June 6, 2008

"It would be the grimmest irony imaginable if feminist irredentism helped elect a candidate as anti-feminist as John McCain."

Michelle Goldberg opines on "Clinton dead-enders and the crisis in the women's movement." Presumably, "anti-feminist" = anti-abortion.

Amy Sullivan asks "Why Didn't More Women Vote for Hillary?" She distinguishes between "optimist and pessimist feminists." The "pessimists" think Clinton is the one chance we have to get get a woman President. They have "outmoded" ideas about sexism and workplace barriers or think in terms of their own life experience facing barriers. But there are plenty of "optimists" who think things are going rather well for women and more female candidates will be coming along soon.

And then there's this idea that Obama is actually "the girl in the race": "Clinton came out tough; she voted for the war. Obama came out as the person bringing people together and offering messages of hope and reconciliation." Sullivan is quoting someone else there. The notion is that women bring something different to politics. Of course, if Clinton had acted as if she wanted to bring femininity to the presidency, she wouldn't have gotten as far as she did. So then, maybe only a man can openly offer to do those stereotypically feminine things.

63 comments:

John Hawks said...

So Obama will be the first woman president?

George said...

Identify the speaker:

"I met with the people from the village and they gave me a tour of this wonderful place. There was a moment when the young girls came in and they played music and began to dance. After a few moments, I thought about my own daughters and how they too could dream and dance in a place like this: a place of renewal and restoration. Proof, that in the heart of so much peril, there were signs of life and hope and promise—that the universal song for peace plays on. Thank you."

a) Joan Baez
b) Gwyneth Paltrow
c) Sen. Obama
d) Pres. Bush

vet66 said...

How obtuse and arrogant can Howard Dean be that he didn't foresee the inevitable. No matter what pronouncements he proclaims from his gated community of elitism the democratic party is fractured like the San Andreas fault. The fault lines run between racism and sexism.

The racism aspect for Obama is manifest in his relationship with the angry blackman/woman Trinitarians. There is no room for whites and middle class blacks in this Church except as cash cows for reparations.

The sexism transcends the abortion issue as feminists worship at the altar of the "Vagina Monologues." If this makes McCain an anti-feminist he can live with it as can likeminded middle class republicans and democrats.

The fundamental failure of the democratic party is the nature of the party itself. There is no common denominator here as the discreet parts contained therein behave as if the universe itself revolves around only them.

They, like their messiah Obama, preach the alchemy of self-worship effectively leaving no room for the rest. There is no intrinsic value for anyone but those who share their narrow beliefs which are defended at all costs.

Roger J. said...

With respect to the feminism issue, it appears to me that feminism, like most movements, is in yet another generational change. Perhaps the younger feminists lack that historical context we we were talking about in an earlier thread.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

"grimmest irony imaginable?" I don't know. I have a big imagination.

Overall, however, the article is more insightful and harder on Clinton than Ann's quote suggests.

Try this instead:

"The wholesale conflation of Clintonism and establishment feminism--and the merging of their grievances--has created a kind of disorienting parallel reality."

Yep. But guess what Ms. Goldberg -- Ms. Clinton didn't create the disorienting parallel reality that is establishment feminism. She just tailored it to fit.

Invisible Man said...

It seems to me that feminists voting for a candidate like McCain who thinks that its amusing to call his wife a famously crude curse word rhyming with 'bunt' in public might want to rethink this.

PatCA said...

Of course, the feministas ignore the fact that all the progress in women's rights has taken place under male presidencies.

Henry said...

Then, from the second article we learn, as Ann quotes, that Obama is the girl in the race. I think it's helpful to see who said that:

"He's the girl in the race," explains Marie Wilson, head of the White House Project, a nonprofit that helps women move into positions of leadership.

Talk about grim irony.

If I have this right, Bill Clinton was the first black president and Barak Obama will be the first girl president.

It's the new identity politics. Anyone is anything.

Palladian said...

"It seems to me that feminists voting for a candidate like McCain who thinks that its amusing to call his wife a famously crude curse word rhyming with 'bunt' in public might want to rethink this."

Well if this planted "story" is now the standard of fact, then it's also fair to ask why feminists would vote for a man who cheated on his wife with a gay man while using crack cocaine. If you're going to throw personal slime, then let's all do it!

Hey, who's to say it's not true?

former law student said...

[The] idea that Obama is actually "the girl in the race": "Clinton came out tough; she voted for the war. Obama came out as the person bringing people together and offering messages of hope and reconciliation."

By this standard, the first girl President was elected 40 years ago. He ended a divisive war, and achieve rapprochement with our deadliest enemy. Which would make anybody ask:

Is Barack Hussein Obama the reincarnation of Richard Milhous Nixon?

Pres. NIXON: I saw many signs in this campaign. Some of them were not friendly. Some were very friendly. But the one that touched me the most was one that I saw in Deshler, Ohio at the end of a long day of whistle-stopping. A teenager held up the sign, "Bring us together," and that will be the great objective of this Administration at the outset, to bring the American people together.

Barack's the one! [flashes double peace signs]

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I believe that Roger is correct. Feminism is changing as the older women give way to the younger. This is a natural part of life and the evolution of any political movement.

Younger women who haven't faced the same obstacles as their mothers don't understand the antagonism. Things are better in the working world for women. The young are not really curious about knowing or understanding the historical context that is the origin of many older women's anger and sensitivity to misogyny.

Just like the Rev Wright and his ilk see racism in the most ordinary of statements so do many feminists see sexism where it might not really exist. This is because of their previous experiences with real discrimination and the young who haven't experienced it don't understand.

As an aside: How is it that McCain is anti-feminism?

Invisible Man said...

Well if this planted "story" is now the standard of fact, then it's also fair to ask why feminists would vote for a man who cheated on his wife with a gay man while using crack cocaine.

Let's see three reporters from Arizona newspapers vs. some anonymous gay guy who couldn't even pass the lie detector test that he personally setup and showed up to the Bylaws meeting in tassels screaming like a nut job. But let's not let common sense get in the way of a good counter argument.

Bruce Hayden said...

Obama came out as the person bringing people together and offering messages of hope and reconciliation.

The absurdity of this is that the one espousing this has never crossed the isle to work with the other side, while his opponent is notorious for doing it. We have Kennedy/McCain, McCain/Feingold, the Gang of 14 (led on the Republican side by McCain), and whose best friend in the Senate was the 2000 Democratic VP candidate. And we have how many bipartisan bills with Obama's name on them?

spudchuker said...

feminist irredentism????? What is that?

former law student said...

Bruce, don't forget this example of when McCain took a publicly visible role and crossed the aisle, to help his personal air travel provider, Charles Keating:

Cranston/Dennis DeConcini/Glenn/McCain/Riegle

Simon said...

Roger J. said...
"Perhaps the younger feminists lack that historical context we we were talking about in an earlier thread."

That was my thought, too, on reading that "[f]or young feminists, who have largely gone for Obama, their first encounter with Hillary came when she defended Bill from charges of philandering during the 1992 presidential campaign; for them, her case for leadership was never clear-cut." They lack knowledge and respect: they don't know what has happened before their times, and/or don't deem it important. This is an overall truism of the young left, I'm afraid, and most young feminism seems to be left-wing feminism.

Kirk Parker said...

"The notion is that women bring something different to politics."

Well, Maggie sure brought something different, though I somehow doubt the person Sullivan is quoting (or today's Sullivan himself, for that matter) would approve of her style of "change".

Simon said...

former law student (quoting Nixon) said...
"'[T]he great objective of this Administration ... [will be] to bring the American people together.'"

The problem with those who claim to want to bring us together as a nation is that what they almost invariably mean is that they want to to stand still and see the other side come over to them, and they see themselves as being gracious for being willing to hold open the door to better facilitate their opponent's journey. As Bruce noted above, it is hard to summon any evidence suggesting that Obama has and other concept of "hope and reconciliation." The "hope" that he offers to his supporters is that he will crush their opponents without mercy, and the "reconciliation" he offers those of us who disagree with him is that if we'll come over to his way of thinking, he won't hold it against us. There are many phony things about that man's campaign, but none ring so phony as the suggestion that he is in some way a uniter rather than a divider.

SGT Ted said...

As an aside: How is it that McCain is anti-feminism?

Because he isn't a neo-Marxist doctrinaire who worships at the alter of NOW.

Obama came out as the person bringing people together and offering messages of hope and reconciliation.

Can anyone give an example of Black Jesus doing anything of the sort politically? Examples of this from McCain abound.

I suspect that this is the usual lib/left translation of "bipartisanship" that means "My way or the highway".

Simon said...

Not only do examples of bipartisanship from McCain abound, examples abound of McCain working across the aisle on politically risky actions, of McCain working across the aisle in the face of significant disagreement and criticism from his own party, of McCain compromising in order to obtain bipartisan consensus. By way of comparison, Obama worked across the aisle on a bill to improve the ethical standards of Congress - not exactly a politically brave action.

Richard Fagin said...

Simon:

Gloria Steinem is reputed to have said that women cannot achieve equality with men except under socialism. I don't think old feminism is any less left-wing than young feminism.

vbspurs said...

So Obama will be the first woman president?

Right.

Remember that Arnie mocked his opponents as "girlie men", so this is a linear continuation of that thought.

I have never been able to put my finger on specifics, it's just a feeling I have. But I have always thought this presumed, heightened gentleness has counted against Democrats more than they know.

Only Southern men, in the US cultural context, are able to exhibit gentility and still appear masculine. It helps that the Deep South is a den of hijinks, like drinking and womanising, though.

And where is Obama doing the worst...

Cheers,
Victoria

former law student said...

They lack knowledge and respect: they don't know what has happened before their times, and/or don't deem it important.

For a second I thought simon was talking about white people not understanding the struggle that people like Jeremiah Wright went through, as a black man growing up in segregation, and why he might still be resentful.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"For a second I thought simon was talking about white people not understanding the struggle that people like Jeremiah Wright went through, as a black man growing up in segregation, and why he might still be resentful."

As I said in a post up thread, older feminists and the people like Wright who experienced "real" discrimination are still resentful and young people have a hard time understanding. Understanding doesn't mean accepting.

HOWEVER, they need to stop living in the past. Times have changed. Women can be in positions of power and leadership in their jobs. Blacks are not forced to use separate restrooms or sit in the back of the bus. Is everything hunky dory? No more sexism, no more racism? Of course not. But to see racism and sexism in every piddling little word or action is ridiculous.

As Cher once said. "Snap out of it!" This doesn't mean that we should forget all about the past (historical context) or that the young shouldn't bother to become acquainted with history either.

We can understand Rev Wright's or Gloria Steinham's struggles with discrimination and sexism. It doesn't mean that we have to condone their bad actions based on their inability to "get over it". I had a bad first marriage. Does this mean that I should hate all men? Because Rev Wright had some bad experiences doesn't give him the right, anymore than it gives feminists the right, to lump all white people or all men into one group.

vbspurs said...

Because Rev Wright had some bad experiences doesn't give him the right, anymore than it gives feminists the right, to lump all white people or all men into one group.

Transference is a bitch -- especially when it is parataxic distortion.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"For a second I thought simon was talking about white people not understanding the struggle that people like Jeremiah Wright went through, as a black man growing up in segregation, and why he might still be resentful."

As comparisons go, that barely rises to the level of specious. Knowing what has gone before, respecting the institutions we inherited, and showing caution and deference in approaching their reform, is far removed from stubbornly refusing to grapple with the ways in which the world is different. We are aware, of course, that slavery and segregation once happened is one thing, and we understand that it was a dreadful thing. But the wrongs of a long-dead world do not justify poor behavior towards the world of today. A survivor of the holocaust might be justified in killing her former jailer, but she would not be justified in saying that all Germans today are culpable and liable for the crimes of those who died long ago. Wright acts as if he's more ashamed of America for taking so long to abolish slavery than he is proud that it managed to do so eventually.

montana urban legend said...

"Of course, if Clinton had acted as if she wanted to bring femininity to the presidency, she wouldn't have gotten as far as she did."

This assumption, thrown in as a foregone conclusion, sounds like a throwback to vintage second-wave feminism. Must be nice for the daughters of that generation to have moved on with the more realistic and enlightened (and mature) third wave.


"But the wrongs of a long-dead world do not justify poor behavior towards the world of today."

I love Simon's depiction of the slavery-Jim Crow-segregationist-pre Civil Rights era, as "long-dead", as if such pretty phrasing obviates the fact that any one of those descriptions were characteristic of >80% of our nation's history.

80% is a significant quantity. Wouldn't it be nice if the laws subjugating, etc., blacks were a historical artifact, more like the Japanese internment, rather than a much more deeply ingrained feature? Too bad Simon's frantic desire to forget about the legacy of dehumanizing laws promulgated against blacks outpaces the time it takes for history and cultures to accommodate their removal. I say "too bad" because it represents an attitude that is not very close at all to realistic.

A nearly complete sense of healing and reconciliation between Black and White America will occur; much already has. It will happen. But not because Simon snaps his fingers and gets all Rodney King about it.

vbspurs said...

A nearly complete sense of healing and reconciliation between Black and White America will occur; much already has. It will happen. But not because Simon snaps his fingers and gets all Rodney King about it.

Again, genuine ad-homimen attacks on persons based on their world view make the critic look worse, than anything said originally.

I'm not exactly sure why people personalise these arguments, unless it makes them feel superior morally and philosophically, and they want everyone to know that.

How sad.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

Equating "anti-abortion" with "anti-feminist" has always struck me as a stupidly short-sighted tactic for the Left to use. Men and women have virtually identical views on abortion, and the majority of both genders believe abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity. The majority of people support abortion rights not because they believe women have the right to abortion any fetus they choose, but because the majority of people can't imagine personally having an abortion for any reason other than rape, incest, or medical necessity and thus assume that's why most people DO have them. In reality, of course, almost all abortions are of healthy fetuses conceived via consensual sex. Sending the message that you can't be a feminist unless you believe that killing healthy unborn children should be legal is NOT a smart move for the Left to make, since most people (although not me) find that position morally abhorrent.

montana urban legend said...

What made the argument superior, Victoria, was the historical analysis in it which Simon has often neglected. That neglect is crucial to the attitude conveyed not only in the comment in question, but in a few going back for at least a few blog-post cycles. What we are addressing is attitudes, and I don't see that as unwarranted when the subject has to do with not only an unrealistic attitude in the first place, but one that attacks the positive racial implications of Obama's candidacy as a black male and accuses that candidacy as being overly or somehow unjustifiably focused on that.

If using "Rodney King" as a reference counts as an "ad hominem attack" that you're going to rush to cry foul on, following a maximum of eight minutes after reading the comment containing it in the first place (which had gone into much more detail than that), then you should read more carefully. And you should spell out why you find a reference to "Rodney King" so offensive and/or inappropriate. But I don't think you will. Or can. But you can always prove me wrong and show me how your strained sense of protestation is anything but feigned, or at all related to weighing the substance of its source in the first.

Of course, regardless of how this turns out, I will reciprocate for now by bidding you with the obligatory, "Cheers,"

;-)

Revenant said...

For a second I thought simon was talking about white people not understanding the struggle that people like Jeremiah Wright went through

What, growing up middle class in the northeast and attending a respected, racially-integrated public school in Philadelphia?

Wow, that IS rough. No wonder he went nuts.

Revenant said...

And you should spell out why you find a reference to "Rodney King" so offensive and/or inappropriate.

It isn't offensive. I think you should keep doing it. After all, every time lefties scream "racism!" for no sane reason, white people flock to vote for the Republican candidate.

montana urban legend said...

"It isn't offensive. I think you should keep doing it. After all, every time lefties scream "racism!" for no sane reason, white people flock to vote for the Republican candidate."

So according to you, I'm a "lefty", saying that someone acts in a way reminiscent of Rodney King translates to an accusation of "racism!", and the Republican candidate stands a chance of winning, not just because he's somehow no longer the Republicans' sacrificial lamb, but because all of this malarkey makes a difference in the end.

More top-notch analysis by Revenant.

I know which way this and many other independents lean when you keep up those brain noises as an argument for the Republicans' electoral chances.

Simon said...

MUL, the relevance of - indeed, anything resembling a point in - your "80%" diatribe escapes me. What happened, happened. It does not vitiate the good that happened at the same time, any more than our ongoing dalliance with the mass slaughter of our young vitiates all the good things this nation has accomplished since 1973. In any event, slavery and racial segregation are over, and have been for a long time. (It would have been gotten past a lot faster, I might add, if liberals hadn't insisted on preserving and perpetuating the mindset of racial discrimination through so-called "affirmative action" programs.) The point I was making is that attitudes such as Wright's are not (indeed, couldn't be) animated by current problems, and as such have no redress in the here and now. In short, the "Reverend" Wright belongs to that club of people who have mistaken an obsolete chip on their shoulder for a sense of burning injustice. He - and you - should grow up or shut up.

Revenant said...

So according to you, I'm a "lefty"

I notice you don't actually say I'm wrong.

saying that someone acts in a way reminiscent of Rodney King

Yeah, I remember that scene on the videotape where the cop harshly criticized Rodney's qualifications for higher office. How'd the jury ever find that guy not guilty?

translates to an accusation of "racism!"

The Rodney King beating is, as you well know, generally perceived as a racist attack on a black man by a group of white cops. That's why you chose it for your metaphor.

and the Republican candidate stands a chance of winning, not just because he's somehow no longer the Republicans' sacrificial lamb, but because all of this malarkey makes a difference in the end.

If you assumed that the Republican candidate was a "sacrificial lamb" guaranteed to lose then that was your silly mistake. The polls have never supported that view, and intelligent Democrats have long realized that they'll have to actually offer a good alternative to whomever the Republicans eventually nominated. It isn't enough to run on a "Bush sucks" platform -- Kerry tried that in 2004 and Bush won bigger than he had in '00.

former law student said...

dbq -- you make excellent points in your 12:30 post. [doffs hat]

majority of both genders believe abortion should only be legal in cases of rape, incest, or medical necessity.

Why exempt rape and incest, unless in the back of your mind you believe that women don't have to carry a pregnancy to term if they don't want to? Certainly the infant is just as innocent, and his life just as valuable to God and man, as if he had been conceived by a devoted couple. If you truly believe that a fetal life is worth just as much as a born human, only a "his life or mine" lesser of two evils decision is just, according to the natural law.

Simon said...

FLS, we've discussed the point in your comment above here before - perhaps not you and I, but the Althouse commentariat, including myself. The upshot is that although I agree with you that carried to its logical conclusion the pro-life mindset should not care about the parentage of a child, the reality remains that the vast majority of Americans, including those who consider themselves to be pro-life, hold the position that rape and incest should be exceptions. But then, the majority of Americans are used to holding positions whose underlying logic would lead to positions that they would not embrace. To be a moderate, to some extent (this will sound pejorative, but it isn't intended as such), means holding intellectually incoherent positions, of picking a la carte from the policies available those positions that seem reasonable and following them to the extent that they seem reasonable.

montana urban legend said...

"MUL, the relevance of - indeed, anything resembling a point in - your "80%" diatribe escapes me. What happened, happened. It does not vitiate the good that happened at the same time, any more than our ongoing dalliance with the mass slaughter of our young vitiates all the good things this nation has accomplished since 1973."

I'm not surprised it does escape you. It refers to things that can be quantified and objectively understood, such as a historical timeline and the persistence therein over the course of a nation's life. In any event, who spoke of vitiating anything in the examples you provide? This is not an all or nothing thing. If there are lingering feelings of resentment amongst blacks toward the U.S. government, that does not mean that that's all they feel. But that point is meaningless anyway, because I notice you use vague frames of reference, muddling subjects, in your "slaughter of our young" claptrap. The good done to non-aborted fetuses doesn't "vitiate" the supposed evils visited on those who were aborted any more than the good done to non-blacks or blacks during what you take to be the quickly forgotten time period of pre-1776 to 1965 does. And beyond, depending on how just you find the actions of certain police departments for a significant period of time afterward. Either your point is directed toward the actions directed against just blacks and fetuses as distinct legal categories or it is as meaningless as pointing out that Hitler loved his dog. But I can't know which is the case since until you give me an example of what you consider to be the government's kind, "vitiating" treatment toward unaborted fetuses, let alone aborted fetuses or enslaved and segregated blacks during the timelines in question.

"The point I was making is that attitudes such as Wright's are not (indeed, couldn't be) animated by current problems, and as such have no redress in the here and now."

I wasn't aware that anyone was making any point in opposition to that - if I might say so - markedly facile point. Redress? You really thought this was a discussion of legal remedies?

"He - and you - should grow up or shut up."

And if not, so what? The gruff annoyance in your response doesn't convey some kind of authority - on the consequences of history or anything else - your pugilistic tone notwithstanding. It just conveys your annoyance at people not agreeing with you, which I should guess might be a characteristic you fancy expressing every now and then when the mood strikes. It certainly doesn't convey any relative maturity or wisdom.


And as expected, your drone, revenant, didn't say anything worth responding to.

Trooper York said...

Girl: I just wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school. I wish that I could bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles, and we'd all eat it and be happy.
Student: She doesn't even go here!
Ms. Norbury: Do you even go to this school?
Girl: No. I just have a lot of feelings.
Ms. Norbury: Ok, go home.
(Mean Girls, 2004)

Mortimer Brezny said...

A survivor of the holocaust might be justified in killing her former jailer, but she would not be justified in saying that all Germans today are culpable and liable for the crimes of those who died long ago.

1. I'm not so sure contemporary Germans would agree with you, as they keep their current government decentralized and their military power in check on purpose.

2. There are plenty of conservative Germans alive today who are culpable, but not directly responsible. Attending a lynching is not a crime, nor is it the same as actually hanging the victim, but you're culpable. You probably have a different operative definition of culpability than to many people, Simon, because most people would blame many more Germans than actual Nazi soldiers who intentionally harmed Jews in documented or directly observed acts for the Holocaust.

Mortimer Brezny said...

(It would have been gotten past a lot faster, I might add, if liberals hadn't insisted on preserving and perpetuating the mindset of racial discrimination through so-called "affirmative action" programs.)

There is no proof for this assertion, on any level.

Trooper York said...

Bette: I'm all nice and clean you're going get me sweaty and stinky.
(The L Word, 2004)

montana urban legend said...

Hope he gets your point too, Mortimer.

In any event, I just wanted to write to correct something - since the terminology in my response made reference to "fetus(es)". I should have used "embryo(s)", as Simon strikes me as the type who holds to the sanctity of life at the cellular level. For people who actually have an operative understanding of biology, there actually is a difference between those two terms, as well as with many others relevant to the discussion - the misuse of which I would reckon does not concern him much.

Trooper York said...

Hannah Montana: I’m just a little girl. Don’t be mean to me.
Robbie Stewart: Ow, my achey, breaky back!
(Hannah Montana, 2007)

montana urban legend said...

What's the matter York, no one to play with you?

Thorley Winston said...

Let's see three reporters from Arizona newspapers

Yes let’s see them but first what are their names?

Revenant said...

Why exempt rape and incest, unless in the back of your mind you believe that women don't have to carry a pregnancy to term if they don't want to?

I suspect the explanation is that people decide their views on abortion by considering how they personally would react. Most people are horrified at the thought of being pregnant with their father's child; similarly, most people would never dream of aborting a healthy child they had with a consensual sex partner. So even though both fetuses are equally human (or equally not), people support one kind of abortion but not the other.

Obviously that's not logically consistent with the belief that fetuses are human beings with human rights, but then the pro-choice position isn't logically consistent with the belief that infanticide should be illegal or that reluctant fathers should have to pay child support. The simple truth is that almost nobody thinks about abortion -- or any issue relating to children -- rationally.

Revenant said...

"He - and you - should grow up or shut up."

And if not, so what?

You'll continue to be viewed as petulant children by the majority of Americans, who have problems of their own and don't view "people were mean to my ancestors" as a valid excuse for bad behavior.

Which is why Obama had to distance himself from Wright and all the other race hucksters he used to pal around with. He wants to get elected, and he can't do that by insulting the hundreds of millions of white Americans who never owned a slave or oppressed a black man.

montana urban legend said...

I don't suppose I should find it surprising that someone who can't follow a basic argument finds that an expression like "grow up or shut up" is a good way to reinforce one's condescension - which they mistake for a sense of maturity - over "petulant children".


"he can't do that by insulting the hundreds of millions of white Americans who never owned a slave or oppressed a black man."

Spoken like someone truly too ignorant to tell the difference between Obama's speech in Philadelphia and Wright's speeches throughout the course of a career that was similar, in many ways, to those of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

Revenant seems to not comprehend that Americans of European descent generally are not trending to retain their status as "the majority of Americans", let alone the core within them who would somehow define the mere expression of historical grievances as "bad behavior".

Trooper York said...

Hey Montana, you better start kissing up to whitey, cause the Spanish guys don't like the brothers at all. Neither do the asians. If you don't believe me, ask Willie Randolph. If the trend continues you guys are really going to get the short end of the stick worse than before. If you think this is bad, wait to you get traded to the Nationals.

montana urban legend said...

The assumption you make is that every individual in any single "category" thinks exactly the same about issues of importance to them. I know that for people predisposed to perceiving discussions of race through exclusively race-based lenses, distinctions of preference within and among each group are especially too subtle to notice. But they make a difference to candidates adept enough to pick up on them and exploit them in order sway each group to him or her, one by one.

This election will be enjoyable to watch for many reasons, but not least of all for the downfall of many crude conflations and misunderstandings of human nature that the conservatives think will make a difference this year; in the very year in which such prejudices will be exposed for all their tactical shortcomings when applied to American politics.

Revenant said...

Spoken like someone truly too ignorant to tell the difference between Obama's speech in Philadelphia and Wright's speeches throughout the course of a career

The main difference, of course, is that Obama knew white people were listening when he gave his Philadelphia speech.

What really matters is how people act when they don't have to maintain appearances. Out of the public eye, Obama liked to hang out with black supremacists. He can make all the pretty speeches he likes, but he can't excuse his past behavior that way.

Revenant said...

Revenant seems to not comprehend that Americans of European descent generally are not trending to retain their status as "the majority of Americans"

That really doesn't matter. Asians and Hispanics aren't interested in listening to black America's whiny bullshit either. Too many of them have gone through *real* hardship in their lives -- and life wasn't a picnic for their ancestors, either.

montana urban legend said...

Also, Trooper - even if one were to assume your "each group has its distinct preference racially" view were true, it's a ridiculous way to make a point in favor of the Republican candidate in 2008. You really think that Asians voicing a categorical preference for a "white" McCain will make a difference for Republicans in California, New York City, or anywhere else where they comprise a distinct, less assimilated group? Even assuming block voting, Hispanic votes will not push California to McCain, and the Southwest is at least as much in play to go to the Democrats because of, you know, the issues. Same with the Midwest, except for Indiana - which has this perpetual identity crisis and always mistakenly believes it is a part of the American South for some reason. PA will not go to the Republicans. VA is strongly in play for trending to the Democrats. And "whitey", as you say, can keep WV, although if he keeps OH that would be a bigger problem. Which brings us to Florida - where Hispanic block voting or not, will likely trend Republican regardless - assuming the Republicans can convince seniors that they'll do a better job protecting their pensions and health care. Although who knows if they can?

There are quite a few purple states in the Plains and Mountains whose allegiance to Red State candidates is questionable at best this year.

Look for the war in Iraq to continue hurting your candidate and his credibility with voters everywhere. And the same goes for his uncomfortable distancing of himself away from Obama's end of the political spectrum while simultaneously trying to convince everyone that he shouldn't be associated with all the disasters they've associated with his party's predecessor. Also convince me of how a 71-year old portrays himself as the candidate of change. His mother's got more spunk, at this point in his career, than he does. And I think that might have something to do with the extraordinarily difficult position he has to stake out politically in 2008 relative to what he could have done in 2000. Had Karl Rove let him. But times change.

Obama's had to stake out some extremely difficult positions too. But ultimately he's managed to pull them off successfully. I think this speaks to Obama's skill, and I think McCain knows it. And I think he realizes that's just one more reason for why he's toast and more lackluster now than his suppressed anger at Bush for helping to put him in that position can convey.

It's not going to be easy ;-)

montana urban legend said...

"The main difference, of course, is that Obama knew white people were listening when he gave his Philadelphia speech."

One other, incredibly subtle difference of course, was that Wright gave one speech and Obama gave another. As subtle as that fact is (the distinction between two, actually different people), it's an important one for anyone wanting to avoid the impression of engaging in groupthink (while simultaneously accusing others of doing it) to note.


"Asians and Hispanics aren't interested in listening to black America's whiny bullshit either. Too many of them have gone through *real* hardship in their lives -- and life wasn't a picnic for their ancestors, either."

That's a good point. But not as good a point as recognizing that whiny bullshit comes just as much from resentful segments of a white majority as from anywhere else. And I might count on Asians and Hispanics to recognize that better than you can.

Revenant said...

One other, incredibly subtle difference of course, was that Wright gave one speech and Obama gave another.

Wright gave a couple of thousand speeches over the course of twenty years. Obama sat there, enjoying the racist invective. He brought his wife and kids along so they could enjoy the racist invective too. He donated large sums of money to support the people who spread that racist invective.

Then he realized "oh shit! I need white people to vote for me if I want to be President".

So he gave a pretty speech about how Wright wasn't really any more racist than his own white grandmother was. That didn't work, so he gave a follow-up speech saying that he was shocked, SHOCKED to hear that Wright was such a racist. He'll probably keep giving pretty speeches, all in the hope that people forget about his actual past behavior.

But not as good a point as recognizing that whiny bullshit comes just as much from resentful segments of a white majority as from anywhere else.

Even if that were true, blacks are only a sixth of the population. They can piss and moan all they want, but that's not going to get them anywhere. The other five-sixths -- those whites, Asians, and Hispanics -- pretty much don't feel any obligation to blacks because we never did anything to hurt them in the first place.

In closing, I'll just observe that it is particularly silly to talk about "historical grievances" when discussing Barack Obama. Half of his ancestors are from Nigeria, a former British colony; the other half are white Americans. Neither he nor any of his ancestors suffered under past American racism or slavery, although it is likely that some of them were slave owners themselves. So where does he get off staking a claim to historical grievance?

montana urban legend said...

"Wright gave a couple of thousand speeches over the course of twenty years."

Only one of which you mention.


"Obama sat there, enjoying the racist invective."

Right. He clapped his hands and said, "this is not something to learn from, this is great fun. Like a comedy show!" "Woot-woot!"


"He brought his wife and kids along so they could enjoy the racist invective too."

Yep. I'm sure you've got some great shots of all the smiling faces.


"Then he realized "oh shit! I need white people to vote for me if I want to be President"."

Which he was, and seems quite capable of continuing to be able to do.


"So he gave a pretty speech about how Wright wasn't really any more racist than his own white grandmother was. That didn't work,"

It "worked on" (meaning it was understood by) the vast numbers of people who understand that, the enlightened tolerance of icons of peace and justice and anti-bigotry like the anonymous revenant notwithstanding, that American culture generally accepts that attitudes, subconscious or otherwise, toward a black person and a white person will tend to differ - for unjustifiable reasons. And revenant proves it with every comment here.


"so he gave a follow-up speech saying that he was shocked, SHOCKED to hear that Wright was such a racist."

It's nice to know that liars who make false statements would like to believe that someone will accept them. But this is not at all what happened.


"Even if that were true... They can piss and moan all they want, but that's not going to get them anywhere."

Right. No whites are resentful of anything, but blacks apparently do nothing but "piss and moan all they want". Of course.

The fact that you don't realize the amount of racism you display right there in that comment speaks volumes.

Every comment you've made amounts to nothing more than a shot of racially-oriented resentment, of exactly the same stripe that would be in your book unconscionable for someone to express if he or she were black.


"The other five-sixths -- those whites, Asians, and Hispanics -- pretty much don't feel any obligation to blacks because we never did anything to hurt them in the first place."

This statement speaks for itself.


"In closing, I'll just observe that it is particularly silly to talk about "historical grievances" when discussing Barack Obama. Half of his ancestors are from Nigeria, a former British colony; the other half are white Americans. Neither he nor any of his ancestors suffered under past American racism or slavery, although it is likely that some of them were slave owners themselves. So where does he get off staking a claim to historical grievance?"

Because he understands it and how it was a part of the same American legacy that you disregard. He also understands that, despite how much of an asshole some people like to be about these things, there is still is a difference between addressing a historical grievance and "staking a claim" to it. One of which he is doing and the other of which he is not. I'll leave you to guess which is which. Exactly the opposite of what you're doing.

Trooper York said...

Just an observation for you Montana, but labeling people who disagree with you racists is a great way to make people ignore what you have to say. You can be pretty much tired of the perpetual grievance machine without being a racist. The same with feminists. You just tune it out. So if you want a fair hearing of your ideas you can tone down the condescension and the air of lecturing the unenlightened just a tad. Because a lot of people know what you are saying and you know what, they don't care. You can call them ignorant racists and demand that they kowtow to your version of history with reparations due your grievances. How's that worked out for you so far? How do you think that will work for Obama? If he wants to be the president of all the people. Maybe he doesn’t, that’s cool with me. Just sayn'

montana urban legend said...

Trooper, I understand where you're coming from. I actually try to give a wide leeway to people expressing opinions on matters of race, specifically when they do so under the heading of matters of culture - which is really what we're talking about. It is important to do so and I think it helps the discussion to differentiate between people just expressing an opinion on what they just happen to note about certain behaviors, etc., as well as to differentiate between a motivation of ignorance versus curiosity versus flat-out hate. Resentment falls somewhere in between, and while I am more skeptical about the thoughtfulness of those expressions from non-blacks than from blacks (the reasoning for which I've layed out above), it is difficult to conclude that over the course of a conversation, such as one that you witness above occuring with the brick wall revenant, that he is not applying an unjustifiable double-standard between blacks and whites: Telling blacks they have no right or reason to express any resentments while basically yammering on to proclaim the righteousness of every white resentment he could think of is just ridiculous. To deny that such a blatant double-standard (which he repeatedly did) is not racist seems a bit of a stretch, and I have no problem calling him out on it when he could take his contributions no further, regardless of how it strikes others in terms of the political consequences of the discussion. That's what principles would dictate. Plus, those following this discussion should be open-minded enough to respond with something other than a knee-jerking sense of resentment anyway if they can't find an intelligent way to disagree. But it's a limited audience in terms of whatever political consequences I would face for calling them out on it when they do otherwise.

I'm open to accusations of pedantry, but if we are closed off to actually considering information that bears directly on these attitudes, then what's the point of discussing them? Especially among people who are inclined to and expected to disagree with each other? Again, this is not a political action blog.

Trooper York said...

I agree with some of what you just set out Montana but I think I see it a little differently. It’s funny that a lot of people dismiss certain opinions that derive from what is termed “anecdotal evidence” with no basis in some academic study or report. But what most people go on is what they have experienced in their everyday life. Sure they have a very limited sample but they trust their “gut.” It’s my somewhat simplistic view that to further your goals you need to make deals and not really continue to nurse grievances either real or imagined. I will give you a good example. Bruce Ratner is a big developer who wanted to build an arena for the Nets and develop a big section of Brooklyn in the Borum Hill/Fort Greene section which is predominately black but with some degree of guasi-gentrification by hipster dofusses. But his main goal is to make money. Lots of money. Being a smart guy, he went to Al Sharpton and Rev. Daughtry and offered control of the bulk of the low income apartments and a slew of construction jobs to their people. So when the liberal dofussses started protesting and demanding that the project be shut down, the community led by Sharpton and Daughtry were on the side of the big bad developer and not the limousine liberals. It’s about jobs and opportunity. If your man Obama makes it about making good deals where everyone gets a piece of the pie, than he will do just fine. He is a Chicago politician after all so he should be able to do a deal. But if he dives to far into the identity politics pool, he is gonna founder and not make it safely to shore. Just concentrate on making the pie bigger and getting people a nice piece of it.

Althouse has a bunch of regulars who have various opinions that range from ultra-liberal to far right conservative. But if you get too dogmatic most people will just pass you by and ignore what you have to contribute.

Me, I like jokes. Did you hear the one about the time Matthew Broderick was promoting the movie Glory and he went to the White House? He jokingly told President Reagan that he was really one-eight black and he wanted his forty acres and a mule. President Reagan turned and looked at Sarah Jessica Parker and said “Well I guess we just owe you those forty acres then.”

montana urban legend said...

That's a good one, Trooper. Reagan did have a good sense of humor.

I hear you on being too dogmatic. Politically I tend to consider myself independent of party affiliation, and in terms of identity politics I don't really see myself as white or black either; although I would probably pass generally for "white" I don't tend to identify with that assignment either as a demographic category for reasons that probably go beyond the scope of Ann's blog. But I hear your advice and will try to do a better job of seeing where others are coming from. It's funny, because although I can identify a reasonably visible "left-sided" opinion in the comments, for some reason I tend to see those as more "right-sided" predominating. Perhaps that is because I am specifically less socially conservative and am responding to that in particular. Or perhaps that is just a not so easily defined personal skew that doesn't conform to the way you and likely many others here see things, and, in which case, I appreciate your insight and will try to do a better job of engaging others on that basis and with that in mind.

I think anecdotal observations are very valuable. For my own sake - as someone who relies on and understands them to be important ways to redirect where "traditional research" has led, to reinvigorate academic debates and, as with any good author, for pleasure. I'm a huge fan of Tom Wolfe, for instance, whose style of writing - while it ultimately (and completely justifiably, in my book) tends to come across as sympathetic to conservative views, is incredibly honest and represents a style of writing which he not only innovated, but that seems to be one of the best examples of the wisdom to be gotten out of modern, anecdotal observation.

I think Obama will do fine. Most commentators have made a point of noting the degree to which he's made a deliberate effort to "transcend" issues of race or be the "post-racial" candidate. I don't know if these terms come across as disingenuous or naive to people who are very turned off by the Wright scandal(s). But in his defense, I think a lot of that exploits a guilt-by-association aspect that it would have been extraordinarily difficult for him to have avoided. Just because racial politics were a necessary part of his past, everything I've read into his personality and got from the excerpts widely noted of his memoirs suggest that he's way beyond that and onto something much bigger in terms of a personal or political goal. The way he has intellectually explored the dynamics of racial politics seems entirely honest in its conclusion that his "biological" identity is now one of the less if not least important attributes insofar as how he defines himself. It doesn't mean that it wasn't a struggle to come to terms with finding that out in the past. It just means that his present represents largely entirely different challenges which he is more than prepared for and interested in confronting.

Anyways, I'm glad you've continued posting these comments days after the original post and have enjoyed this discussion. Feel free to continue this one or any other here with me at your desire.

Trooper York said...

Montana, I kind of thought you were a reasonable guy but you didn’t know the landscape here in Althouse yet. Plus your very name shows that you have a healthy sense of irony. No one is all of piece; we can’t be pigeonholed so quickly. I am a pretty conservative guy from Brooklyn, but you know what many of the people I know who fit in the “liberal” demographic hold very similar views in a lot of areas. As I was saying, many of the minorities other than African-Americans are very conservative culturally. And of course we have the church going contingent that is really the backbone of the civil rights movement. They are even more socially conservative than I am in certain areas for example gay rights. So we shouldn’t put each other in a box. The comments here do tend to trend right but there are several very well respected liberal commenters like Madison Man who is always given a fair hearing. We don’t agree, but we can agree to disagree and still tease each other and have fun. Other commenter like Alpha-liberal, Freder, and downtown lad are just impossible to deal with and I think a lot of people don’t even want to engage them in discussions because of past behavior that shows that it’s just not worth it. Quite of few of the regular commenters are conservative or libertarian and it really comes to the fore when the professor strikes a liberal note in one of her posts. You can see the comments really turn in an interesting way. (Check out the posts about the teacher and the teddy bear from a couple of months ago). Don’t believe the hype, because the professor is very liberal in almost every area except the war. So she probably agrees with most of your viewpoint and almost none of mine. But we can still converse amiably across the divide and meet in the middle with the photos of flowers and dogs urinating. I look forward to your comments and throw in a joke here or there. I know you have a good sense of humor. We can be on different sides and still have a beer and hash it out and agree to disagree.

Hopefully all of this is not too pretentious and presumptuous in speaking for other people, but I do have one important question. Are you related to Hannah Montana? Cause if you are; tell her to stop with the sexy pictures already. Enjoy being a kid for crying out loud. Jeeez.