Another piece on race and the election cycle…

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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85 Responses

  1. Avatar Michelle says:

    Thanks for the link. Brilliant piece. Makes me think it’s time to read Invisible Man again.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Indeed. Chalking up criticism of Obama to racism was a stroke of genius. How has no one ever thought of this before?Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I understand that Bush Jr. wanted to criticize his critics as being racists back in ’04, but his people advised against it.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          A family is like a small race, so it was racist when they said he just got the job because of his father. Also, those cocaine rumors. Cocaine’s a white man’s drug.

          Actually, what I meant was that I was surprised that no one had ever thought of chalking up criticism of Obama to racism before.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            You post a few thousand pictures of a black gut with a bone through his nose, and people start calling you racists. It’s not like we didn’t accuse him of being an adulterous traitor, just like he was white.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              Did Clint Eastwood present a picture of Obama with a bone through his nose? Was any such picture displayed at any point during the convention?

              Opposition to the Obama does not in fact consist of a single hive mind. Obama’s black, so obviously white racists aren’t going to like him. This does not mean that you get to chalk up all opposition to him as racist.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              That would be like chalking all criticism of the financial industry to envy, and God knows no one’s ever done that.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Indeed. Chalking up criticism of Obama to racism was a stroke of genius. How has no one ever thought of this before?

        If that’s all you got out of the essay, then I think you missed the larger point about the marginalization of minorities in any society. The author’s not taking issue with Eastman’s specific criticisms of Obama’s policies, but the manner of presentation, a condescending charade in which Obama was presented as little more than a vulgar, obscenity-spouting lightweight. The whole thing was deeply disturbing on many levels.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          Seriously? Are you sixteen years old, or were you just living under a rock until 2009? Have you forgotten the mockery directed at Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., and Reagan, by their critics? This is par for the course, and it doesn’t magically become racist just because he’s black.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

            Yeah, recall when Clinton was accused of having inherited his anti-Americanism from his father, and when the Democrats demanded to see Reagan’s birth certificate? Same old, same old.Report

          • Avatar Michelle says:

            Wow, resorting to insults when someone doesn’t see things the same way that you do. How mature and reasonable. I don’t recall any parts of the 2004 Democratic convention where Bush was treated to the same level of disrespect that Eastman showed to Obama. Nor do I recall anyone put out on stage exhibiting the level of dementia Eastwood did. There’s mockery and then there’s the kind of primal ranting of an old man Eastman treated us to. Even the Romney people were embarrassed by it and quickly tried to dodge any responsibility for Eastman’s performance.

            Perhaps you need to read Invisible Man.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

              Ann Richards’ sneering “Poor George” speech @ 1988 DNC.

              That said, I think Michelle’s quite right at least as far as putting “tell Romney to go blank himself” in President Obama’s mouth. Very foul—although I must say I took that part as Eastwood schtick and didn’t literally associate it with Barack Obama the man.

              Because that’s the thing about caricatures—they only score when they have a root in reality. Barack Obama has no rep for swearing, so I mentally set that riff apart.

              As for tying all this into Invisible Man, valid or not, it’s chattering class fare regardless, more brie than cheddar.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                That said, I think Michelle’s quite right at least as far as putting “tell Romney to go blank himself” in President Obama’s mouth.

                It was crude certainly, but it had nothing to do with his race. These bogus accusations of racism are just a sleazy rhetorical tactic used by the left in an attempt to delegitimize opposition to their agenda.

                I predicted back in 2008 that this sort of thing would happen if Obama were elected. I take no credit for this, because it was blindingly obvious. It’s what they do.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                OK, BB, but yield Michelle’s point here: Wrong to put “F Yrself” in President Obama’s mouth. Very very wrong. He doesn’t deserve that.

                I actually took it differently, that Eastwood was actually dampening his endorsement of Romney with that, that Romney ain’t so great either. But if you reverse the colors, putting “Go F Yrself” in Mitt Romney’s mouth is patently vulgar and ugly. It’s just not right.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                Certainly. I cringed at it, too, as well as the “shut up” that preceded it.

                That said, I’m fairly certain that the point of the bit was not to cast Obama as foul-mouthed, but rather to emphasize the point that the facts Eastwood had been mentioning cast the Obama administration in a very unfavorable light.

                Michelle et al are reaching far beyond legitimate criticism of what Eastwood actually said, and…well…putting words in his mouth, just as Eastwood did to Obama. This is very, very wrong.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                OK, OK, BB, but yield the point. Not right to make Barack Obama foul-mouthed. Reverse the colors and if somebody pulled this in 2016 when Pres Mitt is running for re-election, it’s like WTF.

                Say whatever you want about Barack Obama, but the man has never been accused of being anything less than being the consummate gentleman.

                [That counts with me.]Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                We can’t elect a black guy, because things will get all racial.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                I never said it was a reason not to elect him.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              Hi Michelle – it’s Eastwood, not Eastman.

              Also, being disrespectful to a sitting President is every American’s *right*. Presidents aren’t kings, and aren’t owed any particular respect due solely to their position.

              While I agree that some of the animus against Obama is racist (I know this firsthand, from some unfortunate opinions some family members of mine hold) 🙁 it’s not fair to suggest that all (or even most ) of it is, and whatever Eastwood’s moral or dramatic or mental failings, I would be surprised to find he holds racist opinions, though I am basing this supposition mostly on his film work like Bird and Letters from Iwo Jima.

              Clinton and Carter were both widely portrayed as hillbillies, and Carter as a coward (killer rabbits!) and Clinton as a womanizer. Reagan and Bush II were portrayed as idiotic and out of touch (look up the Spitting Image videos or the ‘Land Of Confusion’ video on YouTube to get an idea of how Reagan was commonly portrayed – and this in a pop music video!)

              My point is not the aptness or validity of any particular President’s portrayal, it’s just to point out that *every* sitting President has to endure some pretty vicious mocking and caricaturing and belittling, and Obama shouldn’t automatically get a pass. If you think he should, then I hope the next time a Republican (or anyone!) holds office, you’ll denounce these sorts of vicious caricatures (and I’d avoid SNL altogether.)

              Me, I expect no less than constant and vicious mockery, no matter what color or party (or gender) our future Presidents are. It’s the American way 🙂Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                I don’t take issue with people mocking the President. But there’s a time and place. I guess i’m old enough to still believe in restraint and decorum. When’s the last time you saw a vicious and crude satirical attack on a sitting president at a political convention? It was out of place and inappropriate. Romney’s people knew it, which is why they were so quick to disavow responsibility for Eastwood’s antics.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Re: time and place – maybe a ‘free speech zone’? ;-).

                Again, this is America, and a political convention convened for the express purpose of attempting to unseat an incumbent is pretty close to the last place I’d expect much restraint w/r/t attacks, fair or unfair, on that incumbent.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Context matters.

                When you pick up age old tropes that have been used to marginalize a minority for centuries, it goes from fair attack on the president to something much uglier.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Sorry, which centuries-old tropes was Eastwood using? Because as far as I can see, he attempted a bit of dramatic satire, that for the author of the linked piece, brought to mind a powerful metaphor used in a 60-yr old novel.

                I rather doubt bringing that metaphor to mind was Eastwood’s intent, so what is this context you speak of? Danson in blackface this wasn’t.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                The metaphor from the 60 year old novel of course is pertinent because it was speaking to a social issue largely present since the start of American culture.

                And honestly I find it a bit hard to believe that someone with the fine understanding of directing film and storytelling not to mention Metaphor as Eastwood has wouldn’t catch this and understand precisely what else he was saying when he was putting an empty chair for the president and acting as the hectoring white elder talking down to an uppity invisible nigger.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                I don’t think it really matters whether Eastwood was intentionally enacting the trope, which was of course well known before the book (the book’s metaphor didn’t come out of nowhere). The fact that it enacted that trope is enough.

                Eastwood’s reputation on race is a subject of much debate, but the trope itself exists, and was elicited, regardless of his intention.

                Of course, if nothing’s racist, this is all irrelevant. But hey, we have to have the conversation on the “nothing is racist” people’s terms, right? Anything else would be unfair.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Nob, I admit I am having a real problem seeing this argument. As Americans, as film watchers, as readers of Invisible Man, we are predisposed to identify with the underdog, the oppressed.

                Are you seriously suggesting Eastwood was attempting to cast ‘Invisible Obama’ as what most Americans would naturally be predisposed to see as ‘the victim’ in his little drama? This seems counterproductive, to say the least, if you are trying to undermine Obama.

                It’d be like trying a ‘Star Wars’- themed sketch, but casting yourself as Vader, instead of as the plucky but powerless rebel going up against him.

                I am having trouble seeing how this coheres.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Now let’s be fair, Chris. They at least acknowledge there is such a thing as racism, but that it’s always the left-liberals who talk about race who are the real racists.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                No, Clint Eastwood is the rugged individual fighting against the invisible, but all-powerful government that seeps in your life through all corners, led by Obama.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Chris , I stated up top that some of the animus against Obama is demonstrably racist. Please try to keep the cheap and untrue shots to a minimum if you can.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Nob, Glyph has agreed that there is racism in attacks towards Obama in this thread.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Yes, just the crazy people are racist, Chris. Not say, people running political campaigns putting forth false ads about welfare reform that blatantly puts forth old racist stereotypes.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Glyph, I don’t mean you. I was referencing someone else in this thread, as well as more than a couple people on a previous thread.

                In these threads, I’ve seen you, Glyph, playing devil’s advocate more than anything else. I don’t agree with the positions you take, but I think a discussion can be had with you. Others, not so much.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Jesse, I suspect this is what Eastwood was going for. Right or wrong, stupid or smart ( tactically or otherwise), is all fair debate. Calling it racist just doesn’t make sense to me.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                There’s more than a few Star Wars themed sketches where the ostensible protaganist is Vader or someone like him.

                But to return to the more pertinent point.

                Invisibility when it’s contrasted against the “visible” person gives a sense of facelessness and robs them of a human identity, reducing them to whatever presentation the one doing the reduction wants everyone else to see. In this sense it doesn’t make Obama an underdog, because he’s denied any role outside of being presented as the faceless villain who has no agency of his own at all.

                It’s a blank slate that Eastwood can project whatever he wants to. And that’s part of what makes the invisible man trope powerful, precisely because it robs the target of agency. It works as a narrative device in the book because the book’s narration allows it to be counteracted. Otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The welfare talking points are my favorite. They’re obviously racist, and they’re obviously meant to appeal to racists. However, it’s the perfect example for the “no racism” folks to use, because it’s a perfect opportunity to say, “What? We didn’t say or mean anything about race? You’re the one who brought race into it, so you must be the racists!”

                The problem with talking about racism in 2012 is that it’s usually not explicit, and when it is, it can easily be dismissed as a product of the fringe. That dude at a McCain campaign stop carrying a monkey puppet he’s calling Obama? The fringe. We all condemn him. The ads linking Obama to a repeal of welfare reform? There are white people on welfare! How dare you say we’re being racist! We just condemned the dude with the monkey puppet!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Here are some fun comments from people on this very website:

                “I owe no charity to those that offer none of their own in return.”

                “So malingering or being lazy is as morally objectionable as refusing to contribute.”

                Now, of course, we know that the punchline is that these statements were made by people on the left and so, therefore, we *KNOW* they weren’t racist comments.

                Let me tell you, though… if it gets common enough to say these things on the left? I’m pretty sure that we’ll hear the right start saying them in public again.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                The first one, Jay, which I remember, is a common sentiment on the left (and everywhere, I imagine), and one with which I disagreed in that very comment thread.

                The second one, I don’t remember, and don’t know the context.

                Either way, I’m not sure what the hell they have to do with anything. Sometimes your elliptical method has a hell of a lot more periods than words.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Now, I’m just another heterosexual white male on a website devoted to arguing with complete strangers on the internet but it seems to me that there are statements made by some that inspire discussions of how, seriously, this is an indication of deep racism… and statements made by others that make (even me!) widen my eyes as one of those things that I was sure shouldn’t have been said in polite (if even pseudonymous) company… and effort is put into not only explaining how the former (more oblique statements) are obvious but also how people who disagree are doing so due to some deeper agenda.

                The latter? Well. We’d have to see the context. (It’s here, by the by.)

                As someone who sometimes sees the benefits to speaking with elipses rather than words, it’s difficult for me to not notice semiotics when they’re being waved around like so many… well, let’s say “signs”.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Nob, have you seen the Robot Chicken sketches where Vader or The Emperor are the protagonists? (‘What the hell’s an Aluminum Falcon?!’). Even those derive their humor from disempowering the evil all powerful villain, showing that he has to deal with petty real- life like anyone, and thereby rendering him sympathetic.

                Even granting this scenario (Eastwood as Vader), which I think is a real stretch, I just don’t see it as racist, not without demonstrable intent. Occam’s razor tells me Eastwood likely had no clue some people would make the ‘Invisible Man’ association, ‘cos if he’d had that idea, I assume he’d realize it could backfire on him big time (Danson in blackface).

                When it comes to making presidents faceless so that any manner of evil can be imputed to them as needed by the speaker, do you mean like this?:


                Disrespectful? Sure.

                Racist? I need more to go on than this.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, when I say people say there is no racism, it’s because they have pretty much done so (in some cases, explicitly). By “no racism” what I mean is, “the left are the real racists,” with which I’d agree, with the qualification that “the right are the real racists” too. That, of course, is not a qualification they include.

                In the past thread, I asked at the beginning, before I got all pissed off, for an example of racism. I got “the congressional black caucus,” Marion Barry, and “I don’t see many black people hunting.” I only have so much charity to give.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Eastwood, the director of that one movie about Charlie Parker, pretty likely has some idea of other great art by black folk. Thinking of The Invisible Man really wasn’t that big a stretch.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Sorry, one more thing to Chris , and then I gotta get some shut-eye. When you say ‘regardless of his intention’ that is a HUGE red flag for me, given that good communication absolutely must take intent into account, and I would argue charitable communication should give intent primary consideration. To discount the signal-sender’s intent entirely in favor of whatever inferences or associations the receiver makes is problematic to me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Hey, there are positions I’ve seen on this site that I won’t defend because I can’t, there are positions I’ve seen on this site that I won’t defend because I’m not inclined to, there are positions I’ve seen on this site that I won’t defend because I think that the person defending the position will do a better job with me not helping than with me helping.

                The battle of racism, however, is one that, as I’ve said before, if it hasn’t already been won, it will be soon. The new battle is/will be one on the topic of privilege and how privilege manifests itself.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Glyph, I agree that the intention of the speaker is important, but even you must admit that it withdraws, particularly in the face of a larger culture context. If we’re going to be fair to Eastwood, then in determining Eastwood’s own attitudes towards race, we should definitely take into account his intention. Eastwood’s attitudes towards race, as I said, are the topic of much debate (I know a lot of people who think he has “race issues,” which is a nice way of saying he’s a bit racist, but he’s not going to join the KKK anytime soon), but I’m not really interested in Eastwood’s attitudes towards race, because ultimately they are irrelevant to whether he conjured a racist trope, and whether the effectiveness of his speech might in part, whether it be a large or small part, be a result of that conjuring. I’m happy with saying, for the sake of this discussion, that Eastwood’s “fucking clueless,” as Nob put it. But what’s going on in Eastwood’s head ceased to be the be ll and end all of the discussion as soon as he did his little skit on national television at a major political convention.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, and as I’ve said, I don’t think it’s possible to separate racism and privilege in the way that you do.

                I also think the battle is much further from being won than you, I suspect. And part of the reason the battle is so far from being run is that the distribution of privilege is so racially skewed. Privilege has a psychological component that, because of that distribution, inevitably includes race. And again, the two end up perpetuating each other.

                Are you familiar, just out of curiosity, with the research on stereotype threat?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And, I suppose, I should give my take on the empty chair thing.

                When I was in high school theater (I still remember my line! “I will, my Lord!” I was a guard) one of the things we did was give a monologue to someone who wasn’t there. We had to talk to and react to empty space. The more exuberant kids pretended to be hit and flew into the air to crash on the floor. This got them points that I didn’t get for a much more nuanced monologue.

                When I see the arguments about Eastwood invoking a racist trope, my memories are when I was standing on a stage pretending to smoke and yelling “Why?” at a person who wasn’t there.

                And getting a B.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As for “stereotype threat”, I hadn’t. For what it’s worth, it strikes me as a step in the right direction insofar as the focus seems to be shifting from the racist and trying to change his or her behavior to the individual on the receiving end of racism and getting them to try to reframe their own expectations of themselves.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Kind of sad, then, that a who’s been in film and television for more than 50 years couldn’t think of anything more sophisticated than a high school drama exercise as a bit during a prime time speech at the friggin’ Republican National Convention, eh?Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                And I thought you might appreciate stereotype threat. Now if only we could get rid of the non-psychological effects of racism, we could focus exclusively on the psychological ones.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Kind of sad, then, that a who’s been in film and television for more than 50 years couldn’t think of anything more sophisticated than a high school drama exercise as a bit during a prime time speech at the friggin’ Republican National Convention, eh?

                Can you see how I (or anybody for that matter) might, in good faith, see this criticism as *ENTIRELY* different from “Clint Eastwood was relying on racist tropes to make his point”?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Jay, this is sort of my point. To make the argument that what Eastwood did was racist, I have to believe that

                1.) Eastwood intended to evoke ‘Invisible Man’
                1a.) In doing so, Eastwood cast Obama in the role of IM’s protagonist (and himself as antagonist)
                2.) Eastwood did so to denigrate or diminish Obama

                I accept that Eastwood intended to denigrate or diminish Obama, because (duh) this is the Republican convention, and they are trying to unseat Obama.

                But I just can’t see how you can make 1 and 2 go together.

                It’d be like getting up on stage and doing a riff on To Kill A Mockingbird but casting your imaginary opponent as Atticus, or Scout, or Tom Robinson (i.e., the ‘good guys’).

                By making himself the ‘bad guy’, Eastwood would automatically ‘lose’ in the mind of the viewer, *regardless of any racial aspects of the scenario*.

                The critique is not coherent, because the means make no sense given the motivation.

                That this unfortunate association was likely unintended therefore seems obvious to me.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jay, have you read what I’ve said on this thread? I’ve said that whether Eastwood is a racist is irrelevant. I’m willing to say, for the sake of argument, that he was just so incredibly uncreative that a well-respected actor and director with 50+ years of experience used a high school exercise on national television in prime time. That’s completely irrelevant to the racial implications of what he did. Do you see how that’s different?Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:


                I think you’re making too much of an effort to absolve Eastwood’s actions by making it hinge upon his intentions. (Can you tell where I sit on the D&D “intentions vs. actions” spectrum of alignment hits?)

                I’m perfectly willing to concede that maybe Eastwood didn’t use the metaphor as a way of racially marginalizing Obama. What I’m less willing to concede is that 1. he was completely unaware of the implications and that 2. intention is the sole arbiter of whether or not an action is racially charged.

                Context matters. And in this context, Eastwood’s actions were at best, poorly thought out and ended up being highly offensive. Can you see how that would be the case?

                It would be the Dutch Queen inviting Obama over to a Sinter Klaus parade with all the Zwarte Piets in blackface. I’m sure she wouldn’t MEAN to be racist, but blackface white folks playing the “helpers” of a white bishop? Yeaaaaah.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m sure we’ve all seen the video explaining the difference between “you were racist” and “what you said was racist”. My argument has nothing to do with whether Eastwood is racist.

                Hell, let’s stipulate that he is.

                My issues have more to do with his high school drama exercise being used as something that is so obviously racist that there’s something wrong with the people who don’t see it.

                Now, when I read Jamelle’s tweet about how it’s yet another example of an old white dude yelling at a black guy who isn’t there (and how it exemplifies the Republican party), I laughed. It’s a hell of a zinger.

                Perhaps it’s evidence of privilege that has these folks over here seeing little more than a high school drama exercise and those folks over there seeing the last 50 years in a nutshell. Discussions of privilege are always minefields, though. You never know what you’re not seeing.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                he was completely unaware of the implications

                Eastwood’s 82. I would not be surprised to find that he is often completely unaware of whether he is wearing pants or not, let alone all potential implications or associations of doing some weird monologue to an empty chair.

                Since I’d wager that having an actor, rather than an empty chair, portray Obama would bring its own critiques, it seems safe to say that Eastwood’s dramatic options were limited (we can only thank our lucky stars that he didn’t make a giant paper mache puppet of Obama, or draw Obama as an asterisk with a speech bubble, god only knows what people would have been saying about it then.)

                I doubt we’ll get much farther on this. Thanks for at least remaining civil, it seems hard for some to do in these threads for some reason.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                Jaybird, I suspect we’re not that far off, even if we diagnose the problem differently. I don’t think people are idiots for not seeing this as racism. I do think people are idiots for not being open to the possibility, though. Some people hear “racism” or “racist,” and their minds immediately shut off. It’s odd that this ends up being blamed on the people who are pointing out racism, whether it’s obvious or more subtle, instead of the people who refuse to see it in any context whatsoever (with the possible exception of fewer black people hunting, or Marion Barry).Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Ok, we all know libs are going to complain about their sacred cows getting gored. But at the very least we should be able to acknowledge this point about _Invisible Man_ is a load of garbage.

                First of all, this point about the invisible black man in the novel was a literary device that was already out of date at the time the book was written in 1950 or whatever. As George Gilder pointed out in one of his books (it might have been _Sexual Suicide_), the idea that the problems of black men, especially underclass black men being invisible are ridiculous. They were basically at the forefront of our cultural consciousness from say, 1960 to 1990.

                And of course Clint Eastwood’s routine had nothing to do the nature of race in America but had a great deal to do with the failure of one particular black man who is President of the United States.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Gryph here nails it. Presidents and presidential nominees are mocked by their opponents like clockwork. There are some things that should be out of bounds, but something where someone has to draw the connection is stretching it a good deal. Numerous attacks on his predecessors would be considered racist if they were attached to a black candidate.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Numerous attacks on his predecessors would be considered racist if they were attached to a black candidate.

                I must’ve missed the part where his predecessors were attacked for not showing their birth certificate, or being “anti-colonial” or Kenyan… or for that matter with consistent refrains of “not one of us”.

                The fact of the matter is, attaching an otherness, and robbing of agency are some of the strongest ways that racial prejudice and stratification have been used in this country. The fact that it’s attached to presidential mockery doesn’t make it any less racial in character.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill Mobile says:

                Nob, you quoted me, but did not respond to what I said. You made up my having said something I did not say.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                You also said:

                Gryph here nails it. Presidents and presidential nominees are mocked by their opponents like clockwork. There are some things that should be out of bounds, but something where someone has to draw the connection is stretching it a good deal.


                I dunno if it actually is stretching it at least in this case.Report

              • Avatar Trumwill Mobile says:

                It is absolutely a stretch in this case. In the case of the Kenya attacks, it is not a stretch.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                Again, I don’t think it’s a stretch. And in this case, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                President Obama’s re-election tone is one of mockery of the other side. I can hear the tone from the next room and know it’s him.

                Re-elect that? I hope not. I’m so sick of this, brothers and sisters, how our country feels.

                Michelle’s right that Clint Eastwood went there, but mostly his tone was one of regret. We have to fire our first black president.Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                Regret? Sorry, but that’s not what I saw. Regret isn’t part of Eastwood’s persona.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                I feel you, Michelle, but Eastwood’s message was that we need to fire Barack Obama, that’s all.

                There is no pleasure bouncing our first black president. I wish we were the competent centrist Bill Clinton was. I voted Dole in ’96 but it was like so what when he got his ass kicked.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Monkeys on line one!
                Bush-sama Bush-sama!
                *vomiting motions*Report

      • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

        Well I for one am glad we have this stunningly original wit that tells us criticism of Obama critics must be based on falsely playing the race card. No one’s ever made that suggestion before.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

          A standard play of the race card gets a standard response.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            I’m surprised you could follow that quadruple whammy. It’s racist to say you’re not racist?

            You’re racist!
            —No, yes you are.
            Am not!
            —Neither am I.
            Yes, I am!
            —Well, so am I!Report

          • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

            The only thing standard by now is the predictable response of a handful of white, male commentators on this site.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              Dismissing someone’s opinion on the basis of his race. Totally not racist, beacuse racism is something white people do to not-white people.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Well, when it comes to actual institutional racism, no, black and brown and Asian people can’t be racist against us white people in the US, at least not until they hold us in bondage for a few hundred years, steal our property, and maybe rape a few of our woman. To start.

                As far “dismissing someone’s opinion,” note Nob said some white male commenters and the fact he’s throwing out predictable responses he’s seen a dozen times before.Report

              • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

                It’s pertinent that the race of the person deploying opinions about the prevalence and impact of race in American society and culture. And frankly, white people are on the whole, fucking clueless.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                No ordinary gentleman thou, Brother Nob. Extraordinary, surely.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                A large part of the invisibility, which I think one of this blog’s front pagers and frequent commenters displayed quite well in the previous thread, is the dismissal of the perspective of black people (or East Asian people, or Hispanic people, or Filipino, etc.) because it doesn’t fit with your own. You see the world in a certain way, and that way is shaped, in large part, though generally without you knowing it, by the fact that you’re white, and male. Whether you like it or not, other people see it differently, and one reason they see it differently is that they’re treated differently, and to come full circle, one of the ways in which they’re treated differently is that their perspective, which is not the perspective in power, is marginalized or dismissed.

                I find it interesting that conservatives, on this blog for example, but also pretty much anywhere that the media, pop culture, or academia are being discussed, are able to take precisely this perspective: that of the outsider, the marginalized, the dismissed, and are so frustrated that people on the left don’t see it or get it, but they refuse to admit the possibility that this may also be the case for other groups who are even more objectively marginalized, like say black people or women.Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    You know, when the ‘invisible Obama’ started I though of Ralph Ellison, but I imagine that most people watching would be first think of Claude Rains.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    In the proud tradition of ignoring the substance and fixing on a minor factual error:

    Newhart played the beleaguered driving instructor or bus driver

    Newhart didn’t play a beleaguered bus driver, he played someone teaching new bus drivers advanced skills. e.g. how to pull out just slowly enough that someone running for the bus keeps running until, at the last minute, you speed away from them.Report

  4. Avatar Jason M. says:

    The author of that piece relates Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” to his own experience living in Japan:

    “Amongst the first Japanese words I learned (because it was so often uttered behind my back): ‘Henna gaijin’—’Strange foreigner.’”

    “Strange Foreigner” aptly applies to current demonizing of Obama that has been going on for the past 3 years. I think a lot of time is wasted trying to parse whether the potpourri of “Secret Muslim/Kenyan/Socialist/Marxist/Fascist” affixed to Obama by many on the Right is racist code; it makes little difference, since it amounts to the same thing: “You are not one of us, your are the dangerous other.”

    As for the “invisible Obama” aspect of Eastwood’s stage act, when I was most struck by his putting words in invisible Obama’s mouth, particularly “Tell Mitt Romney to go fuck himself”, which aside from being completely out of character for the real flesh-and-blood Obama to say, is ironically almost word-for-word what Dick Cheney said to Pat Leahy on the floor of the Senate.Report

    • Avatar Jason M. says:

      ugh…and speaking of invisibility, why is my the colossal wreckage of my grammar and mangled sentences invisible to me until after I click “Submit”?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Henna gaijin isn’t just “strange foreigner”. The character HEN or KAERU appears in loads of digraphs, including many which involve the concept of Transformation, Change or Incident. Happens to be one of the most interesting kanji, because it also means Funny or Strange.

      Henna has passed into ordinary usage. Even the most xenophobic Japanese is no longer alarmed by the sight of amerikajin trotting around in town. In every Japanese book store there’s a section about Foreigners, how they think, what they do.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      Barbarian is a better translation.
      Complete with Beard.Report