Friday, September 18, 2009

Jim Wallis - In All Honesty

You know what? When you're on the road, and you haven't blogged in 48 hours, sometimes it's nice to have an old standby to kick around. Someone so reliably inane and demagogic that they provide instant material for phoners-in such as myself.

In other words, thank God for Jim Wallis, the Pat Robertson of the left. Oh, his piece about racism. Again. Seriously. Enjoy.

Title: What?! Racism Still in America?

I cannot respect people who use a quotation mark and exclamation point in succession for the purpose of emphasizing sarcasm.

Here we go again.

I was thinking the same thing.

Some people raise the issue of race (this time about the ways others are talking about or treating the first black U.S. president) and the media goes crazy.

You know, columnists these days are really defining downward the term "crazy". Many outlets covered, and even opined, in response to a former president labeling those in opposition to the current president as racist. This is a crazy thing to do? Really?

Also, why is that parenthetical a parenthetical? You can put the crux of your sentence in parenthesis.

“What racism?” many of the pundits cry. “Didn’t we just elect this black guy president?” (Implying “Doesn’t that prove that racism is over in America?”)

Demagoguery 101: Always hate on pundits. Pundits are the worst people on Earth. Pundits break into our childrens' rooms at night to give them autism. Pundits suck.

Also, Jim Wallis has gleaned an implied meaning from a quote he made up himself. Now that's what I call a straw man.

So let’s all just take a breath here, as we always need to do when talking about race in the U.S.

Except when we level the initial charge of racism. By all means, throw caution to the !@#$ing wind when doing that.

A few simple points:

What follows is are neither simple nor "points".

That a still majority white U.S. would elect a black man as head of state was stunning to many — and, I must admit, to me.

We were in a position as a country to do so decades ago. That Wallis is stunned says something about his assumptions.

Frankly, it made me think that the country was better than I thought it was.

This reminds me of the Simpson's flashback episode where Artie Ziff condescendingly congratulates the class on electing their intellectual superior as prom king. "Good for you".

Second, the majority of Americans, and even of white Americans — whether they voted for Obama or not — seemed to feel proud and positive that the nation had finally reached this amazing milestone.

Wallis' second point is that he really has no point.

The new president’s approval rating climbed up to 70% in the week after the inauguration, which obviously meant that even some of those who voted against him were impressed by how he was handling his job at the outset.

No, it obviously did not mean that. It obviously meant that, as it has been with every president, the populace was giving him a chance to sink or swim. He sank.

To disagree with a black president on policy questions does not mean that you are racist.

Great, thanks for playing.

But fourth — and importantly — there was, and is still, a hard core of racially-motivated white people in this nation who did vote against Obama because he is black, and who virulently oppose him as president because he is black. And that racist core of angry white Americans resides on the extreme political right of U.S. politics.

This is a canard. "Hard core racially-motivated white people" vote across the spectrum. By and large, they tend to be populists. There are lots of racist union employees, I assure you, and plenty of racists voted FOR Obama because it was in their (near-sighted, ignorant) best interests to do so.

The Far Right in America have never supported racial equality.
Here's the part of Wallis' spiel where he expands the definition of "far right" (no need for caps) to include as many Republicans as possible. Civil Rights act time...

Their political representatives voted against both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965, and most have never repented for it.

A) It wasn't a sin to oppose either.

B) Most pols have capitulated on the issue. Most notably Goldwater. Also Nixon. Many more. Wallis is making things up.

And, let’s be honest,

Why start now?

the loudest voices of right-wing talk radio and cable television appeal directly to that core with subtle and not-so-subtle racial messages, as has the right wing of the Republican Party for many years.

A bold claim. Let's hear some examples, starting with the "not-so-subtle" racial messages. What were they?

If you were paying attention,

Which, if the examples were not subtle, should not have been necessary.

you could see signs of that underlying racism at the most heated town meetings this summer.

What were those signs? Again, you mentioned not-so-subtle ones. How about some concrete...

Of course, not everybody who attended, or even was mad about health care or the government at those meetings, is a racist — most of those people weren’t, but some of them clearly are.

And this is clear because of the following examples...

There were blatant signs of racism at some of the town meetings and, indeed, many signs that carried overtly racial messages.

Which ones? How about 3-5 examples of not-so-subtle signs that clearly reflected racial animus. You know what? Let's start with one. Give us one example.

I see those racial subtexts in the intensity of the attacks on Obama — not in the disagreements per se, but in the viciousness of the rhetoric.

Okay, we're moving past the signs. That's cool. It's not really about signs anyway. Let's delve into some of the more obvious examples of vicious racial rhetoric. I don't know how subtext can be not-so-subtle, by definition, but whatev...

Racism is often about disrespect, and many African-American citizens are now feeling that the black president in the White House is being disrespected.

You see what Wallis did here? Because "many" African-American citizens feel that the black president has been disrespected, and because racism is "often" about disrespect, it is therefore valid to attach racial overtones to any and all criticisms of our president. That's why they call them weasel words, folks.

I also see it in supporters of the new “birthers” movement, who try to stir up doubts about Obama’s citizenship.

I could thus far summarize Wallis' piece as follows:

Republicans are racists. They are racist in different ways. How they talk and act, for example. For example, birthers, who are so racist that I don't even need to explain myself.

I see it in the furor over the president speaking to the nation’s schoolchildren about studying and working hard.

He sees racism in clothing choices. Why do Republicans wear khakis? He sees racism in how white people hunt deer. Also in the way they brush their teeth, eat, drive their automobiles, change their children's diapers, purchase electronics, complete their homework, burp and dust their coffee tables.

And, agree with me or not,

I emphatically do not.

I saw it in the disrespect shown toward a black president by a white Congressman from the South,

And dissent from the South is particularly racist. Cause, you know, the South. Racist. They burp racist in the South.

whose less than enthusiastic apologies have now turned him into a fund-raising martyr,

Demagoguery 202: Throw a lot of buzzwords into a sentence that isn't actually a sentence. What Wallis means is that Joe Wilson's apologies were, in his eyes, unenthusiastic, and that he has been perceived as a sort of martyr, thereby yielding fundraising dollars.

cheered on by a defiant rebel yell against the man (or is it “boy”?) in the White House.

Wallis was so excited to accuse others of calling Obama a "boy" that he completely forgot to include a subject for his verb. Who was cheered on by a rebel yell? Wilson? But then, who was doing the cheering? Wallis is throwing gasoline on a word salad. He seems to have set himself on fire.

We have all witnessed or experienced situations where someone has “played the race card” in inappropriate or unfair ways.

I humbly submit exhibit A.

And racism is not the cause or explanation of every social problem.

Demagoguery 303: After making a blanket assessment of something, claim that you are not, in fact, making a blanket assessment. Then resume making blanket assessments.

Nor are legitimately different points of view obvious signs of racism.

Additional meaningless qualifier.

Does Wallis know that he accused Obama's opposition of referring to him as a "boy"? Doesn't that deserve, if not an explanation, a sentence written in English? Shouldn't you be careful when you put something like on the internet? Isn't that part and parcel of the whole "take a deep breath" thing?

President Obama has not played the race card,

He has his shills do it for him.

But let’s be honest.

Oh, we're doing the honesty thing again. I smell an unsubstantiated claim coming...

We all know racism still exists in the U.S. today.

Refreshing honesty. Thanks Jim. Now back to the bullshit...

We know there is a hard core of our white fellow citizens who simply will not accept their black or brown brothers and sisters — especially one in the White House.

Wallis already made this last point in his first concluding paragraph, which, really, should have been the only concluding paragraph.
So while we should not call every disagreement an issue of racism, it is time to call out the racism that indeed does still exist

Or, alternately, merely repeat the fact that it does exist, and hope that its very existence allows you to compensate for failing to frame your argument. Or make one at all. Also, pretty much every disagreement is racist.

— that wounds our soul as a nation, and that obstructs the promise of the United States.

If I were half as angry of a Republican as folks like Wallis have made me out to be, my fist would be having an Eschaton type conflict with my computer screen.

Let's be honest. This dude gets paid six figures to call me a racist. That may not wound our soul as a nation, but it doesn't lend any credibility to the notion that Wallis is some sort of post-partisan idealist.

My advice to Obama. Tell your race defenders to step down. You'll need that race card in 2012. I mean, be honest.


Blogger Sarah said...

"I cannot respect people who use a quotation mark and exclamation point in succession for the purpose of emphasizing sarcasm. "

I'm going to assume you meant question mark.

"They burp racist in the South. "

I loved this!

Also, I think there are people who think Obama played a race card simply by being black. When I think about racism I sometimes can't help but think some people who call the most attention to not defining people by their color are calling attention to the difference in color and furthering others to also make the distinction by color. It's convoluted. The more a person says color is not an issue, the more I think that person has an issue with color. Maybe that's just my perception.

10:10 AM  

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