Racists are inscrutable

Okay, so there’s this guy. He’s an asshole, but he’s just some guy, y’know?

No, his name is not Zaphod Beeblebrox.

His name is Michael John Frederick, Jr. Despite being just a guy – excuse me, just a white guy – he’s managed to make it into the news cycle for some of  his recent accomplishments. What accomplishments, you wonder? Oh just this and that:

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Newsweek Shocked to Find Racism In Its Establishment

Remember that Newsweek editorial saying that the first Black woman on a national ticket wasn’t really a citizen?

Yeah, apparently Newsweek’s top management got a bunch of internal pushback from the people that actually produce the product without which they’d go immediately bankrupt: the writers. Under threat of not having anything to sell and therefore no money, which would, presumably, not be the happiest outcome for the shareholders, Newsweek brass decided it was time for a walkback so that they could defend their decision, admit that they maybesortaprobly wouldn’t make the same decision in the future, acknowledge that Harris is an actual American human being, and hold their heads high that they have been good and reasonable throughout this trying time:

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Tuffy the Snowflake (Content Warning)

Was a hateful, hurtful soul.

No, seriously folks, I don’t get a lot of hate mail, but I do get some occasionally and I just got the most delightfully horrifying piece of violent thuggery that I’ve ever had sent to my FreethoughtBlogs comment queue.

It was sent to me by someone calling themselves “Tuffy”, and if you choose to read it, be forewarned: there’s the racism and some more racism and violent fantasies before mixing it up with some anti-semitism, more violence, the racism again, and oh, the direct threats. But what makes it worth posting is that this snowflake is responding to my post about how BLM in Portland won some valuable if modest concessions. And boy, did the idea that BLM has made some progress towards creating a society in which Black lives matter really upset the poor, widdle Tuffy. (I kid you not, that’s the actual screen name they chose.) There’s really no other way to say it but that this Tuffy is the most precious, delicate snowflake in the whole intertubes. He is just foot-stompin’ mad:

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Yes, again…

A while back there were fuckers who tell us that one drop of non-white blood ruined a person’s whiteness and disqualified her from participation in society and government.

All over the US political right today you have fuckers who tell us that one drop of non-Black blood ruins Kamala Harris’ Blackness and disqualifies her from participation in society and government.

You know, it’s very, very weird, but I think these are the same, god damned fuckers.

 

 

Cornelius Frederick Was Murdered. What will we do?

For those who thought the residential schools nightmare was over, I present you Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. Don’t read any further without preparing yourself for the horror you know is coming.

16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks [sic – actually “Frederick”] died on May 1 after suffering a heart attack on April 29.

Why did his heart stop on April 29th? I will never GEORGE FLOYD guess, will I?

[S]taff sat on his chest as he lost consciousness. …Employees waited 12 minutes to call 911, even though Fredericks was limp and unresponsive.” …[V]ideo from Lakeside Academy shows a staff member placing his/her weight directly on Fredericks’ chest for nearly ten minutes as the victim lost consciousness.

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Lynching is legal, says Georgia DA

In a case that can’t seem to get appropriate coverage inside the USA, Canada and the UK are publishing important stories detailing the lynching of a  Black jogger by a white ex-cop and his son just as fast as any published by the national press inside the USA. The best review of the footage of the actual killing is probably in this story, by a local news station in Jaxonville.

So what happened here, why are prosecutors declaring this behavior acceptable, and why do I call it a lynching?

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Criminalizing fighting in sport

So… there’s been quite a bit of discussion in the wild about why a recent fight between NFL players of the Cleveland Browns and players of the rival squad the Pittsburgh Steelers did not result in criminal assault charges. The fight was broadcast to at least hundreds of thousands, I would imagine, very possibly millions. There were tens of thousands physically present at the scene and able to observe what happened and testify to it. Why, then, aren’t the participants being brought up on charges? Why were they not immediately arrested by sworn police officers present at the time?

Today this discussion was referenced by Mano Singham. And while I agree that there are reasons why we as a society might choose to prosecute the participants in these assaults, there are also reasons why we might not. One of those reasons is racism.

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Botham Jean: A Black Life that Mattered

We have known for quite some time that, factually speaking, Amber Guyger murdered Botham Jean. What we did not know was whether or not the law would find a white police officer, off duty and on no official business, legally guilty of murder for breaking into Jean’s apartment and shooting him dead.

Now we know.

Guyger could easily have negotiated a plea deal for manslaughter, claiming fatigue or whatever the fuck she felt justified the shooting, since there does seem to be no doubt that she and Jean lived in the same apartment complex and that she was on the wrong floor and at least initially thought maybe she was entering her own apartment. But she, like so many cops before her, wanted the law to impose no consequences whatsoever for shooting a Black man dead. She took her case to the jury, and the jury, almost beyond all reasonable hope, found her guilty not of manslaughter, but of murder.

Now that Guyger’s trial is over, perhaps we can spend much less time on her and spend time instead remembering Jean for his loving, generous life.

For Freud’s Sake: Anti-racists are the real racists…again?

A couple weeks ago an NPR bigwig wrote an editorial about how it was wrong to call racism “racism” or racists “racists” because that was a moral judgement, not a factual one.

That. Position. Is. Freuding. Bankrupt.

Treating racism as a matter of moral opinion leads us directly to this place:

[Text Excerpt, emphasis mine:] “If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district … perhaps progress could be made”

Ten days ago, Wonkette’s Dok Zoom did a story on how NPR’s  Keith Woods, VP for newsroom training and diversity, argued against the decision NPR’s newsroom had previously made to label racist shit as actually racist. The conclusion that Dok Zoom came to was this:

that’s a big part of the problem with Woods’s argument: When it’s reduced to a headline, it sure as hell sounds like “let’s not stir up controversy with the mean word racism.”

But I don’t think that’s even the biggest problem with Woods’s argument. No, I think the biggest problem is that when whether or not something is racist or someone is engaging in racism is a moral opinion rather than a factual question, then there is no possible basis on which the media (or anyone, really) can challenge the message “anti-racists are the real racists”. It is the effect of long-standing refusals of news departments to treat racism as a fact that has gotten us to the point where even in 2019 Trump thinks that accusing Elijah Cummings of racism is a good media strategy … and might even be right.

Since we’ve been hearing this asinine argument for more than 50 years now, it seems imperative that the US media pulls its head out of its collective burro and gets busy developing the skills necessary to actually investigate racism as a factual matter, something that either does or does not exist, not a matter of opinion.

 

Oh, and by the way: Tucker Carlson, when Jon Stewart said you were hurting the US? This is what he was talking about.

 

 

 

 

Ed Brayton & I Created Overlapping Posts: “The real racists”, then and now.

I hadn’t read Ed Brayton yesterday when I created my discussion of the Trumpian defense of cissexism. However, as it turns out, he also posted something addressing the same phenomenon. He chose to emphasize the history of the argument, rather than how it comes about and what it says about popular understandings of practical ethics, meta ethics, and oppression. Nonetheless, it’s very relevant:

We hear a lot of racists claim that they aren’t racist, the real racists are the ones who accuse them of racism. One might thing this is a new argument, but George Wallace, who might as well have worn a white sheet and hood to the governor’s office in Alabama every day, made this exact same argument, word for word, in 1968.

[See Brayton’s post for a video of Wallace’s argument in Wallace’s own words.]

While the trans-hostile version of this isn’t that trans* people are the real anti-trans*ists, it’s quite close. The essence of the trans-hostile claim is that trans* people are killing gender liberation, and that anti-trans feminism is the only method of achieving gender liberation. Thus anti-trans feminists are the real pro-trans feminists, and pro-trans* activists (feminist or not) are actually anti-woman and anti-feminist.

But “the people who identify racism and racists are the real racists” argument has strong components of “Black people aren’t necessarily anti-Black, but they’re anti-white and their activism is also wrong in ways which make racial liberation impossible, while the the KKK and the CCCs and more generally the white anti-Black public figures who are commonly called racists have the only real solutions to racism. Thus George Wallace is the true hero of the anti-racism movement and the people who are given credit for fighting racism are actually retrenching it.”

Understood this way, the TERF statements and these statements made by George Wallace and his defenders in the 1960s are near-exact analogs. I’d like to think that we’d learned our lessons from past struggles, but not only have we not learned to recognize these cissexist arguments in the TERF context, too many of us still buy into the original racist form of the argument a hundred years after it was first made and more than 50 years after it was first widely criticized in mainstream media.


As an addition, I thought I would point out that George Wallace of the 1960s deserves all the scorn he gets, but not everyone remembers that after an attempted assassination that resulted in an irremediable spinal injury, Wallace became quite a different person. (It’s not clear how much of that would never have happened without the assassination attempt, but since it’s frequently mentioned by others I figure it’s worthy of mention here for context that is at least possibly explanatory.) While I don’t think he ever became anti-racist in the sense we would want to see from someone today, he did turn his back on his statement, “Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.” As wikipedia reports:

In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness. In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” He publicly asked for forgiveness from black people.

During Wallace’s final term as governor (1983–1987) he made a record number of black appointments to state positions, including, for the first time, two black people as members in the same cabinet. [footnote numbering removed by me – cd]

I like noting this part of Wallace’s story where it’s possible to do without minimizing the harms of racism, because it illustrates a capacity for human growth and betterment that is fundamental to the choices we make to educate others about oppression. People really can and do get over prior prejudices. They can and do change policy stances. They can and do identify and fix faults in themselves. While some people may, empirically, be beyond hope, we can’t know which people those are until they have died. As long as folks are alive, and as long as you can do so while still caring for yourself, efforts to educate even the George Wallaces among us just might be worth it.