STARTING TOMORROW: Identity Rules!

MONDAY, JULY 18, 2022

Roxane Gay's sacred text: Brittney Griner is an American professional basketball player.

For the past four months, Griner has been under arrest in Russia. (She plays in the Russian professional league during the WNBA's off-season.) She has pleaded guilty to the crime of (unwittingly) bringing a small amount of hashish oil, an illegal substance, into Mother Russia.

Griner faces possible years of detention in a Russian penal colony. Yesterday, in the Sunday New York Times, Roxane Gay wrote a guest essay about this matter. 

Gay feels that we the people are gripped by a lack of outrage about the treatment of Griner. She offers a familiar explanation for our lack of concern—for our nation's bad behavior.

Gay scolds "us" in a fully predictable way. In these latter days, our blue tribe tribunes perform this sort of task in their sleep.

Roxane Gay starts her essay by name-calling us the people. Challenging headline included, her essay started like this:

Brittney Griner Is Trapped and Alone. Where’s Your Outrage?

When unspeakable tragedies occur, people often call for unity. They’ll say, “We are Boston Strong” or “Je suis Charlie” or “We are [insert wherever or whomever the unthinkable has happened to].” It’s a laudable instinct to claim solidarity with those who have suffered, to imagine we truly understand the ways we are all connected, to proclaim that what affects one of us affects all of us.

With the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner wrongfully detained in Russia for more than four months because a small amount of hashish oil was allegedly found in her luggage, I’m wondering why we haven’t seen more of a groundswell of demands for her release. In the attention economy, Ms. Griner’s predicament seems as if it’s being somewhat ignored.

The media is, at least, covering the story, and some rights groups and athletes have spoken up, but that isn’t enough. More public pressure for action is necessary. “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?

Where's the outrage, Gay asks. And sure enough—by the end of paragraph 3, she has named an "unholy trifecta" as she pretends to explain why we don't seem to care. 

Viewed a slightly different was, Gay was citing a holy trinity—the  gods to whom our flailing blue tribe now stands in complete total thrall.

Why aren't we the people displaying more outrage about Griner's plight? Within our highly self-impressed tribe, only three possibilities exist:

It could be our misogyny which has caused this shortfall of outrage. Or it could be our racism—or  our homophobia could be the cause!

Lat's state this matter a simpler way. By rule of law—by sacred fiat—we the Amerikan people are all "the deplorables" now. 

This is a matter of sacred law. It's the way our failing tribe plays.

Brittney Griner is a woman; she's also black and gay. By the sacred writ which now controls the conduct of our failing tribe, those alleged facts explain the alleged lack of outrage concerning Griner's deeply substantial plight.

It has to be our misogyny and homophobia. It's our racism, ourselves! But then we get to paragraph 4, and Gay is allowed by the New York Times to cite an additional fact: 

GAY (continuing directly): Ms. Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges, but explained she did not intentionally break Russian law. Now she faces up to 10 years in a penal colony. She is trapped and alone, her plight unimaginable. There are, in fact, reportedly more than 60 Americans who are wrongfully detained abroad, all wondering when or if they will be saved. They have families who are working tirelessly for their return. They all deserve our compassion and attention.

Ms. Griner is receiving more attention than most, but that’s not saying much...

Our blue tribe is famously self-impressed. But as we bow to our tribe's current gods, we're also increasingly illogical—and the agents of our own defeat.

Uh-oh! As Gay notes in paragraph 4—as she understood all along—Griner isn't the only American "wrongfully detained abroad!" 

According to Gay, there are more than sixty other people in this unfortunate circumstance. And Griner's case is "receiving more attention"—in fact, it's receiving much more attention—than the other cases  involving those other unfortunate souls.

Griner's case is receiving attention; the other sixty are not. Why then did Gay assail our racism and our misogyny before she noted this point?

The answer to that is clear. By now, the Identity Gods are the only gods of our dumb, self-destructive tribe. Our tribe bows low to their jealous demands. People like Gay behave as adepts have always behaved, all through the annals of time.

The dicta of the Identify Gods have taken control of our tribe. This leads us to make illogical statements, to take counterproductive steps.

The ugly illogic of Gay's presentation is surely apparent to all. Indeed, it's so clear that you'd almost think that a New York Times editor would have been able to spot it.

If you thought that, you misunderstand the era to which we've all been condemned. In the hands of people like Gay, it has become an act of sacred law:

In every case, "we" must be assailed, right at the jump, for our misogyny / racism / homophobia.  After that, adepts like Gay may allow brief exposure to one or two actual facts.

Tomorrow: The unyielding soul of the adept


47 comments:


  1. Thanks for documenting this small portion of the recent liberal atrocities, dear Bob.

    Yes, your hate-mongering tribe really is repugnant, we must say. Extremely repugnant.

    Incidentally, in some places -- Singapore, for example -- that unfortunate person with ovaries would've been hanged, most likely. So, if xhe gets a 10 year prison term, xhe should consider xerself lucky, we suppose.
    ...or not? Tsk, year, it depends, we guess...

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  2. "By rule of law—by sacred fiat—we the Amerikan people are all "the deplorables" now. "

    Somerby says this because Gay asked a question: “We are B.G.” should be a viral rallying cry, but it isn’t—and why? Is it misogyny? Racism? Homophobia? The unholy trifecta?

    But instead of recognizing that she has asked a question, Somerby converts it to an accusation, pretending that Gay has called Americans racist, homophobic or misogynist. Then he condemns her for calling people "deplorable," a word that Gay did not use. Thus Somerby puts words into Gay's mouth. Gay is asking for greater public outcry, not berating the public for being racist or homophobic or misogynistic. And then he widens his false attribution to all of us -- accusing the blue tribe (which is NOT Somerby's tribe) of calling names. Because that's the way Somerby rolls.

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    1. It still doesn't explain why the Democratic Party is losing people of color in such vast numbers and the huge problems they are facing winning elections in the future though.

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    2. Right-wing voter suppression explains it, but it hurts the feelings of fascists.

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    3. Why would she ask a question like that?

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    4. Who says the Democratic party is losing people of color. In what election did that happen?

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    5. 2020 presidential. A crap load of others.

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    6. These one-liners are just Republican propaganda trying to peel off minority votes. Don't pay any attention. Dems are doing fine and the most important focus now is GOTV in midterms.

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    7. The Democratic party did lose people of color in the 2020 election though. But everything is fine. Let's just continue to get out the vote and to help people figure out if they are women or not.

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    8. Democrats are working hard to get out to vote, except to the hundreds of millions of people they consider to be racists. It must be so hard to differentiate it out there in the field.

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    9. Meh. No way Jose.
      Even Ketanji Brown Jackson -- the smartest liberal of all times -- can't figure it out.

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    10. Hispanics voted in the same percent for Joe Biden as they did for Al Gore 22 years ago.

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    11. https://jabberwocking.com/raw-data-hispanic-support-for-the-democratic-party/

      According to Kevin Drum, who analyzed Gallup results:

      "Overall, there's no indication that Democrats are shedding Hispanic voters. The annual trend is positive and in the last half of 2021 they bucked the national trend significantly."

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  3. "In every case, "we" must be assailed, right at the jump, for our misogyny / racism / homophobia. After that, adepts like Gay may allow brief exposure to one or two actual facts."

    Gay asked a question. She didn't call the public anything. Somerby sounds a tad defensive about being accused of being racist, homophobic, misogynist.

    Meanwhile, Republicans have been complaining because Griner is getting attention whereas various others held in Russia are not. Biden said he would try to obtain Griner's release. The families of others held in Russia are jealous of that pledge. Conservatives are using this as a stick to beat Biden with and Somerby falls right into line, promoting that talking point, as he did a week or so ago, under a different pretext.

    Somerby's hypersensitivity makes me wonder how he would feel if the accusation were true and there were actually racism or sexism or homophobia involved in a situation discussed by Gay. Would he still object to her calling people out on it? I think yes, since he has done so before. Somerby's actual objection is to anti-racism, anti-misogyny and anti-homophobia, the opposition to bigotry, and who opposes bigotry besides bigots?

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    1. If I call you a child molester, would you still object it turned out you were?

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    2. College educated whites on the other hand are supporting Democrats in huge numbers while losing the working class of all races.

      Which makes total sense since Democrats are the party of the working class.

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    3. College educated voters don’t work?
      Sounds like another bullshit meme to me.

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    4. Unfortunately the so-called working class is filled with cultural resentments. They don't care about policies that affect them.

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    5. "Sounds like another bullshit meme to me."

      Yes. It does.

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    6. Resentments, perhaps. Cultural ... perhaps not.

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    7. Detesting hate-mongering liberal imbeciles in service of global finance? Hmm. Perhaps it is cultural after all...

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    8. On the one hand Mao excoriates "liberal imbeciles" for being "in the service of global finance;" while on the other hand, according to their conservative adversaries, the fault of liberals is that they are socialist commies.

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    9. I'm really feeling at this point their record speaks for itself.

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    10. I doubt if anyone would try to argue that the Democratic Party is not completely controlled by banks and the military industrial complex

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    11. This is the kind of simplistic thinking that appeals to adolescents and Bernie bros. Do you think Stacey Abrams is controlled by banks and the military industrial complex. How about Gavin Newsom? Or Jared Polis? What action by any of these people would suggest such a thing? Or AOC for that matter?

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    12. Yes, all of those people you mentioned are controlled by banks without question. The problem with what you seem to be saying here is simply that banks and bankers are amongst the biggest donors to Democrats. And Democrats have allowed banks and bankers run roughshod over our lives with too much deceit and out and out thieving to begin to count. Like 2008 bailouts, no derivative deregulation etc etc. Some Democrats may get up in front of a microphone and talk a good game about banks and bankers but when you look at actual actions and results, banks and bankers seem to be pretty much the Democratic party's best friends.

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    13. And thus you declare yourself an idiot.

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    14. I’ve read the donor lists for various Democrats and they vary. Taking corporate money doesn’t make someone “controlled”. This is juvenile thinking.

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    15. It's palpable.

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    16. They do far more for bankers than they do for black women. Ask some poor black women if taking corporate money doesn’t make someone “controlled”.

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    17. Name one thing democrats did for bankers during this session of congress. Be specific.

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    18. They removed the bank reporting requirement from the $1.75 trillion economic and climate change plan in a major kiss ass to bankers. their controllers.

      Stop being fooled. They talk a good game but always side with bankers in the end.

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    19. Name one thing they did for labor. ;)

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    20. God, arguing Democrats are not controlled by banks is simply idiotic.

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    21. Ever notice these Democratic propaganda blogs like Lawyers Guns and Money never mention Democratic politician's love of bankers?

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  4. For myself, I consider Griner foolish for bringing such a product into Russia. She is now being tried and will ultimately be sentence, most likely to a fine and deportation, like Walker, the British explorer accused of spying. Griner is a hostage to Russia's ambitions in the Ukraine, since she was arrested when the war started and she has a much higher profile than other Americans detained. The more interest America shows in her fate, the more likely she will be a bargaining chip for Russia. Gay should understand that, but perhaps no one wants to say so.

    But it is also useful for Americans to understand that if they commit crimes in other countries, they are accountable for them under the laws of the places they are visiting. There is not much the American government can do about that and tourists do not have any "get out of jail free" card, simply because they are American. If Griner had done nothing, organizations like Amnesty International might be helpful and a public uproar might keep Russia honest, but she did commit the crime for which she is accused. That is an unforeseen consequence of America legalizing products that remain illegal elsewhere.

    But Gay is trying to help Griner, and that is a good thing. Somerby, not so much.

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  5. She would have been released the next day if Trump were president.

    That said, being an anthem-kneeler she's probably just as happy where she is. As Lebron asked, why would she even want to come back?

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    1. There is no place for the National Anthem at sporting events.
      Save it for baby showers and funerals, where it belongs.

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    2. And what favors would Trump do for Putin in return? Turn a blnd eye to invasion of Ukraine? Block NATO expansion or pull USA out of NATO, as he tried to do before? At a minimum.

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    3. Why didn’t Trump get those 60 other people released when he had the chance?

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  6. In a recent Gallup poll, 71% of Americans say they support gay marriage.

    Perhaps Gay is wrong.

    Somerby blames her for engaging in “identity politics”, and yet Griner faces coming back to a country where the Republican Party would like to overturn Obergefell; perhaps they would even like to prosecute homosexual acts again.

    A country where a “Christian” pastor said this: ‘Pastor Dillon Awes of Stedfast Baptist Church in Watauga, a suburb of Fort Worth, said gay people should be "lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head."’

    And that, sadly, is a belief shared by a not insignificant number of GOP voters.

    So, who exactly is engaging in identity politics here? Who is standing up for human rights, and who isn’t?

    Of those 71%, how many are willing to fight for their beliefs? Somerby doesn’t seem to be among that number…

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    1. You'd be surprised how many non-Christians and gays also oppose gay marriage. The smarter ones.

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    2. Not enough to change the vote in any meaningful way.

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  7. "Just asked a question" - really? I think we are all pretty used to how "just asking the question" works on Fox News or how Josh Hawley conducts himself at a hearing.

    Gay acknowledges the existence of an "attention economy," but then ignores the most obvious implication. Attention is scarce and competed for; people have their own problems, needs, and interests. Much as B.G. and others detained in Russia need our attention, their plight doesn't impact many people's lives. One could easily surmise any number of far more likely trifectas of obstacles preventing "more of a groundswell." And that would be true even acknowledging the widespread menaces of misogyny, racism, and homophobia.

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  8. Axios had something last week about what they called a "seismic shift" in American politics. Huge amounts of non-white voters saying 'adios' to the Democratic party as Republican build a "multiracial coalition of working-class voters".

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    1. He knows a lot about urban planning and transportation and a lot less about voter demographics. Wait and see what happens in the midterms before believing Republican hype or Atrios.

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    2. How do you pronounce that?

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