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!
"Blow was discussing his new book, The Fire This Time: A Black Power Manifesto."ReplyDelete
Whoa, this Blow character sounds real hitlerian. This shit needs to be stopped; where's 'Antifa' when you need them?
We have to disagree about Mr Paul, though: by our light he is much better than all the rest of the American politicians. We realize that this is not saying much, but still: he's definitely the least worst.
Nevertheless, as always, we commend you for documenting the atrocities.
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"We were surprised by how nuanced and intelligent Blow was during that hour-long discussion. Why were we surprised by that?ReplyDelete
We were surprised by what we saw because we constantly read Blow's columns! "
Here is a perfect example of how Somerby protects himself and tries to have things both ways. If someone were to complain that Somerby dislikes Blow, you can point to the part where he says his discussion was intelligent and nuanced, and say no, Somerby likes Blow. However, he then goes on to the body of his "report" where he trashes Blow. That is his real message. That lonely first sentence is smokescreen.
Wondering whether he likes or dislikes Blow is completely boring, juvenile and uninteresting. Only an idiot simpleton would lodge a complaint on binary, 4th grade terms such as those. What he’s written about Blow is much more nuanced and interesting to boil down to ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ as you stupidly do here. Your premise is stupid.
I'm just saying if that truly interests you, you are a very boring, stupid and naive person.Delete
It is about Somerby's rhetorical devices, not who likes or dislikes Blow.Delete
You seem to have a limited vocabulary.
Limited, perhaps not.
If you think that, you don't read very well.Delete
"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."ReplyDelete
What was the point of exercising that peculiar bit of selectivity? We have no idea. "
Somerby claims to have no idea why Blow mentions these incidents, but the protection of white womanhood is a tenet of white supremacy, explicitly stated. The sexual threat to white women is the justification for violence against black men, both in general and historical terms and in these specific cases. The purity of the white race is maintained by policing women and punishing black men, who are hypersexualized in white supremacist mythology. Somerby should know this.
Instead, Somerby links these cases to women calling 911 on black people, to his perceived assault on the Karens of this world. These women do gain their power from the police abuses committed in their name, and from the assurance that their complaints will result in punishment of black men, in the name of protecting womanhood. To the extent that they are taken less seriously, we will have transcended white supremacist calls to action, but that day is not yet.
Blow's examples are not about Karens or trivialities. They are about lynchings and violence against black men, perpetrated in the name of white supremacy, and justified by the need to protect white womanhood from black pollution. Somerby needs to read one of David Neiwert's books, perhaps the one about Trump and White Supremacy: Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. It quotes from white supremacist documents and it will be easy to see why Blow is talking about this.
Karens are not the problem. Somerby's refusal to see Blow's larger point is the problem and it is racist.
Lisa from Tacoma is a conservative. Somerby needs to buy a clue.ReplyDelete
When deadrat was still here, he liked to call what Somerby was doing a “jeremiad”, when Somerby would excoriate and attack liberals as “lazy, dumb, exuding a moral squalor, performative elitists who don’t care about anything but stroking their own egos.”ReplyDelete
Charles Blow is also engaging in a jeremiad, a howl of anger and despair as he views the state of black people in America, where they still suffer from the brutal legacy of racism, both overtly, and structurally (poverty? crime? achievement gaps anyone?)
He might be able to find slavery and disenfranchisement in his own family tree.
His anger is not merely directed at conservatives; It is a mistake to assume that Blow is merely a shill for the liberal team.
For hundreds of years, blacks were forbidden, brutally, from expressing any anger or outrage at their treatment by white society. That began to change in the 60’s, with voices like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, who opposed the milder approach of MLK. Perhaps Blow is in their tradition.
He certainly got a rise out of Somerby.
“ For hundreds of years, blacks were forbidden, brutally, from expressing any anger or outrage at their treatment by white society. That began to change in the 60’s, with voices like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, who opposed the milder approach of MLK. Perhaps Blow is in their tradition.”Delete
Okay. What is perplexing to me is Blow’s argument as to why black people may still support Andrew Cuomo (if that’s the case).
In light of the sexual harassment accusations against Cuomo, it’s dismaying to learn that Blow wrote a piece about white women being a less sympathetic version of Mayella Ewell.
In light of the racial history that Blow describes, its dismaying that Blow would represent himself as being a sort of blood-brother-the-spirit with the powerful governor of NY, who is the the son of a powerful politician, a wealthy mother, and the former husband of a Kennedy.
We shall overcome!
Cuomo is in trouble for good reasons.
The absurdity of casting this in the angst of the civil rights past is excruciating.
He didn't say that black people support Cuomo as much as that they are not rushing to judgment.Delete
I think the black people who have publicly supported Cuomo are doing so for political reasons.
Regardless of how you or Somerby might feel about Blow's "casting" of these past events, it is his history to cast, not Somerby's and not yours.
Cuomo may be in trouble for good reasons, but that doesn't erase the good he may have done for the black community in New York.
Somerby is no more eager to believe accusations brought by women than Blow appears to be (or says the black community is). This is partly why women have such a difficult time getting their accusations taken seriously. There are generally political stalwarts willing to ignore wrongdoing whenever you accuse a powerful man of wrongdoing, even such obviously guilty people as Epstein and Weinstein. Somerby and Blow occupy the same side in this situation -- Somerby is unwilling to accept that any woman might be telling the truth, ever since that stripper falsely accused a bunch of basketball players (and probably before then too).
Men made the false accusations (using women as their excuse) in all but one of those listed cases (where Amy Cooper called the police herself and lied). But recall that the black community closed ranks around OJ too.
Cecelia, what you consider the civil rights past is the lived present for black people. I don't think you should be telling them what to remember and what to forget.
Anonymouse 6:26pm, everything you just said ought to make it all the more ludicrous and distasteful to you for Blow to have couched politically expedient support for Cuomo in the light of a shared sense of oppression.Delete
I was speaking about the motives of certain black politicians, not generalizing to how black people feel about accusations made by white women against black men. Cuomo isn't black and never has been. For all I know, Blow may be right about the tendency of black people to withhold judgment longer than white people.Delete
Nothing about Blow is distasteful to me. I can't say the same about you.
It’s good to know Anonymous 6:45pm, that in the midst of bemoaning the difficulty that women have with their claims of harassment being taken seriously, that It’s fine for Blow to suggest that black men are reticent to believe six women against a powerful white governor, because white supremacist vamps in high heels got black men lynched a half century ago.Delete
You are a stunted human being.Delete
I seem to recall the Republican Party's Id saying when you're a star they let you grab them by the...Delete
I remember when that was a bad thing.Delete
It is still a bad thing. Just because you elect a sociopath as president, doesn't change what is right and wrong.Delete
Obviously, it does. Look who is still governor of NY.Delete
Similarly, looking at the Republicans in the Senate says suppressing the votes of black people is still VERY popular.Delete
“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?"ReplyDelete
Do "they" all do that? Do "they" all know that that's precisely what "they" are doing?”
Somerby of course is implying that Blow is a racist. He could be. But he is clearly not talking about all white women. He centers the discussion specifically around white supremacy. He says:
“From the beginning, anti-black white terrorists used the defense of white women and white purity as a way to wrap violence in valor. Carnage became chivalry.
We often like to make white supremacy a testosterone-fueled masculine expression, but it is just as likely to wear heels as a hood.”
The dichotomy between mh and Anonymouse 6:26pm is glorious!Delete
The dichotomy between you and mh is even larger.Delete
You aren’t on this blog because you’re concerned about the dichotomies between political parties.Delete
You’re here to ruminate and deplore the dichotomy between you and someone who calls himself a liberal,
So you’ve said.
George Stinney Jr was not accused by Becky June or Mary Emma. Those girls were dead. Emmett Till wasn't accused by Carolyn Bryant. Her husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. used her as an excuse to attack Till. Trisha Meili didn't accuse the Central Park Five. She was in a coma. Amy Cooper did call the police on that black birdwatcher. He was neither arrested nor lynched nor assaulted in any way. In fact, his case was so unlike the others that it hardly belongs on this list, giving Somerby an excuse to criticize Blow's article on how white women are used to justify violence against black men.ReplyDelete
Excellent comment, Jake!Delete
Bob doesn't understand what racism is so he doesn't know how to comment on it properly.ReplyDelete
That’s it, Anonymouse 7:29pm. If he just said what you say.Delete
This blog gets so boring when it's just pretending to not know that racism is real. Might as well watch Rupert Murdoch.ReplyDelete
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