A bit more about racism and Daily Kos

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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81 Responses

  1. Don’t forget that you’re trying to insight the masses against the police and are too lazy to fact-check.Report

  2. This first sentence: “It’s not everyday that we experience what is to be one of the storm of the century.” reads like it came out of the Google translate version of the People’s Daily.Report

  3. Also, I don’t even know if it’s obvious that guy is black.Report

    • Right – I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t even notice what color he was. I was paying attention to the scenery, quite frankly. It was a really good photograph and conveyed something of the mood I was hoping to get across. Oh well.Report

  4. Tom Van Dyke says:

    I’ll repeat my sage comment from below, then—

    It’s all grist for the [lefty?] mill, EDK. You were not named: you’re collateral damage at worst. I do doubt that your personal reputation has suffered in the least.

    Your jumpoff point for the Forbes OP was crime. The photo was puzzling and uncommunicative: it could be taken that the dude in the photo was stalking a bike left in the rain that somehow stood upright against flood waters—and if so, probably only because it was chain-locked to the post; it could be taken that he was of some race that ain’t white. It could be he was some American going to check on his bike.

    What made the Daily Kos writer link crime and race? It was his racial bigotry that was on display here, not yours. You didn’t mention race.

    That’s probably how I would have addressed this attack. The lefties are the racists, or at least this one is. In standing up with an idiot knee-jerk decoupling of race and crime, it was he/she/it who sourced the question.

    Don’t blame the copy desk. The real villains are those who read race into yr OP.Report

  5. Burt Likko says:

    If you’re looking for a picture that says racism in relation to crime in the wake of a hurricane, it isn’t that hard to find the picture of the Katrina survivor carrying a case of beer through thigh-deep water. You know the one.

    The guy in your picture doesn’t look like that at all.Report

  6. E.D. Kain says:

    Right – he just looks like a dude walking.Report

  7. greginak says:

    Holy FSM, this has been a clusterfu of a bunch of posts. Sadly there are many of my fellow lefties who are so hyper sensitive to finding all sorts of nasties they don’t engage anything above their brain stem. There is a reason many of us love TNC’s site, not only he is a great writer and insightful man but its actual possible to discuss race without the hypersensitivity or denialism of the least thoughtful of the Internet. You’re not a racist or sexist, but this kind of debate never gets settled. It’s better just to drop it and move on. DK hasn’t been worth much in years, its not like there aren’t a supersized helping of actual racism to rail against.Report

  8. Robert Cheeks says:

    Could this be God’s judgement on those who blithely accuse others of racism?Report

    • Maybe, but if it is judgement, it’s of the sort of “punishing someone for the sins of others.”

      I’ve been reading this blog only for less than a year, but I don’t recall Mr. Kain ever “blithely” accusing anybody of anything.Report

      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        I do.Report

      • Chris in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        Bob’s a treason in defense of slavery apologist who’s openly suggested that we should just let Muslims in the Middle East kill each other off, but when someone called him a racist, it was done blithely for sure.Report

        • Robert Cheeks in reply to Chris says:

          Chris, not “someone”, I believe it was E.D., which required me to ‘splain that his evil, mean-spirited, calumny can’t change the fact that Islam has followers from every race. He then called me a ‘bigot,’ which indicates the level of dialogue that sadly occurs here much to often.Report

          • Chris in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Yeah, suggesting that it’s OK for people to kill each other off because they are members of a particular religion is not bigotry. Why would anyone think that?Report

          • E.D. Kain in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            That’s rich Bob. Self-reflection isn’t big on your list of priorities is it? Your constant diatribe of commie-dem this and soshilist that, not to mention the anti-Muslim crap, speaks much more to the ‘level of dialogue that sadly occurs here much to often’ than someone like me pointing it out does.Report

            • Robert Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

              E.D., first, I thought you’d take the opportunity to apologize for the insulting comment. Well, that didn’t happen did it? No, you took up the cudgel to yet, again, injure my feelings. As you know, I use the term “commie-Dem” as an aide, a way to illustrate to you people just how fished up your political thinking can be. As I’ve often said, “I’m here to hep.”
              BTW, the blogs have been a little boring lately, and I’d appreciate it if you’d jack up the excitement around here.Report

        • Will H. in reply to Chris says:

          Just me, I suppose; but I have to wonder if letting the Albanian muslims and the Croatian muslims kill each other off would be racist.
          Hard to be racist when you’re just killing white people.
          It’s much more socially acceptable.
          To the Left, anyway.
          Especially if they only killed because they were disadvantaged.
          Killings by Kennedys are generally frowned upon, and to be kept to a minimum.Report

  9. MFarmer says:

    Well, when you get to the top everyone wants to knock you down — that’s the price for blog-rock stardom. What next?Report

  10. sonmi451 says:

    Mr Kain, you are not as well known as you think, certainly not at the level of Matt Yglesias or Ezra Klein, so it’s little petty that in both cases of your arguments with other bloggers (Sady Doyle and the Daily Kos blogger), your main beef seems to be that those bloggers don’t know who you are and don’t understand how wonderful you are and how you woule NEVER EVER EVER be a racist or a misogynist. Newsflash, you are not THAT famous that every blogger in the world is expected to know who you are and what you supposedly stand for. Each article has to stand on its own two feet, you can’t expect to coast on your reputation, since you don’t really have much of one yet.

    It’s amazing how thin-skinned and overly-sensitive you sounded in both these two occasions. Hey, I thought both the people arguing with you are more in the wrong than you, but your defensiveness is very, very off-putting. And since when do you call yourself a liberal anyway? I thought you like trying out ideology? Or is that just a ploy to deflect the racism accusation – I’m a liberal therefore I can’t be a racist? Is this really your coming out party? Are you declaring yourself a liberal now? Or will it change once there’s another accusation? Is ideology just a tool you used to deflect unsavory accusations?Report

    • sonmi451 in reply to sonmi451 says:

      Or I suppose calling yourself a “liberal” is what got you the Forbes gig in the first place. They wanted a “liberal” for balance, but not a real liberal, oh no, that would be too much for Forbes, so why not a fake liberal who calls himself a liberal when he is being pushed into a corner to save himself, but then brag about trying out ideologies and being open-minded etc etc. I wouldn’t really care, except it seems really unfair to the real liberals, what could be their position being taken by a fake liberal like you.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to sonmi451 says:

        Or they liked his writing elsewhere and you’re imagining this part.Report

      • Kim in reply to sonmi451 says:

        … on what grounds do you call him a fake liberal? His ideology seems like that of Dr. Brin, who is a liberal Republican with libertarian leanings.

        Hell, I’m a lefti if there is one anywhere, and I’ve been known to advocate teh conservative position on natural resources (that is: conserve them! and make more money later, when they’re scarcer and we do sell them because we hafta)Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Kim says:

          I think somni is just a holdover from the Balloon Juice days. And I’m plenty used to people on the right calling me a socialist, hardcore libertarians calling me a statist, and liberals calling me a fascist. It’s part of the game.Report

      • E.D. Kain in reply to sonmi451 says:

        On the accusation that Forbes got me the gig because I was a “liberal” for balance – this is just silliness. I got the gig because I wrote at True/Slant and when they got bought out by Forbes my contract was transferred over to Forbes. This was likely because I could drive traffic.

        Also, it’s good to know I’ve finally met the person who holds the keys to city. How do you trade in the fake liberal card for the real liberal one? And is their some equivalent in liberal-land to RINO?

        As far as I know, plenty of liberals are actually open-minded people, who try on all sorts of ideas. Close-mindedness happens, too, but I’d be hesitant to use it as a defining factor.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to sonmi451 says:

      sonmi451 – All I have ever asked is that people actually read the words I have written before laying judgment down at my feet.

      That you obviously do not like me personally is duly noted.Report

      • sonmi451 in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        You could have just responded to the whole controversy with – I had nothing to do with the placement of the Yahoo story, it’s unfortunate, but not my doing, and the DK blogger should have checked the original source, The End. Instead you went on and on about how you are the only liberal writer at Forbes, and you’ve written all these wonderfully liberal things about all these important things, and so how dare that blogger accuse YOU OF ALL PEOPLE WHO’VE BEEN FIGHTING SO HARD FOR LIBERALISM of racism etc etc – i.e. making it all about ME ME ME ME. You and Freddie de Boer might not share much of a political ideology, but both of you share the same ideology about blogging – it’s all about you and your hurt feelings about not being appreciated enough. Although you and Mr de Boer seem to go at it from the opposite direction, he excels at nipping at the heels and annoying those bloggers more famous than him (Klein, Yglesias, Coates etc etc), as if by calling them out as deficient, he could make himself more important. You, on the other hand, get angry at those bloggers less famous than you for not knowing who you are and what your work is all about. In both cases, the breathless ambition is unmistakable – you are both people on the make, and are trying too hard it’s very off-putting.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to sonmi451 says:

          sonmi – I appreciate that you know my motivations better than I do myself. Perhaps you’re right, and I should have said less about my work and my politics. I was attempting to drive home the point that if they had simply read on a bit they would have seen how stupid the accusation was. Being called a racist, on the heels of all the feminist blogging yesterday, was one straw too many.

          Should I have ignored it or brushed it off with less ado? Sure, I can believe you there. I’m not certain where this hostility on your part is coming from (fake liberal, breathless ambition, etc. etc.). Am I trying too hard? I can’t honestly say. This isn’t exactly a science. Being misunderstood, in a fundamental way, is also off-putting.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            Everybody who objects to being called a racist or any anything-ist comes off as thin skinned… to anyone who believes the underlying charge just might be true.

            Of course, calling someone a racist is right up there with accusing them of sexual congress with their parents, in terms of offensiveness, if the person in question *isn’t* a racist, so this is understandable on both ends.

            Having been on the end of the stick that you’re currently on, Erik, I’ll say you responded much like I did, and in retrospect it came across as thin skinned to people who didn’t know me at the time.

            > I’m not certain where this hostility on
            > your part is coming from

            I’ll guess it’s carried context.

            @ sonmi

            > You and Freddie de Boer might not share
            > much of a political ideology, but both of
            > you share the same ideology about
            > blogging – it’s all about you and your
            > hurt feelings about not being appreciated
            > enough

            If I was in a charitable mood, I would suggest gently that reading two or three posts of anyone’s work is hardly a great way to establish a good feel for their “blogging ideology”. I would further suggest that making any sort of blanket statement like this about anyone’s approach to blogging is extremely judgmental even if you have read all their work and it makes you come across like a jackass.

            Since I’m not in a charitable mood, I’ll just suggest that you not come here and spend so much of your valuable time telling other people what they think. You’re not good at it.Report

            • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              … it’s a better policy to ask “what actions have I taken that might have been caused by an -ist that I am unaware of..?”Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                This can lead you down a rabbit hole, though.

                I remember at one point in college I was arguing frequently with a fairly militant feminist after classes (we shared more than a few). After a while, I started thinking that maybe she had a point about embedded sexism, and I started trying to deconstruct it.

                This rapidly turns into everything looks like evidence of sexist behavior, if you go three steps down the decision tree. Hm, maybe she was onto something.

                And then I compared my behavior with people that she agreed with, and came up with the conclusion that the likeliest explanation for a good chunk of that was observer bias. Because I would do and say things that mild feminists would do or say, and nobody accused them of acting that way because they were men, whereas the only explanation for my behavior was Oedipal or something equally ridiculous.

                The process was useful, though. I did find a few things that were stuck back behind my prefrontal lobe that needed addressing.

                Generally, though, if someone doesn’t normally act like a sexist or racist, and then they do something that comes across as sexism or racism, most of the time this is because of observer bias on the part of the accuser. Not because of pernicious buried assumptions of white/male superiority. Not that there aren’t buried assumptions of white/male superiority; but there are plenty of buried assumptions about white/male inferiority to balance those out, too.

                Watch somebody for a year and you can tell if they’re a sexist. A couple of blog posts is hardly a representative data set.Report

              • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                societies can be sexist/racist too. and one responds to society, sometimes without thinking about it… (one can also do one thing that is racist, without being “a racist”)Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                Oh, sure.

                Look, I’m onboard with feminism. I see a lot of embedded sexism and racism in our culture.

                But there’s not always sexism or racism at the core of that, either. Women aren’t promoted as often as men, for example. Well, that’s certainly unbalanced and ought to be corrected. But men (often) are more aggressive when it comes to seeing promotion, and managers (both men and women) are often bad at assessing who is worthy of promotion. Plus, they often go with their gut (which as we discussed on another thread, *is* more efficient after all), and so they promote the “go-getter”.

                So much of the disparity there is likely due to factors that are sex-linked, but not sex-caused. I personally, honestly, have met maybe two people in the workforce who would fail to promote someone *because* they were a woman. However, I’ve met lots of people who would promote any marginally qualified idiot who kept asking for a promotion.

                So the sexist effect is largely decoupled from a sexist cause. Trying to approach it as if it *wasn’t* is not likely to get you anywhere.Report

              • Kim in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                … women do not make good managers, often, in mixed sex workplaces, because when a man pushes the boundaries (it’s nearly always a guy thing), and another man shuts him down, it’s merely embarassing. When a woman shuts him down, she’s a bitch and it’s a total affront to his dignity.

                I’m not going to say that this is an “always” behavioral pattern (try getting CS folks to buck the boss. they’d rather play minecraft. or scientists. they just want more shiny toys), or one that many people think about. but it does exist in many places.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                > When a woman shuts him
                > down, she’s a bitch and it’s
                > a total affront to his dignity.

                I don’t see this as often as I used to (still, too often, granted). It’s very industry-linked. The car business has a lot of this misogynist crap in it.

                The proper response here, IMO, is for the team members to tell the guy to shut the hell up, she was right and you were being a dumbass. When I managed a team of four guys, that’s the sort of environment I encouraged: talk, discuss, but own up to your positions; if someone said something stupid, the group shut them down. Lots of other guys manage by decree, that doesn’t work as well IMO.

                When a woman manages by degree, then yeah, you can get that (and it is a double standard and it sucks).

                At that point, your alternative is if someone can’t handle criticism constructively, fire them. If you’re going to be a decree ruler, then your only choice when you have dissent is to get rid of ’em.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                “[I]f someone doesn’t normally act like a sexist or racist, and then they do something that comes across as sexism or racism, most of the time this is because of observer bias on the part of the accuser. ”

                No; it’s Unconcious Privilege, and the way you can tell it’s privilege is that you insist that it isn’t. It’s a wonderful catch, that Catch-22.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Yes, I’ve had that charge leveled at me too. In fairness, it hasn’t always been wrong.Report

            • sonmi451 in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

              I thought this blog makes fun of those thin-skinned people like Sady Doyle and their needs for “safe space”? What, ED needs his own “safe space” now?Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to sonmi451 says:

                What safe space have I asked for? When did I refuse to link to the people in question? Whose comments have I deleted?Report

              • sonmi451 in reply to sonmi451 says:

                That is in response to this comment:

                “Since I’m not in a charitable mood, I’ll just suggest that you not come here and spend so much of your valuable time telling other people what they think.”Report

              • Jaybird in reply to sonmi451 says:

                This is significantly different from deleting (or “hiding”) your comment.Report

              • Kim in reply to Jaybird says:

                … hiding just means that bozos from the outside can’t see it (ya need to be a trusted user to hide things, and it takes a quorum. likewise, trusted users get to see things that get really hid). seen enough stuff generate reasonable debate even after being hid.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Kim says:

                As one of the bozos from the outside, it results in the community looking like an echo chamber.

                The fact that, surely, only evil and wicked comments are hidden from bozos like me is obscured by the fact that there are a number of comments that strike me as, at the very least, questionable that are left up and seem to be left up because they have a particular viewpoint.

                The fact that our very own Chris had his comment “hidden” does not do much to get me to change my mind on that.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                there’s an endless stream of [“stop using hiding” to enforce your opinion] posts on kos. it never stops.
                Last time I looked at people posting “sane and reasonable” comments (different site), they turned out to be needlessly inflammatory, etc.
                Also, kos does tend to be “newbie phobic” (if you haven’t bothered to talk about anything else, and try to mess a bit with the groupthink (everyone’s got groupthink! say it with me!), you risk being labeled as an evul conservative troll)

                [The idea of hiding comments is so that O’Reilley doesn’t have any more ammunition to call DKos racist when it’s just one commenter that everybody hates and will be shortly banned.]Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:


                If that’s the situation DailyKos is in, I submit that the site has outlived its primary usefulness and it might be time to try starting over.

                Online community building and maintenance is hard. When your maintenance is affecting your community, it’s time to try again.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                Mr. Kain,
                Threw a link to your response onto dkos. if you would like me to remove such, just ask.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                what’s it’s primary usefulness again? I treat it as a news agreggator… which needs less “new blood” than you might think.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to Kim says:

                Kim – thanks, that’s fine. I appreciate it.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                I read the NY Times and the WSJ, although not daily. BBC international news.

                Mostly I use blogs and social networking now. Google Plus is actually a workable news aggregator if you create a news aggregation circle and you follow the right people.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                Chris, if you want to post your comment in a [“probably will be read by SOMEONE” at kos]-zone, here’s my link:

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                Patrick, I find that a lot of good solid people post on kos (bonddad, David Brin-the author, fishgrease). Not to mention the people on the front page, who tend to be disillusioned republicans (yes, really!).Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                Is Brin still… ah, how do I put this delicately? Is he still convinced of the correctness of his breakfast cereal choices?Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean.
                (he seems to quote Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal a lot… but that’s a webcomic).

                Authors tend to be opinionated folk — his comment section gets a bit of trollery, but can often be rather worthwhile.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Kim says:

                Let’s just say that I have it on a reasonable authority that Mr. Brin is not disposed to believe he is capable of error.Report

              • Kim in reply to Kim says:

                ya, am inclined to agree with you on that. Heard the same thing said about Obama, from a guy who “had words” with him [he also noted “at least he listened”].Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to sonmi451 says:

                Oh, I’m sure that E.D. can take care of himself. He doesn’t need me to protect him.

                Lest I come across as one of PZ’s fanboys, I’m not a camp follower, here.

                I just think you are currently exhibiting behavior that makes you uninteresting to read. The fact that you picked one chunk of my comment to respond to and ignored the rest of it (which was actually the more important part) reinforces my inclination to treat you less than charitably.

                Additional note: You’re welcome to tell me what I think, if you’re good at it.

                Of course, you could offer a critique of substance, and that would be cool.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to sonmi451 says:


                You’ll note that Erik’s original piece didn’t make fun of Sady Doyle. Erik’s original piece critiqued her writing. Pointing out specific things about her writing that relied upon assumptions that he thought were just wrong.

                The “making fun of” part came after. In comments. Largely because of what Sady wrote in response to what Erik wrote.

                You’ll also note that your charge is incomplete, and therefore inaccurate.

                Commentors weren’t making fun of Sady for having a “safe space”. People commented on the drawbacks of the approach. People (self included) made fun of Sady for writing posts that would encourage flame wars while simultaneously maintaining a safe space.

                If she wants a safe space to blog about women’s issues, that’s cool. If she wants a safe space to blog about how stupid she thinks other people are, I’m not finding it surprising that people call her ridiculous and make fun of her on those grounds.

                I don’t care how she blogs. I do find it odd for someone to create a platform at which to throw criticism at other people which discourages return fire. But hey, that’s me.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                To the extent that there was “mocking”, it was derision of the notion that someone would solicit comments but expect the commentors to always agree with them about everything.Report

  11. Kim says:

    Mr. Kain,
    my piece on dkos appears to have garnered 101 views (so far). I believe that this is a reasonable showing for a “response” diary (better than I thought would happen), and that a considerable number of people have become more informed through this.
    I for one, am pleased to have helped with the dialog.Report