It’s not racist (or sexist) if they’re Republicans

I’m coming a bit late to the blogspat between Robert George and Steve Gilliard over a racially offensive item Gilliard put on his blog. Gilliard went after Maryland Lt. Gov Michael Steele, a black Republican who is now running for the U.S. Senate, because Steele wouldn’t condemn Gov. Robert Ehrlich for holding an event at an all-white golf club. His method of attack was extreme racial caricature: the blog item, titled “Simple Sambo Wants to Move to the Big House”,” featured a doctored photo of Steele as a minstrel in blackface, with such language as, “I’s Simple Sambo and I’s running for the Big House.” (The photo and most of text have now been removed; see explanation at the end of this post. Update: Michelle Malkin has the original “Sambo” image here.)

George lambasted Gilliard for “trading in racist imagery” to “mock and denounce [Steele's] very existence as a black man who chooses to be Republican.” After more publicity from Andrew Sullivan, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine, a Democrat, withdrew his ads from Gilliard’s blog, prompting Gilliard to fulminate against Kaine and Sullivan and then against George. Gilliard and George, by the way, are both black.

This is not the first example of racist rhetoric being used against black Republicans. In 2002, for instance, singer and actor Harry Belafonte referred to Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice as “house slaves.” And it’s a pretty despicable tactic. Commenting on Belafonte’s remarks, Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page wrote, “Name-calling is the last refuge of the intellectually bankrupt. In this case, it shows a certain moral bankruptcy too.” If so, Gilliard has been in Chapter 11 for quite a while: he’s yet another Ann Coulter clone (differences in gender, race, and politics notwithstanding) who thinks rudeness equals wit and that people of opposing viewpoints are not to be debated but ridiculed, slammed and demonized. He has already made up his mind that conservatives hate black people, so what’s the point of dialogue?

Gilliard evidently thinks that no one should have a problem with his use of malicious racial stereotypes because he is black. He also thinks it’s outrageous that some people evidently thought he was white, since no white liberal or progressive would dare employ such racial caricature against a black man. (Yet it’s all right for him to peddle this imagery to his readers, including ones who aren’t black.) But actually, Gilliard may be off-base about that. Ted Rall, who over a year ago drew a cartoon that had Condoleeza Rice referring to herself as Bush’s “house nigga,” is white. So is Jeff Danziger, who depicted Rice as Gone with the Wind‘s Mammy saying “I don’t know nuthin’ about no aluminum tubes.” While Danziger was referring to a movie character and probably wasn’t thinking of race, his cartoon was at the very least racially insensitive.

It seems fairly clear to me that such racial putdowns are more likely to be used against black conservatives, in the same way that some progressives think sexist slurs against right-wing women are all right — because, being politically incorrect, they don’t share in the protected status of victim of racism/sexism. (If anyone has examples of racist imagery being used to mock liberal/left-wing black public figures — other than on openly racist websites — please send them in.)

And speaking of sexism: if Steve Gilliard feels that he’s free to use racist images and language because he’s black, may we assume that he is also female, since he has no compunction about mocking conservative women in blatantly sexist terms? About a year ago, Gilliard wrote about the wedding of journalist and serial plagiarist Ruth Shalit, using the event as an occasion to make fun of Shalit. There’s certainly plenty to make fun of; writing for The New Republic and plagiarizing from Washington Post columnist David Broder is right up there with committing robbery just outside a police station. But Gilliard’s mockery has a specific twist. He mentions that after being fired by The New Republic, Shalit was hired by Salon.com to write about advertising but lasted there only a short time before getting caught in another scandal. Then, Gilliard writes (my apologies for the language):

Now, why did Shalit have such a charmed career? Because she and her sister Wendy were, for lack of a better phrase, fuckable. Nobody cared what Shalit wrote as long as they could hop in bed with her. Now, to be fair, this has nothing to do with Talbot, who was 3000 miles away from his writer, but it sure cut her slack in Washington. While Wendy made a point of her virginity, Ruth, well, that wasn’t the issue with her.

Lack of a better phrase, indeed.

Note the impeccable logic. Ruth Shalit’s hiring by Salon shows that she had a “charmed” career, and it was charmed because she was willing to hop in bed with men who were willing to promote her career … except that the man who hired her for Salon was 3000 miles away. For some reason, Wendy Shalit is smeared by association as well, even though Gilliard tells us that she “made a point of her virginity” (actually, I believe she merely urged young women to forgo premarital sex but refused to discuss her own personal life) and thus clearly wasn’t doing any bed-hopping.

This is vile stuff, and vile in a peculiarly sexist way. (Shalit was, in fact, a talented journalist, just an ethically challenged one.) And there is, of course, the political factor: according to Gilliard, “Ruth Shalit in her New Republic career, was a race baiter. She wrote a long, nasty and racist article for the New Republic, on I think DC.” Actually, the 1995 article was about racial politics at The Washington Post and asserted that the push for “diversity,” while laudable in some ways, had created a lot of tensions and problems. While it contained some embarrassing errors, the former president of the American Journalism Review wrote that it touched on some real issues, and called it “a layered and textured piece.” To Gilliard, any discussion of problems with preferential hiring is obviously racist.

To sexism, add a strong whiff of Jew-baiting. Gilliard’s swipe at Shalit is titled, “Plagerist (sic) marries, turns husband into a jew (sic)” — a reference to the fact that Shalit’s husband converted to Judaism. It is also accompanied by an antique photo captioned, “Jewish Wedding. Plagerist (sic) Ruth Shalit had one of these.” Somehow, I doubt that Gilliard’s “you’re allowed to use slurs against your own kind” rule applies in this case.

As for the “Sambo” affair: the “Sambo” image is now gone from Gilliard’s site and replaced with this. Why? Apparently, the picture Gilliard had Photoshopped with blackface was copyrighted to The Washington Post, whose lawyers promptly contacted Gilliard. Gilliard replaced it with a public-domain photo. Only this time, he didn’t “minstrelize” it but superimposed it on an image of money. “Now, some people might mistake this as regret,” Gilliard writes. No, of course not.

Update: More from Jeff at Protein Wisdom. Astoundingly, some black leaders are openly saying that racially tinged slams are all right if directed at Republicans.

Speaking of sexist slurs against right-wing women: back in my college days, I heard a male student who prided himself on being pro-feminist quote, with great gusto, some comedian’s joke: “Have you noticed that all the women in those anti-abortion marches are so ugly, no one would want to f*** them anyway?” To this day, I regret that I didn’t ask him if he would have told (or laughed at) the same joke if it was directed at women in anti-rape marches. And I’m pro-choice.

46 Comments

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46 responses to “It’s not racist (or sexist) if they’re Republicans

  1. Anonymous

    “To sexism, add a strong whiff of Jew-baiting. Gilliard’s swipe at Shalit is titled, “Plagerist (sic) marries, turns husband into a jew (sic)” — a reference to the fact that Shalit’s husband converted to Judaism. It is also accompanied by an antique photo captioned, “Jewish Wedding. Plagerist (sic) Ruth Shalit had one of these.” Somehow, I doubt that Gilliard’s “you’re allowed to use slurs against your own kind” rule applies in this case.”

    Steve’s girlfriend, who shares posting duties on his blog, is white, and Jewish.

  2. Olga

    Well, that makes it all OK then. Everything is right with the world in which Steve Gilliard and his girlfriend, between the two of them, have a moral exemption to slam

    1) black people
    2) white people
    3) Jewish people
    4) slutty people of any color and religion

    as long as they are even slightly to the right of the extreme left. Oh wait, does this leave Moslems off-limits to these two, or does Steve belong to the Nation of Islam?

  3. Anonymous

    Well, later on in that post by Gilliard, he says “Of course, we wish Ms. Shalit and her newly minted Jewish husband-Shalit took her religion seriously, even back in the day-the best”. He is criticizing Shalit as a professional race-baiter and a plagiarist who, like Ann Coulter, relies to an extent on her non-professional assets: the aforementioned “slutty” quality, as you put it, which is not a tenet of Judaism. Are you saying it is politically incorrect to criticize slutty people?

  4. Rottin in Denmark

    Here’s the letter that Gilliard wrote to George after this ‘blogspat.’

    “You know, even though we disagree, I thought you were a man.

    I was wrong.

    I mean, if you didn’t like my illustration of Michael Steele, you could have e-mailed me (stevenewsblog@yahoo.com) or posted up. I wouldn’t have agreed with you, but I would have respected you.

    But you didn’t. You ran to Andy “Bell Curve” Sullivan. My God man, have you no pride, no dignity. Not only did you need a white man to fight your battles, but a racist one at that.
    One who thinks blacks are intellectually inferior. People like you.

    You didn’t like when I said Deroy Murdock acted like a slave, but Robert, that was a move straight off the plantation: “massa, massa, that negro is getting uppity.” When I didn’t like what you said, I didn’t go to Atrios to post up on it. You should have been man enough to confront me directly.”

    OK, me again:
    George posts a long response on his blog, most of which I found completely unnecessary, as Gilliard in his letter does a fantastic job of discrediting himself. This guy just has nothing interesting to say at all, and I’m amazed that the blogosphere has gotten this much mileage out of this.

    When someone is as immature and irrelevant as this guy is, isn’t it better to just ignore him? Or does the nature of blogs mean that you have to post this inflammatory stuff just to get noticed?

  5. Olga

    “Are you saying it is politically incorrect to criticize slutty people?” anonymous asked. Political incorrectness has never been an issue for me — the incorrecter the better. What we seem to be discussing here is a statement that a female journalist’s career has been owed largely to her sluttiness, because the blogger making the statement doesn’t like her politics and so uses her [rumored] sluttiness to dismiss her as a writer, although it’s perfectly possible to be both a brilliant writer and a total slut, of either gender.

    That’s a low, primitive, incompetent way to argue, but, if I’m following the logic of the anonymous correctly, since Gilliard has a girlfriend, it’s OK and not sexist.

    Revisiting the original question, criticizing slutty people for being slutty, when not part of a political argument, is either hypocritical or self-righteous. Unless the slut in question is your own wife and you’ve never cheated on her yourself.

  6. Anonymous

    “Political incorrectness has never been an issue for me — the incorrecter the better.”

    Then you should have no problem with Gilliard’s comments. What is ironic is that the general argument Cathy makes regarding men’s rights derives a fair portion of its moral weight from the fact she is a woman. But a black man is not supposed to have the same moral weight regarding criticism against other black commentators? The only difference is his tone, which is politically incorrect. So that’s ok with you, right?

  7. colagirl

    What is ironic is that the general argument Cathy makes regarding men’s rights derives a fair portion of its moral weight from the fact she is a woman.

    Speaking only for myself, I personally find her arguments convincing not because she is a woman but because I find them to be clear, logical and well-reasoned. But that’s just me.

  8. Cathy Young

    So Steve Gilliard’s cover is “I have a Jewish girlfriend”?

    About political correctness/incorrectness: I think these terms have become largely meaningless, encompassing everything from ribald jokes and discussions of controversial topics like the promotion of less qualified candidates to achieve diversity to bona fide racism, sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of bigotry. I remember that at the height of the backlash against “PC,” in the early 1990s, I went on a trip to Russia where I heard educated people say things like “all those colored people need to be kept under the iron fist of the white man” and make nasty jokes about rape victims, I realized that there is a value to social taboos on certain kinds of speech.

    I agree that given today’s “identity politics,” a woman has more freedom in talking about gender politics than a man, and blacks have more freedom in talking about racial politics than whites. But there are still limits. Or should be. I’ve criticized radical feminists, but I don’t think being female gives me leeway to say, for instance, that all those feminists are just too damn ugly to catch a man.

    As for Ruth Shalit: I certainly have no intention of defending her from charges of plagiarism. (In fact, in the course of my own work I’ve come across more evidence of it — can’t be more specific than that.) But I think that to call her a “race-baiter” because of her New Republic article is to shut down a vitally needed discussion of the effects of race-conscious “diversity” policies. And is there any evidence that Ruth Shalit’s career advancement was due to bed-hopping? Or is that simply a gratuitous, and sexist, slam?

  9. Abe

    The point, and Cathy made it well, is that some people seem to think that blatantly racist statements and stereotyping are “OK” as long at the targets are conservatives.

    What difference does the race of the person doing the racist sterotyping make? Being black certainly doesn’t give someone “carte blanche” (pun intended) to sling racist mud at another black person. If anything, that it makes it worse, IMO.

    Underlying the attitude that such behavior toward black conservatives is somehow “OK,” is a highly racist attitude. It is the assumption that there is only one way to think for a black person, and any deviation from that makes the heritic a “race traitor.” That particular term tends to conjure up bad images, being popular in the neo-Nazi literature, so they substitute “Oreo” or “house nigga” or “sambo,” or just claim that the conservative is “not really black.”

    This is nasty racist cr*p. It needs and deserves to be condemned vigorously by people from all political perspectives.

    BTW, Cathy, you’re giving Danziger way too much credit when you say he “probably wasn’t thinking of race” with his cartoon. He drops Condi Rice, a brilliant and accomplished woman, into a role as a slave on a plantation who “don’t know nothin’ about …” That’s about as nasty a racist twist as you’ll see. Try imagining some “reputable” newspaper doing that in a “cartoon” with Shirley Chisolm, Oprah, or even that moonbat woman in the House (her name escapes me).

  10. Cathy Young

    ace, good points. As for Danziger, you’re probably right that I gave him too much benefit of the doubt.

    Here is Danziger’s own defense (posted in the comments here at Alas, A Blog:

    It wasn’t racist. Think for yourself. Ms. Rice told America that she knew for certain that all these nuclear and mass destruction weapons existed. For certain. Then once the war is on and over a thousand GI’s get killed, she said last week that she didn’t know anything for certain, and that she never said it was certain and it was all the CIA’s fault and Clinton did the same thing and blah-blah. Just like Prissy in “Gone With the Wind”, who knew all about birthin babies, until an actual baby was on the way, and then she didn’t know nuthin about birthin babies.

    Nothing racist about it at all. Just the standard lies told by a political operative, out of her depth, who happens to be African American.

    However, as Ampersand (himself a leftist) points out in the top post in the thread:

    Danziger says that Rice “happens to be African-American,” as if he were depicting her without regard to her race. But that’s nonsense. It’s only because she’s black that it makes any sense to draw her as a black stereotype from “Gone With the Wind” – and drawing her that way doesn’t make fun of her lies or her politics, it just makes fun of her race.

    Good point. I think Danziger lost this particular debate. Incidentally, he chose to remove the cartoon from his site.

  11. Jacques Cuze

    It’s always teh funnay when Cathy Young accuses someone of anti-semitism.

  12. Dean

    I heard educated people say things like “all those colored people need to be kept under the iron fist of the white man” and make nasty jokes about rape victims, I realized that there is a value to social taboos on certain kinds of speech.

    I’m old enough to remember the civil rights movement (barely), and I remember some of what it was like. The first actual joke I remember a classmate telling had an apallingly racist streak through it.

    We used to call Brazil nuts ‘nigger toes’, and little licorice figures (four for a penny, or was it five?) were ‘nigger babies’. There was a rhyme about Daniel Boone, and when he ran from a bear, he ran ‘like a nigger’.

    As much as I dislike the overboard suppression of speech that has resulted, I am overjoyed that society no longer tolerates such bigotry.

    Colagirl said: Speaking only for myself, I personally find her arguments convincing not because she is a woman but because I find them to be clear, logical and well-reasoned. But that’s just me.

    No, colagirl, it isn’t just you. I don’t agree with Cathy on everything, but I know that when she takes a position, it’s a thoughtful one.

    Abe said: The point, and Cathy made it well, is that some people seem to think that blatantly racist statements and stereotyping are “OK” as long at the targets are conservatives.

    I think that’s true. I think that it is equally true that some people think that blatantly hatemongering statements are OK as long as the targets are ‘moonbats’… oh, sorry, liberals.

    There are plenty of people on either side willing to sling dung at those they percieve to be their enemies. The problem is that when you pick up a handful, you get smeared your own self.

  13. Revenant

    I think that it is equally true that some people think that blatantly hatemongering statements are OK as long as the targets are ‘moonbats’… oh, sorry, liberals.

    I don’t think it is quite fair to present that as the flip side of the “racism is ok so long as the victim is conservative” thing. As you yourself observe, both sides spew hate at their opponents — but it is only those of the left who are given a pass for overt racism.

  14. Cathy Young

    I don’t particularly like political hate speech, whether it’s directed at “libs” or “repugs.” But I don’t think it’s comparable to racist/sexist/anti-Semitic slurs and imagery.

  15. Anonymous

    “I agree that given today’s “identity politics,” a woman has more freedom in talking about gender politics than a man, and blacks have more freedom in talking about racial politics than whites. But there are still limits. Or should be. I’ve criticized radical feminists, but I don’t think being female gives me leeway to say, for instance, that all those feminists are just too damn ugly to catch a man.”

    Your criticism of Gilliard has more to do with his manner than his so-called racism. When you talk about crossing the line, there is no line in racism. It is or it isnt, but with taste, there is a line. I think Olga is closer to what is really bothering you all. You think it is politically incorrect more than a real indication of his feeling towards his own race. You disagree with his position against George, but the truth is you find his rough language unacceptable. Ok then but there is a difference when one person uses a word and another person uses it, when you consider who they are. Rall and Danziger are liberals and it is silly to say they are somehow exposing hidden racism when they use blunt humor. Danziger said he got the idea from an African American in your link. I guess you all agree with Michelle Malkin then, and she has her own problems with taste. If you don’t find some liberals genteel or tasteful enough for you ok, but you all are just playing word games when you call them racist, anti semitic etc. and people know it.

  16. Cathy Young

    anonymous: so the difference between criticizing a woman or an African-American for their ideas and saying that feminists are too butt-ugly to catch a man or depicting a black man as a minstrel in blackface is merely “a difference in manners”? I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. And yes, I favor civility in public discourse. Very wimpy of me, I know.

  17. mythago

    since no white liberal or progressive would dare employ such racial caricature against a black man

    Sure they would.

    His smear of the Shalits is despicable, but I’m surprised to see you defend Wendy Shalit’s do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do screeds.

  18. Cathy Young

    mythago — far be it from me to defend Wendy Shalit! I actually had a rather acrimonious debate with her in Slate in 1999 (you can find it by going to Slate.com and looking up “Cathy Young and Wendy Shalit”, if you’re interested), and I gave her book a less-than-glowing review for Newsday (since it’s not online, I’m just going to paste it in below). I just think that to claim that the secret to her career success lies in being “fuckable” is (a) a slander and (b) sexist and disgusting.

    ================================

    Newsday (New York)

    January 21, 1999, Thursday, ALL EDITIONS

    SECTION: PART II; Page B02

    AUTHOR SEEKS VIRTUE IN THE THRILL OF THE CHASTE

    BYLINE: By Cathy Young

    A RETURN TO MODESTY: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit. Free Press, 291 pp., $ 24. IN RECENT YEARS, feminists have often been criticized for viewing women as helpless pawns of patriarchy and dwelling on their injuries at the hands of men. Conservatives have been particularly sarcastic about “victim feminism.” Wendy Shalit, a 23-year-old conservative writer, believes they’ve been wrong.

    In “A Return to Modesty,” Shalit urges conservatives to “take the claims of the feminists seriously . . . from the date-rape figures to anorexia to the shyness of teenage girls” and stop quibbling about flawed studies or false charges. What matters, she suggests, is the greater truth: “A lot of young women are trying to tell us that they are very unhappy.” At the same time, she urges feminists to consider that this misery may be due not to patriarchy but to “a society that has lost respect for female modesty.”

    In Shalit’s view, women want love and men want sex, and if women make themselves too available, they lose the power to demand romance and marriage. In our “liberated” culture, she asserts, girls and young women are forced to feel ashamed if they harbor “romantic hopes” and want more than just sex; no wonder they’re messed up.

    Shalit has a point when she says that children today are exposed to sexual knowledge before they’re ready. I’ll even agree that the “embarrassment” about sexual matters that sex educators seek to break down can be a good thing, a recognition that “something very strange or very significant is going on,” and that the matter-of-fact attitudes toward sex often touted as “healthy” are sadly sterile. But Shalit paints modern morals with too broad a brush. In 1995, more than half of 17-year-olds had never had sex. Young women on progressive campuses like Williams, Shalit’s alma mater, may sport “Shameless Hussy” stickers, but in most high schools, “slut” remains a dreaded label. Arguably, it’s less the new sexual rules than their overlap with the old ones that can leave girls painfully confused.

    Nor does Shalit offer any evidence beyond anecdotes for her claim that female afflictions such as poor self-image or eating disorders stem from a “sexually chaotic landscape.” In a 1997 Commonwealth Fund survey, only 12 percent of girls said that “pressure to have sex” caused them a lot of stress – as did 8 percent of boys.

    This small gap points to another flaw in Shalit’s thesis: her simplistic girls-as-victims, boys-as-victimizers scheme. Sexual teasing in schools is far more of a two-way street than she lets on; so is romantic heartbreak. Even the data cited by Shalit show that while more girls (62 percent) wish they had waited longer to have sex, so do many boys (48 percent). And overall, boys are at higher risk for serious emotional problems.

    Shalit’s argument for protecting girls turns all too easily into an argument for protecting women – from men and from themselves. While deploring intolerance toward the chaste, she is not content to live and let live: “Perhaps this is where liberalism failed, because it thought society could be simply neutral about individuals choices, and it never can.” Women who have premarital sex, Shalit explains, make it hard for those who’d rather hold out until marriage to find men who are willing to wait. Besides, she suggests, limiting women’s sexual freedom will merely stop them from engaging in “self-deception.”

    Shalit’s traditionalism is not limited to the sexual issues that are the subject of her book. To her, both the expectation that women will have careers and the expectation that they will have casual sex are part of the imperative of a “truly misogynist culture,” which she sums up as: “Stop being a woman!” It’s revealing that her favorite theorist on feminine modesty is Rousseau – who also believed women should be restricted to the domestic sphere and educated only to please men.

    From feminism, meanwhile, Shalit borrows some of its worst traits, chiefly male-bashing and relentless exaggeration of the perils girls and women face. Her attempts to link those perils to the decline of traditional sexual constraints are unpersuasive (women are pretty safe in liberated Sweden) and sometimes absurd – as when she argues that loss of respect for chastity has made courts less sympathetic to rape victims. Actually, the reverence for chastity used to make a rape conviction nearly impossible if the woman had an “unchaste character” or did not resist “to the utmost” to defend her virtue.

    There are in “A Return to Modesty” germs of excellent ideas; in the age of Jerry Springer, a plea for modesty can’t be that bad. Shalit is right, I think, that sex loses much spice when nothing is left to the imagination, and that the rush to do away with male gallantry has often had a coarsening effect on manners. She’s right that a view of sex as “no big deal” may lead people to be blindsided by its emotional consequences; I would add that, while men may be less vulnerable to this than women, they are hardly immune.

    But the good comes with too much baggage (including Shalit’s none-too-modest discussion of her own virginity, and her claim to speak for her entire generation). Besides, the state of womanhood today is not nearly as grim as Shalit depicts it: Most young women are happy with their lives, and romance and marriage are far from extinct. Problems exist between the sexes, to be sure, but a return to paternalism toward women is not the solution.

  19. Revenant

    Rall and Danziger are liberals and it is silly to say they are somehow exposing hidden racism when they use blunt humor.

    I’m not clear why that would be “silly”. Are you trying to claim that liberals can’t be racists? Now *that* would be silly.

    Indeed, it is easy to see how support for something like race-based and gender-based preferences and quotas could be based in a conscious or subconscious belief that blacks and women are just too damned inferior to do well without the help of well-meaning white men.

  20. Cathy Young

    Actually, in his letter in response to criticism of the Rice cartoon, Danziger says that he’s not a liberal — he voted for Nixon, George H. W. Bush twice, and Dole.

  21. Dean

    I don’t particularly like political hate speech, whether it’s directed at “libs” or “repugs.” But I don’t think it’s comparable to racist/sexist/anti-Semitic slurs and imagery.

    What’s the difference between what Gilliard did and what someone like Coulter does? I don’t know about you, but to me, ‘traitor’ is an extremely serious charge. What about those who automatically term every Republican a ‘Nazi’?

    Note that I’m not saying that Gilliard is no worse than those who employ non-race-based hate-filled rhetoric in political speech. I am saying that those who employ vile hate-based political language are as bad as Gilliard. There is a difference.

    A. I don’t see why Gilliard’s offence is worse because he employed racist imagery. I don’t see why what he did was worse because he based it around race rather than party affiliation.

    B. I don’t see why those who say that leftists are actually out to destroy the United States or who say that rightists are Nazi slaves to some Bush-Halliburton blood-for-oil scheme are any better than Gilliard.

    In other words, I don’t see why race- and sex-based language should be singled out for particular vilification. They are, of course, in this society, but the reasons for that are emotional and historical rather than rational.

    Oh, and for the record, I read Gilliard occasionally, and I disagree strongly with what he did. He doesn’t get any sort of slack cut because he happens to be black.

  22. Cathy Young

    Hi Dean,

    Point taken. As you know, I haven’t cut Coulter any slack, either.

  23. Revenant

    What’s the difference between what Gilliard did and what someone like Coulter does?

    Gilliard made use of racist symbolism firmly rooted in the idea that blacks are naturally silly, stupid, and generally inferior to white people. Coulter throws around loose accusations, but they are always based on what her opponents *believe*, not on their genetic makeup.

    If Coulter started accusing left-wing Jews of treason by quoting liberally from “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, then she and Gilliard would be on similar ground.

    In other words, I don’t see why race- and sex-based language should be singled out for particular vilification.

    You can change your mind, but you can’t change your race or gender. Accusing an idea of being evil is very different from accusing a race of same.

  24. Cathy Young

    Good point, revenant. I do think that some of Coulter’s comments about Arabs skirt dangerously close to ethnic slurs.

    By the way, your argument raises an interesting question about religion that I’ve often wondered about.

    Should religious slurs be viewed in the same light as racial, ethnic, or gender-based ones, since religion has to do with a person’s views and can be changed? Of course, in the case of Jews the religion issue is complicated by the fact that anti-Semitism, espeically modern anti-Semitism, is commonly directed at Jews as an ethnic group as well as religious group. But is a slam at conservative Muslims or Christians for their attitudes toward women’s rigts equivalent to a slam at blacks or women?

  25. Revenant

    But is a slam at conservative Muslims or Christians for their attitudes toward women’s rigts equivalent to a slam at blacks or women?

    I sure hope not, or I’m in big trouble! I have had Jews accuse me of anti-Semetism when I condemned the practice of circumcising infant males, though.

  26. Anonymous

    “Indeed, it is easy to see how support for something like race-based and gender-based preferences and quotas could be based in a conscious or subconscious belief that blacks and women are just too damned inferior to do well without the help of well-meaning white men”

    Given the history of racism in this country, still being practised today in many quarters, why would that even occur to you that affirmative action is based on notions of inferiority? It’s based on quite active practices of discrimination. No, I am afraid the Bell Curve mind-set will not be found on the left, and not even so-called moderates like Andrew Sullivan are immune from singing its praises.

  27. Cathy Young

    anonymous, actually some 12 years there was a big brouhaha when the then president of my alma mater, Rutgers University, Francis Lawrence, said in a talk at some faculty gathering that affirmative action was necessary in order to ensure that groups which are “genetically” unable to compete on a level playing field would have a chance to enter universities.

    After his remarks were leaked to the student paper and the brouhaha broke out, Lawrence tried to explain that what he really meant to say was “unable to compete because of racism, social disadvantage, etc.” Kind of hard to see how one could misspeak in such a way.

    Many conservatives, and probably many African-Americans as well, suspect that this “gaffe” (which, as Michael Kinsley once said, is saying something that you really believe but shouldn’t say in public) reflected how a lot of pro-affirmative action liberals really feel about minorities.

    Whether this suspicion is correct, I have no idea. For the record, I have no reason to believe that Jeff Danziger is a racist. It’s just as probably that he unthinkingly drew on the racial stereotyping that is, unfortunately, a part of our cultural heritage.

  28. Anonymous

    “For the record, I have no reason to believe that Jeff Danziger is a racist. It’s just as probably that he unthinkingly drew on the racial stereotyping that is, unfortunately, a part of our cultural heritage.”

    There is no reason to speculate, because he already said he got the idea from an African American friend. Maybe that friend has the same kind of sense of humor as Gilliard?

    Your anecdote about the class president shows that racism can exist anywhere, and if racism can be found in those who see themselves as paternalistic towards the so-called weaker races, then it can be found among conservatives who openly declare themselves in books like the Bell Curve, and like William Bennett who say that blacks have a genetic disposition towards crime. It can also reasonably be presumed among the class of business owners who support those kinds of policies with inordinate amounts of campaign cash, and they are the ones who set hiring policy. It can also be presumed among those voters in the south who switched parties to republican thanks to the civil rights act. Why do you think the majority of blacks vote democratic since then? Because they are easily fooled?

  29. Cathy Young

    anonymous, where exactly did I deny that conservatives can be racist? I personally thought there was more than a whiff of racism about The Bell Curve, though I don’t think merely promoting it as a controversial but thought-provoking work makes Andrew Sullivan a racist.

    By the way, I don’t think Bennett said that blacks were genetically predisposed to crime, though his comment certainly does betray the assumption that higher crime rates among blacks will continue in future generations.

  30. Revenant

    Given the history of racism in this country, still being practised today in many quarters, why would that even occur to you that affirmative action is based on notions of inferiority?

    The main form of racism currently being practiced in this country IS affirmative action, which (for example) tells the children of Vietnamese boat people that, because they had the misfortune of being born Asian, they deserve to be treated worse than the children of middle- and upper-income black couples.

    But in any case, I did not say that all supporters of affirmative action were motivated by the belief that some races are inferior. I said it was easy to see that that some of them could be. There are plenty of liberal racists; how much their racism affects their attitudes towards things like affirmative action is anyone’s guess. Western liberals have a long history of taking a “white man’s burden” approach towards dealing with other ethnicities and cultures.

    No, I am afraid the Bell Curve mind-set will not be found on the left

    I’m not sure what “the Bell Curve mind-set” refers to. But the notion that there are no people on the left who believe in the natural superiority of one race over another is easy to refute — just look to the Nation of Islam.

    William Bennett who say that blacks have a genetic disposition towards crime

    William Bennett said nothing of the kind. He said that black children are more likely to grow up to be criminals, which is racially insensitive but entirely true — not because of genetics, but because of cultural and economic factors in the inner cities.

  31. Anonymous

    “William Bennett said nothing of the kind. He said that black children are more likely to grow up to be criminals, which is racially insensitive but entirely true — not because of genetics, but because of cultural and economic factors in the inner cities.”

    How can something be both insensitive and true? Maybe he should have spoken in code, like many who share his views. But that’s the Bell Curve mindset for you, which states that these unfortunate conditions will be with us always, because of the genetic disposition of these poor black folk, and we should structure our policies accordingly. Affirmative Action is wasted on them says Murray, because they’re unable take advantage of a foot in the door. Liberals disagree. White Man’s Burden, indeed. What do you think affirmative action is supposed to address? Cultural and economic disadvantages (such as underfunded and poorly run schools) caused by racism. Or do you disagree about the cause? You never did answer my question why blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Would it be due to these same factors?

  32. Cathy Young

    I am not a William Bennett fan, but I see no proof that he believes the race gap difference in crime rates is genetic.

    Affirmative action primarily benefits middle-class blacks, not the poor. By the way, here’s an interesting article that addresses the issue of whether racial disparities in academic achievement are caused by poverty and underfunded schools:

    A Good-School, Bad-Grade Mystery

  33. Revenant

    How can something be both insensitive and true?

    The first thought through my mind, upon reading that, was “this has got to be the single stupidest person I’ve talked to in a month”.

    The preceding sentence was both true and insensitive.

    What do you think affirmative action is supposed to address?

    Politicians’ desire for black and Hispanic votes?

    Cultural and economic disadvantages (such as underfunded and poorly run schools) caused by racism.

    So you punish people who had nothing to do with that racism, but who happen to have the same skin color as the guilty parties. Intriguing. How strange that I would consider this “racist”.

    This has gotten pretty far off-topic, though, so I’ll end here.

  34. Cathy Young

    Can I please put in an appeal for no name-calling? I’d like to keep the threads here from turning to flame wars.

  35. Revenant

    Sorry; I thought that was a humorous way to demonstrate that a person could be truthful and insensitive at the same time.

    I should have used a different example.

  36. Anonymous

    I am going to guess that the solution to the mystery referred to in that article about racial disparity is that blacks use peer pressure against fellow high achieving blacks to keep them from acting white, which is to say, being successful at school. And you are going to compare this to Gilliard mocking Steele. Not buying it. Apples and oranges. Gilliard is trying to shame Steele with what both men agree are offensive stereotypes, in order to point out how Steele is living up to the stereotype, or at least in danger of living up to it. It is not civil, but it is direct, and it is not racist, anymore than calling an American businessman who deals with a foreign rival at his countrys expense a Benedict Arnold.

    To revenant:

    I am afraid I am not one of those people who understands your usual circle’s elbow nudging, so youll have to speak clearly what you mean. For example, you still have not explained why you think blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic, despite their policies being bad for them, as you insist. You acknowledgethey support it,but won’t say why. I asked twice, now maybe third time is the charm? Or maybe the elbow nudging is clear here?

    If we are to be honest about race, then we should speak clearly right? It sounds like the problem people have here is that they disagree with this approach. They re upset that Gilliard speaks clearly, and just as upset that Bennett does. I guess that is uncivil. But as long as we are civil, like Charles Murray and Andrew Sullivan, we can be as racist as we like. When Murray writes his racist book, he is “thoughtful and provocative”, but Gilliard makes a historical comparison that the right does not like, and he is what exactly? Have you agreed he is racist? Or are you still searching for a term? It is hard to tell, with all the civil, guarded elbow nudging passing for language. So much for clarity.

    Revenant need not worry I tar all conservatives with the same feathers. Not all conservatives are Irish like Murray, Bennett and Sullivan, and we know that the Irish have little love for the black man. Just kidding, that is a little humor, for those here who didn’t attend a good school and didn’t get it.

    I am interested in hear revenant explain why affirmative action is punishment. It is based on the premise that blacks are generally as qualified as white, once they have access otherwise denied. Say loud and clear if you disagree. Do you have an interest in equal opportunity or not? Or is it every revenant for himself in your ideal world?

  37. Anonymous

    Welcome to the discussion, revenant. I was worried I would never get any direct answers.

    “I said that affirmative action was racist, not that blacks don’t benefit from it. “Racist” does not mean “bad for black people”, it means “discriminatory on the basis of race”. I think blacks probably do benefit, on average, from affirmative action, just as southern whites benefitted from the affirmative action policies of the Jim Crow era.”

    Thank you for the clarification. My impression before is that you might have felt that blacks were being exploited by so-called paternalistic liberals, but I see you are really more worried about protecting whites from black racism. My mistake.

    “Blacks vote for Democrats for the same reason southern whites did prior to the 1970s. Back then, the party’s policy was to grant special protected status to southern whites and redistribute wealth from the rest of the country to benefit them.”

    What a novel idea. And here I thought we were the party of northeastern liberals like Kennedy, Stevenson and FDR. Looks like you can’t get past LBJ in your thinking. That is ok, many conservatives who dislike the Civil Rights Act cant either, he is the great betrayer of their race. For the record, distributing pork is not a policy of any party left or right. It is a policy of politicians who want to get re-elected. Ask Phil Gramm about this. This begs the question: why would blacks look to one party for protection over the party that freed them (Republicans)? Answer that, and tell me who the racists are.

    It is strange how conservatives feel that liberty and freedom are the most important things America has to offer, and the source of this countrys strength, yet they fear the one people this country has enslaved and suppressed, right up to the very last election. Blacks have had to fight the most powerful government in the world for their rights, but those who agree with you have trouble sympathizing with them, or sharing opportunity with them. Why cant blacks just get over it or move on, you wonder? Then you go back to fretting over every tiny loss of freedom that a 1% change in the tax code represents, or a few extra black students at your local college represent. Oh the injustice of it all.

    “When one party says “you should be treated better than other people” and the other says “you should be treated the same as other people”, it is no surprise that the former is much more attractive.”

    What part of Equal Opportunity do you not understand? Southern whites left the Republican party because they didn’t want to grant blacks equal rights. History has spoken.

    “Maybe I’m giving left-wingers too much credit, but I like to think that moderate and left-wing blacks don’t like being called “Sambos” either, and that moderate and left-wing whites don’t like *seeing* blacks called “Sambos” either.”

    Nobody likes it. That is the point of using it as an insult, and it stings as hard as the betrayal that prompted it. Perhaps it is that better example of one of those insensitive yet true jibes you were searching for earlier? As for seeing others use that language, maybe moderate and left-wing whites understand why Gilliard is being so blunt, and would rather use uncivil language to speak the truth, than hide uncivil thoughts behind polite discourse. Not that I am accusing you of polite discourse, understand.

    “There doesn’t seem to be much reason to continue discussing the matter with you.”

    It can be difficult to discuss these things with people who dont share one’s knee-jerk presumptions, I am told, so I can understand your wish to end this discussion.

  38. Cathy Young

    revenant: I’m no fan of racial preferences, but frankly I cringed a bit at the comparison of affirmative action to Jim Crow — a regime of total and systematic subjugation of blacks to whites.

    anonymous: revenant is basically correct when he says that until the 1970s, the Democratic Party — or at least its Southern wing, a.k.a. “the Dixiecrats” — was the party of Jim Crow. The Republican Party had virtually no influence in Southern politics. As a result, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Around that time, Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act — not because he was a racist (Goldwater had founded the Arizona chapter of the NAACP and had previously supported federal civil rights measures to protect the rights of black voters) but because he was a champion of limited government and believed that the government should not outlaw discrimination in the private sector. Goldwater’s stance gained him support from 5 Southern states, which began the migration of the South to the Republican Party.

    As for voting patterns today: I think that a lot of African-Americans have been successfully persuaded that the Republican Party is “the enemy.” And yes, I agree that the GOP has its racist elements (the former “Dixiecrats”). But I don’t think the Democratic Party has served blacks all that well either. Surveys show that a lot of blacks actually agree with many GOP policy views (e.g. support for school vouchers). Actually, I think that putting all their political eggs in the Dems’ basket has been very bad for the black community; the Democrats already have the black vote in the bag so they don’t to do anything to earn it, and the Republicans don’t even bother to try.

    Sometimes, people follow demagogues even when it’s not good for them. By the way, I think that in the long run, “affirmative action” (i.e. racial preferences) is bad for blacks.

  39. Cathy Young

    anonymous, just wanted to add:

    IMO, your defense of despicable racist slurs directed at blacks who have the temerity to be Republicans severely undercuts your moral credibility.

  40. Anonymous

    ” revenant is basically correct when he says that until the 1970s, the Democratic Party — or at least its Southern wing, a.k.a. “the Dixiecrats” — was the party of Jim Crow. The Republican Party had virtually no influence in Southern politics.”

    Just as the Democratic party has little influence in the South today. These are word games. We are talking about the same folks who switched sides. Now they are on your side. Or you are on their. Whichever works.

    “As for voting patterns today: I think that a lot of African-Americans have been successfully persuaded that the Republican Party is “the enemy.””

    This is insulting to blacks. You say they share conservative views, yet vote Democratic because Democrats “persuaded” them. How come the Republicans can not persuade them? After all, they were the home team for blacks for a century, it hasnt been that all that long. Maybe you think blacks are easily led?

    “Sometimes, people follow demagogues even when it’s not good for them.”

    I hear that kind of thing happens. But the Republican party does not lack for demogogues, and Jack Kemp did not have much luck either, not because of him maybe, but because of black loathing of his party. How did the Democrats get that much influence? If Democrats are better demagogues than the rest, then why arent’ they running the country?

    “Actually, I think that putting all their political eggs in the Dems’ basket has been very bad for the black community; the Democrats already have the black vote in the bag so they don’t to do anything to earn it, and the Republicans don’t even bother to try.”

    Not true, they do try, this president is trying, but his own policies and party stand in his way and the only blacks who listen are the ones invited onto his crony list. In other words, they are sellouts and that is why they receive scorn. You say Democrats dont do anything to earn it, that is false, but you will agree I am sure that Republicans are working hard to earn their contempt. With enemies like them, and so forth.

    “MO, your defense of despicable racist slurs directed at blacks who have the temerity to be Republicans severely undercuts your moral credibility.”

    Steele wasnt slurred because he happened to be Republican but because he defended a country club for 123 years of racism. If they didnt let French in, and he was called a Vichy Frenchman, would the Republicans complain. Oh speaking of racial slurs, Freedom Fries anyone?

  41. Cathy Young

    You know, I could argue with you on a lot of counts. For one thing the dominance of the Republican party in the South today is nothing like the dominance of the Democratic party in the South pre-1960s. Bill Clinton won a lot of Southern States, remember? And yes, I think a lot of the black community pretty blindly follows a demagogic leadership — if you think that’s insulting, tough. They’re not the first or the last community to do so.

    I haven’t followed the golf club story too closely but maybe Steele made a bad judgment call, so because of that it’s okay to turn him into a racial caricature? Sheesh. And what’s your excuse for racist attacks on Colin Powell and Condi Rice?

    Of course if you think that “Freedom fries” is a racial slur, I don’t think there’s much point to this conversation…

  42. Revenant

    I’m no fan of racial preferences, but frankly I cringed a bit at the comparison of affirmative action to Jim Crow — a regime of total and systematic subjugation of blacks to whites.

    I didn’t mean to sound like I was comparing affirmative action to Jim Crow as a whole. I was referring only to the J.C. era policies of racial preferences for whites in hiring, education, et cetera. I don’t think it is unfair or cringeworthy to draw those parallels; could anyone doubt for a moment that, if the racial groups involved in modern-day affirmative action were reversed, the policy would be widely denounced as a return to Jim Crow?

  43. Anonymous

    “nd what’s your excuse for racist attacks on Colin Powell and Condi Rice?”

    Colin Powell could have been the first black president, now his credibility is shot for good. All because unlike most blacks he trusted a man who thinks blacks are good at one thing: following orders and taking a dive. They treated him like a token from day one. That was his decision, and it doesn’ sound like he is too happy about it these days.

    You think Freedom Fries doesn t sound like it comes from a racist mentality? This party can’t wait to demonize people who dont serve their interests. They cant wait to drop bombs on brown people. Osama, Saddam, whatever, whoever, they all look alike, right? Bush cant even get his own story straight when he trys to explain himself. “And then 9/11 changed everything”. I guess 9/11 changed Osama into Saddam, and made everyone in the middle east look the same. Martin Luther King jr noticed the same thing about Vietnam. This war is a war on the inner city. You say the Republican party doesnt even try to reach out? Tough. That’s you reaching out right now. “Tough”.

    You think an exception should be made for criticizing religions? So what do these conservatives think of jews? Look at what they think of born-agains. According to Tom Delays man, they’re just a bunch of wackos that Republicans can use for their own interests. Publicly, they make it sound like the religious right is the only way around and theyll do anything they can for them, but look what they say to each other behind closed doors. We only learn the truth in court. I bet there’s a lot more truth out there.

    “could anyone doubt for a moment that, if the racial groups involved in modern-day affirmative action were reversed, the policy would be widely denounced as a return to Jim Crow?”

    Dont you have enough reality to face without thinking up science fiction scenarios? IF all things are equal in your fantasy world, maybe so. All things are not equal, get it?

  44. Cathy Young

    If you think that the U.S. went after Osama and Saddam because they’re “brown” … sorry, but I’m not interested in any further discussion. Does your race obsessoin explain why at one point the US had a far friendlier relationship with the “yellow” Chinese than with the “white” Russians?

  45. Anonymous

    The US did not go after Iraq Osama becaue there brown, Bush went after them because their brown. Did you know he only uses the word “gifted” when talking about colored people? “You are a gifted people” he said to Iraqis when he gave his victory speechto them. This is a personal war, no doubt about it, and anyone with a axe to grind has signed on with Bush making it look like it is not personal, but make no mistake. But when he gets what he wants, no other agenda will matter. Democracy in the middle east, Israel, human rights, it all goes out the window once hes satisfied.

    Chinese vs. white Russia (which is half non-european anyway) is apples and oranges compared to the present. Russia had bombs and occupied half of europe and Cuba, with central america next on the list. China had no real expeditionary force and was the enemy of our enemy. Back then, presidents actually had strategery, unlike this fool who thinks the army is his personal hit squad.

  46. Anonymous

    Iraq/Saddam not Iraq osama, I should say. Watching too many Bush speeches will do that do you.

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