MANIFESTATIONS: Disparagingcommentgate rocks the world!


But who was being disparaged?: According to a front-page report in the New York Times, Stacie Marshall is trying to determine what she should do with her 300-acre farm.

The farm is located in Gore, Georgia, a tiny unincorporated community in the northwest part of the state. Marshall is trying to determine what she can do with the farm to serve the interests of justice. 

A person could say that she's overthinking the situation a bit, perhaps with the help of the Times. That said, we can think of much worse manifestations than that. 

The farm, you see, is a family farm, and it was once worked by people who were enslaved.  Marshall has apparently known this fact since she was a child. 

Today, though, she's 41, and Marshall's father is passing the farm down to her. She's trying to determine what she can do to serve basic issues of justice. 

Her search produced one of the the least likely passages in the Times' front-page report. As the lengthy profile begins, Marshall is describing her situation to a group of farmers at a seminar in 2019. After the seminar ends, some farmers offer ideas:

SEVERSON (7/5/21): Hers is the national soul-searching writ small: Should the descendants of people who kept others enslaved be held responsible for that wrong? What can they do to make things right? And what will it cost?

After the seminar, the farmers offered some ideas: She could set up an internship for young Black farmers, letting them work her land and keep the profit. Maybe her Black neighbors wanted preservation work done on their church cemetery.

Or maybe—and this is where the discussion gets complicated—she should give some land or money from the sale of it to descendants of the Black people who had helped her family build wealth, either as enslaved people in the 1800s or, later, as sharecroppers who lived in two small shacks on her land.

“She is deep in Confederate country trying to do this work,” [organic farmer Matthew] Raiford said when he went to visit her farm this spring. If she can figure it out, he said, Chattooga County could be a template for small communities all over the South.

Of one thing we can feel reasonably certain. Whatever Marshall decides to do, it almost surely won't turn her county into "a template for small communities all over the South."

Almost surely, other people won't rush to follow her lead. Almost surely, very few people will ever hear about her decisions. 

According to the passage posted above, Marshall is trying to decide what to do with the "wealth" her family has built—with the wealth she will now be inheriting. One weakness in the Times report is this:

It isn't clear how much actual wealth is involved in this detailed drama. It isn't clear if there's any significant "wealth" involved here at all. 

Marshall's farm covers 300 acres, but the Times report doesn't explain if that's a lot or a little. It doesn't say if the farm yields any real income. As we noted yesterday, the Times report does say this:

SEVERSON: The rolling farmland in this northwest corner of Georgia has never lent itself to the plantation agriculture that once dominated other parts of the South. Today, about 300 small farms raise cattle and broiler chickens, and grow soybeans and hay.

Few make much money. The poverty rate has edged close to double the nation’s. Ms. Marshall, who is on the board of the local homeless shelter, sees people in need all around her. “It’s really hard for people in Chattooga County to understand white privilege because they’re like, ‘We’re barely getting by,’” she said.

Over the years, her father and grandfather drove trucks or took shifts at the cotton mill to keep the farm running. At 68, her father, Steve Scoggins, still works 3 p.m. to midnight as a hospital maintenance man.

Does Marshall's 300-acre farm produce any income at all? If so, how much? The Times report doesn't say. 

At one point, the report refers to the farm's "fading commercial cattle operation and its overgrown fields." As of that seminar in 2019, Marshall was hoping to "sell enough grass-fed beef and handmade products like goat’s milk soap to help support her husband and their three daughters."

She hoped to make enough money from the farm to help support her family! Meanwhile, how many acres is 300 acres? We're not sure, but we were intrigued, and provisionally pleased, by this part of the report:

SEVERSON: For decades, [Melvin Mosley] taught in public schools and prisons. At 67, he is a preacher, and lives with his wife, Betty, on 50 acres near Ms. Marshall’s farm.

On a summer day in 2019, Ms. Marshall sat in their yard and told them she wanted to start sharing the whole, hard story of [her family's farm], and make some kind of amends. She asked if she was on the right path.

Mr. Mosley always considered her a bright girl who should go to college—as he told her after sending her to detention for kissing a boy in the school mechanic shop. His advice now was simple.

“Let’s say that’s the water under the bridge,” he said. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” All she needed to do was to pour as much love on their valley as she could.

The Mosleys live near Marshall's farm on their own 50 acres. When he was a high school teacher, Melvin Mosley once disciplined Marshall for an act of unauthorized kissing. 

According to the Times report, Mosley is also the lifelong best friend of Marshall's father. Today, Mosley is someone Stacie Marshall still turns to for advice.

That said, the Mosleys live on their own 50 acres—and the Mosleys are black! When he was a kid, Melvin Mosley lived in one of the "shacks" on Marshall's family farm. Today, he owns 50 acres himself, and he's the best friend of Marshall's father.

So is 300 acres in Gore, Ga. a lot of land or a little? To our ear, that fifty acres sounds like a lot! How much wealth can be derived from 300 acres in Marshall's part of this very large world?

For our money, passages like the one we've just posted formed the most interesting parts of this lengthy profile. We'll also throw this passage in:

SEVERSON: [Marshall's] father, who lives down the road, is as proud of his farm daughter as a man could be. He unabashedly supports her work against racism, but at the Dirt Town Deli, he sometimes stays quiet when an offensive comment passes among his friends. All in all, he’d rather discuss his tractor collection and the fried-egg sandwiches his daughter makes him every morning for breakfast.

He also supports Mr. Trump, and doesn’t understand why in the world she started voting for Democrats.

In some ways, Ms. Marshall doesn’t either.

Marshall's father is a Trump supporter. He doesn't understand why his daughter votes for Democrats.

Also, he supports his daughter's antiracism work, and his lifelong best friend—his best friend from childhood—is black.

It seemed to us that an interesting story might be floating around in there, a story of possible complexity and possible human progress. For better or worse, this story was disregarded as the Times chose to take the road more traveled by.

We were handed a convoluted story in which a principled woman of undisclosed "wealth" was trying to decide what to do with her wealth. We were told that her decision might light the way to all places in the Deep South.

It sounded to us like Marshall's slice of northwest Georgia might already be on the road away from perdition! At the Times, these minor points were offered only as passing ironies as Marshall looked for ways to "chip away at racism in the Deep South."

The Times was handing subscribers a somewhat exotic travelogue to the land of God's Little Acre. How will these Dirt Town people settle their deeply horrible past? We Yankees, in our northern redoubts, were invited to wonder and ask.

Perhaps we shouldn't have had this slightly jaundiced reaction to this lengthy profile. But even as we read this essay, another lengthy report, on page one of the Sports Monday section, was creating much more interest than this trip to the South ever will.

This second Monday morning report took us inside the world of ESPN. It took us to a land of massively privileged, cable TV celebrity multimillionaires. 

You can read that second report right here; in certain basic ways, we think it's very poor work. Even as the New York Times was helping us see Dirt Town Valley in action, we found ourselves wondering when the Times is planning to heal itself.

Is it possible that the rubes in Dogpatch have come a bit further than the swells in Gotham have? We've even found ourselves wondering that as we've pondered Monday's second report—this second manifestation of Our Town's newly-discovered, ubiquitous interest in vast racial justice.

For our money, the gigantic Sports Monday report involved some dispiriting journalism. In some ways, today's follow-up report is worse.

Inevitably, that second lengthy Monday report has churned all sorts of division and turmoil. In these ways, we continue to pay the price for the conduct of our nation's benighted ancestors.

In our judgment, it would still too depressing to write about Monday's second report. For today, we'll merely offer the obvious name for the alleged "scandal" to which the report refers:

We'll call it Disparagingcommentgate. The possibly slightly slippery Kevin Draper was nominally in charge.

How disparaging were the comments at the heart of Disparagingcommentgate? Plainly, ESPN was being disparaged, possibly for good reason. (Or not!) 

That said, was anyone else being disparaged as this exciting new "scandal" exploded? If Our Town is willing to be sane just for once, was anyone else being disparaged in this latest manifestation of Our Town's vast love for vast racial justice?

Was anyone else being disparaged in the relevant comments at all?

Tomorrow: "A Disparaging Video Prompts Explosive Fallout"


  1. "He also supports Mr. Trump, and doesn’t understand why in the world she started voting for Democrats."

    Tsk. It sounds, dear Bob, like the old man is a typical working stiff, y'know, being farmer 'n all, while the daughter, judging by what she does now, hasn't done a single day of honest work in her whole life.

    And if so, everything is perfectly logical.

  2. ...but enough of Ms Marshall, dear Bob. It's pretty obvious what she is. There are many, many liberal zombies.

    We would like to know your highly reputed opinion on French food being a tool of WHITE SUPREMACY.

    Please enlighten, dear Bob. And what about kosher food; any opinion on that? Thanks in advance.

  3. "a land of massively privileged, cable TV celebrity multimillionaires..."

    Which turns out to have also been a land where Blacks were enslaved.

    "For much of the eighteenth century, New York City was second only to Charlestown, South Carolina, in its proportion of slaves in an urban population. It was a fact about New York that nearly always elicited comment from European visitors. "It rather hurts a European eye to see so many negro slaves upon the streets," one Scottish traveler complained."from 'Slavery in New York.'

    Yes, Hamptons-based-Timespersons need to hand over their mansions to Blacks, pronto.

    1. The Hamptons are not New York City. They would have been rural during the time when slavery was permitted.

      No one has said that Marshall should hand over her farm to black people. Your idea that reparations demand that seems like fear-mongering. Next you'll be accusing liberals of wanting to *replace* hard-working white people with blacks. Go ahead, use the word. We all know where you're coming from with this.

    2. In 1664, the English took over New Amsterdam and the colony. They continued to import slaves to support the work needed. Enslaved Africans performed a wide variety of skilled and unskilled jobs, mostly in the burgeoning port city and surrounding agricultural areas. In 1703, more than 42% of New York City's households held slaves, a percentage higher than in the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, and second only to Charleston in the South.[2]

    3. "surrounding agricultural areas" means the Hamptons.

    4. The Hamptons are still not New York City, even if you found a sentence that mentions both of them. There would not be more slaves in the Hamptons than other places because (1) it was agricultural, and (2) the Hamptons aren't big enough given their rural nature.

  4. "Marshall's farm covers 300 acres, but the Times report doesn't explain if that's a lot or a little. It doesn't say if the farm yields any real income."

    According to USDA, a farm is considered small when it consists of 179 acres or less or earns $50,000 or less in gross income (not net). At 300 acres, Marshall's farm is not small. A hobby farm is 5-10 acres. Marshall's farm is a real farm.

  5. All wealthy people need to decide what to do with their wealth, whether it is derived from a family farm or from tenement apartments, as Trump's is. When that wealth is part of an inheritance, the question of what to do with it is more pressing, because one's own efforts did not contribute to its acquisition, the way growing a business from scratch would have done.

    Trump never came to terms with his father's tax avoidance schemes and his slumlord practices. Trump learned corrupt practices from his father and continued them during his lifetime, compounding the crimes. He is a prime example of what happens when there is no soul-searching, when an inheritor doesn't question how the money was acquired.

    Others donate to charity, universities, museums, fund community projects, invest in worthy endeavors. They use their wealth for good. Not Trump. Perhaps that's why Somerby uses a slightly mocking tone to question Marshall's attempts to decide what to do with her own legacy. Trump's wealth was built by squeezing poor and black tenants. It would never occur to Trump to change those practices -- cruelty is inherent in every act he commits. Marshall learned good from her father, understands the wrongs committed by previous generations and wants to do better. Somerby mocks both Marshall and the newspaper for printing her story. Somehow it bothers Somerby when someone wants to engage in acts that benefit others.

    Most wealthy people donate a great deal of their money, if only for tax purposes. Most consider carefully how to do that according to their values and beliefs about how the money can be best used. More wealthy people should do more with their money. But Somerby somehow thinks this woman's careful thinking is "performative" or odd or he suggests that she doesn't actually have anything to give.

    Somerby is showing his Grinch colors again today. Somerby implies that Mosely too is wealthy (with his 50 acres of land), but Mosely worked as a high school teacher to earn his living. Even so, Mosely, who started out in a shack on Marshall's farm, does not own 300 acres. Beside the Marshall's his share of land is much smaller. Somerby's attempt to portray black people as well enough off to allow Marshall to enjoy her farm without guilt backfires. There is no way to look at this except to say that side-by-side comparisons of the relative wealth of Marshall and Mosely suggest that the white farmers are more well off than the black teacher who started in a shack. Is Somerby really implying that black people have no complaints about racism because Mosely has his 50 acres?

    And of course, Somerby complains because the article wasn't written with the focus he would have preferred. Because the article isn't about the nuances of thought among Trump supporters, about how Trump supporters are good decent people. It is about how a person of conscience who inherits a farm can make up for the past wrongs of slavery that enabled her family to operate such a farm. Those fields are overgrown or not planted with crops to maximize income because it does not currently have the labor to do that work -- that labor that slaves provided and that made farms like the Marshall's a larger source of income. That's why one of the suggestions was to recruit others as interns to provide that labor.

    What is Marshall's farm worth? "The value of Georgia's irrigated land averaged $4,550 per acre in 2018, up 11 percent from 2017, when the state's average irrigated land value was $4,070 per acre. Non-irrigated cropland value fell five percent, from $3,180 per acre in 2017 to $3,010 per acre in 2018."

    Multiplying by 300 acres, that is a substantial inheritance if she chooses to sell the land.


      The Blacks I know would much rather inherit the land of major Timespersons and Cable Stars.

    2. Just out of curiosity, how many blacks do you know?

    3. The ones I know would rather have Liberal-owned Hampton's mansions and land than rural red-clay farm land. And you?

    4. If you were trying to make a living, the farmland is the better bet. If you were trying to impress others, go for the Hamptons. Which fits the circumstances of most black people?

  6. Average per acre price for farm land in Georgia is >$4,000 and Chattanooga county seems about average. So the farm is likely worth over $1 million.

    According to this piece, 300 acres fits the midsize category for GA.

  7. "It isn't clear how much actual wealth is involved in this detailed drama. It isn't clear if there's any significant "wealth" involved here at all. "
    A quick search indicates that a low price for average farmland in Georgia would be something over $3,000 per acre. Putting the value of Marshall's farm at approximately $1,000,000. Also, Gore is located fairly close to the larger cities of Summerville and Rome (population 36,000). Therefore, the land could be worth much more if sold to a developer and subdivided.
    As for the relationship of the father to his daughter and his Black "Lifelong best friend," any father would say he "supports" his daughter's work, even if he thinks she is crazy. Also, I know lots of people who claim to not be racist because they were nice to that one Black guy that they know. Very few who voted for Trump are going to admit to being a racist. Although maybe not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, it could probably said that almost all racists who voted did vote for Trump.
    Why is Somerby so worried about and disparaging of the work of this one woman who seems to really want to do the right thing?

    1. Now let's see how many more ignorant bigots line up to defend you.

    2. to Anonymous 2:51
      "Although maybe not everyone who voted for Trump is a racist, it could probably said that almost all racists who voted did vote for Trump."
      Reading comprehension is apparently not high on the list of attributes of Trump supporters.

    3. Everyone is a racist, dear dembot; did you miss the memo?

    4. First catch of the day...

    5. Mao,
      CRT teaches that it's not individuals that are racists, but the systems of economics and justice perpetuate racism.

      I'm (not at all) surprised that someone who criticizes CRT so much, doesn't know that.

    6. If you, dear dembot, refuse to immediately repent and bend the knee, we will have no choice but to report you to The High CRT Authority.

    7. Mao,
      Is it really "bliss" like the saying says?

  8. Somerby writes a bunch of paragraphs about that second report without ever telling us what he is talking about. What a waste of space! Those of us who don't follow ESPN or Draper or whoever are left in the dark about something so important that Somerby has to mention it, but so unimportant that he conveys no information about it whatsoever.

    Somerby has to be getting paid by the word. No one else pads writing so shamelessly. If he doesn't want to say anything, why write at all? I can only assume that the point of Somerby's essays is just to put out a negative tone about the press. It doesn't matter how he does it -- just that he continues to make the press seem derelict in some undefined way. Because that is all that Somerby achieves. Pointless whining against journalists -- Trump's enemies of the people, on behalf of right-wing ratfucking. Somerby should be ashamed to put his name on the tripe he has served today.

    1. Somerby hates NYT/WaPo etc. because he thinks they attacked Al Gore in 2000. Sometime in the last 4 years, Somerby switched his allegiance to Trump and attacked the press because they dared to publish negative stories about his idols - Donald Trump, Roy Moore, Ron Johnson, Devin Nunes and Matt Gaetz. Somerby also hates Rachael Maddow because she has a popular show while Somerby remains a pathetic Trumptard.

  9. Why is the media so ardently engaged in making Americans the most fatuous idiots on the planet?

    “‘Stop Calling Food Exotic’”

    “The first problem with the word is that, probably within the past two decades, it’s lost its essential meaning. The second, more crucial problem is that its use, particularly as applied to food, indirectly lengthens the metaphysical distance between one group of humans and another, and, in so doing, reinforces xenophobia and racism.”

    1. Nah. Americans are fine. Liberals make fools of themselves, yes. Not just American liberals, liberals everywhere. But especially, for some reason, in English-speaking countries. More money spent to English-language zombification, we suppose...

    2. We’re mostly not a country of fatuous idiots, but the media is working very very hard to change that.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. Surely you can find a more convincing example.

    5. 'We’re mostly not a country of fatuous idiots, but the media is working very very hard to change that.'

      Yes, like DJT as president (and the insane election theories now being floated) are less important than an article on exotic food.

      What an 'interesting' world you must live in ...

  10. ‘Marshall's father is a Trump supporter. He doesn't understand why his daughter votes for Democrats.
    Also, he supports his daughter's antiracism work, and his lifelong best friend—his best friend from childhood—is black.
    It seemed to us that an interesting story might be floating around in there, a story of possible complexity and possible human progress. ‘

    Yes. ‘Trump voter has black friend.’

    It’s so astounding it should be on the front page.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. ‘there, a story of possible complexity and possible human progress. ‘

    So, the father having a black friend and supporting his daughter’s antiracism work is a sign of ‘possible human progress.’

    1. That seems to imply that a Trump supporter in the Deep South having a black friend and supporting anti racism efforts represents some kind of progress, which means anti racism is a good and needed thing. So why then is the daughter’s story not also a story of human progress?
    2. The daughter’s story (a Deep South conservative whose conscience bothered her and she became a liberal) seems just as complex. Actually, since it represents a significant shift in ideals and beliefs, it is arguably a more complex story than the father’s.
    3. The daughter, as is apparent from her website, loves her parents, loves farming, and loves her county and the people there. I don’t get the vibe of ‘virtue signaling elitist’ from her. But then, she is trying to run a ‘sustainable’ farm.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.


    2. mh, Bob is saying that it is a story of human progress, despite the white homeless folks not ascertaining their privilege.

      Severson reports that Marshall’s Trumptard dad supports his daughter (despite all those idiotic media holiday pieces about avoiding WWIII with Trumptard relatives) and about her Trumptard father’s inexplicable relationship with a black friend who doesn’t hold her accountable for ancestral wrongs (he wasn’t there either) he adjures her to “love thy neighbor.”

      On the other hand Rachael Nichols is out of the NBA finials for suggesting that both she and Marie Taylor were affirmative action hires.

    3. She didn't say that. She accused Taylor of being a diversity hire, implying that she was under-qualified. She later tried to clean up that comment by referring to her own treatment as a woman. No one is buying that.

  13. I'll simplify the whole thing: people shouldn't shoulder the burden of bad public policies and injustices. This is where the failure of the "white privilege" mantra comes in: it fails to separate an individual from the society and its policies. Critical Race Theory should be able to elucidate the difference.

    1. It does, if anyone were actually to read it.

  14. Here is what Zappa said in his song "Trouble Coming Every Day": "I'm not black but there are a whole lot of times I wish I weren't white."

    Somerby, huge fan of song lyrics from the 60s, should have grabbed that one because it sums up the current situation. No one used the word "woke" then or talked about CRT much, but notice how similar our times are to the times when that song was created.

    1. Consider the last line in this part:

      “Well, I seen the fires burnin'
      And the local people turnin'
      On the merchants and the shops
      Who used to sell their brooms and mops
      And every other household item
      Watched the mob just turn and bite 'em
      And they say it served 'em right
      Because a few of them are white,
      And it's the same across the nation
      Black and white discrimination
      Yellin' "You can't understand me!"
      'n all that other jazz they hand me
      In the papers and tv and
      All that mass stupidity
      That seems to grow more every day
      Each time you hear some nitwit say
      He wants to go and do you in
      Because the color of your skin
      Just don't appeal to him
      (No matter if it's black or white)
      Because he's out for blood tonight”

    2. Exactly.

      Zappa saw that there was violence by white people not just black people (in the very obvious riots happening during those times).

      But Cecelia, don't ignore the other verses because you especially like this one. There was discrimination and unrest in the 60s but not the armed white militias, like the ones who planned the storming of our Capitol -- something that never happened in the 60s.

      It doesn't take much courage to make an anti-violence stand (like Zappa's) that ignores the problems underlying that violence. Zappa's remark "I'm not black but there are a lot of times I wish I weren't white" acknowledges that white people played a role in the grievances inspiring black violence.

    3. Anonymouse 9:09am, I didn’t ignore that both races contribute to violence.

      The lyrics I copied, that were not referenced by the original commenter, more directly express what you now accuse me of ignoring. Particularly the last line I directly pointed out.

    4. I am the original commenter and I posted the link to the entire song, so yes, I did reference all of the lyrics. Cecelia, you quoted the lyrics that appealed most to you, giving them emphasis. I did the same with Zappa's statement about being white. But the song is not about black people committing mayhem, it is about violence in general, committed by both sides and Zappa's disgust with violence to achieve goals.

      I do believe that today, the right is encouraging violence and not doing enough to address white supremacist violence and alt-right extremism. There are gun owners in both political parties, but the right has made a fetish out of such instruments of violence. You don't get to claim any moral righteousness on this topic.

  15. According to Michael Wolff's new book (via Daily Kos):

    "Earlier in July, Trump talked to his chief of staff Mark Meadows about the idea of “calling it off,” referring to the election. “People can’t get to the polls. It’s a national emergency. Right?” Trump said, per Wolff’s book.

    After Meadows explained that there isn’t a constitutional way to do so, Trump pressed the issue more. “I’m sure there might be a way, but … well …” Wolff quoted Trump as saying.

    A few days later, he brought up the idea once again, this time to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was helping Trump with debate preparations.

    Trump told Christie he was thinking of calling things off. Christie thought he meant the debate prep, but Trump elaborated that it was the election that he was considering canceling.

    “No, the election — too much virus,” Trump reportedly said to Christie.

    Christie responded that he can’t do that, according to those who spoke to Wolff about the issue.

    “You do know, you can’t declare martial law. You do know that, right?” Christie apparently added."

    1. How adorable that Christie thought Trump actually knew something.

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