The End of Racism in Ferguson, MO

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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119 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    I fear that the population segment that is supporting D’Souza’s career cannot be swayed in general. I am afraid we’re simply going to have to let them shuffle off this mortal coil before attitudes stop poisoning the discourse.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to North says:

      And yet apparently no one is really willing to do what actually needs to be done; force them off their mortal coil, as soon as humanly possible.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Zac says:

        So what are you advocating for here?

        You can’t enforce enlightenment at gun point. It ceases to be enlightenment when it comes at the barrel of a gun. You can enforce authoritarianism at the a barrel of a gun so yes liberalism will always be fighting with a hand tied behind its back.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Zac says:

        All democracies suffer from the illiberal problem, that is what do you do with the segment of society that refuses to accept the tenants of liberalism in all its form. Under any meaningful definition of liberal democracy, people have a right to be illiberal. However, if the illiberal segment is large enough than you have some problems because they can cause serious trouble.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Zac says:

        LeeEsq.:

        And if those folks don’t conform and insist on clinging to their guns and religion they should clearly be taken to a re-education camp.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Zac says:

        @notme, I don’t know how you got there from where I wrote. I just merely observed that people have a right to be illiberal but if the illiberal population is large enough than problems occur.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Zac says:

        @leeesq While I think @notme ‘s reeducation camp is a wee bit Glenn-Beckian in it’s overreach, I have to say I see where he’s coming from.

        I’ll try and talk about this in the next post, but the more and more I learn about our country’s history (and current events), the more I find that for me this notion that modern liberalism as it has been practiced by those who have wielded its power is the enemy of racism doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.

        At best, it strikes me as a house that a first blush looks much, much nice than it really is because it happens to be sitting next to a house that’s completely dilapidated.Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Zac says:

        @saul-degraw “So what are you advocating for here? You can’t enforce enlightenment at gun point.”

        This isn’t about enforcing enlightenment, it’s about defending it. As you yourself pointed out earlier, in the other Ferguson thread:

        “I think we have to simply conclude that a large percentage of Americans actively want and enjoy the idea of a militarized police and are sketchy on the concept of civil liberties. Many Americans seem to have a very feared based way of looking at the world and nothing can shake this out of existence.”

        You yourself said that nothing can shake this out of existence. Well, I for one am not interested in acceding to their will. Illiberalism is too dangerous a force to let it persist among humanity (and I don’t just mean American conservatism, although that would be a good place to start, considering the body count they’ve racked up). It must be rooted out and destroyed in this century, as fascism largely was in the last. I don’t know how you can simultaneously believe that they can’t be talked out of it, and also *must* be talked out of it. Talk is cheap. We need to do what the Greatest Generation was capable of doing: facing evil head-on (for that is what illiberalism ultimately represents, no two ways about it) and putting it down like a rabid dog.

        You would have us discuss the best way to convince fire to put itself out, while watching Rome burn. Do us all a favor and pick up a bucket instead.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Zac says:

        “You can’t enforce enlightenment at gun point. ”

        Well, sort of. I am thinking of the heavy handed tactics that the Federal government used during the civil rights era, overriding local sovereignty and dictating voting laws and so forth.
        As well as how the cultural authorities- writers, actors, directors- worked very hard to persuade American of the moral horror of racism.
        And how nonracists argued long and hard over dinner tables and bars about the issue.

        You can’t force enlightenment with a silver bullet, but you can, through a long and complex process of legal pressure, moral suasion, and cultural shift, get people to change minds.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Zac says:

        @tod-kelly, I didn’t mean liberalism as in modern liberalism but as in liberal democracy and its underlying premises.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Zac says:

        LWA-I think we really need to study the effectivenss of the cultural war on racism. It definitely happened and started relatively early, shortly after then end of World War II. The first issue of Seventeen magazine had articles arguing against anti-negroism and anti-Semitism. Hollywood began producing some movies about the evils of racism at the same time. Other movies humanzied African-Americans and other minorities but were kind of weird by today’s standards.

        At the same time, the movies seemed to have their most profound respect on whites that were already prone to be against racism. Lots of other white Americans still had no problems with beign racist against African-Americans and other racial minorities even if they had to control their language more. You had whites in Boston protesting against bussing, which is basically protesting against intergrated schools. You had Wily Horton used to whip up votes in 1988 and Lee Atwater’s infamous statement about the changing language of race-baiting.Report

  2. Avatar j r says:

    D’Souza really is the perfect example of what has gone wrong with the conservative movement over the past twenty years or so. Illiberal Education, the book that put D’Souza on the map was, whether you agree with the argument or not, a well-researched, coherent work about the overreach of political correctness.

    At some point, many movement conservatives realized that it was more profitable to stop honestly arguing against identity politics and, instead, to simply adopt their own brand of identity politics.Report

  3. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    …the entire setup of the movie revolves around its eponymous concept: What would have happened if George Washington had died, the American revolution had been won by the Crown, and the United States have never existed? Politics aside, its conceit is a fascinating one.

    Well, maybe that’s a something worth exploring, perhaps at some point in the future when things calm down a bit.Report

  4. Avatar dexter says:

    A white guy with a gun is exercising his second amendment rights. A black guy with a gun is a thug.

    @Zac, Violence is the last the resort of the incompetent.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to dexter says:

      In 1985, Nelson Mandela was offered freedom from prison by Pik Botha on the condition that he “unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon.” He refused. What an incompetent.

      Violence is, indeed, a tool of last resort. But I am not a pacifist. There are times when, for the sake of the rest of humanity, those who stand on the side of illiberalism have to be destroyed. And because we keep failing to do so (like executing all the slaveowners at the end of the Civil War, or the Nazis and their corporate allies at the end of WWII, as we ought to have), we deal with residual problems from it for decades or centuries.

      But hey, keep fighting the good fight making pithy comments on the internet. I’m sure that’ll show ’em.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to Zac says:

        If you aren’t writing from jail right now, having practiced what you preached, there’s no call to be snarky about “making pithy remarks on the Internet”.Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Zac says:

        @matt-elieu

        Most of my ancestors were murdered at Birkenau because sniveling little shits like yourself tried to talk the fascists down instead of putting them down in the 1930s when millions of lives could have been saved. I am willing to risk jail, injury or death to defend what I believe, if it comes to it. Are you?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Zac says:

        @zac do you recall Mandela’s justification for his refusal?Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to Zac says:

        Dude, calm down. I never said I disagreed with you. I actually do, up to a certain extent; sometimes in an extreme situation violence is the only way to get the attention of the media/the people in power. I just took issue with the commenting on the Internet vs. taking proactive action IRL false dichotomy, given that *is* how a lot of people fight back against their oppressors, and it’s hardly an invalid or powerless strategy.Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Zac says:

        @ Chris: He said “Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.” But I’m not really sure how that’s germane. Most people don’t consider the anti-apartheid movements to have been the villains in that conflict, precisely because regardless of the fact that they sometimes resorted to violence, apartheid was by far the greater evil and needed to be stopped.Report

      • Avatar Zac in reply to Zac says:

        @matt-elieu : I’m sorry, you’re right, that was rude of me; I don’t know you from Adam and it was wrong for me to engage in name-calling. This may be a personal subject for me but that doesn’t justify what I called you. My sincere apologies.

        I do think that liberalism would be a lot more constructive if it spent more time getting shit done out in the world and less time talking about it on the internet, though. When I look at the modern left-o-sphere, at least online, I see a lot of people verbally masturbating about SJW causes that affect tiny portions of the populace instead of strategizing on how to best wipe out illiberalism and its champions, which is what they ought to be focused on.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Zac says:

        Zac:

        Too bad your ancestors couldn’t own guns and taken care of their own problem. Another great reason why we have a right to bear arms.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Zac says:

        notme, undoubtedly true. If only Jews hadn’t been banned from purchasing guns (Nazi Germany did not ban all guns), they could have taken on the organized force that defeated France and routed the British Expeditionary Force in a few weeks.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to Zac says:

        @zac
        I understand, thanks for that.
        As a user of tumblr myself, I get where you’re coming from, but I view it as a tossing-starfish-back-in-the-ocean kind of thing; people wanting to help aren’t obligated to be SJW Sun Tzus all the time, and it means a difference to an actual person somewhere which is good enough for me.

        @notme
        This is so not the topic or the time to be harping on gun rights.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Zac says:

        Matt:

        Jews were only barred in 1938, five years after Hitler came to power. More than enough time to stock up.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to Zac says:

        @notme

        I think you might be addressing Chris instead. Though IMO you’re getting really off-topic here. I repeat: This is so not the topic or the time to be harping on gun rights.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Zac says:

        notme,
        many Orthodox jews were pacifists.Report

      • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to Zac says:

        Not that I expect notme to have a particularly strong or nuanced view of history, but Polish Jews (and later Poles in general) did try the whole “rising up against Nazis with guns” thing. It didn’t work real well for them, especially when the Red Army left them out to dry.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warsaw_Ghetto_UprisingReport

    • Avatar Jacob in reply to dexter says:

      @dexter No, some black men with guns are exercising their Second Amendment rights as well.

      http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2010/In-Their-Sights-Lawsuit-challenging-Chicagos-1982-handgun-ban-to-be-heard-by-Supreme-Court/

      The difference is that Otis McDonald followed the law, instead of buying handguns out of the trunk of a car fresh up from Virginia.Report

  5. Avatar notme says:

    Tod:

    Bravo for your attempt to write a hit piece about republicans under the guise of saying something intelligent about the MO incident.Report

  6. Avatar aaron david says:

    @tod-kelly
    “Look at the blacks,” D’Souza seems to argue. “Black people aren’t pure at all; in fact, some of them do evil things.”

    Seems?

    Ought you not to provide the quotes that might back that up?

    “Shooting of the unarmed 18 year old Michael Brown.” And “Ferguson police officer shot Brown following an altercation on Saturday. The officer claims that Brown, who is black, assaulted him and tried to take his weapon.” Two different quotes, neither telling the complete picture, both by partisan “newsgroups.” But obviously conservatives are in the wrong here… Or maybe I am misreading it somehow?

    Help me out here Tod.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aaron david says:

      @aaron-david Can I ask you to help me out here?

      I very much want to answer your questions, but confess I’m not entirely sure what it is that you are asking…Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        @tod-kelly
        You are accusing a man of having what are considered the most vile opinions of Black People. You don’t provide us with what he actually said, instead you use the word “seems.” My question is: what are his actual words that lead you to this belief?

        For the second question, you quote two partisan news groups (TPM and The DC,) both give quotes that reflect the situation incompletely. “Two accounts of the same tragedy, each equally accurate, and yet each telling very different stories. On one side, you have a story about police over reaction; on the other, yet another story of a wilding black man tragically needing to be put down.” In your words, you appear to be saying that conservatives just want to kill black people when they misbehave. And yet, unless I am missing something, nowhere in your piece do you connect the dots to show that what happened in Ferguson is because of conservatism.
        I hope I am a little clearer now.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        @aaron-david Okay, got it. Much of this is going to be dealt with in my next post on this subject, but here’s a short answer.

        Let me start with your second question first: I do not believe that racism is a conservative issue. I do not believe that conservatives want to go around shooting black people. I do not believe that what happened in Ferguson has anything to do with conservatism — indeed, I might be the only human being in America who still maintains we don’t yet know what happened in Ferguson.

        I do, however, note that long before the facts came truly began to come to light, people had pre-existing stories with which to create their own story. One of those was that police/the government are out of control, the other is that if the police shot a black man, it is surely because that man was dangerous. Though the Daily Caller is conservative, I do not believe that response is a conservative one, so much as a predominantly white-American one.

        To the first question, I have three responses:

        1. As I noted several times in my post, this is my thinking out loud. I might very well be wrong about D’Souza.

        2. That being said, there is something about the argument that white people are never racist — even when enslaving blacks — because of you really pay attention, you’ll see that black people commit violent crimes. This is his running thesis in End of Racism, or at least it is when addressing the question of does white racism really exist in America. Is there a way to interpret that other than the pho-quotes I gave in the OP? Perhaps, but I’ll be damned if I can think of any. I’m all ears, though.

        3. Regarding #2, I think I’m actually saying something far more incendiary than you think I am, as you will see when I get my next post up, which is this: Pinning that kind of reasoning on D’Souza is a cop out, because it’s what the majority of people in the US do all the time — liberals just as much as conservatives.

        The reason I started this with D’Souza’s argument about why whites aren’t be racist isn’t to point at D’Souza and say “what a maroon,” it’s because I think that is in reality the starting point most people in America start from when dealing with non-whites in general, but African Americans in particular. D’Souza, I am coming to believe, isn’t a crazy cat lady — he’s representative of the country.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

        indeed, I might be the only human being in America who still maintains we don’t yet know what happened in Ferguson.

        Sometimes, to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. 🙂Report

  7. Avatar dexter says:

    @Zac, You may be willing to put them down like rabid dogs, but I see a slight difference between those jerk cops and the guards at Birkenau. I am not a pacifist and believe that sometimes it is necessary to shoot crazy. But, I do think Dr. King was a much braver and better man than Ted Kaczynski.
    Was it Mandela’s violence or the world’s condemnation of South Africa and its policies that made De Klerk let Mandela out of jail?
    Finally, I always thought that being called pithy was a compliment. Also known as terse and to the point.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    D’Souza himself has become a kind of de facto intellectual leader of the Tea-Party era Right.

    “He’s the brains of the organization. And that should give you an idea of the organization.”Report

  9. Avatar j r says:

    Since I watched that video clip yesterday, I have been trying to think of the appropriate word to describe the views that D’Souza lays out in that interview. It is obviously racist and yet so far beyond that. What D’Souza is doing in this clip is an attempt to intellectualize and excuse a very obvious act of racism and at the same time place the burden on the victim to prove himself worth of being treated like a human being.

    The only appropriate word that I have been able to come up with to describe this way of thinking is sociopathic.Report

    • NobAkimoto NobAkimoto in reply to j r says:

      “Evil” I think comes pretty close to a good word to describe it. It’s not just sociopathic, it’s actively denying the humanity of people who have been oppressed. (That this is the view of a Goan immigrant who waxes nostalgic about how the British Empire kept the unwashed masses of India in check for their natural betters is perhaps only fitting.)Report

  10. Avatar Kim says:

    Nuts and NRA weigh in:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/13/1321386/–Patriots-rush-to-support-Ferguson-protesters?showAll=yes

    Note: weighing in after the fact is kinda cowardly, particularly when you could have been there, with your guns, two days ago. [not endorsing their ideology]Report

  11. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    whom that reports on racism, after all, claims that non-white people do not sin?

    Not to defend D’Souza or his bizarre claim that slavery was not racist, but the claim that non-whites cannot be racist, at least in the US, is in fact one that one encounters quite frequently in left-wing identity politics. They insist that being a member of the dominant racial group is part of the definition of racism.

    Also, “who,” not “whom.”Report

    • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      It’s not so much “being a member of the dominant racial group is part of the definition of racism” but more like “being a member of the dominant racial group garners a certain kind of privilege, oftentimes unconsciously so, that is denied to a member of the non-dominant racial group.” One may benefit from racism without being themselves a racist.

      And for the record, racist non-whites certainly do exist.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      I agree, Brandon, and it bothers me when fellow members of my political tribe do that. But to be fair, I understand what they’re clumsily groping toward. It’s like the concept of economic demand, that it requires both the desire to acquire along with the means.

      Anyway, there are a number of words that enter into these discussions — racism, prejudice, discrimination — and while it seems clear to me that anyone can be racist [sexist, ethnocentric, homophobic, etc] and prejudicial, it requires some degree of power or authority to actually be discriminatory, or at least to negatively affect someone with it.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      BB,

      The word “racism” means a bunch of things given context and speaker. One of those meanings points in the direction of certain cultural institutional structures or patterns of oppression based on skin color which are realized or maintained by the exercise of power (or power differential, anyway). SO in that sense of the term it would make no sense to say that an oppressed minority exhibits racist behaviors against the dominant group.

      Of course, racism can also mean something more like “animus against a person of a different skin color”, which reduces the term to a psychological property of individuals.

      Neither of those definitions is complete, it seems to me, when discussing patterns of human behavior (say, patterns of behavior within a demarcated community of people or within society) since a sorta systematic oppression of an outgroup can be realized in a group without individuals in that group holding a psychological property of animus (eg, the laws or norms or “the code” is just set of that way), but it’s also true that racial animus exists whether it’s acted on or not. And importantly, I think, the inability to act on racial animus – it that animus is a real belief held by an individual – probably reduces to a lack of power to so act.

      That’ why, in my view, there is always a strong contingent of folks in these types of discussions who want to say that black people are racist against whites. The idea, I guess, is that it’s only given the lack of power to exercise that racial animus that prevents white people from being victims of terrible oppression, and also justifies the power differential preventing that outcome from being realized.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        it’s only given the lack of power to exercise that racial animus that prevents white people from being victims of terrible oppression

        Like being eaten. Heinlein fans tie themselves in knots denying that a book that portrays a black-ruled society as cannibalistic is racist.Report

    • Avatar James Pearce in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      “the claim that non-whites cannot be racist, at least in the US, is in fact one that one encounters quite frequently in left-wing identity politics.”

      Humph. Not actually a fact. Not even an accurate depiction of the lefty view. “Lack of Generosity Dooms Libertarian Argument. News at 11.”

      For what it’s worth, a more accurate diagnosis would be that when it comes to left-wing identity politics, there’s too much tolerance of racism directed towards white people. It’s cool in lefty circles, for instance, to rant against Hollywood casting decisions. “I’m sick of all these white dudes in movies,” they racistly say, as if they want to convince us they don’t have the self-awareness of an intestinal polyp.

      But “tolerating racism in the name of fighting racism” is a completely different problem than “believing only white people can be racist.”Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Pearce says:

        It actually is a fact, Mr. Pierce. The claim relies on a definition of rascism as consisting of a power structure that’s much bigger than anyone person. It literally depersonalizes racism. And therefore, minorities not being part of this power structure, cannot be racist.

        I have heard this claim frequently in the identity politics world.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to James Pearce says:

        I can’t help but feel, as a non-white liberal, and as a consumer who wants entertaining entertainment, that I do have a legit beef in rolling my eyes whenever I see yet another movie poster with a heroic white dude on it. I happen to enjoy movies more if the protag has the same race/gender as me. Is it actually racist to express that 1) there *are* too many white dudes in popular media, and 2) I wish things were otherwise ??

        It’s not. It’s totally not. It’s not racist to express frustration at the imbalance in representation, in power, in privilege, even if the frustration manifests in unsavory ways (fuck white people etc.) Because, in the end, punching up generally is far less harmful than punching down.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Pearce says:

        Yeah, absolutely a fact. I don’t know how it could be denied, actually. Maybe the disagreement is over what constitutes “left wing identity politics”, but that seems like splitting already frayed hairs.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_racismReport

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        Wait…..what’s the fact again? That some lefty in the identity politics world believes this or that you’ve heard the claim frequently?

        (And please tell me autocorrect came up with the Pierce thing.)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to James Pearce says:

        I don’t read the far-left stuff as much as I used to, so I don’t have a lot of examples fresh in my mind, but here’s one I recently encountered in an article at Salon about the awfulness of white people belly dancing. In response to the claim that she’s a racist, she says, with grossly unwarranted smugness, that that’s not possible, and links to a video where a South Asian comedian says that for him to be a racist, he would have to invent a time machine and change history so that black and brown people became dominant over white people.

        Also, google “prejudice plus power.”Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to James Pearce says:

        @brandon-berg I remember reading that article. What is sort of funny is the entire piece is about all the push back she got over her opinion. If anything it shows at the least a diversity ( ha look at that word i used) of opinions or more so, that her view is not popular.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to James Pearce says:

        So a Salon writer and a comedian are a driving force behind liberal identity politics?

        So it’s okay for Stillwater to define libertarianism by, say, Penn Jilette and some random dude who wrote a column for Reason?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to James Pearce says:

        So even if we take racism at prejudice plus power have people never heard of the word bigot or anti-Semite, or misogynist. It’s not like there aren’t words to describe various types of base hatreds.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        @matt-elieu

        “It’s not racist to express frustration at the imbalance in representation, in power, in privilege, even if the frustration manifests in unsavory ways (fuck white people etc.)”

        I’d rephrase this somewhat:

        It’s not racist to express frustration at the imbalance in representation….UNTIL the frustration manifests in unsavory ways.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Pearce says:

        In defense of BB, I’d say anytime some invokes institutional racism of blacks in the US, they’re making the claim that black cannot be institutional racists.

        In defense of James Pearce, I think he’s quite right to criticize BB for claiming that folks who align with left wing identity politics do not, as a matter of fact, claim that blacks cannot be racists.

        I don’t know what all the trouble is about, but it’s early. I’m sure I’ll get more confused as the day goes on.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        @brandon-berg

        “I don’t read the far-left stuff as much as I used to”

        This would have been more helpful if it came before you spoke so authoritatively on the subject.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to James Pearce says:

        @james-pearce

        I suppose you and I have different definitions of unacceptable conduct, then. BTW, ““I’m sick of all these white dudes in movies,” is such an innocuous example of all the bad things ever said about white people that I just have to mock it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Pearce says:

        “I’m sick of all these white dudes in movies,”

        But they’re all such good actors!Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        @matt-elieu

        Probably not so different, if you really got down to it.

        I just think there’s an obvious solution to the person who has the “I’m sick of watching white dudes in movies” problem:

        Watch something else.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to James Pearce says:

        I just think there’s an obvious solution to the person who has the “I’m sick of watching white dudes in movies” problem:

        Watch something else.

        Doesn’t this “solution” fundamentally miss the point of the grievance? It’d be like telling someone who’s tired of giving up their bus seat to white people that they should find other transportation.

        Plus, there’s a bit of a slight potentiality of Freudian-slippage going on in this comment, a perhaps unintentional ambiguity in the usage, where the proposed solution resolves your problem with another person’s griping, but doesn’t address the problem they are perceiving.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to James Pearce says:

        @james-pearce

        Watch something else
        Seriously? First the reverse racism card, now this? I suppose the non-white people of America should just go live somewhere else with less racism too, then.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Pearce says:

        It’s like someone who keeps their radio tuned into Power/Magic/Sunny 99.9 that complains about all this crappy Top 40.

        If you want to see movies that aren’t like the last 15 movies you watched, watch a move made by people who are different than the ones who made the last 15 movies you watched.

        Not that that particular movie provides a exceptional example of a movie that’s likely to be significantly different from the last 15 you’ve watched, of course… but check out the weird corners. You might be amazed at the stuff they play on 89.7.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        @stillwater

        “Doesn’t this “solution” fundamentally miss the point of the grievance?”

        Not really. It’s taking the grievance as seriously as it can be taken. “You’re sick of white people movies? Here, all of these movies have no white people in them. Enjoy.”

        If that’s unsatisfactory, it’s not because the complaint has gone unaddressed. It’s because the complaint is ill-formed.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to James Pearce says:

        @james-pearce

        http://annenberg.usc.edu/sitecore/shell/Applications/~/media/PDFs/RaceEthnicity.ashx

        The problem is not that movies about white people exist. It’s that movies about white people *predominantly* exist, and saying “watch something else” is basically telling POC to be content with their small slice of the pie while white people get to enjoy the entire confection. It also ignores that movies can be progressive in one way while backward in another. That POC and LGBT people can enjoy X-men for promoting acceptance of minorities doesn’t invalidate their criticism of its overwhelmingly white cishet cast. I can go watch Lucy happy that it’s a movie with a female lead, but also with some annoyance with its underlying racism. It’s a little more complex than what you’re making it out to be.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to James Pearce says:

        Mr. Pearce,

        The misspelling of you name was my error. I apologize.

        It is a fact that one encounters the claim frequently in identity politics.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to James Pearce says:

        White men are over-represented in government. So what? People who don’t like this should shut up and move somewhere else.Report

      • Avatar James Pearce in reply to James Pearce says:

        @matt-elieu

        “It’s that movies about white people *predominantly* exist, and saying “watch something else” is basically telling POC to be content with their small slice of the pie while white people get to enjoy the entire confection.”

        No, Matt, it’s the opposite of that. It’s about telling people NOT to be content with table scraps from Hollywood, and demand true diversity, not tokenism.

        @jaybird gets it. Fact: Almost none of the movies coming out of Asia are about white people. Opinion: Many of them are pretty good.

        @james-hanley

        “The misspelling of you name was my error. I apologize.”

        Thank you. I’ve been spelling my name for people who have heard it aurally all my life, the curse of a common name with an uncommon spelling. First time that’s happened in print, though.Report

      • Avatar Matt Elieu in reply to James Pearce says:

        Representation is not tokenism. Oftentimes one’s only contact with a minority comes from popular media, and that influences the way we think about said minority. Otherwise why would Native Americans come out so strongly against the Redskins, and the shitty portrayal of Tonto in the Lone Ranger? Asian fetish is a thing which was helped not at all by the popularity of Memoirs of a Geisha. White dudes are usually given the complex, sympathetic, *fun* roles where they can develop and further their skill and careers. Asian dudes get to be the punching bags in Lucy, and Asian women get to be sexy. It turns into a cycle where it seems like the majority of the good actors are white, but that’s just – hah – unnatural selection. And we’re not even getting into whitewashing here (Into Darkness, Hunger Games etc.)

        http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/lucy-liu-talks-racism-in-hollywood

        It’s also important for minority children, growing up, to be able to see someone who looks like them in the media they consume. Example, Miles Morales: http://wildunicornherd.tumblr.com/post/8523208614

        Btw, I watch a fair amount of local/Korean dramas. Sure, everyone’s Asian like me, but they can be infuriating in other ways with their heavy focus on romance and traditional family values. I concede however being mostly English-speaking, and my Chinese lagging far behind, might have caused me more difficulty in seeking out recommendations of China-made shows that I would have liked without reservation, while I don’t have that problem with Western media.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Okay, okay, I see how my comment was unclear. When I said “they insist,” I meant people who make the claim that only whites can be racist, not everybody on the left. I didn’t intend to claim that this definition of racism is unanimously accepted on the left, or even the majority, only that there is a significant contingent that makes this claim.Report

  12. Avatar Patrick says:

    @james-hanley @brandon-berg

    “The claim that non-whites cannot be racist, at least in the US, is in fact one that one encounters quite frequently in left-wing identity politics. They insist that being a member of the dominant racial group is part of the definition of racism.”

    “I have heard this claim frequently in the identity politics world.”

    Could either/both of you point to someone notable clearly making this claim, who isn’t Al Sharpton, anyway?

    Because this seems to be an odd reading, and it’s certainly not one I see “frequently”.

    “The claim relies on a definition of rascism as consisting of a power structure that’s much bigger than anyone person. It literally depersonalizes racism. And therefore, minorities not being part of this power structure, cannot be racist.”

    This is closer.

    The version of the argument that I’ve heard is more akin to “disadvantaged people don’t participate in institutional racism“, which is very different from saying “they can’t be racist” (and it’s largely a garbage claim anyway because folks that make it usually bitch about Bill Cosby sometime immediately thereafter).

    Basically, I see both of you two guys taking the worst version of the weakest edition of a marginal argument and putting it forth as a “frequent”, and by extension pretty central pillar, of liberal identity politics.

    (Which is, again, something that you both utterly deplore when anybody who’s liberal does it concerning libertarians, so maybe not such a great idea to bring it up in the first place)

    Disclaimer:

    I’m only really bringing this up because “don’t tell the libertarians what they think” is a common battle cry and when you do it to other groups I feel compelled to point it out. I’m not really super-interested in working out how many kooks there are on the Left and what their relative influence is on the movement, I left the liberal movement a long time ago and I’m not one to define what it is or defend it.

    Maybe that’s a good conversation to have… but if it is, then it’s a fair battle to fight when people do it to you guys. Either agree to have arguments about who gets to define any movement and stick to that playing field, or don’t.

    There are a few words that have absorbed so much context that their utility in conversation is semantically useless (so far, I have ‘racism’, ‘feminism’, ‘socialism’, ‘freedom’, and ‘rights’ on this list, anybody else have good candidates?) It’s nearly impossible to have a constructive conversation because so many of the attempts are derailed by arguing over what is or is not the thing in question, and then everybody gets huffy about standing and pissed off that their definition isn’t the one that every else is using instead of just accepting one and going on.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Patrick says:

      @patrick See my comment above. It’s something you see in places like academia and the Tumblrverse. It’s not something you’re going to hear much from Congressmen. I’m not saying it’s the majority view among all people left of center. But there is a significant contingent who insist that this is the real definition of racism. Tod implied that it’s not a thing. It most definitely is a thing.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Patrick says:

      Michael Eric Dyson has argued this sort of thing.

      The problem is that so many use the word “racist” and “bigoted” interchangeably.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

        “The problem is that so many use the word “racist” and “bigoted” interchangeably.”

        Well, that used to not be a problem.

        I think the actual problem is that people want to win a rhetorical argument rather than win the intellectual one.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        Nice, Jaybird. My take on his view is that racism requires the power to impose bigotry via the force of law or cultural norm, that black people have always lacked that kind of power, so black people cannot be racists even tho they can be bigoted.

        I’m not sure that’s exactly the type of thing BB had in mind in his earlier comment (distinguishing between racism and bigotry) but it seems to support his claim that *some people* believe that black people cannot be racists as well as that racism is (or ought to be) restricted to institutional racism.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Jaybird says:

        Here’s why this is not a particularly useful definition:

        “Racism requires the power to impose bigotry via the force of law or cultural norm”

        “Cultural norm” is pretty relative. Pegging “racism” to “cultural norm” means that black folks in a black church could be racist and bigoted to a white guy walking in the door, but they’re only bigoted if they do the same thing in a restaurant.

        I’m fine with having different classes of racism, that’s not a problem. But if your different classes of racism are actually different, then don’t call them all “racism”… call one “institutional racism” and one “casual racism” and one… whatever else.

        People can get that, they’re not stupid.

        Throwing down a hard definition that relies so heavily on a relative component seems very much to me to be the sort of tactic that people use when they want to win the rhetorical argument, not the intellectual one.

        The argument becomes about who gets to define the terms, because then you win. That’s hardly my idea of constructive dialogue.

        You want to focus on institutional racism as a particular problem that’s worthy of particular concern, or you want to say that it’s actually the *biggest* and baddest version of racism so let’s focus on that and not get distracted by bigotry, that’s fine. Stick to calling it “institutional racism” though, because that’s what it is.

        All this energy spent trying to define “this is racism if and only if it is institutional racism” is kinda counterproductive.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, if most of your audience believes that “racism” and “bigotry” are, in fact, interchangeable, then I could easily see how the argument is that you have the problem rather than the audience has the problem.

        It might just be easier to hammer out definitions prior to the conversation and then, at least, you can have a good idea over what the other person means even if you don’t think they’re using the word the way you would if you used it.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        So, I take it you’re in agreement with BB’s initial comment? 🙂

        I don’t find it counterproductive at all. IF it were, then introducing the concept of institutional racism itself would have been counterproductive, but it clearly isn’t. Intellectual haggling over the scope of definitions is part and parcel of academia and intellectualism.

        Political haggling over the scope of the term may be counterproductive, as you say. But I think they may have been Brandon’s point way up thread, as well.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        It might just be easier to hammer out definitions prior to the conversation and then, at least, you can have a good idea over what the other person means even if you don’t think they’re using the word the way you would if you used it.

        Who is that comment directed at? Me? Brandon? Dyson?

        Just a generally useful rule to observe?Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        This reminds me of the dictum that the Soviet Union couldn’t be imperialist because imperialism is a form of capitalism. (I don’t recall what the approved term for a quasi-socialist state imposing its will on other countries by military occupation was.)Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Jaybird says:

        I find Dyson’s sophist logic as tortured as I find D’Souza’s. The distinction that he is making between being racist and being bigoted simply does not square with the way the word is defined or commonly used.

        Of course black people can be racist. Black people can be racist against whites. They can be racist against other ethnicities. And they can even be racist against other blacks. Just about all human being are racist to some extent or another and it doesn’t do much good to pretend otherwise.

        Where Dyson has a point is that the effect of black racism pales in comparison to the historical reality of white supremacy, but I suppose that just coming out and saying that would be much less theatrical.Report

      • Avatar LWA (Liberal With Attitude) in reply to Jaybird says:

        It should be self-evident that having brown skin doesn’t magically ward off bigotry or ethnocentrism, so yes, black people can certainly be racist.

        I see this sort of argument and discussion most often among academic venues, or theory-heavy political discussions.
        I believe this is because actual instances of black over white racism are pretty rare.
        How many white people can honestly give personal testimony to being oppressed by blacks? Real testimony, as opposed to “Yeah, this black preacher said ‘white people are bad’ so blacks are the real racists.”

        Which is where the stuff about “white power establishment” and cultural norms comes in.
        Black racism requires some effort and imagination to construct, and white racism and white power are easily seen all around us.

        If we actually had such a thing as a “black power establishment” and if white people really were being stopped and frisked by black cops, the issue of black racism might move out of the dorm room and into bars and kitchen tables.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

        @stillwater, I understand this argument but don’t really buy it from a linguistic point of view. Racism and bigotry might have had distinct meanings in the past but common usage blurred them in the lexicon. I don’t think it really makes that big a difference.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        Lee,

        It’s not my argument. I just paraphrased it.

        Do people think my parapharase constitutes endorsement? I sure hope not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

        To make that clearer, the only thing I’m endorsing is that Dyson’s remarks support Brandon’s upthread comment which caused such a ruckus.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s probably just a good general rule.

        If anything, maybe we can hammer out that, sure, maybe *OTHER* people use this particular definition, but we don’t so maybe we can move to the next part of the argument.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

      Patrick,

      Oh, only prominent people count? I don’t read that literature or really know who’s prominent in that crowd, I’ve only heard it directly from non-prominent people. But Students are obviously getting it from somewhere.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Patrick says:

      Basically, I see both of you two guys taking the worst version of the weakest edition of a marginal argument and putting it forth as a “frequent”,

      I’ve heard the specific phrasing “black people can’t be racist.” If that’s the worst verdion of the argument, and I’m inclined to agree it is. It’s not one I’m making up.

      and by extension pretty central pillar, of liberal identity politics.

      Your extension, not mine. And in context, rather ironic, no?Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    @jaybird can you (or somebody else) throw up an OTC with this video?
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/08/13/tiny-georgia-police-department-posts-terrifying-swat-video/

    I’d like to talk about police training, please.Report

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