s skippy the bush kangaroo: just because we that's what we really are, doesn't mean you have to keep pointing it out

skippy the bush kangaroo

Friday, September 18, 2009

just because we that's what we really are, doesn't mean you have to keep pointing it out

melissa @ shakesville does a yeoman's job (ie, the heavy lifting) of deconstructing the straw arguments in the asspress's latest trope "even tho we're doing it more, if you keep pointing it out, you dilute your own arguments". here's just a few of her salient points:

"republican rep. joe wilson? racist, because he shouted "you lie!" at the first black president."—no, wilson has been accused of being motivated by racism because he has a demonstrable history of associating himself with racist organizations and symbols, and because it seems like a mighty strong coincidence that a white congressman who unapologetically affiliates with racist organizations and symbols would have a wildly disrespectful—and unprecedented—outburst during the speech of a black president. "he's white and he yelled at the first black president" is absurdly reductive of the complex argument underlying the charge of racism against wilson.

"health care protesters, affirmative action supporters? racist."—i've not seen anyone anywhere actually accuse all healthcare protesters of being racist. certainly, plenty of people have quite rightly noted that the protests have had incidents of overt racism, and that the intensity of the protests, the violent hatred of the president, is disproportionate, quite obviously because of his race. to deny that evident reality is to deny a 200+ year national history of white mob violence against "uppity" blacks. of course there are people who object to obama's policies for reasons other than his being black; but there are also people who object to obama's policies because he is black, or object to them in a manner they would not if he weren't black. the only people saying, "all healthcare protesters are racists!" are rightwingers who are deliberately misconstruing a legitimate argument about the relationship between incendiary/violent rhetoric and racial animosity…

"but if everybody's racist, is anyone?"—ah, the old "if racism is that ubiquitous, it must not even be real" canard. straw-argument.

"the word is being sprayed in all directions"—another straw-argument. it is not "being sprayed," which connotes nonspecific targets, in all directions. there are people who "spray" accusations of racism all over the place, like throwing shit at a wall just to see what sticks. but responsible commentators, especially among social justice progressives, are not "spraying" accusations of racism, but painstakingly demonstrating patterns of historical racism and teasing out the cultural memes and narratives that underlie the rhetoric and actions they've identified as racially-motivated. that ain't spray; that's scholarship.

"creating a hall of mirrors"—the "spray" doesn't create the hall of mirrors. the media's refusal to distinguish between "spray" and scholarship does.
we were especially taken back by the misdirection that "joe wilson is a racist because he yelled @ obama." especially when it has been documented that "joe wilson is a racist because he is a racist." dave niewert points out:

looking into the background of rep. joe wilson, r-south carolina, after his heckling of president obama last night, i came across this:

joe also has been a member of the columbia world affairs council, fellowship of christian athletes, sinclair lodge 154, jamil temple, woodmen of the world, sons of confederate veterans, ....
this is an organization that, as the splc has detailed assiduously, has been taken over in the past decade by radical neo-confederates who favor secession and defend slavery as a benign institution. leading the takeover is a radical racist named kirk lyons, who's been an important legal figure on the far right for some years…

now, add this to the fact that joe wilson, as a state legislator, was one of only seven republicans to go against their own party and vote to keep the dixie rebel flag flying over the south carolina capitol:

the flag came down that year after republicans in both houses went for a compromise that would put it on statehouse grounds at the confederate soldier’s monument. the “magnificent seven” of senators who voted to keep the flag up included current congressman joe wilson (who i served with in the 218th infantry brigade of the national guard.)

a clearer picture of why this congressman might so virulently breach protocol and loudly interrupt an african-american president's speech to congress by calling him a liar does start to emerge, doesn't it?
certainly, the charge of racism has appeared more and more as of late, but rather than because people are godwin's lawing it to death, it's more probably because overt racism has crawled out of the private gutters it lived in for the past several decades to grow strong in the public square.

the overton window of what is acceptable in race-baiting standards has moved perceptively. cnn actually had the gall to debate on whether this picture was racist or just clever satire;


of course, it's cnn that is using logical fallacies to promote their own agenda here (this one being the "we journalists are so neutral, we present both sides"). but this false binary is also muddying the waters. even if you could, by some stretch of the imagination, call this satire, that does not mean that it's not also racist.

there's no way the depiction of a black man as a stereotypical cartoon african native cannot be construed as demeaning, disrespectful, disempowering and race-based.

gene robinson points out:

of course it's possible to reject obama's policies and philosophy without being racist. but there's a particularly nasty edge to the most vitriolic attacks -- a rejection not of obama's programs but of his legitimacy as president. this denial of legitimacy is more pernicious than the abuse heaped upon george w. bush by his critics (including me), and i can't find any explanation for it other than race.

i'm not talking about the majority of the citizens who went to town hall meetings to criticize obama's plans for health-care reform or the majority of the "tea bag" demonstrators who complain that obama is ushering in an era of big government. those are, of course, legitimate points of view. protest is part of our system. it's as american as apple pie.

i'm talking about the crazy "birthers." i'm talking about the nitwits who arrive at protest rallies bearing racially offensive caricatures -- obama as a witch doctor, for example. i'm talking about the idiots who toss around words like "socialism" to make obama seem alien and even dangerous -- who deny the fact that he, too, is as american as apple pie.
robinson goes on to explain how wilson voted to keep the confederate flag in his state house. which exemplifies the fact that context is everything, especially when dealing with race-baiting.
posted by skippy at 12:35 PM |


Solid post, skip. Another point, something I just can't believe I'm not seeing much of are those who may be opposed to certain Obama policies but who refuse to distance themselves from the more disgusting elements of the right. If anything they've embraced the fringe, using them to bolster their numbers of the dissatisfied, using the heat of their hate speech to fuel their own media drive. The right wants to fry Obama over his associations with Rev Wright, ACORN, Bill Ayers, the Islamic side of his family -- all fair game among the GOP. Where then is the guilt by association applied to the worst elements of the wingnuts?
commented by Anonymous sean, 1:27 PM PDT  
Racism is so a part of the Republican Party that is one of the many reasons I left the Republican Party a long time ago.

The racism is still there and it slithers from their minds like a snake waiting to bite you.
commented by Blogger Nothing, 6:52 PM PDT  
It's really nice to read a post that recognizes frankly the logical fallacies and lies for what they are...with no confusion positing that they are 'mistakes' or that omissions are not calculated.
commented by Blogger opit, 9:42 PM PDT  
commented by Blogger kenzo, 12:12 AM PDT  

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