MONDAY, MARCH 22, 2021
The fruit of the slumbering Times: Roughly two months ago—it may have been on Saturday, January 30—we spent an hour watching Charles Blow on C-Span's After Words program.
Blow was discussing his new book, The Fire This Time: A Black Power Manifesto. His interlocutor was Robert Woodson, the conservative-leaning founder and president of The Woodson Center.
We were surprised by how nuanced and intelligent Blow was during that hour-long discussion. Why were we surprised by that?
We were surprised by what we saw because we constantly read Blow's columns! As a case in point, consider a puzzling passage in his new column today.
As he starts his column, Blow describes the support Andrew Cuomo has received, in the past week, from "some of his last and fiercest defenders: Black people." Blow specifically mentions Charles Rangel, "the former member of Congress who was himself found guilty of 11 ethics charges in 2010 by the House ethics committee,"
So far, so perfectly accurate. But then, Blow offers this peculiar passage:
BLOW (3/22/21): This scene was in no way surprising. Liberal politicians, specifically Democratic men, will often lean on the Black community’s reticence to hastily judge and condemn. This is a reticence born out of a history of being falsely accused and persecuted and of needing a second chance to bounce back from the injustice.
This point of view is informed by the whole of American history: enslavement, Jim Crow and mass incarceration. It is informed by the execution by electrocution of 14-year-old George Stinney Jr., the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, the railroading of the Central Park Five and the attempt to use the police to harass a Black birdwatcher in Central Park. Each of these events was inspired by the perceived victimizing of—or false allegations by—a white woman or girl.
Black people have been victimized, frequently in brutal ways, all through American history. For a reason he made no attempt to explain, Blow decided to list four specific incidents, each of which was "inspired by the perceived victimizing of—or false allegations by—a white woman or girl."
What was the point of exercising that peculiar bit of selectivity? We have no idea. Blow made no attempt to say, and it didn't occur to his slumbering editors that one particular demographic group was being singled out in a rather peculiar way.
Blow has walked this path before as his editors slumbered. These headlines sit atop one of his columns
How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror
There are too many noosed necks, charred bodies and drowned souls for them to deny knowing precisely what they are doing.
Do all "white women" use themselves as instruments of terror? Do all such people engage in such behaviors, then "deny knowing precisely what they are doing?"
Do "they" all do that? Do "they" all know that that's precisely what "they" are doing?
Those are the headlines which appear online. It's often said that Times columnists compose their own headlines, but we don't know if Blow wrote those headlines.
That said, those headlines perfectly capture the careless way Blow's column slimed "white women" in general. The text of the column is no more careful to avoid sweeping generalizations about this large demographic group than those unfortunate headlines are.
We liberals! As part of our current culture, we may tend to be careless in our group denigrations. Consider this recent column by the Washington Post's Monica Hesse.
In her column, Hesse decided it wasn't enough that white women are now denigrated, in sweeping ways, by the insulting terms "Karens" and "Beckys."
She says that we should also start referring to some white women as "Marjories!" In this way, we'll be expanding "our taxonomy of noxious white women," we're unwisely told.
(Would Hesse think it was a good idea to start making derogatory comments about undifferentiated groups of black men by using stereotypical "black" names? We will guess that even Hesse, and her slumbering editors at the Post, would see what a bad idea that would be. Not so much with the Beckys and the Karens!)
When we were mere freshmen in high school, we took our school's one journalism class. In the textbook for the class, we were taught to avoid certain types of logical errors. One such error was the so-called "glittering generality."
At that time, it was obvious what that warning meant. Quite correctly, it meant that people shouldn't make sweeping derogatory claims about so-called black people.
That was extremely good advice. It remains good advice today.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans are amazingly limited. That's even true here in Our Town, despite the way we liberals insist (and even seem to believe!) that we are the super-smart ones.
At any rate, there was Rand Paul last Friday night, guesting for Tucker Carlson. Senator Paul is in love with freedom, but his wisdom seems to end there:
PAUL (3/19/21): One thing about freedom is, freedom doesn't have to be practical or have a study to say why you should have to have freedom. They need to have a study and a scientific proof to show us why we shouldn't have freedom. I shouldn't have to prove that I want to be free, and I want to be left alone, and I want to breathe the air.
I was on the treadmill the other day, and some Karen goes and tells the people, "He's on a treadmill! He's running without a mask!"
I mean, for goodness sake, is this the world we're going to live in? Where everybody's reporting everyone and a Gestapo's going to come and arrest you because—like this poor woman? I mean, my goodness!
Poor Rand Paul! He'd been huffing and puffing on the treadmill without wearing a mask. Some white woman—one of these obnoxious "Karens"—turned the poor guy in!
It was like the Gestapo, this giant of articulation said.
Such is the fruit of the sweeping denigrations which have, in fact, originated in the streets of Our Town. This is where this stupid sh*t goes, once we give it its start.
We were surprised by how nuanced and intelligent Blow was on C-Span. Why were we surprised by that? Because we constantly read his columns, the fruit of the slumbering Times!
How we're seen by Others: How are we seen by Others when we make our sweeping claims?
Others see us as bad people! One commenter, Lisa from Tacoma, reacts to one part of Blow's new column with this:
COMMENTER FROM TACOMA: "America has taught Black people in this country to avoid snap judgments and rushed condemnation. "
Tell that to Darren Wilson, George Zimmerman, the men Tawana Brawley accused, the Duke lacrosse team, the Covington Catholic School teens, the Starbucks barista in Philadelphia who told a black man he had to order something in order to use the restroom, and every single white person accused of violence or racism towards a black person. When has any incident or accusation of white-on-black violence not led to immediate uproar and proclamations of guilt by black leaders? And don't forget these incidences are quickly labeled racial hate crimes even if they're no different than black on non-black violence that happens every day that doesn't get labeled racial in nature.
Lisa may be overstating a bit, or being selective, but she's making some valid points. Almost surely, Lisa is also a type of Karen, or she's something which comes very close!