africa and contract Ebola.

When he got to the food stand, he politely ordered food from the African-American server.

Just a day in the life ...

Thompson, I think one of the interesting parts of that xkcd graph is how it doesn't show the Far Right of the Democratic Party (i.e. the Dixiecrats). I wonder why that is? Did the Dixiecrats have some liberal, or at least moderate, inclinations on most issues unrelated to race that I am simply unaware of?

I'd be really skeptical that there was a dramatic increase in polarization due to Obama.

I'd say it might be closer to say that the way the polarization manifested changed with Obama. In particular, the composition of the Republican Party, as the graph shows, has shifted from mostly Right or Center Right to mostly Far Right.

But I would note that, at least as I read the graph, ALL of the Republican gains in the House, from 2010 onwards, were Far Right. On the Democrats's side, gains have happened at least a much in the Center Left as the Far Left.

I seem to recall a LOT of pushback against e.g. Hillarycare. Granted there wasn't a lot of "destroying this country", but that's language that I think came into usage during the G W Bush administration.

Swords, double-edged; see also.

Just a note that I can verify at least Mr. Limbaugh referring to the Clintons as socialists during the 1990s.

I seem to recall a LOT of pushback against e.g. Hillarycare

Very true, but some more work was done, etc. Also, people were dying for healthcare, then, but more so later.

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