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From the irony impaired
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, March 22, 2008

Earl Louis takes exception to what he calls "some Internet nitwits" (ironically he singles out Taylor Marsh, a Netroots member and dyed-in-the-wool Clinton supporter) claiming "Obama's comment that his white grandmother - who made racist remarks and was fearful of blacks - was a "typical white person" just proves he can't stop alienating white voters."

Uh, no Earl, that's not the point at all. It was the stereotypical remark he made by using the term "typical white person" to which most objected. You see, if you're going to claim that one of the problems with race relations today is the use of or the resorting to racial stereotype, it sort of defeats your purpose when you then use a racial stereotype to attempt to make a point concerning race relations. Seems a little hypocritical on one hand to be condemning stereotypes to defend your church and pastor while on the other, using them to explain anecdotal behavior. That's the objection more than anything.

And you my find this surprising and even a bit funny, Earl, but you're not much better in that department:
Never mind that Obama's point, made casually Thursday on a Philadelphia radio show, was to emphasize the important truth that whites, including his elderly grandmother, are slowly winning the fight to purge their hearts of poisonous prejudices.
All of us Earl? Are all whites infected with "poisonous prejudices"? Just whites? I know you think that was a compliment, but you know, some might consider such thinking to be a "poisonous prejudice" itself - even a stereotypical poisonous prejudice (and one just has to ask, is that the thinking of a "typical black person"?).

Ironic, huh?
 
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Comments
TO: "From the Irony Impared"
FROM: "The Spel Chek ’Impared’"...
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Boy. Thank goodness I was told that I’m still a racist working to fight "the poison".

All this time, I thought everyone was equal. Never knew I was a racist.

Better go get fitted for sheets, I suppose...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
TO: "From the Irony Impared"
FROM: "The Spel Chek ’Impared’"...
Heh ... yup, blew it. My "spel chek" doesn’t do titles. (mumble, mumble)
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Boy. Thank goodness I was told that I’m still a racist working to fight "the poison".

All this time, I thought everyone was equal. Never knew I was a racist.

Better go get fitted for sheets, I suppose...
Every "typical white person" gotta have ’em!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Heh ... yup, blew it. My "spel chek" doesn’t do titles. (mumble, mumble)
That’s ok McQ... It’s a typical white person mistake...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Well, since Joe started the spell cop thing: complement/compliment.

Don’t know why that one bugs me as much as it does.

Good Earl take-down. Unfortunately, I doubt that he’ll get the gist. He seems kind of invested in his viewpoint.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
Well, since Joe started the spell cop thing: complement/compliment
Crap ... bad day in Blackrock.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Invert the races and Obama couldn’t get elected sewer-inspector after this. Where’s the racism now?
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
It is disgusting that too many white people don’t understand that the power and wealth differential means that whites can’t play the victim so easily. It shows that too many whites don’t understand the race issue, and want to think that just ’treating everyone the same’ rhetorically can solve it. Those who want to ’invert the races’ show utter and complete ignorance about the real state of affairs. Of course, I suspect they hang around with a lot of middle aged white conservative males, and for them, this kind of thing is typical.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott: I don’t care about "playing the victim". Playing the victim is just a way of voluntarily giving up the power to change, to voluntarily put yourself in subservience to the people whom you claim must somehow change before your lot in life can be improved.

Selling people victimhood is evil.

Any arguments about how this is missing the point or failing to understand the real situation or whatever theoretical arguments you might bring to bear are contradicted by the fact of people who have rejected their victimhood and gotten on with the business of improving their lives. People who reject this neo-slavery, this slavery of the mind and soul instead of the body imposed by the very people claiming to speak for them, will find that most of the barriers to their success are not particularly worse than the barriers everybody faces, all the time, without ceasing. Is racism alive? Yeah, sure, it’ll never be fully gone, but in terms of real barriers to success in this country, it has dropped below the noise threshold, swamped by any other problems, not least of which is the evil idea that they must wait for someone else to succeed for them, that they must sit around and wait for Whitey to beneficently shower them with success.
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Of course, I suspect they hang around with a lot of middle aged white conservative males, and for them, this kind of thing is typical.
Could you possibly be any more of a stupid jerk than you are right now?
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
I gotta admit it. This comment by a purported professor has to be the single stupidest thing I’ve ever read which was supposedly written by someone with any intelligence at all. The trophy is now retired. Although you do have to admire the backhanded way in which he is complimenting himself on his lack of racism. Not that he’d ever stereotype anyone, of course. Motes, beams, geez.
 
Written By: JorgXMcKie
URL: http://
Jeremy, the point is that one can’t simply say "OK, racism was bad, let’s all just be equal" while the effects of racism are very profound throughout the wealth and power structure of our society. Rev. Wright’s anger is part of working through that, and bringing these lingering issues to the fore, without it being lost by a convenient "OK, we’re equal now get over it" attitude. That’s what we as a society need to learn and understand. The right wing holier than thou attitude about Obama is an aspect of this lingering racism, even if those who hold it — mostly privileged white males, it seems — don’t see it as such. That’s the danger of this kind of lingering racism, even progressives don’t recognize that, for instance, their lack of concern in 1994 for Rwanda had racial undertones.

As for SShiell and Jorg’s comments: Thanks for the response, it shows my comment hit you guys right where it was intended to. I’m smiling.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
As for SShiell and Jorg’s comments: Thanks for the response, it shows my comment hit you guys right where it was intended to. I’m smiling.
For someone who revels in his own victimhood, I can see why. I can also see why you are so ready to bow to your new masters of victimhood, the followers of racial divide. You are so afraid of your own inbred guilt, you can’t stand on your own two legs like a man and simply state that how I treat others is how I would like to be treated my self. No, you just keep smiling while you bow your head because of your shame - but don’t bother asking us to join your pity party.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
the point is that one can’t simply say "OK, racism was bad, let’s all just be equal" while the effects of racism are very profound throughout the wealth and power structure of our society.
Racism isn’t the cause of the current "wealth and power structure". Rather, it is black subculture that’s to blame. While past racism may have helped shape that subculture, the key to success among black Americans lies with black Americans.

I’d further argue that what remains of white racism will remain until most blacks fully enter mainstream American culture. Racism will linger as long as it provides real world correlation; for example, "inner-city riot" (in the US, at least) suggests black rioting. Blacks need to break that correlation between "black" and "riot", whites can’t . . .
Rev. Wright’s anger is part of working through that, and bringing these lingering issues to the fore, without it being lost by a convenient "OK, we’re equal now get over it" attitude.
Actually, Wright appears to be trying to continue the seperate black subculture. In effect, he’s trying to continue the tradition of black failure. Black failure may not be his intention, but to the extent he’s succesful in his preaching it is the likely result.

Black Americans need to reject the idiocy of Wright et al and embrace success of mainstream American culture. Rice and Clairance Thomas are good examples, Wright and Sharpton are bad examples. Obama appeared to be a good example, but at this point that is up for possible revision . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Actually, the reaction some of you here have against Wright arouses within much of the black community similar kinds of reactions as SShiell and others had — that’s why I purposefully pushed their buttons. That got them to experience the disgust that many feel when they read attacks on Wright.

Now, if supporters of Wright and people like SShiell can learn to talk to each other, not caricature each other, and move forward, that would advance race relations. Obama’s speech was a masterful attempt to move that direction. Enlightened people will grab that, both black and white. Those who don’t, who continue to demonize Wright or the whites, and not understand what this all means and why there is anger and how conversation rather than accusation is needed, will simply be clinging to their biases, even if they don’t realize it.

Of course, those who want to pretend its all the fault of the black subcommunity and deny the impact of power and economic segregation and racism (which continues) are deluded. The existence of such a subculture requires continuing racism in our social structures; the problem can only be solved together, it can’t be pushed to just one community.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Could you possibly be any more of a stupid jerk than you are right now?
I was wrong - you can and obviously will continue to improve upon your own model of stupidity.

I challenged you simply: "how I treat others is how I would like to be treated my self." And somehow you turned that into equating me with Revend Wright by stating:
Now, if supporters of Wright and people like SShiell can learn to talk to each other, not caricature each other, and move forward, that would advance race relations.
The only one practising the art of caricature is yourself. You don’t know me. You, who live in the "lilly white" state of Maine, who come from the "lilly white" part of the Country, somewhere in the Dakotas if I remember correctly, have the gall to lecture anybody in race relations. How many racially charged situations have you ever faced in your life? Don’t bother to tell of all the books you have read or the authors you can quote. You don’t know f*ck all.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
You don’t know me. You, who live in the "lilly white" state of Maine, who come from the "lilly white" part of the Country, somewhere in the Dakotas if I remember correctly, have the gall to lecture anybody in race relations. How many racially charged situations have you ever faced in your life? Don’t bother to tell of all the books you have read or the authors you can quote. You don’t know f*ck all.
Seems I’ve touched a nerve. Thanks for wearing it on your sleeve!

Nothing you wrote countered anything I argued. Instead you just feel insulted and let that take over your mind. Think about this, separate your emotion, and make an argument.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If you aren’t ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with white people, you aren’t ready to be POTUS. He can study victimology on his own time and let a grown-up do the job instead.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
If you aren’t ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with white people, you aren’t ready to be POTUS
With THE SPEECH he’s proven he can not only stand shoulder to shoulder, but actually raise the level of discussion and turn it into an historic opportunity. He has passed this test with a brilliance few expected. More than anything else, this undercuts Hillary’s silly "experience" office. He may not have thrown as many first spouse tea parties, but he’s showing character and leadership.

As I said in another thread, we seem to be moving towards BOTH parties offering men of substance and character. This year we may finally see fewer complaints of the "lesser of two evils." That is a very good thing.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
With THE SPEECH he’s proven he can not only stand shoulder to shoulder, but actually raise the level of discussion and turn it into an historic opportunity.
Sure. An opportunity to call me a racist. Good on him.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my sheets have finished in the drier...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Hey, I’m not black, but I have spent a good deal of my life being told that my father or my brother, being part of the "wealth and power structure of our society," have it better than I do. Because I’m a *woman* I have to work harder, be better, to get to the same place as them.

It’s bull sh*t. My brother had and has no advantage over me. My family tends away from the type A hyper-achiever but I do know what I’d have to do to "succeed" and it’s the exact same thing that my brother would have to do... and choses NOT to do.

Because to "succeed" my white brother would have to work "twice as hard" as anyone else.

And it’s true that neither he nor I have any huge desire to walk the halls of power or hobnob with the wealthy and influential but it’s also true that if we did, in fact, have that desire that it would be no easier for him than for me and no easier for *us* because of our race to gain acceptance.

There ARE social barriers.

We *could* do it and we would most *certainly* have to work twice as hard, twice as smart, to get into Ivy schools we couldn’t pay for and Daddy didn’t attend, and we’d have to learn to be comfortable with different ways of social interaction, maybe take a wine class or learn to golf or wind surf or sail... things quite outside our cultural background which is decidedly pot-luck and hand-me-down, where even a "sweet sixteen" bash counts as a "stupid rich person trick".

I think one of the most offensive things I hear (and I do hear it often enough) is that my father and brother are part of the "wealth and power structure of our society."
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
I think one of the most offensive things I hear (and I do hear it often enough) is that my father and brother are part of the "wealth and power structure of our society.
The fact is that we are born into conditions which gives us certain benefits and disadvantages. Depending on where you were born and what your position, it takes more or less effort and luck to succeed. An extreme case: a college friend of mine came from a wealthy family. He cheated on exams, was lazy and got by barely passing most courses. He now runs the family business and is exceedingly wealthy. A kid born to drug addicts in an inner city with no good school system and gangs the way to be upwardly mobile would have to make an heroic effort to achieve what my college friend did, the odds are stacked against him. My college friend essentially had success handed to him.

In the middle ground the advantages and disadvantages are more subtle, but they are there. That’s pretty much undeniable. Studies are clear that, for instance, candidates who are black are less likely to win, the darker their skin (light blacks are more successful than dark blacks). These social structures permeate every aspect of life. No need to be ’offended’ when one points it out, but these differences are real.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Way to miss the point, Erb. People are offended at your presumptive cause of those differences—that "typical" whites are racists.
 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
You know, Scott... first you say something true... that we are born into conditions that gives us certain benefits and disadvantages. And you explain it according to economics, family advantage, even though there is a whole lot between "cheater from a wealthy family" and "crack baby."

And then you state that it’s color.

But you can’t really get around "whites are advantaged because they are white" if you’re going to say that "blacks are disadvantaged *not* because of economics or the conditions of their birth, but because they are black."

The thing is... the crack baby making good *does* take an heroic effort. The privileged kid, no matter his or her color, will have success handed to him or her.

But most people make it on their own. Their family can’t help much beyond providing stability and maybe a bit of help with tuition at a state school or vo-tech. So they work, chose a school and put themselves through it, get an apartment with enough room-mates to pay the rent and then they get a job, struggle to pay off their loans, and get married, make car payments... and when they go to apply for jobs they have to present what the employer wants to see.

I think that the concept of "white privilege" is incredibly damaging because it feeds into a lie about what white people *don’t* have to do. That they don’t have to jump through hoops or sit in interviews as if they’ve got a rod up their *ss and say "yes, sir." That they *don’t* have to work twice as hard or be twice as good to succeed in competitive markets. That they don’t have to cut their hair a certain way or wear certain clothes when they’d rather not, or shave because the boss said so, or all those slightly self-degrading suck-up sorts of things that a white boy in entry-level has to do.

How is anyone supposed to know what’s "normal" in a situation if they’ve got some idea that white people don’t have to do what white people have to do?

Seriously, Scott. Your example of the kid with family privilege is all nice and good but that in no way whatsoever explains how "white privilege" manifests for MY father or MY brother.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
People are offended at your presumptive cause of those differences—that "typical" whites are racists.
This is all part of Erb playing the cultural elite: "I am above all of this. I think Obama’s speech was perfect and properly put all of you middle aged white conservative male racists in your place. The black community is completely blameless. We whites are the guilty ones. Be more like me - one with my black brethren, willing to go to bended knee to overcome the sins that our forebears obviously committed to those poor unfortunates. And now that I have shown all of you that my multi-cultural bonafides are far superior to your way of thinking, we can now join hands and welcome the new day of racial harmony - courtesy of Reverend Wright and the Blessed one - Obama."
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Synova — synchronicity strikes! I got a book today in the mail, unsolicited, called "White Privilege" by Paula S. Rothenberg (I get books a lot, since publishers want them used in their courses). I don’t teach a course on race, but just looking through this book there is a lot of evidence that, whether or not you automatically agree or disagree about the extent of white privilege, that it is very real. I also talked with a professor of sociology (a white woman) who teaches a race class before my class in the same classroom. I talked with her a bit about this issue, and at least she thinks these issues remain powerful.

However, you are right that it’s always a leap to go from looking at general social phenomena to individual cases. Some blacks are so privileged in other ways that any disadvantage they have due to color is more than offset. Some whites are so disadvantaged in other ways, that being white doesn’t help. It can be a very minor part of many peoples’ lives, and may not matter at all. So I see your point, and I guess I’d just say it’s not a good concept to apply on the individual case level.

In social science we call this a ’level of analysis’ issue — you can analyze things from the individual level of analysis, systemic, societal or governmental. Macro economics may tell us a lot about where the nation’s economy is going, but it may mean little for some particular businesses, depending on their location and what they do.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I’ve been asking someone on another blog to explain how white privilege applies to individuals and am not having any luck there either.

I *do* understand how there is a certain societal benefit to being in one group over another, my problem with that is that it simply doesn’t apply to individuals and in the end it’s only as individuals that we participate in our society and community at all.

There is no "group."

And I think that it is divisive and even dangerous to insist to people who are individuals that they are supposed to, as individuals, feel some sort of guilt for a privilege that they never see because it simply doesn’t apply to anything other than a larger abstract conceptual sort of non-personal space.

People react as people will. When I’m told or feel it implied that "white men" have it better than others I get *personally offended* for the sake of the white men that I love and who’s struggles I feel most viscerally.

Do you know what I think would actually help? If we could all be on the same team working for the same goals instead of shunted off into racially determined categories that have so little relevance to the other influences on our lives. You know, if we weren’t judged by the color of our skin. Wouldn’t that be better?
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Do you know what I think would actually help? If we could all be on the same team working for the same goals instead of shunted off into racially determined categories that have so little relevance to the other influences on our lives. You know, if we weren’t judged by the color of our skin. Wouldn’t that be better?

Sorry, unless your philosophy can trace its roots back to dialectic materialism, the Left (somehow the self-anointed authority on this matter) isn’t interested. Normative ethics is a tool of white oppression, etc. as Erb already said.

Besides, as long as the race hustlers have whites over a barrel, of course they’re going to keep on kicking. They have bills to pay, you know...

 
Written By: Douglas Black
URL: http://
Synova, there are groups. Statistically they can be identified, you can run all sorts of multivariate analyses and find really interesting results. There are of course self-defined groups (religions, nations, etc.) or groups created by institutions (school, church or place of employment). Each of these groups is made up of individuals.

But here’s the point:
Do you know what I think would actually help? If we could all be on the same team working for the same goals instead of shunted off into racially determined categories that have so little relevance to the other influences on our lives. You know, if we weren’t judged by the color of our skin. Wouldn’t that be better?
Having seen what communism looked like, I really don’t like (and I know you didn’t’ mean it that way) positing everyone working on the same team for the same goals. Our system is better because we have divergent goals and we compete and learn from each other. Still, I agree with the second part — we shouldn’t be judged by the color of our skin, and race should have little relevance. I would respond in two ways: a) there is an "is" vs. "ought" issue — race does matter, and so the "should" question leads to how do we make the "is" what it "should" be; and b) the way to do it is to acknowledge the role of race, recognize it, think about in our society, and not use it as a weapon.

That means understanding why Wright, a man who had to fight in a time of severe oppression and even violence, ended up radicalized, he truly was part of an era of deep oppression, and the anger he shows at times helped inspire people to work to end that. And their efforts mattered. Does that mean he’s right on these issues? Of course not, Obama himself says that. Does that mean it would be great if Wright suddenly changed. Perhaps. But his experiences formed him, and he’s going to be an energized radical forever (in comments on post 8174 I go into this more, thinking about Obama’s relationship to Wright). So yeah, disagree, but don’t condemn or try to destroy him. Honor his accomplishments while disagreeing with or even condemning some of his views.

Oh, also on "b," I’m not saying government programs or actions are the way to address these differences, I’m thinking more of education, empathy for the different experiences of blacks and whites (and others of various backgrounds) so that we really do understand why a black man raised in the fifties and sixties might have intensely radical and angry ideas compared to say one raised in the seventies and eighties.

As for Obama - it is really wrong to connect him to Wright on this. I explain that more in the post I allude to above, but that essentially is to judge him by race, he didn’t react to his church the way a white man in a different cultural context would. And, of course, despite all of this, I’m not ready to say I’d vote for Obama. He’s better than Hillary or McCain, but I’m still likely to pull the level for Nader, just because Nader is someone I trust more not to be in it for himself or to be easily swayed by powerful interests.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott, if Obama’s reaction to Wright has to be judged by a different cultural context then I demand the right for my reactions to be judged by my special cultural context.

I get to be mad, too.

But I question the assumption that Wright’s radicalization is authentic. The simple fact is that having an enemy works to motivate people. He’s a demagogue (as are many ministers of any race, though by no means all) and it’s made him popular and it’s made his church very large. Why should we *assume* that he’s not a demagogue first and a helpless product of his life experience second?

 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
But I question the assumption that Wright’s radicalization is authentic.
Really, given the world of oppression he grew up in. Would that not radicalize you? Separate drinking fountains, back of the bus, overt discrimination, lack of equal rights...anyway, I wrote my view on it on my blog today, and I guess that will be my last word.

You certainly can be mad about his comments. But it’s best if people not only react, but then talk with each other and try to understand each other. Ones’ reaction to something is sometimes misguided.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It could. But I hope it wouldn’t make me abandon Protestant doctrine. And since those same experiences did not result in the same responses from every person I think it safe to say that different people reacted differently.

Why *not* question the assumption that Wright is not playing primarily to his audience. My experience of preachers is that a non-trivial minority of them have a burning psychological need for the emotional feedback loop and public acclaim they get from performing in front of a crowd. Like other performers, I suppose.

So why NOT consider this possibility?

If he were the white pastor of a mega-church I’d be entitled to consider that possibility. His being black means that I can’t?
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com

 
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