THE PROBLEM IS US: Selma comes to the New York Times!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 7, 2015

Interlude—Off-point by paragraph 2:
Only in the New York Times could such silliness appear.

A debate has blown up concerning one part of the new feature film, Selma. At our emerging liberal sites, our intellectual leaders and our commenters have stumbled about, displaying the lack of intellectual capital (and moral integrity) which has defined our failing efforts over the past forty years.

Did you see Chris Hayes pretend to address this topic this week? If not, continue reading.

First, though, consider the letter the New York Times ran about Selma this morning.

Good God! On New Year’s Day, the New York Times ran a front-page overview of the Selma debate. As everyone knows by now, the debate concerns the way the film portrays the attitudes and behavior of President Johnson in the run-up to the Selma marches and the drive for the Voting Rights Act.

We haven’t seen the film ourselves. We can only react to what others are saying about the way it portrays Johnson.

But good God! This morning, the Times ran four letters about the debate. Sadly but all too typically, here’s how the first letter started:
LETTERS TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (1/7/15): Re “Film Casts Johnson as Villain, Restarting Civil Rights Debate” (front page, Jan. 1), about criticism of a film that depicts President Lyndon B. Johnson as “a laggard on black voting rights who opposed the marches”:

I have seen Ava DuVernay’s new film, “Selma,” and I was also part of this newspaper’s team that covered the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. In my opinion, there is nothing in Ms. DuVernay’s film that significantly distorts this historic event or the leadership role played by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Did we read that statement correctly? “There is nothing in the film that significantly distorts this historic event or the leadership role played by Dr. King?”

No one has said that the new film distorts the role played by Dr. King. As we see in the quote from that front-page report, people have said that the new feature film distorts the role played by President Johnson.

What led the Times to publish this letter, which has veered off-point by paragraph 2? We can’t really answer that question. But the foolishness of the selection is all too typical of the work performed by this well-known newspaper.

For the record, the letter was written by Gay Talese. Back in the day, he covered the Selma marches for the New York Times—or at least, so he recalls.

He may have been extremely sharp then. His full letter today is rather muddy and almost completely off point. Ironically, this may have helped propel it to the top of the Times letter pile.

Nothing in Talese’s full letter speaks to the debate about Selma's portrayal of Johnson. It does say unabashedly good things about the film, and it voices a preferred pseudo-liberal line which has emerged in this pseudo-debate. (See postscript below.)

The letter’s off-point, but it voices a script. To some editor at the Times, this may have been enough to propel it to the top of the pile.

In our view, Dr. King was a moral and intellectual giant. He stood as one of the heads of a movement which was so spiritually and intellectually advanced that it’s hard to believe that it really occurred in this low-IQ, venal world.

(Many people took part in this movement. Only a few became famous.)

That said, the debate which has emerged this past week involves the film’s portrait of President Johnson. Only in the New York Times! Only there would a set of letters start with a letter which affirms the portrait of somebody else!

Did the Times do this to advance a script? We have no idea, but we can tell you this:

All around our pseudo-liberal world, our emerging pseudo-liberal leaders have found ways to advance mandated tribal reactions to this (rather minor) debate. In the process, they’ve found it hard to make a simple statement:

On the whole, the film is great. But in some ways, it does misrepresent Johnson.

It isn’t hard to say something like that. Increasingly, though, our emerging pseudo-liberal world is becoming devoted to Hard Tribal Script, like the pseudo-conservative world before it. To cite one example, we thought we saw Chris Hayes sell his soul on this score on Monday night’s eponymous cable program.

(At the new Salon, Andrew O’Hehir critiques the Hayes segment with a high degree of perspicacity. To read his analysis, just click here.)

We may return to this fascinating topic on Friday. Tomorrow, we’ll return to the New York Times editorial about that Missouri school district, an editorial in which the Times pretends to care about “the needs of black students.”

We don’t think the Times has earned the right to voice that type of concern. Over the past four decades, the liberal world has largely walked away from the interests of black kids too.

Increasingly, the truth becomes obvious—and the truth says the problem is us!

We liberals have failed for decades now. As we emerge with our new sites and our mandated scripts, our moral and intellectual shortfalls are only becoming more obvious.

Gay Talese was almost completely off-point, but he gave voice to a current script. The New York Times could see it was good.

He rose to the top of the pile!

Tomorrow: Back to that Times editorial about that Missouri school district

The script according to Talese: Below, you see the final paragraph of Talese’s letter—a letter which is rather jumbled and almost completely off-point:
TALESE: As Mr. Chestnut later co-wrote in his book, “Black in Selma,” “The march to Montgomery was the first enterprise I’d ever seen involving black and white people where the black people set the agenda and ran the show.”
Black people set the agenda for Selma! Inferentially, Johnson didn’t!

As bumper stickers go, we tend to prefer “Black and white together” to “Black people can run the show,” although the latter sentiment is plainly accurate.

(For future use, we strongly prefer “Black and white optional.” We’d prefer a world where American kids get to decide if they want to be “black” or “white” at all—where their society doesn’t tell them that their so-called “race” automatically defines who they are.)

For the most part (though not entirely), so-called black people did run the morally and intellectually brilliant civil rights movement. (According to our culture’s norms, Rosa Parks was “black.”)

That said, Talese’s letter basically skips the central point of our current week-long dispute. How did his letter reach the top of the pile?

We can’t answer that question. But the cluelessness of our emerging liberal world has been on display in this week-long debate, and the fecklessness of the New York Times has been on display for some time.

The Times is off-point by paragraph 2! Alas! Our intellectual capital is low. This doesn’t bode well for the world.

117 comments:

  1. No disrespect intended, but Gal Talese must be really old now. And yes, the Times should have caught it. By the by, trying to cheat Johnson out of this deserved credit on civil rights is not exactly unheard of, particularly when you are talking about left progressives. When you consider the Nadir of said you can always turn to The Nation/LA Weekly/LA Times hack Marc Cooper, who hatred for Johnson is such he often times mangled the truth on these matters over the years.

    Meanwhile, in the world of things that might actually matter, Laura Logan completes the first phase of the embedded school of reporting with softball interviews for the new leaders of Afghanistan. Even with Logan's infamous record, nobody cares. No totals for the blood and treasure squandered on that self destructive mission are related. No stories of the trained fighters who, when handed guns, shot their trainers. Lot's of smokin' close of Laura though. Oh well, Bob doesn't do defense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Gay Talese is quite old. In fact he is almost exactly the same age as Joseph Califano, the LBJ cabinet officer, who fanned the controversy over the Selma depiction of his former boss by writing in a Washington Post op-ed piece, "In fact, Selma was LBJ's idea."

      Did you see Bob Somerby attack the Washington Post for printing Califano's piece of self serving fantasy?

      Heck, did you see Bob Somerby even mention that that piece of fantasy was in the New York Times article which Talese was responding to in which he took great lengths to portray Selma as the idea and work of MLK and other civil rights leaders? Didn't think so.

      Is that because Bob is lazy and slothful? We have no idea why Bob skipped somehting as important as that.

      Delete
    2. Somerby doesn't attack opinions -- he attacks bad reporting.

      Delete
    3. Somerby fans can't even distinguish between attacking reporting and spending a whole post concocting an indictment of people who adhere to a political point of view around the order in which letters to the editor are printed.

      Liberals are lazy, dumb and immoral. Howlerites are energetic, smart, and of pristine character.

      Shoot, I find more mental acuity in Louis Vitton handbags and they are not nearly as thin skinned.

      Delete
    4. If you are buying Louis Vitton bags you are getting ripped off.

      Delete
  2. Bob's coverage of letters to the editor and bumper stickers continues to excel. None better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our commenters should get together and come up with guidelines for Somerby as to what exactly he should be "covering" and what percentage of his blog should be devoted to each topic. Also, to clip "bumper stickers" out of context is cleverly misleading. Well done, whichever "anonymous" you might be.

      Delete
    2. "Our commenters should get together and come up with guidelines for Somerby as to what exactly he should be "covering" and what percentage of his blog should be devoted to each topic"

      Why not? Bob does this all the time. Or do you want to pretend that he hasn't reduced his once-promising life to a vanity blog dedicated to lecturing others what to cover and how to cover it?

      You think that might be a reason that the readership of this blog is down to a handful of critics and an even smaller band of unquestioning fans?


      Delete
    3. The first TDH troll sighting of the year!

      "Bob" used to have a promising life, but now it's reduced to a "vanity blog." No one reads him except for his "fans."

      Isn't your work here done?

      I sure hope so.

      Delete
    4. deadrat, don't you find kholmst was being unfair to someone who paid TDH a long overdue comment?

      After all, that compliment was the first one of the year too.

      Delete
    5. No one reads him except for his "fans."

      The next time you attempt to lie about what someone wrote, please remember that the comment is still exists and can be read by all. Then you won't look like such a blatant liar.

      I said that this blog's readership is down to "a handful of critics and an even smaller band of fans" which is quite different from "No one reads him except for his 'fans.'"

      It doesn't appear that even Kevin Drum is taking this blog seriously any more. He hasn't linked here in months, and those links were the last spikes in viewership this blog received,

      Now come on, deadrat. It's time for one of your famous temper tantrums, which goes something like, "Oh yeah? Oh yeah" Oh yeah? Well if this blog is so bad why are YOU still here? Gotcha didn't I? I'm so brilliant, cause my mommy says so! Waaaah, waaah WAAAAAH1 Mommy, mommy, mommy! The trolls are being such big meanies to Bob and me!"



      Delete
    6. Trolls come here explicitly to drive off readership, then complain because readership has supposedly declined.

      Delete
    7. I think the low class of trolls here is a result of the ease this place allows one to feel intellectually superior to the regulars.

      Now go away.

      Delete
    8. Trolls don't troll in order to feel intellectually superior. They do it to disrupt the activities of others because they think that is fun. They are sadistic people with the same personality traits as bullies. There is nothing superior about that.

      Delete
    9. @3:37 I think you may have missed some of the latest paradigm breaking research on trolls from the Gore Creative Institute of Internet Intiatives.

      Delete
    10. One must wonder how weak and lacking in dedication that one's readership must be to allow a few trolls to drive them away so easily and in such numbers.

      Delete
    11. DunderheadinCalistogaJanuary 8, 2015 at 7:08 PM

      "I sure hope so."

      Sheer sarcasm.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous @12:38P,

      The next time you attempt to take yourself so seriously, please remember to go fuck yourself instead of dashing off a comment. Maybe you won't look like such a douche bag. But then again, since your comments still exist and can be read by all, maybe not.

      With trolls (and douche bags) it's always about the projection. No, I haven't thrown any "temper tantrums." Those are all in your head. If you'd actually bothered to read my comments, instead of inserting your own readings between their lines, you'd know that I oppose the routine calls for Somerby to censor his commentariat to remove trolls. Yes, the conversation would be better without trolls, but then some people no doubt feel the same about me. And after all, anyone who doesn't like troll comments has the easy remedy of not reading and not responding to them.

      I have indeed asked repeatedly why trolls persist in making the kind of comments I ridiculed. People generally avoid boring, pointless, worthless experiences if they can. So it seems odd to me that trolls seek out just such an exercise. It's just idle curiosity on my part to ask. I never get much of an answer beyond, "It's none of your business." So be it.

      I am so brilliant, but alas, only by comparison with commenters like you. I don't need my "mommy" to tell me that. In any case she's been dead for fifteen years. But thanks for the childish taunt.

      Delete
  3. Maybe Talese's letter reached the top of the pile because he has more than a half finished book to his literary credits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're all really sorry that your daddy doesn't love you.

      Delete
    2. Right, Times readers will be flattered to see that they read the same paper as a famous writer. It doesn't matter what Talese had to say.

      Delete
    3. My daddy, @ 2:21, was killed before I was born. But thanks for demonstrating the moral squalor the blogger has been complaining about.

      Delete
    4. Are you sure he wasn't killed before you were conceived?

      Delete
    5. Juan Pistov BastardJanuary 8, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      I had not considered my concern over his lack of love for me is due to his possibly not being my father, and therefore a false concern I can now easily shed. You should have suggested that first and relieved me of this misdirected angst.

      Delete
    6. You should misdirect your angst somewhere else.

      Delete
    7. We're all really sorry you needed more than your usual three syllables. Feel free to take a nap now.

      Delete
  4. I don't think a religious leader who consistently cheated on his wife can be called a moral giant. I don't think someone who plagiarized van be called an intellectual giant. I do think MLK was a courageous and effective civil rights leader.

    This controversy embodies attitudes going back to the 60s about whether change can be accomplished without white allies. Both LBJs arm-twisting, JFKs death, and the riots were necessary supplements to MLKs nonviolent efforts. Disdaining them now that change has occurred is a major distortion of how the world works. It took a carrot, a stick, and people to wield them. LBJ and MLK and others all deserve to have their actual contribution memorialized. The film fails to do that. Alienating today's potential white allies strikes me as foolish given that more change remains to be accomplished.

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    Replies
    1. Which white allies are alienated by either the film or Talese?

      Delete
    2. Those who understand what LBJ did and dislike seeing him maligned unfairly. Who is going to put themselves out there on behalf of people who turn around and stab their allies in the back?

      Delete
    3. Look at the way African American politicos treated Bill and Hillary Clinton in 2008, speaking of backstabbing.

      Delete
    4. @8:47/8:52 you have to be one of the stupidest crackers on the planet.

      Delete
    5. "I don't think a religious leader who consistently cheated on his wife can be called a moral giant."

      That's a very American thing to say.

      Delete
    6. If you judge the man in the context of his own expressed views, the vows he himself took, he was a hypocrite. That other cultures and other places and times have viewed marriage differently is irrelevant. Morality begins with personal integrity, in my opinion.

      Delete
    7. @ 12:38 we all share your sorrow over a cheating spouse. Did you consider it might have been your performance in the sack rather than the moral shortcomings of your partner which forced the variance from monogamy?

      Delete
    8. I was never married to MLK.

      Delete
    9. Have you considered that might have been your momma on the tape?

      Delete
    10. That would mean your momma was my momma too and I know we aren't related.

      Delete
    11. Morality begins with personal integrity

      But it doesn't end there. On Bloody Sunday in Selma (March 7, 1965), Sheriff Jim Clark and Major John Cloud ordered a police riot against civil rights marchers. I wouldn't be surprised to find that both Clark and Cloud were faithful to their wives. The violence at the march sent dozens to the hospital. One died on March 11, two days after Judge Frank Johnson enjoined the marchers from demonstrating, the very day he presided at a hearing on the legality of prohibiting civil rights marches, and six days before he ruled that the demonstrators had a Constitutional right to march.

      I imagine those were long days in that March to keep one's dedication to non-violence. I think you may miss the right moral judgment when you stop at personal hypocrisy. I don't think it excuses marital infidelity to note that if we wait for saints to lead us, we'll wait forever.

      And thank God for Frank Johnson.

      Delete
    12. I have no problem with praising MLK's praiseworthy life. I object to calling him a moral giant, as Somerby did.

      Delete
    13. I object to calling him a moral giant

      To each his own judgment of moral stature. Compared to me and most people I know, he seems a moral giant. I don't know you, but if I did, I suppose that could diminish him.

      Delete
  5. Uh, Bob? LBJ absolutely played no leadership role in planning and executing the march from Montgomery to Selma.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He discussed the march with MLK by telephone to coordinate efforts of protesters with efforts to get legislation passed. This is substantiated by archival evidence.

      Delete
    2. Gack, you aren't just a piece of work, you are Bob's epitome of a modern liberal.

      "You didn't read O'Hehirs article..."

      Yes I did. The fact you state I hadn't when you have no way of knowing wheher I did or did not read it demonstrates the fatuous false notions floating about your noggin.

      You also have no way of knowing how directly Gay Talese would write about anything on earth.

      Finally you ask how I explain "Hayes behaivior" if there was no script.

      I have no idea what behavior Hayes engaged in or how it fits any script. But if you are suggesting that what Somerby describes about Chris Hayes came from Andrew O'Hehir, I will suggest you haven't read the article you accuse me of not reading. And I will state, not suggest, that Somerby is falsely stating what Ohehir says about Hayes. Here is the sum total of what O'Hehir says about Hayes behavior:

      "One insider reading of the backlash against “Selma” –put forward by Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Chris Bailey of Flavorwire, among others – is that it’s Hollywood business as usual, all part of the sharp elbows and backstage whispers of Oscar campaign season."

      And here is the critique Somerby describes as having a "high degree of perspicacity."

      "While I have no doubt that rival studios and their publicists have quietly nudged the “Selma” stories along when and where they could, that’s a remarkably small-minded and cynical interpretation..."

      Exactly what soul selling script do you find Hayes pushing?

      Look, since you accused me of not reading the Salon writer Bob is praising to prove what a slimy sell out Chris "The Puppy" Hayes is, allow me to accuse you of forgetting what Bob himself had to say about Andrew O'Hehir:

      "....liberal voters are now being conned each day at the slimy Salon.
      -----

      Race is the game our barkers play. Consider the latest hate-fueled philander from Salon crackpot Andrew O’Hehir." TDH 10/9/13

      Yesterday's crackpot is today's perspicacious critic in wonderful, wonderful Howlerland.

      Delete
    3. Well, my comment at 1:26 certainly ended up in the wrong place!

      Delete
  6. Next to Lincoln, LBJ probably did more to advance the cause of civil rights than any other President. But because he talked in a drawl and was from Texas, in the eyes "progressives" he will forever be a dumb racist redneck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you're speaking with too broad a brush concerning "progressives" and LBJ. Plenty do recognize his role regarding civil rights, it was his escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam that produces long standing rancor and will forever taint his Presidency.

      Delete
    2. Next to three other posts, this was Bob's best effort of the New Year.

      Delete
    3. @1:50 I don't think it was his escalation so much as his deception that made him despised. He was a complex figure with many progressive accomplishments. A simplistic view of his presidency that takes into account only the war is wrong. I think many people hold that kind of impression because they came of age during the draft and war protests and so that is all there is on their radar. Assessing his impact requires stepping outside of that narrow perspective. Many historians consider his presidency tragic rather than tainted. They think JFK would have escalated the war in the same way. Indeed, Obama has been unable to disentangle himself from his wars.

      Delete
    4. "A simplistic view of his presidency that takes into account only the war is wrong."

      Equally simplistic would be the view that Vietnam War was just some silly mistake of LBJ's that shouldn't taint his entire presidency.

      That's like your doctor telling you, "Except for that cancer rapidly spreading throughout your body, you're in great shape."

      Delete
  7. Bob,
    Former Governor McDonnell (R- Virginia) has been sentenced to prison after being found guilty of corruption.
    Oh my! Those lousy liberals.
    Rachel Maddow!
    Slate!
    Salon!
    Citizens of Virginia!
    The NYTimes?
    I remember your crusade & I am grateful. Goddamn liberals.
    Corruption is not a big deal. Especially if the corrupt are NOT liberals.

    Ciao Bella.

    LG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LG, Somerby has not mentioned Governor McDonnell's prison sentence. Is that because Maddow hasn't mentioned it? I don't know because
      I don't own a TV. Ot at least a color TV.

      Delete
    2. No doubt that Bob is too distraught over the sentencing of such a fine man for such petty crimes as soliciting and accepting bribes.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob's Captcha gets results!

      Delete
    2. Did Bob design it? What a multitalented guy!

      Delete
    3. Bob is as responsible for his comment box as the Times is for its letters to the editor, doncha Thynnk?

      Delete
    4. Only in the sense that both are "selected." The letters selected by the Times are a lot more central to their reason for being than the Captcha is to this blog. So, the analogy is specious. I wish this blog were moderated.

      Delete
    5. "I wish this blog were moderated."

      Yes. It is slothful, stupid, and of dubious morals that it is not. Not that that reflects on the proprietor. He has more improtant things to consider. Like the order of letters to the editor in the New York Times.

      And the chicken entrails which tell whether our disappointing culture can be saved from stupid, lazy, immoral people nobody ever heard of that have been appointed leaders by liberals.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  10. Only in the Daily Howler could such silliness fool readers.

    Of course a few probably followed the links and realized, given what was in the article in the Times which Bob left out, Talese's letter was quite on point. Then they realized three of three four letters, none of which Bob mentions, make quite different points than Talese.

    So either Bob's intellectual capital is nonexistent or he is a fraud.

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    1. Talese continues to emphasize MLK's image in the parts of his letter not quoted by Somerby. I think Somerby's characterization is correct and yours is wrong. The letter is not to the point. Who cares what the other letters said? You don't read well enough to be calling Somerby a fraud.

      I think Talese deliberately wrote his letter about MLK instead of LBJ because he wanted to oppose shifting the focus from a black man to a white man, even though that white man is being maligned in order to deny any white help in passage of major civil rights legislation. Party line discipline at its silliest.

      Delete
    2. Gack, what a piece of work you are.

      Talese, unlike Bob and I presume you, has both seen the film and read the NY Times article he addresses in his letter.

      LBJ is not a focal point in the film Selma. But the controversy in part generated by his former cabinet member, Joseph Califano, about how his former boss is depicted is the focal point in the Times article. And Califiano said "In fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea."

      Talese's effort in his letter to support the notion that Selma was the brainchild of civil right's national and local leaders is quite on point in refuting Califano as quoted in the Times article. Califano, in the NY Times article was downplaying King's role.

      "Who cares what the other letters said?" you ask. Well, when Bob Somerby writes "The letter’s off-point, but it voices a script. To some editor at the Times, this may have been enough to propel it to the top of the pile" he clearly wants to plant the idea that the Times is advancing this "script," If that were true, then there would be no need to run the three letters that countered the "script" that "may have been enough" to motivate the Times to run Talese's letter.

      Bob has gone from being a media critic to being a critic of letter writers and the order in which letters to the editor are run. What a nutburger.

      Let's be clear. Bob Somerby is the one who sees "scripts" running through every nook and cranny of our collapsing cultural house. That is his "script." He just printed a post attacking Salon for leaving out things said by Bill O'Reilly. Why weren't Bob's readers allowed to read things written in the other three letters? Could it be because that runs counter to Bob's script that the media is training dumb lazy liberals to hate? We don't know. It just "may be." It "seems" you could "infer" that from his pattern of writing of late.

      Delete
    3. You didn't read O'Hehir's article which deals with Califano and which Somerby said he agreed with. If Talese were saying what you read into his letter, he would have been more direct about it. How do you explain Hayes' behavior if there is no script?

      Delete
    4. Gack, you aren't just a piece of work, you are Bob's epitome of a modern liberal.

      "You didn't read O'Hehirs article..."

      Yes I did. The fact you state I hadn't when you have no way of knowing wheher I did or did not read it demonstrates the fatuous false notions floating about your noggin.

      You also have no way of knowing how directly Gay Talese would write about anything on earth.

      Finally you ask how I explain "Hayes behaivior" if there was no script.

      I have no idea what behavior Hayes engaged in or how it fits any script. But if you are suggesting that what Somerby describes about Chris Hayes came from Andrew O'Hehir, I will suggest you haven't read the article you accuse me of not reading. And I will state, not suggest, that Somerby is falsely stating what Ohehir says about Hayes. Here is the sum total of what O'Hehir says about Hayes behavior:

      "One insider reading of the backlash against “Selma” –put forward by Chris Hayes of MSNBC and Chris Bailey of Flavorwire, among others – is that it’s Hollywood business as usual, all part of the sharp elbows and backstage whispers of Oscar campaign season."

      And here is the critique Somerby describes as having a "high degree of perspicacity."

      "While I have no doubt that rival studios and their publicists have quietly nudged the “Selma” stories along when and where they could, that’s a remarkably small-minded and cynical interpretation..."

      Exactly what soul selling script do you find Hayes pushing?

      Look, since you accused me of not reading the Salon writer Bob is praising to prove what a slimy sell out Chris "The Puppy" Hayes is, allow me to accuse you of forgetting what Bob himself had to say about Andrew O'Hehir:

      "....liberal voters are now being conned each day at the slimy Salon.
      -----

      Race is the game our barkers play. Consider the latest hate-fueled philander from Salon crackpot Andrew O’Hehir." TDH 10/9/13

      Yesterday's crackpot is today's perspicacious critic in wonderful, wonderful Howlerland.



      Delete
    5. And no doubt, Bobfans were duly impressed when he dropped "perspicacity" into a post. Shows how intelligent he is, and how high-minded they are for reading such a gifted person.

      Delete
    6. Very shrewd and discerning @ 1:14.

      Tell us @ 1:08, is it the good, original KZ, or the second one who was not so good?

      Delete
    7. Schizophrenic is not good or bad, it just is.

      Delete
    8. How non judgemental of you. Quite liberal. In the old, pre-sloth, pre-immoral sense of the word.

      Of course it doesn't answser the question, but it certainly makes me feel good about you and that too is important. Nobody likes liberals any more and everyone should join you in making an extra effort to build bridges.

      Delete
  11. "Black people set the agenda for Selma! Inferentially, Johnson didn’t!"

    Here's a newsflash for Bob. Neither did King! The Dallas County Voters League had been attempting to register voters in the wake of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, eight years earlier.

    In the wake of the Freedom Rides, they appealed to both the SCLC and SNCC for help, and the ones to respond -- in 1963 -- were SNCC leaders and SNCC leaders who were incorporated into the leadership of the SCLC, but came to Selma without the formal approval of the SCLC executive committee -- namely, Bernard Lafayette, James Bevel, Diane Nash and John Lewis.

    SNCC and the DCVL -- of which the Rev. Chesnutt whom Talese mentions was a founder -- conducted several demonstrations. Most notable were attempts in 1963 to register 32 teachers who were summarily fired. Then they organized "Freedom Day" on Oct. 7, 1963, and lined up 300 African-American citizens of Dallas County on the steps of the courthouse to register to vote. That was supported in person by Dick Gregory and James Baldwin, but not King. Only a handful were allowed inside to fill out applications, and all their applications were rejected.

    The following summer, just days after LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Lewis led 50 citizens to the courthouse steps in Selma to register, and Sheriff Jim Clark summarily arrested them all. Then came a local judge's injunction forbidding groups of three or more from meeting to discuss civil rights -- in direct contradiction of First Amendment protections of speech and assembly.

    That finally got the attention of King and the SCLC, and King arrived on Jan. 2, 1965, to make his first, and famous, speech in Selma.

    Now I do not want to discount the role of both King and LBJ in getting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.

    But at the same time, I find the argument over how much credit the white guy should get to be rather silly, and exactly what Chesnutt, as quoted by Talese, feared would happen.

    I have not, of course, seen the movie "Selma," but I certainly hope it pays attention to the years of work done by the DLVC and SNCC before King arrived.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Summer B. ParafrasorJanuary 8, 2015 at 12:21 PM

      An interesting comment. Maybe accurate and even excellent. We have no way of knowing.

      That said, your comment basically skips the central point of our current week-long dispute. It is off point the moment the Dallas County Voter League is mentioned. Alas, nobody is disputing the role they played. I saw no mention of the DCVL in The Times article, Talese's letter, or The TDH post.

      Back in the day you may have been extremely sharp. But we like to infer really, really old people should be ignored. Young ones too.

      Delete
    2. Well, Summer, I think you can also blame Somerby for "skips the central point of our current week-long dispute" and the "interlude" to how accurately a movie portrays LBJ.

      And that, as another commenter pointed out much earlier, is based on one of four "letters to the editor" in the NYT, while ignoring the other three in Somerby's dash to the keyboard in yet another attempt to accuse the NYT of selling a "script."

      What I find very interesting is that all four letters are in response a page 1 story that sells exactly the same script Somerby is selling.

      So you got a page 1 story plus three letters to the editor all saying that LBJ's role was distorted.

      And what does Bob fix his self-righteous indignation upon?

      Delete
    3. Criticisms of Somerby that do not deal with the substance of his posts are off topic.

      Delete
    4. Yes @ 1:07. In which paragraph did @ 12:51 veer off? I've tried to discern that, but my script-o-meter is malfunctioning.

      Delete
    5. Posts of Bob that are not on topic are off topic, so anyone commenting on these posts are way off topic.

      Delete
  12. Say, is "Off-Topic" guy the same as "Go Away" guy?. Or could they be the same gal? We haven't seen Cecelia Mc in a while.

    In my view "Off-Topic" guy is a slimy troll while "Go Away" guy is a Somerby stalwart. Your view may differ.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Off-topic" guy seems to be making fun of "Go Away" guy. One of the two is clueless and there is a 50% chance both are KZ.

      Delete
    2. Read: http://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/trolls-just-want-to-have-fun.pdf

      Their research suggests that trolls are sadists who enjoy inflicting pain by hurting others. That is their only purpose in a comment section -- they have little to no interest in chatting or discussion or debate or self-expression. It is only about disrupting community and hurting people. Somerby is correct to avoid reading his comments because that way he cannot be hurt and deprives trolls of that enjoyment. If anyone else is allowing themselves to be hurt by troll behavior, they should rethink their reaction. Trolls are not saying anything true or important and if they hurt you, it is just a game to them, not personal.

      It would be nice if the trolls here would go somewhere else, but evidence suggests that the internet attracts people with these so-called dark personalities and may even make them worse. As other sites become moderated, they will go where they are still allowed. I think it is sad that they are deformed in their personality type but it is perhaps easier to tolerate troll behavior if you see it as a symptom of their underlying pathology that is being expressed in their behavior.

      Delete
    3. Way off topic.

      Delete
    4. Research shows trolls had mothers with big vocabularies and do well on tests requiring use of keyboards with rough thumbs.

      Delete
  13. Instead of arguing about which great man deserves how much credit, perhaps it would be more worthy to discuss the "Great Man Theory of Leadership" and the way it often distorts our view of history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Or perhaps that too is off-topic.

      Delete
    2. You cannot make a movie about trends in history or social forces affecting institutions. People are most interested in other people. So a movie about civil rights must focus on the people involved, because otherwise no one would watch it except historians and those who love documentaries. The debate going on now is not about history. It is about the movie and how the movie distorted history to enhance its impact on a certain audience.

      Delete
    3. On the contrary, there have been quite a number of successful and even great movies concerning historical events that have not taken up the notion that they were all the product of one man.

      The "Great Man" tactic is a very lazy way of telling a story.


      Delete
    4. The Great Man theory doesn't say that someone was ALL the product of one person, just that one person changed or strongly influenced the direction of history in some way.

      Delete
  14. Could it be Bob is rethinking his direction regarding that Times editorial on the Missouri school board? It is a tough call given the order of letters to the editor conundrum?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think is more likely that Bob hopped off his own train of thought and doesn't know what else to say about that hated editorial.

      Not that failing to have anything new to say after the first day ever stopped him from completing a week-long "series" before.

      Delete
    2. How many anons are there who seem to read the blog constantly, out of all the 1000's of other blogs, and apparently can't stand it, but keep reading it anyway? Are there 10? 5? 1? It's a free country, I'm not asking anybody to go away, though you are annoying and apparently kinda dumb, but I don't get why the above 2 anons (or is it 1?) would keep following this blog that they don't like.

      Delete
  15. This is from the PBS series Eyes on the Prize, in total the best television programming I've ever seen. This segment doesn't deal much with LBJ's role in the Selma march (he is presented positively for the most part) but more to do with the interaction and at times conflict within factions of the civil rights movement. Some incredible, enlightening footage
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7HnkIVyGD0

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, LBJ wouldn't have been important at all in the context of the Selma film if they hadn't decided to make him a bad guy in the film, portraying his real life actions as the opposite of what they actually were. The PBS series, perhaps because it was not fictional, showed respect for historical accuracy. The Selma film emphasized drama and manipulation of the audience.

      Delete
    2. Have you actually seen the film which won't hit wide release until tomorrow, or have you just read about it?

      Delete
    3. My guess is you have seen the film as many times as Somerby, @ 3:31.

      Delete
  16. Ava DuVernay: "I'm just gonna say that, you know, my voice, David's voice, the voices of all of the artists that gathered to do this, of Paramount Pictures, which allowed us to amplify this story to the world, is really focused on issues of justice and dignity. And for this to be reduced — reduced is really what all of this is — to one talking point of a small contingent of people who don't like one thing, is unfortunate, because this film is a celebration of people, a celebration of people who gathered to lift their voices — black, white, otherwise, all classes, nationalities, faiths — to do something amazing."

    "If there is anything that we should be talking about in terms of legacy, it is really the destruction of the legacy of the Voting Rights Act and the fact that that very act is no more in the way that it should be, protecting all voices to be able to heard and participate in the electoral process. That is at risk right now. There's been violence done to that act. We chronicle its creation in our film. And so I would just invite people to keep their eyes on the prize and really focus on the beautiful positives of the film."

    ReplyDelete
  17. I haven't seen this latest film, but as a rule when it comes to relatively recent history, documentaries seem to far outshine later dramatic interpretations. For example "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk" was superior to "Milk", and "The Quiz Show Scandal" was much better than "Quiz Show". I see 3:31's point, and wouldn't be the least bit surprised if making LBJ a villain wasn't intended to create a you-and-me-against-the-world (including the President of the United States) emotional connection with the audience for pure dramatic effect. Granted, just a guess.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps, then, we should reserve our judgment concerning how LBJ is portrayed until we see the film.

      Unless, of course, one is eager to buy into Califano's argument that Selma was all LBJ's idea. Which, according to my reading of history, is pure poppycock.


      Delete
    2. I will indeed reserve judgment. I just happen to have little faith when it comes to the veracity of big budget Hollywood filmmaking.

      Delete
    3. You know, "Milk" was one heck of a film, and Sean Penn was scary good, well deserving of the Oscar he won.

      "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk" was also an excellent documentary.

      I don't understand the point of needing to rate one above the other. Unless, of course, it is some sort of act of pseudo-intellectual masturbation to do so.

      Delete
    4. This film was made on a $20 million budget. Hardly "big budget" by today's Hollywood standards, particularly when you consider it was also a "period" film, needing to recreate 1965 in every detail.

      Delete
    5. LOL, No NEED to rate. "Milk" was an excellent vehicle for Sean Penn, the documentary did a far better job telling the story.

      Delete
    6. I think both films did an excellent job of telling the story.

      But if you need to show how smart you are by compulsively and publicly proclaiming you strong preference for documentaries, then be my guest.

      Bet you are ever so disappointed that there were no documentarians around for the Battle of Agincourt, and so many people have been duped by that cheap and horrible fictionalized account written by that money-grubbing Shakespeare guy.

      Delete
  18. Speaking of "blatant distortions," in addition to Califano;s "It was all LBJ's idea" we get in the same batch as Talese's letter, the author Bruce Watson proclaiming: "Within days after signing the Civil Rights Act in July 1964, Johnson began pressuring Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach to “write me the goddamn best, toughest voting rights act that you can devise.” Mr. Katzenbach got to work."

    "Began pressuring" is certainly a weasel word, and certainly indicates this was something Katzenbach was forced to do against his will.

    But the historical record, however, is clear. LBJ signed the bill in July. LBJ didn't tell Katzenbach to work on the Voting Rights Act bill until the following December, a month after LBJ was elected in a landslide, despite losing five "Deep South" states.

    Nice fable that Watson tries to sell, but if LBJ was aware that such strong legislation was needed to protect voting rights, why wasn't it included in the comprehensive Civil Rights Act of 1964? Why wait until after the election?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why? Perhaps political calculation. Johnson lost five deep south, rock solid Democrat states "for a generation" as he correctly predicted at the time, it was a matter of incremental timing and having the votes needed after the '64 national election landslide. It was politically risky but all told Johnson did the right thing concerning civil rights and deserves some credit.

      Delete
  19. Read:"recent history".

    Why so offended by a mere opinion? Are you a Hollywood fanboy?

    You offer up Penn's Oscar as proof of the film's greatness, Can there be any greater psuedo-intellectual masturbatory exercise than the self-congratulatory Oscars?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not offended. I am laughing at the silly notion that "documentaries" are more true to "recent history."

      And anyone who has said they have seen both "Milk" and "The Life and Times of Harvey Milk" would at least concede that Penn's performance was brilliant.

      But nope, let's stick our pseudo-intellectual nose in the air some more and put down all the Oscars. Show how smart we really are, doesn't it?

      People who want to pretend that "We the people are dumb" and they are so much smarter are the ideal readers of this blog. In fact, they are the target audience.

      Now, according to your rules, that is my "mere opinion," and you have no right to voice yours.

      Delete
  20. This is the precise weblog for anybody who needs to seek out out about this topic. You notice so much its almost arduous to argue with you. You positively put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for years. Nice stuff, simply nice!

    ReplyDelete
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