While the left or those who enjoy attacking the right’s seemingly 1950’s esque “let’s take America back” style of reform, which if we were to go there, it would be horrendous, these quick labels of “racist!” hurt discourse and frankly are mostly inaccurate. The right is not stupid. Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump are big figures who use racial stereotypes to joke or make their points and then whine when they are picked on. The judgments made on them may be overdrawn but they could save the headaches by avoiding inaccurate racial stereotypes in the first place.
- The family of Amy Winehouse believes she died because her body couldn’t take the withdrawal from alcohol. A friend of mine recently made a “too soon” joke about her: she has now been sober for 1 week.
- TIME counts off their top 30 music videos of all time.
- In case you hadn’t heard, Bob Dylan’s grandson, Pablo Dylan, is a rapper.
- Tim Wise will have two new books out in the next six months!
- Some awesome pictures from the Tour de France 2011.
- President Obama comments today on the debt ceiling crisis.
Of all people, Bill O’Reilly showed a few examples of how the Left really does sometimes incite racial anxieties:
Recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the moderator, David Gregory, questioned whether Newt Gingrich’s description of Mr. Obama as the “food stamp president” was a racist statement.
Mr. Gingrich told Gregory his question was “bizarre.”
It was also typical.
When Donald Trump advised the president to “get off the basketball court” and down to business, he was branded racist by a variety of mainstream pundits.
In my Super Bowl Sunday interview with Mr. Obama, I asked him if he was a football fan. Some loon on HBO immediately branded that question racist.
Even for me, those comments listed above are mostly far from racial flame throwing.
When certain yes-no questions are asked that usually intertwine one’s view of race and their political views, answers can draw a thick line in the sand pitting “the racists” against “the tolerant ones”:
These questions, which have been used in a number of studies of racial attitudes, asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements regarding the condition of African Americans in the United States including whether a legacy of racism and discrimination has made it difficult for blacks to get ahead, whether blacks have gotten less than they deserve in the United States, whether blacks would be as well off as whites if they tried harder and whether blacks should be able to overcome prejudice the same way other minority groups did, without any special favors.
Not coincidentally, one can arrive at the “resentful” answers to these questions not only through racism, but also through conservative beliefs. One might say blacks should “try harder” out of a belief that they are lazy — or out of a belief that in America, hard work produces results no matter the color of one’s skin, and is preferable to government aid. One might say blacks shouldn’t get “special favors” out of a dislike for them — or out of a belief that no one should get special favors on the basis of race. These conservative beliefs may be right or wrong, but they are not inherently racist.
Robert VerBruggen makes two mistakes in his piece. One, he insinuates that hard work, no matter your skin color, produces success. That is so far from the truth it is laughable. Tim Wise has dismantled this myth several times. Also, VerBruggen concludes that there is no actual evidence to support conservatives being labeled as racists. I then ask these questions: why is your party almost always represented by whites, hostile to immigrants, represented by race-baiters (Rush Limbaugh), supportive of wealthy (a homogeneous group of whites) business owners and CEO’s over the poor (who, mostly non-white, are because years of education being withheld to them, almost always behind their white counterparts in test scores, school performance, or even the chance of being unemployed)?
John Stewart from The Daily Show was on the O’Reilly Factor. In my opinion, John had the upper hand in part one and Bill had the upper in part two. You be the judge on who wins this pointless battle over a poet (who I see as pretty tame compared to other rappers today) coming to the White House.
Tim Wise also discusses this on CNN.
Tim Wise helps us Caucasians out by using Donald Trump as an example (this is so worth a full read):
Now, with the birth certificate thing settled among remotely sane people, Trump has switched gears, casting doubt on Barack Obama’s academic performance and suggesting he didn’t deserve to get into the Ivy League schools he attended; namely, Columbia and Harvard Law. Although this plays directly into the long-running narrative so common on the white right for the past forty years, to the effect that black folks are getting things they don’t deserve because of racial favoritism, Trump insists it has nothing to do with race. Of course not. Neither could it possibly be about race that Trump would question Obama in this way, despite never having raised the issue of academic merit with any white president or politician, like, for instance, George W. Bush, who was a mediocre student (at best) in prep school and Yale, and actually bragged about his piss-poor performance to Yale students when he gave the commencement address there after becoming president.
One other noteworthy quote:
Adam Serwer shares an interesting study that found (after polling 200+ blacks and 200+ whites) anti-black resentment in the eyes of blacks has gone down since the 1950s and anti-white resentment in the eyes of whites has gone up since the 2000s:
White Americans, in short, thought that anti-white bias was a greater societal problem by the ’00s than anti-black bias.
Another way to look at this is that for all the right wing complaints about a “culture of grievance,” among minorities, black people have a fairly realistic assessment of racial progress in the U.S. while many whites have an unwarranted sense that they’re being persecuted. This goes a long way toward explaining the current state of American identity politics.
Tim Wise wouldn’t be surprised.
Operating on a charity model, rather than one of solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed, these service projects, while perhaps worthwhile in and of themselves, serve to reinforce the illusion that the society is basically a just one, requiring no substantial transformation, but rather, just a little more “helping out,” in order to attain perfection.
I am heading downtown today to help out with some cleaning and moving at a community center, so I guess I fall under the category of “charity actions” on this holiday. Standing up to housing, job, and food discrimination the way MLKjr did took entire towns marching many miles, taking many beatings, and sacrificing entire self for at the time little to any tangible results. The continual slow speed of results is what turned much of the civil rights movement from the non-violent approach to the “by any means necessary” with guns approach. Even at MLKjr’s funeral, a radical member of this new civil rights wave said King would have used a gun to get what he wanted.
Just as Barack Obama has been criticized by Wise for avoiding race in fear of being demonized, the CIA under J. Edgar Hoover adamantly and clandestinely worked to connect the civil rights movement to the smear of the time: communism.
It must sure take a special group of people to rise up against the status quo.
This is not as wide spread amongst loyal Tea Partiers as the media depicts but thank you Tim Wise for this goodie.
Tim Wise goes off against the notion that America is in a post-racial era and shits on the idiots (Rush Limbaugh, partly Barack Obama) for pressing racist buttons or shying away from such issues as “well they (the Tea Party and their racist signs) are just angry about the economy”. I love this guy.
Tim Wise slices into the historical nature of the day. Cynical? Sue me.
Thanksgiving has always been among my least favorite holidays.
Not merely because of the mendacity of the traditional narrative regarding its origins — you know, the whole “Indians and Pilgrims living in harmony” nonsense that conveniently ignores the genocide being planned even then by the latter — but because confining gratitude to one day of the year always seemed rather ungrateful. It always felt to me the way Yom Kippur did as a young Jewish kid: one day of atonement meant to paper over the really lousy stuff you had done the other 364 days.
I feel the same way with New Year’s resolutions. I can make a resolution or turn a new leaf any day. Why all the cultural emphasis on a certain one day?
Jim Wallis explains the other cultural scaffolds surrounding turkey day (and the greater holiday season):
The political ads are finally off the air. (We can all give thanks for that!) But now there is a new wave of advertisements hitting all of us. Each one will give us a different reason to consume. Each one will put pressure on us to show our love, compassion, and thankfulness through buying more stuff with money we don’t have on things we probably don’t need. I’ve already heard a barrage of commercials on TV and radio telling me that I don’t even have to wait for Black Friday to start my spending this year. “Those who care, consume,” they say.
The relentless pressure of advertising tells us that “there is never enough,” and that you should “worry” constantly about what you eat and drink, what you wear, whether your future is secure, and more. But Jesus says the exact opposite. They say, “Worry all the time!” But Christ says, “Don’t worry!”
Many of our closest friends and family know that MJ and I are living simple and frugally these days. We are just about to celebrate 9 months of marriage and still working on establishing ourselves (big hooray to MJ getting her dream job the other day!!!!). Back to frugality and simplicity, that allows us to give gifts we get via coupons that cost under 50 cents and wrap them in intentionality and warmth.
I don’t know why our world has to turn parts of this “joyous” and “happy” season into a guilt drive to buy, buy buy, and consume. MJ, too, notices the push to rush, go out and buy, and rush some more.
So, after writing the majority of this around noon today and putting it down until now, I can sit and rest while enjoying a fireplace by my side. We will get up tomorrow and go to the across the street department store and see what they have.
I don’t know where I am going with this. Let me just fade out and enjoy the holiday. Cheers!
I know, you think you’ve taken “your country back” with this election — and of course you have always thought it was yours for the taking, cuz that’s what we white folks are bred to believe, that it’s ours, and how dare anyone else say otherwise — but you are wrong.
You have won a small battle in a larger war the meaning of which you do not remotely understand.
‘Cuz there is nothing even slightly original about you.
There have always been those who wanted to take the country back.
There were those who, in past years, wanted to take the country back to a time of enslavement and indentured servitude.
But they lost.
There were those who wanted to take us back to a time when blacks “had no rights that the white man was bound to respect,” – this being the official opinion of the Supreme Court before those awful days of judicial activism, now decried by the likes of you – and when people of color could legally be kept from voting solely because of race, or holding certain jobs, or living in certain neighborhoods, or run out of other towns altogether when the sun would go down, or be strung up from trees.
But they lost.
Do whatever you gotta do, but remember that those who are the victims of your greed and indifference take the long view.
They know, but you do not, that justice is not for the sprinters, but rather for the long distance runners who will be hitting their second wind, right about the time that you collapse from exhaustion.
They are like the tortoise to your hare.
They are like the San Francisco Giants, to your New York Yankees: a bunch that loses year after year after year, until they finally win.
This is in response to the Juan Williams / NPR meltdown. It starts around the 2 minute mark.
I never got around to doing a book review for Borg’s book. It is a book worth sharing. Both Borg’s book and Wise’s were incredible reads and definitely challenged me. They both greatly challenge the status quo. I will explain how.
I like to explain why I picked a book to read. I don’t just pick random books to read and I especially look for books that may speak to or help me in that current season of life. I remember a few months back MJ and I were having a somewhat heated discussion with a friend about Marcus Borg. I wasn’t really part of the discussion at all because I knew nothing about Marcus Borg. MJ has read a handful of his books and the person we were talking to had a strong opinion about him but had not read any of his work. Once we moved and I was about to finish my last book, I was still intrigued by this Marcus Borg character. Since we currently live in one room, many of our books are packed away. That made it difficult for me to snag a Borg book from MJ’s collection. Once we moved to the area, we made it a routine to go to the local, and beautiful, library, I found his book Jesus on the shelves in the Religion section.
I am a somewhat slow reader so I had to renew this book twice just to finish it. It isn’t that long of a book, 300 pages, but it is overflowing with descriptive footnotes and theological thoughts to chew on. Wikipedia provides a solid description of Borg’s religious philosophy:
Borg advocates entering into relationship with God as more important than belief about God. He has a panentheist understanding of God, which sees God as both indwelling in everything and transcendent. He teaches that a historical-metaphorical approach to the Bible is more meaningful for today’s world than is the historical-grammatical approach or that of biblical literalism. He also distinguishes between the pre-Easter Jesus, who was a Jewish mystic and the founder of Christianity, and the post-Easter Jesus who is a divine reality that Christians can still experience personally.
Borg came back multiple times to the point that we can debate back and forth whether a story in the Bible actually happened or not or we can dive into what the story actually means. He notes that dwelling on the former question can stop you from exploring the latter question.
Much of Borg’s book sees Jesus’s ministry on earth as focused on justice, meaning against the oppressive system of the day lead by the Romans and leading religious figures. He explores the mystical experience Jesus had to of had to of embarked on a life fully aware and focused on God.
Borg, from beginning to end, digs into many of the contemporary views on Christianity while not coming off as a polemic author. My favorite characteristic of Marcus Borg is his accessibility. He is a college professor and has been a historical Jesus scholar for 30+ years yet I can still read his work without feeling academically overwhelmed and washed over by archaic terminology. In the end, I see Borg’s book as inviting, not divisive. But I can understand many Christians seeing his work as heretical. He is worth checking out, if you are ready for a theological challenge.
Next is Tim Wise’s book White Like Me. I decided to read his book after reading his short piece on the Tea Party. It was marvelous and I wanted to look out for his books. I looked him up at the local library and found WLM.
Wise’s book was very short, 150 pages, and I will remember it as a book where almost every sentence is worth quoting.
WLM serves as Wise’s memoir, even if it was written when he was 36. Wise reflects on his life, the privileged life that since birth elevated himself above those of minority status. he sees his birth as his first experience with race. Thus, there is a difference between an experience with race and an experience with a person of race.
His family, being his parents and fathers parents, were staunch anti-racists and placed him in living situations that did not segregate him from those of color.
Tim looks back on his life as he questions the automatic privledge his skin color provided him. One of his most memorable points is that he as a white man was able to go almost anywhere without having to worry about his race. Those of color, on the other hand, couldn’t necessarily pull over in Idaho and ask for directions without worrying about how “their people” would be received. Also, whenever he did anything or even screwed up, his own being, intellect, and genetic make up was not placed under a microscope. More so, the weight of his ethnic group was not placed on his shoulders should he make a mistake, nor is there much of a chance for someone to say that the whole white race is “just like that” if he should, say, blow up a building in Oklahoma City (hmm….think about that).
Not all of his stories may fly or make for the best “See, I told you how racism is tied into that” scenario. Regardless, Wise calls whites to think about their race and the unfair privilege that comes with it, maybe, for some, for the first time.
A poll released by ABC found that amongst the candidates and groups, Barack Obama was the most willing to cooperate with his opponents and the least likely to encourage division. Those less likely to cooperate and more likely to be divisive were Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and Cable/Talk show hosts.
To be fair, Obama has been labeled as divisive with the Right. He has been labeled as not budging with tort reform within the Health care reform package. As small of a piece tort reform is to reform (both literally and figuratively), Barack Obama has acted inclusively with the issue of the Ground Zero mosque. He stood to defend Muslims within America, both religiously (1st amendment) and as a minority seemingly under fire for the rest of eternity.
Palin, on the other hand, puts forth confusing statements slamming those who want to earn a college degree in Hawaii (yes, really) and is the poster child / mama grizzle for the uber-divisive Tea Party. Tim Wise wondered what America would think if you took the screaming, spitting in the face of politicians Tea Party and replaced their white ranks with blacks or hispanics. They would most likely be labeled as criminals, illegal aliens, or dehumanized in plethora other ways all the while lumping them into stereotyped groups.
I turned on the TV tonight, which is very rare. I only turn it on for football these days. I was bombarded with two election commercials that focused almost equally or more so on tearing down their opponent. So it is safe to say election season is in our midsts. An interesting quote I saw today came from within the GOP ranks and said the unthinkable: the GOP didn’t deserve to regain control:
The American people are about to give Republicans a second chance that we know we don’t deserve, that we haven’t earned. … The American people have every right, and every reason, to blame a Republican president and a Republican Congress for the mess that confronted the Obama administration on January 20, 2009 — let us be honest be about this.
There may always be a divide in style between those more likely to sympathize, listen, not scream, and judge less with those more doctrinal, judgmental, quick to speak, semi-irrational, and unwilling to budge. I may be painting an ideological picture for both sides, but that seems to be the general portrait of American partisan politics from my scope of view.
I haven’t forgotten about my part two for immigration, including immigration tests. My time in the classroom has been pulling my attention and my reading time has been diverted elsewhere.
The people who need to be convinced of comprehensive immigration reform — which must include a path to legal status for illegal immigrants — are angry about illegal immigration. Trying to paper over that won’t help, and might actually hurt.
Better to confront it directly: Yes, there’s illegal immigration, and yes, illegal immigrants should have to pay fees and learn English, but no, it’s not good for American workers or the American economy to have 12 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows, and no, deporting 12 million people is not a realistic option. Put differently, there are two fundamental facts here: Yes, there are illegal immigrants, and yes, we need to find a way to make them legal residents.
I find Nicole’s points extra intriguing:
How is the I-Word inaccurate – isn’t some illegal action happening here?
The I-Word is used as a sweeping generalization to label people who are out of status due to a variety of circumstances. For example, many people:
- Are brought to the country against their will.
- Are brought by employers and often exploited for cheap labor.
- Fall out of status and overstay their VISAS for a variety of reasons.
- Risk being killed in their country of origin.
- Are refugees due to bad economic policies such as NAFTA.
- Are affected by natural disasters and/or other reasons beyond their control.
- Are forced by economics and/or politics to risk everything simply to provide for their families.
This language scapegoats individual immigrants for problems that are largely systemic, such as unfair economic and immigration policies. The system itself pushes certain people into categories that are hard to get out of. There exists a backlog of people who must wait years to get processed, even when they are eligible to get papers through a relative. In this broken system, there can be families with mixed status that get torn apart because family unification is not a priority of the system.
There are other accurate words that do not dehumanize, such as: foreign national, undocumented immigrant, unauthorized immigrant, immigrant without papers, and immigrant seeking status.
As Tim Wise puts it in his book, whites are born into a sense of belonging while African Americans and many others of color are born into a way of being that is always questioned of its legitimacy as well as criticized if one member of the group slips up. It is as if a certain black boy has the whole weight of the African American nation on his shoulders and when he messes up, its another brick in the wall of “I told you so”. That isn’t right. We, and by we I mean those who care for the humanity of others, need to be armed with the right information to disarm the bigots. However, merely arming oneself with the data, means of discussion, and thoughts I believe is not enough. To truly believe these things for yourself does it. How good does it feel knowing you stand for the betterment of humanity and can hold a toxic conversation without raising your heart rate / blood pressure?
Big ups to Michael Drane for posting this on his Facebook. Tim Wise ends the Tea Party:
In evaluating the Tea Party phenomenon, those of us who insist white racial resentment is at the heart of the movement are often attacked for besmirching the high minded, non-racial motivations of those who identify with this insurgency. So, for instance, we are told that the real concerns of the TP are: deficit spending and big government. Prejudice and bigotry have no part in their efforts, or so we’re told.
And yet, if this were true, the conservatives in the Tea Party would have been screaming at George W. Bush when he was president (and certainly wouldn’t have voted for his re-election, since he eliminated the government surplus that had been created in the Clinton years). They would have called for the resignation of Dick Cheney for saying, famously, that “deficits don’t matter.” They would have supported Al Gore in 2000, since he was a member of the surplus-creating Clinton Administration. They would detest, rather than revere, the legacy of the Reagan years, which boosted the deficit and debt to before-then unheard of proportions.
Wise, in his very short treatise, demolishes each and every pillar of the TP. This is an accessible, worthwhile read. Give it a shot, even if you are a TP backer and read it in full. Shoot me a rebuttal – vgiordano at gmail dot com. I am willing to tango.
Draino said he would vote for a politician that wasn’t a Christian so long as they had common sense. If you follow the trail through the hyper links, it is delving into these comments by Christine O’Donnell:
O’DONNELL: A lie, whether it be a lie or an exaggeration, is disrespect to whoever you’re exaggerating or lying to, because it’s not respecting reality.
MAHER: Quite the opposite, it can be respect.
IZZARD: What if someone comes to you in the middle of the Second World War and says, ‘do you have any Jewish people in your house?’ and you do have them. That would be a lie. That would be disrespectful to Hitler.
O’DONNELL: I believe if I were in that situation, God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously. I believe that!
MAHER: God is not there. Hitler’s there and you’re there.
O’DONNELL: You never have to practice deception. God always provides a way out.
Tim Wise continues the railing against O’Donnell. Here are a few points I have related to O’Donnell:
- I never got around to writing this in my last post on O’Donnell, but I believe she is going to be somewhat similar to Scott Brown. O’Donnell hasn’t been elected yet as Senator and the majority of pundits who rip into her won’t be able to vote for her anyway. She is different than a mayor or governor in that her possible reach could be national, but lets not get ahead of ourselves – she hasn’t been elected yet. Scott Brown comes to mind when I think of O’Donnell because of her rise in a super blue state. Could this be a landslide entrance beginning for the GOP? We’ll see. Some may fear this could be a wave coming in with a New age of conservatives. The Bush conservatives are out and the Tea Party conservatives are in. This could affect our social policies and laws and I would be interested to see how this affects our country fiscally. All of this talk about cutting “waste”, “pork barrel spending”, and other largesses may have to come to the policy board and be shown that they 1) are vague 2) not that large of the federal debt as one may assume and 3) do not even compare to the costs of social security, medicare/medicaid, and defense. Why would a bunch of fear mongering baby boomers want the social security or defense budgets cut? These are some of the programs that make them feel so comfortable and secure.
In the end, I am not overly worried but intrigued by this possibility of GOP control. Hopefully there can be some opportunities for better bipartisanship if the GOP takes control of the House or Senate.
- I could dedicate a whole other post to this, but I am curious why Tim Wise, Andrew Sullivan, and other bloggers/media heads are picking on O’Donnell for her anti-masturbation stance. This may not be her standing for the issue, but masturbation can put a clear wedge between spouses and strongly distorts our outlook on sexual encounters, how they should be, and further blurs the line between fantasy, reality, and expectation.
- O’Donnell’s stance with refusing to lie (hypothetically) to the Nazi’s sounds to be an ideological decision in line with respecting leadership as ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7). Although saying that there were Nazi’s hiding in her home and giving them over would save her life, where does that line up with standing up for the orphan and against injustice? I am sure this hypothetical situation has been written extensively about and I wish for no one to ever have to face a similar one. Regardless, the context of the Nazi purging of Jews is important: many Germany citizens could of been obedient to Hitler at that point because they may of believed what he was doing was “taking back Germany” – bringing its economy and society up from its crypt due to the Jews.