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March 13, 2015

giuliani racists

This is my working understanding of the racism of the Republican Party (as evinced by, say, Rudy Giuliani).  And this is not to be yet another The Other Guys Suck! or at least I hope it doesn't come out like that, because we've lived through a generation of that so far.

And granted I am totally the wrong guy to talk about racism, and I get that.   I am lily white, and I was born in a place and time in which N-bombs were heard with regularity, and never directed at me.  But there is a little, I don't know, rhetorical? delusional? device in play here, and I think it is interesting.

So (and let's just say Rudy as the stand-in for the straw-man I'm carefully building here, for convenience), Rudy is an educated man, and not a dumb man, and presumably not without charity, kindness, etc.  And Rudy is not unaware of history, and would happily tell you stories of the racist past of the United States, how deplorable it was and how awesome it is that it's largely a thing of the past.  Maybe even some of his best friends are black, or Latino, or otherwise non-Caucasian.  Rudy is a man who knows that racism is bad.

And yet at the same time, Rudy is willing to espouse some opinions that are, on the face of it, racist.  Rudy thinks that the victims of police misconduct in marginal communities deserve it because of their behavior.  R Rudy thinks that his criticism of a black president is not possibly racist because the black president has a white mother.  Rudy thinks that the poor are poor because of fundamental character defects, and in fact are the recipients of all sorts of free stuff.  Rudy thinks that the black president should emulate the behavior of a famous comedian, who also happens to be black.

So, of course, to Rudy we say, "There are racist things that you say and believe in.  Accordingly, you are a racist."

And then Rudy thinks to himself.  Well, he thinks, I know that racism is bad, and a racist is nothing I want to be.  And I have a working knowledge of how racism works, etc.  Hmm.  What is up with this?

And then Rudy has a revelation!  But I am inherently not bad.  I am virtuous, I am good.  Therefore, my acts, my thoughts, my words, they are also good.  Racism is bad.  Therefore, it is impossible that I have said racist things, or am a racist.  In fact, how can I even take seriously these accusations, as I know myself to be a not-racist?

It is an impenetrable veneer of infallibility, and a pathological reluctance to look in a mirror.  It's also closely related to truthiness, or insisting that something counter-factual is true based on feelings.  Maybe they come from the same place?  But it is the frustrating aspect of trying to find common ground: not only do we not speak the same language, but I'm starting to think that our brains don't work in the same way.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:30 AM

March 11, 2015

i just can't quit o'reilly

My goodness but I like when Jeb Lund gets all worked up and starts saying what to some could be construed as mean things about people.   Like this bit on Bill O'Reilly.  Yeah, I know, enough about O'Reilly, but come on:
[There] is no shortage of online strategists and sages who will tell you not to bother going after O'Reilly and Fox for the same reason that people tell you, "Don't feed the trolls." Fuck that. This chickenshit attitude ultimately lets trolls like O'Reilly win by default. They win when they attack you, they win when you attack them, they win when you go silent. It's the same line of thinking that tells feminist writers threatened by online rapists that they should just delete their accounts and hope their profiles go away for long enough to no longer be provocative to scum.

What consequence is there for real journalistic organizations anymore when it comes to going after O'Reilly? They get called attackers? O'Reilly calls them attackers merely for reporting facts inconsistent with his epistemic bubble. His fans aren't going to watch or read those other sites or channels? They don't already. By this point, O'Reilly has trained his audience to consider digesting independent news an act of race treason on par with slaveowners letting negroes learn to read.

I agree.  And I would add that we've been shrugging egregious shit off for so long that it has become the default response.  The fact that Bill O'Reilly is a self-aggrandizing liar is in fact a reasonable appraisal of O'Reilly's career, and not the opinion of an extremist.  It's objectively true — the motive is of course unknowable, but the facts are there in the open.  There's no reason to allow O'Reilly and his network suck all of the air out of the room on this one (and everything else).

Ultimately this story will eventually wither and die (it already has?) because in the end, you can prove over and over again how many times O'Reilly has prevaricated and bloviated and committed loathsome acts of self-adoration and it will have no effect on O'Reilly or his audience.  They are en-bubbled, and they have a no more than casual relationship with reality.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:05 AM