Professor Dyson attempts to sound off!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2016

We need some clarity over here:
For decades, we liberals have been poorly served by our comedians. Also by our professors!

Earlier this year, a University of Missouri professor made the most embarrassing statement yet. "I need some muscle over here," she embarrassingly said.

Conservatives hear about statements like that. So do unaligned voters. In the process, they come to believe that we liberals are full of crap.

That professor said a dumb thing, but we were sorry to learn that she lost her job. Everybody makes mistakes. That's even true of Professor Dyson and his admirers.

Thus Sunday, Professor Dyson sounded off in the Sunday New York Times. He was on the front page of the Sunday Review. His headline said this:

"What Donald Trump Doesn’t Know About Black People"

For ourselves, we don't know what Donald J. Trump doesn't know about black people. We do know that the professor's headline didn't quite match his essay, which struck us as typically bumptious and unhelpful.

The professor emitted plenty of heat, but may have been a bit short on the light. "I need some clarity over here," one of the analysts said!

In fairness, the professor started by banging on Trump, but then he made a turn. He began to bang on "liberals and the white left" while quoting just one such person:

He quoted only Bernie Sanders. We'd have to say he almost made it sound like Bernie's as bad as Trump.

Is Bernie Sanders as bad as Trump? One way to give that impression is by quoting the former out of context. Also, by dishing some very strong snark. This is the passage in question:
PROFESSOR DYSON (12/18/16): The road ahead is not easy, primarily because Mr. Trump’s ignorance about race, his critical lack of nuance and learning about it, exists among liberals and the white left, too.

From the start of his 2016 presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders was prickly about race, uncomfortable with an outspoken, demanding blackness, resistant to letting go of his preference for discussing class over race. He made efforts to improve the way he spoke about the realities of racial discrimination. But Mr. Sanders seemed to remain at heart a man of the people, especially if those people were the white working class.

Since the election, Mr. Sanders has sounded an increasingly familiar theme among liberals that they should “go beyond identity politics.”
He warned that “to think of diversity purely in racial and gender terms is not sufficient,” and that we need candidates “to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives.”

In a recent speech in California, Mr. Sanders said that it is “very easy for many Americans to say, I hate racism, I hate homophobia, I hate sexism,” but that “it is a little bit harder for people in the middle or upper middle class to say, maybe we do have to deal with the greed of Wall Street.”

This is a nifty bit of historical revisionism. For the longest time there was little consideration for diversity, even among liberal elites, much less the white middle and working classes. It seems more than a little reactionary to blame the loss of the election on a brand of identity politics that even liberals were slow to embrace.
"Especially if those people were the white working class?" Thus spake Snarkathustra!

Liberals need to tell our bumptious professors to stop shoveling pellets like that. White liberals need to come to terms with the fact that black professors can be just as full of hot air and bad judgment as their white counterparts have been.

The professor's typically bumptious work doesn't make much sense. Let's start with those last two paragraphs.

In that passage, the professor seems to say that Sanders was "blaming the loss of the election on a brand of identity politics." He seems to say that Sanders was making that claim in the statements he quoted.

Let's be clear. It's possible that "a brand of identity politics" did cost Clinton the election. It's virtually impossible to measure such things. It's possible that she would have won had she taken a different approach to something someone might want to describe that way.

That said, was Sanders making some such claim in those quoted statements? In the quoted statement about "identity politics," he was giving advice to a young woman who said she was thinking about running for office.

The professor quotes Sanders saying these things: “to think of diversity purely in racial and gender terms is not sufficient," because we need “to be fighters for the working class and stand up to the corporate powers who have so much power over our economic lives.” Why would a fiery black progressive want to argue with that? Is it OK to run on issues of gender and race while kissing the hems of Big Corporate Power?

How about what Sanders said in that "recent speech in California?" In that speech (click here), he seemed to be criticizing the values of upper-class Democratic leaders in Washington—people like Nancy Pelosi.

Why exactly would it be wrong to say that these people find it easy to reject racism, homophobia and sexism, but are less inclined “to deal with the greed of Wall Street?” The professor might not agree with that assessment. But why would it strike him, or anyone else, as an act of racial bad faith?

Once he's finished with all this crap, the professor moves in for the kill. This is the way he closes:
PROFESSOR DYSON: Now we hear again the cry that the neglected white working class is the future of American progressive politics. The tragedy is that much of the professed concern about the white working class is a cover for the interests of white elites who evoke working-class solidarity to combat racial, sexual and gender progress.

Identity has always been at the heart of American culture. We must confront a truth that we have assiduously avoided: The most protected, cherished and nurtured identity of all has been white identity. After all, the needs of the black and brown working classes, which are not exclusively urban, are, again, even in progressive quarters, all but forgotten.

Mr. Trump, and to a degree, the liberals and progressives who advocate a vision of America that spurns identity politics, make one thing clear: The real unifying force in American political life is whiteness, no matter its party, gender, region or, at times, even its class.
New York Times readers, please! Who exactly has said "that the neglected white working class is the future of American progressive politics?"

Professor Dyson names no names as he dispatches this straw man. What grade would a professor give a student who assembled a case this way?

Is it true that "much of the professed concern about the white working class" is a cover for white elites who want to combat racial, sexual and gender progress? If so, would that mean that progressives can't show concern for that same white working class?

Isn't the white working class getting ripped off by the same interests who rip off the black working class and overpay people like Dyson? Why shouldn't a progressive of whatever race be concerned about that?

Professor Dyson tends to be full of the sound and fury. As you can see in the comments to his cry, we white liberals can't seem to discern this fact.

We liberals have been badly served by our professors down through the years. Key learning:

Black professors can sometimes be unclear and unhelpful too.

Two comments to Dyson's piece: Below, you see a comment about the professor's essay from a reader in DC. Then, you see a fascinating rebuttal to that first comment:
COMMENTER FROM DC: Professor Dyson seems to have made the correct judgment that Donald Trump has little sympathy or understanding for the needs and aspirations of black Americans...At the same time, Professor Dyson is wrong to castigate the Democratic Party's renewed recognition of the needs of white, working class Americans. There is no conflict between Democratic support for racial minorities and working class whites. Progressive economic policies and progressive stances on civil rights are both positions that increase opportunity. The Democratic Party is at its strongest when it champions both broad economic opportunity and the rights of racial, religious and LGBTQ minorities.

COMMENTER FROM FLORIDA: The Party may try to champion both positions, but as long as working class white identity includes a belief in the inherent privilege of their color, making them easily manipulated by racist (however coded) bombast, why would they join forces with those who are "different" from them?

They see the world as a vertical hierarchy and they are fighting for their place in it, an unassailably reserved seat for whites only. Upward mobility is a zero-sum game—the less others have, the more they have. This is reinforced by their most powerful communities (churches) and, more recently, by their access to a post-truth world of fake news and emotional propaganda. As a result, it remains unlikely that they will be able to objectively identify the real source of their economic woes. That's why they elected a con man who's not going to do anything for them, who's part of their problems: he validated their feelings and their problematic worldview.

The Democratic party you envision might become possible simply through shifting demographics and an intense effort to get out the vote, but it will not be without its problems, either—such as the anti-LGBT sentiment among some of the other groups.

If we as a species can't adapt out of tribalism—useful at one time—we'll probably drive ourselves to extinction one way or another—fire or ice.
Gallant says Democrats can, and should, champion issues involving race and class.

Goofus takes a different tack. Right away, he issues sweeping generalizations about what Those People think, even about the way They all go to church. "Them" and "they" are his favorite words.

After issuing these denunciations, he says we need to stop being so tribal! In his familiar way of thinking, the propaganda-prone tribal types are all of course Them, Over There!

17 comments:

  1. Hello, I am Theresa Williams After being in relationship with Anderson for years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to my friend and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem. email: drogunduspellcaster@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or any other Case.

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  2. Have you ever dared wade into your own comments? I think you might find plenty of claims that support Dyson's hypothesis.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When Social Justice types talk about "diversity", what I hear is that they look upon Americans as members of some subgroup, and there is a hierarchy of such subgroups, based on victim status. I'm not sure who's at the top: high-ranking groups include blacks, transgendered, and Muslims. Down at the bottom are white males, especially if they're self-supporting.

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  4. What is never made explicit in these discussions is the role of unions. They have been the mainstay of Democratic politics, including GOTV efforts involving the working class in Northern cities. Unions have declined and with them, the influence in big city politics and to a lesser extent national politics. Bernie and Clinton vied for union endorsements but Trump ignored them.

    Why are unions important to questions about race? Unions historically opposed racial progress and worked hard to keep African Americans from entering the professions, apprenticeships and trades offering good pay in big cities. They similarly worked against entry for women into such jobs. There is little love lost between those white working class former and current union members and black workers, even though they share interests and should make common cause. Yes, there has been progress, but these animosities have occurred in the lifetimes of voters.

    Attributing white and black tension to simple racism overlooks the competition for jobs that has occurred historically and still exists. Bernie has been too firmly allied with working class and class-related language and concerns (which have excluded African Americans so long) to have been viable as a candidate to be embraced by African American voters, no matter how he reacted to BLM and similar demands. Clinton did a better job of speaking to both groups.

    When white working class people seem squeamish about racial issues, it is partly because there is a bitter struggle for inclusion in unionized white America. The attitudes linger even though unionization itself has declined.

    No one talks about this stuff. Bernie has to have been aware of it. I believe he made his choice in an explicit way that was obvious to black voters.

    David in CA doesn't know what he's talking about, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evidence for the hierarchy can be found in a controversial course planned for the University of Wisconsin ‘Problem of Whiteness’. But, a comparable course about higher ranking groups would be totally unacceptible. "Problem of Muslims"? "Problem of blacks"? "Problem of gays"? Nope. Never happen.

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    2. Getting past DinC's ridiculous "turnabout is fair play" stance that obviously does not work when talking about oppressor v. oppressed, I am curious about this "unions are racist" idea.

      I grew up in Detroit in the 60's and 70's, and the UAW was a strong, very black voice in the city at that time. What incidents are you discussing here? I personally saw many black families move into the middle class because of the power of union bargaining. This is a honest request for information.

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    3. I worked with the Chicago Urban league in the early 1970's and there were problems admitting African Americans and women to union apprenticeship programs. Prior to that time period, they were blocked entirely from union jobs.

      From: Organized Labor and Racial Wage Inequality in the United States,
      Jake Rosenfeld and Meredith Kleykamp, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4300995/

      "The decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century proved inauspicious for the emergence of a strong African-American presence within the labor movement. Early growth in U.S. unions coincided with violent attacks on African-American nonunion workers (Olzak 1989). White workers would constitute the vast majority of all unionists for generations, and many union leaders fought hard to keep it that way. As the nations’ trade unions fiercely policed their racial boundaries, they pressed the state for official recognition and protection as organizations granted the legal right to bargain with employers. These political efforts culminated with congressional passage of the National Labor Relations Act, commonly referred to by the name of its chief sponsor, Senator Robert F. Wagner. Passage of the legislation required the cooperation of powerful Southern congressmen, who insisted on provisions excluding agricultural and domestic workers from the law’s purview (Katznelson, Geiger, and Kryder 1993; Frymer 2008, pp. 28–29). The bill’s crafters designed these exemptions to keep the majority of the African-American workforce unorganized and exploited. In 1935, the historic year in which President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Wagner Act into law, less than 1% of all union members were black (Frymer 2008).

      This would change remarkably quickly. Less than 40 years later, no group would be more overrepresented in labor unions than African-Americans, at least in the private sector. African-American unionization rates would peak just as private-sector unionization rates began to plummet, suggesting that deunionization has contributed to racial inequality in recent decades."

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    4. Thank you. Although I think the second paragraph is important.

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    5. To compound matters, African American workers were often used as scabs and strikebreakers. African American troops were used against striking miners because it was believed they would be less likely to fraternize with the striking miners. The black troops guarded Pullman cars during the Pullman strike.

      Ignoring the long history of racial animosity within the labor movement and calling the remaining tensions "racism" as if it were a personality flaw and not a lingering historical and family reality is unfair to white working class members, union or not. If the aftermath of slavery lasts generations for black people, the aftermath of these historical divisions among black and white workers last too.

      See:

      "It Ain't Your Color, It's Your Scabbing": Literary Depictions of African American Strikebreakers by Mark Noon

      African American Review, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 429-439

      Published by: African American Review (St. Louis University)

      DOI: 10.2307/1512444

      Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1512444

      Delete
    6. Well taught, 12:30!

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  6. Unions have indeed been problematic in the past. Unfortunately, some New Left mags like Jacobin try to pretend this isn't true.

    That said, we can work for socio-economic class issues AND identity class issues AND try to reduce tribalism, all, all, all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My ex-boyfriend is back after a breakup, I’m extremely happy that we are living together again. I' m Mary from England, My boyfriend of 4yr broke up with me and am 30 weeks pregnant. I have cried my self to sleep most of the nights and don’t seem to concentrate during lectures sometimes I stay awake almost all night thinking about him and start to cry all over again.Because of this I end up not having energy for my next day’s classes ,my attendance has dropped and am always in uni and on time. Generally he is a very nice guy ,he ended it because he said we were arguing a lot and not getting along.He is right we’ve been arguing during the pregnancy a lot .After the break up I kept ringing him and telling him I will change.I am in love with this guy and he is the best guy I have ever been with.I’m still hurt and in disbelief when he said he didn’t have any romantic feelings towards me anymore that hurt me faster than a lethal syringe.He texts me now and then mainly to check up on how am doing with the pregnancy,he is supportive with it but it’s not fair on me, him texting me as I just want to grieve the pain and not have any stress due to the pregnancy.i was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a spell for me. 28 hours later, my bf came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my bf are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Unity. If you have any problem contact Dr.Unity now and i guarantee you that he will help you. Here’s his contact. Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,His website: http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .

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