Missionary watch: Those racist Trump voters have done it again!

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016

In which we assist Brother Drum:
Kevin Drum asks a fairly decent question today. It appears as the headline of an intriguing post:

"What's the Best Way to Talk About Racism?"

Eventually, Drum says he doesn't know how to talk about racism. Needless to say, the racism he has identified can be found Over There, among Those People, The Others.

Drum starts by offering a pair of short excerpts from two liberal writers. Then, he starts his rumination. Truer words were never spoken than the ones we highlight:
DRUM (5/3/16): Needless to say, there's no real disagreement here. Both writers are suggesting that Trump is winning because he appeals to a Republican Party base that thinks white people are getting screwed and doesn't much like all the non-white people they think are doing the screwing. So they're all pretty happy about Trump's wall and his proposed Muslim ban and his endless griping about "political correctness."

I think it's safe to say that nearly all liberals believe this. There's voluminous evidence beyond just these two charts, after all. But here's my question: what should we do about it? This has been bugging me for a while.
"There's no real disagreement here...I think it's safe to say that nearly all liberals believe this."

Truer words were never spoken! From there, Drum proceeds to the question which has confronted the missionary down through the annals of time:

God's chosen people that We are, how can We persuade Those People to be more like Us?
DRUM (continuing directly): If we attack it head on—"Republicans are racists!"—it accomplishes nothing. Or worse than nothing: it pisses off our targets so badly that they'll never hear another word we say. Besides, it's all but impossible to prove that racism is at the core of any particular belief, and doubly impossible to do so in the case of any particular person. It's also really easy to go overboard on charges of racism once you get started.

Alternatively, knowing that this is a political loser, we can skirt the direct charges of racism and focus instead on tangentially related topics. The upside is that we have at least a chance of winning over some voters who aren't too far gone. The downside, obviously, is that we're avoiding the elephant in the room. How do you fight racism if you're not willing to talk directly about it?

I don't have a good answer.
Accusing people of racism is the fastest way to shut down a conversation and ensure implacable opposition. Avoiding racism is the fastest way to make sure nothing serious ever gets done about it. So what's the right approach?
("It pisses off our targets." No really, that's what it says.)

"I don't have a good answer," Drum says. Luckily, we do! For starters, you might consider this:

As you can see, Drum's post tilts a bit toward the slightly ugly. As the missionary always does, he takes it upon himself to pass a sweeping judgment on the souls of tens of millions of people, some of whom he hasn't met or spoken to on the phone.

Needless to say, the judgment is highly negative; no exceptions are imagined. (Just like that, we get from Trump voters to all Republicans! No qualifiers are offered.) It then falls upon the Good People like Drum to find a way to address the sweeping evil which has been so skillfully diagnosed among our targets Over There.

(Does Drum really think this way? Or is he just showing us that he "knows his customers?" We have no idea.)

"What's the best way to talk about racism?" Drum says he doesn't know, and we agree with him on that point.

Luckily, we do. When you decide to talk about racism, you should do so with great care.

You shouldn't offer a sweeping indictment of tens of millions of people. You should allow for the possibility that somewhere, someone is almost as moral as you, even though they don't vote or answer survey questions the same way you do.

This brings us to Matt Yglesias' piece at Vox. Yglesias is one of the writers to whom Drum refers at the start of his post. His contribution to this discussion involves a question from a survey—a question he doesn't even transcribe accurately in his piece at Vox.

Let's ignore Yglesias' two mistakes as a copyist. In his piece, he cites a survey in which respondents were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following statement:

"Today discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities."

Among all respondents, 43 percent agreed with that statement. Fifty-five percent disagreed.

Among Republicans, 64 percent agreed. On this basis, Drum offers his immortal words: "Republicans are racists!"

You'll note those words came straight from his text, along with the exclamation point. We assume he's merely playing us rubes, but it's always possible he forged that claim in some sort of good faith.

Please note: Young Yglesias was so thrilled by his moral certainty that he couldn't even make himself report what respondents were asked. In his excited attempt at a report, he excitedly and mistakenly says that respondents were asked this:

"Is racism against white people a bigger problem than racism against racial minority groups?"

Racism is different from discrimination. Similarly, bigger is different from as big as. Whatever! Yglesias was so sure of his moral goodness that he didn't even bother transcribing what respondents were asked. (Needless to say, his errors make their answers seem ever weirder.)

That actual question they were asked is often asked in surveys. How should we talk about those damning responses, Father Drum piously asks.

"Very carefully," we would suggest.

For starters, we'd recommend this. Instead of telling respondents that they're racists, we might consider asking them something. We might consider asking them why they gave the answers they did.

Quite a few people agreed with the statement in question. Indeed, 28 percent of Democrats answered the question that way.

Why did they answer that question that way? What kind of discrimination did they have in mind? Being less pious than Drum, we'd be curious to hear what they said.

Drum has decided to save us some time. He simply decides that "Republicans are racist!" He doesn't even seem to restrict it to the 64 percent!

How should Kevin Drum talk about racism? Once we're assured that he's being sincere, we would suggest that he talk some lessons from history's most decent people. For today, we'll skip Dr. King's ruminations on the Montgomery city fathers. We'll go straight to Edie Dugan, speaking to Terry Malloy, not far from the waterfront in a very famous film.

In this, their first conversation, Terry and Edie remember their days at the local parochial school. “Boy, the way those sisters used to whack me, I don’t know what!” Terry says. “They thought they were going to beat an education into me, but I foxed them.”

“Maybe they just didn’t know how to handle you,” Edie says, launching an exchange for the ages:
EDIE: Maybe they just didn’t know how to handle you.

TERRY: How would you have done it?

EDIE: With a little more patience and kindness. That’s what makes people mean and difficult. People don’t care enough about them.

TERRY: [Long pause] Ohhhh— What, are you kidding me? Come on, I better get you home. There’s too many guys around here with only one thing on their mind.
According to Terry, everyone thought the very same way down on the waterfront too!

To Drum, we'll offer the following thought about his question:

How should we talk about racism? Try not to make your diagnosis before you've spoken to your millions of victims. Try a little more patience and kindness.

Also, climb down from that f*cking high horse. No one but tribals believes you.

How should we talk about racism? Like real human beings, we said.

27 comments:

  1. Speaking of Brother Drum -- lead pipes raised crime rates in the 1920s and 1930s.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/05/lead-water-pipes-1900-caused-higher-crime-rates-1920

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe lead pipes caused a higher crime rate, but that amount of correlation isn't conclusive. See a bunch of funny examples at http://tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations.

      Delete
    2. David in Cal: you're sick. Get help.

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  2. I think a bigger issue than figuring out how to talk about racism is what does racism mean, in the context it is being used by Drumm and so often these days. Who is a racist? How do you define who is and who isn't? I think the term is vague and is thrown around way too loosely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Q: Who is a racist?

      A: Any white person who thinks their own observations about the world holds any validity. Ex: white privilege theory, white people attempting to have an "honest conversation", white people attempting to maintain white society and civilization, etc, etc, etc. All racists blind to the world that only the protected classes of skin color can see the truth in.

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    2. One of the problems of even talking about racism, of course, is that there are so many white, self-proclaimed "liberals" who are in such denial that they pretend not even to know what racism is.

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  3. Amen. THE TERM IS THROWN AROUND WAY TOO LOOSELY.

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  4. You really want to know how to talk about racism? You talk about it. And you listen. Especially to people of color, without becoming defensive and dismissing their reality out of hand. "There they go! Throwing around the "R" word again!"

    And especially you ignore old white guys who scold you for doing it "wrong" with no real idea of how to do it "right", and especially those whose own ideas of dialogue is throwing out every vile insult they can think of, then lecturing others how awful they are for doing the same.

    And that goes double for old white guys who think racism was solved 50 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you expect from a guy defending Newtonian cosmology from that liberal Einstein r-bomb, relativity?

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    2. "old white guys who think racism was solved 50 years ago"

      Facts not in evidence. Really, really not.

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    3. New to the blog? Or do you just have a selective memory?

      Delete
  5. Matt Yglesias is not a liberal, never was a liberal, and never will be, but that fact doesn't fit with the "liberals' discourse stinks" narrative. Way to blog on how liberals conflate racism by conflating liberalism.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kevin Drum is a liberal though.

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  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    Replies
    1. Just found out Teddy threw in the towel? Understandable.

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  7. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. My thought is all human beings are to a varying degree racist. There is actually just the one race of humans though. Muslims are not a race, but they do follow a religion that creates a fair amount of disharmony, much like all the other religions, although their current extremists are violent on a larger scale. Latinos are not a race, but their excessive migration could cause a strain on the US economy.

    Offering patience and kindness to Trump supporters wouldn't hurt, but I don't think it would do much good either.

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    Replies
    1. "their excessive migration"

      Facts not in evidence, you racist fuckwad.

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    2. I would have said "their excessive rate of reproduction and migration".

      Delete
  9. I really liked this article and other articles you've authored.

    Would you be OK if I shared one of your articles with the WriterBeat.com community? I can provide more information about Writer Beat or answer any question, but better than anything I can say in words, please take a look at the site.

    If yes, just give me an "OK" and I'll handle the rest (there is no fee).

    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been told that Bob Somerby doesn't even read the comments. You can e-mail him at bobsomerby@hotmail.com

      Delete
  10. Once again, Bob has often legitimately pointed out instances of crying race in the liberal camp in lazy, foolish instances.

    He has also shown that when a genuine instance of it arises from a supposedly legitimate player on the right, he will treat it as something to be laughed off, no big deal.

    So he simply has no moral authority to speak to the issue.

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  11. I thought he was Uncle Drum.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "When you decide to talk about racism, you should do so with great care."

    If, like some, you claim to have never heard anyone use the n-word, you probably ought to leave the topic alone.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My life became devastated when my husband sent me packing, after 8 years that we have been together. I was lost and helpless after trying so many ways to make my husband take me back. One day at work, i was absent minded not knowing that my boss was calling me, so he sat and asked me what its was all about i told him and he smiled and said that it was not a problem. I never understand what he meant by it wasn't a problem getting my husband back, he said he used a spell to get his wife back when she left him for another man and now they are together till date and at first i was shocked hearing such thing from my boss. He gave me an email address of the great spell caster who helped him get his wife back, i never believed this would work but i had no choice that to get in contact with the spell caster which i did, and he requested for my information and that of my husband to enable him cast the spell and i sent him the details, but after two days, my mom called me that my husband came pleading that he wants me back, i never believed it because it was just like a dream and i had to rush down to my mothers place and to my greatest surprise, my husband was kneeling before me pleading for forgiveness that he wants me and the kid back home, then i gave Happy a call regarding sudden change of my husband and he made it clear to me that my husband will love me till the end of the world, that he will never leave my sight. Now me and my husband is back together again and has started doing pleasant things he hasn't done before, he makes me happy and do what he is suppose to do as a man without nagging. Please if you need help of any kind, kindly contact Happy for help and you can reach him via email: happylovespell2@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi everyone!
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    ReplyDelete
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