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Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I'm Back

A week or two ago I was finding the whole political thing so annoying that I decided to crawl into a (metaphorical) cave and ignore all news and social media until after the election. It's now after the election so I'M BACK!!!

First, I have to congratulate President-elect Clinton on her ... Wait! ... What? ... Trump won? ... Wow. Something must've happened while I was in my cave. Maybe I should look into that.

But anyway, I'll now catch up on all the great guys comments and get back to posting.


Harry Eagar said...

Different things annoy different people:

Harry Eagar said...

While others were overjoyed:

erp said...

I don't do Facebook, so I'm not really sure how it works, but isn't it private communication like a diary and don't you have to be asked to join someone's page??

Why did this and other nonsense become public -- and in a major media outlet yet?

Mrs Obama is a very big woman and her fashion choices are ridiculous, not only for her size and age, but for her position in the world. Most of the things she wears are more appropriate for her daughters or for stage performers.

That said, whether or not the Facebook comment was accurate is a matter of opinion and I don't take the statement as racist -- just overwrought hyperbole. Maybe the authoress was just tired of Mrs. Obama's fashion faux pas being swooned over by the media and glad it will be over very soon.

Really silver stilletto's in the daytime with a dowdy dress! Non non et non.

Harry, you better calm down. It's gonna be a long hard slog for you if you don't save your bile for more important issues than FLOTUS' foot wear.

Bret said...

erp, erp, erp.

You still haven't read your racist handbook yet, have you?

If you compare Donald Trump to an ape (an orangutan in particular), that's not racist.

If you compare Michelle Obama to an ape, that IS racist.

See how that works? No? Neither do I, but I'm sure Harry will be happy to explain.

erp said...

Actually Bret, I believe Mrs. Obama was compared to an ape on a Facebook page. I don't believe she was actually called an ape as was President Bush who was called a chimp, specifically Chimphitler and other equally amusing constructions in every major media outlet -- regretfully Google couldn't find any of them probably because they've been 404'd.

Clovis e Adri said...

Erp and Bret,

I think you demean yourselves by trying to whitewash (pun intended) this one.

erp said...

Sorry Clovis, you're wrong. It's not nice nice comparing Mrs. Obama to an ape in heels, but it's also not racist. Is calling Trump an orangutan or calling Bush a chimp, racist? Of course not.

Clovis e Adri said...


As you know well, expressions are interpreted in their cultural context. Comparing blacks to apes has some history, both in my culture and yours too. Or here.

Or before you say I am nitpicking sources, choose among the many ones here too.

Comparing Trump and Bush to monkeys is demeaning for sure, but it is usually interpreted as an offense to their intelligence and/or personal behavior (or so I guess).

Comparing Mrs. Obama to an Ape is supposed to be... a critic of her clothes, as you try above? I don't think this is what I get when I read that in my cultural context. It looks like a good number of Americans would think like me, and the above links fairly explain why.

I do get you, and Bret, and so many people out there are tired of PC. So am I. So if we can all talk carelessly, let's say it like it is: yeah, you are being racist too.

No one is perfect. But we ought to try to be better sometimes.

erp said...

Clovis, do you realize how racist your comment is?

White men can be called monkeys, chimps, orangutans and it's okay because it's only their intelligence that is being criticized, but a black woman can't be criticized for her lack of fashion sense by comparing her to a similar animal. In a sane world, having one's intelligence disparaged would seem a worse offense than one's fashion sense, but this is an insane world.

BTW I don't give a rat's patoot about cultural context and I AM BETTER ALL THE TIME.

Let's not forget the crime here wasn't the stupid remark, it was that the stupid remark was published in a major media outlet in a stunning invasion of privacy -- probably ruining this poor woman's life, so people like Harry can have their treasured shibboleths confirmed.

Racists see racism everywhere.

Clovis e Adri said...


Since I called you racist, it is only fair you call me racist too, I guess. The difference being, I am not defending anyone who called another person an ape. You are.

But let us try to rise above the kindergarten level, and apply some definitions here. Let us take the definition usually invoked by Skipper: that racism is to take the individual for the collective.

To call a politician a monkey, in particular a non-black politician, will usually imply that particular person shares something in common with a monkey. I guess in Bush's case the slur was intended at his smarts, in Trump's at his not quite so tender behavior towards other people.

In both cases, it is an affirmation about an individual. A demeaning one, but it does not take their individuality away.

Now, is that the case about the Ape in Heels comment? Given the association of blacks to apes set in history, it is not too far fetched to suppose it is a reference to that widely known context, is it?

Suppose it is not a reference to that. Then you can only blame that woman for being out of touch. Not a terrible misdeed, I agree.

But if it is a reference to previous context, then this is about Mrs. Obama melanin, a collective trait she shares with those people often compared to apes. Her individuality was denied.

As for her "stupid remark", in your words, how come you call it 'stupid' now, if beforehand it was just OK?

And no, there is not crime done by major media publishing it - nothing you post in Facebook is private, unless you configure it to be. The usual setup is that anything you publish will be seen by your friends, and the friends of your friends too when any of them make a comment on your post. IOW, it goes public fairly easily, and everyone knows it. Usually, most things you do there are as private as talking loud with a friend while waiting in the supermarket's cashier line.

erp said...

Clovis, I said I don't know the rules of Facebook and I didn't say it was okay, I said it wasn't racist and now that I know that whatever is on Facebook is public, it's indubitable that it was just a stupid remark because why would anyone open themselves up to what she's going through now? ... and to repeat, she said Mrs. Obama looks like ..., not that she is ...

The charge of racist was directed at Harry, not you. He was the one who posted the link.

I'm not sure what you mean by this: But if it is a reference to previous context, then this is about Mrs. Obama melanin, a collective trait she shares with those people often compared to apes. Her individuality was denied. but I think you might be digging yourself into a deeper hole.

Clovis e Adri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clovis e Adri said...


Which hole is that?

If you need more context, down here in Brazil, you can get jailed for comparing a black person to an ape. Seriously. (You'll pay a fine and answer a lawsuit in freedom afterwards, but you can get possibly jailed if 'caught in the act'.)

Yeah, we do not have as wide freedom of speech as you guys. But that's not the point, the point is about context, so I offer another example.

You also can get jailed down here for saying a Jew is only good to do laundry soap with. I suppose you get the context, right?

I much prefer people would not get jailed for what they think or say. I sure do not wish the Ape in Heels commenter to be punished in any way whatsoever by the State. But if people spontaneously conclude she was being racist, and decide not to interact with her anymore, are they to blame for their personal decision?

Clovis e Adri said...

Context, and more.

erp said...

Clovis, I don't need context. You confuse my refusal to call something racist with my agreeing with it. I understand the frustration of the author of the remark in question with the media's fawning over Mrs. Obama's fashionista persona when the fact is, she looks ridiculous in most of the clothes she wears and were she a Republican first lady, she would be ridiculed and roasted for her teeny-bopper outfits and silver spike heels worn with a dowdy dress in the daytime.

It would serve her well to find a sensible fashion-wise adviser to help her choose clothes appropriate to her age, figure and position to be worn when she is representing We, the People in public forums.

I don't do ad hominem myself and prefer to argue opinions and facts rather than do name calling. Maybe growing up in New York with so many different other immigrant groups and people from other parts of the U.S. and coloreds, as blacks were called then and the fact that my family was so isolated without a large cohort and had no animus against any of the other groups, I always took people at face value, literally.

We have freedom of speech here and people can't be punished for what they say (apparently that freedom doesn't include college campuses where students are punished and even thrown out if they upset any of the other little toddlers' sensibilities).

How insecure within oneself must one be to make mean, stupid nasty remarks about others only because of their ethnicity or race, especially in the case of the multitudes of Harry's in the world, their group think is so wrong and hate filled.

This concludes my remarks on tailless anthropoid primates.

End Note: Would a remark aimed at Hillary, "she looks like a polar bear in a pants suit" be racist?

Clovis e Adri said...


You are free to interpret her remark as you wish, as I am. I see no reason to see it as related to fashion, and would conclude likewise even so. Or maybe I would think the remark is even more stupid.

In my culture, comparisons to polar bears could hardly be offensive. We do have a comparison that can be taken as mildly racist to whites though: to say a white person looks like 'leite azedo' (spoiled milk). It would not be interpreted as offensive if applied to a non-white though.

Now that's a piece of knowledge you could not have lived without, isn't it? :-)

erp said...

Clovis, no reason to see it as related to fashion ??? It was about Mrs Obama wearing silver stiletto heels??? I don't think you get that it was ludicrous not only as a fashion statement, but because walking in those things is very difficult even for fashion models who are used to them and Mrs. Obama is not a graceful woman. That was the allusion to apes and that's why I said, to a racist everything is racism. The remark had nothing to do with melanin and I said it was a stupid remark because she should have known it would be taken as racist.

Why is being compared to a big ungainly polar bear okay, but being compared to a big ungainly ape racist? How about being compared to a big ungainly brown bear or black bear?

Think about that a bit.

Here mildly offensive to white people is being called "white bread," meaning low-brow-crossover-country folks, not sophisticated lefties who only eat multi-grain bread baked in brick ovens in Greenwich Village by trust-fund-diaper-babies slumming on daddy's money.

Bret said...

Clovis wrote: "...expressions are interpreted in their cultural context."

Ok, I'm gonna agree that many, possibly a substantial majority of, people, including Clovis find the Obama - Ape comment racist.

The context thing is interesting to me. I kinda get it, but I kinda don't. To me, really the only relevant context is this: ALL RACES ARE EQUAL.

Given that, Trump being called an Ape is exactly equal to Obama being called an Ape. Both are intentionally insulting. I see nothing wrong with insulting public figures you don't like. If they don't like it, they shouldn't have become public figures.
You say there's this historical context. Yes, but that was then, the comment was made NOW.

If you say I'm being racist for not thinking the comment racist, then so be it. I have stopped caring about being called racist a long time ago. Also, in some sense, if that comment was racist, then basically every insult directed at a black person is racist. I absolutely will insult people, especially public figures, who I don't like. Since some of them are black, then I guess I really am a racist. Again, I don't care.

Clovis e Adri said...


Why is being compared to a big ungainly polar bear okay, but being compared to a big ungainly ape racist? How about being compared to a big ungainly brown bear or black bear?

Think about that a bit.
Is that a rhetorical question?

I have no intent to justify or classify any of the many ways people use words to demean anyone.

I have set my arguments to one goal only: to justify why that comment could be classified as racist, based on a definition many times used in this blog.

You look to disagree, Erp, but you didn't bother to make any logical counter argument either. I feel like arguing with my boy: I tell him he can't get out of the table before finishing his dish, he counters that her sister is not eating it at all.

Clovis e Adri said...


If you say I'm being racist for not thinking the comment racist, then so be it. I have
I have not only said it, but tried to show it from a more basic definition. I may be wrong, yet you didn't try to show where my mistake is.

stopped caring about being called racist a long time ago. Also, in some sense, if that comment was racist, then basically every insult directed at a black person is racist. I absolutely will insult people, especially public figures, who I don't like. Since some of them are black, then I guess I really am a racist. Again, I don't care.
I disagree. There are very many insults you can direct to a public figure that would not reasonably be interpreted as racist. Why to choose the very few who could?

Well, if this is only about freedom of speech for you, go ahead, you are absolutely entitled to use whatever words you wish.

OTOH, there is that truly outdated notion that we somehow can better communicate our message if we do so with some degree of civility. To do so, context and appreciation for the choice of words makes up for a good part of it.

I know, you don't care. But I do. So you'll have to suffer my complaints, and I will have to suffer your indifference to them.

Harry Eagar said...

It takes some doing, but it is possible to make Trump look relatively good:

Here's the deal: you have an out-and-out racist, who doesn't like it when yellow people get good jobs and doesn't want his children o go to school with Jews . . . and you have an out-and-out racist whose idea is that the default behavior of a Mexican immigrant is drug-dealer/rapist . . . and the second hires the first as his confidential adviser.

It really isn't some kind of PC hypersensitivity to decide that these people are racists.

erp said...

Clovis, you better up your rhetorical skills or Andreas will running rings around you and you'll be forced to say, "Because I said so" and lose the argument -- Hint: when that used to happen with my kids, I'd say, "because that's what civilized people do." By the time they figured out what civilized people meant, they were pretty well behaved.

You don't seem to see that making a distinction about whether insulting someone by comparing them to apes is racist depends on whether the insultee is black or white is the definition of racism.

As Bret says, all races are equal.

erp said...

Really Harry, the HuffPo?

Bret said...

Harry wrote: "...who doesn't like it when yellow people get good jobs..."

He said nothing of the sort.

Harry wrote: "...doesn't want his children o go to school with Jews..."

His ex-wife, in a nasty divorce proceeding, made the claim that he said something like that. Bannon denies it, there's no other evidence, he has his kids go to a school with jews (thereby rather weakening the claim), and has been a strong supporter of Israel.

Bannon may well be racist, certainly by your intensely diluted definition of racism, and perhaps even by a more standard definition, but your particular link doesn't do a very good job of making the case.

Harry Eagar said...

'He said nothing of the sort.'

Trump thought he did, and made -- for Trump -- almost decent noises; and Bannon shot him down.

But, yeah, if you think that it has to equal Der Sturmer to be racism, nah, it wasn't.

And then there's his business which attracts racists like dead cows attract flies; but what do they know?