Monday, April 21, 2014

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2014, April 21: How white racism disappeared from FOXWorld

Leonard Pitts, Jr. deals with a specific instance of the kind of whiney-white-guy posturing I posted about yesterday in his column, Hey, Fox Pundits! How Blatant Must The Anti-Obama Racism Be? National Memo 04/21/2014. (As of this writing, in the linked version the fourth paragraph before the end that begins, "Hume, by the way," seems to be mostly a quote from Brit Hume, though it's not so indicated by the expected punctuation or indentation of a quote.) He describes a recent FOX News panel where the participants discussed the question, "Has race played a role in the often-harsh treatment of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder?"

Said Hume: "This strikes me as kind of crybaby stuff from Holder. My sense about this is that both Eric Holder and Barack Obama have benefited politically enormously from the fact that they are African-American and the first to hold the jobs that they hold."

"Look," added Will, "liberalism has a kind of Tourette's Syndrome these days. It's just constantly saying the word 'racism' and 'racist.' It's an old saying in the law: If you have the law on your side, argue the law, if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table."
Being black is an advantage in America, in this view of the world. In FOXWorld, an accusation of "racism" - if it's directed against whites over hostility to blacks - should be treated as content-free. "This is pounding the table" when you don't have anything of substance to say.

It's dodges the issue, too, of course. It's also ironic because part of the standard schtick for prominent black conservatives from Clarence Thomas to Ben Carson is to argue as white conservatives do that the real racism comes from white libruls directed against black conservatives. When Thomas was challenged over sexual harassment allegations during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, he famously called it a "high-tech lynching," though the allegations from Anita Hill and others was clearly a substantial one, even if someone may have found it unconvincing.

I've argued since Obama became President that while Obama's own race does appear to be a factor in the intensity of the Republican hostility against a man who in a somewhat saner world would be called a conservative Democratic President. But that the more important way that race factors in to criticism against Obama is the same way it factored into intense Republican criticism of Bill Clinton as President and of the Democratic Party as a whole, which is that the Republicans use anti-black racial demagoguery against Democrats generally, and have been doing so as a party with varying intensity over time since 1964 or, at the latest, 1968.

Barry Goldwater as Republican Presidential candidate in 1964 was running in an election dominated by two issues: segregation (Segregation 1.0) and the Vietnam War. In the segregated Deep South states, then still considered a part of the Democratic Party's "Solid South," Goldwater was able to attract votes from many Southern whites who more often voted Democratic because of his stand against civil rights, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which most of his party in Congress had voted to support.

But he didn't say "n****r" on the campaign trail. In fact, he declared himself opposed to segregation! But no half-sentient voter on either side of the segregation issue took that seriously, because he opposed the federal civil rights laws that were the only available remedy to segregation and voter suppression directed against African-American citizens. Whether he was personally rude to "the coloreds" made no difference in the substance of his policy or in how it was perceived by supporters of segregation. They knew he was on their side: for segregation and against democracy (for anyone but white people).

Pitts in his column poses a question for Brit Hume and George Will: "You say race has played no role in the treatment of President Obama? Fine. What would it look like if it did?"

This is why the approach taken by Bob "the Daily Howler" Somerby in covered race issues makes it basically impossible to criticize white racism directly. His hyper-positivist approach, which he applies with special rigor when white racism is at issue, prevent him from recognizing any so-called "dog whistle" appeals to white voters based on racial prejudice. And that's the same game the Republicans play, that Hume and Will play in the quote above. Unless someone is explicitly describing themselves by using the words "racist" or "white racist" or "white supremacist," in that game you pretend there's no reason to think of race at all.

It's not exactly new for white people to fail to see white racism when it's right in front of their faces, nor for them to pretend they don't see it when they know very well they do. Pretending there's no racism involved in, say, supporting voter suppression laws like the Republicans push today can also be a sneer: we're not prejudiced against the "nigras," we just want to take away their ability to vote. (Hyuk, yuk, nudge-nudge, wink-wink)

Pitts lists a number of incidents of Republicans and Tea Party types using language and symbolism that have been and are still commonly used by white racists as negative against blacks:

I mean, we're talking about a president who was called "uppity" by one GOP lawmaker, "boy" by another and "subhuman" by a GOP activist; who was depicted as a bone-through-the-nose witch doctor by opponents of his health care reform bill; as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop by an aide to a GOP lawmaker, and as an ape by various opponents; who has been dogged by a "Tea Party" movement whose earliest and most enthusiastic supporters included the Council of Conservative Citizens, infamous for declaring the children of interracial unions "a slimy brown glop"; who was called a liar by an obscure GOP lawmaker during a speech before a joint session of Congress; who has had to contend with a years-long campaign of people pretending there is some mystery about where he was born.
But in the Somerby/Hume/Will approach, you shouldn't say or suggest that there was anything racist about any of those things, except maybe for one from the Council of Conservative Citizens, the directly organizational successor to the segregationist and overtly white supremacist Citizens Council. There may be some Republicans around still willing to criticize them, if only for messing up the marketing of policies and campaigns aimed against black Americans.

The bottom line on the FOXWorld approach: in the dawning Segregation 2.0, it's wicked for libruls to criticize any white people for racism against blacks. If they want to say how racist African-Americans are against white people, well that's obvious, ain't it? Just ask ole Rush or Glenn Beck.

Tags: ,

No comments: