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July 19, 2019

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Do you really believe, He would get through that elitist polysyllabic grammar filled item without severe garbling and digression (not to forget random repetion of simpler parts)?

if i read that in Trump's whining cadence, i feel an urge to jump off the 4th floor atrium balcony down the hall from my office.

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.

And by the way, they were great people, really great, special people - in fact many people say they were heroes. Of course, they died, and as you know I like people who didn't die. I've said before that the 70s were the time of my own fight and my own heroism, and of course I'm still alive. And I'm President. You can make your own judgement about who's the greater hero.

On and on ad nauseam.

THE PARTY OF LINCOLN!!!!

Definitely needs, for plausibility, at least a couple of lines (and probably a couple of paragraphs) about how wonderful Trump thinks he is.

The revised version is historically correct. The founders and all the documents and symbols are Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Not German, not Irish, not Catholic, not black, not Hispanic, not Muslim...

Trump is the best President since Washington.

Dark humor aside, here in America we live surrounded by:

1) Racists who revel in He, Trump's racism; and
2) People who tell themselves that His "(Republican) policies" are not at all motivated by His racism.

The latter are too spineless to stand up to the former.

--TP

fwiw, I think Trump is telling the truth when he says he's not racist. That's in the sense that he doesn't actually dislike people on the basis of the colour of their skin - Clarence Thomas, Ben Carson, what's not to like. What he dislikes people for is disagreeing with him, or not telling him enough how great he is. And if they're guilty of that, he'll attack them with anything that appeals to his base.

So I don't think Trump's policies are motivated by racism. They're motivated by love of Trump.

(We see the same sort of thing with Nigel Farage. He's not racist, in the same sense, but he's deeply relaxed about appealing to voters by using scary posters of dark-skinned people.)

Yes, Trump's viewpoint (and Farage's) is grounded in an assumption that their sort of people are entitled to hereditary privilege. And their sort of people are predominately light-skinned. I'm just saying that in their own minds, that's not racist.


Pro Bono: I think Trump is telling the truth when he says he's not racist.

Aside from getting busted for racial discrimination in housing; demanding that only "short guys in yarmulkes" handle his money; refusing to apologize for his call to execute 5 black kids after they were proved innocent; championing birtherism; declaring that Mexico "sends us" rapists; calling poor black countries "shitholes"; and falling back on Norway every time he wants to mention "a country"; you're right: He, Trump is not really a racist.

But I'm curious: who should we consider worse? The asshole who is a "real" racist, or the asshole who merely acts like one?

--TP

I think Trump is telling the truth when he says he's not racist

I think Trump sincerely believes that he is not racist. Not quite the same thing.

I can't imagine Trump speaking the words in the OP. The concepts of honor and self-sacrifice that they express are beyond the scope of his experience or understanding.

I think Trump sincerely believes

I don't think the word "sincere" belongs anywhere near the word "Trump."

What russell said.

Just like his followers, Trump prefers to believe that he is not a nasty, horrible excuse for a human being. As so often with Trump, what he believes has little relationship to objective reality.

Win-win
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/07/20/some-day-turtle-may-end-up-with-trump-branded-straw-its-nose-heres-why/

my take is that he is racist, knows he's racist, and doesn't think it's wrong to be so.

why shouldn't he be leery of Mexicans? all of his news sources are filled with horror stories about them raping and ganging and drugging. why shouldn't he be leery of Muslims? he was in NYC for 9/11; he knows what they do. why shouldn't he think women are sex objects? his whole life has been filled with women who have been happy to oblige him.

he's told us exactly what and why he thinks about all of the various minorities and others and people-who-aren't-hims.

he's racist, and sexist, and if you asked him, i have no doubt he would tell you his reasons why. and it's the same racist mythology that many many other people subscribe to.

it's also cowardly and pigheaded and ignorant.

shorter me: racists usually think they're just being 'honest about things'.

But of course, neither they -- nor the media -- would ever admit to being or saying anything racist. "Racist" is, as we all know, just a terrible yet meaningless insult word that can't possibly be applied accurately to any real person or utterance. To do so would just be being uncivil and divisive.

No, no. They're just being "racial realists", saying things that might be "controversial" and "racially charged".

See also: sexist, fascist, etc.

racists usually think they're just being 'honest about things'

Yes. Which is why they don't think they are racists.

It is perhaps an odd thing to say, but I don't think we'll ever make much progress regarding race until we stop thinking of racism as a horrible personal character deficiency. It sort of can be that, but it can also be a hundred other things.

Like, a habit. A function of when and where and how you were raised. An unconscious mental tic.

A big question to unpack, and unfortunately I don't have time right now to do so. So I'll just leave it there - "put a pin in it" as the middle managers say - and return to it later.

Well, it's a great leap forward from the days of yore, when many people would proudly own their racism.

Now we just need to brand a big red R on the foreheads of the racists.

Like, a habit. A function of when and where and how you were raised. An unconscious mental tic.

And a feature of your current environment . . . as you perceive it to be. Thus, when there are very few actual immigrant refugees in your social circle, you are free to believe any and all slurs you hear about them. (And to consider the few you do happen to know, who definitely don't fit your stereotype, as "exceptions".)

Thus, when the vast majority of homosexuals were closeted, people didn't realize that they knew any. (Let alone had, God forbid, any among their relatives.) But once they started coming out of the closet in large numbers, people's stereotypes became unsustainable. There were just too many coworkers, friends and relatives who turned out to be homosexual. And the culture's views changed with astounding speed.

There are still pockets of bigotry concerning sexual orientation. But they are inevitably tight little groups where homosexuals still consider it necessary to remain closeted. And the next generation is changing anyway.

Racism too will change, once there are enough members of the group with the requisite social and economic standing to make it untenable. Which is why the most dedicated racists are hysterical about immigration currently. They know (consciously or not) that their cherished beliefs are going to change -- even if they don't change personally, their children and grandchildren will.

Even reducing immigration (except from northern Europe, of course) to zero won't keep it from happening. But it's all they've got. And the more obvious it becomes that it won't work, the more worked up they get. Hence cries of "Send them back" about prominent members of minorities. Nothing short of massive ethnic cleansing will work at this pount.

A house divided against itself, cannot stand....

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/07/send-her-back-trump-supporters-his-nc-rally/594268/
Talking with the rallygoers, I couldn’t find one who faulted Trump for demonizing the freshman representatives, all four of whom are American citizens, calling on them to leave the United States and return to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” A few conceded that Trump occasionally fires off an inappropriate tweet, but said his accomplishments in office overshadow any offense. If anything, they said, his language springs from an authenticity they find refreshing. None of the people I spoke with considered his comments about the congresswomen racist....

jack lecou: But of course, neither they -- nor the media -- would ever admit to being or saying anything racist.

Of which "they" is that true? I seem to recall footage of some pasty-faced "good people" chanting "Jews will not replace us" as if they meant it. (It would be ironic if those same scumbags are now among those condemning Omar's "anti-Semitism" like il Duce instructed. If irony were not dead as mutton, I mean.) If it's true that even knuckle-dragging white-supremacist christo-fascists are embarrassed to be called "racist" then that represents progress of a sort. But at least some of them are NOT.

russell: A function of when and where and how you were raised.

Yes. You might be simply an innocent victim of "white culture":

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a28434608/trump-rally-ilhan-omar-send-her-back-fascist/

That young girl may, possibly, rise above her upbringing and overcome the burden of a dysfunctional family environment. Just like little black girls often do.

--TP

Of which "they" is that true? I seem to recall footage of some pasty-faced "good people" chanting "Jews will not replace us" as if they meant it.

Sure. And to you and me, that plainly makes them racist as hell.

But do you think they actually call *themselves* "racist"? Even in private? I suppose some of the fringiest might, but not most of them. Because, as everyone knows, racism is bad, so racists would be bad people.

And of course they're not bad people [rolls eyes so hard they pop out of their sockets], so they can't be racists. They're just brave activists willing to face the uncomfortable truths that others aren't, trying to protect the white race from the "great replacement", etc. [Pauses to remove and burn gloves and keyboard that typed that]

To (most) racists, and apparently most Republicans* (same thing, maybe), "racist" isn't ever an accurate description, just a bad faith insult word. I'd bet you a happy meal Trump doesn't think he's a "racist". He's got some other internal narrative.

This is partly why it's such a big problem that many large media organizations not only refuse to apply the word when appropriate, but actually have internal rules prohibiting calling a spade a spade. They're basically officially adopting the right wing contention that the word "racist" is itself taboo, even when it's manifestly correct.

------
* "The vast majority of Republicans (70%) believe that people who call others “racist” usually do so in bad faith, whereas just 31% of Democrats believe the same." (https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/news-polls/trump-tweet-response-2019)


wj: Thus, when the vast majority of homosexuals were closeted, people didn't realize that they knew any.

One big difference: "race" is more visible than "sexuality".

I'm tempted to say that when the vast majority of racists were closeted, people didn't realize that they knew any. Under He, Trump they are learning that some of their best friends, etc, etc. Let's hope that your analogy doesn't carry that far, wj.

--TP

One big difference: "race" is more visible than "sexuality".

Indeed. But what I was attempting to say is that, the more people you know from the "other" group (be it race, orientation, whatever), the more your stereotypes tend to break down. IF they are recognizably people like you. People in the same job. People in the same social circle. Etc.

his language springs from an authenticity they find refreshing

I've been thinking on this. It seems to me that they find his words "authentic" because the words reflect how they see the world. And they can't quite grasp that others honestly have different views on, for example, race.

Therefore, to them, a politician (of their race) who doesn't make racist remanks MUST be inauthentic -- because it is just inconceivable that he wouldn't harbor the same views. He's simply not speaking what is honestly in his mind.

What are we trying to get at here?

That "racist" has lost its stigma because racists don't call themselves racist? That we need to reason politely with them until they recognize their own bigotry? That we need to invent a new name for that which walks like a duck and quacks like a duck? Or what?

--TP

wj 4:29. right on.

racists hate people for no reason. the deplorables have reasons.

Yeah, they don’t hate other people because of their race. It’s because of all the objectively bad qualities members of other races have. Duh...

It boggles my entire mind that a mean-spirited, foul-mouthed, narcissist turned out to be "electable" by resolutely insulting and offending people -- and Democrats are constantly advised to speak moderately lest "swing voters" (the fickle) and "independents" (the apathetic) find them too strident.

Racists may be sick, or they may be evil, but either way they all think He, Trump is on their side. And He knows they're on His side. And the Republicons who matter are so content with this that they are willing to stand before TV cameras and say incredibly stupid things in support of Him.

I want some Democrat to tell them all to go fuck themselves, just as an experiment in "electability".

--TP

In my view, it's unproductive to describe people as racist - I don't know what motivates them. But it's useful and necessary to describe words and deeds as racist when they are.

What Trump said about the congresswomen was racist.

Pro Bono: In my view, it's unproductive to describe people as racist

Why?

--TP

Why ?

Emily Nussbaum, in a fine article about All in the Family, wrote:
“bigotry is resilient, because rejecting it often means rejecting your own family...”
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/04/07/the-great-divide-emily-nussbaum

How much more difficult to reject yourself ?
Certainly easier to be persuaded to repudiate some of your attitudes.

For the 'honest' racists the problem is that 'racism' has become a dirty word and that the masses are too ignorant to see the truth. Even worse, they might impede those that know the truth in their unpleasant but necessary work.
The most notorious expression of that is still Himmler's first Posen speech

It's one of those things that is easily said: 'The Jewish people are being exterminated', says every party member, 'this is very obvious, it's in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we're doing it, hah, a small matter.' And then they turn up, the upstanding 80 million Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. They say the others are all swines, but this particular one is a splendid Jew.

Here he also pinpoints the 'problem' mentioned up-thread. It's difficult to spread the hate among people that know too many decent members of the targeted group.
The same phenomenon can be observed in modern day Germany. The objection to foreigners (this may at times include even Western white people) is highest in regions where there are few (if any) of them. In those same regions even toddlers 'know' that 'Jew' ranks among the worst insults without knowing what a 'Jew' actually is.
Imo He The Donald is a racist personally but not per se a racist ideologue (like e.g. Miller). He uses racist policies and language because he (unfortunately correctly) believes that it helps him (again personally). Were his rabid base xenophile, he would avoid this particular tool to feed their rage and use another instead. There might occur glitches (He is, after all, a loose cannon of the worst kind) but he would not make the topic a centerpiece of his campaign.

In those same regions even toddlers 'know' that 'Jew' ranks among the worst insults without knowing what a 'Jew' actually is.

This was true of the word "queer" as recently as when my kids were little. "That's so queer...." was a typical insult flung back and forth among 8-year-olds 25 years ago.

Why?

It would take several volumes to explore this question, and I have mixed feelings about it these days, but one possible reason is that it has the opposite effect from what a lot of people seem to think it should have when they say you have to call people out etc. That is, it cements people even more stubbornly into the condition you're accusing them of. "You're not the boss of me" is a potent motivator.

That's why I do agree (provisionally! I suspect it's all moot in the age of Clickbait) that calling out the behavior, action, or words might possibly maybe have a less backfiring effect than naming the person as racist, or a homophobe, or whatever.

Of course, the answer might be different depending on your goals in calling out racism and/or calling someone a racist. If your goal is to change that person's mind, name-calling is not very likely to get the job done. If your goal is to make a point for someone else's benefit, that's a different story. I guess.

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber on this topic.

If your goal is to change that person's mind, name-calling is not very likely to get the job done. If your goal is to make a point for someone else's benefit, that's a different story. I guess.

Definitely. Who your intended audience is is critical. Too often those who insist on "call a racist a racist" don't acknowledge that they are talking to and for those who already agree with them. (As, interestingly, are those Trump fans who talk admiringly of his "authenticity".) Otherwise them would phrase their comments differently.

If I hesitate to call Jeff Bezos "rich", what do I accomplish?

I make myself look silly, to an audience composed of sane people, for a start.

That is all.

--TP

"...what do I accomplish?"

It depends on the context, and what you're trying to accomplish. In the context of some subjects, dragging in the irrelevant fact that he's rich would make you look silly.

From another angle, if you call me "rich," that's edgier, again depending on the context. I'm very "rich" compared to billions of people, in that I have a pretty comfortable daily life, even if it doesn't run to expensive cars and multiple houses and staying at the Ritz and exploring the oceans for old rockets. So you wouldn't call me "rich" unless you had a political agenda that you thought it served.

But this is not a topic for one-liner quibbles. So I'm out.

I think what it comes down to is this:

Are you willing to burn a bridge?

If you have no interest in maintaining a connection to the person who engages in racist actions or rhetoric, fire away. If you do have such an interest, it might be better to proceed in a way that is less of a statement about them as a person.

There is a difference between saying "you are a racist" and "the thing you just said is actually insulting to [enter insulted demographic here]".

I don't have a problem, at all, with saying that Trump provides ample evidence of being a racist, where "racism" plainly and simply means that he thinks people from some racial or ethnic backgrounds are superior to people from others, purely because they come from those racial or ethnic backgrounds.

"Good genes", "shithole countries", "why don't we let people in from nice countries like Norway".

Plus, offending Trump is not a concern of mine.

If you're talking to your bigoted uncle, or your neighbor who wants to "live with his own kind", etc., maybe a different path is recommended.

In the United States, in particular, racism, and bigotry against people of any kind of color other than white, is so deeply rooted in our history that you can't swing a cat without banging into it. We think we're beyond it, we're not even close. We just are not.

So it's very hard to call it out without having to do a bit of a self-awareness head check.

I've raised the question before of whether, for instance, going out of your way to *not* give offense to people of color is also a form of racism. Because I think it kind of is. It's intentions are good, the concern for not giving offense is nothing but good.

But it calls out the fact that we - Americans - live with an awareness of race as a factor of somebody's identity that is actually kind of bizarre, and not really a universal thing, either now or historically.

Everybody in the world, and everybody in history, doesn't and didn't walk around acutely aware of other people's skin color. Some do, many don't. They may walk around acutely aware of some other bullshit basis for drawing lines between people, but skin color is not always the marker.

For us, it is. For us, frankly, it's been one of the markers for saying "I don't have to treat you like an equal". And if that's not racism, I don't know what is.

I say "one of" the markers because there are, and have been, others.

What is more than worth calling out, always, is the malice and disrespect expressed by Trump on a daily basis, and by his followers as a kind of perverse in-group not-so-secret handshake.

But I'm not sure that the current thing we do - "we" here meaning everybody, not specifically "we" here at ObWI - where we debate whether something is really racist, or just racially charged, or just "telling it like it is", is useful. Nor the whole thing where we yell about "who the real racists" are.

Trump is a racist. Of course he is a racist. He expresses, plainly, the belief that some colors or ethnic identities are better than others. That's what racism is.

But I'm not sure the focus on his racism, specifically, is that useful. He is obviously bigoted, the people who support him can see that, and they either share that or don't care. Nobody is going to shame him, or them, into changing anything they say or do, by calling it out as racist.

As a nation, we still have miles to go as far as race not mattering. Maybe calling it out, in the specific form of tagging offending people with the label "racist", will help us, long term , in advancing toward that goal.

But I have to say I don't know if it will. I don't know what else will, but I don't know if that will.

This is a topic on which I don't feel like I have any answers. I appreciate the opportunity to basically think out loud.

I suppose there exist contexts in which it's an "irrelevant fact" that Jeff Bezos is rich. But I can't think of a context in which it's false.

And that was my only point: tip-toeing around a blatant fact like Jeff's wealth or He's racism is silly.

--TP

Nobody is going to shame him, or them, into changing anything they say or do, by calling it out as racist.

I'm not sure that's obviously true.

One of the things that's going on is that a lot of real progress was made over the last 50 years or so to educate society and advance a consensus that racism and discrimination are bad. Everything from after school specials to scholarly work.

Arguably, a lot of that was overly facile. There are, unfortunately, holes left in the popular understanding of what "racism" actually is that you can drive an inflatable Trump blimp through. But in many ways it was also an extremely successful effort. There's a reason that you can probably get even a fair portion of the millennial Nazis at a tiki-torch rally to agree -- in the abstract -- that "racism is bad, mmkay".

I don't see what is gained by walking away from that success. In fact, I suspect trying to obtain that outcome -- making 'racist' a taboo word that can't be used -- is at least partly a deliberate effort by the Goebbels-wannabes on that side of the room. In one stroke, it zeroes out all that hard won societal consensus that racism is bad. Suddenly we're letting people get away with saying "sure, racism would be bad, but this is another thing."

The correct thing to do, I think, is to continue to own the word and employ it correctly. And in so doing, work to close some of those definitional loopholes in the popular consensus back up. Not just stand by and allow exceptions to be carved out.

When someone says "I'm not a racist, but...", the correct response isn't to let them get away with it. To respond with some weak tea, "oh, yes, my friend, certainly that's not racist, but it's still problematic because [insert nuanced argument here]". Nope. The correct response it to say, "no dude, that's racist."

As usual, wrs.

The correct response it to say, "no dude, that's racist."

However, jack lecou, I think it may follow from what russell said that one can take advantage of the fact that racism has generally become unacceptable not by saying "You are a racist" but by saying "That is racism. You may not be a racist, but that is some racist shit." And if they say "So am I a racist?", one can always say "I don't know, man, but that is surely some racist shit." [Clearly, adjust language for recipient.] Obviously, this only applies to people one wants to influence, or otherwise get along with, but the lack of actual, personal attack can in some circumstances make an opening.

A good bit of what passes for racism in the US is classism and culturalism.

i think the media is, in many ways, simply stuck in the past, when saying things like "racially charged" and "factually incorrect" (rather than "racist" and "lie") were enough to shame a public official and to give him/her a lot of political trouble. that's the tradition: politician crosses a line, media gently scolds, public tut-tuts, opponents pounce, politician retreats.

that doesn't work with Trump, obviously, because he (pretends that he) doesn't care about media criticism and his base loves that he doesn't care. plus, calling him out gives him a chance to hit back, which makes the GOP swoon even more.

the media doesn't know how to deal with someone who won't play the traditional role. they don't want to change their part in the process (even though Fox showed the sky won't fall if they don't) and so they keep gently scolding.

What GFTNC said.

And russell, apart from a quibble with this...
I've raised the question before of whether, for instance, going out of your way to *not* give offense to people of color is also a form of racism. Because I think it kind of is. It's intentions are good, the concern for not giving offense is nothing but good....

I think this perhaps rather an awareness of racism, and a step on the road to being free from it ?

I experienced what might be an accelerated version of this when a close relative came out as transgender. For a brief time, the effort not to misgender was a very deliberate one; thereafter it doesn’t even occur as a thought.

Me: In my view, it's unproductive to describe people as racist
TP: Why?

Because I don't know why people say what they say. But I do know what they've said.

Because if a person has some visceral dislike of people with some particular racial characteristic, they can't help it. But they can control what they say and do.

Because people who are not themselves racists may exploit racism in pursuit of what they see as a greater good. I want to call it out when they do.

When someone says "I'm not a racist, but...", ...The correct response it to say, "no dude, that's racist."

This. I want to say "That's racist" not "you're a racist".

CharlesWT, I think there has been a good deal of effort to create as strong an overlap as possible between those things.
Creating a class difference between racial groups has also been a common tool of rule (e.g. in the colonies as part of divide and conquer). An emphasis on cultural difference served both as a means of justifying hierarchy (We have actual culture, They barely qualify for the term) and to heighten the gap to be perceived (They can never become our equals because the gap between Their 'culture' and Ours is too great). Cf. the claim that Islam and Western civilization are 100% incompatible, so Muslims are by definition unable to be part of Our society (and in effect Islam is by now treated as a racial trait in all but name, a nominal difference only used to allow claims of 'we are not against them because of their race but their religion').
I have heard claims from the Right that a Christian Arab is a contradiction in itself because Arabs are automatically Muslims by birth and that it cannot be washed off by baptism. This btw is the way racial antisemitism started (e.g. St.John Chrysostome declared that Jews could not be baptized because being born Jewish was a straight ticket to hell stamped by G#d personally at the beginning of time*).

*to my knowledge he did not explicitly subscribe to the theory that the Jews are impostors and have nothing to do with the Hebrews of the OT but it would be a natural conclusion from his claim that G#d had always hated the Jews.

However, jack lecou, I think it may follow from what russell said that one can take advantage of the fact that racism has generally become unacceptable not by saying "You are a racist" but by saying "That is racism. You may not be a racist, but that is some racist shit."

Yes, there is an important difference between labeling the speaker and the speech. As I wrote, you say, "that [the statement] is racist", not "you [the speaker] are racist".

But it's important to use the word, incorporating the full penumbra of implications it has. It's not enough just to say something like "the thing you just said is insulting." You need to say, "the thing you just said is racist."

(The insulting thing strikes me as particularly weak - what's wrong with being insulting? If I say "my boss is an idiot" you can say I'm being insulting, and I'll probably even agree with you. But that won't have convinced me I've said something inappropriate or wrong. The reason racism is wrong isn't that it's insulting or gives offense, or that noticing skin color is inherently wrong. It's that acting on discrimination does abiding material harm to people.)

i think it's interesting that Trump's whole reason for his original attack on the 4 Dems was to try to make the progressive Dems toxic to the less-progressive Dems. he was trying to play-up their troubles with Pelosi et al and maybe peel off some more conservative Dems. but because he is a racist his attack backfired and turned into a discussion about his, and the greater GOP's, racism.

if he had stuck with the "they're commies" stuff, we probably wouldn't be talking about racism today. but racism is so fundamental to how he sees the world that he couldn't help but make it part of his attack.

But it's important to use the word, incorporating the full penumbra of implications it has. It's not enough just to say something like "the thing you just said is insulting." You need to say, "the thing you just said is racist."

Completely agree. And for clarity's sake, I was not contradicting you earlier, I was trying to develop onward from your point about building on the successful delegitimation of racism. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

This twitter thread (i know...) is very much on point:

https://mobile.twitter.com/timjacobwise/status/1152930670093787141
.....People who say the Dems should ignore Trump's race baiting because its some genius political strategy calculated to distract us, are idiots. He is no genius. And if you downplay it you NORMALIZE him. If you make this about policy, you NORMALIZE him. He is a racist...

A good bit of what passes for racism in the US is classism and culturalism.

I think that perhaps this begs some questions.

Why do people of color belong to a different class? Why is there culture seen as inferior, or even alien?

I think this perhaps rather an awareness of racism, and a step on the road to being free from it ?

I think this is a better way to see it.

If I hesitate to call Jeff Bezos "rich", what do I accomplish?

If that's it, nothing. But then, "rich" is objectively true. And (for most people, albeit not all) not a moral failing.

But if you call him "filthy stinking rich on the backs of everyone who works for him", that's a different deal. That description is (IMHO anyway) very much of a moral failing.

"Racist" is very much in the second category, not the first.

I read something along the lines of "Criticizing someone doesn't automatically become racist just because that person's from another country" on social media in response to criticism of Rump's comments.

That's the mentality we're dealing with - one that doesn't seem to recognize that the assumption that people are from other countries based on their names or physical appearances is racist, while also failing to recognize that people who actually are from other countries and who become American citizens are now really Americans (even if they aren't of European ancestry!).

There's not even a thought about how that argument holds for the 3 MCs who were born here.

"Criticizing someone doesn't automatically become racist just because that person's from another country"

i've seen that too ... from people who don't hesitate to scream that any criticism of Israeli policies is anti-Semitic.

i've seen that too ... from people who don't hesitate to scream that any criticism of Israeli policies is anti-Semitic.

I hadn't thought of that, but, yes, that is something. Consistency is not really a thing for some people, I guess.

Consistency is not really a thing for some people, I guess.

Oh, they're entirely consistent. Anyone who disagrees with them, or who they otherwise dislike, gets epithets hurled at them. Without much, if any, reference to what those epithets actually mean. (Could reference race, religion, sexual orientation,etc.)

Meanwhile any action which does fit the epithet, but is taken by someone "on our side" will be held to not merit the it.

See, entirely consistent. You just need to realize the the epithets aren't attached, in the users' minds, with their real meaning. (See calling 4 members of Congress "commies". Nobody has actually been a communist for decades, even in the "communist block". And in the sense Marx and Engels meant the term, for more like a century.)

Here's the trouble with shouting "fake news" about lots of stuff that is demonstrably true.

Iran claims it broke up U.S. spy ring, arrested 17 suspects. President Trump denied the claim, dismissing the reports as “totally false” and “more lies and propaganda” from the Iranian government.
When you deny a claim that actually is false (assuming, for the sake of discussion, that this one is false) nobody outside your cult will believe you.

wj: ... "rich" is objectively true. And (for most people, albeit not all) not a moral failing.

"Rich" is objectively true of Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos is rich because he has made tons of money.

"Racist" is objectively true of He, Trump. He, Trump is racist because he has said and done shitpiles of racist things.

To equivocate on either of the above is unequivocally silly. And looking silly is a poor political strategy.

And not for nothing, but you can say of "racist" exactly what you said of "rich":
And (for most people, albeit not all) not a moral failing.

--TP

It's never true before the government denies it!

"Racist" is objectively true of He, Trump. He, Trump is racist because he has said and done shitpiles of racist things.

Except that there is no meaningful definition of "rich" which doesn't apply to Bezos. Whereas there are, apparently, rather widespread definitions of "racist" which wouldn't apply to Trump. Even for some who would agree that some of his statements are racist. They are definitions that I personally find nonsensical. But changes in the language often seem that way.

the GOP's definition of "racist" includes the following clauses:
1. Lincoln freed the slaves therefor the GOP can't be racist
2. There is a small upper limit on the number of times the word "racist" can be used after which all further uses are void.
3. Robert Byrd, QED

I think the difference between saying that Rump is racist and saying that Bezos is rich is that your aren't trying to change anyone's behavior with the latter. What people are talking about is the practical matter of the political effect of calling Rump a racist versus calling his words and actions racist (or calling his supporters racists versus calling their words and actions racist).

We can debate what the best political strategy is as far as that goes, but Bezos' wealth isn't relevant to that.

And looking silly is a poor political strategy.

You do know who the president is, right? ;^)

hsh @11:55: yes!

hairshirt: I think the difference between saying that Rump is racist and saying that Bezos is rich is that your aren't trying to change anyone's behavior with the latter.

Oh, I don't know about that. Imagine you're at a bar and one of your drinking buddies denies that Bezos is rich. If you provoked him into saying something that silly, I suspect the rest of your mutual friends might get a good laugh out of it.

What people are talking about is the practical matter of the political effect of calling Rump a racist versus calling his words and actions racist (or calling his supporters racists versus calling their words and actions racist).

Absolutely. And the consensus here seems to be that the politically correct strategy (if you'll pardon the expression) is to be very careful -- practically lawyerly -- about exact definitions and reasonable inferences. And that analogies are "irrelevant".

Okay, I'll go along with the consensus.

But at the risk of another irrelevancy, I can't resist mentioning this old joke:
An old-school diplomat is riding a train through the European countryside. His aide, a less experienced man, points to a flock of sheep and says, "Look, your Excellency, those sheep have all been shorn." Replies the ambassador: "Well, on this side, anyway."

BTW: what cleek said.

--TP

Absolutely. And the consensus here seems to be that the politically correct strategy (if you'll pardon the expression) is to be very careful -- practically lawyerly -- about exact definitions and reasonable inferences. And that analogies are "irrelevant".

No, no, and no again. At least on my part. I am concerned with this phenomenon: Half the time, when people I agree with about policy open their mouths (or write their pixels), their sanctimony and self-righteousness make me want to vote for the other side. On these occasions I remind myself: "An idea is not responsible for the people who espouse it." But imagine the effect on someone who doesn't agree with them about policy! Marty, for instance, although Marty's own sanctimony inevitably pushes me back where I belong.

IMO this is a practical matter of human psychology, and in terms of what I'm talking about, more about interpersonal relations than about retail politics on a grand scale.

"You have to make it safe for the other guy to make it safe for you to tell your truth." Calling people racist does not conduce to creating a safe space.

But the world is a mess, humans are a mess, we bumble along as best we can. I have a friend that, based on what I know of his attitudes, TP thinks I should call a racist, or at the very least tell him that some of his attitudes are racist. Saying that to him would have just the effect I'm talking about. It would do no good, and it would probably cement his attitudes even more firmly. And if you want to say that I (see further above) or my friend are assholes and need to be better people, then all I can say is: Good luck changing the world if that is what you're depending on.

I think some of us are talking/writing at cross-purposes, which is why I stepped back yesterday. But several people -- russell, wj, hsh in particular -- have said things I would have liked to say if I could have formulated them clearly. So thanks!

Absolutely. And the consensus here seems to be that the politically correct strategy (if you'll pardon the expression) is to be very careful -- practically lawyerly -- about exact definitions and reasonable inferences. And that analogies are "irrelevant".

I don't think this is quite right. Speaking as the person who is often accused of wanting to stick to exact definitions etc, I don't think that's what the consensus here is about. I think the consensus is that although most/many of the people we are talking about are racists, in the interests of changing the behaviour (including voting behaviour) of those who can still be reached (and some of them voted for Obama! And Marty said that Trump should be impeached after his latest sally that the squad should go back to where they came from!), it will be more effective to talk to them about the fact that their various statements or behaviour are racist, as opposed to calling them racists themselves. Thus we satisfy Pro Bono's point that we don't always know for sure what's in their minds, and most of the rest of us who think of it in practical terms: how do we get them to consider the racist stuff that's being promulgated, without feeling themselves to be attacked for actually being racists. It's not to do with lawyerly accuracy, it's to do with the most likely way to achieve the desired goal.

p.s. Good sheep joke!

And that analogies are "irrelevant".

At least the irrelevant ones. ...BOOM!

My personal opinion is that saying things like "Trump is being racist when he says yada yada because yada yada" are perfectly fine. I don't know if that counts as being overly lawyerly. (And that is in the context of nationally prominent Democrats publicly criticizing him. People here can call him a goddammed Klansman for all I care.)

Oho, Janie and I cross-post to the same effect - it's like the good old days!

I observe that calling Trump a racist isn't particularly problematic, in that nobody is under the illusion that they might change what passes for Trump's mind on the subject.

On the other hand, specifically calling some of Trump's comments might, might, get thru to some people who are still reachable that if they say the same things, that is bad. Not trying to change their beliefs; just their behavior. And that's important in the long term, because their behavior is what the next generation will absorb as beliefs.

JanieM: I have a friend that, based on what I know of his attitudes, TP thinks I should call a racist, or at the very least tell him that some of his attitudes are racist.

Janie,

Knowing nothing of your friend or his attitudes, I can't really say what you should call him. I don't know how he would react if you called He, Trump a racist in his presence, so I have no clue about the best way to persuade him on that or any other subject -- say, to vote against Susan Collins next year.

Between you and me, the elderly Greek Americans I know are some of the most racist (and anti-Semitic!) people in the US. I'm talking about family and friends, here. I find it hard to sit quietly when they come out with ignorant or bigoted statements in casual conversation. Sometimes, I admit, I react with scorn; sometimes, with sincere attempts to correct their conspiracy theories. Perhaps the sensible thing, in the moment, would be to change the subject to the fine weather we're having. I don't see how that could help, but what the hell: it couldn't hurt.

--TP

Sometimes, I admit, I react with scorn; sometimes, with sincere attempts to correct their conspiracy theories.

I confess I haven't found an effective way to deal with conspiracy theory enthusiasts. Not that I haven't tried. Just that nothing that I have tried has been effective. If anyone has found something that works, even 25% of the time, please share!

TP: ...sometimes, with sincere attempts to correct their conspiracy theories....

wj: I confess I haven't found an effective way to deal with conspiracy theory enthusiasts.

Do you also try to convince people to drop their sincerely held religious beliefs?

I mean, Jesus died and rose again......just an older conspiracy theory with a great PR operation, if you ask me.

Not the really elderly, Janie. I figure they're too close to figuring it out for themselves.

--TP

For the record, my question about people with religious beliefs wasn't intended to be snarky, but maybe bemused.

It starts to seem all of a piece to me, that people believe in weird things. I.e., why should I be surprised that so many people believe in conspiracy theories, when so many people believe in the various things that religions say are true, but that have equally nil amounts of actual evidence to support them?

The difference, as I see it, is that religions tend to be benign or even positive influences on people's behavior towards others. (For all that some ignore what actual text of their religion enjoins, and instead use it to demonize and attack others.)

In contrast, conspiracy theories are routinely malign influences, and cause people to harm themselves and others. For example, the damage that conspiracy theories about vaccines have done to the health of the children of those who embrace them. Not to mention the damage to those who honestly cannot receive the vaccine, and depend on herd immunity to protect them.

I can see a difference between religious belief that is acknowledged to be based on faith and conspiracy theories that are considered to be based on evidence.

That distinction is one of the things that makes creationism (which, to me, is a special case of conspiracy theorizing) so annoying for me. Why are you trying to turn your faith-based beliefs into science? What does that say about your supposed "faith"? Why can't you simply accept that science says one thing based on evidence and your religion says something else based on faith, and that you choose to believe your religion - without then monkeying around with science?

This Will Get Worse.

The difference, as I see it, is that religions tend to be benign or even positive influences on people's behavior towards others.

Well, that's debatable. ;-)

I was raised Catholic, and I have strong opinions on the subject. We don't have time to debate the entire history of the world, or even of the Western world, but religiously based or religiously justified wars have resulted in the slaughter of millions of people; religion is just as potent a breeding ground for "us and them" thinking as some of the other axes across which that way of thinking reaches. And lest we think this kind of shit happens only among Christians, check out the Buddhist hatred of the Rohingya in Myanmar.

I was raised in a Catholic stew of guilt-tripping so intense that I now consider it borderline child abuse, stirred together with the misogyny, the homophobia, the general hatred of sex, and the teaching that anyone who wasn't Catholic (my mother, all her side of the family) was going to burn in hell.

My own experience -- which was pretty damned benign considering -- makes me skeptical that the overall effect of the institution has been positive. It perpetrated the Crusades and the Inquisition. It sheltered pedophiles all over the world, ignored or trashed their victims until $$$ was at stake; still refuses to let women take the same roles as men; massively funds anti-choice and homophobic political causes; etc etc etc etc etc.

Even the relatively narrow aspect you cite -- "benign or even positive influences on people's behavior towards others" -- is just that, narrow. Some others. Some aspects of life.

I have a vivid personal memory of the power of priests and bishops over Catholic hearts and minds. That power is not benign.

Well, that's debatable. ;-)

I was taking the text of the holy books of the various religions. Not the theological glosses which have evolved over time. The problems that you cite in Catholicism are real. But are any of them actually a reflection of what Jesus said (as reported in Gospels; which were admittedly written long afterwards**)? I'm not a theologian, but I don't think so.

* I exclude Paul, who wasn't around to hear Jesus first hand.

cleek reading baffler? Way to go! And everybody should check out Gin and Tacos now and then. Ed B. is pretty good.

I was taking the text of the holy books of the various religions. Not the theological glosses which have evolved over time.

Well, put me down in the janieM camp on this one. The minute a new religion feels the need to hire a full time janitor, you know the bloom is off the rose.

I would wager that the difference to the listener as between hearing, "You are a racist" and, "The thoughts you have expressed to me are racist, and here's why," is for the most part virtually undetectable.

Similarly, the difference to me if somebody calls me a socialist vs. telling me my policy preferences are socialistic goes unremarked--but appreciated.

wj, you wrote religions tend to be benign or even positive influences on people's behavior towards others.

I took "influence" to mean actual real-world effects. If the holy text is benign, but the actual preaching and practice are anything but, I don't think that counts as religion being a benign influence.

hsh: I can see a difference between religious belief that is acknowledged to be based on faith and conspiracy theories that are considered to be based on evidence.

I agree that there's a difference, but I'm skeptical about how many people who say they're religious understand the distinction.

Creation science, which you cite, is precisely an effort to prove that certain religiously important ideas are based on evidence. It doesn't seem to me that there's a clear distinction between "conspiracy theory" type beliefs and religious beliefs.

Part of the point either way is that people don't defer to your notion of what a "fact" is.

How much ink do we think was spilled in the middle ages over the (surely provable!) question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?

wj: ... some ignore what [the] actual text of their religion enjoins ...

Many don't actually know what their sacred "texts" actually say, I think.

Most "believers", in my experience, take the word of human Authorities about what Scripture says, like most us take the word of human Experts about what Science says.

Of course, the difference is that Science has peer review, not Scripture, as the foundation of its validity. But let that pass.

Anyway, it's fairly certain that, aside from Mormons, most believers don't even have access to the foundational "texts" of their religions. How many Christians are there who can read ancient Greek, for instance?

--TP

Like bobbyp, I'm with Janie on the religion issue, including the similarity between religion and conspiracy theories. Plus, as a side note, I'm always amazed when Christians in general fail to see that their religion is in a sense based on human sacrifice, even if it was (perhaps) voluntary.

"How much ink do we think was spilled in the middle ages over the (surely provable!) question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?"

is this one of the sects that is sure that dancing is sinful? In that case, the answer is exactly ZERO.

I blame it on the Bossa Nova.

How much ink do we think was spilled in the middle ages over the (surely provable!) question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin?

My understanding, via Dorothy Sayers, is that this was an exam question, the correct answer being infinitely many. (The argument: angels have position, but not extension - i.e., two or more angels can be located at the same point.)

Christians in general fail to see that their religion is in a sense based on human sacrifice

and animal sacrifice!

and this page answers the question "why don't we still do animal sacrifices as described in Leviticus? with this:

Animal sacrifices have ended because Jesus Christ was the ultimate and perfect sacrifice. John the Baptist recognized this when he saw Jesus coming to be baptized and said, “Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). You may be asking yourself, why animals? What did they do wrong? That is the point—since the animals did no wrong, they died in place of the one performing the sacrifice.

decline.

Many don't actually know what their sacred "texts" actually say, I think

indeed

i.e., two or more angels can be located at the same point

So angels are bosons.

So angels are bosons.

Or maybe bos'ns...

why don't we still do animal sacrifices as described in Leviticus?

If you look, Jesus said: "All the Law and all the Prophets are this: Love God with all your heart, and your neighbor as yourself."

What that comes down to (sorry fundamentalist Christians) is that anything in the Old Testament which doesn't reduce to this can (and should!) be ignored. Including animal sacrifices. Including dietary restrictions. And on and on and on.

I think the difference between saying that Rump is racist and saying that Bezos is rich

The difference is that racism, being based on lies fear and ignorance, is, in and of itself, wrong, whereas being rich is, in and of itself, not.

Both are facts. Their moral valence is different.

Which is not to ignore the obscene degree of Bezos' wealth, it's simply to acknowledge that wealth is not inherently wrong, while racism is.

And what Janie said at 1:06. That quote has become a personal mantra.

This Will Get Worse.

Its been worse. Regarding race, up until half a century ago, or less, worse was the norm.

Folks can try that crap on again if they like, but that clock ain't turning back.

Stand athwart history all you want. History doesn't care.

Regarding religious doctrine, I'm in the middle of a really good history of the doctrine of the trinity. What I take away from it is that trying to pin down mysteries is a fools game.

Also, St. Paul is a curious figure. The only Apostle not to have known Jesus personally, his experience of Jesus is mostly via ecstatic state of some kind or other. He is claimed as a source, via Theudas, of Gnostic transmission by the Valentinians, who were considered heretical.

Its always been weird. Eat the meat, spit out the bones.

All the way back to this, from TP: Knowing nothing of your friend or his attitudes, I can't really say what you should call him. I don't know how he would react if you called He, Trump a racist in his presence, so I have no clue about the best way to persuade him on that or any other subject -- say, to vote against Susan Collins next year.

First, I don't feel the need to call him anything, other than a friend.

Secondly, if I called Clickbait a racist in his presence, he would just shrug. Although we don't agree on policy (for the most part), and I'm pretty sure he didn't vote for Hillary, he happens once to have had a boss who was a lot like Clickbait: a cheat in business, a cheat in his relationships, manipulative, dishonest, narcissistic...the list could go on.

So I don't have to persuade him about Clickbait, he saw right through him from the beginning, and detests him. Too bad more people haven't had personal experience to inform their opinions on this subject.

Thirdly, as to other subjects, I don't feel that I'm required to try to persuade him of anything. Nor does he try to persuade me, though we both know that chasms divide us on quite a few political topics. To whatever extent I'm supposed to have some kind of global responsibility to go around persuading my friends to agree with me on stuff, it seems to me inescapable that they have the same right and responsibility to try to persuade me to agree with them about stuff. Butting heads against stone walls isn't my idea of friendship. It's far more likely that if either of us is going to change our opinions, it will be because of long exposure and the accumulation of experience in life, and not in response to direct pressure.

It's far more likely that if either of us is going to change our opinions, it will be because of long exposure and the accumulation of experience in life, and not in response to direct pressure.

Wrong!

Its been worse. Regarding race, up until half a century ago, or less, worse was the norm.

Folks can try that crap on again if they like, but that clock ain't turning back.

And I suspect that even those who are nostalgic for that time actually know that. At least on some level. Which rather explains their level of fury.

They desperately want to return to a time when their bigotry was the norm. And are distraught because they, too, know it ain't happening. Worse, their children and grandchildren are, for the most part,
tranquilly moving on. A couple of steps backward, that they may temporarily manage. But nothing more. Thank God.

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