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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Self-Fulfilling Racism

Apparently, anyone who disagrees with Obama is racist. For example, consider this diatribe by actress Janeane Garofalo:
"'Let's be very honest about what this is about. This is not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea party was about. They don't know their history at all. It's about hating a black man in the White House,' she said on MSNBC's 'The Countdown' with Keith Olbermann Thursday evening. 'This is racism straight up and is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks. There is no way around that.'"
Unfortunately, this type of claim of racism is partly self-fulfilling. If people elect a black candidate and are continually insulted by being called racist if and when they disagree with him or his Administration on various issues, I suspect that at least some of them are going to be less likely to elect a black candidate next time. That decision to not vote for the black candidate, though rational and perhaps even justifiable, is racism.


erp said...

Conversely isn't voting for a candidate because he's black just as racist? I think it is.

Bret said...

I'm not sure, but that case may be more complicated. For example, if I vote for someone who is a different race than me, it seems difficult for that to be considered a racist act, regardless of the reason for my voting decision.

erp said...

Of course it's more complicated. That's the point. People like Garofalo can't understand that.

If she and like thinkers voted for Obama because he's black rather than for Hillary who's been their hero(ine), what could it be other than racism.

Susan's Husband said...


I disagree. If you vote for someone because of their race, that's racist. Unless you want to argue that the racism of an act is changed by the ethnicity of the people involved.

Bret said...

Susan's Husband,

I'm still not sure. Here's the definitions of racism:

1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

It doesn't seem to satisfy any of those, does it?

Though I suppose I misused the term in my post as well. I guess deciding not to vote for the black candidate because of continual insults wouldn't be racism after all, by the dictionary definition.

On the other hand, I agree that the term is used so loosely as to mean almost anything you want it to, in which case erp is right that voting for a candidate just because he's black could also be considered racist.

Susan's Husband said...

I am not in agreement with, as I use the word to mean "holding opinions about individuals based on their race".

But that's a quibble - what I really disagreed with was the implied underpinning of your statement, which is that you can't know if an action is racism unless you know the ethnicity of the participants.

erp said...

It's similar to the original definition of affirmative action which, IIRC, was that if there are two equally qualified candidates, the minority/female candidate should get the nod.

Another great leveling idea that went far astray.

Putting less, and in the case of Obama, far less, qualified people in positions far above their abilities is detrimental to the very population that is purportedly being helped.

If I were a member of a minority, I wouldn't like to see people moved on up because of their skin color any more than I'd like them held down because of it.

Prior to AA, when I met blacks professionally, I knew they had to be damn good -- ditto a woman. Now I look on them with suspicion. Sorry, that's the truth.

As a woman I resent women in positions where they don't belong because of the need for diversity. Just check out the furor and grant money wasted to get the ladies interested in math and sciences. Why? What difference does it make that most physicists are male? Are women deliberately being excluded from the club? No. So where's the beef?

Don't even get me started on lowering the standards for police and firefighters or the service academies. If women can meet the standards, let them go for it, but to lower them so that most women can compete with men physically, makes me sick.

As long as people aren't kept out because of race or sex, leave it alone and let everyone be what they can and want to be.