STARTING TOMORROW: Highly selective!

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2022

The journalism of race: In her column in yesterday's New York Times, Maureen Dowd was trying to help.

She cited three well-known Democratic strategists—David Axelrod, James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. 

Are Democrats facing disaster in November's congressional elections? According to Dowd, those strategists have been "speaking out with startling candor about the impending Repubocalypse." 

According to Dowd, disaster may be approaching—and many observers agree. Here's the start of what Dowd was told by Carville:

DOWD (2/20/22): Carville, still a Ragin’ Cajun, took time out from his Mardi Gras planning to reiterate points he has made in a Vox interview and elsewhere: Democrats should not be defined by their left wing or condone nutty slogans like “Defund the police.” They should work not to seem like an “urban, coastal, arrogant party” indulging in “faculty lounge politics” that appeal to reason rather than emotion and use “woke” words like “Latinx.”

“Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,” he said of the battle among Democrats that ended up with voters firing three far-left school board members who mandated a long break from in-person learning during the pandemic and who wanted to rechristen schools named after Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.

“They’re not popular,” Carville said of such far-lefties, adding in a line spoken directly to them: “People don’t like you.”

“Seventy percent of the people in San Francisco tried to warn us,” Carville said. 

In fact, most people in San Francisco didn't vote in that recent recall election. On the other hand, the three school board members who appeared on the ballot were all removed from office by votes of more than seventy percent! 

Should that recall election serve as a warning sign for Democrats? You can judge it as you wish. 

But why may such people—such "far-lefties"—perhaps be broadly unpopular? Consider the tweets of Alison Collins, who was removed from the board by a vote of 79 percent.

We don't recommend piling on people when they're down. But over the course of the past year, Collins came under special fire in San Francisco for a set of tweets she posted in December 2016, long before she was elected to the board.

The tweets, which resurfaced last March, were seen as being insulting to San Francisco's Asian-American citizens / neighbors / voters / colleagues / friends. Joe Eshenazi's account of the matter strikes us as admirably fair, but along the way, and with our apologies, Collins had tweeted this:

Many Asian Americans believe they benefit from the "model minority" BS. 

In fact, many Asian American teachers, students and parents actively promote these myths. They use white supremacist thinking to assimilate and "get ahead."

[...]

Where are the vocal Asians speaking up against Trump? Don't Asian Americans know they're on his list as well? 

Do they think they won't be deported? profiled? beaten? Being a house n****r  is still being a n****r. You're still considered "the help."

Oof! According to Collins' tweets, many Asian Americans had been engaged in "white supremacist thinking." And not only that! According to Collins, these San Franciscans had been behaving like a bunch of "house [N-words]."

Collins wasn't on the board when she authored those tweets. On the board, she played a role in various unpopular decisions and behaviors. 

Some of the oddest of these behaviors tend to get skipped in the recent news coverage. According to the leading authority on this topic, one such behavior was this:

During its meeting on February 9, 2021, the school board questioned whether a gay teacher, who was father of a biracial child, would add diversity to an all-female parental advisory committee of volunteers, on the ground that he was white and would temporarily tip the racial balance of the committee. Collins was "adamant" that he should not be appointed, although 5 of the 15 positions were vacant at the time, to which no one else had applied. The board discussed the issue for two hours, despite other pressing issues such as school reopening, before rejecting the candidate.

For two hours, the school board fiddled while Frisco burned! Collins had been "adamant!"

(Is that a fair account of what happened? We've been fact-checking other gong-shows all weekend. For KGO's account of this matter, you can just click here.)

Sometimes people make unfortunate statements. People may issue unfortunate tweets. 

At their best, Collins' tweets were unhelpful. Other actions by the school board were broadly unpopular—unpopular all the way down.

As Carville noted to Dowd, it doesn't help when our "far-lefties" send racialized insults into the world. That said, it may not help when our anti-lefties issue such comments as this: 

DOWD: Carville is also flummoxed that Republicans could defend the Jan. 6 madness as “legitimate political discourse.”

“Ninety-eight percent of people on the Mall on Jan. 6 were white,” he said. “We need better white people in the United States.”

Are Republicans really defending the January 6 madness as "legitimate political discourse?" In our view, this pleasing, tribally mandated claim is quite hard to defend.

Concerning Carville's fiery claim about the need for better white people, we'd tend to agree with this early comment to Dowd's column:

COMMENTER FROM UNDISCLOSED LOCATION:  About 70% of the country is white and about 70% of them didn't go to college. So, about half our voters are non-college whites.

It's a helluva political strategy to make half the country your enemy. Good luck with that.

We'd be inclined to agree with that assessment. We had a similar reaction to Carville's remark when we read Dowd's column.

According to one of our tribe's far-lefties, many Asian-Americans in San Francisco behave like a bunch of "house N-words." According to one of our tribe's anti-lefties, we need better white people in this country of ours.

According to experts, both remarks are part of what is known to future academics as "the racialization of everything." According to those disconsolate scholars, it's a cultural practice which is hard-wired into our brains, and is therefore "all too human."

Many observers have said that the school board recall vote—in San Francisco, no less!—should serve as a warning to our flailing tribe. Experts say there's little chance that any such warning will be widely heeded.

Our nation is sinking deeper and deeper into a deeply destructive tribal war. According to experts, our own tribe rarely helps itself with its treatment of racial topics and issues.

Such topics are everywhere at the present time. We have the San Francisco school board vote, and the lawsuit brought by Brian Flores.

We have Whoopi Goldberg's comments about the Holocaust, and her subsequent suspension from The View. We have the sentencing of Kim Potter, and the anger that sentencing caused.

We have Joe Biden's search for the next Supreme Court Justice; we also have the public reaction to the way he's conducting his search. We have ongoing issues of gerrymandering and the role sometimes played by race.

Parts of our tribe are baldly performative when it comes to matters of race. Parts of our tribe are angry.

Given the sweep of our history and the shape of our discourse, the anger is understandable. That said, resulting conduct may not be helpful, and reactions may not always be wise.

Meanwhile, the journalism of race continues to be little short of amazing. In almost any matter involving race, our tribe is now subjected to highly selective reporting—to reporting and punditry which seem to come to us Straight Outta Storyline.

Tomorrow, we'll start with the following question as we explore that journalism—the journalism of race:

What is happening in the schools Michele Tafoya's children attend?

That strikes us as an interesting question—until our tribe steps in.

Tomorrow: Last November, on The View, an imitation of life


27 comments:

  1. tldr.
    "According to Dowd, disaster may be approaching—and many observers agree."

    We certainly hope so, dear Bob, and we are cautiously optimistic.

    Dissolution of your liberal-hitlerian "tribe" is long due. Past due indeed.

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  2. https://thehill.com/homenews/media/594784-former-sports-sideline-reporter-michele-tafoya-on-crt-theory-debate-it-breaks

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  3. From everything I've read about the recall in San Francisco, the main issue was incompetence of the recalled board members. It is unclear to me why Somerby and people such as Carville wish to make this a Democratic flaw rather than a failure of the people involved.

    As Somerby notes, the Asian American voters in that district were the drivers of the recall effort but the other issues involved how the district handled covid, so this was not necessarily about Collins' racial remarks (which predated her time on the board). This has been true in other parts of the country, where CRT or some culture war issue gets attention but parents are largely upset about how their schools handled covid, and worried about their children falling behind and not learning during the pandemic.

    Somerby's own motives for writing about this become clear when he mentions Tafoya and her "why talk about race" misunderstandings. Somerby used to chastise Dowd on a regular basis, but now quotes her only when she says something he agrees with, such as that Democrats are crap and are going to lose because they cling to their support for civil rights. And there seem to be an endless supply of white female sports reporters willing to express Somerby's position that talking about race is what is making life hard for black people in America.

    I have been wondering, for a long time now, why James Carville continues to get so much attention as a pundit. Yes, he is colorful, but does he really have anything to say to Democrats? I don't think so, and that makes him a tool of conservatives when he sings their songs.

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  4. "Parts of our tribe are baldly performative when it comes to matters of race."

    According to Somerby, any and all talk about race is "baldly performative". There can be no principled support for anti-racism, in his eyes.

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  5. "Many observers have said that the school board recall vote—in San Francisco, no less!"

    No, this was not "in San Francisco". It was in one school district in San Francisco, with a heavily Asian American population that was upset about enactment of a lottery for admission to special programs there, not solely the inflammatory statements of one of the school board members. That hardly signals that Democratic voters as a whole are against "wokeness".

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  6. "COMMENTER FROM UNDISCLOSED LOCATION: About 70% of the country is white and about 70% of them didn't go to college. So, about half our voters are non-college whites."

    Somerby misses a statistical boggle in that sentence. The last sentence should say "half of our potential voters" not half of our actual voters. The commenter switches from talking about the demographics of the nation as a whole, to talking about the demographics of those who vote, a subset of the larger population.

    The characteristics of those who vote are different from those of the nation as a whole. For one thing, they are more likely to have gone to college (close to 70% of voters have some college) and less likely to be Hispanic or Asian.

    http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/demographics

    So, the proportion of those who are both white and college educated for the overall population is .7 x .3 whereas that for the voting population is .7 x .7. That means that about 21% of the overall population is college educated and white, whereas half of the voting population (49%) is both white and college educated.

    Somerby should have caught this mistake, but it isn't surprising that he didn't, since it works against his premise that those annoying elites are ruining chances for the Democratic party with their educated performative wokeness. Given that there are more blacks among voters and half have some college education, it seems just as likely that the elitist wokeness will appeal to actual voters, even if they irritate the larger public (which includes both voters and many more non-voters).

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  7. Somerby lists a bunch of what he considers to be racial issues. I personally wouldn't consider Whoopie Goldberg's statement about the Holocaust racial, nor the anger over the sentencing of Kim Potter (which hinges on whether you think she accidentally pulled her gun instead of her taser).

    But none of these racial issues will be solved if everyone stops talking about race. Just as in a marriage, the problems between a couple will not be solved if they are never talked about. And conflicts between nations cannot be solved without diplomacy, which means talking about them.

    We have a long history of one race exploiting another. There are sincere people who want this to stop. That won't happen without talking about it. This idea that talking about race makes those who are white feel uncomfortable, maybe even sad, seems to privilege the feelings of one racial group over the well-being of another. That is not the way to solve racial problems.

    Democrats have sacrificed votes to make racial progress before. I believe many of us would do it again.

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    Replies
    1. Okay let's debate this one issue. You are proposing that Whoopi Goldberg's statement about the Holocaust was not racial.

      Here are some quotes from statements made and other coverage of the matter:

      "Whoopi Goldberg suspended from ‘The View’ after claim Holocaust was ‘not about race’
      Comedian apologized for the comment, saying Jewish people ‘have always had my support’."

      "...comments that sparked widespread outrage from viewers and members of the Jewish community."

      "The entire ABC News organization stands in solidarity with our Jewish colleagues, friends, family and communities.”"

      "“Racism was central to Nazi ideology,” the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum tweeted Monday. “Jews were not defined by religion, but by race. Nazi racist beliefs fueled genocide and mass murder.”"

      "“The Jewish people around the world have always had my support and that will never waiver. I’m sorry for the hurt I have caused.”"

      Those sufficiently make my counter-argument. Your turn.

      Delete
    2. "You are proposing that Whoopi Goldberg's statement about the Holocaust was not racial."

      No, I am saying that Whoopi Goldberg didn't consider her own statement to be racial. Her misunderstanding was that she didn't understand how the Nazis thought about race. She didn't understand the idea of Aryan blood and superiority of those who were of Aryan descent. She didn't know that the Nazis evaluated who was Jewsish using hair color, eye color, skin color and physical features such as size of the nose, because these were considered to be markers of Jewish versus Aryan blood.

      If Whoopi Goldberg had ever visited the Holocaust Museum, she would know better because they have displays showing the instruments for measuring such things.

      Whoopi was talking about race in terms of her own racial struggle and considering anti-semitism to be different because today's white supremacists have been less overt in their consideration of physical traits. I believe they hold them, much as the German Nazis did, but they have leaders who are obviously not Aryan (as Hitler himself was not) and they downplay the specific racial aspects of their replacement theory, talking instead about Western European heritage.

      Her remark was ignorant, but I do not believe it was racist. She was NOT saying, for example, that Jews couldn't be victims of racism because they were white. That would be a racial and racist statement.

      Personally, I believe that every citizen should visit the Holocaust Museum in DC or their own city, if there is one there (there is one in Los Angeles, for example). But the same can be said for the various historical sites of racial importance to black people in this country, several of which are part of our national park system.

      It is part of being well educated. I doubt Somerby would agree with that.

      Delete
  8. It was ridiculous how Whoopie Goldberg was treated.

    Any discussion on this can be murky as heck, so of course, everyone became an expert and had to get on a high horse and start slinging polo mallets.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2019/12/19/is-judaism-an-ethnicity-race-nationality-trump-signs-an-order-provokes-an-identity-crisis/

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    Replies
    1. The article leads off by asking if Judaism is an ethnicity or race.

      So we seek to define our terms.

      "Race is understood by most people as a mixture of physical, behavioral and cultural attributes. Ethnicity recognizes differences between people mostly on the basis of language and shared culture." - Nina Jablonski, an anthropologist and palaeobiologist at The Pennsylvania State University

      Hmmm... both mention culture. Let's look for something better.

      The term ethnicities is more broadly defined as “large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.” - Erin Blakemore, National Geographic

      Looks like some overlap again. 3rd time lucky?

      "race describes physical traits, and ethnicity refers to cultural identification" - Amy Morin, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

      Simple. Too simple?

      Delete
    2. It’s not simple at all. The formulation that Jewishness is not JUST a race, makes it more complex, as you can see from the arguable dissent in the article from Trump’s language in the order.

      Discussion is good. Instead we wall it off depending upon what the bugaboo is on one particular day.

      Delete
    3. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

      Who cares? You can be whatever you want to be. Forget all this "race" and "ethnicity" bullshit; a man can be womyn nowadays, just on his say-so.

      Delete
    4. You can control people, property, and all types of resources under the aegis of one “protected species”.

      Delete
    5. You left out religion. With the addition of religion, this question regarding Judaism has been debated for literally centuries.

      It has been important to define Jews in order to discriminate against them. For example, decide who must live inside the ghetto, who is allowed to attend certain university programs or work in certain professions, who can own which kinds of property, who can marry whom.

      As long as our culture is not planning to impose such limitations on groups of people, it seems like a better idea to let groups define themselves and take each individual at their own word when they say they are Jewish or any other aspect of identity. For example, who is to say that Sammy David Jr. was not Jewish? You will make fewer cultural errors that way.

      Whoopi Goldberg got too far out over her skiis in terms of historical knowledge. I think her heart is probably in the right place -- or at least it would take a different kind of statement to show that it is not.

      Delete
    6. It's very well-documented Maddow and her partner ferment and drink lamb's blood on the regular yet MSDNC keeps putting her on the air! Not one peep from any of the trolls about it. Whoopi, a black, says one thing wrong and boy does she have hell to pay while Rachael, white as an Alaskan wedding cake, wearing underpants that cost more that an average machinists semi annual salary, just gets a free pass on all the animal torture and ritualistic slaughters and God knows what else. Fair? Not even close.

      Delete
    7. Slate is on the trail of Maddow’s Alaskan wedding cake baker.

      Delete
    8. Whoopi Goldberg is a dumb, fat, overpaid, has-been. With a drinking problem.

      Delete
    9. That’s the job description.

      Delete
    10. "while Rachael, white as an Alaskan wedding cake"

      We hear she's part Indian, according to what her grammie told her. The last of the Mohicans.

      Delete
    11. Mao,
      We'll know she's part black when Republicans suppress her voting rights

      Delete
    12. Meh. If she was part black Republicans would've eaten her liver.

      Delete
  9. One thing we know for sure. Maureen Dowd has been a disaster for years.

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  10. Any last shred of an idea that "democracy" in the US isn't a hoax was dispensed with when federal judges shut down Prop. 187 in California.

    In Western "democracies," you're free to vote for whatever you like, unless your "leaders" don't like that, in which case your vote is overturned, and you may or may not be branded "terrorists." The "independent media" lie is even more an obnoxious hoax that the democracy lie.

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    Replies
    1. Hey bigot. Being cruel to others is all you want from democracy? I think you need to see a therapist.

      Delete
    2. Meh. Everyone knows that democracy is a tool of WHITE SUPREMACY.

      Delete