Good lord, these last couple weeks have hypersensitized people to race. I imagine that Glenn Greenwald thinks he's helping Barack Obama by finding obscure racism on a minor blog and making some leaps to pin it on a high-profile blogger so it might start to matter, but I don't think it helps Barack Obama. Greenwald doesn't seem to mind if he's unfair to Reynolds, but he's swinging wildly without thinking through whether it's even working for the benefit of Obama. I don't think it is. Forefronting race — which Obama's opponents did by making us listen to Jeremiah Wright — undercuts Obama's transcendent, unifying message.
This got me thinking about a smart essay Jonah Goldberg wrote back in 2000, rejecting the idea that Americans need to have an "honest dialogue" about race:
"Honest dialogue will not be easy at first. We will have to get past defensiveness and fear and political correctness and other barriers to honesty," warned president Clinton in 1997 launching his year-long conversation about pigment differences. "Emotions may be rubbed raw, but we must begin" (presumably this is just one of the many things Bill Clinton desires to have rubbed raw).Yeah, great... Bill Clinton. Who knew the form Bill Clinton's eagerness for rubbed-raw racial dialogue would take a decade later?
But guess what? Normal people everywhere tend not to discuss race, and I am not sure exactly why so many concerned liberals want to change that. After all, isn't the mantra to "get past our differences"? Well how are we going to do that if we are constantly harping on them... There are hundreds of black politicians who've made racial "conversations" their modus vivendi. There are many white politicians who've made their careers over their willingness to "discuss race frankly."...Think about it.
Meanwhile, Americans are dealing with racial tensions in an intelligent manner, which is to say ignoring them... [T]he average person realizes that if you want to get along with your fellow white or black man then you might want to discuss sports or the weather rather than longstanding racial grievances....
In America, most people have worked out a similar rule about racial conversations: Avoid them if you can, and keep them light and brief if you can't. Any honest conversation about race would have to include a vast number of things neither side wants to bring up. Of course, the assumption from people like Clinton — despite all his talk about moving past political correctness — is that white people need to hear how racist they are. Actually, that's not quite right. Clinton's assumption is that he is brave for telling race peddlers what they want to hear (and therefore deserves all the raw-rubbing he can get). But the assumption from his amen choir is that whites still need a good talking to. And many whites probably do. But no conversation can be one-way. At some point the view that most of the problems with the African-American community are cultural and cannot be remedied by more legislation will have to be aired. Are African-American leaders willing to listen to a full-venting of that perspective without screaming "racism" and storming out? I sincerely doubt it.
Anyway, to go back to the original topic, I'm not criticizing Reynolds for failing to see that the Happy-Easter thing he thought was nice was next to something that was completely nasty, but I think that if he had seen the racist post, he should not have linked to the nice Easter post. And this should highlight a larger problem with group blogging. I have seen a couple great solo blogs messed up by bringing in another blogger who did not carry on the first blogger's tone. Bloggers: Be careful who you blog with. Or be safe and blog alone.